Colorado

Jul 17, 2010 12:16 AM by Matt Stafford

Stolen valor case dismissal has some wondering, what happened?

Now Rick Strandlof, known to some as Rick Duncan, can give his interviews outside of prison, after a Denver federal judge dismissed the stolen valor case against him. The findings were that the rule meant to punish Strandlof for impersonating a decorated war veteran was unconstitutional.

Strandlof formed the Colorado Veterans Alliance as Duncan, saying he was an Iraq war veteran who received multiple Purple Heart medals as well as a Silver Star.

The news of Strandlof's lies was shocking when they were made public in 2009.

"That made big waves throughout the military then, especially here locally," says Terry Mullins, a 32-year military veteran.

Friday's dismissal brings some of that back, leaving people to wonder what happened to the case.

Judge Robert E. Blackburn says in the dismissal that the law is a violation of the 1st Amendment -- freedom of speech.

For some, that doesn't sit well.

"The law needs to be seriously looked at, amended and made to uphold what it stands for," Mullins says.

Pam Sterner, a former Pueblo resident, wrote what became the Stolen Valor Act of 2005. She bought a webcam soon after the news of the dismissal came out to talk to Colorado reporters from her Virginia home.

She disagrees with the findings.

"The United States Supreme Court has already ruled that false statements made knowingly and intentionally are not protected under the First Amendment," Sterner explains.

Scott Riebel, a Colorado Springs veteran, has a Colorado ranger badge he bought at a pawn shop. He compares Strandlof's impersonation to trying to use the ranger badge himself.

"I could be arrested, fined and thrown in jail for, I imagine, quite a while for that," Riebel says.

More seriously, to some this points to a hole in the law that should be fixed.

"We don't have the same protections and we need those same protections for our uniformed military," explains Riebel. It's a change he would like to see, but he wants action more than anything so that situations like this don't make waves again.

Strandlof's attorney says he's pleased with the ruling but expects it to be appealed.

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