PORTLAND, Ore. — The law finally caught up with Michele Bocci.
A KGW investigation in January revealed that Portland resident Bocci posed as a U.S. Marine while accepting donations and other help from community groups, police officers, churches and others.
At the time, police said they had received reports of Bocci’s actions but they didn’t believe a crime had been committed under Oregon law.
Now the 34-year-old faces charges of criminal impersonation and second-degree theft.
The misdemeanor charges stem from an August 2, 2016 incident. Bocci, who claimed to be a decorated U.S. Marine, said his bomb-sniffing dog had been hit and killed by a car. The story was shared by concerned people on social media.
After hearing his heartbreaking story, a local funeral home offered to help. Springer and Sons funeral home in Aloha provided free cremation for the dog, along with a specially designed urn, which included a military emblem and custom engraving. An invoice shows the value as $310.
Government records show Michele Bocci never served in the U.S. Marine Corps. (Bocci spells his named “Michele” but it’s pronounced like “Michael.”)
Bocci appeared in Washington County court last week but refused to answer questions when confronted outside the courthouse.
When asked, “Why do you continue to tell these lies?” Bocci simply didn’t respond.
In KGW’s January investigation, several people recounted being duped by Bocci. They provided money, food or other types of assistance after hearing his tragic story. Bocci told people he was combat veteran who was left to care for his two young children after his wife died.
Since that initial report, KGW has received complaints from six more people in the past few weeks who say Bocci told them elaborate tales.
Bocci appears to be using different names, including Michael McDougal, Michael McGeoffrey, AJ McClure and Dr. AJ McClure.
A salesman at a Northeast Portland car dealership said Bocci came in claiming to be a plastic surgeon. He said Bocci tried to convince the dealership to loan him a car for the weekend.
Lynsay Meek, a clerk at a Southeast Portland running store, said Bocci told her that he was a single dad who recently lost his wife. He allegedly went by the name AJ McClure.
Bocci shared a similar heartbreaking story with a Portland lawyer that he befriended. Bocci told him the lawyer he was working as a translator for Nike.
On July 4, Jenny Nieuwendorp and her family encountered Bocci sitting on a jet ski in the Columbia River. He said he was injured.
“We asked if we could go get help for him and he said, ‘No, I’m a physician. I’ll be okay,’” explained Nieuwendorp.
After helping get his jet ski back to shore, Bocci shared that his wife had died of cancer just four weeks ago. He said he had a young daughter and planned to adopt another child in just a few days.
Bocci, who went by AJ, said he worked at Oregon Health & Science University. OHSU has no record of a Dr. AJ McClure.
“He said he was a pediatrician. Then, it became a pediatric plastic surgeon, specializing in sex and rape cases,” said Nieuwendorp, who quickly found his story to be unbelievable.
“I’m not quite sure about his motives- I just know he is out to make a quick buck as easily as he can,” explained Nieuwendorp.
Michele Bocci is scheduled for trial in Washington County on September 20.
Published July 18, 2017