A man posting as a Navy SEAL was sentenced Monday to three years in prison for scamming money out of a charity after he promised he could save kidnapped aid workers.
Not only will 36-year-old William Burley have to languish in prison for three years after pleading guilty to wire fraud in August, but the judge also ordered him to pay restitution to International Aid Services America of $32,454. IAS is a non-profit group that provides clean water and sanitation, the Chicago Tribune reports.
“We’re just glad to see the justice process work appropriately and glad for that outcome,” IAS President Jonathan Wildt said.
According to a Department of Justice release, after three IAS workers were kidnapped in Somalia while engaged in humanitarian work, Burley approached the non-profit organization and said that he had the skills and experience to negotiate and recover the employees. To bolster his credentials, Burley told IAS a series of tall tales, namely that he was a highly decorated Navy SEAL and a consultant for the Navy and the Pentagon.
IAS paid Burley $30,000, so that he could travel to Kenya to begin the hostage negotiations.
He utterly failed to persuade the captors, and so he returned to the U.S. in 2012 and developed a plan to rescue the aid workers.
At this point, the non-profit was suspicious of Burley, so executives contacted Don Shipley, who is well-known for exposing stolen valor. Shipley posted the encounter on YouTube in 2012 and asked Burley to name members of his graduating class from the Navy SEALs. Burley couldn’t name a single one.
“The database doesn’t lie…and you didn’t graduate in July of 2000 because no class did,” Shipley said.
When Burley failed Shipley’s test, IAS broke off its relationship with him.
In June 2014, the three hostages were finally released uninjured after negotiations with the kidnappers. However, the terms of the arrangement remain unknown.
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