WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – A man accused of stolen valor was back in court Monday morning to face charges that he forged his military discharge papers to get Purple Heart license plates.
But that is not all he faced.
The seats at the Warren Municipal Court were filled with veterans and Purple Heart recipients who were waiting for Keith Chandler, 33, to walk into the courtroom. He is accused of forging his military discharge papers in order to get Purple Heart license plates.
“A lot of our friends, they got the Purple Heart or they earned it. It was given to their mother because they did not survive and I guess we are here because they can’t be,” said Skip Cole, past commander of Military Order of the Purple Heart.
“It is unacceptable. I have been in combat and I have patched up and carried enough veterans that I am here fighting for the ones that could not fight for themselves,” Leo Connelly, commander for the Disabled Veterans organization. “It is unacceptable for you to dishonor my brothers and sisters that have given their life and made the sacrifice. I will fight until the last breath for that honor.”
Chandler’s lawyer, Gary Rich, said his client is a decorated veteran and deserves his Purple Heart, even though he was discharged under other than honorable conditions for misconduct.
“We understand the public’s frustration, but the public does not know Keith Chandler. He did actively serve in three months of active combat. He did receive an award for valor. He rescued one of your fellow reporters from a combat attack,” Rich said.
Chandler waived his preliminary hearing, so his case now goes to a Trumbull County grand jury.
The veterans said they will be at every court hearing until justice is served.