LAWRENCEVILLE -- Michael Bradshaw approached three Sheriff's Department deputies eating dinner Monday at a Krystal near downtown Lawrenceville, saying he was a wanted man who wished to turn himself in. A deputy verified that Bradshaw had outstanding warrants and transported him to jail, ostensibly ending a pattern of deceit and theft that had stretched across several jurisdictions, officials said.
The allegations against the 33-year-old Bradshaw paint him as scandalous, in that he posed as a wounded U.S. Army veteran to win sympathy -- and cash, clothing and food donations -- from church leaders from Duluth to Buckhead and beyond. One Norcross church leader slammed Bradshaw's ethics but applauded his histrionics.
For now, Bradshaw remains at the Gwinnett County Jail on a single count of misdemeanor theft by deception, but his list of charges is expected to grow as more victims come forward.
"Michael Bradshaw should have gone into an acting career -- he was that convincing," said Bill Burton, a Campus Church of Christ elder at Greater Atlanta Christian School in Norcross. "He's quite a con artist. His story of being injured in Iraq had several of us really touched."
Burton came forward to Gwinnett police Friday, alleging that Bradshaw purported himself to be a disabled veteran in need on Feb. 2 and scored a $300 cash "loan."
He wasn't the only one moved by Bradshaw's alleged ruse.
Bradshaw first made headlines in June, when Roswell police arrested him for allegedly using the sob story to scam $350 from leaders of a V.F.W. Post. Once Bradshaw had walked away, a manager there grew suspicious and ordered his military records, finding that Bradshaw was dishonorably discharged from the Army in 2001. He'd never served in Iraq and was never wounded, police said.
Roswell police arrested Bradshaw on charges of theft by deception. By the end of June, he was released from the Fulton County Jail.
Duluth police have lodged similar charges against Bradshaw for allegedly holding himself out as a wounded veteran to Korean Church of Atlanta officials on Jan. 15.
Bradshaw reportedly grew emotional that day in recalling how he was an Army veteran who'd been injured along with his sergeant in Baghdad when their Humvee ran over a roadside bomb. Bradshaw claimed he'd just been released from a VA hospital in Texas. He claimed to have a wife and baby daughter.
Bradshaw reportedly showed a birth certificate, Tennessee drivers license and Social Security form, which the official made a copy of before handing over $100 and a $100 Kroger gift card.
Bradshaw then wrote and signed a letter stating he'd be back two weeks later to reimburse the church. Later that day, church officials found news stories on the Internet about his Roswell arrest and called police.
Lee Duncan, a Sandy Springs Planning Commission member, told 11Alive News that Bradshaw also scammed him and his church, Buckhead's Cathedral of Saint Phillip.
Duncan said the church gave Bradshaw $1,200 for rent last year, while Duncan personally bought Bradshaw and his girlfriend some clothes worth about $160.
Gwinnett police spokesman Cpl. Jake Smith said the Norcross case is being reviewed by detectives and charges are pending.
At one time, Walker County and the Oglethorpe Police Department also had outstanding warrants for Bradshaw's arrest, the news station reported.
In jail records, Bradshaw listed his address as an extended stay hotel near Interstate 85 in Doraville. He's scheduled to face a judge in Gwinnett on Wednesday.