Ramona man pleads not guilty to violating Stolen Valor Act
A Ramona man who admitted to posing as a major general in the U.S. Marine Corps has pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor federal charge that alleges he violated the Stolen Valor Act by wearing medals he did not earn.
While using a wooden cane, David Vincent Weber, 69, walked slowly and appeared Dec. 30 before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Ruben Brooks, who set a preliminary hearing for Jan. 14. Brooks allowed Weber to remain free on a $15,000 bond after Weber was fingerprinted and photographed by court officials.
Weber’s story of a long and decorated military career unraveled after he appeared Nov. 7 at a birthday party of the U.S. Marine Corps in Ramona that was hosted by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Weber got the first piece of birthday cake because he was thought to be the highest ranking officer and pictures were taken of him with all his medals by the Ramona Sentinel. He later told the Sentinel he had never been a major general.
Weber did serve six years as a U.S. Marine, starting in 1958, and left at the rank of staff sergeant. If he is convicted of the misdemeanor, he would face up to one year in a federal prison.
A special prosecutor, Arthur Rizer, from the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., was present for the arraignment. The presence of Rizer apparently indicates the Justice Department’s seriousness in prosecuting someone with the Stolen Valor Act, which was passed in 2005.
“He took the spotlight from individuals who did earn the medals they were wearing,” Rizer told the judge. “This individual wore a uniform to a Marine Corps function…and took the first piece of cake.”
At the VFW appearance, Weber wore two Purple Hearts, two Navy and Marine Corps medals, five Legion of Merit medals, a Meritorious Service medal, and Navy and Marine Corps achievement medals, according to court records.
Rizer recommended bail be set at $15,000, saying Weber had a felony conviction from 1994, and that he failed to appear in court once in that case. Rizer didn’t say what type of conviction. It apparently is a conviction in Superior Court as Weber’s name did not appear in a search of all federal records.
Weber’s attorney, Joseph Camden, said the missed court date in 1994 was due to Weber’s moving and he did not receive the paperwork that told him of the correct court appearance.
Camden said Weber is 100 percent disabled, has prostate cancer, and has had three strokes. He told the judge Weber posed no danger to the community and will make all court appearances, saying he showed up early for the Dec. 30 arraignment.
Camden said his client is taking a number of medications and is also seeing a psychiatrist. He urged that bail be set at $5,000.
The magistrate told Weber he is barred from possessing any weapons and has travel restrictions from going outside California unless court officials have given him permission.
Weber declined comment afterwards to reporters.
On Dec. 31, Weber returned to court after Rizer wanted an identification card to be given to the judge, but Rizer later withdrew that motion.
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