Justice “Served” For Stolen Valor, Stolen Honor

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

Back in March, I wrote about a situation that had me in a state of what my husband, Steve, calls “being all feffered up.” If you are not familiar with the term, think of feathers that are so ruffled that they stand out in a perpendicular position to one’s body. What was the reason? A woman by the name of Sarah Jane Cavanaugh fabricated an elaborate scheme to bilk hundreds of thousands of dollars out of various organizations in order to receive “support” for the fact that she was now “being treated for cancer” that was the result of her having “served in the Middle East.” Problem is, she never served. ANYWHERE. That’s bad enough, but when someone additionally and falsely claims that they have been “sexually assaulted by a superior officer,” I am inappropriately inspired to say, “Hold my beer,” and I don’t like beer at all.

I am happy to report that Miss Cavanaugh has been put in a position that might serve to begin to undo some of the damage she inflicted on more than a few folks. She reached a plea agreement, and here are some of the components of her day of reckoning.

U.S. Attorney Zachary Cunha mentioned in a statement that Miss Cavanaugh has signed an agreement in which she admitted to fraudulent use of medals (with an illegally obtained Purple Heart as she impersonated being a wounded warrior), aggravated identity theft (she fabricated an elaborate cover story), along with forgery, and wire fraud. She received more than $250,000 that had been earmarked to help true wounded warriors with everything from housing to art therapy to cancer treatment. She could have faced more than 20 years in prison if she had been tried in court, and wisely chose to plea out. It was recommended that she receive a sentence that is on the low end of the guidelines, and to me, it is possible that that decision was made to make it possible to actually earn money to begin to pay it back. The agreement is that she will pay $82,000 in restitution.

In many courts there is a tradition, if you will, of having a statement made by the guilty as part of the sentencing phase. This occurs often by the reading of a prepared piece that elucidates their sorrow and contrition for what they did. I don’t know if it is something that can be required, but I for one would have thought that a public expression of some kind of regret would have been in order. And, while I am grateful that at least a measure of what has been stolen will be returned over time, I am “feffered” once again by the statement that was issued by Miss Cavanaugh’s attorney. Mr. Kensley Barrett said on Tuesday something to the effect that while he appreciates the interest that the case has garnered, he has no comment at this time. Newsflash, Mr. B. I don’t want to hear from you. I want to hear from Sarah Jane, and it looks like the wait just might be a long one.

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner