Man posing as general gets probation

   David Vincent Weber, the 69-year-old former Marine who posed as a major general, was ordered to perform 240 hours of community service under terms of three years probation for wearing a dozen medals including two Purple Hearts that he had not earned.

   Weber, a Ramona resident, was fined $525 by U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Ruben Brooks, who gave him credit at the April 15 sentencing for one day previously spent in jail.

   Brooks said he couldn’t impose more jail time because Weber has prostate cancer, Parkinson’s disease and other ailments.

   Weber pleaded guilty Dec. 30 to a misdemeanor charge of falsely representing himself by wearing military medals he did not earn. He wore a major general uniform with the medals on Nov. 7, 2009, in Ramona at an event at a Veterans of Foreign Wars event.

   “This was a very deliberate act. He (wore) government medals he did not earn in war,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Arnold Dale Blankenship. “To Marines, former Marines...this was an affront to all those who go into harm’s way.

   “When an undeserving person wears those medals, he is stealing that (honor). He is stealing the symbolic value of those awards.”

   Weber’s attorney, Joseph Camden, told the judge that Weber did serve in the Marines, enlisting at age 17, and had two tours in Vietnam. Camden said Weber’s crime was “to exaggerate his service to his country,” and he “did not fabricate it wholesale.”

   Camden said in court papers that Weber earned two medals from his service in Vietnam. He was a Marine from 1958 to 1967.

   Camden cited the medical problems that Weber has, saying he has to take 18 medications per day.

   “The U.S. Bureau of Prisons will not be able to provide the quality of care for Mr. Weber,” said Camden before the judge ruled out prison.

   Camden said the word is out in the community and Weber’s neighbors and others all know about his story.

   “Everyone knows,” said Camden, citing the publicity. He added that Weber “will not re-offend” if granted probation.

   “Mr. Weber is extremely sorry for what he has done. Mr. Weber accepted responsibility...early on,” said Camden.

   Camden said a story in the Ramona Sentinel in which Weber admitted to the newspaper that he had not earned those military medals was taking responsibility for the deception.

   The newspaper published a photo of Weber in uniform in the Nov. 12, 2009, issue. But military officials discovered the story, and on Nov. 13 Weber admitted to the Sentinel that he had not earned the medals that included five Legion of Merit medals, two Navy and Marine Corps medals and a Meritorious Service medal, among others.

   Weber apologized to the judge, saying this: “What I did was a boneheaded thing. It was stupid. I’m very, very sorry.”

   Brooks said he was surprised the prosecutor did not recommend any community service work. The probation department recommended 200 hours of service, but Brooks expanded it to 240 hours, saying “this case involves a matter of deception. This is not an indirect act.”

   In court papers, Camden said Weber’s father was killed in World War II and is buried in Italy. He indicated this may have inspired his client to enlist in the Marines at age 17.

   Weber came to court with his wife, Carolyn, and declined comment to reporters after the sentencing.

   
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