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Thread: Court: Stolen Valor Act Unconstitutional

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    Senior Member Armymom09's Avatar
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    Default Court: Stolen Valor Act Unconstitutional

    Court: Stolen Valor Act Unconstitutional

    PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — A federal appeals court on Monday upheld an earlier ruling by three of its members that a law making it illegal to lie about being a military hero violates free speech.

    The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision strikes down the so-called Stolen Valor Act passed by Congress in 2006.

    It also vacates a judgment and fines leveled against Xavier Alvarez, of Pomona, Calif., a water district board member who said at a public meeting in 2007 that he was a retired Marine who received the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military decoration. Alvarez had never served in Marines or in any other branch of the armed forces, according to the court ruling.

    Alvarez was indicted in 2007. He pleaded guilty on condition that he would be allowed to appeal on First Amendment grounds. He was sentenced under the Stolen Valor Act to more than 400 hours of community service at a veterans hospital and fined $5,000.

    Making lies of that sort would implicate “the JDater who falsely claims he’s Jewish or the dentist who assures you it won’t hurt a bit,” Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote. “Phrases such as ‘I’m working late tonight, hunny,’ ‘I got stuck in traffic’ and ‘I didn’t inhale’ could all be made into crimes,” Kozinski wrote in denying a full-court re-hearing of the case.

    The Stolen Valor Act revised and toughened a law that forbids anyone to wear a military medal that wasn’t earned.

    Dozens of people have been arrested under the law at a time when veterans coming home from wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are being embraced as heroes. Many of the cases involve men who simply got caught living a lie without profiting from it. Almost all the impostors have been ordered to perform community service.

    Seven of the court’s 26 active judges disagreed, signing a dissent from the decision not to rehear the Alvarez case, the first in which someone was charged and convicted under the challenged act, the court said.

    U.S. Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd declined to comment on whether government lawyers will appeal the decision.

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    Senior Member Armymom09's Avatar
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    In related news...

    Phony SF Colonel Takes Guilty Plea

    A Maryland man who passed himself off to university employers as a former Green Beret and expert in international sex-trafficking and counterterrorism pleaded guilty March 30 to wire fraud.

    William G. Hillar, 66, admitted in a plea deal worked out with federal prosecutors in Baltimore that an email he sent to the University of Oregon to apply for work included fraudulent information about his military background and experience.

    Hillar could get up to 20 years in prison when he's sentenced on July 20, the FBI said in a statement. Under the terms of the plea agreement he will pay restitution of $171,415 and perform at least 500 hours of community service at the Maryland State Veterans Cemeteries.

    Hillar was arrested at his Maryland home on Jan. 25. The Justice Department says that the former Coast Guard enlisted man pretended for about 12 years to be a retired Army colonel with a Special Forces background. Part of his faux biography included a claim that his daughter was kidnapped by human traffickers in Asia and that he spent six months in a futile effort to rescue her.

    Hillar's story reportedly was the basis of a 2008 movie, "Taken," starring Liam Neeson.

    The amount of restitution equals the money that he earned from the teaching jobs and speaking engagements he made based on his fraudulent bio.

    According to the Justice Department, one of the earliest victims of Hillar's fraud was the FBI's Salt Lake City, Utah, division, which paid him just over $1,000 to speak in April 1998. He also took the bureau's Chicago division for about $1,000 in 2002, and between 2000 and 2010 earned $17,369 from the FBI Command College.

    Hillar also earned money lecturing and conducting workshops for the Army; the Drug Enforcement Agency; the Interior Department's Bureau of Indian Affairs; the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System and various other state and federal agencies.

    But his biggest takes were from the University of Oregon, where he earned $33,000 to teach his courses on international crime from 2002 to 2010, and the Monterey Institute of International Studies. MIIS paid him a total of $32,500 from 2005 to 2010.

    At Monterey, students who were veterans began questioning Hillar's credibility, according to Jeff "J.D." Hinton, a retired Special Forces master sergeant who began looking into Hillar's background well over a year ago. Hinton had pulled together information from his own Special Forces connections and through Freedom of Information Act requests showing Hillar to be a fraud.

