Episode 220: Mark Sewell – Stolen Valor, Military Imposters

Retired agent Mark Sewell served in the FBI for 20 years. He spent his career in the Atlanta Division, initially assigned to an organized crime squad for 10 years, before transferring to the Gainesville RA where he worked on the Safe Streets Task Force for another 10 years. He was also a member of the SWAT team.

In this episode of FBI Retired Case File Review, he reviews several stolen valor cases, including the investigation of Shane Ladner, a police officer accused of lying about receiving a Purple Heart medal and benefiting financially from the deception.

In 2013, in the wake of the tragic school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, Mark became one of the FBI’s first certified Active Shooter Event (ASE) Instructors. For 5 years, he taught Police Response to an ASE in 10 states and several countries in Africa. Since his retirement, Mark’s been working as a contract Intel instructor at the FBI Academy in Quantico, VA, and operating i-68.org, a consulting firm providing Active Shooter Event Consulting for churches and workplaces.

Special Agent (Retired)

Mark Sewell

7/1997 – 12/2017









“Stolen valor is claiming military medals, military service that was never earned, in an effort to either gain financially from it or to gain ego and attention from the public.” —Retired Agent Mark Sewell

The following are links to articles about military awards and stolen valor, as well as news reports about the investigation of Shane Ladner for fraudulently claiming to be a purple heart recipient:

New Yorker Magazine – 10/26/2020: How to Spot a Military Impostor

U.S. Department of Defense – Description of Military Awards for Valor – Top 3

Army History.Org: The Purple Heart – The Story of America’s Oldest Military Decoration and Some Soldier Recipient

Lubbock Online – 6/13/2013: Victim in Texas parade crash accused of lying

Tribune Ledger News – 10/3/2017:  Ex-cop sentenced for lying about Purple Heart

The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration that may be awarded by the United States government.











The Purple Heart is given to those who are wounded or killed while fighting in the nation’s wars. It may be reproduced commercially as a collector’s item.












This photo used at Shane Ladner’s trial shows him wearing his Army dress uniform with many false ribbons, and the Purple Heart sitting on top of his ribbon stack.












A copy of Shane Ladner’s DD-214 military discharged papers presented as an exhibit in court.











Photo of Mark Sewell with Governor Deal and others taken when the Georgia Stolen Valor state law was signed.













Jerri Williams

View posts by Jerri Williams
Jerri Williams, a retired FBI agent, author and podcaster, jokes that she writes about the FBI to relive her glory days. After 26 years with the Bureau specializing in major economic fraud and corruption investigations, she calls on her professional encounters with scams and schemers to write police procedurals inspired by true crime FBI cases in her Philadelphia FBI Corruption Squad crime fiction series featuring flawed female FBI agent Kari Wheeler. Jerri’s FBI for Armchair Detectives nonfiction series enables readers to discover who the FBI is and what the FBI does by debunking misconceptions about the FBI in books, TV, and movies. Her books are available as ebooks, paperbacks, and audiobooks wherever books are sold. She’s also the host of FBI Retired Case File Review, a true crime podcast with more than 300 episodes available on all popular podcast apps and YouTube.


  1. Jerri WilliamsJanuary 11, 2021

    Thanks for listening. The three cases Mark presented each showed the different ways the stolen valor act can be used. I did a lot of editing. We spoke for two hours.

  2. Rich SibleyJanuary 10, 2021

    Ref: Episode 220
    What a terrific episode regarding Stolen Valor. When I saw that it was 1 1/2 hours I thought a bit long do I want to listen? Well I am glad I listened. The topic was important and Agent Mark Sewell was unbelievable in his presentation. His tenacity in the Shane Ladner case was unbelievable. During these crazy times it is refreshing to know that many in law enforcement go above and beyond in their work. Your podcasts highlighting these cases gives credit to their hard work as well as the agency. Thank you for being such a good advocate and congratulations for five years of podcasting.


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