Stolen Valor Law: It’s Now a Crime to Impersonate Military in NJ
A bill imposing prison time and a heavy fine for those who pose as a member of the military has been signed by Gov. Chris Christie (R).
The "Stolen Valor Act" makes unauthorized use of military uniforms, medals, or insignias to obtain benefit a third-degree crime with a mandatory $1,000 fine and a three-to-five year prison term. The legislation was inspired by several cases of people posing as veterans including a viral video in which a man in full military uniform at the Oxford Valley Mall in Bucks County, Pa. asking for money was exposed as a fraud.
"Unfortunately, we have to put these laws in place to try to stop unlawful disrespect, actually, to the veterans," said Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo (D-Northfield). "When our veterans come home from serving their country they get certain privileges, rightfully so, but there are people out there who are trying to take advantage of it."
Any fines collected under Mazzeo's bill will be dedicated to the Military Dependents Scholarship Fund, which Christie also signed into law on Monday. The fund will provide college scholarships to the spouses and children of those killed, missing in action or disabled in Operation Noble Eagle, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, or Operation New Dawn.
Another measure signed by the governor will create a set-aside program for businesses owned and operated by disabled veterans.
"By signing these three measures, we are not only reaffirming a pledge to those who serve, we are providing important opportunities for educational access and business development, and upholding the integrity and dignity of their service by punishing those who misrepresent themselves as serving in the military.” Christie said in a statement.
Kevin McArdle contributed to this report.