    He began publicizing the holes in Hillar's resume his website, ProfessionalSoldiers.com, last October.

    Army Special Forces and the other elite units of the Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force constitute a small world within the military. People pretending to be a Green Beret, SEAL, Marine Recon or Air Force Special Operations Airman cannot sustain the fraud very long once someone begins asking questions, Hinton said.

    "I'm happy with the outcome" of the case against Hillar, Hinton said. "I'm very impressed how quickly the FBI worked this case. I hope this serves as an example to all those that would employ stolen valor to deceive the public. We are watching and we will eventually find and expose you."

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    Senior Member torspo[fin]'s Avatar
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    you have so many you cant tell anymore?

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    Moderator MSG Glenn's Avatar
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    There are more SEAL, Ranger & Special Forces posers as there are those who actually served, Torspo. There are certain questions those who are the real deal can ask that will expose the poser immediately.
    Proud Dad of a US Army Airborne Ranger SFC
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    I was a Soldier. I am a Soldier. I will always be a Soldier.

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    Junior Member D.S.11B's Avatar
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    If people pretending to be in the military can do so under free speech, then why is it still illegal to pretend to be a police officer? It's the same principle.

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    Moderator MSG Glenn's Avatar
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    You're somewhat correct, DS. The major difference is that under ordinary circumstances a Soldiier can't make civilian arrests or detainments. We had a police poser in this area several years ago that was making traffic stops of young ladies & was "arresting" them & placing them in his "squad car" only to rape & rob them.
    Proud Dad of a US Army Airborne Ranger SFC
    Retired US Army 1SG/MSG, Airborne Infantry, G-3, Instructor
    Former USN - Submarines, USS Chopper (SS 342) & Navy Diver, UDT 21
    I was a Soldier. I am a Soldier. I will always be a Soldier.

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    Senior Member Grunt Medic TXARNG's Avatar
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    Not to mention that impersonating a military Officer or NCO/Petty Officer are specific Federal offenses under Title 10 of the United States Code.
    68W4P, 31B4P, 0341, 0844
    24 years and DONE!!!

    "Even if you know that a certain illustration in an art book is from the Kama Sutra, don't point that out to your art history class. They will think you're a pervert." - seen at learnfrommyfail.com

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    Senior Member Exo1's Avatar
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    Its great that the Stolen Valor act is back post challenge, and enforcing what I believe to a critical need given the amount of posing asshats whom cannot help themselves!!.. Hard charging airbags the lot of them!!.. Pathetic beyond belief... and since they obviously have no respect for themselves nor the courage of professionals whom really do step into harms way, its great the law can pick up the slack and clip the wings of these ego centric story tellers...

    Exo
    Tenants of Bushido;

    ‘We should never obsess about if we are going to die, but instead focus on how we live as those whom live an honorable life will always die a glorious death.’

    Rectitude (義): Courage (勇氣): Benevolence (仁): Respect (禮 ): Honesty (誠): Honour (名誉): Loyalty (忠義)

    ...ergo veneratio est vires.

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    Short Timer CWO Sharkey's Avatar
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    They are giving a special on the Pentagon's Recon show about Stolen Valor. I would like to see it. Here are some youtube videos of stolen valor in the news.



    other videos - Duncan



    Last edited by CWO Sharkey; 07-30-2011 at 02:24 AM.
    Iraq/Afghanistan Veteran (OIF V & OEF X & XIII)
    101st Airborne Division & 4th Infantry Division combat vet
    Serving overseas

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    Short Timer CWO Sharkey's Avatar
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    Ironically, I received an email from the pentagonchannel's email subscription service on stolen valor. Here is the link.


    The Pentagon Channel
    Iraq/Afghanistan Veteran (OIF V & OEF X & XIII)
    101st Airborne Division & 4th Infantry Division combat vet
    Serving overseas

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