Alleged SEAL poseur again accused of lying about service


In a Norfolk courtroom in 2002, Robert Anthony Nolan was sentenced to two years in federal prison for lying to the FBI after being accused of posing as a Navy SEAL.

A website dedicated to exposing fake SEALs had given him a five-star rating on its "Wall of Shame," its most ignoble designation, meaning the "claimant is 'incorrigible' and continues to make claims despite proof that his claims are not supported by government records."

At sentencing, Nolan promised to turn his life around once he was released.

A decade later, the Virginia Beach man says he has been as good as his word.

Curt Ruggles begs to differ.

Ruggles, a semi-retired mechanic in Florida, says Nolan has been at it again, spinning a richly detailed and believable yarn about his SEAL past.

He was so taken in, Ruggles says, that he spent months working on an experimental aircraft that Nolan hoped to sell to the Navy for use by its SEAL commando teams.

The two ultimately had a falling-out over the pace and cost of the work, and the test aircraft now sits grounded in a hangar at a Florida airport, its key components disabled by Ruggles - a precautionary measure, he says, because the craft isn't safe to fly yet.

Nolan calls it an act of sabotage fueled by vengeance. He reported it to the local sheriff's department, which later sent an investigator to question Ruggles.

Only then did Ruggles resort to an Internet search to learn more about his erstwhile business associate. He was shocked, amazed and angered to discover Nolan's history as an alleged SEAL poseur.

The details differ from case to case, but the overall story line is familiar. As the home to half of the Navy's elite sea-air-land commandos, Hampton Roads is replete with SEAL wannabes. Dozens have been outed over the years - and if anything, they are popping up more frequently since a Virginia Beach-based SEAL team killed Osama bin Laden last year, according to Don Shipley, a retired SEAL in Chesapeake who helps expose fakes.

"They're coming out of the woodwork," Shipley said. "It seems to be getting worse. And they're going to greater lengths than harmless barroom boasting."

The Nolan case is unusual in that it includes a criminal prosecution in federal court.

In the 2001 trial, prosecutors said Nolan portrayed himself as a former SEAL to persuade investors to lend him money for his import-export business. He was accused of mail and insurance fraud and lying to FBI agents when he denied threatening to kill a former business partner and falsifying his military discharge papers.

The fraud charges were dropped when Nolan agreed to plead guilty to the lying charge. In addition to the prison sentence, he was ordered to pay restitution of $167,000 to investors and insurance companies that were victims of his scheme.

Not only was he never a SEAL, he received a less-than-honorable discharge from the Navy in 1992 after going AWOL for 53 days, according to court records.

Nolan says the allegations that he claimed to be a SEAL were bogus, then and now.

"I have never claimed to be a Navy SEAL," he said. "Never in my life." A recent polygraph test supports his contention.

He said he is paying the court-ordered restitution on a schedule of payments.

Ruggles knew none of that history when Nolan hired him in January to install avionics and a new engine in an experimental aircraft dubbed the "Stalker." It's a powered parafoil - a small, lightweight craft attached to a parachute.

"This thing intrigued me," said Ruggles, 64, a onetime Army helicopter pilot in Vietnam who lives in Lake Placid, Fla. "I've always been into mechanics, and I lived and breathed this thing. It was a very satisfying job, a labor of love. Then he turned it into a god-damned nightmare."

Nolan, 49, told bewitching tales of his SEAL exploits, Ruggles said. "It was a real elaborate story - very, very believable. I'm not a gullible guy, but he nailed me good.

"He wove a very intricate web, with a lot of character development. It was like a novel."

Nolan often spoke of friends in high places, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, whom he referred to as a surrogate father, Ruggles said.

Another name he dropped repeatedly, Ruggles said, was that of retired Rear Adm. Tom Steffens, a former SEAL in Virginia Beach who spent decades in leadership positions in naval special operations.

Steffens has been a consultant on the Stalker project, Nolan said in an interview - a claim Steffens corroborated.

Ruggles said Nolan paid him $80,000 for parts and labor over eight months before abruptly suspending the work in late August.

He said he still doesn't understand why Nolan halted the project.

"We were within two to three weeks of having it in the air," Ruggles said. "All I can think of is, he ran out of money."

When Nolan demanded that Ruggles turn over the aircraft, Ruggles said he disabled it to ensure that no one would try to fly it before it was flightworthy.

In late October, Ruggles said, he was visited by a deputy from the Highlands County Sheriff's Office who - prompted by a call from Nolan - told him he was investigating a case of possible attempted murder.

