KENT, Wash. - The remains of an impostor who was laid to rest among our nation's heroes have been now been removed, according to the American Legion.
KIRO 7's Maria Guerrero went into the Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent Thursday morning and saw that John Alberti's temporary name tag was no longer in the mausoleum. In addition, the grave locator for the cemetery no longer shows a record of Alberti either.
Alberti died in April with no next of kin.
Two of his friends then went through his belongings and found what they thought was a certified military discharge paper detailing how Alberti was a decorated Navy Seal who served in Vietnam.
Not only were his friends fooled, but when they took it to the American Legion, officials didn't notice it was a fake document.
Alberti was given full military honors and his cremated remains were laid to rest next to real veterans last Thursday.
Tahoma National Cemetery Director Tom Yokes learned Alberti was a phony from the KIRO 7 investigation. He told KIRO 7s John Knicely the remains were removed Wednesday. See Knicely’s original investigation here.
“We were all just trying to take care of what we thought was a veteran,” said Yokes.
The American Legion, which orchestrated Alberti’s burial to begin with, now has the remains.
“It's in temporary storage for right now,” said Carol Reed, Adjutant of American Legion Post 78. “I don't know what final disposition will be at this time.”
The fake Navy SEAL mixup doesn’t sit well with veterans like Joaquin Fegurgur. On Thursday, he laid flowers at the final resting place of his wife at Tahoma National Cemetery.
“They should have more checks and balances to check and verify,” said Fegurgur.
He said he’s upset just thinking about the possibility of a fake veteran resting next to his wife.
KIRO 7’s John Knicely asked Yokes what will be done to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“There may be some changes in how we do eligibility and those types of things,” said Yokes. “I really don't know what changes we could do or may do in the future that would eliminate this.”
Federal tax dollars paid for Alberti's ceremony and final resting place, but Yokes says the cost was minimal since he was cremated.