Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller, whose viral video criticized senior military leaders for their botched withdrawal from Afghanistan, is reportedly planning to plead guilty for his actions at his scheduled court-martial at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina on Thursday.
Scheller faces charges of contempt toward officials; disrespect toward superior commissioned officers; willfully disobeying a superior commissioned officer; dereliction in the performance of duties; failure to obey an order or regulation and conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. The charges are the equivalent of misdemeanor-level offenses.
After Scheller’s video went viral, he acknowledged his critical remarks could put him in trouble and in a second video, offered to resign his officer’s commission.
The military said nope, and threw him in jail for “pre-trial confinement.”
Under the terms of a plea deal, Scheller is hoping to avoid further jail time and either receive an honorable discharge or a general discharge under honorable conditions, which would allow him to retain some of his military benefits.
According to leaked documents provided to Coffee or Die, it’s unclear whether Scheller might still face a special court-martial in which he would plead guilty to some — but not all — of the charges to trigger his release from uniformed service.
There also isn’t a timetable for when Scheller could be released from the brig to his family, nor is there clarity on whether he will be freed under a modified release plan that allows him to communicate with counsel but bars him from taking further public statements about the Pentagon to Facebook and YouTube.
Scheller is being represented pro bono by Brian Ferguson along with Texas attorney Tony Buzbee who are working with Marine criminal defense counsel Maj. Tyler Brummond to broker a deal with the Corps.
Also ready to assist in the case is retired Navy Special Warfare Operator Chief Edward “Eddie” Gallagher and his wife, Andrea and their Florida-based Pipe Hitter Foundation. Pipe Hitter has amassed a $2.2 million war chest and criminal defense attorneys Tim Parlatore and Jeremiah J. Sullivan III.
The Gallaghers established the foundation in the wake of the military’s failed prosecution of the highly decorated SEAL.
In a conversation with the Washington Post earlier this week, Parlatore said Scheller is prepared to plead guilty but the defense team is still working out a pretrial agreement.
Parlatore said he couldn’t get into the specifics of an agreement as some of its details are “still up in the air” but Scheller felt after his viral calls for accountability from military leaders it would “make him a hypocrite” if he didn’t also accept responsibility for his own actions.
“Our hope is for him to get a letter of reprimand, and no more,” Parlatore told the Washington Post.
Political support for Scheller has come from 21 Republican lawmakers, led by Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas. The lawmakers signed a letter calling on Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro and Gen. Alford to grant Scheller’s offer to resign.
“Lt. Col. Scheller is willing to accept responsibility for speaking out by resigning his commission,” Gohmert wrote in the letter provided to Coffee or Die. “No other military leader has shown such integrity for their missteps during the retreat and surrender that failed.”
And that goes for the commander in chief himself.
Yet Lt. Col. Scheller sits in jail for speaking an opinion. What does that tell you about where we are today as a nation?
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