Former Martinez resident pleads not guilty in medals case

A former Martinez resident pleaded not guilty before a federal magistrate in Riverside today to a charge of wearing unauthorized military service medals.

Steven Douglas Burton, 39, a graduate of Alhambra High School in Martinez, was charged by federal prosecutors in Los Angeles on Nov. 6 with a misdemeanor offense of wearing unauthorized medals including the Navy Cross.

Burton, who now lives in Palm Springs, was allowed by U.S. Magistrate Oswald Parada to remain free on a $10,000 bond, according to minutes posted on the court's Web site.

Parada set a date of Jan. 5 for Burton's trial before U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips in Riverside.

Burton was charged under a federal law known as the Stolen Valor Act. The measure was passed by Congress in 2005 and signed by President George W. Bush in 2006.

The 2006 measure expanded a previous law that applied only to unauthorized wearing of the Medal of Honor. The law now applies to other medals as well, including the Navy Cross.

The Navy Cross is the highest award given by the U.S. Navy and is second only to the Medal of Honor, which can be given to members of any service. 

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