Marines: Fake hero to plead guilty

HAGERSTOWN, Md. — A Marine sergeant charged with faking battle injuries to get freebies intended for wounded troops will plead guilty, a Marine Corps spokeswoman said Monday.

Sgt. David W. Budwah, 34, of Springhill, La., will enter the plea at a court-martial hearing Wednesday at the Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Va., 1st Lt. Joy Crabaugh wrote in an e-mail.

Crabaugh wouldn’t say what offenses Budwah will acknowledge. “That will all be addressed Wednesday,” she wrote.

Budwah faces eight counts, including making false official statements, malingering, misconduct and larceny. They carry penalties of up to 31 1/2 years in prison and a dishonorable discharge.

Prosecutor Marine Capt. Thomas Liu declined to disclose terms of the plea agreement.

Budwah is accused of bluffing his way into 33 events last year, including six rock concerts, two Washington Nationals baseball games, a Washington Redskins football game and a World Wrestling Entertainment “Monday Night Raw” show. Sponsored by various civilian groups, the events often included special recognition of injured service members in attendance.

Budwah also is alleged to have worn eight unearned medals and decorations on his uniform, including bronze-star campaign medals from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Other unauthorized decorations included a humanitarian service medal denoting work on the 2004 tsunami relief effort, the government has said.

Budwah claimed in a speech to young boys at an American Legion camp near Sabillasville in July 2008 to have been wounded in Afghanistan when he dove on a homemade grenade to shield a buddy from the blast — a false story, the government contends.

Instead, Budwah was with a radio communications unit in Okinawa, Japan, from early 2000 to early 2006, and then at Quantico, the Marines have said.

The government claims he faked post-traumatic stress disorder in July 2008 in hopes of leaving service early and was sent to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, where he began bluffing his way into wounded-warrior events.

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