Former Marine and member of the "Honorable Few," Carlos Vieira of Lawrence, prepares to speak out against newly elected School Committee member James Stokes, who is currently under investigation for forging military documents claiming he served for 20 years in the U.S. military.

LAWRENCE — Military veterans last night wanted to confront School Committee member James Stokes about a charge he faked a 20-year career in the Marines.

But Stokes did not attend last night's committee meeting to hear himself being called a man without honor.

Daniel Hanneken, an Air Force veteran and principal at Guilmette School, held up a copy of yesterday's The Eagle-Tribune, which juxtaposed a photograph of Stokes being arrested with a story about missing Lawrence Army Sgt. Alex Jimenez.

Hanneken spoke to Stokes' empty chair.

"Mr. Stokes, your actions are an affront to Mr. Jimenez's service. You should resign," Hanneken said. Jimenez has been missing in Iraq since a May 12 ambush while on patrol outside Baghdad.

Stokes, 63, of 103 Boxford St., was arrested Wednesday morning by the FBI. He is charged with forging a military discharge record that claims he served 20 years in the Marine Corps. He has said he won't step down from the committee, despite more than a month of allegations about his military record and his criminal past. He faces a year in jail if convicted.

Four motorcyclists, all former U.S. Marines and all part of The Chosen Few riding group, attended last night's meeting.

"I want to see this guy up close and personal so I can tell him how disgusted I am," said David Levin, of Peabody, who served four years of active duty.

Tony Garro, of Salem, Mass., knew Stokes personally and worked with him in the Toys for Tots program. All that time, Garro said, he thought Stokes was the real deal.

Another one of the bikers drove from Taunton to see the School Committee meeting, one of about 30 in attendance to ask Stokes to resign.

The fourth biker, Carlos Vieira, is a Lawrence police detective. Vieira spoke at the podium, saying Stokes "disrespected this nation claiming that he served as a veteran. This gentleman has no integrity, no honor."

Vieira then asked for all the veterans in the room to stand, bringing applause as they rose.

Committee member Martina Cruz said Stokes told her earlier in the day that he would not attend the meeting, which would have been his first.

Also at last night's meeting was Jim Sereigo-Wareing, a Methuen resident and military support activist known for hanging flags on highway overpasses, organizing veterans events and making care packages for men and women serving in Iraq.

"The whole thing is that he has insulted every Vietnam veteran, especially those that didn't come back," Sereigo-Wareing said. "And I'm livid. I'm livid because he was at my events."

Even with the federal charge against him and even if he is convicted of it, Stokes is not required to resign from the committee. Nothing in the city charter allows for him to be removed.

But Mayor Michael Sullivan said yesterday he is speaking with a Boston-based elections lawyer about how to invalidate Stokes' November election win. Sullivan said he believes Massachusetts law can define Stokes' use of veteran status on the November ballot a corrupt practice that would force him off the board.

Stokes beat incumbent committee member Greg Morris for the seat. It was Stokes' first political victory after failing four times in bids for the City Council. Currently, there is no vice chairman of the committee. A vote for that position has been tabled until all seven members are present.

FBI agents and Lawrence police arrested Stokes at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday at Top Donut on Winthrop Street. Hours later he stood before a judge in U.S. District Court in Boston, but has not yet entered a plea. He is due back in court Jan. 29.

Since being elected, Stokes has faced revelations that he spent two short stints in jail for fraud and cheating a person of property decades ago. He also was denied a chance to play Santa Claus at a city event. All city volunteers are subjected to a criminal background check before serving.

A regular at city meetings and events, Stokes has long claimed to be a veteran. He has worn a military uniform to some events. The FBI said he turned a forged military discharge record in to the city in November 2006. City Veterans Services Director Francisco Urena later declared that record littered with errors and inconsistencies.

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