William George Cooper was born in March 1956 in Norfolk. Five months later, William Bernard Cooper arrived. The two lived near each other and were acquaintances at Blair Middle and Maury High schools.
For a time in the 1980s, they lived a block apart on 38th Street. In July 1989, William Bernard Cooper, a longshoreman, died suddenly.
But even before he died, William George Cooper began using his identity, and for the past 25 years William George has assumed the identity of William Bernard to enlist in the Army, get married and obtain more than $200,000 in federal benefits, according to an indictment filed in U.S. District Court and other public records.