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PUYALLUP MAN SENTENCED TO TEND GRAVES IN MILITARY CEMETERY FOR POSING AS MARINE CORPS CAPTAIN AND CHAPLAIN - Conducted Weddings, Funerals and Other Events Illegally Wearing Uniform and Medals for Valor

July 30, 2007

REGGIE L. BUDDLE, 59, of Puyallup, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to two years of probation and 500 hours of community service for Unlawful Wearing of United States Military Medals and Decorations. Magistrate Judge Kelly J. Arnold ordered BUDDLE to perform 500 hours of community service tending graves and performing labor at the Tahoma Military Cemetery in Kent, Washington. Judge Arnold said he was “pleased the beneficiary of the community service will be connected to the criminal event.”

In pleading guilty April 5, 2007, BUDDLE acknowledged that during 2005 and 2006, in the State of Washington, he repeatedly posed as a decorated member of the United States Marine Corps, wearing a Marine Corps uniform, with insignia and rank of Captain, and wore official medals and service decorations awarded to soldiers on the basis of service and valor to the United States. In fact, Buddle never served in the United States Marine Corps, and never earned those medals and commendations. The medals and commendations worn by BUDDLE included such prestigious and well-known awards as the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, awarded for extraordinary contribution to national defense; the Combat Action Ribbon, awarded to soldiers for actual combat with opposing forces; the Presidential Unit Citation, awarded for extraordinary heroism in combat; the Vietnam Service Medal, available only to soldiers who served in Vietnam; and the United States Marine Corps Gold Jump Wings, awarded only to Marine Corps members.

During this same period of time, BUDDLE posed as a Marine Corps Chaplain and Reverend, officiating and presiding at weddings, baptisms, and funerals of serviceman, and others. BUDDLE had never been ordained as a Chaplain, and was not authorized by State law to act in such a capacity. On February 27, 2006, wearing the Marine Corps uniform with the above military medals and decorations, Buddle participated in the opening ceremony of the Washington State Senate at the Capital in Olympia, Washington, and gave the opening prayer to that body, posing as a Chaplain.

In his sentencing memo, Assistant United States Attorney Ron Friedman told the court that media attention to the case has been part of the punishment. “Mr. Buddle has been appropriately made to answer before a great many people. And he has been shunned by a great many others. This is its own form of punishment. Indeed, the Government is advised that the problems the defendant has caused himself through this misconduct have caused him to have to physically relocate,” Friedman wrote to the court.

At the sentencing hearing BUDDLE apologized and told Judge Arnold he was “ashamed.”

The case was investigated by the Department of Veteran Affairs Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) and was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Ron Friedman.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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