Category Archives: The Spy Archive

Rising Sun: The Image of the Desired Japanese Part Two

RISING SUN:

THE IMAGE OF THE DESIRED JAPANESE

PART ONE PART TWO PART THREE PART FOUR

Rising Sun presents an America that has been nearly conquered by a shadow army, able to surveil whoever they wish, abetted by the press, the police, and the government. The idea, repeated over and over in the book, and even a few times in the less reactionary movie adaptation, is that the Japanese look at business as war, and will employ all means necessary for their victory. Rising Sun presents the idea of a malicious force without; I offer a remedy to its paranoia by pointing to a story whose web grows larger and larger, encompassing events of the past two decades, and involving many of the same sinister elements of Rising Sun – surveillance, phone tapping, criminals, extortion, collusion of the press and members of the police – all used for the purposes of business as war, and yet a sprawling web which was entirely of American manufacture, one rooted in the same city of the novel, Los Angeles. I start with a single name, and follow that strand wherever it leads, and that single name is: Anthony Pellicano.

Philip Kaufman's Rising Sun Michael Crichton's Rising Sun

Philip Kaufman's Rising Sun Michael Crichton's Rising Sun

Philip Kaufman's Rising Sun Michael Crichton's Rising Sun

Philip Kaufman's Rising Sun Michael Crichton's Rising Sun

Philip Kaufman's Rising Sun Michael Crichton's Rising Sun

Philip Kaufman's Rising Sun Michael Crichton's Rising Sun

DEAD SHOWMAN

The story would begin with him born in 1944, in Cicero, Illinois, the hometown of Al Capone1. It would end with him still in jail after a decade. Everything in between mingles with speculation and deception. He would drop out of high school, get his GED later, when he was in the Army Signals Corps and where we reach the first ambiguity – that he was trained as a cryptographer, qualified in one profile with “according to his claims”2. He would end up in Hollywood, a place of images, invention, and self-invention; in Chicago, he was already a man who enjoyed image making and self-invention, and I am often unsure what is the actual and what is the wanted to be. “When I got out,” he would say, “the majority of people who were doing crypto work were in cosmetics or toy manufacturing…. It wasn’t all that thrilling to me.”3 He worked as a collections agent tracking down deadbeats for the Spiegel Catalog, the mail order women’s wear company. He would one day open the yellow pages, and notice how many detective agencies there were. “So I called the biggest ad in there and I said, ‘Listen, I’m the best skip tracer there is, I wanna do all your work, give me your hardest case,'” Pellicano would recall. “They had been looking for this (missing) little girl for six weeks and I found her in two days. How? With intelligence, logic, common sense, a tremendous amount of imagination and an acute perception.” No, he was more modest than that: “Actually, I just worked my ass off, that’s all,” he would say with a smile, and at twenty five he started his own agency4. His office was silver walled, with a massive gold zodiac, samurai swords, black furniture, a pet piranha and a waiting room covered in full length mirrors5. He drove two Lincoln Contintentals, and sometimes used the name Tony Fortune6. He was a man of a thousand voices, able to pose as stupid or hysterical with ease – though again, I am unsure if this is solely his claim, or there’s some basis for this7.

He was of Sicilian background, putting back the terminal o on his last name that his grandfather had americanized by slicing it off, and there is the constant question in his life of whether he was connected, how connected he was, and whether these connections were a burden or a work of self-aggrandizement. When a witness who was supposed to testify against mafioso Joseph “Joey the Clown” Lombardo in an embezzlement case was killed, Lombardo would say he was nowhere near where the killing took place, an alibi helpfully backed up by Pellicano8. “Guys who fuck with me get to meet my buddy over there,” Pellicano would say, gesturing towards an aluminum baseball bat. He was supposedly an expert with a knife – “I can shred your face” – and a black belt in karate, though his body was an awesome power he was fearful to use. “If I use martial arts, I might really main somebody,” he has said. “I have, and I don’t want to. I only use intimidation and fear when I absolutely have to.”9 That time when he was knifed in a bar in Mexico, was one of those times: “I went into my kung fu stance and beat the hell out of him”. He avoided guns, however: “A gun is a physical solution to a mental problem”10.

There was some dissent to all this. In “The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick, a profile that dismisses the idea of a close association between Pellicano and Lombardo, there is the quote from former Secret Service agent Joe Paolella: “Pellicano never promoted being connected in Chicago the way he did in L.A.-a place where he could portray himself as some kind of mob guy to an upper-middle-class Hollywood clientele that didn’t know any better, if you’re a real crook in Chicago, you don’t want anybody to know about it.”11 There was no record of Pellicano being arrested or convicted for any crime before he was finally arrested in 2002, nor is there any public or police complaint of his using a baseball bat in an assault. At the time, he couldn’t legally carry a gun because he’d never been employed by a law enforcement agency12. He may well have a black belt, but no profile mentions what dojo he received it at, and I am often confused whether he is an expert in karate, where he is a black belt, or the separate discipline of kung fu, of which he is the supposed master of the praying mantis style13. Whether his body has any trace of the knife wound he received in the showdown in Mexico also gets no mention in any later profiles.

He would soon become a very visible detective, appearing on Chicago TV talking about missing persons, going to Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University where he spoke as “one of the top debugging experts in the United States”, as well as giving lectures at Marquette University Law School, the Maywood Rotary Club, and the International Association of Bomb Technicians and Investigators14. When the House Assassinations Committee looked into audio evidence that there had been a fourth gunshot in the Kennedy assassination, Pellicano would explain that he had performed a complicated mathematical analysis refuting the evidence; the Committee “knows of my findings and somebody is supposed to contact me”, he would declare15. Key to his practice was the Psychological Stress Evaluator, a lie detector that was a controversial rival to the standard polygraph test16. The Illinois Polygraph Society would ultimately bar Pellicano from administering the device, as he lacked the detection-of-deception license the administrator of such a device was supposed to have17. Six years after starting his own agency, his resumé would state that he had a “perfect score” in locating over three thousand missing persons18. This extraordinary success made it all the more surprising when his agency went bankrupt. He would claim he owned over three hundred thousand dollars in electronic equipment, but his bankruptcy listed only fifty dollars in assets19. When he filed Chapter 11, it was discovered that he’d gotten a loan of $30 000 from Paul de Lucia Jr., the son of Paul de Lucia, also known as Felice DeLucia, also known as Paul “The Waiter” Ricca, who had briefly led the Chicago Mob in the 1940s20. Pellicano would deny any connections to the mob, and would deny that de Lucia Jr. had them either21. Pellicano was then serving on the Illinois Law Enforcement Commission, responsible for awarding federal crime funds, and the governor said that he would never have been appointed if they had known about the loan. Pellicano would resign22. Despite these setbacks, Pellicano’s career had barely begun. He would soon achieve a success and prominence that would eclipse just about every private detective in the United States.

On June 25th, 1977, the grave of Mike Todd, Oscar winning producer and third husband of Elizabeth Taylor, had been opened and its casket emptied. Todd had died nineteen years earlier in a plane crash that had reduced his body to ash23. The thieves had moved a three hundred to four hundred pound granite tombstone, dug till they reached the coffin, pried open the lid, then smashed a glass case containing a small bag which held the dust that was Todd’s remains. The bag was now missing. The tombstone was so heavy that the police believed there had to be at least two thieves24. The police searched the entirety of the cemetery and found nothing. Three days later, Pellicano called Bill Kurtis, then Chicago’s WBBM news anchor, with a message: “I got a tip.”25 Pellicano, Kurtis, and a cameraman traveled to the cemetery where the detective then counted off paces from the grave to where his informant had told him the bag had been left under branches and dirt, and there it was. Pellicano believed that the thieves had been looking for a ten carat ring given to Todd, from Taylor. Asked how he got the information, Pellicano would answer, “The information was volunteered to me. I’m a public figure, and I’ve handled many, many missing figures.”26 A 1983 government sentencing report would later allege that a mobster-turned-informant, Salvatore Romano, had told authorities that two other gangsters, Peter Basile and Glen DeVos, were the ones who had committed the act. Another informant, Frank Cullotta, would confirm this story27. Whoever was behind it, there was always a sinister possibility: that Pellicano had somehow orchestrated it all for publicity purposes28.

In 1994, Joseph Byrnes, at the time of the heist a police lieutenant in Forest Park (where the cemetery was located) would tell Los Angeles magazine: “Seven patrolmen and I, walking shoulder to shoulder, searched every inch of that small cemetery, and we found nothing,” he said. “The very next day, Pellicano makes a big deal of finding the remains in a spot we had thoroughly checked.”29 Kurtis was already leery of Pellicano on the day of the discovery, and he would later say “The police had to have gone over that ground”, though he also didn’t think Pellicano had stolen the remains just to find them. “Whoever took [the remains] must have returned them. They were getting too hot to hang on to.”30 In 1983, when the attorneys took the testimony from Romano there was this additional detail: after the robbery, a top boss in the outfit told Peter Basile to draw up a map “identifying the location of the unearthed body, and he gave it to an organized crime leader.”31 Whatever his involvement, the case brought Pellicano greater renown than he’d ever known before. It also gave his enemies and rivals a new nickname by which they would refer to the detective: the grave robber32.

Thanks to the prominence of the case, celebrated attorney Howard Weitzman would bring the detective in to help in the defense of John DeLorean, the carmaker who was being charged with drug trafficking in a desperate bid to get money for his company. Pellicano was responsible for digging up information to damage government witnesses33. During the trial, Pellicano would be accused of making a threatening phone call to the father of a DEA agent involved in the case34. DeLorean would eventually be acquitted and Weitzman would credit Pellicano’s work as being “in large part responsible for my ability to win that case.” Through Weitzman and the efforts of a grateful Elizabeth Taylor, Pellicano gained access to the rich and famous. He left Chicago and moved to Los Angeles.35.

MY DEATH’S IN TURNAROUND

He would help out Kevin Costner, Roseanne Barr, James Woods, and, in one notable case, the late Don Simpson36. Though now perhaps forgotten, Simpson was one of the most successful movie producers of the 1980s, working alongside his partner Jerry Bruckheimer to make Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop, Flashdance, and Days of Thunder; his partner would go on to make The Rock, Con Air, and the Transformers films37. Monica Harmon would work for twenty months as Simpson’s secretary during the production of Top Gun and the pre-production of Beverly Hill Cop II, after which she would sue the partners for five million dollars over emotional distress. She claimed that Simpson yelled at her when she put regular milk in his coffee instead of low-fat milk. She alleged that she was forced to watch him commit illegal acts, like take cocaine. That he had her schedule his appointments with prostitutes. He yelled at her when she put his mother on a list of calls to return when he had no interest in talking to her. She was forced to watch pornography and read pornographic material. He was constantly verbally abusive: “You fucked up again, you dumb bitch.”38

As a witness, however, Harmon already had a few problems. She claimed to have been the executive secretary at her ex-husband’s firm, when she was actually a grocery checkout clerk at the time. She mis-spelled calculator on her job application39. Simpson’s lawyer would be Bert Fields, considered one of the best and toughest lawyers in Los Angeles. Harmon would be represented by a firm based out of Koreatown40. Harmon’s case soon became weaker and weaker. The pornography she was forced to watch was played in another room, and she wouldn’t see it unless she turned around to watch it. When Simpson left his office, she snuck in and watched a few minutes of one such movie. The pornographic material she was forced to read were letters from an aspiring actress that were part of the mail she had to read as part of her work. She had claimed to have never heard the word cunt or known what a donkey show was, but she soon admitted to having tried cocaine and rented pornos on her own time41.

This was before Fields brought in Pellicano, a man he’d often use in the future. The detective was able to track down a Patrick Winberg in Minnesota, a former Paramount employee, who would allege that he had delivered a half gram of cocaine to Harmon every day, and had seen her take the drug a hundred times while she worked for Simpson, and paid for the drugs with money from the production company’s petty cash42. Winberg would allege that she used a limo and messaging service for herself, then billed the production company43. He claimed that she had talked about suing the producers six months before she left her job44. He would allege that another employee, Buddy Brown, was her dealer, a charge that Brown would deny45. Pellicano would lend Winberg four thousand dollars, and give him five hundred dollars for three days of meals while he stayed in Los Angeles for his deposition46. All the details from this incident are from the story “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three” by August West, out of the extinct Spy magazine; while researching the piece, West tried to get Simpson on record, and instead got Pellicano. “Don doesn’t want a story. We don’t want you to do a story,” he warned. West would call other sources, and Pellicano would call West asking why he was contacting that individual. Everyone who had dealt with Pellicano said the same thing: “Don’t fuck with him.”47

It was believed that Pellicano helped Simpson out again at two other critical moments, once after the death of a friend, and once more after the death of Simpson himself. You could find Simpson’s movies terrible, you could find Simpson repellent, and still find him fascinating. He was a passionate reader who made mindless films48. He was born into a strict religious family in Alaska, where he was told that he would be struck down by god for any feelings he might have towards girls, and that if he acted on such feelings, he would live in hell forever49. In Hollywood, he was a heavy coke user, a regular customer of escorts, who, it was said, arranged orgies that were sadistic and humiliating for women50. One potential bed partner said that his preferences seemed to “revolve mainly around turning women over and fucking them in the ass.”51 One call girl, Alexandra Datig, would say of her experiences with the man, “I knew Don Simpson for approximately five years. Of which, I spent about six months around him directly. And the time I spent around him was probably the most insane, wicked, and self-destructive time of my life.”52 He and Bruckheimer had run a very hot streak in the eighties before things went cold with Days of Thunder and The Ref. Then things got better with Bad Boys and Crimson Tide, but Simpson’s drug problems got a lot worse. In addition to cocaine, he used a network of fifteen L.A. doctors and eight pharmacies to get his stuff, and his stuff included Percodan, morphine sulfate, Dexedrine, Seconal, Xanax, Valium, lithium53. He gorged on ice cream and peanut butter and blew up fifty pounds54. He became a recluse, not showing up at studio meetings, never even visiting the set for Crimson Tide55.

It was through Stephen Ammerman that he would try to kick his habit, and one can’t help but see this doctor as a double for the producer. Ammerman was a high school football star until a knee injury put an end to that, and his drive was turned towards medicine instead56. He started out in orthopedics, then went to Los Angeles to practice emergency medicine. He was good at medicine and he was good at the side business he set up as well, a service which contracted out doctors to Los Angeles emergency rooms57. Like Simpson, he was drawn to the visceral and kinetic; a friend said of his skills, “He was very good at trauma.”58 Simpson was obsessed with a youthful ideal, getting a chin implant, face lifts, and placenta injections59. Ammerman got liposuction and a hair transplant. Since college, the doctor had had a problem with prescription drugs like amphetamines and Xanax. The two men would meet in a Santa Monica gym60.

Ammerman had gone into rehab twice, and had managed to stay clean for five years61. He was trying to get Simpson to kick his own habit by prescribing drugs which would help him deal with the symptoms of withdrawal from the other drugs, a strategy considered “dangerously unorthodox” by one expert62. Something, somewhere went very wrong instead: Ammerman’s own habit got worse. It was known he was using Xanax again, even though this was a violation of his rehab program. He was arrested after he crawled naked onto the ledge of his apartment building. He had jumped onto the balcony of his neighbours, yelling, pounding on their walls and screen door63. This story of Ammerman’s relapse, however, is only one version, the one told in the Los Angeles Times story, “Fatal Attraction” by Chuck Philips and Carla Hall; there is a very different one, told in an Associated Press piece, “The doctor, the movie producer, and the big sleep” by Michael Fleeman. In that version, Ammerman never kicks his habit, though he tries to help Simpson kick his. At the gym where Simpson and Ammerman meet, the doctor writes prescriptions for amino acid supplements to any gym rat who asks64. Ammerman later gets his prescription drugs from two psychopharmacologists, Robert Gerner and Nomi Frederick. Gerner had been accused of both fondling a female patient and writing prescriptions for seven thousand pills for one patient over two years65. Both Gerner and Frederick would end up writing prescriptions for Simpson, with Frederick’s prescriptions made out to the pseudonym “Dan Wilson”, who resided at the Simpson address66. Both versions of the Ammerman story end with him at the estate of Don Simpson, where he’d gone to recover from his hair transplant, and where he was discovered on August 15, 1995, dead, in the shower of the pool house67.

The autopsy found the cause of death to be multiple drug intoxication, with cocaine, morphine, Valium, and the antidepressant Venlafaxine in his system. Ammerman had been visiting the Simpson house almost daily in the last three weeks of his life68. Here is where Pellicano may have come in: the coroner’s report included the belief that the house had been sanitized before the police arrived. A syringe and a vial of valium had been found near the body, but though morphine was found in his system, no morphine was found in the house. The detective was there after police arrived. “I didn’t sanitize anything. The police and the paramedics got there before I got there,” insisted Pellicano69. “Ammerman was never Don’s doctor,” he said. “There was no medical treatment going on for drugs or for anything else…Ammerman was a hanger-on, one of many who just wouldn’t leave Don alone.” Records showed that Ammerman had prescribed both dextroamphetamine and morphine for Simpson. There would be contradictions about the events leading up to the death and when the body was discovered. Was there an argument beforehand? Ammerman’s girlfriend, who was at the estate before abruptly leaving in the middle of the night, said there was, without giving mention of who was arguing about what. Simpson’s police statement made no mention of an argument70. Simpson told the writer and director James Toback that he discovered the body at 6 AM, five hours before 911 was called. Simpson told Vanity Fair he found the body at 9 AM71. Pellicano, again: “It’s unfortunate that this guy committed suicide, but honestly, we wish it would’ve happened at someone else’s house.”72 In the Vanity Fair piece, Simpson would say afterwards that he had no knowledge of Ammerman’s addictions, “Pellicano found out that the guy had a history of substance abuse I had no idea of that,” and that they had never done drugs together: “I’ve never done drugs with him in my life.”73

It was over for Ammerman, and it was over for Simpson-Bruckheimer as well: this death was a clear sign to Bruckheimer that his partner’s problem was only getting worse, and the partnership was dissolved on December 19th, 199574. A month later, it was over for Simpson as well, when he collapsed on his toilet in the early morning of January 19th, 1996. In the month before his death, when a doctor had charted his nervous system, he saw a body so messed up by prescription drugs – Percodan, Percocet, and Dexedrine – that it was not simply at risk of heart attack, but abrupt cessation of heartbeat. “What I read from Simpson’s chart,” he’d say, “was like a singing telegram: You are going to die!75. Police discovered over two thousand pills, alphabeticized, in the closet by the bathroom. Of the eighty bottles which contained those pills, sixty three had been prescribed by Ammerman76. Even so, they once again thought the death scene had been sanitized. Pellicano had been acting as Simpson’s spokesman. Though Simpson had a history of cocaine and PCP abuse, and the autopsy report declared that he’d died from prescription meds and cocaine, no cocaine was found anywhere in the house. Among the elements of possible prescription drugs found in his system: Unisom, Atarax, Vistaril, Librium, Valium, Compazine, Xanax, Desyrel, and Tigan77. “I wouldn’t get tangled with Hollywood for all the tea in China,” Ammerman’s father would say afterwards. “I think that’s the screwiest place in the world.”78.

THE MAGICIAN

However, the biggest case of Pellicano’s career was a few years before this, centering around a troubled man who was a great artist and the biggest star in the world. In August 1992, when Michael Jackson was accused by Jordan Chandler and his father, Evan, of child molestation, he brought in his attorney, Bert Fields, to fight it, and Fields, in turn, brought in the detective. Howard Weitzman, who had worked with Pellicano in the DeLorean case, would help in the defense as well79. I gave extensive description of the deaths of Ammerman and Simpson, as well as the accusations of Monica Harmon because they are so little known; I do not go in detail into this infamous scandal, as I thinks its vastness and complexity would overwhelm an already too long post, and I instead concentrate almost entirely on the role of Pellicano.

The detective would be at the front and center of the case, acting as an aggressive spokesman for Jackson. He would frame the case early on as an extortion attempt by Evan Chandler. The first media accounts would carry this imprint, with no reference to molestation, but a quote from Pellicano saying that police were looking into an “extortion attempt gone awry.”80 Pellicano would emphasize again and again that it was an extortion attempt. The detective would allege that the father had demanded $20 million in four movie deals worth $5 million each81. He would invite a reporter into the inner sanctum of his office to hear the evidence. The old Chicago office may or may not have had top of the line audio equipment, but this place was crammed with it. He played an audio tape of a conversation between Pellicano and the Chandlers’ lawyer, where they allegedly haggle over the details of the agreed on deal. While the reporter listened, Pellicano would grip his arm, tight: “It absolutely happened,” he’d say. “I mean, he acknowledges that on the tape.” Pellicano would explain his approach: “I had to lay out the chessboard and say: ‘What does the public think?'”82

Some thought Pellicano was a pretty terrible chess player. The taped conversation was ambiguous, with only Pellicano mentioning extortion. Pellicano would also distribute a tape of a conversation between the father and stepfather of Jordan Chandler, secretly recorded by the stepfather. It would be described by Maureen Orth in her piece, “Nightmare in Neverland”, as crudely edited and full of erasures83. Ernie Rizzo, a veteran detective from Chicago and an enemy of Pellicano’s, would declare that sections of the tape had been deleted. Pellicano and Weitzman would deny editing the tape. Rizzo had been one of those who’d given Pellicano the nickname “the grave robber”. “I’ve called him a fraud since Day 1,” Rizzo said. Pellicano called Rizzo a fruit-fly and an ambulance chaser. That year was the first time in ten years that Rizzo had had a detective license, after he lost it when he got caught wiretapping. Chandlers’ lawyer said Rizzo didn’t work for them. Rizzo would insist that he’d been hired by Evan Chandler, and it didn’t matter what the lawyer said84.

Another tactic Pellicano employed had a more serious critic than Rizzo. The detective let the press have access to two boys, Brett Barnes and Wade Robson, friends of Jackson’s, who described their experiences with him. “He kisses you like you kiss your mother,” said Barnes. “It’s not unusual for him to hug, kiss and nuzzle up to you, and stuff.” Said Robson, “Michael is a very, very kind person, really nice and sweet. Sure, I slept with him on dozens of occasions but the bed was huge.”85 The detective gave his perspective: “If it’s a 35-year-old pedophile, then it’s obvious why he’s sleeping with little boys. But if it’s Michael Jackson, it doesn’t mean anything.” Asked a prominent criminal attorney, “Do you know an adult now who is not absolutely convinced that Michael Jackson did it?” He, along with others, thought the interviews with the boys made things much worse. “Pellicano ruined it.”86 One key figure also had a very negative opinion. “That’s not good,” said Michael Jackson after hearing about it, according to one of his advisers. “That makes me look even worse, I think. It’s not good.”87

A few months later, just days before christmas, Pellicano would be asked to resign. Fields, who also had made a few mis-steps, would be asked to resign as well88. Johnnie Cochran, his defense of O.J. Simpson still a few years away, would be brought in. Jackson would settle for over twenty million. Pellicano was forthright that if it were up to him, he would never have settled with the accusers. From Dish by Jeannette Walls:

Some people close to Jackson were persuading the singer that his lawyers and Pellicano were making mistakes and talking to the press too much. “If it were in my camp, I would get rid of everyone,” said the singer’s brother Jermaine Jackson. “His representatives are just plain stupid.” By then, Jackson was said to have been spending $100,000 a week on his legal defense. Faced with these expenses and with four months of uninterrupted tabloid hysteria, Jackson switched tactics, parting company with Pellicano in December 1993. “I swear on my children [he has nine of them] this decision was not Michael Jackson’s,” said the detective. “If I wanted to, I could be working on this case today.” Pellicano also continued to maintain that Jackson was innocent. Weitzman stayed on the case but Bert Fields also quit and was replaced by Jonnie Cochran, the flamboyant attorney who would later defend O.J. Simpson. The following month, the case was settled for a reported $27 million.