The investigation was quickly closed. According to the deputy's report, he told Nolan the dispute was a civil issue between him and Ruggles.

"I don't give a damn if he does sue me," Ruggles said. "I'd love to tell this story in court."

Nolan said he suspended the project because of cost overruns and what he called "irrational behavior" by Ruggles.

"He was paid almost $100,000 and sabotaged an aircraft engine," Nolan said. "Tampering with an aircraft engine is a federal offense."

Nolan vehemently denied that he ever told Ruggles he had been a SEAL.

"How much of an idiot am I?" he said. After doing federal prison time, "do you think I would be insane enough to portray myself as a Navy SEAL?"

After learning of Ruggles' accusation, Nolan took a polygraph exam that indicated he was telling the truth when he denied posing as a SEAL. The polygraph examiner, David Goldberg, said he is convinced of Nolan's veracity.

He has trained and worked with SEALs, Nolan said. He has also flown an earlier version of the Stalker onto local military bases, undetected by radar, to demonstrate security lapses, he added. As proof of his actions, he showed a reporter emails from base personnel acknowledging the incursions.

It's Ruggles whose behavior has been "unethical, criminal and wrong," Nolan said. "I did not do a damn thing wrong."

The Stalker is registered with the Federal Aviation Administration in the name of a corporation, Innovative Flight Solutions Inc. Its address is Nolan's home, a condominium in the Lynnhaven area of Virginia Beach.

The registered agent listed in State Corporation Commission papers, Stephanie Smith, no longer represents the company, a spokeswoman said. Smith's law firm, Poole Mahoney, secured a $16,450 debtor's judgment against Nolan in 2010. Nolan said he has repaid the debt.

Meanwhile, the Stalker sits in a Florida hangar, having never yet been airborne. Ruggles has given up possession of it, and Nolan said he has dispatched a crew to try to get it into flyable condition.

They are doing it without the services of Ruggles or those of Hank Austin, the Stalker's designer and test pilot. Austin was killed, along with his wife, Aug. 24 in a crash of another powered parachute in Michigan.

Virginia Austin, Hank Austin's sister, said she is unaware of any claims by Nolan to have been a SEAL.

"He's just a businessman, a gentleman who could get backers" for the project, she said.

"There were cost overruns," she added. "My brother was very upset about it."

Ruggles says his $50 hourly rate was a bargain.

He said he decided to go public with his story because he doesn't want anyone else to learn about Nolan's past the hard way.

"I'm afraid he got the money to pay me by scamming somebody," he said. "I wouldn't want somebody else to be taken and not to have done anything.

"I thought I could read people pretty good. But obviously I can't."

Bill Sizemore, 757-446-2276, bill.sizemore@pilotonline.com


Posted to: Military

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"greater lengths than harmless barroom boasting"

There is no 'harmless barroom boasting' when you lie about service to this country.

You need to be called out on it.

Men will lie to get drunken

Men will lie to get drunken dumb girls into bed

I was never very good at and by the time I head about this fake SEAL line, I was too old, too fat, and too married to try it out


I have listened to my share of 'harmless barroom boasting'. And it isn’t just about military services.
A drink generally shuts them up.

If this guy really was in a

If this guy really was in a super-secret black-ops SEAL unit, the best was to conceal that identity would be to pretend to be a crazy FAKE SEAL.

Think about it. Kind of a hide in plain sight kinda thing.

That guy who runs website about fake SEALS might even be in on this ruse to protect a real deal SEAL

This guy might be the real deal

Glory...So Called

Living through the heroic actions of others to earn personal glory. They have a name for it...loser.
Ooops, name calling!


I'm surprised Nolan hasn't been elected to Va. Beach City Council, or to run HRT...he has the qualifications.

There is a pride to serve; there should be a pride to inform and

What a beautiful world, where you can, as a journalist protected under the freedom of the press, discredit a man by using unproved allegations against him.
What is the weight of true testimonies, when you have already sentenced your victim in your article’s draft?
Still in active duty, I have been serving my country for 22 years. After the Naval War College, I have been assigned as a liaison officer to Norfolk, where I had the privilege to meet Robert Nolan and become his friend.
I have no clue what the value of my officer’s word is compared to those accusations, but I never heard Robert Nolan claiming he was a former SEAL. As a true patriot, he has the deepest respect for the women and the men who served their country at the highest stake.

