LOS ANGELES - A U.S. Army soldier who prosecutors say falsely claimed to have fought in Vietnam and Afghanistan - and to have earned two Purple Heart medals and a Bronze Star for heroism - was indicted on federal charges on Wednesday, the 68th anniversary of D-Day.
Command Sergeant Major William John Roy is accused of lying about his service as he sought disability, medical and educational benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. Attorney's spokesman Thom Mrozek said.
Roy, 57, was awarded more than $27,000 in disability benefits and $30,000 in educational benefits after submitting bogus evidence of his combat wounds and bravery in action, Mrozek said.
He faces a maximum sentence of 55 years in prison if convicted at trial.
According to an indictment handed down in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, Roy claimed he served as a medic in Vietnam in 1974 and was twice injured in combat during that war.
Roy also claimed that he was awarded two Purple Hearts and a Bronze star for his heroism in Vietnam -- when in fact an investigation found that he had been in Germany serving in a non-combat role at the time, Mrozek said.
On June 6, 1944, Allied troops landed along the French coastline to fight Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France. NBC's Brian Williams reports.
Among the documentation Roy provided was a Purple Heart certificate purportedly signed by President Richard Nixon but dated four months after Nixon had resigned from office, Mrozek said.
Roy also sent a letter to the Army in 2008 seeking a Purple Heart for extensive injuries he said he sustained in a mortar and rocket attack at a forward operating base in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, when in fact he was not involved in such an incident, Mrozek said.
Roy was indicted on one count of presenting false writings to defraud the United States, three counts of making false statements to the government and three counts of stealing government property.
June 6, 1984: D-Day Veterans and heads of state met on Normandy Beach to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Allied Invasion of Normandy. NBC's Tom Brokaw, Jim Bitterman and Chris Wallace
Mrozek said Roy, who remains on active duty, would be sent a summons to appear in federal court next month for an arraignment on the charges.
The Southwest Riverside News Network quoted Mrozek as saying the defendant, who has been in the Army for more than 35 years, was currently at home in Winchester, Calif.
Reuters contributed to this report.
More content from msnbc.com and NBC News:
- Doctor's report on Lincoln assassination discovered by researcher
- Video: 7 siblings graduate at same time, all with honors
- 11 famed US sites named to annual 'most endangered places' list
- Jurors selected in Sandusky trial