Woman who posed as sick, wounded Marine gets nearly 6 years in prison

Sarah Jane Cavanaugh, to plead guilty, to a charge of impersonating a sick marine doctor

Sarah Jane Cavanaugh, to plead guilty, to a charge of impersonating a sick marine doctor


A Rhode Island woman who posed as an ill military veteran to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in benefits and charitable donations has been sentenced to nearly six years in federal prison. The Justice Department said Tuesday.

Sarah Jane Cavanagh — who never served in the U.S. military — claimed to be a Purple Heart and Bronze Star Marine who was wounded by an IED in Iraq. Cavanagh, 32, also claimed to have contracted service-related cancer.

Cavanaugh was charged in March 2022 with using a forged or forged military discharge certificate, wire fraud, fraudulently obtaining money, property, or other tangible benefit as a medal recipient and aggravated identity theft. . In August 2022, he was convicted of several of these charges, including wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, forged military discharge certificates, and fraudulent use of military medals.

On Tuesday, he was sentenced to 70 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.

As part of his sentence, Cavanaugh must pay back $284,796.82 he obtained through fraud.

Cavanaugh was employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs at the Rhode Island Veterans Affairs Medical Center. According to a news release from the Justice Department, Cavanaugh used his position there to “identify veterans, their combat experiences, diagnose their illnesses, and devise schemes to enrich themselves.” used for their bravery”.

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CBS News has previously reported. that Cavanaugh collected $207,000 from the Wounded Warrior program to pay for groceries and physical therapy; He also raised about $18,500 in financial aid and $4,700 from a fundraising website for mortgage payments in Virginia, home repairs, a gym membership and other bills. He raised another $16,000 from CreatiVets, a charity that provides art therapy for veterans. Cavanaugh also used his fake cancer diagnosis to get months of paid leave from federal employee benefit programs.

Cavanaugh also took on leadership roles in the veterans community, the Justice Department said, serving as commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Rhode Island and giving speeches in full U.S. Marine uniform, complete with medals. What he did not achieve but instead. bought online.

The Justice Department described Cavanaugh’s behavior as “near-daily criminal conduct.” Court documents allege that he acted in a “methodical and calculated manner” to commit crimes “one of the most reprehensible in this district from a fraud defendant.”

Cavanaugh was caught after an investigation by the Providence Veterans Association began, after Hunter Seven, a local organization that helps veterans with cancer, became suspicious of Cavanaugh’s pleas for help. .

U.S. Attorney Zachary A. Cunha remarked in a Department of Justice news release that “Sarah Cavanaugh’s conduct during her scheme was nothing short of appalling.” “While brazenly claiming the honor, service and sacrifice of true veterans, this defendant preyed on the charity and decency of others for his own shameless financial gain. I am grateful that, with today’s sentence, he He has been brought to justice and will have to face the consequences of his actions.”

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