A California man claiming to have been a Navy SEAL was sentenced Monday for defrauding a non-profit organization attempting to rescue kidnapped humanitarians in Somalia.
William Burley, 36, formerly of Yucaipa, California was sentenced to three years in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release.
Burley admitted to devising a scheme to defraud International Aid Services (IAS), a non-profit organization whose U.S. headquarters are located in Crystal Lake, Illinois. They provide relief and assistance to proverty-striken individuals in Africa.
Burley approached IAS after three of its employees were assaulted and kidnapped while providing humanitarian work in Somolia. He claimed to be a former Navy SEAL who had received numerous medals and citations while in the Navy, all of which proved to be false. Burley said he could assist in the negotiation and recovery of the kidnapped individuals.
IAS paid Burley $30,000 for his services as well as his travel expenses to Africa. At his request, they also paid for another person to fly with him to assist in his negotiation and rescue efforts.
Burley was unsuccessful and returned to the U.S. without the release of the hostages. Later, IAS learned that he was not a Navy SEAL and ended their relationship with him.
Burley’s activity with IAS lasted between July 2012 and October 2012. The three hostages in Somalia were eventually released in May of 2014.