Official charged with faking Marines paper

Jan. 10, 2008 at 6:23 PM

LAWRENCE, Mass., Jan. 10 (UPI) -- A newly elected school board member in Lawrence, Mass., has been charged with forging Marine Corps discharge papers.

The FBI arrested James Stokes on the misdemeanor charge at a Lawrence donut shop Wednesday, The Boston Globe reported. Stokes was released after a brief appearance before a federal magistrate in Boston.

Stokes was sworn in Monday as a member of the Lawrence school committee. During the campaign, he claimed to be a former Marine.

His claims of military service had been questioned during a number of earlier political campaigns but had never been checked until he won political office for the first time in November. Then, a routine background check found that he had served two short prison terms in 1964 and 1986.

Mayor Michael Sullivan said he was trying to find out if Stokes could be removed from the school committee and his swearing-in rescinded.

"People feel very, very hurt that someone would disguise themselves as a veteran and as someone who has received honors and medals and they weren't even a real veteran," Sullivan said. "I don't think that is the role model for our children that we want to show serving in office."

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