JAMESTOWN — A state Senate candidate, who local Libertarians had declined to endorse over concerns about his military background, has been charged with impersonating a veteran.
The Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office said Monday that Glenn A. French was charged with second-degree criminal impersonation, third-degree forgery and theft of services, all class A misdemeanors.
Deputies said they received a report from a local veteran program June 27 that a member was possibly impersonating a veteran, leading them to determine French was using an alias and impersonating a veteran to receive services he was otherwise not entitled to.
He was also found to have forged a document, deputies said.
French, 63, of Jamestown, had used the alias “Uriel Isaacovich” to campaign on social media for the 57th State Senate District seat vacated earlier this year by Catharine Young.
However, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties’ Libertarian parties declined to endorse “Isaacovich” last month, saying there were concerns about the authenticity of both his military and educational background, as well as concerns about sexual misconduct allegations against him.
“We made the right decision to not endorse,” said Chautauqua County Libertarian Party Chairman Andrew Martin Kolstee on Monday. “Our research into (French’s) background as well as information he has given to other people, along with the numerous red flags and inconsistencies in his background, education, and military service, prove that we made the right decision.”
French told the Olean Times Herald last month he served in the Vietnam War as a member of the U.S. Army. He also claimed to have served in the Israeli Defense Forces, but that the details were “classified.”
When contacted by phone Monday, French again claimed to have been a member of the U.S. Army, but admitted he did not serve in the Vietnam War.
“I may have embellished some of my military career, but embellishing is not faking I was in the military,” he said.
When asked why he lied about serving in the Vietnam War, French replied, “It’s a long story and I’m not ready to talk about that right now.” He then declined to comment any further.
There remain numerous inconsistencies in French’s claims.
He told the Times Herald last month he was 68 and served in the U.S. Army from 1969 to 1972, which would mean he served from the ages of approximately 18 to 21. But Chautauqua County deputies on Monday reported French is only 63, meaning he was 13 to 16 years old during the years he claims to have served.
When confronted about this Monday, French claimed to have just turned 69 and to have “no idea” why deputies reported he was only 63.
French has said he’s a stand-up comedian and retired rabbi who has never before held public office and was approached to run for state Senate by the Cattaraugus County Libertarian Party.
Despite the fact he was running for public office, French told the Times Herald last month his military and educational background “is no one’s business but mine,” adding he was not running as a “war hero” or “scholar.”
However, Kolstee said Monday that French “should have known that he would be subject to public scrutiny.”
“That is why there is a vetting process for candidates,” he said.
Luke Wenke, chairman of the Cattaraugus County Libertarian Party who previously pushed to make French the party’s candidate, said Monday that French’s “faux state Senate campaign was the target he needed to finally expose the written truth.”
Wenke said he met French at a Jamestown open mic event in 2017. He said he believed French’s claims of being a veteran because French spoke as a veteran and rabbi at Jamestown’s Memorial Day parade in May.
French, under the name “Uriel Isaacovich,” was listed as being part of the parade lineup in a May 26 article from The Jamestown Post-Journal.
“How often do we ask for the credentials of Memorial Day speakers?” Wenke said. “I just trusted what I saw ... so I guess my original viewpoint was the viewpoint of many other high-ranking people in the area. Now it’s changed.”
The Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties’ Libertarian parties have still not endorsed a candidate for the 57th Senate District race, which will conclude with a special election Nov. 5. State election law mandated the two parties, the only Libertarian parties in the 57th State Senate District, jointly endorse one candidate.
Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello won the Republican primary for the race last month. Recent Cornell University graduate Austin Morgan is the Democratic candidate.
French previously said he’s likely done with politics but that his friends are still advocating for him as a write-in candidate for the Senate. He said if he won he’ll “do the job.”
It’s unclear what services French allegedly received by claiming he was a veteran and what local veteran program reported him. A call to the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office Monday for more details was not immediately returned.
Deputies’ report about French states the alleged theft of services occurred May 30 at 454 N. Work St., Falconer, which is the home of the Chautauqua County Department of Public Facilities. The department deals with airports, transportation, parks and solid waste.
French will appear in Ellicott Town Court at a later date to answer the charges, deputies said.
As for the sexual misconduct allegations against French, French previously said they stem from two women who claim he made unwanted advances by either kissing them or trying to kiss them at open mic events. He denies the allegations.