Woman pretending to be a US Marine sentenced to six years in prison

by Seth Udinski

Seth Udinski, FISM News


A woman who was convicted of stealing over $280,000 while pretending to be a United States Marine was sentenced to six years in prison last week for various charges, including identity theft and forgery.

Sarah Jane Cavanaugh, 32, of Rhode Island was convicted by a Providence court for falsifying her identity for five years, claiming she was an injured U.S. Marine when in fact she had never served in the military.

She allegedly stole roughly $284,000 in benefits and donations, based on the fabrication she told of being a wounded Marine veteran who had served in the Middle East.

The Hill reported that she claimed to be a Purple Heart recipient and even attend multiple charity events in falsely decorated dress blues. She also ascended to several high-level roles in various veterans organizations in Rhode Island.

Her scheme was uncovered in early 2022 when one of the charitable organizations to which she attempted to apply ran a background check and discovered the truth.

U.S. Attorney Zachary Cunha described the farce, saying,

Sarah Cavanaugh’s conduct in the course of her scheme is nothing short of appalling. By brazenly laying claim to the honor, service, and sacrifice of real veterans, this defendant preyed on the charity and decency of others for her own shameless financial gain.

In addition to her prison sentence, the courts demanded she return the near-$300,000-worth of money to the various charities and veteran organizations she swindled.

Author’s Biblical Analysis

When I first read this report, I was floored. I wondered how it was possible that this woman was able to fool so many people for so long, and on so many levels.

There are many lessons for Christians. We see here the reminder that our sins will always find us out, and that justice will win the day in the end.

Furthermore, we are reminded of a basic, simple truth: Do not lie.

Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds… – Colossians 3:9

Let’s get one thing straight right away: I am not referring to what some will call a “noble lie,” such as the lie that Rahab the prostitute told to help the Israelite spies in Joshua 2. The reality is, many of us will use such things as this to try to justify lying. Yes, there is such a thing as a noble lie. But it does not justify bending the truth for selfish gain.

This is the type of lying to which I am referring, and it is a temptation common to man. We all have been tempted to bend or twist the truth for our own comfort or personal gain. Perhaps we fabricate stories to make ourselves look good, or perhaps we people-please, giving our friends what their itching ears want to hear so we will remain in good standing with them. These all fall under the category of a lie.

In the case of this report, we can see very clearly how lying for personal gain can harm the people around us. This must be found nowhere among Christians.

How do we combat the sin of lying? The antidote is simple: we cling to the truth. Jesus once said,

And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.  – John 8:32

We must always seek to speak the truth. Do not fall into the trap of speaking falsely for the sake of comfort. Speak the truth always. Do it in love, to be sure, but never waver from speaking “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”

We see from our Lord Himself the promise that comes from living in and knowing the truth: freedom. Our conscience is clear, and we can lay our heads to rest at night knowing there are no skeletons to be found in our closets.

So hold fast to the truth, knowing this pleases your Lord, the God of truth.

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. – Exodus 20:16