A Maryland man who the FBI says posed for years as a retired army special forces colonel and made a career lecturing law enforcement agencies about global terrorism and human trafficking across the country has been arrested.
William G. Hillar, 66, was arrested at his home Tuesday and faces a federal count of mail fraud for payment he received for lectures he gave at Monterey Institute of International Studies in California, according to court papers.
Hillar’s former website, which has since been taken down, claimed that he is a retired Colonel of the U.S Army Special Forces and served in Asia, the Middle East and Central and South America, according to court papers.
Sporting this resume, Hillar apparently had no problem finding work.
His client list included dozens of schools and agencies across the country, ranging from FBI and Army units to local and state police agencies from Idaho to Georgia, reported the Herald.
The investigation found that Hillar was never a Green Beret nor did he serve in the U.S. Army. The highest rank he reached was radarman in the Coast Guard, serving from 1962 to 1970. Court papers go on to say Hillar was never deployed to the locations he stated in his biography and never underwent any documented training to support claims of knowledge in counter-terrorism, explosive ordinance, emergency medicine or psychological warfare.
"The complaint alleges that (Hillar) was living a lie and basing his entire career on experiences he did not have and credentials he did not earn," said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein, according to the Herald.
Hillar worked as a freelance lecturer at Monterey Institute of International Studies between 2005 to 2010, receiving a total of $32, 500 for the lectures, according to the Monterey County Herald. He taught counterterrorism and human trafficking.
After students at the school raised questions about Hillar’s claims of serving in the Army's special forces, the school said it requested documentation from Hillar
Hillar did not respond to the request, so the school conducted an investigation. He allegedly claimed to hold a Doctorate from the University of Oregon, but the Monterey Institute of International Studies found that he never received the degree.
One of Hillar’s alleged victims was Mark Stone, the deputy director at the Rural Justice Training Center in Wyoming.
In August, Stone flew Hillar to Wyoming to speak about law enforcement leadership and stresses on the job after a friend raved about a lecture Hillar gave in West Yellowstone, Mont. Stone paid Hillar $2,500 for a day and a half lecture, he told FoxNews.com.
“He was great,” said Stone. “He knew a lot of information and he was motivational.”
Stone said Hillar kept a class of 60 students riveted by telling stories from his special forces days.
“His stories were so detailed,” said Stone. “Probably things he read in a book.”
Stone said he was so impressed at the time with Hillar that he planned on inviting him back to give another speech until he learned about the FBI's investigation.
"This investigation is an example of the difficulty the public faces in trying to verify the accuracy of information on the Internet," Richard McFeely, special agent in charge of the FBI's Baltimore office, said in a statement according to the Washington Examiner.
Calls to Hillar's home from FoxNews.com were not returned.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Mildred Methvin agreed to release Hillar Tuesday on $50,000 bond once certain conditions are met, reported the Baltimore Sun.
Hillar --who could face up to 20 years in prison--told the Sun he plans to return to teaching once released.