An Arizona man who founded several veterans groups has been arrested and is now facing three felonies after lying about his service to receive veteran status on his driver’s license and plates.
According to 12 News, 45-year-old Eric Wolfe was arrested by detectives from the Arizona Department of Transportation on suspicion of forgery and using falsified documents.
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office has taken custody of Wolfe, with the the Attorney’s Office filing a direct complaint for three felony counts of forgery and possessing a forged instrument during his first hearing on Thursday.
According to ADOT officials, Wolfe submitted a fake DD214 in order to get a special license designation that highlights a service member’s contribution after separating from the service.
However, the US Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General’s office determined that Wolfe had never served in the USAF, something he had been claiming for a long time.
Wolfe is the founder of Project 22 LLC as well as president and director for the nonprofit Freedom K-9 Rehab, who teamed up with the Arizona Animal Welfare League (AAWL) to provide service animals to veterans with PTSD.
Wolfe even duped local media into believing his story. In a Fox 12 report titled Valley veteran Pays it Forward to other vets, they stated that “Eric Wolfe has come a long way. It was just a few years ago that this Valley dog trainer and U.S. Air Force veteran put a gun in his mouth and was ready to end his life.”
Wolfe claimed he founded the organizations because he had lost many comrades to suicide and that he too had experienced trauma in the Global War on Terror.
ADOT says they are going to investigate whether or not Wolfe used his fraudulent affiliations to defraud businesses and other organizations for the sake of profit.
The AAWL has released a statement distancing themselves from Wolfe, saying that the “AAWL is a victim of this deception and considers it a reprehensible act of the worst kind. We have nothing but the highest regard and utmost respect for the honorable men and women (and dogs) that serve, or have served, in our military.“
Wolfe’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 27, with court records showing a public defender already appointed to represent him in the criminal matter.
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