A man who posed for years as a highly-decorated Navy Seal has been sentenced to three years in federal prison for defrauding non-profit organizations.
According to a press release issued yesterday by the US Dept of Justice, William Burley admitted, in his written plea agreement, that “between July 17, 2012, and Oct. 8, 2012, he devised a scheme to defraud IAS America and IAS International.”
The Chicago Tribune reports that Burley has been ordered to pay “full restitution of $32,454 to International Aid Services America, or IAS, a nonprofit Christian aid group that provides clean water in Africa.”
Burley approached the agency back in 2012 and offered his services to negotiate with the captors of three aid workers who’d been kidnapped while doing humanitarian work in Somalia.
Officials say he persuaded IAS to pay him $30,000 as well as travel expenses to Kenya to secure the release of the hostages. After his Kenya plan failed, Burley reportedly returned to the U.S. and presented a “rescue plan” to IAS, the Tribune article said.
Burley claimed he was a former Navy SEAL who received numerous citations, including a Presidential Unit Citation, an Afghanistan Campaign Medal, a Silver Lifesavings Medal, and a Global War on Terrorism Medal. He also claimed he was a consultant for the Navy and for the depts. of Defense and State.
When IAS officials became suspicious, they contacted Don Shipley, a Navy SEAL veteran who was well-known for exposing SEAL impersonators.
“Your DD-214 is a crock of shit and your resume is filled with so many holes,” said Shipley while confronting Burley on the phone in 2012. IAS eventually cut ties with Burley and the three hostages were released in June 2014, after 22 months in captivity.
Burley’s trouble with the law extends far beyond the fake Navy SEAL case.
In 2013, he was arrested for illegally possessing firearms. According to NBC4, a San Bernardino sheriff’s deputy discovered weapons in Burley’s trunk at a traffic stop for expired tags. Officials told the NBC station at that time that “Burley claimed he was a federal agent, and flashed a Homeland Security badge at the deputy.”
In 2006, Burley served two years of a 10-year sentence in Rhode Island for conspiracy to commit robbery.
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