CAMDEN, N.J. – A judge Friday ordered former Atlantic City Mayor Robert Levy to serve three years probation and pay a $5,000 fine for lying about his Vietnam War service to receive extra veteran's benefits.
During a sentencing hearing, U.S. District Court Judge Jerome Simandle also ordered Levy to repay the $25,000 in extra benefits he received as a result of the lies.
Known as the "missing mayor" because he dropped out of sight for two weeks last fall, Levy later admitted to lying about what he did in the war in order to obtain the extra veteran's benefits.
He stepped down as mayor last October, after admitting his two-week absence was to attend a clinic for treatment of substance abuse and mental health issues.
During Friday's hearing, Simandle said Levy unquestionably suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.
"This case is ultimately a sad case of human failure that was provoked and promoted by being asked as a 17-year-old to do some very difficult and dangerous duty on behalf of their country," Simandle said.
The judge said Levy continues to exaggerate his military service, specifically by saying he did work for a special operations unit called "the pathfinders," which set up drop zones during the war and made other combat preparations behind enemy lines.
Levy insisted he had done several missions with the unit even though he was not a member of it.
"I wasn't no hero, running around like Rambo," Levy said. "I was scared to death. I was running around with a radio on my back, doing the best I can."
But Simandle noted that officials with the Veteran's Administration interviewed commanders and members of the special unit Levy claimed to have served with, and none remembered him.
Ultimately, the judge said Levy continues having trouble determining what is real and what is not.
"What he went through was a crisis," the judge said. "He didn't come out of it well."