To hear William G. Hillar tell it, he was a true badass. A man other men wanted to be. He was a highly-trained, globe-trotting Green Beret colonel. He held a B.A. in Psychology, an M.A. in Education, a Ph.D. in Health Education, and an honorary Doctorate in Intercultural Relations.
Unfortunately, those skills are tantamount to lying.
Hillar, 66, pleaded guilty on March 29 to one count of wire fraud in a federal court in Baltimore. By all accounts, his amazing life of daring-do and adventure, of attempting to rescue his daughter from sex slavery, the distinguished military career, the diplomas, the lectures on counter-terrorism given to the F.B.I. and D.E.A were all lies.
“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,” U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said in a statement. “He was never a colonel, never served in the U.S. Army or the Special Forces, never was deployed to exotic locales and never received training in counter-terrorism and psychological warfare while in the armed forces.”
As part of his plea agreement, Hillar has to pay back $171,000 he made by lecturing universities, soldiers, and federal and local law enforcement agencies (Hillar was paid upwards of $32,000 for various lectures and workshops) and he has to complete 500 hours of community service at the Maryland State Veterans Cemeteries.
Basically, he got off easy. How does a man who actually attended the University of Oregon from 1970 to 1973 and served in the Coast Guard Reserve from 1962 to 1970, achieving the rate of “Radarman, Petty Officer Third Class,” go from that to in-demand guest lecture on faked credentials?
Is his tongue so silver that in 12 years of spinning lie after lie he was never caught? His authority never questioned? It’d be one thing if he was just lecturing local law enforcement and colleges, but he lectured the F.B.I. and the D.E.A!?! He gave a lecture to the foremost investigative law enforcement unit in America and somehow they never bothered to check up on him? They never thought maybe we should look into this guy’s background? Is it just a matter of once the lies become accepted and reinforced the truth doesn’t matter all that much?
FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely said in a statement that Hillar’s deception was revealed by members of the Special Forces community. In late October, questions were raised about Hillar’s credentials in a forum thread at professionalsoldiers.org, a website dedicated to the Special Forces community.
In November, Hillar received the 2010 Hometown Hero award from Elon University in North Carolina for his work to combat sex trafficking.
According to the university’s student newspaper, The Pendulum, questions about Hillar’s credentials surfaced as he was about to receive the award.
Unfortunately, it’s not quite clear how the lies Hillar was dishing finally caught up to him. Though it seems his entire career, his entire reputation was built on a foundation of lies, at least Hollywood will finally have a good idea for a Taken sequel. It’s a move about a con artist who manages to make a ton of money off of tricking various law enforcement organizations. Except it’s not about the money for this con artist, it’s about the thrill of fooling everyone into believing the lie.
Basically, it’s Taken meets Catch Me if You Can meets Matchstick Men. There you go Hollywood. We just did the pitch meeting for you.