Former police officer convicted on false Purple Heart claims

Posted at 9:02 AM, May 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-03 09:03:12-04

CANTON, Ga. (AP) -- A former Georgia police officer has been convicted on six of seven charges related to falsely claiming he received a military Purple Heart.

News outlets reported that Shane Ladner was found guilty Tuesday of five counts of making false statements to the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office and the county tax commissioner to use the honor to get free license plates, as well as one count of a theft by taking. He was found not guilty of one theft charge.

The county sheriff's office conducted a six-week investigation into Ladner's Purple Heart claims in 2013, after he and his wife were injured during a wounded veterans' parade in Texas, drawing national attention.

His wife, Meg Ladner, who lost a leg in the accident, said in testimony that her husband was an "honorable man" who had been treated poorly since the crash.

Ladner had initially said he was wounded in Panama in 1989 during an operation to capture President Manuel Noriega, but hit attorneys later said he was awarded the medal after being wounded by shrapnel during a classified drug action in Honduras in 1991.

Superiors disputed the award in testimony. Ladner claimed the medal was lost when he sent it home from Central America. His attorney said during the trial that the Department of Veterans Affairs had verified the Purple Heart, but the attorney could not find the citation confirming receipt.

A sentencing date hasn't been set. Ladner faces up to five years in prison for each count.