Washoe County District Attorney’s Office says they have prosecuted the first stolen Valor case since the law was enacted. 

Washoe County DA Chris Hicks says that Kelsie Denise Hoover, a 25-year-old woman from Ohio, has been sentenced to close to 20 years in prison for burglary and fraud charges including submitting false applications for a driver’s license and vehicle registration and falsely claiming decorated military veteran status.

Hoover was arrested in Oregon last fall and extradited to Reno where she pleaded guilty in November. She is currently serving a three year sentence in Oregon for fraud charges that will run consecutive to the Washoe County sentence. Officials say the sentence ensures that Hoover will serve 728 days in the Washoe County Jail consecutive to the prison term, which has parole eligibility beginning after seven years has been served.

Thursday at her sentencing, prosecutors said she forged documents to apply for a purple heart license plate with the Nevada DMV, under the name Michael Cipriani in 2015. Hoover has used a number of aliases including Michael Straton Cipriani while in Washoe County.

Hoover was sentenced on one felony count of Burglary, one felony count of Possession of a Document or Personal Identity Information to Establish False Status, Membership, License or Identity, one felony count of Fraudulent Application for Driver’s License, one gross misdemeanor count of False Application to Obtain Vehicle Registration and one gross misdemeanor count of Stolen Valor. 

Officials say that in early 2015, a Washoe County School Police (WCSP) officer became suspicious of Hoover’s actions when she was working as a volunteer at a local high school under the name Michael Cipriani. They say she claimed to be a decorated and disabled combat veteran. While investigating a purchase Cipriani made using the school’s credit card, the WCSP officer came across a video posted on the Internet by a group called Guardians of Valor, which exposes people who pretend to be veterans or members of the military when they are not. It showed Cipriani being questioned about his military service in an airport.

The Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Investigation’s Division says it began assisting and further investigation showed the true identity of Cipriani to be Hoover and that she had applied for and been granted a Nevada Driver’s License under the name Michael Cipriani. The DMV says Hoover was given the Nevada Purple Heart license plates by providing DMV with falsified military records and discharge papers that claimed she had been awarded a number of medals including the Medal of Honor and the Purple Heart under the name Cipriani.

In addition, officials say Hoover fraudulently obtained employment as a certified counselor with a local non-profit organization assists children exposed to trauma.

During her trial, the State says they presented evidence that Hoover had boasted on social media after obtaining the Purple Heart license plates by writing “Nevada official! #purpleheart #army #plateswag.”  The prosecution also played a recorded phone call in which Hoover talked about fabricating a story about heroin addiction to explain her actions. 

In 2013, Congress passed a law making it illegal to impersonate a member of the military for material gain.