As troubling of a trend as it is from time to time, people impersonating military personnel for personal gain continues to happen.

There are penalties already on the books for those inclined to commit such a heinous crime.

In 2015, then Governor Chris Christie signed a law which sends people to prison and forces them to pay a big fine for anyone who impersonates military personnel to receive the perks that veterans and active members receive, according to a report by NJAdvanceMedia.

State Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo (D - 2nd District) in 2017 followed a similar path by introducing legislation to further go after these violators.

Mazzeo's 'New Jersey Stolen Valor Act' sought to "crack down on these imposters by making it a crime of the third degree, with a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000, to knowingly misrepresent oneself as a veteran or member of the military for the purpose of obtaining money, property or another benefit by wearing the uniform or any medal or insignia authorized for use by the members or veterans of the United Armed Forces or the organized militia."

On Monday, Jersey Shore Assemblyman Ron Dancer made a call to stiffen penalties even further.

His new bill, which has been released by the Assembly Military and Veterans' Affairs Committee, calls for tough penalties "for persons misrepresenting as a member or veteran of the armed forces or organized militia."

Inside the language of Dancer's bill, (A1121), which was introduced in January of 2020, would add to what Governor Christie and Assemblyman Mazzeo put into play by keeping 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 offense would now be a second-degree crime if more than $75,000 is involved in the theft and if convicted, any violator could see five to 10 years in prison along with a fine of $150,000.

It would be three to five years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine for those who found guilty of the third degree crime, Dancer said.

“No one should get a mere slap on the wrist for putting on the uniform to defraud someone,” Dancer (R-Ocean) said in a statement. “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. It’s my goal that these tougher penalties will deter would-be frauds."

The fines, Dancer explains, collected as a result of these crimes from the violators, would then be deposited into the Military Dependent Scholarship Fund.

Honoring our Military and Veterans

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