Theodore's World: Brooklyn Bum Fakes War Wound For Cash

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October 15, 2010

Brooklyn Bum Fakes War Wound For Cash

Robert Mc Mahon appears an arm short.


Brooklyn bum fakes war wound for cash

New York Post

Semper fake!

For years, Brooklyn commuters have opened their wallets for Robert McMahon, handing cash to this heroic and heartbreaking figure, a Vietnam vet in combat fatigues, his left arm missing and his right leg crippled, as he panhandles on Ocean Parkway in Kensington.

While begging for cash in Brooklyn, he plays up his phony stints in Vietnam

He plays to their patriotism, having scrawled his nickname, "Rambo," on the back of his camouflage jacket, along with his years of service with the Marines and two stints in 'Nam that saw heavy action. The top of his empty left sleeve is pinned to his uniform shoulder, and he drags his bum leg behind him.

When drivers stop for red lights, McMahon, 53, hobbles over and salutes gallantly, juggling a paper cup and a cardboard sign that reads, "Vietnam vet." They give freely.

They are being scammed.

At day's end, he counts his cash - with both fully functioning arms

McMahon has two arms -- and was seen using them last week to count the wads of cash he took off kindhearted New Yorkers.

He is not crippled, as was readily apparent when he swiftly dodged inquiring Post reporters.

And it seems he never served in the Marines nor in Vietnam, according to Corps and Veterans Administration officials who could not find any record of him.

But he carries on with his wounded-soldier act, day after day, weaving through traffic and occasionally cursing out people who refuse to give. He's been at it since at least 1987, when he pretended to have a missing leg and pushed himself around in a rusty wheelchair, according to a friend.

Tuesday, The Post spotted the bearded, one-armed bandit at 4:30 p.m. at Ocean and Foster Avenue, where he limped over to the windows of idling vehicles and held up his cup.

Many gave dollar bills. He yelled an expletive at a driver who turned him away.

Some gazed at the back of his jacket, which claims he served in Vietnam from 1972 to '73.

At 5:09 p.m., McMahon quit for the day, darted across Ocean Parkway's seven lanes with surprising agility and walked briskly east along Foster.

Two blocks later, McMahon adjusted himself and quickly thrust his left arm out from under his jacket. He used both hands to count his cash.

When he realized a photographer was taking his picture, McMahon tried to hide his left arm by putting it behind his back, then spat and screamed obscenities at the lensman, threatening to kill him. "I'll put a bullet in the back of your head," he howled.

The ugly scene was not unfamiliar to police and prosecutors.

They say McMahon is a menace with a rap sheet of 20 arrests, many for disorderly conduct and "fraudulent accosting" -- legalspeak for scamming victims on the street. His most recent collar came on May 27, when 66th Precinct cops found him blocking traffic at Ocean Parkway and Beverly Road at 12:50 p.m.

Wednesday, a reporter posing as a passer-by asked how he lost his limb. He winced in mock pain: "I don't like to talk about it."

Asked about his service, he claimed he was with the Marines' 2nd Division and fought in Vietnam in 1972 and '73.

Robert Gainey, a 68-year-old vet who did two tours in Vietnam as an explosives expert, has known McMahon for 23 years -- and doubts he was in the war.

"Us guys who are still around, we can spot each other right away," he said. "We've talked about the war. And he's said things to me that you can read in a book or see in the movies. He didn't say anything to convince me he was really there."

Gainey said he first spotted McMahon in 1987 in a wheelchair on the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, pushing himself among motorists and begging for money.

"He had his leg tucked up underneath him," said Gainey. "He was pretending he lost it. Later I saw him around here and said, 'Oh, s--t, this guy's from Brooklyn.' "

The leg apparently recovered. But then the arm went.

"He's been doing the fake-arm thing for at least 20 years," said Gainey. "He's crazy as a bat. Everyone around here knows about it."


Wild Thing's comment.......

Anyone who traffics in stolen valor is despicable !!!

He says he is 53 years old, that means he was born in 1957 and claims to have served in VN in '72-'73 when he was 15-16 years old. No way that ever happened.

This guy is 100% Bravo Sierra.

....Thank you Tom for sending this to me.

US Army Aviation
Vietnam 1966-68
US Army Special Forces

Posted by Wild Thing at October 15, 2010 05:55 AM


These assholes are the phony vets that give the rest of us a poor reputation. A few of them are being prosecuted and fined and/or sent to jail. I hope God has a special place for these bastards.

Posted by: TomR, armed in Texas at October 15, 2010 08:47 AM

I'd like to rip his arm off and beat him with it. What a scum-bag! Say he's crazy but he has the mental capacity to scam. Criminal.

Posted by: Greg at October 15, 2010 08:57 AM

At 53, he's too young to have served in Vietnam. In 1973 he would have been 16 years old.

BTW, did you know the VFW Political Action Committee is supporting non-veteran Democrats against Republicans who served in the military, some who have even served in combat? They're supporting Ron Klein, who never served, over Allen West who is a retired Lt. Col who served in two wars and is a member of the VFW. They're also supporting Mike McIntyre (D-NC) over Illario Pantano. Pantano is a combat veteran. And, they're also supporting "call me senator" Barbara Boxer.

Posted by: BobF at October 15, 2010 09:52 AM

Arrest that scum-Bubba needs a room mate!

Posted by: Chief at October 15, 2010 10:15 AM

"traffics in stolen valor"

-Excellent and well done, Wild Thing.

Posted by: Carlos at October 15, 2010 02:02 PM

.... and no WORSE than politicians LYING that they were ON THE BATTLEFIELDS to play their sympathy cards in addition to receiving the VOTE card!

Posted by: darthcrUSAderworldtour07 at October 15, 2010 02:12 PM

I don't remember the 2nd Marine Division even being there. As far as I can remember and I 've checked this out too. The 2nd stayed at Camp Lejeune. I remember guys leaving Vietnam with order to Camp Lejeune , 2nd Marine Division, who still had time to serve.

Second he says B company, of which regiment. 2, 6 and 8 are the 2nd Marine Division, at least then it was now I guess all that has changed. But then, it was so.

This guy needs to be taken to apart for this.

Posted by: Mark at October 15, 2010 03:48 PM

Thank you everyone, this person is getting away with this and I sure hope he pays a heavy price for what he has been doing. And if there is a jury let it be all Vietnam Veterans. Then hang him from the gallows.

Mark thanks for adding that and checking it out too.

Posted by: Wild Thing at October 15, 2010 11:12 PM

Hello Wild Thing...Nice to see you're still in the fight!
You posted one of my articles last year about Obama. I thought you may like this one:
"American Military Officers Against Obama"

Please use it in any way you see fit.
Thanks for all you're doing to help America.
You some kinda cool girl!
Mark S. McGrew

Posted by: Mark S. McGrew at October 16, 2010 01:05 AM

The Marines were withdrawn from 'Nam in '71 also, so the 2nd MARDIV being there from '72- '73... not likely.

Posted by: Anonymous at October 16, 2010 01:45 AM

.... and proud to be the son of a WW II and Korean War Leatherneck who was in the 1st...2nd... and 6th MAR DIV. - $emper Per Diem
USAF DAV 1977-1997!

Posted by: darthcrUSAderworldtour07 at October 16, 2010 10:36 AM