Woman to plead guilty to federal stolen valor charges

PROVIDENCE – Sarah Jane Cavanaugh, a Warwick woman who was charged back in March by the U.S. Attorney’s office for allegedly fraudulently claiming to be a U.S. Marine Corps veteran with lung cancer and fraudulently claimed more than a quarter million dollars in benefits and contributions will plead guilty to those charges, U.S. Attorney Zachary A. Cunha announced Tuesday.

According to a plea agreement, Cavanaugh, Cunha said, will plead guilty to fraud, aggravated identity theft, forgery and fraudulent use of medals charges. Cavanaugh, 31, of East Greenwich, claimed to be a Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient despite there being no record of Cavanaugh ever serving in the U.S. military.

Cunha also alleged that Cavanaugh created fraudulent documents from the medical record information of a Marine veteran and an actual cancer-stricken Navy veteran she obtained while working at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Providence. She then allegedly created a scheme that helped her obtain more than $250,000 in cash, charitable donations and other services reserved for injured veterans, Cunha said.

The federal judge will determine Cavanaugh’s sentence, Cunha said. Two months after Cavanaugh’s arrest, the General Assembly passed legislation allowing prosecution of those who falsely represent themselves as a member of the military or a veteran. At the state level, the crime would be punishable by a year in prison and or a fine of up to $1,000.

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James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at Bessette@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.