TACOMA, Wash. – A 59-year-old man admitted Thursday in federal court in Tacoma that he donned a U.S. Marine Corps uniform and military medals to perform marriages, baptisms and funerals even though he never served as a Marine.

Reggie L. Buddle pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful wearing of U.S. military medals and decorations, a misdemeanor, the U.S. Attorney’s Office reported. Buddle faces up to six months imprisonment and a $5,000 fine when he’s sentenced June 21.

Federal prosecutors said Buddle posed as a Marine Corps chaplain in 2005 and 2006 and gave a prayer at the opening ceremony of the 2006 Washington State Senate while in uniform. Buddle has never been ordained as a chaplain and never served in the Marines, prosecutors said.

A federal agent whose office investigated the case said Buddle’s actions were disgraceful.

“Falsely claiming medals is stealing “valor’ from those who put themselves in harm’s way protecting this great country,” said Douglas Carver, special agent in charge of the Inspector General’s Office of the Department of Veteran Affairs. “We must continue to recognize our veterans for the true and actual sacrifices they have made and to publicly condemn those who tarnish that service by stealing their valor.”

Buddle’s attorney, Colin Fieman, said the medals belong to Buddle’s late brother, who served in Vietnam. Buddle dressed in Marine regalia to minister to troops he saw making great personal sacrifices to fight in Iraq, Fieman said.

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