Fake war hero jailed in embezzlement

Jason ‘Dakota’ Manning told company he was a decorated veteran.

LEBANON — A Cincinnati man who duped a Warren County company into believing he was a decorated war hero was sentenced Thursday to 10 days in jail for embezzling $5,466 from them.

Judge James Flannery also placed Jason “Dakota” Manning, 35, on probation for two years after he pleaded guilty to four courts of forgery and one count of grand theft during a sentencing hearing in Warren County Common Pleas Court.

He was accused of writing nine checks to himself while working for Vision Matters, a business in Clearcreek Twp. that provides services to the developmentally disabled.

On June 17, Manning pleaded guilty to the charges, after a grand jury on April 11 indicted him on nine counts of forgery and the single grand theft count.

Authorities said Manning has made full restitution as part of his plea agreement.

Federal authorities continue to track Manning, who told police he claimed to have received two Purple Hearts, a Silver Star with a Cluster and other military honors in résumés to 200 prospective employers in California and Clearcreek Twp.

“It doesn’t look like he has any war experience,” Clearcreek Twp. Police Chief John Terrill said after Manning was originally charged in December 2010.

Manning, whose family owned a Cincinnati restaurant, wrote the checks to himself while working in 2008 and 2009 for Vision Matters, then defaulted on a repayment agreement, according to court records.

Earlier this year, he briefly worked at an upscale restaurant on the California coastal city of Carmel before local police said his employer read an article in the Dayton Daily News about efforts to bring him back to Ohio to face charges stemming from the Vision Matters embezzlement.

Although court appeals have stalled federal prosecutions under the Stolen Valor Act, an agent with the U.S. Department of Defense assisted local authorities in Manning’s case and was considering charges against him stemming from allegedly falsifying federal medical records, Terrill said.

“His whole life was lies,” Terrill said after the sentencing.

As Manning’s pregnant wife looked on, he read a prepared statement to Flannery saying he trusted in God to keep him from further problems.

“Something good has come from this,” he told the judge.

With credit for seven days served, Manning should be free in three days.

“He wants to move on with his life,” said his lawyer, Charles M. Rittgers.

Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2261 or lbudd@DaytonDailyNews.com.

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