Staff Sgt. Linley Lemburg was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for deserting but the sentence was reduced to 30 days confinement and he was released for time served, officials said.
Lemburg, who for years lived as 65-year-old Bill Robertson, was a special agent with the USAF Office of Special Investigations when he walked away from his base in Philadelphia in 1972.
He was captured in Ocala, Florida, in March after decades on the lam.
Ocala resident Sandy Vanquez lives five doors down from Lemburg and his wife, but did not realize he had been released.
“(I) just found out,” she said. “No one, I don’t think, knows anything, and if they do, they haven’t said a word.”
She agreed that Lemburg should be punished, but Vanquez was happy to see that her 75-year-old neighbor would not be spending years behind bars.
“With his age and situation in years, he should’ve been dishonorably discharged, but not jail or prison,” she said.
Attorney David Frakt, who once worked as a military lawyer at MacDill Air Force Base where Lemburg was taken after being taken into custody, wasn’t surprised that the search for the man continued for so long.
“When they first disappear, there’s a substantial effort made to locate them and bring them back,” Frakt said. “(But) the military never forgets you completely. So, sooner or later, most of these guys end up getting caught.”
The Air Force said Lemburg was having marital issues and money problems when he went missing, but did not release any other information on why he walked away from his post.
Investigators have not said how Lemburg was tracked down after so many years.
While it appeared someone was in Lemburg’s Ocala home, no one answered the door to comment on the case.