Md. man accused of faking credentials
William Hillar's impressive resume suggested he'd have plenty of first-hand knowledge for anyone who wanted to learn about counter-terrorism. The Maryland man billed himself as a retired U.S. Special Forces colonel who had served in Asia, the Middle East and Central and South America. He said he was trained in tactical counter-terrorism, psychological warfare and emergency medicine.
Federal authorities in Maryland say it was a lie.
On Tuesday, Hillar, 66. of Millersville, was charged in U.S. District Court in Baltimore with mail fraud. According to court records, Hillar has given speeches and taught workshops at institutions, including the California-based Monterey Institute for International Studies, for the past decade.
"The complaint alleges that William G. Hillar was living a lie and basing his entire career on experience he did not have and credentials that he did not earn," U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein said in a statement. "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 while in the armed forces."
Officials said that over the course of the scheme Hillar has been paid more than $100,000 by public and private institutions, including law enforcement agencies.
FBI special agent David A. Rodski wrote in a criminal complaint that a search of U.S. Army records showed no sign that Hillar had served. Hillar was in the Coast Guard from 1962 to 1970, authorities said, but was never deployed to Asia the Middle East or Central and South America.
Jason Warburg, a spokesman for the Monterey Institute for International Studies, a graduate school of Middlebury College in Vermont, said some students with military backgrounds became suspicious of Hillar's credentials after he taught an October workshop on human trafficking. The students approached institute officials, who launched an investigation.
Hillar was a contract employee who taught 12 workshops at the institute since 2005, Warburg said. He said the institute previously had a policy of conducting background checks on all full-time and adjunct faculty members, but in light of this incident has expanded the policy to include instructors who are contractors.
Hillar also claimed on his now defunct web site, billhillartraining.com, that he earned a PhD from the University of Oregon, federal authorities said. University officials said he was a student in the early 1970s, but wasn't awarded a post-secondary degree, court papers say.
The Monterey Institute has informed students who took Hillar's courses that they can register for substitute classes at no cost.