A judge last week ordered two men who lied about having served in the military to wear placards reading “I am a liar” at a Montana’s veterans memorial and to write the names of Americans killed in the line of duty.
Cascade County District Judge Greg Pinski handed down the sentence, tailored to the false admissions from 28-year-old Ryan Patrick Morris and 33-year-old Troy Allan Nelson, The Great Falls Tribune reported on Friday.
“There are certain people — shameful people — who have not put their lives on the line for this country who portray themselves as having done so,” Pinski said, adding that their behavior was “abhorrent to the men and women who have actually served our country.”
The Montana judge had already sentenced the men for separate crimes but they were back before the court for violating the conditions of their release. According to Military Times, the two had lied about their military service to have their cases moved to a veterans court. Pinski offered them a chance for early parole if they abided by certain conditions.
Pinski mandated that every year during the suspended portions of their sentences, they must stand for eight hours at the Montana Veterans Memorial on both Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
They are to wear a placard that reads: “I am a liar. I am not a veteran. I stole valor. I have dishonored all veterans.”
“I want to make sure that my message is received loud and clear by these two defendants,” Pinski said in court, according to the newspaper. “You’ve been nothing but disrespectful in your conduct. You certainly have not respected the Army. You’ve not respected the veterans. You’ve not respected the court. And you haven’t respected yourselves.”
In order to be eligible for parole, both defendants must also hand-write the names of all 6,756 Americans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as write the obituaries of the 40 Montanans killed.
Morris and Nelson were ordered to admit to their lies and write letters of apology to the American Legion, AMVETS, the Disabled American Veterans, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Vietnam Veterans of America.
The Great Falls Tribune reported that they must also complete 441 hours of community service — one hour for each Montana native killed in combat since the Korean War.
Morris was sentenced to 10 years with 3 years suspended in Montana State Prison for a felony burglary charge. Nelson was sentenced to 5 years, 2 years suspended, for felony criminal possession of dangerous drugs. They will be eligible for early release if they meet Pinski’s conditions.
The two men apologized in court for lying about their military service, The Great Falls Tribune noted.
Morris had claimed that he had done seven combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, was suffering from combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder and was injured by an improvised explosive device. Nelson was falsely enrolled in a Veterans Treatment Court.
The men’s attorneys reportedly objected to Pinski’s court-ordered “I am a liar” placard because they were not being charged with stolen valor. The newspaper noted that it is a federal crime under the Stolen Valor Act of 2013 to present oneself to be a recipient of certain military decorations with intent to obtain money, property or other tangible benefit.
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Pinski cited a Montana Supreme Court case that he said gives him the discretion to impose this sentence and consider stolen valor.