Pellicano claimed he was dead set against paying any money. “There was no way that Bert Fields and I would have settled that case,” Pellicano said. “No chance, no way.” And indeed the settlement, which was publicly viewed as a tacit admission of guilt, effectively crippled Jackson’s career.

I isolate one part of that quote for emphasis:

Pellicano claimed he was dead set against paying any money. “There was no way that Bert Fields and I would have settled that case,” Pellicano said. “No chance, no way.”

I quote Pellicano from an interview given to the Times after his resignation: “In no way, shape or form does (my resignation) indicate that Michael Jackson is guilty,” Pellicano would say. “Michael Jackson is not guilty, and all the things I said in the past I reaffirm.”89

I place next to that a quote from a jailhouse interview with Pellicano conducted in 2011 by Christine Pelisek, “Hollywood Hacker Breaks His Silence”:

Later in the interview, Pellicano reveals that when he agreed to work for Jackson during the star’s 1993 child-molestation case, he warned Jackson that he’d better not be guilty. “I said, ‘You don’t have to worry about cops or lawyers. If I find out anything, I will f–k you over.’ ” The detective took the assignment, but says, “I quit because I found out some truths…He did something far worse to young boys than molest them.”

We see how the story of Anthony Pellicano, though it traverses the American entertainment industry, the most overexplored part of the news world, is full of ambiguities that remain unexamined. Here he is quitting because he found out some truths; then he was fired and would never have settled the case, ever. Though I don’t have a binary sensibility, I think we have an either-or situation here: Pellicano either lied about aspects of the case and why he left it, or he lied when he was in jail.

THE BEAST

It was during the Jackson case that we hear the first disquieting notes which would prove the end of Pellicano’s career. The celebrity and squalor of the case was chum for tabloid reporters, one of whom, Diane Dimond, was a very tenacious digger. The intimidation tactics Pellicano reportedly had used before were now used against people looking into a major crime by a public figure, rather than a questionable suit by a marginal employee. There was intimidation, but there was something else, which would recur again and again through the career of Pellicano: it felt like someone was listening.

I give lengthy excerpt again to Jeanette Walls’ fascinating Dish:

“For months, the Michael Jackson story consumed every waking moment of my life. At every turn, Anthony Pellicano kept popping up,” said Dimond. “I started hearing from friends that Anthony Pellicano had called, asking questions like where does she live? Where did she come from? Does she have any kids?” Other reporters would pass along veiled threats, she said, from Pellicano – which he denied making. “He’d say, “Tell Diane Dimond I’m watching her,” or “Tell her I hope her health is good.”” Dimond became convinced that her phone was tapped. “Paramount was pretty convinced too,” she said. “They got a security expert to come to my house…They found evidence of some weird tampering.” Dimond also believed that her phones at Hard Copy were tapped. She decided to do her own detective work and devised a plot with her husband.

One morning at 9 AM, Dimond’s husband called her at her office: “How’s that special on Anthony Pellicano coming?” he asked.

“Oh, it’s great,” Dimond replied. “We’ve got all sorts of things on him. We’re going to expose everything, including the whole story about Elizabeth Taylor’s husband’s grave.”

At 9:28 AM, Dimond got a call. “What kind of story are you doing on Anthony Pellicano?” someone from Paramount’s legal department wanted to know. Dimond said she wasn’t doing any story on the detective. “I just got a call from Weitzman’s office,” the caller told Dimond. “They were quite sure you are doing a story on Pellicano.”

“After that,” said Dimond, “I never used my desk phone.”

This, however, suggests a binary conflict of celebrities versus tabloids, with the detective on the side of the glitterati, when it was a little more nuanced than that. The various tabloids had a network of insiders, spies, and sources for their stories, and one of their best sources for anything on Jackson was Jackson himself.

Again, from Dish:

Even before the child abuse scandal broke, Jackson and his handlers were masters at manipulating the press. Actual interviews were minimal and were limited to journalists who were bona fide friends or allies. Although articles frequently appeared about Jackson’s bizarre behavior, most of them were amusing tales of Jackson’s wacky eccentricities or stories of his love for stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Diana Ross. Almost all the stories were planted by the singer or at his direct orders. When Jackson and Madonna had a “date” at the Los Angeles restaurant Ivy, paparazzi were waiting by the time they arrived. They had been tipped off by both Jackson’s people and Madonna’s. A similar scene occurred when he had a “date” with Brooke Shields – whose other publicized romances included George Michael, John Travolta, and Dodi Fayed. Some believed that Jackson’s friendship with Elizabeth Taylor was also largely for public consumption. They fed off each other’s fame: she gave him old Hollywood credibility, he gave her cutting-edge hipness. “They rarely saw each other privately,” according to writer Chris Anderson, who said the friendship was both a public relations ploy and a financial arrangement because Jackson was a big investor in Taylor’s various merchandising efforts.

“Jackson would leak stories to us all the time,” says the National Enquirer‘s Mike Walker. “Then he’d do this whole ‘the tabloids lie’ routine.” Jackson regularly planted items that he was feuding with rival singer Prince; one of favorite tabloid stories reported that Prince was using ESP to drive Jackson’s beloved chimp Bubbles crazy. “This is the final straw,” the story quoted Jackson as saying. “What kind of sicko would mess with a monkey?” Jackson personally orchestrated the publication of stories that he wanted to buy the Elephant Man’s bones and that he slept in an hyperbaric oxygen chamber because he wanted to live to be 150. Jackson wanted the hyperbaric chamber story to run on the cover of the National Enquirer – the one condition was that the writer use the word “bizarre” at least three times. “He really liked the word bizarre,” according to Charles Montgomery, the reporter who did the piece. When Jackson was told that the Polaroid that showed him sleeping in the chamber wasn’t good enough quality to run as a cover, he posed for a second photograph. “I did more articles on Jackson than I did on anyone else,” said Montgomery. “Before I ran anything, I would always check with people close to Michael to see how accurate it was. I almost always had full cooperation from his camp.”

Jackson was shocked that the mainstream press, including Time, Newsweek, the AP, and UPI, picked up the oxygen chamber story. “It’s like I can tell the press anything about me and they’ll buy it,” Jackson said. “We can actually control the press. I think this is an important breakthrough for us.”

It was not just Jackson who gave material to the Enquirer and others, but Pellicano who gave out information as well, sometimes working both sides of the fence. He would leak something to the tabloids, then let the celebrity know that the Enquirer or whoever was working on a story, after which he was paid to kill it90. This was often easy to do, because the very source who Pellicano had paid to give the story to the Enquirer was now paid again by the detective to quit leaking91. Sometimes he would trade one celeb’s secret to kill a story about another. This was all made obvious when Jim Mitteager, a reporter for the Globe and the Enquirer, died of cancer in 1997, and he gave tapes he’d made of conversations with Pellicano over to Paul Barresi, a former porn star and unlicensed private investigator who occasionally did legwork for Pellicano as well. The conversations have Mitteager, Pellicano, and a Globe reporter named Cliff Dunn, swapping what can go in the tabloids and what needs to be killed92.

One of the best pieces on Pellicano, “The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick, provides an excerpt:

During a 1994 conversation, Mitteager, Dunn, and Pellicano agree to get together the following Tuesday, and Pellicano, who was working for Michael Jackson, promises to find out for them what’s happening with the L.A. grand jury’s looking into child molestation accusations against the star. The reporters then inform Pellicano that actress Whoopi Goldberg, a friend and client of his, went to Saint John’s Hospital for a mammogram and that Dunn was tipped off by a hospital source that she had breast cancer (a rumor unconfirmed by Los Angeles). “I want that source,” Pellicano tells Dunn. “For how much?” replies Dunn. “What the fuck kind of question is that?” Pellicano shoots back. “You can’t say, ‘How much?’ to me. You have to give me a price and say, ‘This is what I want!'” Dunn answers, “I want five grand. Then you blow him out of the water [i.e., expose him as a source], and he’s used on every celebrity story [at the hospital].”

They next turn to Elizabeth Taylor.

Pellicano: Now let me ask you a question on Liz Taylor. You say that they are going after her?

Mitteager: Well, of course. She’s in the hospital. Liz Taylor sells goddamn books.

Pellicano: Because I don’t care what you do with her. As a matter of fact, if I can help you with her, I will…. What do you want to know on her?

Mitteager: Any story that would make the front page.

Pellicano: I know that she is fucking drinking again. That’s a fact.

Dunn: That’s something. If we can confirm that.

Pellicano: I just told you!

Dunn: I can’t say to [the Globe] lawyers that my source is Anthony Pellicano.

Mitteager: We need to work together to get some sort of network of people.

Pellicano: We’ll go further on that. But you guys are guaranteed the three grand on Tuesday.

Pellicano would not just pass the tabloids information, he would fight hard for them as well. When reporter Rod Lurie researched a piece on tabloids for Los Angeles magazine, he had managed to put together a list of all the sources the tabloids used. If published, it would cripple them, cutting off their access to information. Pellicano was reportedly paid half a million dollars to kill the story93. “There was consistent cultlike phone intimidation from Pellicano,” said Lurie. “He would call my friends and family and editors I worked for at other magazines saying I was through in this town.” Lurie alleged that the detective would tail him, call up Lurie’s sources and smear him. Pellicano got access to his credit record, found out his unlisted number and called him. He allegedly threatened to sue Lurie and paid the reporter’s research assistant to steal his notes94. Lurie would describe him this way: “For those who don’t know better, he’s an intimidating character. He’s a classic movie goon.” After the story was printed in the magazine (unfortunately, I have been unable to find a copy online), Lurie went biking and broke a few bones; he was knocked down in what seemed like a hit and run accident. The reporter, however, was certain it was no accident95.

The methods of the tabloids of that era to get their stories were ruthless, nasty, often illegal, and very effective, very similar to the methods of a spy or a certain private detective. Stuart Goldman would gain some insight into these techniques when he went undercover as a reporter for The National Enquirer, The Globe, The Star and Hard Copy (a now extinct tabloid TV program that boasted such news features as “Celebrity Stalker”, “Drano Killer”, “Bodybuilding Sex Slave”, and “Hot Cream Wrestling”), for a story for the now extinct Spy Magazine, “Spy vs Spies” 96. There were the legal and borderline legal means of getting what they wanted. The tabloids, he found out, have sources everywhere: bodyguards, hairdressers, bartenders, hospitals, courthouses, the DMV97. Then there were the illegal means. He watched as one reporter stole mail out of mailboxes. Another source hacked someone’s answering machine so they could listen to the messages. He saw another tap into a TransUnion database to get credit information. He was told that one reporter paid bribes at the social security office in order to get celebrity social security numbers. They employed methods of extortion, a more forceful variation of the Mitteager tape, where a celeb was forced to give up info on another celeb in return for the paper killing a hurtful story on them98. When the tabloids couldn’t get a story, they would create one. Goldman looked on as a reporter would call up Child Protective Services, posing as the mother of a girl who was going to the same school as the daughter of Roseanne Barr (then the star of the top rated sitcom), and accuse Barr of abusing her child. CPS would investigate the charges of abuse, and the tabloid would have a story99.

Pellicano employed many of the same legal and quasi-legal methods, and he would be intertwined in both sides of these tabloid stories. He would locate a child Roseanne Barr had given up for adoption, and then would be cussed out by Barr after she suspected he gave details on the child and the reunion to the tabloids100. The tabloid press used extortion to get what it wanted, and Pellicano used extortion to get what he wanted as well: if a troublesome ex-wife of a celeb asked for alimony, he would dig up enough embarrassing dirt to force her to settle her claim101. A Hollywood madam of the time, Heid Fleiss, who provided prostitutes to Don Simpson as well as other celebrities and studio executives, would accuse the tabloids of paying prostitutes to defame her102. Pellicano would show up to help out Columbia Pictures executive Michael Nathanson get out of the Fleiss scandal, and he then made the kind of error that suggested he was not quite the detective mastermind he thought he was: Pellicano made a public statement denying that Nathanson had ever used Fleiss’s girls, even though no one had yet reported such a thing. A Variety columnist, with no double entendre intended, gave it his “PR Boner Award”103. Later, on an audio tape of Pellicano in conversation that was played at his court case, the detective would say of Nathanson, now at MGM, “I saved his fucking career. He had a whole lot of shit – There was a whole lot of shit with him and prostitutes, and I saved, and cocaine, and I saved him.” He continued: “Let me tell you, Michael fucking owes me.”104

THE STRONG MAN

The stakes would be higher in a later intersection of the tabloids and Pellicano, one which astonishes me at how little it was reported. Paul Barresi, the former porn star and Pellicano associate who would release transcripts of phone call conversations between the detective and Globe reporters, was brought in to help in a thorough investigation of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s past. This inquiry was not being conducted by the star’s enemies, but initiated by the star himself, to see what would could be dredged up were he to run in the 2002 California governor’s race105. Barresi would turn in a twenty seven page report, of which Barresi gave out no details, except to say that it covered the personal, professional, and business lives of Schwarzenegger106. The investigation was begun after an incredibly damaging article, “Arnold the Barbarian” by John Connolly was published in Premiere magazine, alleging, among other things, that the star had sexually harassed and groped women on numerous occasions107. Barresi, a former porn star, was like Pellicano, working both sides of the tabloid fence. The Enquirer had once published a story where he’d claimed to have been John Travolta’s lover for two years. He later retracted his claims108. He went on to become a fitness trainer, then a private investigator; the investigative work he was probably best known was for the quelling of the tabloid story about Eddie Murphy picking up Atisone Kenneth Seiuli, a transsexual prostitute109. According to Barresi, he reached out to Marty Singer, Murphy’s lawyer, to help out, then located various transsexual prostitutes, including Seiuli, and paid them off to recant their stories. When Barresi felt Singer didn’t give him the proper respect, he told his story to Mark Ebner, providing proofs such as copies of paychecks from Singer’s firm to Barresi and memos from Barresi to Singer detailing his investigation110. This might suggest that Barresi would be in permanent exile from Hollywood, when he wasn’t – in 2012, he was the driver for Ron Tutor, the new head of Miramax. This position is actually understandable, since if you’re the new head of a studio, you’d want someone with intimate access to all the secrets of the town111.

Paul Barresi in a dialogue scene from the adult movie Too Naughty To Say No.

That Schwarzenegger would run into greater scrutiny when he ran for public office was anticipated in a scathing Spy story, “Arnie’s Army”, by Charles Fleming: “if Arnold does indeed go into electoral politics, his relationship with the press will change from The Silence of the Lambs to Dances With Wolves.” (I’m guessing these references were a little less musty in 1992)112 But it didn’t. Part of this was due to the short time frame of the California election period (one which was short because it was prompted by a recall petition of the sitting governor, Gray Davis), but it also had to do with another detail in this old piece. He may make stupid movies, but Schwarzenegger is very smart, and he had been excellent at controlling the press as a movie star, and both despite these recent disruptions as well as in reaction to them, he demonstrated his cunning and control of the press once again113. Schwarzenegger would go on to run in the 2002 recall election anyway, anticipating the tabloid attacks, and employing the pre-emptive strategy that I think has been too little reported on. I first came across it in the Los Angeles magazine piece, “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, which carries the subhead, “Exclusive! The hush-hush deal that made Arnold Schwarzenegger governor”. After the Premiere story, the Enquirer published two pieces on Schwarzenegger’s infidelities, one involving a seven year affair114. The tabloids were a major problem for Schwarzenegger in two ways: they could hit you with scandal every week (2002 is still before the prevalence of the internet, where gossip blogs could hit you every hour, every minute, every second) and that the tabloids were a toxin lab where such stories could be reported, sourced through the dubious legal and illegal means already mentioned, and then re-reported by the non-tabloid press115.

Almost all the name tabloids in 2002 – the Enquirer, The Globe, The Star – were owned by American Media, Inc., or AMI, and in 2002, AMI was in a lot of trouble. They’d just had anthrax sent to their offices in Florida, killing an employee and turning the whole place toxic. This forced them to sell their new multimillion dollar glass and steel Boca Raton headquarters for forty grand. On top of that, the tabloid press had become a cannibal’s feast, with glossies like People and Us Weekly, along with bottom feeder websites like The Drudge Report and TV shows like Access Hollywood, killing the business. In the past decade, the name tabloids had lost half their newsstand sales116. AMI would try to perform triage by buying up Weider Publications, a publisher that specialized in health and bodybuilding magazines, putting out titles like Muscle & Fitness, Flex, Shape, and Men’s Fitness. They managed to keep up ad revenue through the supplement business, which paid for over seventy percent of the ads in the magazines of Weider Publications. The owners of Weider Publications may have been worried about increasing scrutiny by the FDA into such supplements, the effects it would have on advertising, and that may be why they were trying to sell the publications in 2002. Weider Publications were owned by Joe and Ben Weider, who were heavily involved in the bodybuilding world, as well as the promotion of the career of an Austrian bodybuilder who would go on to be an incredibly profitable film star, one of the most famous men in the world, and the governor of California. Schwarzenegger was in turn heavily involved with Weider Publications, his name bylining a ghostwritten bodybuilding advice column, as well as being heavily involved in promotion of its magazines at various events. He was arguably crucial to the continued success of the magazines of Weider Publications, and with the buying of the publisher by AMI, the parent company of the tabloids, we might have the answer for why their scandal coverage of the candidate suddenly ceased during the recall race117.

In November 2002, AMI would buy Weider Publications for over three hundred million dollars118. The next month, Joe Weider would have dinner with David Pecker, the head of AMI. Weider would recommend that Schwarzenegger become part of AMI, perhaps be given a ten percent stake in exchange for his publicity work. However, Weider was worried about all the scandal stuff in the AMI press. Pecker would allay the man’s fears, assuring him that they didn’t rehash old news119. During the recall election, the New York Daily News would get an even stronger quote from Weider about what Pecker said to him: “We’re not going to pull up any dirt on him.”120 Weider would slightly alter what Pecker had told him: “I want you to know that we’re not going to bring up or print the old stuff. Only new.”121

Whatever the assurance, the effect was the same. The AMI tabloids stopped airing Schwarzenegger stories. Four sources in AMI would claim that this was the result of orders from the top. “When Weider was being bought,” said one of the sources, “the edict came down: No more Arnold stories.”122 In July 2003, Pecker would meet with Schwarzenegger to ask him to stay on the board and play a bigger role with the Weider magazines, specifically Muscle & Fitness and Flex123. Three weeks after this meeting, Schwarzenegger would announce his candidacy on The Tonight Show124. The AMI tabloids not only stopped reporting on the scandals, the infamously cynical press started rah-rahing his campaign.

“Pecker ordered [National Enquirer editor] David Perel to commission a series of brownnosing stories on Arnold” for the campaign, said one ex-staffer. Perel would deny the charge125. “Vote Schwarzenegger!” was a full page story that ran in August in The Star. Follow-up stores in The Star were “Arnold and Maria’s Family Life” and “Arnold: A New American Patriot”, where the future governor was compared to George Washington. AMI would also put out a glossy special edition called Arnold, The American Dream126. The now extinct Weekly World News, which specialized in ridiculous stories involving martians and the undead, gave out an endorsement in distinctly Weekly World News style, a story headlined “Alien Backs Arnold for Governor.”127

The major tabloid story of the election was not broken in a tabloid, but the Los Angeles Times, with a collection of sixteen women testifying that Schwarzenegger had groped or otherwise harassed them128. Another story, dealing with the illegitimate son of the candidate, was published in the Enquirer two days before the election, but was mostly a re-print of a story that had already been broken in the Daily Mail129. Sources say that the story was brought to the Enquirer in May, but was emphatically turned down by Pecker, who said, according to the source: “We’re not doing the story. In fact, we’re not doing any more Schwarzenegger stories.”130

Two weeks after the election, Pecker would join Schwarzenegger at a press conference during his Arnold Classic bodybuilding competition. They announced that the new governor would serve as executive editor of Muscle & Fitness and Flex, to be paid $1.25 million over five years, which would go to the Governor’s Counsel on Physical Fitness, plus a quarter million dollars per year from AMI. The publishing company would also buy a fifty percent stake in Mr. Olympia, the bodybuilding competition owned by the Weiders131. Since Schwarzenegger’s electoral victory, the tabloids had continued to run positive stories, such as “Make Arnie President” (subtitled, “All We Have to Do Is Change One Stupid Law”), “Wisdom of Arnie”, “Maria & Arnie: White House Bound?”, “The Governator”, “American Dream: Arnold & Maria’s New Life”, and “Arnie’s Accent Will Soon Be All the Rage”132.

A year after the “Carnivorous Beast” story broke, the Los Angeles Times, would publish the details of Schwarzenegger’s contract with AMI. He would receive an annual sum that was either 1% of the magazines’ annual advertising revenue, or a million dollars a year. Most of this revenue, as already said, came from supplement advertising; a year before the story broke, the governor had just vetoed legislation regulating the supplement industry. Larry Noble, of the Center for Responsive Politics, would say “This is one of the most egregious apparent conflicts of interest that I have seen.”133. A second story from the Times would reveal that AMI had cut a deal with the woman who’d alleged a seven year affair with Schwarzenegger, Gigi Goyette, as well as her friend, Judy Mora134. It was either a very strange deal, or one that made great sense given the context. Two days after Schwarzenegger announced his candidacy, AMI paid Goyette twenty thousand dollars and Mora one thousand dollars forbidding either woman from speaking about Goyette’s dealings with the governor to anyone else. Despite the exclusive contract, no AMI tabloid would ever publish a Goyette related story. This despite the fact that there was a surge of interest in Goyette and her story when Schwarzenegger announced his candidacy, with reporters at her house, school, and local coffee shop. The contracts are in perpetuity, forbidding the women from ever sharing their story. “AMI systematically bought the silence,” said an AMI employee. The governor “was a de facto employee and he was important to their bottom line.” Goyette thought that the contract was the beginning of a book deal; instead, there was nothing135.

