DRAPER — For over a decade, Kenneth Crocheron has dressed up in a fake uniform with medals he's never earned. He fooled one Utah family into thinking he's a decorated war hero.
"We fell for it," said James Jeanes, who helped expose the truth about Crocheron. "Everything that he had said."
Jeanes first met Kenneth Crocheron at church a decade ago.
"We kind of fell in love with the guy and his family," Jeanes said.
Jeanes served in the military and his wife's father was in the military as well. They took a special liking to Crocheron because of his military background.
"Said he went to Afghanistan, to Vietnam, got cancer from Agent Orange, got three Purple Hearts while he was in Vietnam," Jeanes said. "We hung on every word when he was talking about his military career."
He helped the Jeanes family in times of need. When their son suffered a rare disease and got a Jeep as part of a Make-a-Wish celebration, Crocheron was there.
"Presented [our son with] a certificate and made him an honorary Green Beret," Jeanes said.
These frauds and fakes and posers are using our reputation, a reputation that we earned in blood, to con and scam innocent people.
–former Master Sgt. Jeff Hinton
In 2007, Crocheron told Jeanes he was deploying to Afghanistan for one week, and he even called.
"I heard gunfire in the background and he said, 'Oh, I'm in a firefight. I gotta go.' So, he hung up," Jeanes said.
In recent months, Jeanes says Crocheron showed up wherever his wife went, and wouldn't stay away. He decided to call his commanding officer to find out more about Crocheron.
He called the 5th Special Forces in Kentucky and the Utah National Guard. They both said they didn't know Crocheron. When Jeanes sent photos of Crocheron to the special forces command they told him he wasn't who he said he was.
"I'm looking at them and I can tell you he's a clown," Jeanes said they told him.
They told Jeanes the uniform and medals were wrong.
"I went into a depression for about a half hour, then I got angry about it," Jeanes said.
Then, Crocheron was exposed on a Green Beret website as a fake.
"The only people they can't fool are us," said former Master Sgt. Jeff Hinton.
Hinton served as a Green Beret.
"These frauds and fakes and posers are using our reputation, a reputation that we earned in blood, to con and scam innocent people," Hinton said.
Jeanes ordered his military records and discovered Crocheron served in an artillery unit at Fort Douglas from 1966 to 1971.
You tell a story, and sometimes you tell a story to cover a story. I'm stuck in the middle of this thing, and I meant no harm to anyone, but I've caused harm to everyone.
"This guy is a complete fraud and has been lying to us the whole time," Jeanes said.
They confronted Crocheron last week, and KSL TV confronted him today.
"I'm not a member of the military, nor have I been since 1971," Crocheron said.
He says the lies spiraled after trying to inspire the sick child.
"You tell a story, and sometimes you tell a story to cover a story," Crocheron said. "I'm stuck in the middle of this thing, and I meant no harm to anyone, but I've caused harm to everyone."
From what Jeanes was able to discover, and KSL TV was able to find out, Crocheron was not posing as a colonel for any benefits. That kind of fraud is a crime.
The Supreme Court struck down the Stolen Valor Act last year, a ruling that says it's not illegal to pose as a military hero.