A federal judge imposed the harshest possible penalty Tuesday on a Long Island company that sold bogus Medals of Honor, citing letters from veterans who expressed outrage that a medal meant to reward extraordinary valor on the battlefield had been sold to people who had never even served in the military.
Judge William G. Bassler of U.S. District Court in Newark ordered HLI Lordship of Hauppauge, N.Y., the only maker of the nation’s highest military award, to pay $80,000 in fines after the company admitted to selling 300 unauthorized Medals of Honor from 1991 to 1994. Lordship will also pay the government $22,500, the amount it made selling the medals to a dealer for $75 apiece.
The company pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor count in federal court as part of an agreement with Faith Hochberg, the U.S. attorney for New Jersey, whose office has been investigating the matter since last November.
Bassler said he had been moved to impose the maximum sentence recommended under federal sentencing guidelines after reading numerous letters from veterans who were angered by Lordship’s actions.
“True Medal of Honor recipients and their families have the right to be outraged by Lordship’s conduct,” said Bassler, who also put the company on probation for five years. “My only regret is that I’m limited by the guidelines.”