Surrey man charged for allegedly pretending to be veteran
SURREY - Charges have been laid against a Surrey man for allegedly pretending to be a veteran and accessing veteran resources.
The investigation was started by Surrey RCMP Const. Jordan Irvine after he saw a picture of 49-year-old Kenneth James French in a newspaper article wearing several medals that did not match what was stated in the article. The photo of French, which sparked the investigation, is now posted to an online advocacy page exposing people allegedly claiming to have military awards or badges they did not earn.
“Mr. French has absolutely no military service, he is not a veteran and has no lawful entitlement to the medals he has worn,” reads a post on the website, Stolen Valour.
According to court documents, French is facing two separate charges: one count of wearing imitations of military medals or decorations and one count of trying to get accommodations from a veterans' organization under false pretences.
“When somebody is taking resources they are not entitled to, that would have been earmarked for somebody else. So it’s a very serious offence," said Irvine.
The court documents also allege French claimed in the article he had served in the Canadian Forces from 1988 to 1999, but the photograph showed him wearing two medals that had never been given to anyone with service in 1999 or prior.
Irvine is a veteran himself. He served 16 years in the reserves and was deployed twice in Afghanistan, so he says it was easy for him to see that French should not have been wearing the medals in the picture. But he says it was the sacrifice medal that especially caught his eye.
“The sacrifice medal is a medal given only to Canadian soldiers that received serious injury in the course of their duties overseas, and it's only been given out a handful of times," said Irvine. "It’s one of the medals that has been given out the fewest and it’s never been given out during that period of service that the individual claimed. So right there I knew something was suspicious."
CTV News went to French’s home to ask him about the allegations and were told he recently moved. His former neighbour, Kenneth Nelson, says the charges don’t surprise him.
"I couldn’t see him fighting in Korea. He’s a little bit older than me. I was born in '52. Korea ended in '53. He would have had to be three years-old," said Nelson.
Nelson also told CTV News French would often tell him he was a veteran and had medals and a uniform.
The search warrant documents allege French received $250 in veterans' assistance money from the legion in Cloverdale and a sum of money from the now-closed legion in Langley. The documents also allege French received $80 on the basis that he was a veteran in need.
The documents also say during the course of the investigation, Irvine was able to find out through interviews that French had been attending functions for veterans while wearing military medals and representing himself as a Canadian Forces veteran.
None of the allegations has been proven in court.