Richard Strandlof, Stolen Valor, and fraud

There’s a mention of Richard Strandlof in a current Cracked article. He was one of the people charged under the Stolen Valor Act for falsely claiming to be a veteran (in his case Strandlof claimed to a Marine named Richard Duncan who had served in Iraq).

Now many people have questioned the constitutionality of this law. Is it okay to criminalize lying about yourself?

But my question is why Strandlof wasn’t just charged with what appears to be a clearer crime - fraud. Strandlof didn’t just tell people he was a veteran. He started an organization and collected donations.

Rather than open up the whole legal issue of whether it was illegal for Strandlof to tell lies about being a veteran, why didn’t the prosecutor just charge him with telling lies for financial gain? Even most of the people who argue against the Stolen Valor Act are going to agree that fraud should be illegal.


A CNN article I found on him says that the FBI was investigating him for fraud. Since he was never charged, it seems they didn’t find any evidence of financial gain. Maybe his charity wasn’t fraudulent?