Tell him to show you his

Tell him to show you his DD-214

Robert Nolan

Well, just goes to show anybody can write something...totally a bunch of lies...and it doesn't mean it is true, just like this post about what a great guy he was. If anything, he might have been an agent for the FBI, or an informant. BUT, "friend" of his, have you asked him about his manuscript of his life that he wrote where he goes on about how he was raised in the Congo and according to him, become a Navy Seal? "Never"? He said that this manuscript was going to be produced by a major network for television, as well. How do I know these things? Because I have met him, too. He was a prospective client of a law firm that was waylaid by his tales. I have had to wonder more about the people that ever believed him and lacked perception.

I don't care whet you say,

I don't care whet you say, the guy sounds like he is pretty cool and I would like to hear his stories

Robert Nolan story.

My brother made all the arrangements with Curt Ruggles. Mr. Nolan met him only twice. Once at the hanger for less than an hour and again when Mr. Nolan went to retrieve the Stalker (mid-Oct.) after my brother's untimely death. Mr. Ruggles had misrepresented himself to my brother as a "certified" mechanic and then proceeded to hire two other unqualified men to work on the Stalker engine. When I saw the machine in January of 2012, in the hanger Mr. Ruggles rented in Florida, it was in perfect flying form. Upon viewing it after it was removed from Mr. Ruggles, it was a complete mess. Dirty, missing parts, rusted. What does that say?
At no time did Robert Nolan ever mention anything about the Navy Seals to anyone in the Austin family nor anyone w

Call of Duty Black Ops 2

Maybe he's playing Call of Duty Black Ops 2 . My mom thinks that I am talking to her all the time but I'm really talking to my buddies on the internet

Robert Nolan, comment 2

As a side note to this. Do you know what his export/import business was? In fact, he won a best small business award by a well known group in Virginia just prior to his arrest in 2000. It was the fish trade to Saudi. (he use to send me 70 pictures via email of him outside a Saudi bank and there with the Arabs, then called me wanting confirmation I received them). Now, you wonder, what would the Sauds need with imported fish from here? And the export? But, I suppose you can hide a few things in a bunch of smelly fish that dogs can't pick up or know one wants to go through, uh? Like I said, I knew his was full of it from day 1, but it looks like others more importantly had a reason to believe him. Does this guy appeal to an ego?

Do your homework

If you do your homework before you go into an arrangement you save yourself this kind of embarassment. Ever heard of the BBB, Angie's List, or Google? Otherwise no one who isn't a Seal cares.


The BBB is one of the biggest scams known. It's not general knowledge but a business that receives many negative comments can negate them buying paying the BBB. The more you pay the better your rating.

True Lies

Robert Nolan did none of the things Curt Ruggles said. Curt Ruggles was hired by my brother, the designer of the experimental aircraft that had flown over 480 logged hour prior to Mr. Ruggles assignment. He dismantled it, hired two buddies and ran up a bill 100k over his estimate. Further he never revealed that he or his assistants were not certified to work on aviation vehicles. I am shocked that this paper would print outright lies.

He wants to be a Seal - no problem

Send him to BUDS training till he drops.

I could easily handle BUDS.

I could easily handle BUDS. I have the heart and could of a lion

this is getting to be quite a soap opera

Lies, claims, sister of a dead partner, two sides of a mechanic's tale and some vouching for the major player.

Assult on Robert Nolan

Okay, he was penalized in the past, but he took a lie detector test snd proved he did not say he was a NAVY SEAL to Mr. Ruggles. Now we have a case of an uncertified (fact) mechanic disassembling a certified FAA flying machine because HE thought it was unsafe. I know Mr. Ruggles and he does not worry about others. He is out only for himself and bleeds others in the process. He quoted a price of $16,000-$20,000 to do some work on a machine my brother-inlaw invented. Then he and his 2 uncertified buddies ran up a bill over $120,000 and deemed the machine (thanks to their doing) as unflyable. Mr. Ruggles lies, cheats and distorts facts, yet because he found a weak point in Mr. Nolan he exploited it. Nice guy---not. Check his background!

He has been a true friend

He has been a true friend since I moved to this Country in 2007. In the five years I have know him, he has never claimed to be a Navy SEAL. The only thing he is guilty of is being taken advantage of and slandered by Mr. Ruggles.
After visiting Florida to check the status of the aircraft and meeting Mr. Ruggles personally, I also suggested to Mr. Nolan to end the business relationship because of Mr. Ruggles ludicrous demands. Why don't they spend as much effort researching Mr. Ruggles background?!


I had the pleasure of working for Robert Nolan and he was kind and never acted or pretended to be a former Navy SEAL. My husband was with the TEAMS from 2007-2009 and he became a good friend to both of us. Bill Sizemore should do more research before posting such a crazy article!

