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Opening Arguments

GI bill

Most guys who lie about being in the military do it to pick up women. This Hoosier had a different idea:

Christopher Lee Proe came to Pufferbellies nightclub in Barnstable with a taste for expensive champagne and no shortage of stories: He was an Army lieutenant fresh from a tour in Iraq who survived being shot by a .22-caliber gun. He was a Detroit police officer on leave from the National Guard.

After a few weeks of spending cash on pricey drinks, Proe, 23, was on a first -name basis with the staff at Pufferbellies, which prides itself on being friendly to the armed services, waving the cover charge for patrons with military IDs, said Mike Travers, the nightclub's general manager. So when Proe wanted to rent out a VIP room to celebrate his homecoming with his Army buddies and police friends, Pufferbellies allowed him to pay with an out-of-town check, according to a Barnstable police report. Over five days in August, Proe ordered $300 bottles of Dom Perignon and Cristal and paid each time with a check, racking up a tab that topped $4,000.

The checks all bounced, police said.

Proe never served in the military. Never went to Iraq. And isn't a Detroit police officer. Proe is an unregistered sex offender from Indiana wanted on charges in two other states.

A $4,000 bar bill over just five days. That is some serious partying.

When I was in the Army and for a few years afterward, I kept running into these guys who would tell stories about going out on patrol, "and I was the only one who came back." Considering the body count in those stories, I figured there should be a few dozen ex-soldiers my age even left alive.

The biggest lie I told was when a bunch of us from Fort Lee, Va., where we were undergoing advanced training, spent a long weekend bar-hopping in D.C. We kept telling the waitresses we had just gotten our orders for Vietnam so they would give us free drinks. More often than not, it worked. When we got back to the base, guess what was waiting for us Tuesday morning? Yep. Our orders.