A former Holly Springs police officer whose wife lost her leg in a parade honoring veterans in November was arrested Wednesday and is accused of lying about his military record, police said.
Shane Ladner, 40, of Canton, was arrested Wednesday and charged with six charges relating to falsely claiming that he had been awarded a Purple Heart while in the military to get free licenses plates, said Lt. Jay Baker, spokesman for the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office.
Baker said detectives conducted a six-week investigation which concluded that “Ladner was not a Purple Heart recipient as he has claimed for several years.”
Ladner took free Purple Heart license plates in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012, Baker said. This led to four charges of theft by deception, according to Baker. Ladner is also charged with false swearing and making a false statement.
Cherokee Sheriff Roger Garrison said Wednesday that the charges against Ladner are “very serious.”
“It’s a felony to make these false statements,” Garrison said. “It’s punishable by more than a year in prison.”
But Ladner’s attorney, John Cook, said in a statement Wednesday that his firm is confident that they can fight the charges against him.
“All along, our investigation has shown that, in fact, Shane did receive a Purple Heart for injuries received in service to his country,” Cook said. “When all of the information finally comes to light, plenty of people will owe Shane an apology.”
Ladner and his wife, Meg Ladner, were thrust into the public eye in November when they were involved in an accident during a parade honoring wounded veterans in Texas.
The Ladners were riding on a float in the parade when a Union Pacific train collided with the float.
Four people were killed in the crash and 16 injured, including Meg Ladner, who lost her leg.
She recovered for several months at Atlanta Medical Center, and multiple fundraisers were put on to help with her medical bills.
Ladner has also been accused of lying about his Purple Heart to be invited to take part in the parade and get the free white-tail deer hunt that went along with it.
After the accident, Ladner was still employed with the Holly Springs Police Department, but was let go April 5 after both his paid and unpaid leave ran out, and the department couldn’t reach him.
Holly Springs Police Chief Ken Ball said Ladner’s status as a Purple Heart recipient was not part of his being hired by the department.
Ball declined to comment further other than saying the situation is “sad.”
Garrison echoed this sentiment.
“It’s a very sad set of circumstances and series of events surrounding this case,” Garrison said.
Ladner was in custody at the Cherokee Adult Detention Center with a $23,100 bond, Baker said.