A Guy Named Joe

On Sunday night, February 6, 1994, 60 Minutes featured a story about a Massachusetts man named Joe who had been incarcerated for over twenty years, serving a first degree life sentence without the possibility of parole for murder. The piece that aired that night centered on Joe's exceptional war record from his two tours žn Vietnam as a member of the United States Marine corps. Joe had been awarded the Purple Heart as well as the Bronze Star with a Combat V for Valor. On February 10, 1994, four days after the 60 Minutes story had aired, the Boston Globe featured a story about this Joe and highlighted his war record and achievements while incarcerated, and, like 60 Minutes, implied that his war hero's Life-Without-Parole sentence should in fact be commuted for his service to his country. As fate would have it, Joe would be given a commutation and paroled within a year of the 60 Minutes story. That, however, was not the end of the real story.

On August 24, I998, a new story broke that the guy named Joe who was featured on 60 Minutes and portrayed as a war hero had in fact lied about his war record. He had never served in Vietnam nor had he earned any medals. He had somehow gotten hold of another Joe's DD2-14 service records and switched the names. What is even more incredible is that apparently 60 Minutes never verified the false Joe's veteran status or service records with either the≠ Department of Defense or the Veterans Administration. Once the deception was brought to light, Joe Yandle — the Joe who had lied about his service record — was declared in violation, his parole revoked, and he was returned to state prison for several years before being paroled again.

There is another guy named Joe who is serving a first degree life sentence without the possibillity of parole. Joe Labriola has been incarcerated for forty-three straight years. He is the former United States Marine, who as a member of the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, served two tours in Vietnam, was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star with Combat V for Valor.

To date, neither 60 Minutes nor The Boston Globe, nor any other media outlet that reported the fraud ever investigated whose service records were used for the forgery. If they had, they would have discovered that Joe Labriola was the much decorated war hero and the Joe who deserved a commutation for his meritorious service. The cruel irony is that while Joe Yandle is home again, living a quiet life, Joe Labriola is still in prison, slowly and painfully dying from not only his war wounds, but also from severe COPD due to his exposure to Agent Orange, which is destroying his lungs.

Joe Labriola has applied for a commutation several times, most recently last vear, and has yet to receive so much as a hearing. Nor has 60 Minutes ever acknowledged its investigative oversights nor offered any kind of apology. It is time to set the record straight, time for 60 Minutes to get to the bottom of this and to report the truth as to who the real war hero was and why he is still in pison, suffering with no chance of either commutation or medical release.

You can help Joe Labriola by sharing his story with others or by contactinq media outlets. Light needs to be shed on Joe's situation before it is too late. Contact your legislators or Veterans Administration liaison to help Joe get that long overdue hearing. For more information on Joe Labriola's situation, visit: www.freejoelab.com.

   Michael Skinner

Both Michael Skinner and Joe Labriola are serving life sentences at MCI-Shirley,
and they can be reached at P.O. Box 1218, Shirley, MA 01464

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