A Fort Worth man was sentenced 21 months in prison Friday for lying about his military service to get a mortgage-free house and monthly veterans' benefits.
Brandon Blackstone must also pay more than $300,000 restitution and other penalties for money he was not entitled to receive.
“This crime is just completely repulsive,” U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Lynn said as she issued the sentence in Dallas Friday morning.
With tearful family members in the courtroom, Blackstone apologized to the judge.
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“I’m so sorry for all the problems I’ve caused,” Blackstone said.
But Judge Lynn called the situation “shameful.”
Blackstone wore Kaufman County Jail clothes as he appeared in court Friday. He was already in custody and will receive credit for time he has served.
Blackstone claimed to have received a Purple Heart when his Humvee drove over a bomb in Iraq and it exploded.
"I was blown up while I was there," he said in a 2012 interview with NBCDFW. "I had to be medevaced home."
He offered more details about the explosion in a YouTube video.
"The one (Humvee) behind me got totally destroyed," he said. "I suffered a head injury and a head laceration that caused traumatic brain injury."
Blackstone pleaded guilty last year to making up the story.
In court Friday, Blackstone’s attorney Justin Sparks said the man still suffers mental illness from his military service. The lawyer asked that Blackstone be confined in the Fort Worth Federal Prison that provides medical care, but the Judge said that would be up to prison authorities.
Last year NBCDFW reported that the sister of another Marine who served in the same unit claimed Blackstone stole his story.
Lezleigh Kleibrink, of Trophy Club, said what Blackstone claimed happened to him really happened to her brother, Casey Owens.
Owens did receive a Purple Heart after the Humvee he was in blew up.
Owens somehow survived but lost both legs, broke almost every bone, and injured his brain, too.
"He was absolutely a hero," his sister said.
The truth is Blackstone never received a Purple Heart.
He came back to the U.S. after a month overseas – not with a war injury but with appendicitis, and a story.
"It was Casey's story, minus his legs being gone," Kleibrink said.
Blackstone accepted a mortgage-free house, and monthly veterans' benefits he later admitted he did not deserve.
Owens tried to adjust to life back home. Even without legs, he skied in Colorado.
But his sister says he had trouble coping. He died in 2014.
"In a very manic moment, he took his life," she said.
Kleibrink said she is no longer angry but still wonders why Blackstone lied.
"It just brings all of this back up," she said. "Now I'm left sitting here looking at pictures. This is all I have left."
In court Friday, Judge Lynn said she regrets that Blackstone’s sentence will also punish his family but she urged him to make things right by making an example of himself after his time in prison.
“Serve your sentence honorably,” Lynn told Blackstone.