In the pictures, U.S. Army Reserve Maj. Anthony Angelo Calderone stands proud, sporting medals and bars for distinguished service and trainings in the Special Forces, for fighting in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia.
The truth is, he never earned most of them.
"I don't know how to express how sorry I am about this," Calderone said as he was sentenced Tuesday in federal court in Salt Lake City to 5 months in prison. He was ordered to surrender to federal authorities in April.
Calderone was indicted in March 2007 on charges of unauthorized wearing of military medals, official false statement and fraud. According to the indictment, Calderone wore numerous medals and badges he didn't earn, including a Special Forces tab and a coveted Silver Star the third highest medal of valor in the military.
In personnel records, Calderone included the awards, decorations and listed tours of duty and military training that he never did, the indictment said. Federal prosecutors said Calderone marched with the medals on and told members of his Army Reserve Unit in Utah about his adventures overseas.
"Calderone continuously advised unit members that he had been with the Special Forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s training rebels to fight the Soviet Army," assistant U.S. attorney Rob Lund wrote in court papers. "Calderone also advised members of the unit that, as a member of the 19th Special Forces Group, he had fought in the battle of Mogadishu in Somalia with Task Force Ranger in October of 1993 for which he earned a Silver Star."
In reality, the 19th SFG said none of its members were in Afghanistan before 2002, no member was at the battle of Mogadishu, and no member has ever received the Silver Star.
According to papers filed in federal court, Calderone served as an Army reservist at Fort Douglas since being released from active duty in 1988. Calderone's defense attorney said he did receive awards for his work and was in the process of completing some of the Special Forces courses, but "voluntarily withdrew for an unstated reason."
Calderone served in Iraq from 2004 to 2006 and seemed to be well respected.
"It is at the end of his tour in Iraq that the problems seemed to arise for Mr. Calderone," defense attorney David Finlayson wrote, asking for a lighter sentence.
In 2005, then-Capt. Calderone submitted a promotions packet, including a photograph of himself with the decorations. He got a promotion and a pay raise, federal prosecutors said. Calderone signed forms listing medals that he wasn't actually authorized to wear.
An e-mail spat with an Army sergeant trying to verify his records led to an investigation and, ultimately, the indictment. In September, Calderone struck a plea deal with federal prosecutors, who agreed to drop the fraud charge.
Throughout Tuesday's sentencing, Calderone sat with his head in his hand. Lund, who is also a member of the 19th Special Forces, brought fellow soldiers to the stand to testify about the meaning of the medals.
"Your resume is worn on your uniform," Lt. Col. Randy Watt said. "To falsify yourself by displaying awards and citations you don't have is dishonorable to the soldiers who came before."
Finlayson said Calderone has been "disgraced," lost his job and Army career. As the judge pronounced sentence, Calderone's head slumped to the table and he began shaking. He buried his head in his lawyer's lap and cried."If I go to jail it will probably save my life, but my soul it's already been destroyed," he told the judge. "I'm ashamed. I'm humiliated."
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