Dancer’s bill hiking penalties for “stolen valor” passes Assembly committee

Dancer’s bill hiking penalties for “stolen valor” passes Assembly committee

Ron Dancer

TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblyman Ron Dancer is calling for tough penalties for misrepresenting oneself as a member or veteran of the armed forces or organized militia. His bill setting new penalties was released by the Assembly Appropriations Committee Monday.

His bill (A1121) would keep the current third-degree crime with a minimum fine of $1,000 for obtaining money, property or other tangibles worth less than $75,000 while impersonating a military member or veteran. The bill bumps up the offense to a second-degree crime if more than $75,000 is involved.

Second-degree crimes carry a punishment of five to 10 years imprisonment and a fine of $150,000. Those found guilty of third-degree crimes face three to five years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine.

“No one should get a mere slap on the wrist for putting on the uniform to defraud someone,” Dancer (R-Ocean) said. “As a veteran myself, I find it abhorrent that anyone would deceive others for gain by impersonating our proud men and women who sacrificially serve our country.”

The provisions of the bill would apply to those who deceitfully don a uniform, medal or insignia for gain, or wrongfully claim to have received a federal or state decoration or medal.

“It’s my goal that these tougher penalties will deter would-be frauds,” Dancer said.

Fines will be deposited into the Military Dependent Scholarship Fund.

Dancer’s bill was approved by the Assembly Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee Nov. 8. The Senate Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee unanimously approved its version (S1871) in February. It was then sent to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.