WARREN - A Girard woman accused of tampering with her military records to get benefits authorities said she was not entitled to waived her preliminary hearing Friday in Municipal Court, meaning her case was automatically bound over to Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.
Shirley Doughty, 54, appeared with her attorney, Robert Shaker, before Warren Municipal Court Judge Thomas P. Gysegem.
Doughty was arrested at her residence Dec. 11 after Trumbull County Sheriff's Office Maj. Tom Stewart filed a warrant for her arrest on a tampering with records charge - a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
Tribune Chronicle / Virginia Shank
Shirley Doughty, 54, of Girard, right, appears in Warren Municipal Court on Friday with her attorney, Robert Shaker.
Police records indicate she was released on a summons at that time because of a medical condition.
On Sept. 20, Cari Delgado of the Trumbull County Veterans Commission in Warren reported that on Aug. 20, Doughty applied for financial assistance from the Veterans Administration, according a sheriff's office report.
Doughty produced several documents, including a U.S. Army discharge record known as a DD214 that had been altered, the report states. The report claims that it appeared Doughty had copied the DD214 and made changes on the discharge, "such as medals she had received in the Army, etc." The report states that Doughty's signature on the DD214 was in the wrong place and in blue ink and that the area of separation on the form wasn't signed. She also gave the wrong Social Security numbers for both of her children, the report states.
According to the VA office in Warren, Doughty was not honorably discharged, but received a general discharge under honorable conditions. They said she did not serve long enough in the military to receive benefits from the VA.
She had asked for $2,150 in financial assistance for herself and her children.
Investigators also claim that Doughty lied about being an Iraq war veteran and being a Purple Heart recipient to receive special Purple Heart license plates for her vehicles.
The report states that on Sept. 30, when Stewart questioned her about the documents, she admitted she gave false information on the birth of her children after Stewart showed her he had birth records for both of them.
Doughty told Stewart the DD214 form she submitted was the one sent to her by the Army and that she was "confused" about the one she presented because she was in the Army on two separate dates and times, the report states.
Doughty also told Stewart she never received a Purple Heart and was never in Iraq even though the form showed she received a medal. She told Stewart she never received an honorable discharge and denied making the DD214 on her own, but insisted that's how it was sent to her, the report states. She said she would try to locate the name of the person she talked to.
When questioned about the license plates on her vehicle, which indicate she received a Purple Heart, she said she showed her discharge papers to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles in Austintown and was issued the plates.
Veterans Affairs Director Herman Breuer said it's rare for his office to see people tampering or altering their military records to get benefits.
"I'm sure it happens but it's just not something we typically see," he said.
Several veterans were in court to, they said, show their outrage and concern about Doughty's alleged actions.
Doughty, along with her attorney, declined to comment.