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BALTIMORE — For years, William Hillar's tales about his exploits as an Army Green Beret and a puffed up resume helped him land jobs teaching counterterrorism and drug and human trafficking interdiction, but the scheme has now earned him 21 months in federal prison.
His scheme started to unravel when a skeptical veteran emailed members of the Special Forces community to see if anyone knew of Hillar, former Green Beret Jeff Hinton testified Tuesday. Hillar's story was suspicious because there were only a handful of colonels during the period Hillar claimed to have served, he said.
While Green Beret impostors are not uncommon, Hinton called Hillar the most prodigious fraud he has come across, noting that this case is the first he has seen result in jail time. Hillar's trading on a reputation that's "forged in blood" is reprehensible, dishonorable and disrespectful to those who have served and died, he said.
"I have been trained as a terrorist," he said, explaining that an American would consider him a freedom fighter, but to an enemy in the Balkans or elsewhere he would be a terrorist. He said he was an adviser in Laos during the Vietnam War, spent time in drug interdiction in central America, trained with U.S. Special Forces' British, German and Israeli counterparts and spent time training mujahedeen during the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, becoming an "adrenaline junkie." "I like the rush that you get, or at least that I get," he said. But he told the audience that his life came with a price: His morals were compromised and he ended up in counseling.
Hillar told the judge he takes full responsibility, apologized and said he has had to admit to himself that he is a fraud. He told the judge that people just assumed that he had a background with Special Forces. "I never denied it and after years I actually adopted it," he said. "I know that was wrong and I apologize. I didn't do it for the money and believe it or not, I'm a patriot."