Robert Nolan is a great person

This article starts with pretended facts from 10 years ago that have nothing to do here and btw, are false; it was never about posing as a SEAL and that can easily be verified by court records. So it's only about the allegations of one human being, Mr Ruggles. He misled people about his qualifications; he was supposed to install a new engine and make a few changes on a perfectly flying and already FAA certified machine, the Stalker. I personally flew in this great machine as a test passenger last year for more than 1/2hour. After 8 months and a lot of money spent by Mr Nolan, the 2 months job was still not complete; the machine was in poor conditions and disassembled when Mr Nolan was finally able to remove it from Mr Ruggles hands.

another article mentioning nolan


Robert Nolan is good simply

Even though he had been paid in full, Mr Ruggles also disabled the engine of the Stalker prior to giving it back.
It is sad that in a great country like the USA, someone like Mr Ruggles can just call a reporter out of anger and disappointment and totally discredit someone's life. And about people who pretend to know others, they should get their facts right. Mr Nolan spent his childhood in Nicaragua, not Congo! And he did not get an award for fish trade with Saudi but Egypt! I have known Mr Nolan for a while in both civilian and military environment and he NEVER claimed to be a SEAL.
Robert Nolan is a great human being, with a big heart, who gives a lot to others and makes people's life better.
He is good, simply.

he seems to leave out one of

he seems to leave out one of his more important awards...his "less than honorable"discharge, wonder why???

for all you nolan supporters

for all you nolan supporters are all these people liars also




A greater good

Sometimes there's more to a situation than the appearances. Some heroes will never get medals; their sacrifice is immense and they will be dragged through the mud for a greater good. I have personal and first knowledge about that.
Of course, it's more convenient to follow the pack than try and read between the lines.
Critics and lies are easy when anonymous.
In the end, Robert Nolan, his family and friends know who he is; and so does God. It is what matters.

so you are making nolan out

so you are making nolan out to be a hero? he is a felon [fact] he has a "less than honorable" discharge[fact]how much more does anyone need to know? ..... he is the opposite of a hero

Be careful

I know Robert and can say that he often makes himself out to be something he is not. See the sight http://bigsight.org/robert_nolan. As he was the source of this writing, you can see how he views himself. A bit of a narcissist, I know of his boastings on owning interests in diamond mines, Jamaican resorts, his military service and the like - all without any record. What records you have are in the court systems - a less than honorable discharge from the Navy, a federal conviction for lying, unpaid debts for hundreds of thousands - including the law firm that defended him. He tries to cover the discharge by posting a requested letter from President Bush on the site. Yet more partial truths in a life full of partial truths.

it just keeps getting better

seems he was also known as "Robert Anthony Nolan Meyer" or "Robert Anthony Meyer" wasn't liked by that name either

but he is a great guy LOL

Tabloid Journalism

The Virginia Pilot was once known for truthful, rigorous, and insightful reporting. This reporting can only be done by journalists meticulously researching potential stories to allow verified facts to be reported.

Unfortunately, this story is nothing more than tabloid journalism in an apparent effort to stir strong emotions, gain readership, and apparently attempt to tarnish the reputation of a contributing member of society.

We've all made mistakes in the past and if not, live a little longer; life can be a tumultuous journey. The real story appears to be committing a felony by intentionally, and admitting to, disabling an FAA certified aircraft.

Please Virginia Pilot, return to true journalistic standards.


Found it interesting that just this past May, the Virginia Pilot was found guilty of libel by a jury and the plaintiff was awarded $3M. The editor at that time was incredulous that the jury found the Virginia Pilot had committed libel. It would appear rigorous reporting substantiated by facts is falling out of favor with the paper.

And yes, I have known Robert Nolan for the past 5 years. I have never known him to be dishonest. In fact, I have only witnessed a gracious, unpretentious, and honest person. This however, is not newsworthy as it lacks the drama and intrigue the Virginia Pilot seeks to conjure.

check out his "profile" of

check out his "profile" of himself...he is a commercial pilot, a search and rescue pilot and a flight instructor

that sounds quite impressive until you check the FAA for all of those and they just don't seem to exist... maybe he has super secret GOV classified certs feel free to check for your self http://www.faa.gov/licenses_certificates/airmen_certification/interactive_airmen_inquiry/

did you know he and his

did you know he and his family were captured by the cuban and soviet forces in Nicaragua and they managed to escape
this guy is amazing I am starting to think he is OO7

be sure to read this one


does anybody really think any of his supporters are real it would destroy someones reputation to be associated with this guy

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