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Anti-terror instructor sentenced for lying about military experience

William Hillar

A Maryland man who lied about his extensive background as an army special forces officer to get work training law enforcement and first responders in a variety of skills, including anti-terror tactics and drug and human traffic interdiction, has been sentenced on fraud charges.

William Hillar, 66, of Millersville, MD, was sentenced Aug. 30 to 21 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for wire fraud in connection with his scheme to pass himself off as a colonel in the U.S. Army Special Forces with extensive experience overseas, said an Aug. 30 statement by the FBI. Hillar never held such a position, it said, but had been enlisted in U.S. Coast Guard Reserve in the 1960’s. Hillar also falsely claimed, said the FBI, that he was an expert in human trafficking and the film Taken was based on his experiences in recovering his daughter from kidnappers.

In addition to the prison sentence, Hillar was also ordered to pay restitution of $171,415 and perform 500 community hours at the Maryland State Veterans Cemeteries.

According to court documents, from around 1998 to 2010, private and public sector organizations paid Hillar at least $171,415 for teaching, leading workshops, giving speeches and conducting training on counter terrorism, drugs trafficking, human trafficking and related topics, said the agency. Hillar conducted these activities through a business named “Bill Hillar Training.” Court documents said most of Hillar’s victims were military, law enforcement or first responder organizations.

In order to get consulting jobs with these organizations, Hillar said in resumes, biographical statements, and on the Internet that he was a retired U.S. Army Colonel who had acquired diverse training and experience included tactical counter-terrorism, explosive ordnance, emergency medicine and psychological warfare serving in Asia, the Middle East, and Central and South America. He also said he received a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon.

Hillar never served in the U.S. Army or the Special Forces and never attained the rank of Colonel, said the FBI, nor did he serve in Asia, the Middle East and Central and South America. He didn’t acquire any counter-terrorism, explosive ordnance, emergency medicine and psychological warfare in those areas, it said. Hillar did serve in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve as an enlisted sailor from 1962 to 1970, achieving the rate of Radarman, Petty Officer Third Class.

According to court documents, the organizations Hillar purported to train perform critical public safety and national security functions, and require ongoing training and education in order to respond to new and changing threats. Hillar, who was not qualified, displaced qualified teachers and trainers, thereby putting members of our military, law enforcement and first responders at risk, said the FBI

Additionally, the FBI said Hillar fabricated a gruesome tale that his own daughter had been kidnapped, forced into sex slavery, sodomized and tortured before being hacked to death with machetes and thrown into the sea. He further claimed that this experience and his life story was the basis for the 2008 film “Taken”. The significant press attention that film generated, in turn, generated free press for his business. Hillar admitted he fabricated the story about his daughter, who was alive and well.

“William G. Hillar claimed that he had earned praise as a hero, but the truth is that he deserves condemnation as a liar,” said U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein. “He did not serve in the U.S. Army, did not receive military training in counter-terrorism and psychological warfare, and did not lose his daughter to sex traffickers.”

“Mr. Hillar’s fraudulent representations came to the FBI’s attention from concerned citizens, including former members of the Special Forces community. This investigation is an example of the difficulty the public faces trying to verify the accuracy of information on the Internet,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard McFeely.


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