Man accused of stolen valor worked at city hall

February 6, 2010 8:59:35 PM PST
A man is accused of faking his credentials, wearing several military medals that the FBI and Department of Justice says he didn't earn. And now, we've found out he had worked for one of Houston's city councilmembers. We first broke the story Friday night on Eyewitness News. And now we're learning even more details about the stolen valor arrest.

Eyewitness News started asking questions after seeing pictures on a blog of the suspect at Mayor Annise Parker's victory party. And that led to an FBI investigation.

We have learned Michael Patrick McManus met Councilmember Sue Lovell at a political function a few years ago. She says he was, in fact, wearing the uniform that is now in question. While she says the conversation was brief, a short time later, he did end up with a job at city hall.

"This, in my opinion, is someone who wants to be a hero, wants to be thought of as a hero and they don't deserve it," said John Breiden with the American Legion.

And one day after his arrest, we're learning McManus may have carried out his alleged charade inside Houston City Hall.

"He said that he wanted to come and work for city hall," said Councilmember Lovell. "We said please send your resume and he did."

Lovell confirms McManus once worked in her council office back in 2007. She says he was hired to be a council aide, but only lasted a few months due to an injury. She does recall, however, how he performed his duties.

"It was mainly, can he write letters, can you answer the phone and can you work on committees," said Lovell. "And those duties he did do well."

What she couldn't tell us, though, was whether her office ever checked his military records, which would have revealed his time in service as well as his military honors. She says, however, given his job title, that type of information was not pertinent to the position.

"The position that he was applying for did not require medals of valor," said Lovell.

According to the Department of Justice, McManus did actually serve in the Army between the years of 1984 and 1987. However, he never achieved a rank higher than private first class, nor did earn the Military Combat Awards and insignia he is accused of wearing.

As we first pointed out Friday night, those medals include two Distinguished Service crosses, a Purple Heart and a medal around his neck indicating he was the commander of the British Empire.

Pn the same blog which first exposed McManus, on Saturday, reaction to his arrest was overwhelming. One person wrote, "Nice job, gang! Let this be a lesson." Another person wrote, "I hope his arraignment and trial are televised. It would serve as a warning and a lesson for any other idiots out there wearing unauthorized decorations and such."

Councilmember Lovell says if the allegations are true, she can certainly understand the outrage.

"I can't imagine why any person would want to claim those kinds of medals when they had not earned them," she said.

Lovell is currently in Washington DC. She tells us she never spoke with McManus specifically about his medals. Nor did he wear his uniform to the office. She says she will be checking on Monday to see whether his application is still on file and exactly what he put on it.

According to the FBI, McManus is supposed to go before a federal judge on Monday. If he is convicted on charges of stolen valor, he could be sentenced to up to a year in federal prison.