A convicted sex offender who assumed the identity of an Iraq war veteran for six years while living in Vermont pleaded guilty to multiple charges in federal court on Thursday.
David P. Oswald III entered guilty pleas to charges of failing to register as a sex offender, health care fraud, possessing a firearm as a felon, and possession of child pornography. As part of a plea agreement, Oswald faces up 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines, followed by supervised release for the remainder of his life.
As reported by Seven Days last October, Oswald pulled off a stunning multiyear fraud after obtaining stolen military identification that belonged to Bobby Lee Triplett, an Army vet from North Carolina who did four combat tours in Iraq. The two men never met, but Oswald apparently came into possession of the stolen documents in Washington State, where hedisappeared in 2006 after skipping parole.
Oswald used the documents to create a new life for himself. With Triplett's full name, Social Security number and date of birth, he was able to obtain a passport, register a car, buy guns, register to vote in Williston, obtain a non-driver's identification from Vermont and join the Vermont State Guard — a civilian militia that supports the Vermont National Guard in times of crisis.
But Oswald was finally caught after seeking medical treatment from the Veterans Administration under Triplett's name. After receiving medical bills totalling $4000 from the VA in Vermont — a state Triplett had never stepped foot in — he reported the fraud to federal authorities, who eventually tracked Oswald down at the Chittenden Fish and Game Club in Jonesville, where he was camping out in a dilapidated trailer.
One of the weirdest parts of the story: Oswald was befriended by a retired cop from Williston named Jeffrey Carlson, who generously allowed Oswald to park his trailer behind his home for several winters. Carlson even installed a Wi-Fi repeater in his garage so Oswald could surf the web from his trailer. After federal marshals showed up on his doorstep last autumn, Carlson told Seven Days he was stunned to find out the man he thought was his friend was actually a convicted sex offender on the lam.
Triplett did not have a listed phone number and could not be reached for comment.
Oswald, meanwhile, remains jailed pending his sentencing on September 5. U.S. District Chief Judge Christina Reiss also ordered Oswald to undergo a psychosexual evaluation.