Perillo backs criminalizing false representation of military awards

State Rep. Jason Perillo of Shelton voted in favor of a measure that defines the crime of falsely representing oneself as having a military medal or decoration, or wearing a uniform of one of the armed forces that one is not authorized to wear in an attempt to fraudulently obtain money, property, or any other goods or services.

“As grotesque as it sounds, there are individuals out there who would fraudulently wear military uniforms and decorations, or claim to have earned them when they have not,” said Perillo, a Republican.

“Worse still, there are those who would do so in an attempt to profit from the goodwill of our communities toward military veterans, and local and state programs aimed at assisting veterans and those who serve our nation in the armed forces,” he said.

Perillo said there are numerous opportunities meant for legitimate veterans, such as those for veteran-owned businesses and service-disabled veterans, that should be protected and preserved for those they are intended to help.

Perillo represents the 113th District, which includes most of Shelton. He was first elected to the office in a 2007 special election.

Bill is in response to court decision

The bill — An Act Concerning Military Valor — was drafted is in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in U.S. v. Alvarez, which stated the federal military medal misrepresentation statute was unconstitutional because it violated a person’s First Amendment right to free speech.

The nation’s highest court ruled there is no general First Amendment exception for false statements, but acknowledged many laws exist to punish or criminalize false statements that cause definite and identifiable harm through fraud.

“While the Supreme Court may say that we cannot penalize those who would pretend to military status and honors that they have not earned, we can at the very least criminalize the actions of those who would do so in an attempt to profit from such action,” Perillo said..