What looks very much like a deal to insure the silence of the tabloids, and to actively use them to quiet someone, Gigi Goyette, to other sources, was a story that made little or no circulation. It got no mention in later profiles of the Enquirer during the avalanche of publicity the paper received when it broke the scandal of John Edwards, whether it be the pathetically fawning “All The Dirt That’s Fit To Print” by Alex Pappademas in GQ, or the more critical “Going Respectable?” by Paul Farhi, in American Journalism Review. You could, however, fit it with the past actions of AMI head David Pecker. Before AMI, he had been the chief financial officer of Hachette, a company that produced such things as Elle magazine and Exocet missiles. After they bought up a bunch of U.S. titles, like Women’s Wear Daily, Car and Driver, and Premiere, the management team of those titles left, and Pecker got to take over136. His focus, however, remained entirely on the dollars and cents of an operation, with all other things exploited and crippled to that end. He hacked the staff of Premiere from 80 to 38, and Mirabella‘s from 80 to 20. “Pecker is a financial guy,” said one source who worked for him. “He doesn’t understand publishing…He never worked on a magazine…He interferes with editorial integrity.”137

When Corie Brown at Premiere magazine was putting together a story on tensions over the management of Planet Hollywood (the father of Sylvester Stallone, Anthony Filiti, would eventually sue both Stallone and Robert Earl, an executive and key developer of the Planet Hollywood chain), it conflicted with the interests of Ron Perelman, the CEO of Revlon, a co-investor in Premiere, and most pertinently, someone who wanted to work with Planet Hollywood to set up a chain restaurant built around the theme of Marvel superheroes. Pecker killed the story138. “The last time I looked I am CEO of the company,” was a Pecker statement that reflected what took place: le journal, c’est moi. The two top editors at Premiere, Chris Connelly and Nancy Griffin, would resign in protest immediately afterwards139. Later, The National Enquirer would have solid evidence that Tiger Woods was having an affair, then allegedly kill the story in return for his appearing on the cover of AMI’s Men’s Fitness – even though Woods had an exclusive contract to do covers for only Condé Nast magazines. Pecker knew about the Woods affair, but “traded silence for a Men’s Fitness cover”, alleged the magazine’s former editor-in-chief. Pecker denied the charge140. When AMI’s Florida headquarters was hit with anthrax, there were strong rumors that the state’s governor, Jeb Bush, had had an affair. There were excellent leads and a reporter eager to look into the story, but there was a problem: after the attack, AMI was pleading with the state for some kind of relief. The reporter says that he was told emphatically by his editor, “We’re not writing about Jeb.” As long as AMI was based in Florida, staffers believed, Jeb Bush was off-limits141.

In the aftermath, all these deals and all these alleged cover-ups involving Schwarzenegger seemed like a pointless failure. He would end his governorship as someone looked on as weak and a turncoat by fellow Republicans, with no one still putting forth the idea that the constitution be changed so he might run for president. When Premiere had published “Arnold the Barbarian”, it had resulted in an angry backlash and the editor being fired142. After the Los Angeles Times put out its story alleging sexual harassment, “Women Say Schwarzenegger Groped, Humiliated Them”, there were thousands of cancelled subscriptions143. When there was the ignominious revelation upon his exit of the governorship that Schwarzenegger had fathered a child with his family’s housekeeper (this child was a different one from the paternity scandal reported by the Daily Mail in the recall election), it triggered no such reaction144. The man who’d been a heroic ideal, an embodiment of strength and power, was no longer anything of the kind, and people invested no hope in him, and felt no besmirchment if these accusations were true. The FDA would outlaw a good chunk of supplements. AMI would declare bankruptcy, and then two years later, would be back on the edge of default. After ending his contract with AMI following the hostile coverage during his governorship, Schwarzenegger would renew the contract in March, 2013. Though mention was made of the past conflict of interest over supplements, none was made about the abrupt end in negative Schwarzenegger tabloid stories during the recall election145. “Is a Revolt Brewing at AMI?” [archive link] asked a piece in Gawker following the bankruptcy, as massive staff cuts took place while top executives got bonuses. “Everybody believes the company would be better off without David Pecker,” said one source146. “His mismanagement, dishonesty and incompetence drove the company into bankruptcy.” A follow-up piece, “AMI Executives Agree: Everything’s Fine at AMI” [archive link] would include emails from top executives denying these assertions. “David Pecker is a great CEO and leader. Check your sources!” said one such email. Among the emails from supportive execs was one missive from an anonymous employee: “AMI is just a bad, poorly run company and has been for several years now.”147 When AMI first got its new CEO, a prescient observer would say, “Pecker is a big thinker”, then: “and he has got big plans for that place.”148

THE GANGSTER SAMURAI

Pellicano might have been involved in the first self-investigation by Schwarzenegger, but when these stories broke on the compacts made between Schwarzenegger and the parent company of the National Enquirer, he had already served several years in jail. Before that took place, however, the nineties were a very good decade for him. His Los Angeles office was a variation on his Chicago one, with walls of whorehouse red velvet and black leather furniture. “Anthony,” according to his fourth and sixth wife, Kat Pellicano, was “the only man I ever met that could make a silk shirt look like polyester.” In his Chicago headquarters, he sometimes wore a labcoat with his agency’s symbol, an eye surrounded by concentric circles. His place in Los Angeles had oak finished doors with “Pellicano Investigative Agency Ltd./Forensic Audio Lab/Syllogistic Research Group” in gold lettering. Cappuccinos were offered in the waiting room and there was the intermezzo from “Cavallieri Rusticana” that played on the phone while you waited. His assistants were often female, young, and beautiful149. The detective firm’s executive vice president, Tarita Virtue, appeared in Maxim dressed in lingerie. Pellicano thought about putting together a “Girls of Pellicano” spread for Playboy, featuring his employees150.

He presented a hypervivid image of a detective agency to a town that produced and consumed such hypervivid images. The images overwhelmed the dysfunction underneath. He received two million dollars for his work on the Michael Jackson case, of which he reported only one million to the IRS as income, the other half labeled as a loan. The day he received a letter from the IRS afterwards was a dramatic one, as related by an ex-employee: “I remember one morning when he opened his mail with the letter from the I.R.S., he jumped on his desk and started screaming, ‘Abandon ship! Abandon ship! We’re out of business!’ Women were crying and screaming in the office.” Pellicano would be constantly yelling and screaming. One long time employee would constantly ask new hires, “Are you on Prozac yet?” It seemed like everyone in the office was on anti-anxiety or anti-depression medicine151. Despite this, it was a successful business, and though Pellicano could be very talky, much of the business with his Hollywood clientele would remain secret. There were so many interesting stories that never hit the news, and his job to make sure they never made the news, said Kat Pellicano152. “You know an awful lot about this business,” laughs Pellicano during one of his taped calls with John McTiernan, the director of Die Hard and Predator, and the knowledge, it is implied, has nothing to do with film stock or lenses, but the undertow of financial and sexual dirt. Pellicano knew quite a lot about the business as well. “Boy, could we cause some chaos,” the detective would continue, “Do you realize that? I think…we could cause chaos like you have no idea.”153 And boy oh boy, would Pellicano end up causing chaos.

“I read about him in Vanity Fair. Guy seemed like a real nut job,” said the head of one detective agency. “I never took the guy seriously. The way he bragged openly about wiretaps and baseball bats, I mean, I just thought it wasn’t real,” said San Francisco private investigator Jack Palladino154. That he was a man of illusion, or more bluntly, a bullshit artist, only made his act more coveted. Movies, for the simple reason of the limited running time, gravitate towards an economy of narrative where every word and every gesture conveys something specific of the character. In simple, often bad, movie writing what is conveyed is one principle, in every word and gesture. This person is a killer for hire. This person is a spy. This person is a detective. This person is a mobster. In this way, Pellicano’s image resembles bad movie writing, where words and gestures make clear in the most thuddingly obvious manner that he is a private eye, that he is a gangster. “I didn’t understand,” said Palladino, “that his Hollywood clientele lived in that same film noir world and accepted it as real.” The only place where Pellicano’s illusions might have worked was in the rarefied air of the Hollywood elite. “I mean, this is not how anyone else in this business does business. It’s the way it is in the movies,” said Palladino. The movie elite, “they don’t know much about the real world. They don’t know much about boundaries or rules. They’re rich and spoiled and out of touch. And this was a guy who reflected their reality, which was the reality in films.”155 Pellicano was a man of colorful illusions and his downfall was due to another man of equally captivating illusions.

Just as almost everything about Pellicano was open to question, a mix of what was possible and what was a put-on, so every fact about Steven Seagal’s life was a mystery or ridiculous joke. He spoke like an Italian-American born and bred out of New York City, but he was half Irish and half Jewish, born in Detroit, Michigan before moving to California when he was five156. His last name was pronounced the same way the last names of Bugsy Siegel, Beanie Siegel, or George Segal were pronounced, but after he saw a Marc Chagall exhibit, he started saying “Seagal” in a way no one else ever had or ever will, and managed to get everyone to go along with it157. He supposedly was a CIA associate, doing very important top secret work, which the CIA didn’t deny, but anybody could say the same thing and the agency wouldn’t deny it either – the agency prizes such secrecy and never issues such denials158. Perhaps the best example of this mythmaking that I have yet come across is from the very beginning of his career, before the release of his first movie, Above The Law, the piece “Steven Seagal Gets a Shot at Stardom” by Patrick Goldstein. Seagal speaks of his time in Japan, and how he was recruited by the CIA while teaching aikido:

“In Asia, you’d be amazed how many people are connected with the agency,” Seagal explained one night on the film set in Chicago, where he was fighting off a migraine headache. “A lot of the American military has been over there since the occupation and they’ve become very connected to the intelligence community.

“These guys were my students. They saw my abilities, both with martial arts and with the language. My CIA godfather told me he’d never heard any American speak Japanese so well. I would say I was a prime candidate to be recruited.”

Did Seagal actually work for the CIA? He offered a qualified admission–or perhaps a qualified denial.

“You can say that I lived in Asia for a long time and in Japan I became close to several CIA agents,” he said, choosing his words carefully. “And you could say that I became an adviser to several CIA agents in the field and, through my friends in the CIA, met many powerful people and did special works and special favors.”

Seagal declined to offer many details, refusing to cite specific missions or locales. However, when asked about the authenticity of a scene in “Above the Law” that shows an intelligence operative injecting a rival with a deadly chemical truth serum, Seagal said: “That’s not made up. That’s something that really happened.”

However, Seagal spoke freely about his involvement in security operations for the Shah of Iran when he was deposed in 1979: “We helped set up safe houses in London and Paris so the Shah and his family could flee the country. We also were aiding members of the Shah’s family, who were under the threat of death from Kakahili, Ayatollah Khomeini’s killing judge.

“It was incredibly barbaric–they were randomly executing people. It was like something out of the Hitler era. One of the Shah’s nephews wouldn’t leave, so we had to hit him over the head and try to take him out unconscious. But he insisted on going free, so we finally had to let him go. We warned him what would happen. But he left. Later the same day, he got shot in the back of the head.”

Seagal said he has done more recent security work, including work for South African Bishop Desmond Tutu and late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, but only jobs for people who are “special” to him. “My wife and I just had a baby girl, so I’m trying to stay semi-retired and away from a lot of these things.”

“I did some work for the White House recently, for a committee where everybody had top-security clearance. And when they checked up on me, they couldn’t find any data on me. They asked the agency, who refused to confirm or deny who works for them.

“That’s why I see no reason to go public with any details I might or might not know. But I could tell you stories. . . .”

Like Pellicano, he also muttered darkly about being connected with those guys, youknowwhoimtalkinabout? In Out for Justice, he played Gino Felino, a guy with mobster friends. In Above the Law, he’s Nico Toscani, a Sicilian and a CIA agent involved in top secret covert ops. In Under Siege and its sequel, Seagal plays a former Navy SEAL. He hinted in real life that he’d been a Navy SEAL as well, then got invited on a treasure hunt off Barbados with an actual Navy SEAL, and had to move equipment to a raft amidst rough, violent, choppy water. It was lousy conditions, but nothing a SEAL wouldn’t have faced in training. Seagal reacted like Pellicano when he got his letter from the IRS: “He started screaming and panicking and was sure he was going to die and all that crap.” He had to be helped onto the raft, one man pulling his hair, and another pushing his ass. Despite Seagal’s extensive experience in secret covert operations, he couldn’t read either a compass or a map159.

This would suggest he was entirely a ridiculous joke, when he wasn’t. Stories like the Barbados tale and others portraying Seagal as an incompetent clown without covert ops or SEAL experience were told by his former business partner Gary Goldman, after a falling out over screenplay credits and movie profits. The action star would allegedly present an actual former CIA agent, Robert Strickland, with a file on Goldman and a briefcase with fifty thousand dollars. “I’d like you to do me a favor,” Seagal allegedly said, in a manner we can imagine from his movies. “I’d like you to kill Gary Goldman.” “You’re crazy”, replied Strickland, again, according to his version of events. “If you won’t do it,” replied Seagal, allegedly, “get someone who will. Pay him what you want and keep the rest.” Strickland refused again160. A second source, a security level consultant and actual veteran of an intelligence agency would fly to New York, where he claims Seagal would ask him to whack someone in Chicago. When you say “whack”, he asked, does that mean “whack dead”? “Of course,” says Seagal. The man refused the offer. “You’re crazy,” he replied. Seagal would also ask that a writer who’d just written a hostile cover profile of him for GQ, Alan Richman, be set up, with pictures taken of Richman going down on another man. “This guy is, like, a five foot two fat little male impersonator,” Seagal would say of the five foot nine Richman on The Arsenio Hall show (this segment is on youtube: part one and part two; Seagal’s complaining about Richman is in the first part)161. Richman is a fag, Seagal tells the security consultant, though Richman is heterosexual. Richman is also a former Army captain, a recipient of the bronze star, and a Viet Nam veteran. Seagal, whatever his claims, has no military experience whatsoever. Seagal was upset at Richman for supposedly misquoting him in the profile, though GQ and Richman had, out of a misguided sense of mercy, left out a few things. That his hair looked like it was soaked in shoe polish, that he wore a hairnet, that his face was thick with make-up, that he felt most directors were incompetent, and that he complained that Hollywood was controlled by jews, a strange complaint for someone who’d had both an incredibly rapid rise to stardom and a jewish father162. In August of 1993, Seagal would be deposed in a civil suit filed against him by a parking lot attendant who claimed the action star had assaulted him. While on the stand, Seagal would be asked if he’d ever solicited a murder. An agitated Seagal took the Fifth163.

With the exception of some details on Alan Richman’s military experience and Seagal taking the Fifth about soliciting a murder, all details from the previous two paragraphs come from the Spy article “Man of Dishonor” by John Connolly. Before it was even published, Seagal’s attorney, Martin Singer, would file slander and libel suits against Connolly, alleging that the claims made that Seagal associated with killers, that Seagal associated with mobsters, that Seagal had solicited murder were false. Upon publication, the suits were withdrawn164. Connolly was also the writer behind “Arnold the Barbarian”; after that article was published, Garry South, the campaign manager for Gray Davis, Schwarzenegger’s competitor in the governor’s race, sent out the article to fifty or eighty reporters along with a small note: “Arnold’s piggish behavior with women – is it the pig valve?” Singer sent a letter to South threatening to sue for libel – because South had emailed out an article published in the free press, in a magazine that could be bought in any part of the country. Singer’s letter also stated that the letter itself was copyrighted, and its contents could not be published anywhere without violating the copyright165. Singer, of course, was also the man who Paul Barresi alleges paid him to quiet the episode involving Eddie Murphy and transsexuals. Murphy is another Singer client, and Pellicano was often hired by Singer166.

Seagal’s hubris got worse and his movies became unwatchable. His physical qualities, the essence of almost all movie stars, soon rapidly diminished. He lost his hair, and though his acting was never called Brandoesque, his stomach soon was. Before his first movie was released, he was described as a man who was tall and lean, having the rough, good looks of a daredevil jet pilot, catlike movement and an amazing presence. The presence is perhaps best described by Trevor Gilks on his site Every Steven Seagal Movie in his overview of “Out for Justice (1991)”: “He’s a festering ball of anger and threats, yet he rarely raises his voice above a whisper; he’s spewing pure machismo extract, yet the way he moves, talks and looks is strangely feminine” – though perhaps the reason he never speaks above a whisper, we learn from “Man of Dishonor”, is that his actual voice is very squeaky. He soon became the thing described in John Krewson’s review of Fire Down Below: “Steven Seagal, the uncharismatic stack of puffy, aging flesh”167. The studio tried to get him to lose weight, and they ended up finding cookie crumbs on the stairmaster168. He was a guy who soon became defined for being paunchy and utterly nauseating. When Jenny McCarthy auditioned for a part, he asked her to take off all her clothes, though the movie had no nude scenes. When he hosted SNL, he suggested a sketch where he’d play a psychiatrist who tries to have sex with a rape victim169. “Gee, Raeanne,” he said to his personal assistant, Raeanne Malone, when she was brushing her teeth, “You look like that when I come in your mouth.” She and three other personal assistants successfully sued him for sexual harassment170. In 2000, well after people had gotten royally sick of his shit, Warner Brothers, his longtime studio, ended their relationship with him171.

THE PHARMACIST

That Seagal was a ridiculous man didn’t mean he couldn’t also be dangerous or frightening. Pellicano was also both things. The devastating Spy piece, “Man of Dishonor” suggested there must have been some power behind the throne. When Strickland, the former intelligence agent, got into a legal hassle with Seagal over the action star taking Strickland’s stories of working with the CIA and presenting them as experiences of his own, Seagal would declare in front of Strickland and his attorney, “If anybody from the CIA fucks with me, they will be hurt”, and claimed that he was backed by very powerful people172. When “Man of Dishonor” was published, the text was accompanied by two striking photographs: an unsinister and warm faced Seagal in his high school photo, and, more importantly, the neighboring houses of Seagal and his former associate, Jules Nasso. On the left is an elegant medium sized house, that of one of the biggest movie stars in the world at the time. Next to it is a sprawling, eight thousand acre estate, the property of Nasso173. He was a pharmacist who ran Universal Marine Medical Supply, stocking ships with their medicines. He would say in “Man of Dishonor” that he and Seagal were related, and, at the time, Seagal told people that Nasso was his cousin174. In a later profile, “Seagal under Siege” (from Vanity Fair, now hosted at the Beverly Hills Cannabis Club) by Ned Zeman (with additional reporting by Connolly), it would be said that Nasso and Seagal met in Madeo, an Italian restaurant in Beverly Hills, in part because Nasso knew Kelly LeBrock, Seagal’s then wife, through a friend175. A casual reader asks themselves a question unanswered by the article: what is a New York pharmacist doing in Beverly Hills?

Nasso was best man at Seagal’s wedding to LeBrock, godfather to two of their children, and he co-held the deed to the house Seagal owned next door to his. Warner Bros. did not have a contract with Seagal, but with Steamroller Productions, formerly Seagal/Nasso Productions. Robert Strickland, the intelligence agent who Seagal had allegedly solicited to kill someone, had been paid an advance to have Seagal adapt his life story into a movie; when their relationship fell apart, the advance which had come from Seagal’s personal account was to be repaid to Nasso’s176. You would find possible answers to Nasso’s wealth in an early profile, “His Two Worlds Are Worlds Apart” by Barnaby J. Feder in The New York Times, which came out after the release of Seagal’s Out for Justice. Nasso had a score of successful businesses: he’d founded and currently ran Universal Marine Medical Supplies, the world’s largest distributor of pharmaceuticals to ships, which he’d started as an undergraduate at St. John’s University, and which grossed $30 million a year; he’d founded Tishcon, a company that made over the counter drugs which drugstores and supermarkets sold under their own labels; at the height of the Cabbage Patch doll craze, he’d owned a Baby Land General Hospital outlet in New York City, where people came to adopt their dolls. He owned and ran four pharmacies in New York City under the Bi-Wise name. He was in Beverly Hills because his involvement in Universal Marine Medical Supplies often brought him out to their branch office in San Pedro. This same profile lists Seagal and Nasso as cousins177.

Seagal wanted to be seen as an Italian with mob connections. Nasso wanted to be seen as an Italian without them. Both men had difficulty being seen as they wished. Nasso’s uncle, also named Julius Nasso, was the owner of the Julius Nasso Concrete Corporation, one of several companies that Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno and others had extorted money from in a bid rigging scheme. Salerno had gotten a century in prison in part due to the testimony of employees of Julius Nasso Concrete. This same uncle was described by federal authorities as having connections with organized crime. The uncle had attended a meeting with the Gambino crime family about the contract for the Jacob Javits Convention Center178. Nasso’s brother married a daughter of Johnny Gambino, an imprisoned captain of the crime family of the same name; at the wedding, Seagal walked Nasso’s mother up the aisle. In the most famous scene from Out for Justice, perhaps the most famous scene in Seagal’s career, he goes to a bar owned by an adversary, disturbs the patrons, breaks stuff, causes a nuisance, and provokes things till people start attacking him and he takes them all on. One bar patron, however, he never hits, and that’s Benny the Book, played by Jerry Ciauri (currently, in IMDb’s credits for Out for Justice, his name is mis-spelled as Jerry Clauri). “No way Seagal was going to take a swing at Bobby Zam’s kid,” says one source in “Man of Dishonor”179.

The scene (“Anybody seen Richie?” on youtube) has a brief dialogue segment between Ciauri and Seagal. Later, Seagal beats the shit out of everybody in the pool room around Ciauri, but strikingly, leaves Benny the Book alone in his chair.

FELINO
Benny the Book…hey, how’re ya. [bounces cue ball twice on the floor hard enough that it bounces back to his hand] Benny, you wouldn’t be over here using Ma Bell for illegal means, wouldsyou?

BENNY
Bookmaking’s an illegal activity, Gino.

FELINO
You also would not know that Richie owns this place and that he sells narcotics here because he’s a fuckin puke, and he likes to pervert kids and stuff, huh?

BENNY
Drugs. Nobody uses drugs around here.

FELINO
Yeah? [bounces cue ball again] You don’t know nothin, do ya? (Sicilian dialogue)

Steven Seagal Anybody Seen Richie Out for Justice

Steven Seagal Anybody Seen Richie Out for Justice

Steven Seagal Anybody Seen Richie Out for Justice

Out for Justice - Jerry Ciauri in the chair, Gino pushes somone around - URL if gif doesn't load: http://gfycat.com/ThirdFondEft

Bobby Zam is Robert Zambardi, Ciauri is his stepson, and allegedly, Ciauri got the part because Zambardi asked. At the time, the Colombo mafia was at war with itself, split between two leaders, Carmine Persico, who was in jail, and Vic Orena, the acting head. Both Ciauri and Zambardi would be indicted for separate attempts on the life of Orena. Ciauri and a co-conspirator would be successfully convicted for extortion, robbery, and enterprise corruption in their shakedown of a local grocery. They were also convicted for a failed attempt on the life on Orena, a few months before Out for Justice was released, for which they were still serving time as the new century began. Zambardi was charged with RICO violations, loan-sharking conspiracy, and conspiracy to murder Orena. He would plead guilty to a racketeering charge and a fifteen year sentence; he would eventually plead guilty to committing four murders180. Nasso would often dismiss accusations of association with organized crime as something thrown at all Italians. “On my block, there’s a judge and a gangster,” the gangster being Tommy Bilotti, who was killed alongside Paul Castellano when John Gotti took over the Gambino crime family. Bilotti’s brother, Joseph, was indicted alongside Zambardi in the attempt on Orena’s life181.

