Cascade County District Judge Greg Pinski also said Ryan Patrick Morris, 28, and Troy Allan Nelson, 33, must stand at the Montana Veterans Memorial for eight hours on both Memorial Day and Veterans Day wearing signs during suspended portions of their sentences, The Associated Press reported Sunday.
“I am a liar. I am not a veteran,” the signs would read. “I stole valor. I have dishonored all veterans.”
The judge ordered Morris and Nelson to hand write 6,756 names of U.S. veterans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and the obituaries of the 40 Montana veterans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, AP reported.
“I want to make sure that my message is received loud and clear by these two defendants,” Pinski said on Aug. 23, adding that their claims were “abhorrent to the men and women who have actually served our country,” according to the Great Falls Tribune.
The two men also have to hand write letters apologizing to several military groups for having lied about military service in an attempt to receive shorter sentences from a Veterans Court.
Morris received a 10-year prison sentence for violating his probation for stealing about $1,500 worth of items from his landlord’s garage, according to the Tribune citing court documents.
Nelson received five years on a drug possession charge, though he was also accused of accused of forgery, elder abuse and six more charges after it was discovered he allegedly stole more than $14,000 from an 86-year-old woman and burglarized her home in January 2018, according to the Tribune.
Pinski suspended both defendants’ cases for three years.
Both men must perform 441 hours of community service, which represents one hour for each Montana military service member killed in combat since the Korean War, once released from prison, AP reported.
“You’ve not respected the veterans. You’ve not respected the court,” Pinski said. “And you haven’t respected yourselves.”
Neither Nelson’s nor Morris’s attorney agreed to the sign condition. One of the attorneys argued his client was being punished for stolen valor — a federal crime — even though he had not been specifically charged with that crime.
Pinski said his decision was for lying to the court, citing Montana Supreme Court rulings that allow him to uphold the sign requirements and take stolen valor into account, according to AP.
Morris said in 2016 he was active in seven combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, had post-traumatic stress disorder and needed his hip replaced after an improvised explosive device injury. Nelson enrolled himself in Veterans Treatment Court before it was discovered he had never served in the military, the Tribune reported.
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