I-TEAM: Fake Marine from Marin County pleads not guilty to charges

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Saturday, March 26, 2016
I-TEAM: Fake Marin from Marin County pleads not guilty to charges
A Marin County man pleaded not guilty on Friday to a federal stolen valor charge.

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. (KGO) -- A Marin County man pleaded not guilty on Friday to a federal stolen valor charge. This comes almost a year after the ABC7 I-Team first exposed Greg Allen for raising money by pretending to be a war hero.

The charging documents say Allen raised $23,000 by posing as a Marine veteran using fake medals, including two Purple Hearts and Bronze Star with "V" for valor.

RELATED: I-Team: Fake Marin County Marine faces federal charges

In San Francisco federal court, he entered a not guilty plea.

"The not guilty plea is a denial that there's been a violation of the offense. A not guilty plea can always be withdrawn and a guilty plea can be entered after reviewing the evidence," Defense attorney Charles Dresow said.

The I-Team first uncovered the evidence last May. Allen claimed he was a veteran of the Vietnam War, a recon Marine, drill instructor and sniper.

VIDEO: Fake Marin County Marine accused of abusive training

He used that persona to run the House of Steel, a gym in San Rafael that attracted young men who want to join the Marines.

When Dresow was asked if Allen was prepared to apologize to the veterans and to the young men he lied to, Dresow replied, "My advice to my client is he's not making any statements at this time."

Allen had a lot to say when I first approached him last year, insisting he was a Marine.

When asked if he was ready to admit that he's never been a Marine, Allen responded at the time, "No, I'm not going to admit anything to you because it's not true."

VIDEO: Phony Marin County Marine packs up gym as he faces federal investigations

He didn't know at the time the I-Team had already pulled his records that show just eight months in the Navy before an honorable discharge for a bum knee.

The I-Team spoke with the FBI special agent who oversaw Allen's stolen valor investigation.

"The case is important to the FBI for a couple reasons. First, people were defrauded out of their money, but secondly Mr. Allen's actions really cheapened the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform," Special Agent Scott Schelble said.

Several veterans were in court on Friday to see Allen finally face the federal charge, a misdemeanor that carries a maximum year in prison and $100,000 fine.

"It was so flagrant just seeing him marching around like a peacock up there," Navy Vietnam Veteran Gary Williams said.

RELATED: I-Team: FBI investigates fake Marine from Marin County

Williams says he watched Allen at several parades in Marin with his phony uniform and medals.

"I know a lot of people who earned a lot of awards and paid a heavy price for them and this guy is just a fraud," he said.

Allen is set to be back in court in May. The I-Team will keep track of this case and return with updates.

You can see Allen's military records here