Though Nasso was often written about, there remained mysteries and contradictions in his life. In the Zeman piece, Nasso said he’d met Seagal for the first time in Los Angeles, at Madeo’s. In a 1999 interview for the Friars Club, as well as other profiles, he said they’d met for the first time in Kobe, Japan182. In “His Two Worlds”, he said he visited childhood acquaintance Tony Danza while visiting Los Angeles, and that it was Danza who’d helped get him into the movie business. The often congenial Danza was emphatic in his denial of this in “Man of Dishonor”: “I know Nasso, but he’s no friend of mine. I didn’t introduce him to Seagal.”183 He was a man who headed up a multi-million dollar international business, something that should focus his attention entirely, yet he’d attempted to break into the movie business by working as a gofer for Sergio Leone, when he directed Once Upon a Time in America, something that would require him on location and away from the office his entire day184. “Seagal Under Siege” would have him with two doctorates, one from St. John’s and another from the University of Connecticut. “Between Two Worlds” would have him in his office, with a wall behind him covered in degrees and certificates. “When Life Imitates a B-Movie” by Paul Lieberman, however, would point out that Nasso considers a 1979 testimonial dinner at Fordham University as the equivalent of an honorary degree, and considers the membership certificate from the Connecticut Pharmaceutical Association as equivalent to a doctorate185. He was, according to “Two Worlds”, the owner of the Baby Land General Hospital in New York City, where families came to “adopt” Cabbage Patch dolls. We are told he owned in it during the early days of the Cabbage Patch craze, but this is an unusual statement – the peak of the craze was the christmas of 1983, and the Babyland adoption center on Fifth Avenue (something distinct from the Baby Land General Hospital, the headquarters of the Cabbage Patch dolls) only opened in 1985186.

Julius Nasso Out for Justice group shot

Julius Nasso Out for Justice looking at angle

Julius Nasso Out for Justice looking directly

Julius Nasso in his brief appearance in Out for Justice, as “Tony Felino”, who must be a relative of Seagal’s “Gino Felino”, though it’s never said in the movie.

There was another strange episode involving Nasso, but one that took place years after the lives of Pellicano, Seagal, and Nasso had already converged, a convergence that resulted in jail time for Nasso and Pellicano. “Operation Which Doctor” was an attempt to shut down a network of doctors and pharmacies which prescribed steroids to athletes and emergency responders, such as police and firefighters, as well as corrections officers. The steroids may have affected the temperament of the police officers, with one, Victor Vargas, allegedly arriving at an emergency call and then beating without mercy the very man who’d made the call. Two major points of steroid use were the police departments of New York City and Jersey City. Two doctors identified as the major writers of false prescriptions so that their patients could obtain steroids were Richard Lucente and Joseph Colao187. Lucente would plead guilty to conspiracy and lose his medical license, Colao would collapse, after years of using human growth hormones, from a heart attack. The source for much of the human growth hormones was the drugstore Lowen’s. Victor Vargas had gotten some of his HGH from Lowen’s. Both Colao and Lucente would allege that they got kickbacks from Lowen’s for steering clients there. Over nine thousand prescriptions over eighteen months throughout the country were filled out for steroids at the pharmacy. When narcotics investigators raided the store, they took away over seven million dollars in human growth hormone, illegally imported from China. The owner of the building that housed Lowen’s was Julius Nasso188.

The pharmacist at Lowen’s, John Rossi, would tell investigators that Nasso was also a silent partner in the business189. Rossi would write two letters to the local paper, the Brooklyn Eagle, insisting that neither he nor the store had done anything wrong. “Lowen’s and its pharmacists and employees have done nothing improper,” he wrote, and taped both letters in the glass of the store’s front door. On January 28th, a week before Rossi was to have a formal discussion with investigators, he was found dead in his store office. He had been shot in the right side of the chest and the right side of his head. Investigators ruled the death a suicide. Richard Signorelli, his attorney, declared, “I had no sign that anything like this was going to happen.” In the neighborhood, there was the obvious question following Rossi’s death: if a pharmacist wanted to kill himself, wouldn’t he do it with pills, instead of a gun? Nasso’s lawyer would insist that he had no ownership stake in the pharmacy, and that he had no connection with steroids or the mafia. “I think you take any Italian born in a neighborhood that has … a variety of people of different types, it is kind of hard to escape allegations that you are somehow involved with these people. Because they’re your neighbors,” said Nasso’s lawyer, Robert Hantman. “My family is my life,” said one of Rossi’s letters to the Eagle.190

This was all still in the future. After the collapse of the relationship between Warners and Seagal, Nasso still had several projects he wanted to make with his partner, including a bio-pic of Genghis Khan which he advertised with a full page ad in Variety. Seagal dropped out of those pictures, and his relationship with Nasso fell apart as well. According to Nasso, the terminal conversation was on July 5, 2001, and it ended with him saying to Seagal, “You’ll never hear from me again. Go fuck yourself.”191 In March of the next year, Nasso would hit Seagal with a $60 million breach of contract suit. In June, seventeen men would be arrested on a variety of charges, including Peter Gotti, acting head of the Gambino crime family and older brother of I-think-you-can-guess, Anthony “Sonny” Ciccone, and Primo Cassarinio. They would be charged with, among other things, extortion, loan sharking, and racketeering. Among the seventeen arrested was Julius Nasso, charged with conspiracy to commit extortion and extortion of an individual in the film industry. This individual in the film industry, the man behind Nico Toscani and Gino Felini, was being asked to pay out $150,000 per movie to Nasso and his associates, or else192.

A lengthy excerpt from “Seagal Under Siege” by Zeman and Connolly captures well how these threats took place:

On February 2, 2001, according to just one of the government’s 2,200 tapes, Seagal sat down in a Brooklyn restaurant with Jules and Vincent Nasso. Before they got down to business, though, Jules decided to switch locations–to Gage & Tollner, the venerable steak house near, of all places, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in downtown Brooklyn. On the way over, perhaps so they couldn’t be tailed, they also all switched cars. Once ensconced in a back room, they were joined by Ciccone and Cassarinio.

The action star was “petrified” by the location switch, Ciccone recalls after the meeting was over.

“I wish we had a gun on us,” Cassarinio adds. “That would have been funny.”

To which Vincent Nasso replies, “It was like right out of the movies.”

On February 14, in a bugged Brooklyn restaurant, Ciccone asks a guy who sounds a lot like Jules Nasso whether he has asked Seagal for the $150,000 per movie.

“And did you do it? Did you carry it out?” asks Ciccone.

“Oh, I’ll take care of it. I’ll take care of it,” says Nasso.

“We said that day that we were gonna tell him that every movie he makes, we want $150,000.”

“Right… a hundred, and I said I want to get more for you.”

In this same conversation, the guy who sounds a lot like Nasso encourages Ciccone to be even more forceful than he was at Gage & Tollner. “I think the first meeting that we had was a nice initial meeting to break the ice,” Nasso says. “But the next one, you gotta get…you really gotta get down on him. ‘Cause I know this animal. I know this beast. You know, unless there’s a fire under his ass…”

The Vincent Nasso here is the brother of Jules. This was not the brother who’d married a daughter of Johnny Gambino, jailed mob captain, but a fascinating character in his own right, and one given too little attention. The most noteworthy fact about him, which occasionally got mentioned in the articles on Jules Nasso and Seagal, was that he was convicted of paying the mob four hundred grand in return for handling a union’s drug prescription plan193.

Vincent Nasso in Out for Justice

Vincent Nasso in Out for Justice

Vincent Nasso in his brief role as a cop in Out for Justice. He says “Get the son-of-a-bitch”, at about 10:55 in the movie.

Vincent Nasso owned Value Integrated Pharmacy (VIP). General Prescription Programs Inc. (GPP) owned eighty percent of VIP. It’s believed that the money which Nasso gave to Peter Gotti resulted in GPP winning the contract to handle the drug program for the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA), even though the GPP was rated fifth out of five finalists for the contract. GPP also handled the multimillion dollar drug plans for at least five major public-employee unions, representing firefighters, police sergeants, corrections officers, Teamsters, and transit workers. “It’s not my company,” said Joel Gordman, the nominal head of GPP/VIP. “Basically I was acting as a subcontractor.”194 The evidence that Nasso and the mob were heavily involved in the GPP contract for the ILA was gained through wiretaps. Some of the discussion of the contract is excerpted in the indictment, “459 F.3d 296: United States of America v. Peter Gotti, Anthony Ciccone, et al.”, such as when Anthony “Sonny” Ciccone and Vincent Nasso discuss the fact that Gordman wants to raise the GPP contract fees charged to the Longshoremen’s union:

On Wednesday, April 18, 2001, Ciccone and Nasso spoke again about the MILA contract. Nasso noted that “the Jew [Joel Grodman, co-principal of GPP/VIP] wants to raise the rate.” Gov’t Exh. TR-178N. Ciccone responded, “Tell him to go fuck himself. Tell him you do what I tell you to do.” Id. Ciccone added, “I’m calling the shots over here, not you. And tell him, the day you don’t like it, I got another guy to replace you. You’re only here on account of me. Fuck him.” Id. Nasso agreed, stating, “All right. That’s what I’m gonna say today.” Id. Ciccone also asked about receiving his check, to which Nasso responded, “The Jew’s gotta send me the money.”

Joel Gordman would also join up with another entity owned by Nasso, Pharmaceutical Consultants & Administrators Inc. (PCAI), to handle the drug plan of Local 6, a hotel and restaurant workers union. Nasso also worked for Bio Reference Laboratories, Inc. (BRLI), headed up by Dr. Marc Gordman, Joel’s younger brother. BRLI had the contract for blood and physical tests at firehouses and detention facilities. In a lawsuit, two former employees would charge the company management with extorting employees, where expenses weren’t reimbursed unless an executive was given a Rolex watch or enevelopes of cash. BRLI would get financing from a mafia associate, a company involved in a legendary ponzi scheme, and a notorious penny stock broker that was the inspiration for the film Boiler Room195. These, and other seamy points, were all detailed in the heavily documented Streetsweeper profile of the company, “Bio-Reference (BRLI): Loads of Dirty Laundry”. Nasso had owned Bio-Dynamics, Inc., which had handled blood laboratory and diagnostic work for the Longshoremen’s Union; BRLI had gotten those accounts when they purchased Bio-Dynamics, Inc. in 1989, and that’s how Nasso had come to work for BRLI. After Nasso’s conviction, BRLI would terminate him, and Nasso would sue. Following the indictments of Vincent Nasso, Ciccone, Peter Gotti, and the others in the waterfront arrests, the various unions would end their contracts with GPP196.

The threats made against Seagal were captured accidentally, as part of these wiretaps in the racketeering probe of the waterfront and the Longshoremen’s union. “I don’t think it’s Jules at all,” said Jules Nasso’s lawyer, Robert Hantman. “I think that’s all they have. I think that what they’ve played–Sonny Ciccone berating or yelling at somebody, assuming he’s yelling at somebody–is not Jules.” Nasso would eventually plea bargain the charges, and get a year, less two months for good behavior197. He would try again as a producer, pointing again and again to his credit on the distinguished and high profile film, Narc, made before the trial. “You wanna know which one of us was the brains? Seagal’s making straight-to-videos in fuckin’ Bulgaria,” he’d say. “I’ve been making big-time movies.”198 This, however, was a more complicated story than it appeared. Narc was a very, very low budget movie and a week into shooting, it ran out of money. The principal people behind the project – actor Ray Liotta, director Joe Carnahan, and producer Diane Nabatoff – scrambled to find new money, picking up investors the principal people had never even met. Nasso put in a share, “not off the street, not gangster money,” he insisted – somewhat redundantly, given his denial of any association with the mafia – and got a credit. The film ended up with four listed producers, nine executive producers, five co-executive producers, and a line producer. “We bummed a cigarette off some guy — he got an E.P. [executive producer] credit,” said Liotta. When the movie was submitted for Academy Award consideration, which restricts you to three producers per picture, the producer names submitted were Liotta, his wife (his partner in his production company), and Nabatoff. Nasso would tell people that he’d helped edit the film and gave Liotta ideas on how to play the character. “Never saw him. None of those producers ever spent a day [on set],” said Liotta of Nasso. After Liotta’s production company took out a “For Your Consideration” ad in Variety, Nasso took out his own Narc ad, thanking the cast and crew, on behalf of Julius R. Nasso Productions199.

Since breaking with Seagal, Nasso would go on to co-found Manhattan Pictures International (with Paul Cohen), which distributed Enigma and Jean-Luc Godard’s In Praise of Love. In 2012, he’d co-found Wakefield International Pictures with Todd Moyer. The Legend of William Tell: 3D, one of the first films of Wakefield International Pictures would result in star Brendan Fraser suing the company because they didn’t have the financing for the project, followed by a countersuit by producer Moyer, alleging that Fraser had assualted him when drunk. “This is a ridiculous and absurd claim by Mr. Moyer,” said Fraser’s lawyer, Marty Singer200. In 2005, Nasso announced the creation of Cinema Nasso Film Studios on Staten Island, with the groundbreaking taking place on September 8th with fireworks on the beach and Kylie Minogue expected to attend. This last detail might be added to the pile of Nasso’s mysteries: this announcement for the studio groundbreaking in the Times (“A Producer Is Back on Location and Ready to Celebrate”) was August 29th. Minogue had already revealed that she was afflicted with breast cancer, had cancelled the Australian leg of her world tour, and was undergoing intensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy for a prolonged period, treatment that she likened to being hit by an atomic bomb201. In 2007, Seagal and Nasso allegedly reached a secret settlement where the action star would pay him $500 000, and sign off on a presidential pardon for Nasso. In 2012, Nasso would sue Seagal for breaking the terms of the settlement. In January of 2013, Seagal would send a letter to the justice department backing such a pardon: “I have no objections to and would support the application (when it is timely) of Julius R. Nasso for a Presidential pardon.” During his stay in prison, Nasso would insist: “I am NOT an associate of organized crime.”202

It was because of the coverage of the extortion plot that Anthony Pellicano would end up in prison for over a decade.

THE PELICAN PART ONE

The coverage of the extortion of Seagal by Nasso, Ciccone and Cassarinio, in the Los Angeles Times was by two reporters, Anita Busch and Paul Lieberman – examples, in chronological sequence, would be: “N.Y. Arrests Have Ties to Hollywood” (Busch and Lieberman, June 5 2002), “Claims Seagal Started FBI Probe Called ‘Absurd'” (Busch, June 6 2002), “Mob Said to Have Threatened Actor” (Lieberman and Busch, June 12, 2002), “When Life Imitates a B-Movie” (Lieberman, July 12 2002), “Alleged Extortion of Actor Detailed” (Lieberman, July 17, 2002), “Seagal Sought Rival Mob’s Help, Feds Say” (Lieberman, February 8, 2003), “Brother of Late Mob Boss Convicted of Racketeering” (Lieberman, March 18, 2003), “Former Seagal Associate Plea-Bargains in Plot to Extort Actor” (Lieberman, August 7, 2003).

That Busch leaves the bylines is because of what took place on June 20th. It is best conveyed by the police report describing the incident, listed under the “probable cause” section, the basis for the FBI raiding Anthony Pellicano’s offices203:

D. PROBABLE CAUSE

9. On June 20, 2002, I interviewed Anita Busch (“Busch”), who told me the following:

a. Busch was working as a contract employee for the Los Angeles Times.

b. Bush arrived at home at approximately 8:45 p.m. on June 19, 2002, and parked her car across the street from her residence.

c. At approximately 8:00 a.m. on June 20, 2002, Busch was informed by her neighbor that her car window had been “punctured.” (1) a note taped to the windshield which said “STOP”; (2) a shatter mark just below the note; and (3) a tin foil baking tray turned upside down on the windshield. Busch called the LAPD, which treated the baking tray as a suspicious package. After rendering the package safe, the LAPD determined that it contained a dead fish and a rose.

d. Busch believed that the incident was related to her investigative work for the Los Angeles Times on an as-yet unpublished article regarding Julius Nasso and actor Steven Seagal. Busch began her work for the Times on June 3, 2002, and was contracted through October 15, 2002.

The next day, Daniel Patterson, a senior citizen and grandfather of eleven would leave several messages on Busch’s answering machine that were serious warnings. Daniel Patterson is the “CW” in the FBI report.

The relevant excerpt is below:

10. On June 21, 2002, I again interviewed Busch, who told me the following:

a. An individual, whose name Busch provided me and who shall be referred to herein as “CW,” had left her six messages on her voice mail at her Los Angeles Times office during the morning hours of June 21, 2002. CW had indicated that it was “urgent” that he speak to Busch in person concerning the article she was writing about actor Steven Seagal.

b. At approximately 11:45 a.m. on June 21, 2002, Busch telephoned CW. CW stated that he had run into a guy a few days ago by the name of “Alex,” and that Alex had told CW that he had been hired by a detective agency to blow up Busch’s car. Alex was aware that Busch had been doing a series of articles concerning actor Steven Seagal.

11. On June 21, 2002, I interviewed CW, who told me the following:

a. He had left messages for Busch because he did not want to see anyone get hurt.

b. He has known an individual named “Alex” for approximately a year. Approximately four or five days earlier, CW met Alex at a car repair business. Alex told CW met Alex at a car repair business. Alex told CW that he had been recently hired by a detective agency that had been contacted by “some people back east” to set fire to the car of a female reporter who had written a series of articles concerning actor Steven Seagal. Alex said that this was to serve as a warning because “they” wanted the reporter to stop writing the article. Alex stated that he had been by the reporter’s residence and noted the difficulty in setting her car on fire because of the close proximity of an apartment building. Alex was also concerned about an individual who lived in an apartment above the reporter’s parked vehicle who stayed up late at night walking from room to room. Alex said that this was going to be a “tough job.” Alex told CW that he was going to decline the job, but that the people back east were “ruthless” and would “get somebody to do it.”

Patterson was a long-time con man who had led an interesting life, or at least told an interesting story about that life. He’d gone to college for a semester, dropped out, worked salvage in Hawaii, gotten a degree at Ball State University, taught at West Texas, got shot in the stomach by drunk joyriding teens, taught high school after he was able to walk again, extorted money from an employer, got involved in some insurance fraud, founded a hazardous waste transportation business, got involved in mining in Mexico, was abducted at gunpoint by “the Secret Service of Mexico”, before finally being rescued by members of the FBI disguised as doctors and nuns. The reporter who relayed the story expressed some skepticism about its veracity204.

He would engage in a series of phony investment schemes, convincing a businessman to sell him his yacht if the businessman in turn invested in some of his businesses. The promissory notes Patterson gave the businessmen all defaulted. Patterson went on to use the yacht to lure investors to put some money into an offshore sports book. Other investments Patterson was involved in were an unspecified project in the United Arab Emirates, something that involved the leasing of foreign satellites, and a package delivery service superior to Federal Express. He conned manufacturing firms out of their industrial gold and silver by posing as a representative of Sun Microsystems or Ball University205.

Patterson then posed as Sergeant Michael Jeffries, a man badly in need of over a million dollars in gold for scientific purposes. He called a Massachusetts company from a Pasadena hotel room, and arranged a shipment of gold that was needed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratories, which was developing a neutron accelerator for the shuttle. The gold was to be shipped to a Pasadena warehouse that was also a JPL facility. An armored car arrived at the warehouse on December 19, 2000, the deliverymen were met by a Dr. Charles Schultz. You could tell he was a doctor because he wore a white lab coat with a label that said “Charles Schultz, PhD.” Charles Schultz PhD. was actually Aleksandr Drabkin, no PhD. Drabkin was an associate of Patterson, and Patterson’s partner in this con scheme. The deliverymen were actually FBI agents. Patterson was hit with a federal fraud charge, and after that, he agreed to provide the FBI with information on his precious metal scams, as well as any other cases and investigations he could help out with. Months later, he would get involved in dealings with Alex Proctor, a heroin, cocaine, and X trafficker. It was in the midst of these dealings that Patterson heard from Proctor that he’d been hired by a detective agency to intimidate Busch by blowing up her car. Patterson, worried, tried to warn Busch by leaving messages on her machine. Proctor decided to just leave a dead fish on the windshield instead. The L.A. district attorney’s office would find out about Patterson through the messages. Why did you warn Ms. Busch, they asked, What did you want? Nothing, said Patterson, he had a daughter about the reporter’s age. Patterson told them he just didn’t want to see anyone get hurt. They asked Patterson to wear a wire for his meetings with Proctor. Patterson agreed206.

Excerpts from the police report, the information from the Proctor meeting a result of the hidden recorder:

13. I learned from CW and from Assistant United States Attorney Daniel Saunders that CW is currently under indictment for conspiracy, mail and wire fraud, uttering forged securities and interstate transportation of stolen property in a case pending in the Central District of California.

14. On July 3, 2002, CW met with Proctor at CW’s residence. CW recorded the conversation with a digital recording device that I provided to him. I have reviewed the recording of the conversation, which revealed the following:

a. Proctor stated that actor Steven Seagal had hired a private investigative firm to threaten the reporter who was preparing an article on Seagal. Proctor said that the private investigator is very famous and a big investigator in Los Angeles. Proctor identified the investigator as “Anthony” and Seagal as Anthony’s “client.”

b. Proctor acknowledged that he had been hired to set the reporter’s car on fire. Uncomfortable with that idea, Proctor had purchased a fish and a rose and placed them on the reporter’s car. Proctor stated that he also placed a cardboard sign on the windshield with the word “stop” and put a bullet hole in the windshield. Proctor emphasized that “They wanted…he wanted to make it look like the Italians were putting the hit on her so it wouldn’t reflect on Seagal.”

16. On July 30, 2002, I and other FBI SAs [special agents] conducted surveillance of Proctor. We followed Proctor from Santa Fe Springs, California, to a residence at 10620 Wellworth Avenue, West Los Angeles, California. After Proctor exited his vehicle, the surveillance team observed him walking down the driveway to the rear of the residence, in the area of the garage. A second-story living quarters was observed located above the garage.

