SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A Marin County man pleaded guilty Thursday in San Francisco Federal Court to a stolen valor charge. This comes a year after the ABC7 I-Team first revealed this well-known figure in veterans groups had lied about his service and raised money based on those lies.
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For 10 years, Greg Allen had so many people fooled that he was a drill instructor, a special forces Marine, a sniper with two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star. On Thursday, he finally admitted in court that he lied.
The 69-year-old did not comment as he left court after pleading guilty to the stolen valor charge. But his attorney told the I-Team's Dan Noyes that Allen is sorry for misleading so many people.
"And I think they have every right to be very upset," said Charles Dresow. "And I think Greg feels very badly about that and understands completely why people are upset with him, why people will never talk to him again."
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Allen admitted in court to using a phony Purple Heart to raise $23,000 from people who thought they were giving to a war hero. Allen helped run Marin County veterans groups and owned a San Rafael gym called the "House of Steel", for anyone from soccer moms to young men interested in the military.
When Dan Noyes first approached him more than a year ago, Allen insisted he was a Marine lieutenant.
Allen: "I'm done talking with you, partner, back up."
Dan: "Have you ever been a Marine?"
Allen: "Yes, I have been."
Allen: "You're down here to do a hit piece on this place."
Dan: "No, only on you."
Allen: "And on me."
Dan: "Are you ready to admit now that you've never been a Marine?"
Allen: "No, I'm not going to admit anything to you because it's not true."
But, his records show he never served in the Marines and was discharged from the Navy after just eight months for a bum knee.
The young men he trained were so impressed by his phony stories that some got tattoos honoring Allen, even with his fake rank of lieutenant.
"You can't undo that psychological damage to some of these kids," said Scott Parkhurst. "Some are stronger, they will overcome this, but a lot of them, it's gonna leave a scar."
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Parkhurst helped Allen with his gym and his appearances in Marin. It bothers him most that Allen wore a Purple Heart he didn't deserve.
"And I seen so many guys... lose their limbs," said Parkhurst. "And then he had the gall to put on a Purple Heart. That, just, there's no words for that."
Allen could have received a year in prison, but both sides agreed to just three years' probation. The judge says Allen will have to pay back the money he raised with that phony persona, before he pays a fine to be determined at a hearing in November. Allen is now working at an East Bay tire store.
You can see Allen's military records here
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I-Team: Marin County man pleads guilty to stolen valor