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University official is placed on leave after claims he lied about surviving Afghanistan bombing

21 May 2018 Daily Mail Online

University Chief of Staff Sergio Garcia, 43, has been placed on leave following allegations he faked a story about surviving an Afghanistan bombingA high-ranking New York university official has been placed on leave after his elaborate stories he told during a lecture were challenged.University Chief of Staff Sergio Garcia, 43, from The State University of New York (SUNY) Upstate Medical University said in a videotaped lecture last fall that he survived a deadly bombing in Afghanistan, was offered a job  by Secretary of State Colin Powell and was good friends with former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.Witnesses of the bombing and sources close to Powell and Rice shot down Garcia's claims.  Red flags were raised when Garcia, a former US State Department foreign affairs officer, said that he was part of a three-vehicle convoy delivering books to a school in Afghanistan in 2011 when a bomb killed many of his colleagues.'I was in the third car, the bomb went off on the first car and, you know, a lot of my colleagues, civilian and military, were killed,' Garcia said. However, according to the Times Union, the bombing he described happened in 2013, months after he had left Afghanistan and the victims were on foot.

In his speech last fall  titled 'Courage Under Fire' he made several elaborate claims that have not proven to be true The paper reported that according to State Department records and interviews with those who survived the bombing, there is no evidence Garcia was there.The university announced Sunday, just one day after the original report came out, that it has placed the $340,000 staffer on leave while it investigates the claims. 'We are aware of the disturbing and troubling allegations made against Upstate Medical University's chief of staff and are reviewing this matter,' school officials said in a statement.In his speech titled  'Courage Under Fire', Garcia made claims that he was 'in the White House' during the 9/11 terrorist attacks in September 2001 and that he stayed there for seven days without a shave or shower.  State Department records and Garcia's resume indicate he did not start working for the US government until August 2004He also inaccurately recounted the death of Anne Smedinghoff, who died in the Afghanistan bombing.Garcia said he was her mentor and that she died aged 25, when she was in fact 23. He said Afghanistan was her first foreign tour when it was not.





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He added that Smedinghoff died instantly from the attack. Meanwhile Jonathan Addleton, who was on the mission at the time, said he was with Smedinghoff when she died.    'I held her hand on the stretcher and said, ''You're going to make it, you're going to make it,''' Addleton said.   'He's stealing another person's story to advance his own career,' he added.   Another one of the alleged lies came when Garcia said he was personally called by Secretary of State Colin Powell in 2001 for an interview and offered a job 15 minutes later.A person who worked for Powell at the time confirmed that they had never met.    In Garcia's speech he also said that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton personally asked him to remain in the foreign service after he told her he was leaving Afghanistan.'She looked at me like I was nuts, (and she said:) ''Sergio, you can't leave,'' he said during the speech. 'The adjustment was difficult, I'm not going to lie. It took me at least a year, year and a half, maybe it's post-traumatic synd ... ,' he added while his voice trailed off.   

The State University of New York Upstate Medical University has placed Garcia on leave 

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