17. On August 13, 2002, CW met with Proctor at CW’s residence. CW recorded the conversation with a digital recording device that I provided to him. I have reviewed the recording of the conversation, which revealed the following:

a. Proctor acknowledged that the “Anthony” who had hired him was private investigator Anthony Pellicano.

b. Proctor stated that he had owed Pellicano $14,000 as a debt. Proctor further stated that “they” had agreed to pay Proctor $10,000 for the job involving the reporter, but that “they” were so pleased with Proctor’s work that Pellicano wiped out the entire debt and told Proctor they were even. Proctor stated that Pellicano had also said he would have another job upcoming for Proctor.

In August, Ned Zeman, the writer of the essential “Seagal Under Siege”, was driving through Laurel Canyon at night when a Mercedes with a flashing light drove up towards him. Zeman lowered his window. Someone in the passenger side of the Mercedes rolled down their window as well. The unknown passenger rapped a pistol against the side of Zeman’s car, then pointed the pistol directly at Zeman, and said “Stop.” The unknown passenger pulled the trigger, but there was nothing in the chamber. “Bang,” the unknown passenger said. The Mercedes drove on. After a long period of constant arguing, Anthony and Kat Pellicano had had a trial separation that lasted two months, broken by one night that August. Kat let Anthony back one Sunday, and he left again that night. They got divorced that month.207.

In November 21, 2002, a team of FBI agents went into Pellicano’s offices. There were two loaded handguns in Pellicano’s desk. There were two safes with two hundred thousand dollars in cash. The safes contained boxes of jewelry. The safes contained C-4 plastic explosive and two grenades that had been doctored to spray massive amounts of shrapnel. Useful for blowing up a car, the agents thought. After the first raid, the FBI would return eight days later with another warrant, and got to his trove of recordings, some encrypted some not, and transcripts of recordings, some encrypted some not. A year later, on November 16, 2003, Pellicano married his fifth wife, Teresa Ann DeLucio, two days before going to prison for possessing explosives. At the time of this posting, on October 10th, 2013, it would be the last time Anthony Pellicano was a free man208.

(On October 11th and 12th, material on Michael Jackson and Vincent Nasso was added. As always, this ended up a longer, more complicated posting than I expected. Additional material on Schwarzenegger as well as related footnotes 112 and 113 were added on October 12th, 2013. On October 15, 2014, the video clip of Paul Barresi in Too Naughty to Say No was added. On April 12, 2015, this post underwent a session of copy editing. On April 14, 2015, stills from Out for Justice featuring Julius Nasso were added. On April 14, 2015, higher quality images from Out for Justice were embedded.)

RISING SUN:

THE IMAGE OF THE DESIRED JAPANESE

PART ONE PART TWO PART THREE PART FOUR

FOOTNOTES

(Images from Out for Justice copyright Warner Bros.; images from Rising Sun copyright Twentieth Century Fox.)

1 From “Streetwise Gumshoe to the Stars: When Hollywood’s A-list wants protection from gossip and lawsuits, they put Anthony Pellicano on the case. Some see him as a pushy showoff, but he says he likes to play hardball.” by Shawn Hubler and James Bates:

Profile: Anthony J. Pellicano Jr.

* Born: March 22, 1944.

From “Talk of the Town” by Bryan Burrough and John Connolly:

For the Pellicanos, a pleasant evening might mean watching The Sopranos or one of the Godfather movies. Mafia rituals fascinated Pellicano, who grew up in Al Capone’s hometown of Cicero, Illinois, and once listed the son of a reputed Chicago Mob boss as a creditor.

2 A profile, “Talk of the Town” by Bryan Burrough and John Connolly, with the claim without qualifier:

The grandson of Sicilian immigrants, Pellicano was born in 1944. His grandfather Americanized the family name, Pellicano, to Pellican, but Anthony, proud of his roots, restored the name to Pellicano as an adult. A self-described “young tough” on the streets of Cicero, he was kicked out of high school for fighting. He joined the U.S. Army Signal Corps, where he was trained as a cryptographer.

A profile, “How a Chicago Detective Found the Stolen Body of Elizabeth Taylor’s Third Husband, Mike Todd” by Geoffrey Johnson, with the qualified claim:

On the day Michael Todd died, Anthony Pellican celebrated his 14th birthday in Cicero. Around two years later, having blossomed (by his own admission) into a street tough, he dropped out of high school, though he would earn his GED during a stint with the U.S. Army Signal Corps, where, he claims, he was trained as a cryptographer.

3 From “The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick:

In the early ’60s, he joined the U.S. Army Signal Corps and received his GED while serving as a cryptographer, coding and decoding messages. “When I got out,” he told Playboy magazine, “the majority of people who were doing crypto work were in cosmetics or toy manufacturing…. It wasn’t all that thrilling to me.”

4 From “Streetwise Gumshoe to the Stars” by Shawn Hubler and James Bates:

Back in Chicago, he became a bill collector for the Spiegel catalogue. Working under the pseudonym Tony Fortune, he traced people who had skipped out on debts. One day he was scanning the Yellow Pages when he noticed how many ads there were for detective agencies.

“So I called the biggest ad in there and I said, ‘Listen, I’m the best skip tracer there is, I wanna do all your work, give me your hardest case,’ ” Pellicano said. “They had been looking for this (missing) little girl for six weeks and I found her in two days. How? With intelligence, logic, common sense, a tremendous amount of imagination and an acute perception.”

He cracked a smile.

“Actually, I just worked my ass off, that’s all.”

5 From “The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick:

At the same time, he was playing footsie with seemingly every reporter in Chicago. They gushed over his plush office, with its silver walls, black furniture, and full-length mirrors in the waiting room. They marveled over the mammoth gold zodiac that dominated his office-beneath which hung samurai swords and two nunchaku sticks, which he’d take off the wall to demonstrate how he could kill a reporter, while his pet piranha looked on.

6 From “How a Chicago Detective Found the Stolen Body of Elizabeth Taylor’s Third Husband, Mike Todd” by Geoffrey Johnson:

On the day Michael Todd died, Anthony Pellican celebrated his 14th birthday in Cicero. Around two years later, having blossomed (by his own admission) into a street tough, he dropped out of high school, though he would earn his GED during a stint with the U.S. Army Signal Corps, where, he claims, he was trained as a cryptographer. Following his discharge, he got a job as a skip-tracer with the Spiegel Company-tracking down people who had not paid their bills. In 1969, he established his own detective agency. Around this time, he restored the “o” at the end of the family name; his Sicilian grandfather had dropped that final vowel after emigrating to the United States.

7 From “How a Chicago Detective Found the Stolen Body of Elizabeth Taylor’s Third Husband, Mike Todd” by Geoffrey Johnson:

Pellicano had several strengths as a private investigator. Known early on as “the man of a thousand voices,” he could easily assume whatever character the situation called for. “I’m an actor,” he told the Tribune in 1978. “I let people underestimate me. I will act stupid, ignorant, emotional, but I never am.” Pellicano was also an expert in what he called “forensic audio”: voice identification, electronic surveillance, detecting eavesdropping devices. He exhibited the kind of flair usually seen in a Hollywood film noir. He owned twin Lincoln Continentals and decorated his office with samurai swords. For a time he employed the pulp-fiction nom de guerre of Tony Fortune.

8 From “How a Chicago Detective Found the Stolen Body of Elizabeth Taylor’s Third Husband, Mike Todd” by Geoffrey Johnson:

Testimony in the ongoing Family Secrets trial suggests that Pellicano may have had closer links with the Mob-especially with Joseph “Joey the Clown” Lombardo. Among other things, prosecutors have alleged that Lombardo was behind the 1974 murder of Daniel Seifert, who had been scheduled to testify against Lombardo in an embezzlement case. Lombardo’s lawyers claim he has a “rock-solid” alibi-provided, as it turns out, by Pellicano, who collected evidence demonstrating that Lombardo was having breakfast in a Chicago pancake house at the time two gunmen shot Seifert outside his Bensenville plastics company.

9 From Dish by Jeannette Walls:

“I can’t do everything by the book,” Pellicano once admitted. “I bend the law to death in gaining information.” Pellicano would sometimes remind people that he carries an aluminum baseball bat in the trunk of his black Nexus. “Guys who fuck with me get to meet my buddy over there,” he once told a reporter, gesturing toward the bat. Pellicano also tells people that he is an expert with a knife – “I can shred your face” – he has said – and that he has a blackbelt in karate.

10 From “Trouble Shooter” by Bill Hewitt:

To his detractors, Pellicano is a blustery egotist who is not above cutting ethical corners and thus is a risky choice for such a sensitive case. But to hear Pellicano tell it, he is a thoroughly modern shamus who relies more on brains than on muscle. Indeed, he likes to boast that not only is he a member of Mensa but also that he doesn’t even carry a gun. “That’s a physical solution to a mental problem,” he says disdainfully. “I involve myself in cases that take tremendous amounts of thought—Sherlock Holmes-type things.”

From “The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick:

He didn’t carry a gun, he told Oui magazine, “because my hands are lethal weapons.” In fact, he couldn’t legally carry a gun because he’d never been employed by a law enforcement agency. He recounted how he was knifed in a Mexican bar while working on a kidnapping case but “went into my kung fu stance and beat the hell out of him.”

11 From “The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick:

A recent story from the Chicago Sun-Times alleges, with little evidence, that Pellicano was once a member of Chicago gangster Joseph “Joey the Clown” Lombardo’s crew and had done investigative work for Lombardo in 1974, helping clear him as a suspect in a murder case. But as Joe Paolella, a former Secret Service agent from Chicago says, “Pellicano never promoted being connected in Chicago the way he did in L.A.-a place where he could portray himself as some kind of mob guy to an upper-middle-class Hollywood clientele that didn’t know any better, if you’re a real crook in Chicago, you don’t want anybody to know about it.”

From “How a Chicago Detective Found the Stolen Body of Elizabeth Taylor’s Third Husband, Mike Todd” by Geoffrey Johnson:

A slight man who eschewed firearms-“A gun is a physical solution to a mental problem,” he told the Tribune-he had a black belt in karate and was known sometimes to brandish a Louisville Slugger. “I can’t do everything by the book,” he insisted. “I bend the law to death in gaining information.”

12 From “The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick:

He didn’t carry a gun, he told Oui magazine, “because my hands are lethal weapons.” In fact, he couldn’t legally carry a gun because he’d never been employed by a law enforcement agency.

13 The references to Pellicano’s black belt are many, here is one from “How a Chicago Detective Found the Stolen Body of Elizabeth Taylor’s Third Husband, Mike Todd” by Geoffrey Johnson:

A slight man who eschewed firearms-“A gun is a physical solution to a mental problem,” he told the Tribune-he had a black belt in karate and was known sometimes to brandish a Louisville Slugger.

From “The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick:

Throughout the mid-1970s, he sold the legend of “Tony” Pellicano to anyone who would listen. His message was simple: He was the baddest, sagest practitioner of the “praying mantis style of kung fu.”

14 From “The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick:

There he was on Channel 7 talking about runaway teens, on WBBM radio discussing “the families of missing persons,” flying to New York to appear on To Tell the Truth, and then back to Chicago to do Friday Night with Steve Edwards. Then it was over to the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University to speak as “one of the top debugging experts in the United States” and off to lecture at the Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity at Chicago-Kent College. He went to Marquette University Law School to make a presentation on the “psychological stress evaluator,” then to the Maywood Rotary Club, then to the International Association of Bomb Technicians and Investigators.

15 From “Police tape site disputed” by Earl Golz, a re-posting from the alt.conspiracy.jfk, originally appearing in The Dallas Morning News (9-13-78):

The Dallas police open microphone thought to have picked up the sounds of four shots when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 “was nowhere near Dealey Plaza,” says an acoustical expert whose Chicago firm made its own analysis of the tape recording.

Anthony Pellicano said the sound of sirens heard on the tape after Kennedy was shot was “the most devastating” to the finding of the Cambridge, Mass. firm that presented its analysis of the tape Monday to the House Assassinations Committee.

The firm of Bolt, Beranek & Newman said the tape revealed four shots may have been fired during the 6-second period in which the president was assassinated in Dealey Plaza.

Pellicano was an expert witness in connection with the 18-minute gap in President Richard Nixon’s White House tape recordings in the Watergate case. He challenged the Cambridge firm’s analysis that the gap was intentional. His firm, Voice Analysis and Interpretation, also has acquired a national reputation for analysis of electronic evidence in plane crashes and wiretap cases.

The background noises during the six seconds “just do not dictate that it (open microphone) was in the motorcade,” Pellicano said.

Spectators cheering the president along Houston and Elm streets in Dealey Plaza could not be heard during the six seconds, he said, but the noise of heavy traffic and police sirens – not present in the plaza at the time – could be heard.

Using a computer, Pellicano said he determined how far away from the open microphone the motorcade sirens would have been at certain speeds.

“At the rate they were traveling, you can hear that they start off softly when they come into range of the microphone, get louder and then start to get softer again as they go off in the distance,” he said.

“It is nowhere near Dealey Plaza. And the most conclusive evidence was the sound of the sirens. The sirens – if you clock them – came after the time the president was shot, just about a minute or two after….You can hear sirens coming down Stemmons Freeway somewhere (after the presidential limousine left Dealey Plaza and started towards Parkland Memorial Hospital). So, whoever he was, he was somewhere along Stemmons or somewhere in that area in range of hearing those sirens go by.”

“There are a lot of noises in there (entire police radio tape available for Nov. 22, 1963) that sound like gunshots,” Pellicano said. “A lot of it is flaws in the original Dictabelt which caused the absence of noise which sounds like gunshots.

“The impulses that the man (Dr. James Barger, chief scientist for the Cambridge firm) was talking about could have been a million and one things, not necessarily gunshots.

“The correlation studies I used is a mathematical correlation; it’s not a hearing correlation. And we can find a lot of noises that sound and correlate like gunshots but are not.”

Pellicano said the police Dictabelt was worn and had many scratches on it which made “all kinds of sounds on the tape that sounded like gunshots” at points other than the six seconds when Kennedy was shot to death.

“You can use your imagination,” he said.

The noises the Cambridge firm said were motorcycles also could have been a bus running alongside a police car with the car’s window down and its microphone open, he said.

On the other hand, the open microphone didn’t have to be a policeman’s and could have been held open intentionally, he said.

“In other words, let’s say the assassin wanted to try to jam the communications, but he didn’t really know too much about it,” Pellicano said. “But he thought if he could get a radio transmitter and get a crystal for the same frequency and held that button open and generate some noise over that thing he would be able to mask a lot of the communications. It all depends on how close he was to the receiver.”

“I’m sure there was a conspiracy,” said the electronics investigator. “And I would love to say there were four or five shots but I can’t say it was based on any of my findings. I can’ say there were any more than three shots.”

Pellicano said his firm used $300,000 in sophisticated equipment for three weeks of acoustical analysis of an excellent copy of the tape obtained from a Dallas resident. He said the House Assassinations Committee “knows of my findings and somebody is supposed to contact me.”

16 From “The moment of truth – It’s all in the voice” by Chicago Daily News Service:

CHICAGO – Finding an honest man has never been easy. Diogenes, the ancient Greek philosopher, carried a lantern on his quest. Tony Pellicano, the Sicilian private eye, carries a briefcase.

But the briefcase has fired more controversy than a lantern ever could, for it contains a compact new instrument called the psychological-stress evaluator (PSE), the first competitor of the polygraph for truth verification in 50 years.

Invented five years ago by three ex-Army sleuths, the PSE is used by 100 police departments, several major retail organizations and private investigators such as Pellicano. Many use the instrument as a lie detector in lieu of the more common polygraph.

Unlike the polygraphy, which charts a subject’s respiration, pulse, blood pressure and skin response while the subject answers questions, the PSE registers stress by measuring certain inaudible modulation in the voice, Pellicano explained.

Once the subject’s answers are recorded, the tape is played at slow speed on the special tape recorder, which is wired to the PSE. A heat stylus charts the subject’s speech pattern in a merry zigzag on a roll of treated graph paper, Pellicano explained.

“It measures the muscular microtremor in the voice,” he said. “Everybody has this tremor,” which in an unstressed situation shows up as an unclipped hedge on the graph.

Many involved in the polygraph industry are very upset with the psychological-stress evaluator. An examiner with John Reid & Associates, a well-known polygraph firm, said that while the firm hadn’t worked with a PSE, “We tested a similar device and our office found it unreliable.”

“But we have no objection to its use as a fifth parameter (reaction to be checked) with the polygraph,” said James Bobal of the firm.

Legally, the PSE is in limbo, according to one of its inventors. “Our only legal hurdle was some state laws,” according to Allan Bell, president of Dektor Counterintelligence and Security, Springfield, Va., which manufactures the instrument.

17 From “ILLINOIS POLYGRAPH SOCIETY v. PELLICANO”, a ruling in favor of the polygraph society, reversing an earlier, successful appeal by Pellicano of the ruling:

Reversed and remanded.

MR. JUSTICE CLARK delivered the opinion of the court:

The plaintiffs, Illinois Polygraph Society, an Illinois not-for-profit corporation, Carl S. Klump and Richard Needham, brought an injunctive action in the circuit court of Cook County. The plaintiffs sought to enjoin the defendant, Anthony Pellicano, from administering detection-of-deception examinations or from holding himself out as a detection-of-deception examiner since the defendant was not licensed under “An Act to provide for licensing and regulating detection of deception examiners * * *” (the Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 38, par. 202-1 et seq., now Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 111, par. 2401 et seq.). The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, alleging that the Act is unconstitutional and that the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue. After a hearing the circuit court denied the motion and certified that there was no just reason to delay an appeal from its order. The appellate court reversed, deciding that section 3 of the Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 38, par. 202-3, now Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 111, par. 2403) is special legislation in violation of article IV, section 13, of the 1970 Illinois Constitution. (78 Ill.App.3d 340.) We allowed the plaintiffs’ petition for leave to appeal. (73 Ill.2d R. 315.) We reverse.

18 From “Streetwise Gumshoe to the Stars” by Shawn Hubler and James Bates:

But what really set Pellicano apart, colleagues said, was his hyperbole. A copy of his resume, circa 1975, describes his company as an agency “whose services are as diverse as its director’s talents” and claims a “perfect score” in locating 3,964 missing persons.

“The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick has a slightly different number:

Throughout the mid-1970s, he sold the legend of “Tony” Pellicano to anyone who would listen. His message was simple: He was the baddest, sagest practitioner of the “praying mantis style of kung fu.” He had a “100 percent success rate” in tracking down exactly 3,968 missing persons. Most amazingly, they were all “cases other people couldn’t solve.”

19 From “The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick:

In 1969, he opened his own private-eye firm, focusing on collections and the removal of secretly placed surveillance equipment. He liked to wear huge, amber-tinted aviator glasses and three-piece jeans suits with foot-long collars and huge knotted ties; in repose he was almost handsome, with curly dark hair, large, heavy-lidded, expressive eyes, and full lips-the effect broken only when he smiled and revealed large, uneven buckteeth. On occasion he wore a white lab smock embroidered with an eye surrounded by concentric circles, the symbol of his detective agency, Fortune Enterprises. In 1974, he filed for bankruptcy, a setback he blithely ignored as he hired a press agent and launched an all-out assault on the gullibility of the Chicago press.

He boasted of having $300,000 worth of electronic equipment, an unlikely possibility given that in his bankruptcy he’d listed his assets as $50 in clothes and $28 in cash.

20 From “The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick:

Even his bankruptcy fed the Pellicano myth, for it revealed that he’d received a $30,000 loan from a friend, Paul DeLucia Jr., the son of mobster Felice DeLucia (aka Paul “the Waiter” Ricca). He was also a pallbearer at the eider DeLucia’s 1972 funeral and named DeLucia Jr. the godfather of one of his daughters. He claimed that the younger DeLucia “was just like any guy in the neighborhood.” From then on he both denied and promoted his mob connections as it served his purposes. The governor of Illinois took the loan seriously enough, however, to force Pellicano to resign from a state law enforcement advisory board.

From “Streetwise Gumshoe to the Stars” by Shawn Hubler and James Bates:

Things took a downward turn the following year when he filed for bankruptcy protection. During that process, Pellicano admitted he had borrowed $30,000 from Paul DeLucia Jr., the son of Paul “the Waiter” Ricca, who had briefly led the Chicago Mob in the 1940s. Pellicano insisted that DeLucia, his daughter’s godfather, was “just like any other guy in the neighborhood,” but the information was enough to force Pellicano to resign from the commission.

21 From “Streetwise Gumshoe to the Stars” by Shawn Hubler and James Bates:

But not all his publicity was the kind he liked. In 1976, he resigned under pressure from the Illinois Law Enforcement Commission after news reports that he accepted a $30,000 loan from the son of underworld figure Paul de Lucia, also known as Paul (the Waiter) Ricca.

Then-Gov. Dan Walker said Pellicano did not mention the loan on an ethics statement he was required to file. Walker told reporters that if Pellicano had done so, he would never have been appointed to the panel, which is responsible for awarding federal crime funds.

Pellicano said that Ricca’s son, Paul de Lucia Jr., was a childhood friend and that he borrowed the money because the cost of starting his agency had driven him into bankruptcy. He denied having underworld connections, and said he did not believe the younger Lucia had them either.

“Paul de Lucia is my daughter’s godfather,” Pellicano said. “He’s just like any other guy in the neighborhood.”

22 From “Streetwise Gumshoe to the Stars” by Shawn Hubler and James Bates:

Then-Gov. Dan Walker said Pellicano did not mention the loan on an ethics statement he was required to file. Walker told reporters that if Pellicano had done so, he would never have been appointed to the panel, which is responsible for awarding federal crime funds.

23 From “How a Chicago Detective Found the Stolen Body of Elizabeth Taylor’s Third Husband, Mike Todd” by Geoffrey Johnson:

It had been years since the dark-haired woman with the violet eyes had visited her husband’s grave. But with a stopover at O’Hare International Airport on this early summer day, she finally had her chance. On Friday, June 24, 1977, the actress Elizabeth Taylor, one of the most recognizable people in the world, slipped unnoticed into a suburban Chicago cemetery and left a dozen long-stemmed roses and an American flag at the tombstone of her third husband, the Oscar-winning movie producer Michael Todd, killed 19 years earlier in a fiery plane crash.

One day after Taylor’s surreptitious appearance, Todd’s grave had other visitors, though their presence went unreported until shortly after noon on Sunday, June 26th. That’s when an elderly woman visiting a nearby gravesite noticed Todd’s toppled tombstone-inscribed with his given name, Avrom Hirsch Goldbogen-and his unearthed and emptied casket. She called police, and on Monday morning, the case of Mike Todd’s missing remains made headlines nationwide. Through a spokesperson, Taylor, then the wife of John Warner, the future U.S. senator from Virginia, said she was “very upset and as baffled as anyone over the motive.”

