Rick Strandlof: The paper trail behind Colorado's biggest stolen valor case
This week's feature story, "Will the real Rick Strandlof please stand up?," explores the identities of a Denver college student who pretended to be a decorated Marine veteran. Although the Supreme Court overturned the Stolen Valor Act last month, effectively nixing any charges against him, Strandlof left quite a paper trail behind him.
Click through to see some examples.
Strandlof's Montana mugshot:
In 1998, Strandlof, then known as Rick Pierson, sued Aromark Correctional Services for allegedly exposing him to a carcinogen during his stay in Montana's Cascade County Correctional Facility.
In 2004, Strandlof was arrested for stealing a gold Ford Explorer from Budget Rent-A-Car in Reno, Nevada. He later pled guilty. Strandlof Reno Police Report
As Rick Duncan, Strandlof pretended to be a severely wounded Marine Corps captain decorated with military medals. When his board of directors at the Colorado Veterans Alliance grew suspicious of his back story, they reported him. Below is an example of the complaint against him: Rick Strandlof Complaint
Click through for additional documents and photos.
Strandlof, as Rick Gold, with former friends.
As Rick Gold, Strandlof listed his life story -- including a stint in the Israeli Defense Forces -- on Facebook. Rick Gold also claimed a job at Colorado Krav Maga. When employees discovered the untruth, they took to Facebook and other online outlets to publish a correction.
Click through for additional photos.
Once Rick Gold had been outed, Strandlof send this message of apology to former friend Rebecca Saltzman on Facebook.
Although Strandlof did not graduate from Sentinel High School in Missoula, Montana, he participated in drama productions. (Photo cropped by school officials to protect other students.)
Under his real name, Rick Strandlof joined Occupy Denver in October and became involved in its free kitchen, the Thunderdome.
In Colorado, 47-year-old Colorado college student Pam Sterner wrote this paper for a political science assignment. It would later become the foundation for the Stolen Valor Act of 2006. Stolen Valor Paper
More from our Follow That Story archive: "Stolen Valor was born in Colorado before dying with the Supreme Court."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Westword's biggest stories.