RALEIGH, N.C. – A 65-year-old Florida man held since August on a charge that he deserted the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War was released Wednesday from the Camp Lejeune brig and will be discharged, a base spokesman said.
Jerry Texiero was accused of deserting Camp Pendleton, Calif., in 1965. Texiero, living under an alias, was arrested and jailed in Florida in August following a fingerprint match.
Camp Lejeune spokesman 1st Lt. Clark D. Carpenter declined to provide specific information about the desertion charge. He said base commander Maj. Gen. Bob Dickerson granted the discharge in lieu of a trial.
Texiero's fiancee, Elaine Smith, said he would stay on the base until paperwork for the discharge is complete and then return to Florida.
Last week, Texiero's civilian lawyers said he was charged solely to serve as an example to troops in Iraq. A corps spokeswoman rejected the accusation, saying the Marines were only following the law.
Texiero had been using an alias for years, but the corps found him by matching fingerprint records against names of suspected deserters. At the time, he was serving a 20-year probation sentence after pleading no contest to charges that he defrauded the owners of classic cars he sold in the mid-1990s.
Texiero could have received amnesty after Vietnam had he known to ask for it, said his lawyers.
In the fiscal year that ended in September, there were 1,187 Marines listed as unlawfully leaving the ranks, down from 1,436 a year earlier, the military said. The oldest entry dates to 1943 for a Marine who would be 91 if he's still alive.