CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller was sentenced on Friday to a reprimand and to forfeit $5,000 after taking to social media to address his dissatisfaction with the handling of the American withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The judge for Scheller’s court-martial, Col. Glen Hines, ordered the punishment after he accepted Scheller’s guilty pleas on Thursday and heard evidence as to how severely the former battalion commander and 17-year Marine should be penalized.
Marine Corps prosecutors had suggested a reprimand plus the forfeiture of $5,000 of pay per month for six months. The maximum punishment Scheller faced was the reprimand plus forfeiture of two-thirds of his monthly pay for up to 12 months.
After the sentence was issued, Scheller attorney Tim Parlatore, told members of the media Scheller would not comment until after he leaves the Marine Corps. Scheller has tendered his resignation voluntarily.
“I think that the judge’s decision was very fair,” Parlatore said. “He definitely considered all the facts and aggravation and mitigation. I think that this is a good, just sentence. So we are very pleased with the result.”
Scheller pleaded guilty on Thursday to violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice nine times:
After overnight deliberations, Hines on Friday said he considered two months of forfeiture totaling $10,000, but opted for one month because Scheller was held in pre-trial confinement at Camp Lejeune for nine days from Sept. 27 to Oct. 5.
Hines said he weighed heavily Scheller’s military record while considering possible punishments.
“He had an outstanding record before this,” Hines said. The judge described Scheller’s career prior to the social media posts as appearing “to be on an upward slope.”
Scheller posted his first video on Aug. 26 following a suicide bombing attack on U.S. forces in Kabul, Afghanistan, that killed 11 Marines, a Navy corpsman and an American soldier.
Scheller continued to make posts and comments online well into September. He published videos on Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn in which he addressed the withdrawal, commented on accountability, solicited funds and called out senior leaders.
Scheller’s outspokenness drew viral attention from the American public and politicians.
The eight witnesses who testified on Scheller’s behalf on Thursday included three Republican politicians: U.S. Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas and U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina.
Veterans who served with Scheller stateside and in Iraq and in Afghanistan also stood up for him.
Scheller gave an unsworn statement on Thursday in which he said had he gone through “the proper channels” to convey his message, it would have never reached the Commandant of the Marine Corps, the U.S. secretary of defense or the American public.
Parlatore said the secretary of the Navy will decide on the appropriate characterization// for// Scheller’s separation from the service, whether it’s honorable, which is the highest level, or under honorable circumstances, the second-highest level.
The lawyer said the case has significant implications for not only Scheller, but the entire Marine Corps.
“I think every veteran who served in Afghanistan is and should still be feeling pain from this situation,” Parlatore said. “He obviously exhibited his pain in a certain way, and I think that at this point he is going to go back and take some time for himself, some quiet time, and then figure out what he is going to do next in his life.”
Reporter Calvin Shomaker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.