Two Montana men learned the hard way this month that committing stolen valor in an attempt get preferential treatment in the judicial system does not pay.
Fox News reports:
Two Montana men who wrongly claimed to be military veterans while trying to get more favorable sentences were ordered to prison last week — and neither inmate will be eligible for parole until they complete an assignment that includes hand-writing the names of all Americans killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Ryan Morris, 28, and Troy Nelson, 33, both claimed they were veterans as part of an effort to get their cases moved to a Veterans Court to receive lesser sentences.
The two were sentenced Friday in Cascade County Court. Morris got 10 years in prison for violating the terms of his probation for felony burglary, while Nelson got five years on a drug possession conviction. Judge Greg Pinski suspended three years of each defendant’s sentence.
Before either can be eligible for parole, however, Pinski ordered them both to handwrite the names of the 6,756 Americans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan; to write out the obituaries of the 40 Montanans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan; and send hand-written letters of apology to several veterans groups, making sure to identify themselves as having lied about military service to receive help and possibly a lesser sentence through a Veterans Court.
Per KRTV, “Pinski made Morris and Nelson watch a video of a stolen valor suspect being confronted by a member of the armed forces.” And the way Morris and Nelson have to identify themselves as lying about military service is to a wear placards with the following statement printed on them:
Both men must wear a sign at the Montana Veterans Memorial during each Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremony while they are under court supervision; the signs will read: I AM A LIAR. I AM NOT A VETERAN. I STOLE VALOR. I DISHONORED ALL VETERANS.
They also will each have to complete 441 hours of community service, which is one hour for each Montanan KIA since the Korean war.
Watch the video report from KRTV below:
Their attorneys weren’t happy with the placard part of their clients’ respective sentences and objected, but Judge Pinski told them there was precedent for taking stolen valor claims into account in sentencing:
Attorney Mark Frisbie said his client has not been charged with stolen valor, which is a federal crime, but was being punished for it.
Pinski said he was punishing the men for lying to the court. He also cited Montana Supreme Court rulings that give him discretion to take the stolen valor into account and others that upheld the placard requirements.
As an interesting sidenote, Pinski once worked for President Clinton’s administration in the Office of Presidential Scheduling before beginning law school. During his 1992 run for president, Bill Clinton was plagued with allegations of being a draft dodger during the Vietnam war.
— Based in North Carolina, Sister Toldjah is a former liberal and a 15+ year veteran of blogging with an emphasis on media bias, social issues, and the culture wars. Read her Red State archives here. Connect with her on Twitter. –
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