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Ex-Cop Pleads Guilty in Federal Court for Teaching How to Beat a Polygraph

15-May-2015

A former law enforcement officer has pleaded guilty to mail fraud and obstruction of justice in connection with his operation of the now-defunct Polygraph.com, a site that advertised training on how to beat a lie detector test.

Douglas Williams, of Norman, was an Oklahoma City police officer for 10 years, was in charge of the polygraph internal affairs department while working with the OCPD. However, he soon came to believe that the polygraph test was a "sham," and that relying on it as evidence of someone's guilt or innocence was antithetical to justice. Williams wrote a book called From Cop to that he says exposes "the dangerous myth of lie detection." It is that book, according to Williams, that brought federal investigators to his door, seeking to question him about his methods for teaching people to beat the polygraph. Williams said at the time of his investigation, "I proved that I can teach a person how to control every tracing on that chart, and the only thing they will see is a truthful chart."

However, when current law enforcement practices rely heavily on a particular method, such as the polygraph test, the government does not look too kindly upon someone teaching suspects how to circumvent those methods.

Williams was indicted by a federal grand jury in November 2014 on five counts of mail fraud and obstruction. Prosecuting someone for teaching polygraph countermeasures is a "gray area," according to a federal judge presiding over a similar case, involving a little league coach named Chad Dixon who taught others to beat lie detectors. The judge said that the vast majority of Dixon's business was legal, but he crossed the line when he instructed people to lie in federal cases and taught them methods to perpetrate the lie. In other words, if a person knows that the individual they are teaching is planning to lie in a federal proceeding, he or she may be prosecuted. Dixon was sentenced to 8 months in prison.

In his indictment, Williams was accused of teaching two undercover agents to lie in federal proceedings. One was posing as a federal agent claiming to need help concealing criminal activity in an internal affairs investigation. The other was posing as a person seeking employment with a federal agency who needed to conceal criminal activity in order to land the job. In both cases, Williams is accused of knowing what the individuals planned to do with the information they were given, telling one of them ,"I've taught a lot of those guys. In fact, there's a lot of government agents—FBI, Secret Service, NSA, all of those alphabet agencies—that have already retired, that I taught, years ago. And I know what I'm doing, and you will pass with no problem." He allegedly told both to deny that they had received polygraph training from him.

This week, Williams, 69, pleaded guilty to the charges. He faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine upon sentencing.



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