Charity to shut down after leader exposed as a war hero fake

Charity to shut down after leader exposed as a war hero fake »Play Video
Lehn Joseph Bundrick

MARION COUNTY, Ore. - An Oregon charity is shutting down after disturbing secrets are revealed about its leader.

Many people thought 49-year-old Lehn Joseph Bundrick, the president of The Long Trail Home, was a war hero.

He managed to fool members of multiple veterans groups into believing he had done great things for his country. But the lies began to unravel and the Marion County Sheriff's Office is trying to figure out if he can be charged with a crime.

The charity helps veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

This summer Bundrick led a ceremony in the town of Jefferson to honor Navy SEALs who died in Afghanistan.

Other veterans say he claimed to have known some of those SEALs because he was a Navy SEAL himself. They say Bundrick claimed to have won the Silver Star, Bronze Star and several Purple Hearts.

They say he faked a presidential citation for heroism before other veterans got suspicious and he took off.

"He was very convincing," said Bill Stam, a member of The Long Trail Home. "He had a lot of people snowed. He's good. I didn't think I could ever be, especially in the military aspect of it, but when I’d ask him military questions, he had the correct answers."

Stam and his wife opened their home to Bundrick, and he lived with them for four months in the town of Jefferson.

Bundrick was honored with other veterans at a Native American Powwow in Salem in November.

KATU News was told Bundrick had spent some time in the Navy.

Bundrick hasn’t returned charity members' phone calls or calls from KATU News.

Members of The Long Trail Home are shutting down the charity because they're concerned about what could happen to donations. The Marion County Sheriff's Office is still investigating but says so far it appears Bundrick hasn't used the charity’s money for anything illegal since he was an officer of the organization.

But the sheriff's office is very concerned about why he would go to such great lengths to fake being a war hero. Veterans are also concerned because court records show a man with the same name, but different birth date and lots of aliases, was convicted in Montana for theft in 1999.

In 2006 Congress passed The Stolen Valor Act, which made lying about being a war hero a crime. But recently, an appeals court ruled it was unconstitutional.

That ruling came into play a year and a half ago when KATU News exposed another war hero fake.

The U.S. attorney in Oregon couldn't charge Lafayette Keaton after KATU News proved he lied about being a war hero from World War II, Korea and Vietnam, because the appeals court ruled freedom of speech allows someone to lie about winning medals for heroism. Now, the constitutionality of the law is in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court.