Law enforcement involved in probe of bogus Monterey Institute instructor

Unforunately Mr. Hillar is not the first person to falsely claim to be an expert in the field of human trafficking. It seems that since 2004, when Former President Bush announced that there was going to be funding put towards the issue of human trafficking, people came out of the woodwork claiming to know anything and everything about human trafficking in hopes of being able to get a piece of the funding pie. It is a shame that there are more and more organizations who claim to know about the issue of human trafficking and actually just know the basics. I can tell you that in the field of human trafficking, there are only a handful of grassroots organization who truly understand and know what human trafficking is. These grassroots organizations have been working on this issue since the late 1990’s and have been making a difference ever since. One thing that people need to understand as well is that human trafficking is ever-changing. The second we figure out how a certain operation works, the traffickers have already come up with a different plan on how to recruit and exploit victims. Whatever was occurring in 2004 is not what is occurring in 2010.

One thing you must remember is that not every person that tells you that they are an expert truly is an expert. For example, in Florida, there are just a few experts on this issue. Florida State University’s Center for the Advancement of Human Rights is urging the Statewide Human Trafficking Task Force to put all human trafficking organizations found in Florida through a vetting process. This will weed out the organizations who are truly fighting the crime of human trafficking from the imposters who are just looking to make a quick buck. I say to all of these imposters, shame on you as you are now exploiting the very people you claim to fight for. There are also some organizations who have not really done anything except tell others what the grassroots organizations have done to fight human trafficking. These organizations have made a business in this by selling shirts, lunch boxes and other such items. This is sad as most of this money does not go to the organizations that are working with victims of human trafficking or the victims themselves.

A couple of things that you want to find out about an anti trafficking organization before you invite them to speak or open up your wallets. I am writing this in order for you the reader to protect yourselves from people such as Mr. Hillar.

1. How many years have they been working on the issue of human trafficking?

2. How many victims of human trafficking have they identified, rescued and served?

3. What is their speaking fee? The majority of the experts in this field only charge a small honorarium or nothing at all. It is more important for them to raise awareness than to fill their pockets with money.

4. What is their knowledge of the United Nations stance on Human trafficking and why so many countries such as the U.S have a human trafficking law?

Herald Staff Writer
Posted: 11/25/2010 01:30:24 AM PST
Updated: 11/25/2010 01:30:24 AM PST

First, a few students, then a veterans group looked into claims by a former Monterey Institute of International Studies instructor who claimed to be a retired Green Beret colonel and an expert on human trafficking.
Now, law enforcement agencies are looking into Bill Hillar, the workshop instructor with whom MIIS severed ties last week after concluding he misrepresented his credentials.

“We have had conversations with law enforcement about this entire matter,” MIIS spokesman Jason Warburg said Wednesday. “We can’t comment on any details of our cooperation, but certainly we have been in regular communication.”

The FBI and Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office in Portland, Ore., have opened a fraud investigation into Hillar, who gave lectures and conducted workshops for several years for schools, civic groups and law enforcement agencies across the nation.

“It’s really an issue all over the country,” Warburg said.

Warburg declined to identify which law enforcement agencies contacted the Monterey school about Hillar, who dropped from sight after questions arose about his background.

Multnomah County sheriff’s spokesman Lt. Jose Martinez said his agency joined with the FBI in looking at Hillar after a detective who works human trafficking cases became aware of news reports about Hillar’s credential problems.

“The investigation is in a preliminary stage,” Martinez said.

Warburg said MIIS paid about $32,500 to Hillar over the past five years for two annual weekend workshops he gave about trafficking and counterterrorism issues.
He said the school hasn’t filed a complaint with a police agency, but he didn’t rule out the possibility.

“We’re not going to comment on any future actions we might take until law enforcement has completed its investigation,” he said.

The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday that authorities in Portland were investigating Hillar. The paper said Hillar was scheduled to be a keynote speaker at the University of Portland for a conference on human trafficking, but didn’t appear.

Hillar claimed to have a doctorate degree from the University of Oregon. The school last week said he attended classes in the early 1970s but never completed a doctoral program.

Warburg said MIIS has been contacted by several organizations “in a similar situation with Mr. Hillar” and has shared information with them.

While some students criticized MIIS for employing Hillar without carefully vetting his credentials, Warburg predicted the graduate school will weather the fallout.

“Obviously it’s a concern and something we deeply regret,” Warburg said. He noted that the school, which is part of Middlebury College in Vermont, apologized to students, faculty, staff and alumni.

“I would say many … have expressed satisfaction with the approach we have taken and the apology that was made,” he said. “Certainly some students remain concerned.”

Larry Parsons can be reached at 646-4379 or

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