CHEROKEE CO. Ga. -- After a six-week investigation, Cherokee County Sheriff's detectives have arrested former officer Shane Ladner, 41, of Canton, for faking his Purple Heart award.
Ladner was among the veterans injured when the float they were riding on in a parade in Midland, Texas last year was struck by a train. Ladner's wife was seriously injured and lost a leg in the same accident.
Ladner has been charged with four counts of theft by deception, one count of false swearing, and one count of false statement to a police officer. The theft by deception charges are from Ladner receiving a Purple Heart license plate in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. When he applied for the license plate in 2009, he was required to swear that he was a Purple Heart recipient, hence the false swearing charge. The false statement charge is from lying to detectives during an interview.
Ladner's attorney John Cook releasedthe followingstatement Wednesday afternoon:
"We're disappointed that law enforcement authorities felt the need to arrest Shane Ladner today, especially in the manner that it happened, a traffic stop on the side of the road. This arrest serves no purpose other than to continue to traumatize Shane and Meg Ladner, both of whom are still recovering from last year's train accident. We are confident in our ability to defend Shane against these charges and plan to do so. All along, our investigation has shown that, in fact, Shane did receive a Purple Heart for injuries received in service to his country. When all of the information finally comes to light, plenty of people will owe Shane an apology."
The US Army says they have no record of form that Ladner presented to obtain his Georgia Purple Heart license plate.
Ladner is out of the Cherokee County Adult Detention Center on a $23,100 bond.