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This letter is from the many friends of Roy J. Scott, who has been a Port Angeles resident since 1998, whom you made the headline topic of a column, writes a Port Angeles reader whose name is either on a second page I mislaid or he/she didnt sign it.
A columnist is not expected to be unbiased, continued the reader, but taking time to learn all of the facts before publishing a flip comment would make your work more credible with the thinking readers of the Peninsula Daily News.
The item referred to concerned a plea-agreement reached by Mr. Scot, 71, with the U.S. Attorneys office, where he admitted he posed as a Marine major and used a bogus military discharge certificate to receive $21,960 worth of veterans benefits. He was sentenced to four months of electronically monitored home confinement.
My comment was, Jees, what terrible punishment, having to stay in your home for four months. Thats sure going to discourage others from pulling the same con.
What I didnt say, complained the reader, was that Scott pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors and repaid the $21,960 the same day. That his four month sentence was within federal sentencing guidelines and meant he had to wear an electronic device that monitored his movements. That he was only allowed to leave to attend church, visit his doctor and one hour a week to shop for food. That he suffered a major heart attack and broke out of home confinement to drive himself to the hospital and was in the critical unit at the hospital when the column ran headlined Did veteran who lied get off easy?
Did you take the time to find out that eight members of the Port Angeles Marine Corps League who were present at Roy Scotts sentencing, then gave interviews to a TV station and the Peninsula Daily News vociferously denigrating Judge Theilers sentence? And if so, do you condone their public disrespect for a federal judges decision?
We invite you, as a professional newspaper woman, to check all of these facts for yourself and to make whatever reparations you feel may be warranted.
Well, first off, I dont write the headlines on my columns. The editors of each newspaper who uses them does that and I have no objections to the one cited. Second, this was an item, which means one of the small component parts of a larger whole, i.e., usually a half dozen or so small stories with comment on each. The Associated Press news stories from which I took this item did not carry the details the reader mentions, although the Peninsula Daily News did in its news stories.
Mr. Scot was caught in a nationwide roundup by the Veterans Administrations Office of the Inspector General, one of eight in the Northwest who faked their military service in conflicts dating to World War II. Scot also was charged with unlawful wearing of military medals. He claimed to have been wounded in Korea and to have won several medals. He never served in Korea and was court martialed out of the Marines. And while the Port Angeles Marine Corps Leagues court appearance is not mentioned in the stories I clipped, AP does mention that Several real veterans attended the sentencing in U.S. District Court in Seattle and one of them, who said his father was a Marine officer who died at Guadalcanal, called the sentence a travesty of justice and said Scott should have had to do time behind bars.
The phony war hero phenomenon, the VA said, tarnishes the service of thousands of veterans who have served honorably and strangles VA resources from providing critical care and benefits from deserving veterans.
Adele Ferguson can be reached at P.O. Box 69, Hansville, WA, 98340.