Palm Springs Man Charged with Wearing Some of Navy’s Highest Awards Even Though He Never Served in Military
|U.S. Attorney’s Office November 11, 2009|
A Palm Springs man is expected to surrender himself to federal authorities tomorrow morning after being charged with the unauthorized display of numerous Navy medals, including the Navy Cross, which is the highest medal awarded by that branch of the military.
Steven Burton, 39, has agreed to surrender tomorrow morning at United States District Court in Riverside, where he will make his initial court appearance at 9:30 a.m.
On Friday, federal prosecutors in Los Angeles filed a criminal information that charges Burton with the unauthorized wearing of military medals.
Burton, who has never served with any branch of the United States armed services, allegedly was seen and photographed on several occasions wearing military uniforms and various medals, including the Navy Cross and the Purple Heart.
According to an affidavit filed in United States District Court, a Navy Commander contacted the FBI after she attended her high school reunion and noticed Burton wearing a United States Marine Corps uniform displaying the Navy Cross, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and other awards. Suspicious, the Navy Commander approached Burton and requested to take a photograph with him. During its investigation, the FBI discovered that Burton has recently made Internet postings about being a Marine and receiving many commendations and awards. In his postings, Burton wrote about his “combat experience,” as well as his “service” in Afghanistan and Iraq. Burton posted a picture of himself standing on a beach at Coronado Island wearing the dress uniform of the Marine Corps.
The Navy Cross is the highest medal that can be awarded by the United States Department of the Navy and the second highest award given for valor, second only to the Medal of Honor. It is generally awarded for extreme gallantry and risk of life, beyond the call of duty, performed in combat with an enemy force. The Bronze Star is awarded for heroic or meritorious achievement or service, and the Purple Heart is awarded for being wounded or killed in action against an enemy of the United States.
The criminal information charges Burton with the unauthorized wearing of military medals, a misdemeanor offense that carries a statutory maximum penalty of one year in federal prison.
A criminal information contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
The case against Burton was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which received substantial assistance from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.