Commander critical of situation in Afghanistan pleads guilty at Camp Lejeune court-martial, is sentenced

Military

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — A former Marine battalion commander relieved of his duties after he made comments critical of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan has pled guilty to all four of his charges as part of a plea agreement in a special court-martial Thursday morning at Camp Lejeune.

Friday morning, Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller received a letter of reprimand and will lose $5,000 from a month of pay. The judge told him it would have been two months if not for his pretrial confinement.

The judge also told Scheller in the real world, people lose their jobs for offenses like this but in the military, they are criminal offenses.

Tim Parlatore, an attorney representing Scheller, told The Associated Press on Wednesday his client would accept responsibility for his actions during the court-martial. Parlatore said after Scheller pleads guilty, there will be a sentencing hearing that expected would last two days.

Scheller opted to have a military judge only during the proceedings. The judge accepted his plea just before noon Thursday. The charge sheet was read, which included conduct unbecoming of an officer.

“It all began with a demand for accountability,” Scheller’s attorney, Tim Parlatore, said. “And so what he’s going to do here (Thursday) is he’s going to show the Pentagon what it looks like to stand up and take accountability for your actions.”

In an Aug. 26 video, Scheller demanded accountability from military leaders regarding the withdrawal from Afghanistan after 13 U.S. troops were killed in Kabul, The Daily News of Jacksonville reported. The next day, Scheller was relieved of his command at the Advanced Infantry Training Battalion at Camp Geiger, which is a facility at Camp Lejeune.

Scheller followed his comments with a series of social media posts, including an Aug. 29 video in which he resigned his commission and said “follow me and we will bring down the whole … system.” He continued to speak out, and on Sept. 27, Scheller was placed in pretrial confinement at Camp Lejeune, the newspaper reported.

Several witnesses were called to the stand in defense of Scheller, including two members of Congress, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia by teleconference and Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas in person.

The maximum punishment Scheller can receive is losing two-thirds of his pay per month for a year. His sentencing will continue Friday before the judge makes a final decision.

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