Sex offender who hid identity sentenced to almost 12 years
By Brent Curtis
staff writer | September 06,2013
For his six years spent as a fugitive in Vermont posing as a soldier, convicted sex offender David Oswald III was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Rutland to almost 12 years in jail Thursday.
Oswald, 48, was also sentenced by Judge Christina Reiss to a lifetime of supervised release on special conditions and he was ordered to pay almost $53,000 in restitution to two health care providers in the state where he was provided services while masquerading under the identity of a U.S. Army National Guard staff sergeant from North Carolina.
The restitution payments to Fletcher Allen Medical Center and the VA Hospital in White River Junction are due immediately, according to court paperwork, and Oswald, who has been jailed since his arrest last year, began serving his prison sentence Thursday.
The sentence comes four months after Oswald pleaded guilty to federal charges of failing to register as a sex offender, health care fraud, being a felon in possession of a firearm and possession of child pornography.
Federal prosecutors say that in 2006 Oswald fled from the state of Washington where he was convicted of sexually assaulting two girls, ages 5 and 6. He was sentenced to three months in prison in that state and ordered to register as a sex offender and serve a period of probation after his release.
Instead, prosecutors say he obtained the Social Security number, birth date, place of birth and other identifying information for Staff Sgt. Bobby Lee Triplett and moved to Vermont where he tried to adopt his phony persona.
During his time in Vermont, prosecutors say Oswald bought a number of guns using his fake ID, befriended a retired law enforcement officer and joined the Vermont State Guard where he told false stories about his service with the Army overseas.
He also collected a “multitude” of child pornography that police eventually found on a computer at his home in Williston.
Oswald wasn’t caught until after he began seeking medical treatment for heart problems in 2011, prosecutors said. He made multiple trips to the Burlington hospital where he presented himself as Triplett. Fletcher Allen forwarded his bills to the VA which sent them on to the real Triplett in North Carolina.
When the staff sergeant said he hadn’t gone to the hospital — or ever set foot in Vermont — the VA began its own investigation. After initially insisting that he was the real Triplett — and contending to federal investigators that the man in North Carolina had stolen his identity — Oswald admitted to his true identity, prosecutors said.
During the sentencing hearing Thursday, prosecutors asked for a minimum sentence of 151 months — 11 months more than the 140-month sentence Reiss handed down.
Reiss’ federal public defender, David McColgin, asked for a sentence capped at just over 10 years in jail.
In McColgin’s sentencing memorandum, he noted that Oswald was sexually and physically abused himself as a child and had been diagnosed with multiple mental conditions that included post-traumatic stress disorder, a paranoid personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder with features of psychopathy.
“It is clear that he needs ongoing psychological treatment and not long-term imprisonment,” McColgin wrote.