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Judge: Men must write 6,756 names of service members killed in war on terror for stolen valor punishment, and more

The Bronze Star and Purple Heart medals hang from U.S. Army Private 1st Class (Sep.) Lynn Aas’ jacket during an interview at the Dakota Territory Air Museum in Minot, N.D., Feb. 18, 2016. (Senior Airman Apryl Hall/U.S. Air Force)
August 26, 2019

Two Montana men who falsely claimed to be U.S. military veterans were given a strict writing assignment that includes writing the names of all Americans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Judge Cascade County District Judge Greg Pinski ordered Ryan Patrick Morris, 28, and Troy Allan Nelson, 33, on Friday to write the names of all 6,756 Americans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and then write a hand-written apology letter to several veterans groups to explain they lied about serving in the military to receive help and a possible lesser sentence through the Veterans Court, according to the Associated Press.

Additionally, the judge ordered the two to write the obituaries of the 40 Montanans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

They must also both perform 441 hours of community service with a veterans organization — one for each Montanan killed in combat since the Korean War.

“I want to make sure that my message is received loud and clear by these two defendants,” Judge Pinski said.

Additionally, Pinski ordered Morris and Nelson to stand with a placard that says “I am a liar. I am not a veteran. I stole valor. I have dishonored all veterans” at the Montana Veterans Memorial in Great Falls for eight hours on each Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

Morris’ and Nelson’s attorneys objected to the placard condition, with attorney Mark Frisbie saying that his client was not charged with stolen valor, a federal crime, yet he was being punished for it.

The judge said Frisbie’s client was being punished for lying to the court, which gave him the discretion to order the placard requirements, according to a Montana Supreme Court ruling

“I’d like to offer my deepest apology to any veterans out there that I’ve disrespected,” Morris said.

Morris received 10 years in prison after violating his probation he got for felony burglary. Nelson got five years on drug possession. Pinski suspended three years of their sentence, according to the AP.

In an attempt to lessen their sentences, the two had lied about being veterans so they might take their cases through the Veterans Court.

By going through the Veterans Court, Morris and Nelson might have been given special treatment programs to address their crimes, by possibly alleging service-related post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, substance abuse, or various mental health issues.

“You stated you served in the military,” Pinski said, according to the Great Falls Tribune. “That has not been verified.”

Morris, who claimed in 2016 that he did seven combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and suffered from PTSD, admitted he made false statements to the court. Morris also claimed he had his hip replaced after being injured by an improvised explosive device.