Feds Try To Salvage Stolen Valor Act

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK

    The Justice Department will appeal two court decisions that said a federal law making it illegal to lie about being a war hero is unconstitutional.

    Prosecutors in Colorado said Friday they'll appeal a Denver federal court ruling that the Stolen Valor Act violates free speech. A California appeals court also found the law unconstitutional. Late Thursday, prosecutors asked that court to reconsider.
         
    The law makes it a crime punishable by up to a year in jail to falsely claim to have received a military medal.
         
    Opponents say the law puts too much power in government hands and that lying for financial gain is covered by existing laws. Supporters argue that the Constitution doesn't protect people who knowingly lie and that the law protects the honor of real heroes.

    In a notable local case, a San Diego County man who posed as a decorated U.S. Marine general was sentenced to three years probation and ordered to pay a $500 fine. David Weber, 69, pleaded guilty to a charge of making false claims about military decorations or medals. He was also ordered to perform 240 hours of community service.
      
    Weber was busted after attending a Veterans of Foreign Wars event in Ramona last November. At the ceremony, which was a celebration of the Marine Corps birthday, Weber wore a full dress uniform adorned with numerous medals and was honored by being offered the first piece of cake.
      
    Weber later admitted he never earned the prestigious awards.

    Prosecutors said Weber's actions were a slap in the face to service members who put their lives on the line to earn those medals.

    In November 2009, Weber told the "Ramona Sentinel" that he has "often said that God gave us one mouth and two ears so that we would listen more than we talk. I did not follow that advice."