Marine Lt. Col. Receives Light Sentence Due to Leaks by Senior Officials

By Getmilitaryphotos shutterstock.com
By Getmilitaryphotos shutterstock.com

Military members are expressly forbidden from publicly expressing derogatory political views. They aren’t required to like the president, but because he’s their boss, they also aren’t allowed to give him a bad rap. Upon enlistment new recruits sign an official contract saying they’ll refrain, and if they break the deal, they stand to be punished in any number of ways.

Though the agreed-upon terms of the contract apply to everyone wearing a military uniform, officers are held to a higher accountability than enlisted troops. Officers have greater responsibilities and represent those under their authority, so this only stands to reason.

Marine Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, believed he was the exception. Like everyone else, the botched troop withdrawal from Afghanistan had him spitting six-foot flames as he watched 13 of his brother in arms complete their final missions at the hands of a suicide bomber.

Not known as the silent type, Scheller let loose on social media with a never-ending slew of videos grinding Joe Biden’s and every other senior leader’s face in the dirt. For his crazed torrent, Scheller was charged with a half dozen Uniform Code of Military Justice violations, and fired from his position.

Yet, when Scheller’s court date arrived, he walked in looking all cool, calm, and collected, without a care in the world. “I feel good,” he said to anyone within earshot. “We’ll see what they do.” It only took one hour to find out.

Scheller exited the courtroom without so much as whispering a word to anyone. The prosecution had recommended a fairly harsh punishment for which the judge in the case, Col. Glen Hines, could not agree to. Hines aimed his words directly at the Corp’s as he’s blasting them for the way they had handled the case.

Hines said the prosecutors had attempted to paint a picture of a half-crazed rouge maniac with a potential for violence, but the videos didn’t show a guy like that at all. They more so reflected a “confused” and “significantly frustrated” man who looked to be “in pain.”

The judge was more upset by the Corp’s inability to keep the trial out of the public eye. He said it should have been handled internally within Corps.
Leaks to the media caused undue pressure on trial that could be perceived as a “specter of unlawful command influence”

Scheller was convicted of the following UCMJ violations; Article 88 (contempt toward officials), Article 89 (disrespect toward superior commissioned officers), Article 90 (willfully disobeying a superior commissioned officer), Article 92 (dereliction in the performance of duties), Article 92 (failure to obey an order or regulation) and 27 specifications of Article 133 (conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman).

Hines ruled for a one-month forfeiture of $5,000 pay when the prosecutors had asked for six months of forfeiture. Scheller will receive a letter of reprimand prior to being honorable discharged and there will be no jail time as requested. Prior to the trial, Scheller had spent nine days in lockup. 

Scheller’s attorney said this should serve as a lesson to Marine Corps higher-ups. “When senior leaders [or] certain people decide to take certain actions like leaking medical records, like putting somebody in pretrial confinement [when there is] no risk of flight, there should be consequences.”