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Bogus war hero sentenced to 30 days in federal prison

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Paul Schroeder, 41, billed himself as a former Special Forces sergeant with two Purple Hearts, three Bronze Stars and two Meritorious Service Medals. He also claimed to have served in Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa and Central and South America. (Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle)

A Texas man who embellished his military record to appear as a highly-decorated war hero has been sentenced to 30 days in federal prison, authorities said.

Paul A. Schroeder, 41, of Shenandoah, was convicted of altering a military or naval discharge certificate, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced Monday. The former director of counseling for the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Foundation of America admitted he altered his military discharge certificate.

United States District Judge David Hittner ordered Schroeder serve 30 days in prison, followed by one year of supervised release. He also ordered Schroeder pay a fine of $3,000.

Schroeder, according to court records, applied for military meritorious service license plates with the Texas Department of Transportation in 2009. Schroeder certified in the application that he had been awarded the Silver Star and supported this claim with a fraudulently altered certificate of release or discharge from active duty purporting to have been issued under authority of the Department of Defense.

FBI officials later found that Schroeder also falsely reported he was the recipient of numerous awards and training from various combat schools, including two Purple Heart awards, three Bronze Star awards, two Meritorious Service Medals, training from Special Forces Assessment and Selection, Army Ranger School, Pathfinder Course, Jumpmaster School, Airborne School, Military Freefall School, and the Combat Dive Qualification Course.

"It was a grave insult,” Houston Police Department Cpt. Gregory Fremin told KENS5.com. "Mr. Schroeder, Paul, was one of those individuals that was a very dynamic speaker, and he captivated an audience, but at the end of the day he was a charlatan, and he was a fraud.”

Schroeder will begin serving his 30-day sentence sometime after Jan. 1, the station reports.

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