Various media sources reported last week that the FBI arrested William G. Hillar, 66, who for a decade posed as a retired Green Berets colonel with wide-ranging military expertise and established himself as a lecturer, workshop leader and trainer in the public and private sectors. Hillar was charged in the U.S. District Court in Maryland with one count of mail fraud for payment he received from the Monterey Institute of International Studies in July 2010, according to published reports. He faces a maximum prison sentence of 20 years if convicted. News reports quoted U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein saying that “Hillar was living a lie and based his entire career on experiences he did not have and credentials he did not earn. He was never a colonel, never served in the U.S. Army, never was deployed to exotic locales and never received training in counter-terrorism and psychological warfare.”
Media reports further stated that Hillar’s alleged deception was exposed in November 2010 after several Monterey Institute of International Studies students questioned the authenticity of his military exploits and knowledge of international human trafficking. Their suspicions prompted the Institute to ask Hillar to document his background. But Hillar cut off all communications and took down his “Bill Hillar Training” Web site. Immediately after Hillar became the subject of a criminal investigation, the Institute said it was changing its policy to require full background checks on lecturers and anyone involved in teaching.
According to media reports, Hillar’s client list included approximately 40 agencies and schools across the country, ranging from FBI and army units to local and state police agencies between Idaho and Georgia. Federal officials said evidence shows that Hillar was paid more than $100,000 for teaching and speaking engagements during his facade.
So what was Hillar’s actual military record? News reports said that from 1962 to 1970 he served in the Coast Guard as an enlisted sailor and reached the rank of radarman 3, according to FBI Special Agent David Rodski.
Hillar said he plans to return to teaching once released, according to media reports.