updated 11/1/2007 10:48:30 PM ET 2007-11-02T02:48:30

The former mayor of Atlantic City pleaded guilty Thursday to lying to enhance his veterans benefits, a crime that played a role in his bizarre three-week disappearance earlier this fall.

Making his first public appearance since leaving office Oct. 10, Robert Levy admitted to falsely claiming to have been awarded two military medals and embellishing his military record in order to receive more money in disability benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Levy admitted fabricating stories that as a soldier in Vietnam, he had been left in the jungle for weeks along with South Vietnamese troops he was working with to fend for himself. He also claimed to have made a number of parachute jumps when he did not.

Though those claims were untrue, Levy was a decorated Army veteran who was given eight medals including two Bronze Stars, said his lawyer, Edwin Jacobs.

As a federal judge read the accusations, Levy said, “Yes, your honor,” but little else.

The increased benefits over four years came to a total of $24,683. It was unclear whether he would have to repay that.

Levy is scheduled to be sentenced in February. As part of his plea deal, he agreed not to appeal his sentence as long as it’s not more than six months.

Four of nine mayors allegedly corrupt
The Democrat was elected in 2005 to preside over a city in which the political corruption is almost as famous as the casinos. Four of the last nine mayors have been charged with taking bribes; three men who were on the city council last year are now in prison in another bribery case.

Levy disappeared from city life in late September before resurfacing to resign. He cited ill health and the federal investigation into his war record as his reasons for leaving.

The Press of Atlantic City reported last fall that the Vietnam veteran’s claims that he was a member of the Green Berets were untrue. He apologized, but federal authorities have been looking into whether Levy made that claim to increase his veteran benefit payments.

During his absence from city hall, Levy spent time in a substance abuse and mental health treatment center in northern New Jersey. Jacobs described the mayor’s time there as “a detox situation.”

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