Local News

Wake Forest man accused of posing as veteran

Posted January 12, 2011 3:03 p.m. EST
Updated January 12, 2011 7:08 p.m. EST

A Wake Forest man was arrested Tuesday on accusations that he posed as a veteran to get money from two local veterans groups.

Thomas Eugene Skellion, 43, of 1908 Capricorn Drive, faces one count of obtaining property under false pretenses.

He was in the Wake County jail Wednesday under a $5,000 bond.

Wake Forest police say Skellion posed as a veteran from October 2008 to February 2010 and cheated the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars out of more than $1,500.

Frank Stancil, department adjutant with the American Legion in Raleigh, said officials found out that Skellion was asking for money while dressed a soldier in front of a Wake Forest Walmart.

They say that, when Skellion applied to be a member of a VFW post in Raleigh and said he had won five of the military’s top medals, red flags went up.

Bruce Edwards, quartermaster of the VFW of North Carolina, said Edwards applied to be a member in June and presented himself as a decorated war veteran with several Silver Stars and Bronze Stars.

“It was kind of suspicious-looking, because there were so many,” Edwards said.

That’s when, Edwards said, he asked the national VFW to investigate the claims.

“I spent 21 years in the Army,” he said. “I'm a combat veteran. Anybody who is in that situation would be disgusted and appalled by this type of behavior.”

Wake Forest police said Skellion, who is also being investigated by the FBI, did less than two weeks of basic training in 1984 before he was discharged from the Army.

He allegedly told the local veterans groups that he was a green beret who spent 24 years in Special Forces.

Edwards said that Skellion was also active in the Wake Forest VFW post, where he was the post historian, and also ran an online charity called “Operation Soldier Care Package.”

He was recognized by the Wake Forest Purple Heart Association in 2009 for having three Purple Hearts – honors he never actually received.

According to court records, Skellion was charged in 2008 with embezzlement but pleaded guilty to misdemeanor larceny and was sentenced to 12 months on probation.