David P. Oswald, age 47, was sentenced to 140 months in prison by Chief Judge Christina Reiss of the U.S. District Court in Rutland, Vermont. Oswald lived in Vermont for six years, from 2006 – 2012, as Bobby Lee Triplett, a U.S. Army Veteran from North Carolina. Oswald adopted the false identification to avoid his obligation to register as a sex offender after a 2005 conviction in Washington State for a sex assault on a child.
Oswald was convicted of Assault of a Child in the third degree, which means the child he sexually assaulted was under the age of 13.
His girlfriend’s(at the time of the assaults) two daughters — ages 5 and 6 — told their mother, and later police detectives, that Oswald fondled them under their clothing and told them to keep the abuse secret. Oswald, who told authorities he suffered from paranoid schizophrenia, denied having committed the molestation even after striking a plea bargain that landed him in jail.
According to a presentencing report in that case, Oswald had also been fired from a job at the Salvation Army in 2004 “due to allegations of sexual contact with children”
He claims he stole the Soldiers identity, because he wanted to start a new life.
He stole Triplett’s identity in Tacoma, Wash., in 2005 after raiding Triplett’s car and swiping documents that identified the Soldier’s name, date of birth and Social Security number, according to a federal affidavit. Triplett, who resided in North Carolina, was vacationing in Washington at the time.
Later, during a tour of Iraq and Kuwait, Triplett learned someone in Washington had impersonated him to try to buy a car and used his credit card to purchase a vacuum cleaner.
In 2009, during another tour of Iraq, Triplett received an income tax bill from the State of Vermont claiming he owed $2,500. Triplett had never worked in Vermont.
In September 2012, Triplett called the medical center and reported the fraud to Veterans Affairs Special Agent William Nelson, according to an affidavit Nelson later filed in court.
Nelson stated he then visited the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles and discovered that someone identifying himself as Bobby Lee Triplett had applied for a non-driver identification in 2006.
Living as Triplett in Williston, Vermont, Oswald obtained a voter registration card, befriended a retired police officer, purchased 10 firearms, acquired a collection of child pornography over the internet, and joined the Vermont State Guard.
Carlson, the retired Police Officer, recalls that Oswald was homeless when they first met, so he put him up rent free for about a year and a half at his Williston home, where he lives with his wife and two teenage step-daughters. Eventually, Carlson says Oswald got the dishwashing job and saved enough to buy a camper from a coworker’s relative in New York state. Carlson accompanied him on the trip.
“During the summer he’d live up at Chittenden [County] Fish and Game Club,” Carlson says. “During winter, he’d park the motor home behind the house and plug an electric line into it, and would stay there in the winter, in our backyard.”
Carlson says he doesn’t know how or why Oswald ended up in Vermont. But he says Oswald told him other stories about his life: He was born in Alaska, lived for a time in Sweden and claimed to have served in Iraq, where his leg was badly injured by a car that drove through a checkpoint and exploded. Now Carlson says he’s left wondering whether any of what Oswald claimed could possibly be true.
“I don’t know anything about him now,” Carlson says. “He must be masterful at telling stories.”
In 2011 Oswald had a heart attack, and again posing as Sgt. Triplett, obtained approximately $50,000 worth of cardiac care at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington. The hospital, believing that Oswald was U.S. Army Veteran Triplett, billed the U.S. Veteran’s Affairs. Meanwhile, Sgt. Triplett was on his fourth deployment to the Middle East with the Army. When he returned, he reported to the V.A. in 2012 that he had never been to Vermont.
The agent then tracked the imposter to the Chittenden County Fish and Game Club in Jonesville, according to the affidavit. Federal and local law enforcement descended on the camp Sept. 28 and arrested Oswald.
Oswald, a convicted felon, was in possession of seven guns and a U.S. passport with his face and Triplett’s name and date of birth, according to Nelson’s affidavit.
Agents found a loaded semi–automatic pistol in his car, along with child pornography and multiple additional firearms, Vermont. Agents found a loaded semi–automatic pistol in his car, along with child pornography and multiple additional firearms in a camper in which he had been staying. When confronted by federal agents and U.S. Marshals, Oswald initially insisted that he was Triplett.
The defendant struck a deal with prosecutors in May and pleaded guilty to four of eight counts: failure to register as a sex offender, health care fraud, unlawful transport of firearms and possession of child pornography.
U.S. Assistant Attorney Bill Darrow said Tuesday that in exchange for Oswald’s plea, the prosecution agreed to dismiss at sentencing the remaining four charges: false statement in use of passport, two counts of fraud with identification documents and illegal transfer of firearms.
At his sentencing on the four federal felonies, Chief Judge Reiss observed that the offenses were particularly aggravated, as Oswald had, among other things, victimized an Army soldier “while he was defending our country” overseas. Chief Judge Reiss imposed a sentence of 140 months in prison, followed by a lifetime of supervised release. She also ordered over $50,000 in restitution to the V.A. and Fletcher Allen Health Care.