Former Police Officer Sentenced for Falsely Claiming Silver Star Military Decoration
|U.S. Attorney’s Office November 30, 2009|
SACRAMENTO, CA—United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced today that ERIC GENE PIOTROWSKI, 41, of Elk Grove, was sentenced this morning by United States Magistrate Judge Gregory G. Hollows to 12 months’ probation and 200 hours of community service for falsely claiming that he was awarded a Silver Star Military decoration during Operation Desert Storm. He pleaded guilty on September 15, 2009. Under the Stolen Valor Act, which was enacted in late 2006, it is a misdemeanor offense to wear military medals that were not in fact awarded, or to falsely claim to have been awarded such medals.
This case was investigated by the FBI and the California Department of Veterans Affairs.
According to Assistant United States Attorney Michelle Rodriguez, who prosecuted the case, PIOTROWSKI falsely claimed that he was awarded a Silver Star for gallantry and intrepidity in action against hostile forces in Operation Desert Storm. The Silver Star is the third highest decoration awarded by the U.S. Military. He falsely claimed that in 1991 during an Iraqi counterattack in Operation Desert Storm “he exposed himself to direct enemy fire while providing suppressive fires to cover an antitank team, which was maneuvering to destroy an Iraqi T-62 tank.”
In fact, PIOTROWSKI did not see military action in Operation Desert Storm, and he purchased the Silver Star Citation and medal via the Internet. Under false pretenses, on December 1, 2007, PIOTROWSKI was formally recognized for the Silver Star by the Undersecretary for the California Department of Veteran Affairs. During the time PIOTROWSKI made his false claim of valor, he was employed by the California Exposition Center Police Department.
In imposing the 200-hour community service to be performed at a Veteran’s Hospital or similar facility for United States Veterans, Judge Hollows stated that such service was an opportunity for PIOTROWSKI to learn from his mistakes. He was ordered to abdicate his peace officer’s certification from the state of California and is under a lifetime prohibition from law enforcement employment for lack of good moral character.