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A 23-year-old Hardin County man admitted Friday in federal court to charges of impersonating an U.S. Army officer, wire fraud, making false statements or representations and entering government property under false pretenses for the purposes of committing a felony.
Despite being a civilian with no record of service in the armed forces, Jonathan Wade Short admitted to charges that he impersonated a soldier between March 8 and Dec. 7, 2012.
Short also admitted in U.S. District Court to meeting the daughter of a retired member of the armed forces on a social networking site in August 2012 where he falsely claimed to be a highly decorated soldier, who had been on multiple deployments and received high military honors including the Purple Heart.
Approximately one month later, when the two met for the first time in person, Short was dressed in fatigues wearing the rank of sergeant, a Combat Infantryman Badge and Parachutists Badge, Combat Patch and a Ranger tab.
While dating the woman, who is identified in court records only as A.V., Short repeatedly demanded and obtained financial benefits and discounts only entitled to current and former members of the armed forces of the United States.
Authorities said Short possessed at least seven Army dress uniforms with accompanying ribbons, badges and medals, and wore them in public and on social networking sites as part of his continuous effort to impersonate a decorated combat veteran.
Between Oct. 6 and approximately Nov. 16, 2012, in Hardin County, Short repeatedly asked A.V. to send him money under the premise that he needed it to defray expenses related to his son’s emergency medical treatment at Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville. Short had no son who was ill or hospitalized, officials said.
Officials also said he demanded the money in order to exploit A.V.’s belief he was a noble soldier in a desperate family and financial situation. During the two-month period, she gave Short nearly $1,000, according to information from the courts.
On or about Dec. 7, Short admitted to A.V. he was not a soldier and he solicited money from her based on false pretenses. He refused to return her money when asked. On or about Oct. 11, at Fort Knox, Short was apprehended by military police for attempting to impersonate a soldier. Once an investigation revealed the extent of his fraud, he was apprehended and detained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation near Springfield, Ill.
In pleading guilty to the charges, Short faces a possible combined maximum term of 23 years in prison, a combined maximum fine of $500,000 and a 10-year term of supervised release. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 15 in Louisville.