Man who posed as former Special Forces colonel pleads guilty

William Hillar used a falsely inflated résumé, which included experience in the Special Forces, to gain work teaching classes and delivering speeches.

A Maryland man has pleaded guilty to conducting a 12-year fraud by posing as a former US Army Special Forces colonel and expert in counterterrorism, explosives, and psychological warfare.

In reality, he’d never served a day in the Army.

William Hillar used a falsely inflated résumé and website bio to gain work teaching classes and delivering speeches across the United States.

He taught for seven years at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California. Last year, he conducted a workshop there entitled “Tactical Counter Terrorism.”

According to his résumé, Mr. Hillar’s Army service had taken him to Asia, the Middle East, and Central and South America. He also claimed to have earned a PhD from the University of Oregon.

None of it was true.

According to court files, Hillar’s genuine military service involved eight years (1962 to 1970) as an enlisted sailor in the US Coast Guard Reserve. He served as an RD3 (radarman, petty officer third class).

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Hillar never deployed to any of the international regions he claimed to have served in, nor was he trained in the disciplines he claimed.

“William G. Hillar lived a lie and based his teaching career on military experience he did not have and credentials that he did not earn,” said US Attorney Rod Rosenstein.

“He was never a colonel, never served in the US Army or the Special Forces, never was deployed to exotic locales, and never received training in counterterrorism and psychological warfare while in the armed forces,” Mr. Rosenstein said.

The investigation of Hillar was prompted in part by questions raised by former members of the Special Forces.

“The service members that comprise the Department of Defense’s elite special warfare units have undergone years of specialized training and sacrifice to be called Special Forces,” said Robert Craig, special agent in charge of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service – Mid-Atlantic Field Office. “To misuse their title for personal gain is unconscionable.”

Hillar’s website was taken off the Internet after federal agents began their investigation. But brochures from some of his events are still posted.

One advertises a seminar designed to fight stress and boost creativity. It says in part: “Bill will make you want to peer beneath your intellectual veneer, rip off your mask of sanity, redefine your sense of the ridiculous, and fall back in love with your future.”

The program was being offered at Central Wyoming College in Riverton.

His bio on the flier includes claims of his former Special Forces service. It also says: “His military expertise led him not only to cross-train and serve with Special Forces from allied countries, but to advise governments and military organizations in several foreign nations.”

In his plea agreement, Hillar admitted that he accepted $171,415 from various public- and private-sector organizations for teaching and speaking. His topics included counterterrorism, drug trafficking, and human trafficking.

Hillar faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He has agreed to pay restitution of $171,415 and to perform at least 500 hours of community service at Maryland state veterans cemeteries.

US District Judge William Quarles set sentencing for July 20 in federal court in Baltimore.

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