You Should Hear the Other Lies in the Stolen Valor Case

A high-profile Supreme Court case revolves around a fabulous liar

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Today, the Supreme Court made news with the announcement that it will decide on whether lying about your military record is a crime. It's an interesting case with all sorts of uncomfortable First Amendment issues. But most interesting is the long-winded liar at the center of the court case. Meet Xavier Alvarez, a Pomona, Cal., man who blatantly lied about receiving a Medal of Honor even though he never served a day in the military. He was prosecuted under the Stolen Valor Act passed by Congress in 2006. News stories focusing on his prosecution emphasize the dishonor of lying about "the nation's highest military decoration," which has veterans groups enraged. But court documents show Alvarez was a complete fabulist who would lie about almost anything. His tall tales are cataloged under the section "Factual and Procedural Background" in the Supreme Court writ of certiorari. Sure, there was the time he claimed "he won the Medal of Honor for rescuing the American Ambassador during the Iranian hostage crisis, and that he had been shot in the back as he returned to the embassy to save the American flag." There was also the time he claimed to have been a Vietnam helicopter pilot. But those appear to be just a few fibs in a career of lying. From the brief:

In addition to his lies about military service, Alvarez has claimed to have played hockey for the Detroit Red Wings, to have worked as a police officer (who was fired for using excessive force), and to have been secretly married to a Mexi- can starlet. As the district court observed, Alvarez “live[s] in a world, a make-believe world where [he] just make[s] up sto- ries all the time . . . . [T[here’s no credibility in anything [he] say[s].”

So why did he lie so much? The court filings don't make it clear about the impetus for his professional hockey pipe dreams or Mexican starlet fantasies. But in the matter of his Medal of Honor lies, he was apparently trying to impress his colleagues. Alvarez, amazingly, was a public official in California elected in 2007 to the Three Valley Water District board of directors.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.