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Palm Springs man charged with wearing unauthorized military medals to surrender

Medals - Burton at Coronado
A Palm Springs man who has never served in the military is expected to surrender to authorities Thursday to face charges of wearing military medals he did not earn, authorities said today.

Steve Burton, 39, has agreed to surrender at the U.S. District Court in Riverside. He was charged Friday by federal prosecutors in L.A. with the unauthorized wearing of military medals after he was allegedly seen and photographed wearing military uniforms and decorations.

The FBI was contacted by a Navy commander after she attended her high school reunion and saw Burton wearing a Marine Corps uniform displaying several medals, including the Navy Cross, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and others, according to an affidavit filed in United States District Court.

The Navy Cross is the highest medal the Navy awards and is the second highest award given for valor, second only to the Medal of Honor.

Suspicious, the commander asked to be photographed with Burton. The photo was used in the investigation. The FBI said it also found that Burton had made Internet postings about being a Marine and had written about his “combat experience” as well as his “service” in Afghanistan and Iraq. He also allegedly posted a picture of himself standing on a beach at Coronado wearing a Marine dress uniform with three rows of medals.

The misdemeanor offense of unauthorized wearing of military medals carries a statutory maximum penalty of one year in federal prison.

-- Baxter Holmes

Photo: Steve Burton posing at Coronado beach. Credit: U.S. District Court.

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Comments () | Archives (62)

Probation and a fine will be what he gets. I don't want to pay for some insecure man to sit in a Federal prison for 85% of his sentence. Want to teach him a lesson? Make him go back on Facebook or wherever he is posting and recant ALL his statements and pics. Then fine him!

I wonder if this is the same guy I witnessed in Arcadia around opening day of Oak Tree starting a fight at a local bar ... The thing is this guy was claiming Air Force and had all kinds of bars on him the fight was broken up by guys in the currently in the military and they thought something was very odd about this guy .

His classmate has nothing better to do? Just tell him he's a poseur and get on with it. She had the FBI investigating him? This woman needs to get a life.

Give the guy a break. Why be so uptight people? As it is the guy probably has serious mental issues.

And to think, he probably paid over $500 to buy 21 medals and have them mounted... Idiot...

There are some posters here that don't seem to think this is a big deal. Please do some research and find out what's involved in EARNING any of these medals. Just like the Medal of Honor, many of the recipients of the Navy Cross lost their lives to save their fellow soldiers/sailors. This type of valor and sacrifice is truly rare.

Wearing the medals and military uniform that he didn't earn is pretty much the same thing as spitting in the faces of the true recipients of the medals who died or were wounded in battle.

Who cares?

Why is this a crime, exactly?

Aren't there bigger things in the world to worry about than somebody wearing a uniform and some metals????????
What a waste of taxpayers money!!!!!!

Having served in the military myself, I am saddened by the display of unearned recognition of valor, let alone wearing of the uniform. This guy has been dishonored publicly. As much as it turns my stomach to see this fool, someone we called a 'PX Hero', it would piss me off even more to see my tax dollars clothe, feed and shelter him for a year. He's a disgrace, he's been publicly shamed and will face judgement on his dishonor in the next life. Debt paid - let's move on to the serial rapists, child molesters and national security issues at hand.

To the person who commented about the uniform being a 'costume', let's get some respect for the uniform. Serving in the military these days is voluntary, and those men and women are putting themselves in harm's way to make sure you have the right (and more importantly CONTINUE TO HAVE THE RIGHT) to call what they wear each day, with pride mind you, a 'costume' without fear of retaliation and persecution from the government. Your comment has touched a nerve far deeper in me than the subject of this news story! Costume, really? I pray we never need these 'costumed' heros on our home soil...

pointless... you people love being bothered by the little things others do in their lives. people are so picky and love controling others and what they do. get a life humans

What about every actor who ever wore a medal in a film or lets say you wear your dads old uniform and medals to a costume party?

Yes the guy is a jerk....rather than put him in prison why not make him clean the diapers of guys at the VA hospital who are in wheel chairs from the last cycle of wars

The guy was trying to get laid.

Being busted with his lame attempt should be his only penalty for this, granted it was stupid but its not like he was dressing up as a cop and pulling people over.

He was trying to play the hero card and get some snatch.

it was a failed attempt.

big deal, move on. obviously this guy is either very horny and incapable of getting laid, or just a serious liar. either way. harmless

This person has been outed as an imposter. I think the story hitting the internet is punishment enough. Though I wouldn't mind a few Marines have a "pep" talk with him.


After a 1 year prison sentence, I suggest he then be required to perform 2 years of community service painting barracks and cleaning latrines at Camp Pendleton all the while being required to wear a yellow T-Shirt printed with - "I LIED ABOUT BEING A MARINE" on the front and back.

Give me a break, what about the real soldier who killed 13 people, He was wearing a uniform and medals. This guy is only hurting himself and the self-righteous who think this is some major crime. I served my country and I can care less what someone else does. The military should have been investigating the ahole who killed our own soldiers while wearing a uniform, not some clown pretending to be a hero. You people need to put your priorities in order. For Christ sake they can burn an american flag and not go to jail.!!

I've seen this before I'm sure. I just can't remember who... Oh wait wasn't it John Wayne.
He used to wear lots of medals I remember. Did he ever get charged for it?

This soldier is disgrace and dishonor. A false hero, he should be dishonorable discharge. Right now!
He did not earn this medals he cheat.

R. Robertson - let's get some perspective here. No one is spitting in anyone's face or diminishing the honor of our heroes. Why get in a tizzy because some nutcase is playing pretend? Would you get upset if the uniform and medals were worn on Halloween? In CA it is not uncommon to see people dressing up on days outside of Halloween, playing out their own Walter Mitty fantasies - and we dismiss them as kooks. Was anyone materially injured by him? It is a terrible waste of taxpayer dollars to prosecute someone that likely just needs some psychiatric attention. Really!

Wearing the medals and military uniform that he didn't earn is pretty much the same thing as spitting in the faces of the true recipients of the medals who died or were wounded in battle.


No sir, it isn't. Medals, no matter how they are earned, are mere baubles. They mean nothing. If the cause you fought for wasn't worth fighting for without being rewarded with a shiny new button then it wasn't worth fighting for even for an entire wardrobe of brass salad.

After re-introducing various medals, ranks, titles, etc, Napoleon remarked, "By such toys are men ruled." Quit being so shallow.

How does Hollywood do it? Is there a 'waiver' for Tom Cruise to wear medals he could never in a million years earn? BTW, one look at this guy and you know he's 5150. He prob tried to join up and was turned down. . .

I served in the United States Marine Corp from 1976 to 1980. For those that call the uniform a "costume" clearly you have no concept of what it takes to become a Marine. If you've seen Full Metal Jacket that's the bootcamp that I went through. For those that say, what's the harm? This person misrepresented himself as having earned the medals which desecrates all who served and showed the courage and valor to actually earn the medals. Veteran's Day is celebrated in remembrance of those that served and those that made the ultimate sacrifice. So once again, it's not a "costume" it's a UNIFORM and one that I wore proudly for 4 years after I earned the priviledge.

My daughter nearly had her feet amputated trying to earn her FIRST ribbon.
Give him to HER. LOL. No need to give him to the men. Imagine how embarrassed he'd be to take a beating by a 20-year-old, 5'4", 125lb. pink glitter Marine! OOH RAH!
The Fewer, The Prouder-- The Female Marines!

Yet another reason it should be illegal to sell, rent, trade or otherwise transfer your uniforms and honors. Like "Oscars", they should revert to the [military branch] from whence they came, who should retain rights over them.

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