East Greenwich woman accused of falsely claiming to be cancer-stricken US Marine pleads guilty
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — An East Greenwich woman is expected to plead guilty to stolen valor charges in federal court Tuesday.
Sarah Cavanaugh, 31, is accused of falsely claiming to be a cancer-stricken U.S. Marine, who was a Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient.
Cavanaugh also allegedly claimed she was battling lung cancer from burn pits, and collected more than $200,000 in donations as part of a scam.
According to a signed plea agreement, Cavanaugh will plead guilty to charges of fraud, aggravated identity theft, forgery, and fraudulent use of medals.
“The bad thing about it was I have 300 dollars, and I wish I gave more. There were people who gave even more than that over thousands…I was flabbergasted, the story was that compelling,” said former U.S. Marine Charlie Masterson.
According to U.S. Attorney Zachary Cunha, records determined that Cavanaugh never severed in any branch of the military and worked at the Rhode Island Veterans Affairs Medical Center, where she obtained personal information and medical records.
‘The sacrifices that our military members make in order to ensure our freedom and safety should never be taken lightly and any individual who pretends through fraud to be one of these brave and selfless heroes should be held accountable for their gross deception,” said Rhode Island House Rep. Samuel Azzinaro.
In June, the General Assembly approved a bill that would make impersonating a military veteran illegal.