Molloy, an F-4 Phantom fighter pilot during the Vietnam War, ordered Horvath to write a public letter of apology and separate letters to the commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, and the local Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion chapters. Molloy also ordered Horvath to march in front of the U.S. courthouse in Missoula, Montana, wearing a sandwich board announcing his crime for 50 hours.
The front of the sign was to bear the words, “I am a liar. I am not a Marine.” On the back: “I have never served my country. I have dishonored veterans of all wars.”
The unique punishment meant no prison time, just probation, home confinement, and a $1,500 fine. In December 2006, the Whitefish Pilot ran Horvath’s public letter of apology. “I realize that by falsely representing myself as a Marine, I have dishonored all those who have served in the United States Marine Corps and all other branches of the U.S. military, and that my false statements have diminished and tarnished the contributions and sacrifices that others have made to protect my freedom,” Horvath wrote in that letter.
An appeals court later overturned the conviction and sentence, ruling that Horvath was actually exempt from criminal liability for lying to the probation officer. Regardless, the original punishment appears to be one of the most creative stolen valor sentences ever handed down by a judge.