Rebel With a Cause

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Filed under: Fraud and Deception

A Leader of Veterans Is Exposed as a Fraud
by Dan Frosch w/Toby Lyles
NYTimes.com
May 14, 2009

15soldierinlineDenver — When Rick Duncan spoke at veterans’ events in Colorado, recounting how he was badly wounded when his Humvee was blown apart by a roadside bomb in Iraq, it was not unusual for those in the audience to weep.

Richard Glen Strandlof, a k a Rick Duncan, who founded a Colorado veterans’ group.
After all, Mr. Duncan was a leading voice for veterans here, a charismatic former Marine captain who told of having been at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, who spoke movingly of his war wounds and whose advocacy group led a drive to help homeless veterans in Colorado Springs.

But on Thursday the Colorado Veterans Alliance, the organization he founded, announced that it was disbanding, having discovered that his entire story was a sham.

As it turns out, the group said, Rick Duncan is not even Rick Duncan but instead a man named Richard Glen Strandlof.

And Mr. Strandlof, who contrary to his claims never graduated from the Naval Academy or served in the military, is a 32-year-old drifter with a history of at least one criminal conviction, for car theft in Nevada. As a condition of his probation in that case, he was ordered to appear in a mental health court.

In a statement issued Wednesday, Dan Warvi, a board member of the Colorado Veterans Alliance, said that it was while compiling documents to enable the alliance to operate as a nonprofit that members grew skeptical of their leader’s claims.

The statement did not say precisely what had raised suspicions. In any case, the alliance alerted the F.B.I., which detained Mr. Strandlof on Tuesday at a meeting of the group in Denver. He was turned over to the Denver police, who arrested him on an outstanding warrant for driving with a suspended license in El Paso County, which includes Colorado Springs. He was ordered held on $1,000 bond.

Federal authorities are now looking into whether Mr. Strandlof improperly solicited money for the alliance, said a law enforcement official not authorized to speak for attribution.

News of the arrest surprised many Colorado veterans. Read the rest of this story here.