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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

UPDATE: Man accused of posing as colonel faces 16 years in prison

A Richlands resident accused of falsely wearing the uniform of a decorated Marine colonel faces more than 16 years in prison and up to $605,000 in fines, officials said Tuesday.

Richlands resident Michael Hamilton had his initial appearance in Wilmington federal court Tuesday morning on charges including falsely wearing the uniform of a decorated Marine colonel and embezzling more than $30,000 in disability payments from the VA.

During the court appearance, Magistrate Judge Robert Jones read Hamilton's charges to him. The charges include:

Making materially fictitous claims to the federal government for which he faces five years imprisonment and fines of not more than $250,000.

Embezzling more than $30,000 in disability payments from the Veterans Affairs Department, for which Hamilton faces not more than 10 years imprisonment and not more than $250,000 in fines.

Wearing a colonel's uniform to a veteran's ceremony, for which he faces not more than six months imprisonment and $5,000 in fines.

Wearing medals not awarded to him, for which he faces one year imprisonment and $100,000 in fines.

Hamilton was released on a $5,000 unsecured bond upon the condition that he refrain from using any firearms.

Jones ruled that he would not have to undergo a mental health examination.

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A Richlands man accused of posing as a decorated Marine colonel and embezzling more than $30,000 in VA disability payments will have his initial appearance in court today.

Michael Hamilton, 67, will appear in a Wilmington federal court before Magistrate Judge Robert B. Jones at 10:30 a.m.

Hamilton is charged with wearing the uniform of a Marine colonel unauthorized and three counts of wearing military medals unauthorized at an April 24 event in Jacksonville honoring Vietnam veterans.

Hamilton was indicted this month on federal charges that included making false statements to federal authorities and receiving more than $30,000 in disability payments for service-connected ailments related to his false claims.

Among other things, Hamilton has stated that he was involved in secret operations in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, was awarded two Navy Crosses, three Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars and eight Purple Hearts and rose from the rank of private first class to full colonel in eight years. As prviously reported by The Daily News, Hamilton’s military records indicate he served for a year and was never deployed.

At a first appearance in June, Hamilton’s lawyer, public defender Andrea Stubbs, said she believed he was competent to be tried as a sane person.

Following the appearance, he was required to surrender possession of any firearms, including handguns in his home and a rifle collection, report for probation on a periodic basis, sign a $5,000 unsecured bond and complete a mental competency examination.
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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon lands in Cambodia on Asian tour

Phnom Penh - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in Phnom Penh late Tuesday on an official visit as part of a four-nation Asian tour.

He is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Hun Sen and other senior officials on Wednesday, and will also visit the hybrid UN-Cambodian tribunal, which earlier this year convicted former Khmer Rouge security chief Comrade Duch of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

A number of civil society groups have sought meetings with Ban to discuss different issues including a huge eviction planned for central Phnom Penh, which will see around 30,000 people moved off land to make way for a development.

The Office for the UN's Resident Coordinator in Phnom Penh confirmed it had received 'numerous requests from civil society' groups to meet Ban, and said those requests had been forwarded to his office for consideration.

'It is under discussion and they are considering the possibilities,' said UNRC spokesperson Aimee Brown.

During his two-day stay in Phnom Penh, Ban is scheduled to visit S-21 genocide museum, which was the former prison run by Comrade Duch in the late 1970s.

Ban is scheduled to depart on Thursday for Vietnam, where he will attend a summit between the United Nations and the regional Association of South-East Asian Nations bloc. He will then head to China as part of his four-nation tour.

His trip began in Thailand, where he met Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and senior officials.
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USC to help Cambodia develop tourism

Cambodia’s Tourism Minister Dr Thong Khon and Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Hill sign the memorandum of understanding.



THE Cambodian government has enlisted the services of the University of the Sunshine Coast to help build up its fledgling tourism industry.

Eco-tourism will be the focus of the partnership, which was inked through a memorandum of understanding at USC yesterday. USC will help establish tourism educational institutions and plan sustainable tourism policies.

Cambodia's Tourism Minister, Dr Thong Khon, who was at the signing ceremony, said it was hoped the partnership would be a key element of the impoverished South-East Asian country's sustainable tourism push.

“Cambodia is a beautiful country and we have a lot of tourism potential – both natural and cultural,” he said.

“So far our government has made a lot of effort to protect and preserve our natural and cultural assets, but we need more experience.

“That's why we called for the assistance of the international community, especially the Australian government and USC, to support us on this matter.”

The partnership, which has been in development over the past 12 months after Cambodian government officials visited USC last year, may involve tourism master planning for the country's entire coastline.

“There is big potential for USC, short and long-term, with this project,” said Dr Bill Carter, a USC associate professor in heritage resource management.

Dr Carter, of the university's Sustainability Research Centre, and USC tourism lecturer Dr Gayle Mayes recently returned from what has been described as a successful research trip to Cambodia.

Dr Carter said the benefits for USC could include boosting the professional development of its staff, opening up research and business opportunities, and delivering a student exchange program between the countries.
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