When officials retrieved the remains of Mike Todd from the wreckage of the Lucky Liz in 1958, they didn’t come away with much. Todd was charred beyond recognition, and officials could identify him only through dental records. His wedding ring survived, and police returned it to Taylor. The rest-basically a handful of dust and what was likely part of a nylon seat belt-was scooped into a rubber bag and buried in Forest Park’s Waldheim Cemetery. There it rested until the weekend of June 25, 1977, a few days after what would have been Todd’s 68th or 70th birthday.

24 From “How a Chicago Detective Found the Stolen Body of Elizabeth Taylor’s Third Husband, Mike Todd” by Geoffrey Johnson:

When officials retrieved the remains of Mike Todd from the wreckage of the Lucky Liz in 1958, they didn’t come away with much. Todd was charred beyond recognition, and officials could identify him only through dental records. His wedding ring survived, and police returned it to Taylor. The rest-basically a handful of dust and what was likely part of a nylon seat belt-was scooped into a rubber bag and buried in Forest Park’s Waldheim Cemetery. There it rested until the weekend of June 25, 1977, a few days after what would have been Todd’s 68th or 70th birthday.

To get to Todd’s remains, thieves first had to move a 300- to 400-pound granite tombstone about ten feet. They then dug a four-and-a-half-foot-deep hole and unearthed the bronze coffin. They pried open the coffin’s lid, smashed a glass case, and extracted the rubber bag containing Todd’s remains. Police, who estimated the entire operation took at least five hours, said that the thieves-because the tombstone was so heavy, there had to be at least two-had dragged some tree branches around the grave to shield themselves. A search of the cemetery later turned up a shovel likely used by the thieves. There were no other clues.

25 From “How a Chicago Detective Found the Stolen Body of Elizabeth Taylor’s Third Husband, Mike Todd” by Geoffrey Johnson:

For a couple of days, police remained stymied, while the media speculated about the who, what, and why of the whole affair. That’s when Anthony Pellicano showed up with some of the answers. On the morning of June 28th, he called Bill Kurtis, then the popular TV news anchor at WBBM/ Channel 2. Pellicano’s company-Voice Interpretation & Analysis-had recently performed some acoustical studies for a U.S. House of Representatives committee investigating the John F. Kennedy assassination, and Kurtis had reported that story. Now, over the telephone, Pellicano told Kurtis he thought he knew the location of Todd’s remains. “I got a tip,” he said (as Kurtis remembers the conversation). “Want to go out and look?”

26 From “How a Chicago Detective Found the Stolen Body of Elizabeth Taylor’s Third Husband, Mike Todd” by Geoffrey Johnson:

Kurtis grabbed a cameraman and rushed out to Forest Park. At some point-he can’t recall exactly when-he also called police. At the cemetery (which Kurtis describes as resembling a savanna, with thickets of ash and oak trees and only a few graves), Pellicano and Kurtis headed for Todd’s grave. Pellicano recited aloud the instructions he had received and began pacing off distances from the grave. Finally, when he had walked about 75 yards, he cried out. “He yelled, ‘I think this is it!'” recalls Kurtis. “I came running over, and sure enough, it was.”

According to news stories at the time, Pellicano found a rubber bag containing the remains beneath a pile of branches, leaves, and dirt. He told the Sun-Times he had relied on a tip he had received from someone likely acting on behalf of the thieves. “I think they felt they made a tremendous mistake,” he said. “The information was volunteered to me. I’m a public figure, and I’ve handled many, many missing figures.”

27 From “Streetwise Gumshoe to the Stars” by Shawn Hubler and James Bates:

A 1983 government sentencing report maintains that a mobster-turned-informant told authorities that two mob figures were the ones who exhumed Todd.

From “Unearthing of Taylor’s 3rd husband’s grave still a Chicago mystery” by John Kass:

Then in 1983, the U.S. attorney’s office in Chicago identified two Outfit hoods as the grave robbers who stole Todd’s body: Peter Basile and Glen DeVos. But they weren’t charged with the crime.

One of the federal informants in the Todd case was Outfit figure Salvatore Romano.

Romano claimed Basile told him he’d dug up the bag containing Todd’s remains and dragged it into some bushes. Later, the hit man and government informant Frank Cullotta told authorities the same story. In each account, the ring was not found.

28 From “Streetwise Gumshoe to the Stars” by Shawn Hubler and James Bates:

A 1983 government sentencing report maintains that a mobster-turned-informant told authorities that two mob figures were the ones who exhumed Todd. But the story making the rounds in Chicago even today is that Pellicano orchestrated the event to gain publicity in hopes of being hired to help find Chicago candy heiress Helen Brach, who disappeared in 1977.

“I’ve been hearing that story for years. It’s a great story, but there’s no way I would know if it’s true. The guy is a legend here,” said lawyer Glen Crick, former director of enforcement for the state agency governing private investigators.

29 From “How a Chicago Detective Found the Stolen Body of Elizabeth Taylor’s Third Husband, Mike Todd” by Geoffrey Johnson:

As to the local investigation, Pellicano insisted police might easily have missed the bag containing Todd’s remains on their sweep of the cemetery. “You couldn’t see it coming up on it,” he said. Sgt. Richard Archambault, head of the Forest Park police investigators, concurred, pointing out that, in the wooded cemetery, “it would be possible to miss [the bag] on the first search.”

But in 1994, Joseph Byrnes, a Forest Park police lieutenant, told Los Angeles magazine a different story. “Seven patrolmen and I, walking shoulder to shoulder, searched every inch of that small cemetery, and we found nothing,” he said. “The very next day, Pellicano makes a big deal of finding the remains in a spot we had thoroughly checked.”

30 From “How a Chicago Detective Found the Stolen Body of Elizabeth Taylor’s Third Husband, Mike Todd” by Geoffrey Johnson:

Kurtis, too, thinks it unlikely that police could have missed Todd’s remains. “The police had to have gone over that ground,” he says. “Whoever took [the remains] must have returned them. They were getting too hot to hang on to.”

That doesn’t mean Kurtis thinks Pellicano was the thief, although he hasn’t entirely dismissed that possibility. But he has difficulty accepting a scenario that involves Pellicano stealing Todd’s remains with the intent of later returning them to the cemetery where he could dramatically “find” them. To Kurtis, that just seems like too much work.

31 From “Unearthing of Taylor’s 3rd husband’s grave still a Chicago mystery” by John Kass:

Romano claimed Basile told him he’d dug up the bag containing Todd’s remains and dragged it into some bushes. Later, the hit man and government informant Frank Cullotta told authorities the same story. In each account, the ring was not found.

Prosecutors said that shortly after the grave robbery, an Outfit boss ordered Basile to draw a map “identifying the location of the unearthed body, and he gave it to an organized crime leader.”

32 From “Streetwise Gumshoe to the Stars” by Shawn Hubler and James Bates:

But Pellicano’s critics–Chicago archrival Ernie Rizzo among them–gleefully refer to him as “the grave robber.” And police say the story has become part of the city’s detective lore although there is no evidence linking Pellicano to the disappearance.

Pellicano–along with his defenders in Chicago–says the tale is fueled by professional jealousy.

“Ernie Rizzo is a fruit fly,” Pellicano said in one of his more printable comments about the man.

33 From “The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick:

The incident caught the attention of defense attorney Howard Weitzman, who brought Pellicano to Los Angeles. (He left his wife and five kids in Chicago.) Together they would work on the case that made both their careers: the 1983 drug-entrapment trial of automaker John DeLorean. Desperately trying to raise money to save his company from bankruptcy, DeLorean ran into a government sting fueled by a paid informant and ambitious federal prosecutors. DeLorean was acquitted, and Weitzman gave Pellicano a large share of the credit for tarnishing the informant.

From “Streetwise Gumshoe to the Stars” by Shawn Hubler and James Bates:

In 1983, Pellicano moved to L.A. His first assignment was helping the John Z. DeLorean defense. Pellicano was hired by attorney Howard Weitzman to help the former auto executive beat drug selling charges. Pellicano dissected key government tapes and dug up information that helped undermine prosecution witnesses.

34 From “Delorean defense protests inquiry” by Judith Cummings:

The telephone records of a private investigator working for John Z. DeLorean were subpoenaed by the Government in connection with a purportedly threatening telephone call that the investigator made to the father of a narcotics agent on the DeLorean case, it was disclosed in court today.

This disclosure led to an exchange of charges of threats and intimidation between the defense and the prosecution at the automaker’s trial on charges of cocaine trafficking.

Mr. DeLorean’s lawyers said the investigation of the investigator, Anthony J. Pellicano, was started in June a year ago without their knowledge when the Drug Enforcement Administration obtained six months of Mr. Pellicano’s telephone records on a subpoena. Donald M. Re, a DeLorean lawyer, called this an illegitimate tool being used by drug agency to obtain details of their defense.

On the telephone records subpoena, Mr. Pellicano in an interview, denied that his call to the father of a narcotics agent, John Valestra, had been threatening. Mr. Pellicano, who has worked on the case analyzing the Government’s audio and videotapes for the defense, said he had called a number of ”Valestras” in the United States at random, hoping to find someone able to provide background information on Mr. Valestra.

35 From “Streetwise Gumshoe to the Stars” by Shawn Hubler and James Bates:

Weitzman said Pellicano’s work was “in large part responsible for my ability to win that case.” It was also the start of a profitable friendship. Pellicano will not say how much his Sunset Boulevard firm takes in each year or how much he personally makes. But Pellicano acknowledges that through Weitzman and entertainment lawyer Bertram Fields, he gained entree into the Hollywood A-list. Soon, his clientele included Kevin Costner, Roseanne Arnold, Jackson, [Don] Simpson and other celebrities.

From Dish by Jeannette Walls:

The recovery of Todd’s body made headlines, and a grateful Elizabeth Taylor introduced Pellicano to her Hollywood friends. Los Angeles criminal attorney Howard Weitzman hired Pellicano to work with him, and the pair successfully defended auto executive John DeLorean in a cocaine-trafficking case – even though the FBI caught DeLorean on videotape selling cocaine to an undercover agent. In 1983, Pellicano left Chicago and opened an office on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. There, sources say, he was coached by the notorious Fred Otash, the private investigator for Confidential. In Hollywood, Pellicano quickly became what he calls “the ultimate problem solver.”

36 From “The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick:

His specialty was unique for a private eye: protecting the image of stars. That’s why Michael Jackson, Roseanne Barr, Kevin Costner, Tom Cruise, John Travolta, James Woods, Farrah Fawcett, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Chris Rock sought him out. Just how much they valued his protection was demonstrated by a phone call from Rock to Pellicano in 2001, asking for help in neutralizing an accusation that he’d had sex with a woman without her consent. “I’m better off getting caught with … needles in my arms,” he told Pellicano in a tape leaked to The New York Times. “Needles with pictures [saying,] ‘Here’s Chris Rock shooting heroin: [That would be] a much [lesser] blow to the career.” No charges were filed.

37 The filmographies on IMDB of Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer.

38 From “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three” by August West, specific page “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three (page 92)”:

Harmon got the job, all right, and the privilege of working for Simpson while he was producing Top Gun and preparing Beverly Hills Cop II. But on October 12, 1988 – a year after leaving the position – she filed a complaint against Don Simpson; Jerry Bruckheimer and S-B [Simpson-Bruckheimer, the production company of the partners] asking $5 million for the emotional distress she suffered during her 20 months of employment. That comes out to $11,500 per working day, which would seem to be more than adequate recompense for a secretary who misspelled calculator on her application.

From “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three” by August West; the sections in quotes are from Harmon’s deposition, where she refers to herself in the third person, specific page “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three (page 92)”:

He repeatedly abused her in front of her co-workers and others. “Every day that Mr. Simpson had come into the office ever since I was employed there, I always serve him his coffee and club soda the minute he hits the door or he starts screaming. On this one particular day, he yelled to me, ‘Monica, get your ass in here,’ so I went to the main office and he accused me of using the wrong type of milk in his coffee. He said that I was using regular milk instead of low-fat milk and I just could not believe it…

“I said, ‘Don, for the past two years I have been putting low-fat milk in your coffee. What you talking about?’

“He starts yelling I am getting him fat and he starts yelling, get him the carton…I went to the refrigerator and got the carton and said, ‘Don, see, it is low-fat…’

“He started screaming that I was lying to him. I am trying to get him fat, and don’t ever put milk in his coffee again from now on. So I got back to my desk and started crying and said, ‘Ginger, I cannot believe this. I cannot believe he is yelling at me for stupid milk.'”

He required her to watch and tolerate illegal and immoral acts. “I have testified that Mr. Simpson used cocaine in his office; that he had others, including Bruckheimer, present when he was doing it; that on at least two occasions he left a pile of cocaine in his office and in his office bathroom and ordered me to clean it up before it was discovered by others.”

Harmon says that in June of 1987 she saw Simpson take “a vial out of his pocket and [he] proceeded to snort in the inside office.” She also claims she was told that Simpson did coke off his desk with Richard Tienken, Eddie Murphy’s agent at the time and an executive producer of Beverly Hills Cop II.

“Simpson maintained lists of girls he used as prostitutes and he required me to keep and update these lists. Periodically he required me to schedule he appointments with some of the prostitutes,” Harmon claims. She complaints that hookers would call the office all the time, and Simpson would not want to talk with them. (Harmon says she once got yelled at, ironically enough, because she put Simpson’s mother on his list of phone calls to return, and he didn’t want to talk to her either. In one deposition Harmon claims that Simpson hadn’t talked to his mother for six years.)

He exposed her to a variety of pornographic and obscene events, documents and statements. “On more than one occasion Simpson played pornographic videotapes in the office in such a way that I and other members of the staff could not help but see it…As a condition of my employment I was required to read lurid and pornographic material.” She also claims she heard that Simpson and members of his staff had appeared in porn films.

39 From “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three” by August West, specific page “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three (page 92)”:

Harmon, a woman of Mexican heritage in her mid-thirties who looks like a dark Stefanie Powers, claims to have worked as an executive secretary at Tilden Specialties, her ex-husband’s now-defunct manufacturing firm. In fact, she never worked for the company, and for much of the time she claims to have been there she was employed as a supermarket clerk.

A section on how much Harmon was suing for:

That comes out to $11,500 per working day, which would seem to be more than adequate recompense for a secretary who misspelled calculator on her application.

40 From “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three” by August West, specific pages “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three (page 93)” and “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three (page 94)”:

The 60-year-old partner in the firm Greenberg, Glusker, Fields, Claman & Machtinger was recently named “the toughest attorney in Hollywood” by American Film. While most entertainment lawyers are content with quietly negotiating deals and taking their cut, Fields actually goes to court, where he has fought for Hoffman, the Beatles, Warren Beatty, Mario Puzo, 20th Century Fox, Gore Vidal and Isabelle Adjani.

Representing Harmon is the firm of Mathews and Evans, which has fewer attorneys in all (four) than Fields’s firm has in its name (five). While Fields works his legal legerdemain out of a plush Century City office, Charles Mathews and William D. Evans are based in Koreatown.

41 From “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three” by August West, specific pages “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three (page 94)”:

For example, the pornographic films that Harmon “could not help but see” really existed. However, they were played in Simpson and Bruckheimer’s office with the door closed and were projected on a monitor in a different office, which Harmon could see from her desk – but only if she turned to her right and looked over her shoulder about 20 feet. If she had been looking straight ahead or down at her work, she could not have seen the picture on the monitor.

Harmon also admitted to stealing into Simpson’s private office the next day and playing the first two minutes of the video: “I wanted to see if that was the tape that they were looking at.” When asked by Bert Fields why she had done this, she answered simply, “Because it was pornographic.”

The obscene documents Harmon complained about are six letters to Simpson written by an aspiring actress. Harmon was obliged to read Simpson’s mail, but it’s tough to sue a guy for receiving dirty letters. She said that one she realized a letter was pornographic, she would stop reading it. But later she admitted to having taken these personal letters out of Simpson’s trash and reread them, naughty words and all.

She confessed to having rented adult movies to watch at home, having attended Chippendales twice and having voluntarily arranged for a male stripper to perform at the office.

42 From “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three” by August West, specific pages “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three (page 95)”:

In an unsigned deposition to Fields, Winberg said that during the time of Harmon’s employment at S-B he had delivered a half gram of cocaine to her pretty much every day. Winberg said he had seen her do cocaine 100 times during her tenure at S-B and afterward. He also said Harmon had told him she was paying for her drugs out of S-B petty cash.

43 From “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three” by August West, specific pages “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three (page 95)”:

The more Winberg talked, the less plausible Harmon’s already dubious shy-girl image became.

He said she had hired limousines and a messenger service for her private use and billed the company, and that she had once ordered a Paramount truck to move her cocaine deliverer’s mother’s furniture out of state.

44 From “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three” by August West, specific pages “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three (page 95)”:

According to Winberg, Harmon started discussing the possibility of suing S-B in early 1987, about six months before she left her job. “She was pretty much upset all the time,” said Winberg. “She said that they were rich, and that she was going to get them. You know, they didn’t deserve it, to have that much money…She said that [Simpson] called her a cunt all the time.”

45 From “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three” by August West, specific pages “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three (page 96)”:

Winberg, who wouldn’t talk without Pellicano’s permission, said only that he regretted that he had named Buddy Brown as Monica’s drug dealer. But not half as much as Brown did.

“I’m no drug dealer,” fumes Brown, Simpson’s imprudent racquetball opponent [an earlier part of the piece deals with Brown not letting Simpson win at the game when they play together]. “But I’ve sure been treated like one. I’ve lost my job, I’ve lost my apartment, and I’m two months behind on my car payments.”

Brown, half black, half Greek and 34 years old, spent 7 years at Paramount, the last few working alongside Winberg. “I don’t know why he’d name me. That guy was a life abuser, a suicidal crack addict. I felt sorry for him. I gave him my old clothes. My wife cooked dinner for him. I just don’t understand it,” says Brown.

46 From “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three” by August West, specific pages “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three (page 95)”:

Why would Winberg confess to delivering cocaine – a felony – merely to help in a stranger’s civil lawsuit? Possibly because of the $4,000 that Pellicano lent him. Or the $500 Pellicano provided for meals during his three-day stay in L.A.

47 From “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three” by August West, specific pages “Mr. Simpson, your slut is on line three (page 95)”:

When I first tried to contact Don Simpson about his legal troubles, it was Pellicano who returned the call. “Don doesn’t want a story. We don’t want you to do a story,” he told me. When I called Simpson, Pellicano would phone me and ask why I was calling them. He did his best to let me know he was out there. When I talked to people who had had run-ins with Pellicano, they all said the same thing: “Don’t fuck with him.”

48 From “I’m Don Simpson; And you’re not” by David Thomson:

He didn’t walk out of Alaska as a child. The walk is too long, and Don always wanted such staples as functional bathrooms. That he was a very bad boy in Anchorage is not in doubt. But he left at the requisite age to attend the University of Oregon, where he was a prize student. Although his subsequent films give no hint of this, Don was a bit of an intellectual: indeed, he would sometimes say that he hired in call girls for the weekend so as to discuss Dostoevsky – once the formalities had been transacted.

So he is out of university some time in the late Sixties, which is about as close to the Baptist hell as we’re going to get – unless there’s a meltdown in every last vestige of order. He had reached San Francisco, where the attempt at meltdown was being earnestly pursued. He was working for a showbusiness advertising agency and running publicity for the First International Erotic Film Festival. This is important, because – despite the Dostoevsky – Don had a very basic attitude to the movies: he was for sensation, speed, violence, nudity, getting the point straightaway, and things the public had never seen or done before.

49 From “Simpson Unplugged”, a series of excerpts of interview answers he gave in the documentary The Big Bang, made by his friend James Toback:

It’s really tough to escape early conditioning. I mean, I was brainwashed. I came from a family that was – and is – extremely religious. Southern Baptist, fundamentalist Christians who hit you in the head in the morning and made you pray at night. Went to church three times a week. Thanked God for the fact that He didn’t kill you that day. Because we were all born evil, nasty, dirty people. Except if we hung on long enough in this life, God would give it all back to us in the next.

A pastor on a prayer-meeting night had gotten me in the corner of this cold, dank basement. He had become aware that I had been looking at the ladies in church – not the girls but the mothers. There was a particular woman, and he made a comment that I was apparently lusting after her. Mind you, I was 10 years old. And this is a man who, my whole life, had been my mentor and moral benefactor. So I said, “Minister Culley, I have these thoughts, and I have these feelings.” He said, “If you think about it beyond this moment, God will strike you. And if you do anything about it, you will live in hell forever.”

At that moment, I said, “This is bullshit. I’m gonna play Little League and get laid.” I knew then that I would leave and never go back. I didn’t escape my roots, I ran away from them – eternally.

50 From “I’m Don Simpson; And you’re not” by David Thomson:

For years, Don Simpson had been a cocaine freak, without apparent problems. He had it under control. The blow just kept him firing and moving. But years of cocaine can often lead to paranoia, delusions and depression. More to the point, in 1990, Don was 45. For 20 years he had worked very hard, which in Hollywood is often a matter of keeping up the show of work, of meetings, taking calls, making deals, when lesser people are dropping. Don didn’t drop; he was always there, still grinning, in the poker of business. He might be down on someone and still haggling over points. He ate – ice cream, peanut butter, junk food – and he did cocaine; and he screwed hookers. He was never married, or close to it. But he had a well-earned reputation for funding orgies, and word got out – it’s a word-of-mouth town – that the orgies were sado-masochistic. He liked to impose pain, indignity and humiliation on women; and then he liked to go away as their friends.

51 From “I’m Don Simpson; And you’re not” by David Thomson:

He helped to write and played a small part in the action movie Cannonball, but he was more importantly a thrusting new executive, becoming more powerful at Paramount with every quarter. He figures occasionally in Julia Phillips’s book, You’ll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again. She sees him as a relentless, ape-like, funny, attractive and avid cocaine-user, a weird mix of stupid and smart, right brain and left so at war you could see the zip in the middle of his head. They sort of have sex in the way of people who are talking dirty to feel out the chance of doing business:

“When we get back to the hotel, Don is still wired from the Redford evening, so we have a nightcap in my room. We get into some heavy necking, but he is very uptight about my married status. I say something corny, `Don’t make me beg,’ but the farthest he ever goes is down on me … After this quasi-sexual encounter, he feels very free about expressing his preferences, which seem to revolve mainly around turning women over and fucking them in the ass. He talks about angry fucking, and I am grateful we never get to intercourse, because I don’t think I’d like it very much his way. We stay tight friends, but it is by silent mutual agreement that there will be no more sex.”

52 This quote is from the BBC documentary devoted to Simpson, “A Death in Hollywood”. It can currently be found in youtube, transferred from an old videotape copy, in five parts: part one, part two, part three, part four, part five.

Alexandra Datig

53 From “Don Simpson’s Death Showed Depth of Abuse” by Chuck Philips:

By visiting multiple doctors and pharmacies, Simpson was able to conceal the vast quantity and array of drugs prescribed to him, as well as the frequency with which he procured them. In many cases, the famous 52-year-old producer also masked his identity by having prescriptions illegally written for him under a pseudonym.

