Fort Worth Man Convicted of Doing Terrible Impersonation of Army General -- and Bigamy

Categories: Crime

Michael McDowell could have quit while he was ahead. During more than a decade spent posing as a military officer, he'd won heartfelt acclaim from military brass like CIA director David Petraeus, gotten behind-the-scenes access to the Washington Navy Yard, convinced the state of Texas to give him special Purple Heart license plate, and used his rank in an attempt to woo multiple women, including his second wife.

When he was told to knock it off after Flower Mound police responded to a domestic disturbance at his home in 2012, he could have obliged. Instead, he paid an unsolicited visit to Fort Worth Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead, introduced himself as a general in the U.S. Army, and offered to give him a tour of the White House, or maybe the Pentagon.

That, as the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Deanna Boyd has chronicled, proved to be his downfall. Halstead, suspicious of the ill-fitting uniform and its reek of cigarette smoke, launched an investigation that laid bare McDowell's fabrications.

Had McDowell merely boasted of his fake military career, he probably would have been in the clear. In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a law making it a crime to lie about having a military decoration or medal. (Congress subsequently passed a more narrowly tailored version of the law, targeting such boasts when they are intended to yield "tangible benefit or personal gain.")

But he he used his made-up past to get people to "submit to his pretended official authority" (e.g. getting the Purple Heart license plates), which counts as felony impersonation of a public servant under Texas law. He also wed his second wife while still married to his first, which counts as bigamy.

McDowell pleaded guilty to both crimes. He was sentenced on Tuesday to five years probation.

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holmantx topcommenter

A former CNO (Chief of Naval Operations - highest ranked guy in the Navy) committed suicide for wearing a ribbon (medal) he didn't earn.  Kind of a minor offense when compared to Mr. Bigshot above.

this guy should burn in an everlasting lake of fire


Impersonating a general...

did he

Inflate KIA stats to curry favor?

take bribes from decense contractors?

take job pro.ises from defense contractors?

Send troops into harm's way without support?

lie to Congressm

lie to the People?

Not a very good impersonator, is he.


Eventually, someone will kick his ass. Then he can get the "nasty" version of the Purple Heart - the Red Gauze award - from his local hospital.


@holmantx To be more precise, Boorda had truly earned the two ribbons in question, but not the add-on 'V' that clips on top of each ribbon, indicating that the ribbons were awarded for combat experience (perfectly valid to be awarded for non-combat achievement, as were his.) So Boorda, the only seaman-to-CNO sailor ever and a man of tremendous accomplishment, committed suicide in order not to bring dishonor on the Navy over two, tiny (1/4") letters.

I predict this deceiver will surface again for the same masquerade. Perhaps that'll be considered a probation violation, because he needs to do time.

holmantx topcommenter

@ruddski  does that come with oakleaf clusters? Right next to the firewatch ribbon?


No, it's usually worn next to the Silver Doughnut.

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