Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller Jr. pled guilty to all six misdemeanor-level charges Thursday, including willfully disobeying a superior commissioned officer, dereliction in the performance of duties and conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman.
The judge, on Friday, said he would have given a two-month forfeiture of pay, had it not been for the nine days Scheller spent in pre-trial confinement. Scheller was freed from the brig last week where he was being held for violating an agreement to stop posting criticism on social media.
The judge said he does not condone Scheller’s offenses, but noted his 17 year USMC career, saying that prior to his social media incident, he was an officer with an outstanding record – a record, he said, he weighed heavily.
The letter of reprimand was much less than what was recommended. The prosecution recommended a forfeiture of $ 5,000 of pay for 6 months and a letter of reprimand. The maximum penalty could have been forfeiture of 2/3 monthly pay for 12 months and a letter of reprimand.
The sentencing came after Scheller was relieved of his command at one of Camp Lejeune’s infantry training battalions in August after posting the videos to Facebook and LinkedIn after a bombing at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul took the lives of 13 U.S. service members as well as dozens of Afghan citizens.
“Did anyone raise their hand and say, ‘We completely messed this up?'” Scheller had asked in a video. “I’m not saying we can take back what has been done. All I asked for was accountability, for people to comment on what I said and to say, ‘Yes. Mistakes were made.’ And had they done that I would’ve gone back into rank and file, submitted, and accomplished what I wanted.”
Scheller is a decorated Marine who has served for 17 years.
His other charges include contempt toward officers, disrespect toward superior commissioned officers and failure to obey order or regulation.
Fox News’ Steve Harrigan, Brie Stimson, Lucas Y. Tomlinson, Hannah Grossman, Angelica Stabile and Michael Lee contributed to this report.