Stolen Hearts or Stolen Valor? New York Man Steals Image of Dead Ranger To Lure Women

We have been following “stolen valor” cases and the constitutional controversies raised by faux warriors. There is now a disturbing case out of New York which could present the next context for such prosecution. This picture is of a true American hero: Sgt. Roberto Sanchez, 24, a US Army Ranger killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2009 after five tours of duty. It was reportedly stolen by a man named “Dylan Sorvino” to claim to be a special forces soldier to attract women and praise for his service on Facebook.

The use of a dead hero’s picture pushes stolen valor to a new low.

Sorvino claimed that the handsome pictures were his own and went into detail of how he grew up in New York, studied law and became a special forces soldier. He used the lies to attract women like divorcée Carolyn Hinz and other women. One of the women alerted the Sanchez family after finding the original photo on a military site.

Sanchez, 24, was actually a Floridian and was killed on Oct. 1, 2009 by an improvised explosive device.

Sorvino has now deleted his Facebook profile after Sanchez’s Ranger buddies found out and were not happy. If you are going to be lowlife identity thief, you might want to avoid ticking off the special forces community.

Sorvion wrote Hinz, 37, on Oct. 11th to inform her that “Tomorrow night is my crew’s last Iraqi patrol and we start packing up. I’ve been warned by command not to discuss my departure due to national security so we have to keep this talk to a minimum. . . . I certainly wasn’t prepared for you, you’re [sic] gorgeous smile, your wit and you’re [sic] ability to make me miss someone I’ve never met. How ironic, I had to travel 8,000 miles, go to war to meet this girl.”

Hinz was devastated and now says “I was a sucker for a cute face. It was a very cute face. Too bad it was someone else’s face.”
She was not alone.

Some have suggested that this case be prosecuted under the Stolen Valor Act, which I have long criticized on constitutional grounds. What is missing from these accounts (besides any evidence of humanity by Sorvino) was any use of the photos for commercial gain. This is obviously far more obnoxious and outrageous than the standard false pick-up line at a bar. However, the effort to criminalize such conduct raises considerable constitutional issues.

There remains the possibility of tort liability, which I would encourage the Sanchez family to consider. This is a case of the appropriation of a name or image as well as the negligent infliction of emotional distress. Once again, the absence of commercial gain weakens the appropriate tort, but there are still grounds to proceed. It is doubtful that a loser like this has been successful in life and has significant assets. However, the lawsuit would potentially hold him responsible for his conduct and force him to answer for this despicable act.

Source: NY Post

Jonathan Turley

13 thoughts on “Stolen Hearts or Stolen Valor? New York Man Steals Image of Dead Ranger To Lure Women”

  1. I tell you what… If they do something about TIMOTHY POE on America’s Got Talent and NOTHING about my cousin here, I’m going to LOSE IT!!!


  2. Where is that cat who always claims “stolen valour” is a victim-less crime in the comments section? Our military records can be checked very easily. I strongly recommend that anyone getting engaged, married, etc. to get the other person to sign an SF-180
    to release their records. If they hesitate OR say stuff is classified (yet feel free to brag about it) keep away! If you are really curious why someone would balk,you can make an FOIA request. ANYONE can scan and modify their DD214, its the one from St. Louis that counts.

  3. I suspect he was hoping to get blown….away but not the way it ended up…

  4. There is very few things worse than lying about your military service and stealing the identity of a fallen hero. I hope his Ranger buddies locate this slime and gently remind him of the erros of his ways. I hope the Sanchez family follows Prof. Turleys’s suggestion and see how deep this fraud’s pockets are.

  5. Professor Turley,

    I appreciate that you posited—at least in a general manner—the possible legal remedies that SGT. Sanchez’s family ‘might’ consider pursuing. Such suggestions, along with your other legalistic insights into the process of law, are the main reasons I access this blawg.

    Without your keen legal perceptiveness, this blawg would likely be in the middle ground of the many others that populate cyberspace. Thank you.

  6. “If you are going to be lowlife identity thief, you might want to avoid ticking off the special forces community. ”

    now THAT sounds like truth to me ….:)

  7. I of course would never encourage any sort of extrajudicial punishment on this t*rd, but perhaps a few of Sanchez’s ranger buddies could “have a conversation” with the thief. I also think NY has some pretty tough laws about using someone else’s picture without their permission. That’s why you see all the faces blurred on the reality TV. The producers didn’t get the permission of the people whose faces are blurred.

  8. Too bad this didn’t happen in California.

    They have laws about unauthorized use of a persons image.

  9. This is just worse than low life at it best. It reminds me of years ago when the ” Nam ” was was on and we had guys coming up from the states to avoid the draft. I wont get into the right or wrong of that as it was a lifetime ago but it brought to mind one jerk we took in who wanted help. He claimed he had done 2 tours in Nam and wasn’t going back, well fair enough, so we helped him start over here which was what we did. However it became apparent very quickly that he was using our system for his gain as one night he was confronted by 2 guys who had been there and said that he was not in their unit. he was dropped and vanished to who knows and who cares where.

    The point was that he used the war as excuse to get favors and other things from this who were willing to help those who believed in what they were doing. if it were up to me I’d hand him over to some of the guys in the special forces and let them deal out justice as sure as hell taking him to court wont solve very much if anything with guys like him as this type of person just never learns.. My heart goes out to the family of Sgt Roberto Sanchez for this travesty.

  10. Come on prof, have some sympathy for the guy! He obviously is a loser with very small man-parts who understood he would never get the girl of his dreams without an assist. And he certainly was not about to jeopardize his well being by actually putting on a military uniform so what choice did he have?

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