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Press Release

Man Posing As A Highly Decorated Navy Seal Charged With Defrauding Mchenry County Charity

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Illinois

ROCKFORD — A California man was indicted today by a federal grand jury in Rockford on fraud charges. WILLIAM J. BURLEY, 34, of Yucaipa, Cal., was charged with three counts of wire fraud in connection with a scheme to defraud International Aid Services – USA, Inc. (“IAS America”), a non-profit charity formed in Idaho and based in Crystal Lake, Ill., and International Aid Services (“IAS”), a charitable international non-governmental organization headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, of $30,000.

According to the indictment, four IAS employees were assaulted in Somalia, and three of the employees were then kidnaped. Burley, the indictment alleges, claimed he was an experienced operative who would assist IAS in negotiating with the Somalia captors and in rescuing the captured IAS employees. The indictment charges that in order to induce IAS and IAS America into hiring the defendant and his company, Burley falsely claimed to have been a highly decorated Navy SEAL, to have graduated from the Universities of Delaware and Maryland, to have attended numerous training facilities, to have been a consultant for the Navy, Department of Defense, and State Department, and to have been a law enforcement officer.

According to the indictment, as a result of the defendant’s false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises, he received a total of $30,000 in the form of three wire transfers sent from the Crystal Lake Bank and Trust to the Bank of America in Redlands, California. One wire for $5,000 was sent on Aug. 20, 2012, and two wires for a total of $25,000 were sent on Aug. 30, 2012.

Each count of wire fraud carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and a maximum fine of $250,000, or an alternate fine totaling twice the loss or twice the gain derived from the offense, whichever is greater. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines, as well as restitution. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal sentencing statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.

The indictment was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Robert J. Holley, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of Federal Bureau of Investigation. The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney John G. McKenzie.

The public is reminded that an indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Updated July 23, 2015