Stolen Valor: Illinois Police Chief Demoted Over False Claim Of Being A Seal

robert kerkorian250px-US_Navy_SEALs_insigniaWe have previously discussed stolen valor cases where police arrest people for pretending to be former decorated veterans and heroes. But what if the man is not only the police but the police chief? When Robert Kerkorian joined the Waukegan, Ill., police department 26 years ago, he said that he was a Navy Seal (a common claim for stolen valor cases). That may have remained his secret until he was promoted to chief and a little checking led to a big embarrassment. Kerkorian was in the Navy for only six months and never even made it to Seal training.

I have previously criticized these cases (here and here) as a threat to the first amendment. Such cases are deterred through social stigma and simple research, as it was here. Waukegan is a small suburb of Chicago and Kerkorian’s lie soon was uncovered.

In a June 29 letter to city officials, Kerkorian wrote:

“I served in my pre­indoctrination class prior to the start of [Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL] training until I was issued a general discharge under honorable conditions in February of 1987. My discharge was based on my principled refusal to discuss matters involving non-military family members that I deemed unrelated to my ability to serve our nation.” That may have been a problem with the clearance process.

Since he only spent 6 months in the Navy, it seems a bit understated to say “I could have done a better job informing those that I never completed SEAL training.” One officer says that Kerkorian spoke of a combat mission with the Seals.

Kerkorian will be demoted down to his previous rank of police commander.

The way this case unfolded is precisely why no law is needed. The man was disgraced and demoted. There is no need for a criminal law to add jail to such punishment.

Source: Business Insider
Kudos: Michael Blott

26 thoughts on “Stolen Valor: Illinois Police Chief Demoted Over False Claim Of Being A Seal”

  1. We all heard the line before…if he has nothing to hide, he should take a lie detector test to prove it.” Grill this guy…he’s good cop / bad cop all rolled into ONE.
    Comon R.K., ….The Gerry Springer show could use a new candidate!

  2. BTW, his punishment is a demotion…to commander! He’s still a law enforcement royal, kinda like being an ex-pope

  3. Justice Holmes:

    Yes, I would agree this could be used to terminate his employment. Yet the fact that he is an administrator, as much as I disagree with it being so departments tend to protect administrators more than they would rookies.

  4. raf, As you know, while Cook County has earned their reputation for corruption and cronyism, Lake County, IL., and Lake County, Indiana, are not too far behind. Corruption just wraps the lower half of Lake Michigan.

  5. Excuse me, he should have been fired! Most people who lie on their resumes are. Why do you think he wasn’t ? Police officers are expected to lie? This is insane. He should have been fired.

  6. A retired SEAL named Don Shipley makes a concerted effort to expose those who falsely claim to be SEALs. As for this former chief, he got what he deserved.

    Nice to see how he went from being a “SEAL” to being a “Brady Cop”

  7. nick,
    does he have a broken nose? 🙂
    If he was ever an arresting officer and was testifying on the stand, I think every defense attorney in Lake County will be attacking his credibility. And rightfully so.

  8. I think this guy’s pants are on fire. Is there anything else he is lying about? He should not be allowed in any witness chair from this point on because his ability to tell the truth is seriously in doubt.

  9. One guy gets caught and demoted for his lie and that shows that there is no reason for criminal sanctions in any case?? By that logic if one person who commits perjury loses his job over it, then that would demonstrate there’s no need to criminalize perjury. Obviously, that’s a silly argument. There may be good reasons not to criminalize “stolen valor” cases, but one guy getting demoted is a weak argument for it.

  10. It’s amazing how many “Navy Seals” you meet in bars. I estimate 10% are telling the truth.

  11. Golly gee whis….. Other employers would use ths as grounds for termination…. Guess there’s a double standard for cops….

  12. As a Vietnam era veteran, I have to disagree with not having or enforcing such a law. In this one case, there were penalties available to take care of the lies, but I think that he should have been fired since he continues to lie about his military service. He never was accepted for SEAL training and he STILL wants to lie. Thus he is so untrustworthy, he should not be in law enforcement at all. He might be able to get employment as a lawyer though, since lying comes naturally to him.

    The reason for such Stolen Valor laws is that those who lie about such things can get jobs, preferences, honors, and other material and intangible benefits which cannot be revoked, or denied once given. Thus by lying about his SEAL training, he may have gotten the police job over another more qualified candidate, and denied that person his job. Thus the city loses an honest cop, in favor of a crooked cop. Simply demoting him is quite insufficient to repair the damage done. So having criminal penalties can act as a deterent to others who may be tempted to distort and gain an advantage over others in seeking a job. I also recall that in most of my jobs, on the applications it states quite clearly that any lie or misrepresentation is grounds for termination of empoyment. So I am puzzled why this crooked cop is still on the force since he probably committed perjury and fraud in his job application.

    Having laws against perjury does not and is not regarded as a violation of free speech. Neither should these kinds of laws be considered any more limiting since these lies are promulgated by their authors for material gain and other considerations. I think that only verbal communication of such things should be exempt since it comes down to he said he said for evidence. In the case of actual written documents and claims, there most certainly can be concrete evidence of such lies.

  13. This guy is still lying. There’s nothing in the Uniform Code of Military Justice that allows a for discharge on the grounds for refusing to discuss matters involving the spouse of a fellow service personnel. It’s like he’s trying to appear as if he fell on his sword in the name of honor and chivalry.

    The truly amazing thing is that a lot of Naval servicemen and women live in Waukegan, which is not far from the Great Lakes Navy base. They know that no one gets discharged after six months unless they get caught doing something extremely reprehensible, like stealing. General screw-ups get assigned to the tedious and unpleasant job painting battleships

  14. Funny. You can beat people and abuse power as an officer, but don’t you dare lie about military training. That would just be terrible.

  15. If he lied to promote himself in such a disgraceful manner, his records involving possible lies to convict people may be up for review…particularly so because such a record of success in his police work is not only a form of self-promotion at others cost but very likely was part and parcel of this creeps promotions in the first place.
    As far as “demotion” goes…perhaps the authorities should take a lesson from the Navy and give his current status a “dishonerable” discharge at this time! One can only wonder what he was “covering up” when the Navy kicked his ass out of service.

  16. Same thing for Vietnam vets, a lot of people now claim they went there when they didn’t….or they give the impression they were in the war, when actually they joined the National (Air) Guard to get OUT of the war.

    And then in a supreme case of irony, when they become President they use the National Guard to fight illegal wars, and then have the guts to strut across a aircraft carrier in a flight suit, like they were ever in a war!!!

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