Stolen valor rears its very ugly head once again.
If you’re unfamiliar with stolen valor, it refers to the act of falsely claiming military service, military awards, and/or other military-related acts of honor, bravery, or sacrifice where none actually exist. The term is used both informally by people making reference to examples of the kinds of claims referenced that may not actually be against the law, as well as to those that are violations of the Stolen Valor Act, a federal statute that makes it illegal for anyone to engage in the noted behaviors with the intent to receive money, property or some other tangible benefit.
In another unfortunate case, the Chicago Tribune is reporting that a man who pretended to be a Navy SEAL will be spending the next three years in prison for his efforts at defrauding a Christian aid group that was seeking assistance in securing the release of three of its kidnapped workers.
William Burley, 36, was sentenced on Monday to the prison time, as well as ordered to pay full restitution in the amount of $32,454.
Burley approached International Aid Services America (IAS), a Chicago-based nonprofit, back in 2012, after three of its workers were kidnapped while on a humanitarian mission in Somalia. Citing his credentials as a Navy special operator, including military awards received, Burley was retained by IAS for $30,000 to help in securing the release of the hostages.
It turns out, however, that his claims of military service and decorations, as well as an array of other citations of experience, including that he had worked as a consultant for the State Department and Defense Department, were all untrue. His ruse was uncovered when some at IAS became suspicious of Burley, and the firm decided to employ noted ex-SEAL and stolen valor “detective” Don Shipley to conduct a thorough investigation into Burley’s background and history.
By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large