- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A District Court judge on Monday found a retired Navy veteran from Virginia Beach guilty of three misdemeanor counts after he admitted to stealing his neighbor’s American flags.

John Parmele Jr., 73, told District Court Judge Teresa Hammons that he took his neighbor’s flags because they weren’t wasn’t being illuminated in accordance with federal guidelines.

“I think he’s trying — in his mind — to be patriotic, but he’s going about it the wrong way,” Mr. Parmele told the Virginia-Pilot newspaper previously regards to his neighbor, Mike Anderson.

Mr. Anderson filed a criminal complaint last month after he returned to his Virginia Beach home on April 3 following a weekend away and found that the American flag he had been flying from his mailbox for 15 years had been removed. He approached his neighbor about the incident and replaced the flag several days later, only for the second Stars and Stripes to similarly disappear within hours.

A magistrate agreed that probable cause existed to to find Mr. Parmele responsible and charged him with three Class 1 misdemeanors, the Virginia-Pilot reported: trespassing, petty larceny and intentional damage to a monument.

Mr. Parmele was convicted Monday on all three counts after Mr. Anderson presented the judge with evidence of the crime being committed, the newspaper reported.

The vet had faced jail time and a $2,500 fine for each conviction, but he was only ordered to pay back his neighbor $99.98 for the two stolen flags in addition to a $300 penalty and was told to stay off his property for the next two years.

Mr. Parmele admitted his actions in court, but reportedly refused to apologize.

“It was an expensive lesson,” Mr. Parmele said, the Virginia-Pilot reported. “I regret I did it now, but I will not apologize because Mr. Anderson disrespected the flag. He disrespected veterans and he disrespects all Americans.”

The Department of Veteran Affairs states that traditional, non-enforceable guidelines call for displaying the flag in public only from sunrise to sunset, but stipulates it “may be displayed at all times if it’s illuminated during darkness.”

Mr. Parmele told the court that he had previously attempted, unsuccessfully, to convince his neighbor to light up the American flag at night in accordance with federal code. When Mr. Anderson was out of time, he took the American flag to a local Veterans of Foreign Wars post so it could be properly retired, The Associated Press reported.

“Even if what you say is correct, it does not give you the right to trespass” and steal flags, Judge Hammons told Mr. Parmele during Monday’s hearing, the Virginia-Pilot reported.

“It’s like road rage. It pushed me to the limit, where I did an uncharacteristic-like option, and it’s not like me,” Mr. Parmele told WISH-TV’s 10 On Your Side after this week’s hearing.

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