A tacoma man who falsely claimed he was a decorated war hero when he took the stage at demonstrations held in opposition to the U.S.'s role in Iraq was...

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A Tacoma man who falsely claimed he was a decorated war hero when he took the stage at demonstrations held in opposition to the U.S.’s role in Iraq was sentenced this morning to five months in prison in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

Jesse MacBeth, 23, was also sentenced to three months in a halfway house after his release and three years of probation.

MacBeth claimed that he was an Army ranger who killed more than 200 people, many at close range, including some as they prayed in a mosque. He spoke at an anti-war rally in Tacoma and appeared in a 20-minute anti-war video that circulated widely on the Internet.

In reality, MacBeth made it through only six weeks of Army basic training and never set foot in Iraq.

Conservative bloggers exposed MacBeth in May 2006, destroying his credibility and embarrassing the Seattle company that produced the video about his exploits.

On June 7, MacBeth pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. MacBeth admitted that he filed a bogus claim for VA benefits in 2005, which included a fraudulent military-discharge form.

MacBeth said on the forms that he had been in the Army for more than three years and had achieved the rank of corporal. He also claimed he had been awarded a Purple Heart and that he was discharged because he suffered from post-traumatic-stress disorder.

MacBeth spent 44 days as a private at Fort Benning, Ga., in 2003, but was released “for issues related to entry-level performance and conduct,” according to court papers.

PepperSpray Productions in Seattle produced the video titled “Jesse MacBeth: An Iraq Veteran Speaks Out.” In the film, MacBeth told nuanced tales of brutal killings he carried out at the behest of his commanding officers.

“They would actually feel the hot muzzle of my rifle on their forehead,” he reportedly said on the video, which is no longer in circulation.

Information previously reported in The Seattle Times is included in this report.

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com