Simpson had no difficulty getting such dangerous and addictive narcotics as morphine sulfate and Percodan, which require federally regulated triplicate prescriptions. (When a triplicate is issued, a copy goes to the doctor, the pharmacy and the state agency that monitors controlled substances.) Simpson also had acquired a significant stash of Dexedrine, Seconal, Xanax, lithium and other controlled substances.

54 From “I’m Don Simpson; And you’re not” by David Thomson:

For 20 years he had worked very hard, which in Hollywood is often a matter of keeping up the show of work, of meetings, taking calls, making deals, when lesser people are dropping. Don didn’t drop; he was always there, still grinning, in the poker of business. He might be down on someone and still haggling over points. He ate – ice cream, peanut butter, junk food – and he did cocaine; and he screwed hookers.

From “Don Simpson’s Death Showed Depth of Abuse” by Chuck Philips:

Despite a comeback last spring with “Crimson Tide” and “Dangerous Minds,” the producer’s weight had ballooned 50 pounds and he was succumbing to serious addiction. Associates say he became reclusive, rarely leaving his mansion even to visit the sets of his movies.

55 From Fatal Attraction: How Sex and Drugs Brutally Ripped Apart Hot Hollywood Team” by Thomas R. King and John Lippman:

But even as the hits were opening, the partnership was quietly crumbling. Disney executives say they began to see less and less of Mr. Simpson, who was working out of his home or spending time at Canyon Ranch to fight his constant weight problem. Mr. Bruckheimer seemed to be carrying the load. Mr. Simpson never even visited the set of “Crimson Tide.”

But Mr. Bruckheimer remained loyal to his erratic partner. At studio meetings, Mr. Bruckheimer would sometimes show up alone. “Is Don coming?” one executive says they would ask Mr. Bruckheimer. “I don’t know,” was his frequent response. But Kathy Nelson, Disney’s president of music and a friend of the producing duo, says Mr. Simpson “would respond in writing or sometimes with a phone call to every single memo I sent him.”

56 From “Fatal Attraction” by Chuck Philips And Carla Hall:

Steve Ammerman was adept at reinventing himself. At Washington State, when a knee injury sidelined the former high school football star from Sandpoint, Ida., Ammerman said goodby to football dreams and lackluster grades. He transferred to the University of Oregon, turned himself into a high achiever and was admitted to medical school at the Oregon Health Sciences University.

57 From “Fatal Attraction” by Chuck Philips And Carla Hall:

Ammerman pursued a residency in orthopedics in Washington, but tired of that and moved to Los Angeles 12 years ago to practice emergency medicine. “He liked the challenge of all the different cases,” Capri recalled. “He was very good at trauma.”

And he was good at business. He started a company that contracted doctors out to emergency rooms and he created a billing service for hospital emergency rooms. Operating out of an office in Paramount, Ammerman’s firm provided emergency room services to the Beverly Hills Medical Center, the Santa Ana-based Coastal Community Hospital and the El Monte Community Hospital, among others.

58 From “Fatal Attraction” by Chuck Philips And Carla Hall:

Ammerman pursued a residency in orthopedics in Washington, but tired of that and moved to Los Angeles 12 years ago to practice emergency medicine. “He liked the challenge of all the different cases,” Capri recalled. “He was very good at trauma.”

59 From Fatal Attraction: How Sex and Drugs Brutally Ripped Apart Hot Hollywood Team” by Thomas R. King and John Lippman:

Friends noticed that Mr. Simpson, who had a weight problem and a penchant for yo-yo dieting, seemed increasingly determined to reinvent himself. He underwent a series of plastic-surgery operations; one friend says that among the procedures he had were a chin implant, several face lifts, and placenta injections. He began disappearing for months at a time, telling friends he was at Canyon Ranch, where most visitors stay only a few days. And he began talking about finding new projects in which he could appear as an actor.

60 From “Fatal Attraction” by Chuck Philips And Carla Hall:

And he struggled to look the part. Always interested in bodybuilding and health food diets, he continued his search for self-perfection with liposuction and, less than two weeks before his death, a hair transplant.

He had a natural ease that he used to ingratiate himself. “He sought out certain people he thought would help him,” Capri said.

Simpson was one of those people. Ammerman met the producer at a Santa Monica gym more than five years ago.

But he couldn’t solve his own drug problem. His tools of abuse were prescription drugs–“amphetamines and anxiety drugs like Xanax,” said Capri, who watched Ammerman’s problem grow from seemingly casual use in medical school to problematic use in the mid-’80s.

61 From “Fatal Attraction” by Chuck Philips And Carla Hall:

As he struggled for recognition, Ammerman brought along his demons–an addiction to prescription drugs and alcohol that dogged him for years. He checked into rehabilitation facilities twice and stayed clean for five years. Confident of his ability to fight his own battle, he even fashioned himself into something of an expert on drugs, friends say.

But in the months before his death, he had begun to slip again. In April, Santa Monica police arrested Ammerman after finding him in a drug-induced trance, standing naked on the ninth-floor ledge of an oceanfront apartment building.

62 From Fatal Attraction: How Sex and Drugs Brutally Ripped Apart Hot Hollywood Team” by Thomas R. King and John Lippman:

Ammerman believed that, for Simpson to become clean, it was necessary to prescribe drugs that would ease the painful withdrawal symptoms of other medications that he was taking–a “dangerously unorthodox” regimen, according to a government pharmacist interviewed for this article.

63 From “Fatal Attraction” by Chuck Philips And Carla Hall:

But in the months before his death, he had begun to slip again. In April, Santa Monica police arrested Ammerman after finding him in a drug-induced trance, standing naked on the ninth-floor ledge of an oceanfront apartment building.

64 From “The doctor, the movie producer, and the big sleep” by Michael Fleeman:

Cut to Ammerman pumping iron in the mid-1980s at a gym in Santa Monica. The gym rats are Hollywood players. Ammerman wants to play too.

The gym rats ask if Ammerman can get them amino acid supplements so they can build big muscles. Ammerman starts writing prescriptions.

65 From “The doctor, the movie producer, and the big sleep” by Michael Fleeman:

By 1993, Ammerman can’t keep still. Literally.

He sees a Dr. Robert H. Gerner at the Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder and Child Adolescent Psychopharmacology Institute and is diagnosed with attention deficit disorder.

Gerner is a well-known practitioner of psychopharmacology, identified in print as an “expert.”

He is also being investigated by the state Medical Board.

He has been accused, according to board records, of fondling a female patient as part of something he called “rubbing therapy.”

He also allegedly prescribed about 7,000 pills to the same patient, a drug addict, from 1988 to 1990. The pills include amphetamines and antidepressants.

Gerner treats Ammerman for four months in 1993, medical records show, and writes prescriptions for five different medications. They amount to 700 pills including amphetamines, an anti-hyperactivity drug and a potent stimulant known as methamphetamine.

Within months, Ammerman switches doctors. He chooses Nomi Frederick, also a psychopharmacologist who studied under Gerner at UCLA.

Ammerman apparently lies to his new doctor. Her notes indicate he “denies current substance abuse” and incorrectly describe him as a “Harvard grad.”

Frederick first prescribes a new antidepressant, then switches Ammerman to Ritalin, Prozac and Dexedrine. Ammerman prescribes himself sleeping pills.

Sometime in the early 90s, the Medical Board gets wind of Ammerman’s problems. The state gets him into detox twice.

It doesn’t work.

66 From “The doctor, the movie producer, and the big sleep” by Michael Fleeman:

To maintain confidentiality, Ammerman thinks up a pseudonym for Simpson: Dan Wilson.

“Dan Wilson,” says Capri, “is Don Simpson.”

To help with the treatment, Ammerman recruits his own doctor, Frederick.

A record from the Brent Air Pharmacy in Brentwood shows that on July 22, 1995, Frederick prescribes Vistaril, an anti-anxiety medication, to a Dan Wilson at Simpson’s address. Writing prescriptions to a phony person is illegal in California.

Then, in August alone, sources say, Frederick prescribes about 800 pills for Simpson. Records show prescriptions for Dexadrine, Percocet, Valium, Seconal and morphine sulfate.

From “Don Simpson’s Death Showed Depth of Abuse” by Chuck Philips:

On Friday, authorities armed with warrants raided the offices of two Westside psychiatrists–Robert Hugh Gerner and Nomi J. Fredrick–in connection with the probe. Fredrick’s home also was searched.

Gerner, who treated Simpson in 1993 and 1994, is on probation for overprescribing controlled substances to another patient with whom he had sex, according to the California Medical Board.

Fredrick, according to records obtained by The Times, dispensed large amounts of addictive drugs to Simpson and other wealthy Los Angeles residents, including oil heiress Aileen Getty, who obtained more than 4,000 pills from Fredrick over the last year.

Many of the drugs at the heart of the probe were prescribed last summer while Simpson was undergoing detoxification at his home by friend Stephen Ammerman, a Pacific Palisades physician with a long history of substance abuse.

67 From “Fatal Attraction” by Chuck Philips And Carla Hall:

A few minutes later, Michelle D. McElroy, a personal assistant to Simpson and the woman who made the 911 call, directs paramedics to the pool house.

Ammerman is nude and slumped against the shower door, his long legs stretched out in front of him, blood dripping from his nose. Just 10 days earlier, his head had been reforested with a hair transplant.

If his dreams had come true, he would have become a successful Hollywood filmmaker–powerful, respected, earning millions. Instead, Steve Ammerman’s life and long quest for success as a movie maker came to an abrupt end two months ago in the pool house shower at prominent film producer Don Simpson’s Bel-Air home. An assistant to Simpson found Ammerman dead of a drug overdose on the morning of Aug. 15.

From “The doctor, the movie producer, and the big sleep” by Michael Fleeman:

68 From “Fatal Attraction” by Chuck Philips And Carla Hall:

Ammerman was at Simpson’s house almost daily during the last three weeks of his life. Ammerman told friends he was acting as Simpson’s doctor. His screenwriting collaborators say that Simpson, meanwhile, was advising the fledgling filmmaker.

From “Producer’s house sanitized before investigators arrived” by The Associated Press:

A toxicology report said Ammerman, 44, died of a drug overdose, with a large amount of morphine in his system. He was staying at Simpson’s home after undergoing a hair transplant.

From Fatal Attraction: How Sex and Drugs Brutally Ripped Apart Hot Hollywood Team” by Thomas R. King and John Lippman:

Mr. Toback, the screenwriter, says that Dr. Ammerman’s death was a major shock for Mr. Simpson. An autopsy found cocaine, morphine, Valium and the antidepressant drug Venlafaxine in Dr. Ammerman’s system. Police ruled the death an accidental drug overdose.

69 From “Producer’s house sanitized before investigators arrived” by The Associated Press:

The areas in movie producer Don Simpson’s house where he and a friend died from drug overdoses appear to have been cleaned up before investigators arrived, authorities said.

A coroner’s report, attached to Simpson’s autopsy and toxicology analysis, described the Ammerman scene in fractured English: “Investigators impression the scene had been sanitized.”

Simpson’s private investigator, Anthony Pellicano, was at Simpson’s house after Ammerman’s body was found.

“I didn’t sanitize anything. The police and the paramedics got there before I got there,” Pellicano said.

One coroner’s document said Ammerman had a “drug background” and noted the fatal level of morphine in his system. It made no reference to police finding any morphine or heroin in the guest house. The only drugs found at the scene was a vial of Valium and a small syringe, documents said.

From “The doctor, the movie producer, and the big sleep” by Michael Fleeman:

The coroner determines Ammerman died of a mixture of Valium, speed, cocaine and enough morphine to knock out a horse.

That much is certain, but conflicting statements, questionable police work and the possibility of missing evidence plague the investigation.

For one thing, the drugs police find on the estate don’t match the drugs in Ammerman’s body.

A coroner’s investigator finds a vial of Valium and a syringe in the pocket of a pair of Ammerman’s shorts. The Valium has been prescribed by Ammerman two weeks earlier to the nonexistent Dan Wilson [a pseudonym used by Simpson].

But what he cannot find, and what no one else can find, is any trace of morphine on the estate. Police reports also make no mention of finding speed or cocaine there.

A coroner’s report quotes police as saying the scene appeared to have been “sanitized.” Another coroner’s document says police had trouble “getting information from people present.”

70 From “Fatal Attraction” by Chuck Philips And Carla Hall:

Anthony Pellicano, a private investigator who has worked for the film producer since 1989, acknowledged that Ammerman was often at Simpson’s house during July and August, but denied that Ammerman ever treated Simpson.

“Ammerman was never Don’s doctor,” Pellicano said. “There was no medical treatment going on for drugs or for anything else . . . Ammerman was a hanger-on, one of many who just wouldn’t leave Don alone. It’s unfortunate that this guy committed suicide, but honestly, we wish it would’ve happened at someone else’s house.”

According to government sources, records indicate that Ammerman prescribed dextroamphetamine in 1990 and morphine in 1993 for Simpson.

71 From “The doctor, the movie producer, and the big sleep” by Michael Fleeman:

[Ammerman] walks into the pool house of the Simpson estate, where his girlfriend is sleeping. He complains about being too hot. He takes a shower. He goes swimming naked. He does exercises. He crawls into his girlfriend’s bed wearing a wet towel. He makes growling noises.

The girlfriend, a flight attendant, suspects the doctor’s been taking wrong doses of his medicine again.

The doctor doesn’t want to talk about it. The girlfriend bolts, pulling out of the mansion’s driveway about 1:30 a.m.

Was there an argument on the estate the night Ammerman died? Police reports say his girlfriend overheard an argument, but there is no mention of who is arguing or about what.

Simpson also gives police a statement and makes no mention of an argument. Police apparently don’t follow up.

Who found the body – and when – is never resolved.

Police reports say McElroy reported finding the body about 11:10 a.m. when she walked into the pool house to get some sausages.

Simpson later tells screenwriter James Toback he found Ammerman’s body “out by the pool” about 6 a.m. – about five hours before the 911 call. Simpson tells Vanity Fair magazine he found the body at 9 a.m.

Simpson and his friends can’t even agree on who Ammerman was and what his relationship was to the famous producer.

72 From “Fatal Attraction” by Chuck Philips And Carla Hall:

“Ammerman was never Don’s doctor,” Pellicano said. “There was no medical treatment going on for drugs or for anything else . . . Ammerman was a hanger-on, one of many who just wouldn’t leave Don alone. It’s unfortunate that this guy committed suicide, but honestly, we wish it would’ve happened at someone else’s house.”

73 From “The doctor, the movie producer, and the big sleep” by Michael Fleeman:

To Vanity Fair, Simpson describes Ammerman as a Harvard graduate and a former football All-American. He was neither.

“Pellicano found out that the guy had a history of substance abuse I had no idea of that,” Simpson tells the magazine. “I’ve never done drugs with him in my life.”

Simpson’s friends find this last part hard to believe.

74 From Fatal Attraction: How Sex and Drugs Brutally Ripped Apart Hot Hollywood Team” by Thomas R. King and John Lippman:

After the body was discovered, one of the first calls Mr. Simpson made was to Mr. Bruckheimer, an associate says. By this point, according to friends, Mr. Bruckheimer’s wife was encouraging him to end the partnership. The doctor’s death, they say, finally pushed him to the point of no return.

Over the next four months the pair worked out the details of their separation. The finale came on Dec. 19, when they announced their professional divorce.

75 From “The doctor, the movie producer, and the big sleep” by Michael Fleeman:

On the last night of his life, Don Simpson can’t stop talking about his big plans for the future.

The next day, Jan. 19, 1996, Simpson’s body is found slumped by his toilet, a biography of filmmaker Oliver Stone at his side.

From “Amorality Tale: The Last Days of Don Simpson” by Richard Natale, specifically “Amorality Tale: The Last Days of Don Simpson (page 103)”:

[Gastroentrologist Dr. William Stuppy] charted Simpson’s autonomic nervous system over a 24-hour period and was alarmed by his findings. Simpson’s overdependence on uppers and downers – Percodan, Percocet and Dexedrine – placed him at high risk of “sudden death” for not a heart attack but a sudden cessation of his heartbeat. Stuppy says, “What I read from Simpson’s chart was like a singing telegram: You are going to die!” He told Simpson death “would most likely happen either at the dinner table, on the can or when waking up.”

76 From “Don Simpson’s Death Showed Depth of Abuse” by Chuck Philips:

It was no secret in Hollywood that producer Don Simpson had a drug problem. But the depth of his addiction was not revealed until the night he died.

On Jan. 19, police discovered more than 2,200 pills and tablets stockpiled in alphabetical order in a bedroom closet next to the bathroom where Simpson’s body was found.

From “The doctor, the movie producer, and the big sleep” by Michael Fleeman:

When paramedics arrive, they find a house that looks like a pharmacy. Scattered about are more than 80 bottles of prescription medication containing some 2,000 pills. Sixty-three of the bottles were prescribed by one man, Dr. Stephen Ammerman.

77 From “Producer’s house sanitized before investigators arrived” by The Associated Press:

Coroner’s reports obtained Friday by The Associated Press suggest that police failed to find the drugs that killed Simpson and Dr. Stephen Ammerman.

Simpson, who teamed up with Jerry Bruckheimer to produce such hits as “Flashdance,” “Beverly Hills Cop” and “Top Gun,” was found dead Jan. 19. Ammerman was found dead in the guest house at Simpson’s Bel-Air estate five months earlier, on Aug. 10.

A coroner’s report, attached to Simpson’s autopsy and toxicology analysis, described the Ammerman scene in fractured English: “Investigators impression the scene had been sanitized.”

Referring to the scene after Simpson’s death, the report said: “At scene police suspect the same in this case.”

One coroner’s document said Ammerman had a “drug background” and noted the fatal level of morphine in his system. It made no reference to police finding any morphine or heroin in the guest house. The only drugs found at the scene was a vial of Valium and a small syringe, documents said.

The report said Simpson was “said to have histories of PCP and cocaine abuse” and his death was linked to cocaine use. Yet police reported they found only prescription medication in Simpson’s house after his death.

From “The doctor, the movie producer, and the big sleep” by Michael Fleeman:

When the toxicology report comes in, it is longer than the credits on some of Simpson’s movies. His blood contains the chemicals that make up Uniso, Atarax, Vistaril, Librium, Valium, Compazine, Xanax, Desyrel and Tigan. Cocaine is also detected.

The official cause of death: massive amounts of drugs assaulting Simpson’s fibrous heart.

78 From Fatal Attraction: How Sex and Drugs Brutally Ripped Apart Hot Hollywood Team” by Thomas R. King and John Lippman:

But Mr. Simpson then disappeared for weeks and seemed to be in hiding shortly after Stephen W. Ammerman was found dead in his pool house on Aug. 15. Some friends say that Dr. Ammerman, 44, had been hired to help direct Mr. Simpson’s detoxification program. But he also was an aspiring screenwriter who had sought Mr. Simpson’s advice.

Rumors began to swirl that the Simpson and Bruckheimer partnership was on the rocks. Anthony Pellicano, a well-known private investigator, started acting as Mr. Simpson’s spokesman, and adamantly denied that a breakup was near. Yesterday, he said that Dr. Ammerman wasn’t treating Mr. Simpson and that he was simply a “hanger on.”

From “Fatal Attraction” by Chuck Philips and Carla Hall:

“I wouldn’t get tangled with Hollywood for all the tea in China,” his father said. “I think that’s the screwiest place in the world. I could never understand his infatuation with all that stuff.”

79 From “Nightmare in Neverland” by Maureen Orth:

When the father became more and more irate and demanded a meeting, the mother confided in Jackson, who in turn called his lawyer, Bertram Fields, to intervene. Fields did so aggressively, even though minor custody disputes are hardly what he, as one of show business’s most visible litigators, normally gets paid $500 an hour for. Fields called in private investigator/negotiator/forensic audio specialist Anthony Pellicano.

From Michael Jackson: The Magic, The Madness, The Whole Story, 1958-2009 by J. Randy Taraborelli:

Michael’s camp hired high-powered criminal defence attorney Howard Weitzman to represent him; he read a statement prepared by his client: ‘I am confident the department will conduct a fair and thorough investigation and that its results will demonstrate that there was no wrong-doing on my part. I intend to continue with my world tour.’

80 From “Gloves Come Off in Damage Control by Jackson Camp” by David Ferrell and Chuck Philips:

As the Aug. 21 police raid threatened to spill the accusations into the public realm, Pellicano sought to act quickly, enlisting Weitzman’s services before flying from Bangkok, Thailand, to Los Angeles.

Even the first sketchy media accounts of the investigation, which surfaced a few days later, contained Pellicano’s spin on the case. Initial reports contained no reference to molestation, but quoted the investigator saying police were acting on “an extortion attempt gone awry.”

81 From “Gloves Come Off in Damage Control by Jackson Camp” by David Ferrell and Chuck Philips:

Pellicano followed by giving previously undisclosed details of the alleged extortion attempt. In phone calls and meetings spanning six weeks, Pellicano alleged during interviews, the boy’s father had threatened to ruin Jackson’s career unless Jackson paid $20 million in a series of movie development deals.

From “Nightmare in Neverland” by Maureen Orth:

He called Barry Rothman and told him what had happened. They arranged a meeting immediately in Rothman’s office.

“The doctor wants to close down his dental practice and he wants to write full-time, and what he wants is this,” Rothman supposedly tells Pellicano: “Four movie deals, $5 million each.”

“And I look at him like he’s absolutely crazy. You want $20 million? There’s no fucking way that’s going to happen. I’m not going to pay $20 million and for what?” Once again, Pellicano says, his mind races: Maybe Rothman is lying how do I get this on tape? Later, they go back and forth on the telephone and arrange another meeting with the father at Rothman’s office for August 9.

82 From “Trouble Shooter” by Bill Hewitt:

Anthony Pellicano, Hollywood’s most famous private investigator, ushers a visitor into his inner sanctum, a room in his Los Angeles office crammed with enough computers and electronic gear to make a cyberpunk swoon. Pellicano, 49, has something he wants to share a tape, he says, that will show that the allegations of child molestation leveled against his client Michael Jackson are nothing more than an extortion plot gone bad. Mostly the recording sounds like two guys haggling over business. A former lawyer for the father of the 13-year-old accuser tells Pellicano that the father, ostensibly negotiating a screenwriting gig with Jackson, wanted more than the $350,000 deal that had been offered. Aired earlier at a press conference, the tape is suggestive but far from conclusive. Listening to the conversation yet again, Pellicano can scarcely contain himself, at one point excitedly grabbing a visitor’s arm in a viselike grip. “It absolutely happened,” says Pellicano of the alleged extortion attempt. “I mean, he acknowledges that on the tape.”

