Woman Indicted For Fraudulent Veteran Claims
By Aero-News Senior Correspondent Kevin R.C. "Hognose"
Lisa Jane Phillips, 34,
had a good excuse for her frequent absences from the campus of
Meredith College, a private school in Raleigh, NC.
She was a combat pilot in the US Air Force, a captain, subject
to frequent deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan where, she said,
she was shot down and wounded -- and the uniform she wore on return
from her missions backed her up, with its rows of medals, including
the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
Or did it?
Campus police chief Frank Strickland was a real war vet -- of
Vietnam -- where he was a real pilot -- of helicopters. Strickland
became suspicious and called in federal agents, and Phillips's
story quickly unraveled. She had left copious evidence, including
the uniforms, and emails she had sent campus administrators, where
she claimed that "[s]he was involved in everything. She
single-handedly saved the country," according to Cynthia Stroot, of
the Defense Department's Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS),
speaking to the Raleigh News and Observer.
DCIS and FBI agents arrested Phillips in early April and she
faces a 12-count Federal indictment. Her attorney, Woody Webb, is
trying to plea-bargain her off the hook, a process he curiously
described to CBS News in these terms: "My client will take full
responsibility for whatever she is accountable for." Sounds like a
12-count guilty plea to us.
Commenters on an
internet chat board suggested that Phillips may plead multiple
personality disorder, to which one wag had the snappy riposte:
"Well, unless one of the personalities joined the Air Force at some
point, they're all in trouble."
The twelve counts are:
- falsely impersonating an officer of the United States
- falsely impersonating an officer of the United States in order
to obtain a thing of value
- making a false statement in a matter within the jurisdiction of
the U. S. Department of Defense
- six counts of wire fraud
- possessing without authority insignia of the Department of
- wearing without authority the uniform of the armed forces of
the United States
- and wearing without authority decorations and medals authorized
by Congress for the armed forces of the United States.
All in all, that adds up to a potential 191 years in crowbar
motel (the wire fraud charges are good for 20 years each).
(And no, we don't know why the charge is "falsely
impersonating." Can you "truly impersonate?" It's probably just the
Government again being redundant again).
The agents found evidence that Phillips had bought her uniforms
in surplus stores and on the web. She was indiscriminate in
awarding herself medals as well; one of the gongs she proudly wore
was a European/North African Theater campaign medal from World War
II, last awarded sixty years ago. As well as the Bronze Star, given
for wartime service or valor, and Purple Heart, given to personnel
wounded or killed in combat with an armed enemy, she also wore the
Kuwait Liberation Medal, from the first Gulf War; a wide range of
achievement and service medals; and the Air Force Good Conduct
Medal, only awarded to enlisted and non-commissioned Air Force
Phillips's final insult to actual veterans is mind-boggling:
based on her war stories, the administrators of Meredith College
awarded her at least two years' worth of free tuition and fees,
over forty thousand dollars' worth. The college does not waive or
discount its charges for real veterans, and in light of the
criminal charges doesn't want to comment on the exception it made
But Lisa J. Phillips was a hero -- just ask her. It just might
be a while before she's available to talk.
FMI: www.af.mil (for those
interested in earning medals), www.usdoj.gov (for those just wearing