From “Gloves Come Off in Damage Control by Jackson Camp” by David Ferrell and Chuck Philips:

The private eye also tracked down child friends of Jackson who might help paint a positive image of the singer. In one of several interviews with The Times, the investigator described his role as that of a far-ranging problem-solver: “I had to lay out the chessboard and say: ‘What does the public think? How will this affect Michael and all of the other deals that are in the works for him? And the sponsors involved?’

83 On the tape Pellicano made, from “Gloves Come Off in Damage Control by Jackson Camp” by David Ferrell and Chuck Philips:

Pellicano appeared at a news conference with Weitzman on Wednesday and released a tape, one Pellicano said he made just before the scandal broke. In the 23-minute tape, he said, he was talking to the father’s attorney about the demands–but no demands were stated explicitly on the tape.

“We didn’t release the tape earlier because we didn’t think it was necessary,” Weitzman said. “It was just a strategy we employed.”

From “Nightmare in Neverland” by Maureen Orth:

Later that day or the next, the stepfather, in an effort to help his wife, secretly recorded three long phone conversations with the father and reported back to Fields and Pellicano. (Ironically, Pellicano distributed the tape to the media to bolster his side, but the tape is crudely edited, full of erasures, and at times actually seems to help the father’s case.) From Jackson’s point of view, the tape would have been deeply disturbing, not only because on it the father threatens to “ruin Michael’s career” and bring him down, but also because he implies that he has the proof to do so: “When the facts are put together, it’s going to be bigger than all of us put together, and the whole thing is going to crash down on everybody and destroy everybody in sight.” Jamie’s father says Michael “is an evil guy. He’s worse than bad, and I have the evidence to prove it.”

84 From “Jackson Aides Go Back on the Offensive” by Amy Wallace and Jim Newton:

Shortly after that tape was obtained by CBS News and The Times, Rizzo, the private investigator who said he represented the family of the boy, declared that Pellicano had deleted sections of the tape.

“In the part he cuts out, the father says: ‘I want Jackson in jail, and I want my child in therapy,'” Rizzo said. “Does that sound like extortion?”

From “3 More Players Emerge in the Jackson Case” by Jim Newton and Jim Newton:

Late in the day, Hirsch, the lawyer for the boy’s father, disavowed the private investigator and said Rizzo did not speak for the family. Doubts about Rizzo mounted further when he could not produce evidence that he worked for the boy’s mother, as he had claimed.

“I wasn’t hired by Hirsch,” Rizzo said. “I was hired by (the boy’s father). Hirsch can’t fire me. He didn’t hire me…Until (the boy’s father) tells me different, that’s where it’s at.”

In Chicago, colleagues of the investigator described him as a colorful private eye who lost his professional license after being forced into a hiatus by a conviction for illegal wiretapping.

“Ernie isn’t well liked, possibly because his colleagues are jealous, possibly because he does not always do things within the law,” said Richard Fries, a veteran investigator who has practiced in Chicago for 20 years and who sits on the state licensing board. “He had lost his license for almost 10 years, and he just got it back, let’s see, in January or December.”

Fries said Rizzo failed the test for reinstatement the first time he took it but passed it on the second try.

The bad blood between Rizzo and Pellicano dates back years to when both worked as private investigators in Chicago. On Tuesdays, they gave no indications that a truce is in the offing.

“I’ve called him a fraud since Day 1,” Rizzo said.

For his part, Pellicano dismissed Rizzo as “an ambulance chaser” from Chicago drawn to the case by the prospects of getting publicity.

From “How a Chicago Detective Found the Stolen Body of Elizabeth Taylor’s Third Husband, Mike Todd” by Geoffrey Johnson:

So exactly who looted Mike Todd’s grave? And how could Forest Park police have overlooked the remains? A 1993 profile of Pellicano in the Los Angeles Times cited a 1983 government sentencing report that claimed a mobster-turned-informant told authorities that two Mob figures were the ones who exhumed Todd.

But, the article went on, the story making the rounds in Chicago even today is that Pellicano orchestrated the event to gain publicity in hopes of being hired to help find Chicago candy heiress Helen Brach, who disappeared in 1977. According to the Times, the PI’s critics including Ernie Rizzo, another colorful Chicago private eye gleefully referred to Pellicano as the grave robber. Pellicano, reported the Times, dismissed Rizzo as a fruit fly. (Rizzo died in 2006.)

85 From Michael Jackson: The Magic, The Madness, The Whole Story, 1958-2009 by J. Randy Taraborelli:

On 25 August, in an effort to do more so-called ‘damage control’, the day after Michael performed his first show in Bangkok, Anthony Pellicano arranged that the media have access to two young friends of Michael’s, Brett Barnes and Wade Robson. In front of lights, cameras and microphones from news outlets around the world, Brett admitted that he and Michael had slept together on many occasions, but with no sexual overtones. ‘He kisses you like you kiss your mother,’ said the eleven-year-old. ‘It’s not unusual for him to hug, kiss and nuzzle up to you, and stuff.’

Wade, who was ten, also said he had slept in the same bed as Michael, but ‘just as a friend’. He said, ‘Michael is a very, very kind person, really nice and sweet. Sure, I slept with him on dozens of occasions but the bed was huge.’

Anthony Pellicano’s offering of Wade and Brett to the press did little to help Michael’s case: in fact, it was thought by many observers to have made things worse.

From “Nightmare in Neverland” by Maureen Orth:

Michael Jackson’s defense: “If it’s a 35-year-old pedophile, then it’s obvious why he’s sleeping with little boys. But if it’s Michael Jackson, it doesn’t mean anything,” says Anthony Pellicano. “You could say it’s strange, it’s inappropriate, it’s weird. You can use all the adjectives you want to. But is it criminal? No. Is it immoral? No.”

86 From “Nightmare in Neverland” by Maureen Orth:

As much as in any political campaign, media manipulation and spin are crucial in a volatile case like this. Pellicano worked tirelessly to shape the coverage, with mixed results. Early on, in his most controversial action, Pellicano introduced to the TV news cameras two young boys who said that they were close friends of Michael Jackson’s and had shared the same bed with him, but that he had never done anything to them. Many people then thought that Pellicano’s effort to clear Jackson had backfired. “Do you know an adult now who is not absolutely convinced that Michael Jackson did it?” said a prominent criminal attorney. “Pellicano ruined it.”

87 From Michael Jackson: The Magic, The Madness, The Whole Story, 1958-2009 by J. Randy Taraborelli:

Anthony Pellicano’s offering of Wade and Brett to the press did little to help Michael’s case: in fact, it was thought by many observers to have made things worse. Michael was actually unhappy about Anthony’s decision to put the boys forth when he heard about it in Thailand. ‘That’s not good,’ he said according to an adviser of his at the time. ‘That makes me look even worse, I think. It’s not good.’

88 From “Investigator, Lawyer Quit Jackson’s Defense Team” by Jim Newton and Sonia Nazario, published on December 22, 1993:

Two controversial members of Michael Jackson’s defense team–a lawyer who blundered in court and a private investigator whose tactics and public comments drew fire–have resigned from the case as Jackson continues to battle allegations that he sexually molested a young boy.

Meanwhile, new details emerged Tuesday about a potential second child molestation victim who has been interviewed by police and social service workers during the last two months. The child and his parent, a former Jackson employee, were interviewed jointly by investigators and told them that Jackson fondled the boy’s buttocks on several occasions, according to a source close to the investigation.

The new allegations come amid news of the shake-up in the Jackson camp. Private investigator Anthony Pellicano and lawyer Bertram Fields, one of Jackson’s team of legal advisers, resigned privately in recent weeks–Pellicano quit last Wednesday and Fields quit Dec. 3–sources close to the entertainer said.

On the mistakes of Bert Fields, during the Jackson case, from “Nightmare in Neverland” by Maureen Orth:

In the course of the hearing, Bert Fields, Jackson’s own lawyer, misinterpreting information hastily given to him by Jackson’s criminal attorney, Howard Weitzman, told the judge that a grand jury in Santa Barbara had issued two subpoenas for witnesses, adding, “You can’t get closer to an indictment than that.” Weitzman appeared amazed at this disclosure; he later contradicted Fields, and within 48 hours Fields was no longer solely in charge of the civil case. Fields has always maintained that a criminal trial for Jackson could be fatal: “The stakes are going to jail and ruining his life, and his life is essentially over if he’s charged and convicted.”

Those in law-enforcement circles had long believed that there would be no indictment without an airtight case. As evidence piled up, the L.A. District Attorney’s Office informed Weitzman that it wanted to question Jackson. Fields, meanwhile, antagonized authorities by sending a letter to the police commissioner claiming that police were using intimidation and scare tactics with children they were questioning.

89 From “Investigator, Lawyer Quit Jackson’s Defense Team” by Jim Newton and Sonia Nazario:

In the interview Tuesday, Pellicano continued to stand behind Jackson.

“In no way, shape or form does (my resignation) indicate that Michael Jackson is guilty,” Pellicano said. “Michael Jackson is not guilty, and all the things I said in the past I reaffirm.”

Pellicano insisted that he pulled out of the case because it was taking too much of his time and because his investigation was essentially complete. “The investigation has all been done and is now in the hands of the lawyers,” he said.

90 Paul Barresi, the sometime private investigator who occasionally worked for Pellicano discussing this approach, from “The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick:

“If you find dirt on a celebrity, then you go to the attorney, or directly to the client, and say, ‘Hey, there’s a story brewing with the tabs, we need to quash it: Most celebrities are not gonna hesitate, because a celebrity is the most naive, infantile person in the world. They get preferential treatment, but if boulders fall on their head in real life, they don’t know what to do, other than dig deep into their pockets,” says Barresi. “Pellicano was the master of getting them to do that-the celebrity never knew how simple it was to put a fire out, or that sometimes there was never really a fire in the first place. There would be a story brewing, but the reporter couldn’t nail it down. So Pellicano would light the fire. He was the arsonist-and then he’d come back and put the fire out.”

91 From “The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick:

Often, says private investigator Bill Pavelic, who worked for the defense on the O.J. Simpson, Robert Blake, and Phil Spector cases, “Pellicano would have the source in his hip pocket and be able to pay him right off the bat to kill the story or rumor. But he wouldn’t tell his clients that. He’d simply say, ‘I can make the problem go away.'” That fed right into the Pellicano mystique. If you’re a magician, you don’t tell the audience how you do your tricks.

92 From “The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick:

By the late ’80s, Pellicano had become involved in a far more complex dance with the tabloids. In 1997, Jim Mitteager, a reporter for the National Enquirer and the Globe, died of cancer. Shortly before his death, he gave hundreds of tapes he had secretly recorded to Paul Barresi, an informant and sometime investigator for Pellicano. The tapes capture little people fighting over crumbs tossed around as celebrities try to protect their images. Transcripts of the tapes provided by Barresi, a former porn star and producer currently working as an unlicensed investigator, show Pellicano trading gossip and planting stories with Mitteager and Globe reporter Cliff Dunn while paying to have other stories killed.

93 From “The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick:

In 1990, then-freelance journalist Rod Lurie acquired a list of paid sources used by the National Enquirer and contracted to do a story about it for Los Angeles magazine. Pellicano was allegedly paid $500,000 by the Enquirer to have the story killed. The huge amount of money was an indication of how desperate the tabloid was. The Enquirer couldn’t continue to exist if its sources were burned. Moreover, the company was in the process of going public on Wall Street, and this was a terrible time to have the kind of embarrassing revelations they themselves made their living generating.

Pellicano’s way of dealing with recalcitrant reporters involved perseverance-he’d start with “I’m a tough guy, don’t fuck with me,” and when that didn’t work, he’d try “I’m getting a lot of money. If you don’t think I’m going to get paid, you’re out of your mind.” He’d follow that with “You’re an intelligent guy. I really like you. I’ve checked you out” and finally graduate to bribery: “You shouldn’t write this story. I can get you six figures elsewhere.”

94 From Dish by Jeannette Walls:

The truth is that Pellicano did work for the National Enquirer from time to time. When Los Angeles magazine was preparing an exposé of the tabloid, reporter Rod Lurie said the detective threatened him and tried to get the piece killed. “There was consistent cultlike phone intimidation from Pellicano,” said Lurie. “He would call my friends and family and editors I worked for at other magazines saying I was through in this town.”

From “Streetwise Gumshoe to the Stars” by Shawn Hubler and James Bates:

But Rod Lurie, a Los Angeles free-lance writer, vividly recalls what it was like to be the target of Pellicano’s brand of damage control. In 1990, Lurie was working on an expose about the National Enquirer’s reporting methods. The newspaper hired an old nemesis, Pellicano, to act as its advocate.

In an attempt to kill the story, Lurie alleged, Pellicano tailed him, bad-mouthed him to his sources, dug into his credit record, called him on his unlisted telephone and threatened to sue.

95 From “Streetwise Gumshoe to the Stars” by Shawn Hubler and James Bates:

“He told me . . . that he has killed hundreds and hundreds of stories,” Lurie said. “For those who don’t know better, he’s an intimidating character. He’s a classic movie goon. But those stories he doesn’t kill become much bigger because he becomes a central character in them.”

Lurie offered his story as a case in point: It ran in Los Angeles magazine anyway, along with an account of Pellicano’s attempts to have it quashed.

Pellicano said that he has killed numerous stories but in Lurie’s case did nothing more than run a background check and call the writer to question the premise of his piece. “I wanted him to lay off my clients and act appropriately,” Pellicano said.

From “The Pellicano Brief” (PDF) by Howard Blum and John Connolly:

Rod Lurie, in the days when he was a struggling freelancer rather than the in-demand director he’s become (The Contender, The Last Castle), complained that Pellicano persistently tried to intimidate him as he researched a piece about The National Enquirer. Then, after the story ran in Los Angeles Magazine, Lurie was the victim in a hit-and-run accident while bicycling – except he was convinced it was no accident.

96 From “Spy vs Spies” by Stuart Goldman, specific page is “Spy vs Spies (page 35)”:

A few days after I’d signed on at the Enquirer, I started freelancing for the rival tabloid The Star. So now I was a double agent. Why not try for three? It wasn’t difficult: just one more phone call and I was working for The Globe.

From “Spy vs Spies” by Stuart Goldman, specific page is “Spy vs Spies (page 36)”:

Hard Copy’s initial shtick was to posture itself as a “cut above” the other tabloid shows. “We’re not gonna get down in the gutter like A Current Affair,” Parsons told me. But that notion evaporated the moment I saw the story rundown, which boasted titles such as Satanic Therapy, Celebrity Stalker, Drano Killer, Bodybuilding Sex Slave, and Hot Cream Wrestling.

97 From “Spy vs Spies” by Stuart Goldman, specific page is “Spy vs Spies (page 34)”:

“The tabloids have a more powerful network of informants than the FBI – or any other government agency,” an ex-tabloid reporter told me. That was no exaggeration. The tabloids have “sources” everywhere; film and TV studios, record companies, PR agencies, law firms, doctor’s offices, courthouses, banks, police departments, social security offices, the DMV, hospitals – you name it. In addition, there are a host of masseuses, bodyguards, hairdressers, bartenders, gardeners, limo drivers, agents, friends, neighbors, relatives, and lovers who regularly peddle dirt for bucks.

98 From “Spy vs Spies” by Stuart Goldman, specific page is “Spy vs Spies (page 34)”:

Still, in order to get the really good stuff – credit records, sealed court documents, hospital records, unlisted phone numbers, bank balances, the contents of safe-deposit boxes – you need more than bodyguards and masseuses. So how do the tabloids get this stuff?

They steal it, of course.

Naturally, the tabs are not dumb enough to do this themselves. So they pay other people to do it for them: sleazoid PIs, ex-cops, computer hackers, information brokers. Anyone willing to grease the right palm, get that confidential information – whatever it takes.

The tabloids are, as I would experience first-hand, in the business of smearing reputations and subverting the truth. If the blatant fabrication for stories – and the lying, backstabbing, bribery, blackmail, intimidation, mail theft, wiretapping, leaking of disinformation, and computer hacking used to get these stories – wasn’t what I initially expected, I quickly learned otherwise.

Item: I sat in the car as a tabloid stringer stole mail out of the mailboxes of his targets. He checked names off a list as he made his rounds.

Item: I observed as a tabloid source, a skilled hacker, cracked the code on his target’s answering machine – allowing him to play back all of the person’s private messages.

Item: I watched as a tabloid stringer, using an unauthorized access code, tapped into the TRW and TransUnion databases and pulled credit reports on a number of stars (or their relatives) including Demi Moore, Tom Selleck, and Frank Sinatra.

Item: I was told by a major tabloid source that he had bribed an employee in the social security office into coughing up the social security numbers of a long list of celebrities. According to the source, the money was given to him by the tabs, who had full knowledge of where it was going.

Blackmail is a regular activity at the tabloids – though it’s not called that. It’s called “cooperation.” Here’s how it works: The tabloids get some serious dirt on a star (a photo of him or her in a compromising position, for example). They go to the star and say, “We’ll kill this story; but we’d like you to cooperate with us on ten other stories.” The star, who in many cases says yes, has now become “a friend” of the tabloids. According to insiders, some tabloid “friends” include Billy Graham, Bill Cosby, Kenny Rodgers, Linda Blair, and Michael Jackson.

99 From “Spy vs Spies (page 42)”:

I also watched in amazement as stories were fabricated out of whole cloth. Example: A tabloid reporter calls up Child Protective Services and poses as the mother of a child who attends the same school as Roseanne’s daughter. The reporter states that Roseanne is abusing the child. Per their obligation, CPS begins an investigation. Then the tabs stake out Roseanne’s house. Soon an investigator from CPS shows up and – bingo! The tabs now have a “legit” story: “ROSEANNE BEING INVESTIGATED FOR CHILD ABUSE.”

100 From “The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick:

As his profile rose, so did the profile of the celebrities he worked for-or against. They included Heidi Fleiss, “Beverly Hills Madam” Elizabeth Adams, Sylvester Stallone, and Kevin Costner. He investigated the OD death of John Belushi and found the daughter Roseanne Barr had given up for adoption (and then leaked the story to the tabs).

101 From “Talk of the Town” by Bryan Burrough and John Connolly:

Pellicano could be startlingly candid about his methods. On a celebrity’s behalf, he found that an effective way to make an inconvenient lover go away was “counter-blackmail.” A girl sues an actor for palimony? Pellicano would dig into her past and find something-a prostitution arrest, drugs. Men weren’t so easy. “If you can’t sit down with a person and reason with them,” Pellicano told GQ in 1992 [I’m sorry to say but this article doesn’t seem to be on-line], “there is only one thing left, and that’s fear. Of course, law-enforcement authorities don’t want to hear stuff like that, know what I mean? But it happens every day.”

102 From “Spy vs Spies” by Stuart Goldman, specific page is “Spy vs Spies (page 42)”:

Next, I got confirmation of another crime: use of prostitutes by tabloid producers to procure information and to leak disinformation (as well as for their own pleasure). One of my sources was none other than Heidi Fleiss, who I had interviewed jut weeks prior to her arrest. Fleiss confirmed that particular tabloid producers did indeed use the services of her girls. Additionally, she related an incident in which her arch nemesis, Madame Alex, had sent hookers to one TV tabloid show in order to do negative story on Fleiss [sic], which, according to Fleiss, was not true.

“You mean they sent girls over there to leak false information?” I asked.

“First to have sex with the man,” Fleiss said. “That’s no big deal. There’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s wrong when the purpose is to do some [false] story on me!”

Maybe it was no big deal to Hollywood’s top madam, but I figured others would be interested in that little sound bite. After all, I know I was.

103 From “Streetwise Gumshoe to the Stars” by Shawn Hubler and James Bates:

His detractors have questioned Pellicano’s renegade style, most recently his decision to issue on behalf of Columbia Pictures executive Michael Nathanson a public denial of involvement with Fleiss.

The preemptive denial–which even surprised Nathanson’s lawyer and later earned a “PR Boner Award” from a Variety columnist–was an attempt to put a stop to widespread gossip about Nathanson even though he had not been publicly accused of wrongdoing. The result was that it put the names of Nathanson and Columbia Pictures into play in the Fleiss affair.

104 From the transcript of the conversation between director John McTiernan and Pellicano, “Rising Sun: Image of the Desired Japanese Part Three” footnote 214, made from the audio file available at “Pellicano Trial: Hear Hollywood Director Dish Film Gossip, Prostitutes, Cocaine and Phone Taps” by Allison Hope Weiner:

PELLICANO
You know the story about me and Michael Hirschmann, right?

(long pause)

MCTIERNAN
No.

PELLICANO
I saved Michael Hirschmann’s life. I saved his career. [MCTIERNAN: Nathanson. Michael Nathanson.] Yeah, Michael Nathanson. I saved his fucking career. He had a whole lot of shit- There was a whole lot of shit with him and prostitutes, and I saved, and cocaine, and I saved him. This fucking guy loves me. Now, if I ever called him up and said to him “McT is my guy, leave him the fuck alone”, that’d be the end of that too.

MCTIERNAN
I hope it won’t come to that. Michael and I have known each other for a long time.

PELLICANO
Let me tell you, Michael fucking owes me, and if I called him up, and I go on my rampage with him, he’s scared to death of me as it is. So that’s all it’ll take.

105 From “Arnold, Pellicano and Politics” by Nikki Finke:

Arnold Schwarzenegger asked once-celebrated and now-celled private investigator Anthony Pellicano to see what dirt could be unearthed on the actor if he entered the 2002 gubernatorial race, Pellicano’s former legman Paul Barresi tells L.A. Weekly. Less than a week after the 27-page file was turned in, Schwarzenegger opted out of the race, says Barresi, the ex-X-rated film star who maintains he was hired by Pellicano to conduct the background search.

The existence of this still recent self-probe raises the question of why Schwarzenegger would have himself investigated again. Boggles the mind, no? After all, on November 6, Schwarzenegger, then governor-elect, announced he was in the process of hiring what his aide said was a “well-respected” P.I. firm to look into allegations that the bodybuilder-actor groped more than a dozen women over a 30-year period.

106 From “Arnold, Pellicano and Politics” by Nikki Finke:

Arnold Schwarzenegger asked once-celebrated and now-celled private investigator Anthony Pellicano to see what dirt could be unearthed on the actor if he entered the 2002 gubernatorial race, Pellicano’s former legman Paul Barresi tells L.A. Weekly. Less than a week after the 27-page file was turned in, Schwarzenegger opted out of the race, says Barresi, the ex-X-rated film star who maintains he was hired by Pellicano to conduct the background search.

Barresi will not divulge the contents of the report in any detail, except to note broadly that it dealt with the personal, professional and business lives of Schwarzenegger, family and associates. According to Barresi, the file was read closely. He recalls one incident he discovered: a bodyguard trying to sell to the highest bidder “a damaging story” about Schwarzenegger. “I mentioned his name to Pellicano, and, all of a sudden, this guy stopped peddling his goods,” Barresi claims.

107 Though Premiere magazine no longer exists, the “Arnold the Barbarian” article can be found in several places on the web such as democrats.com and slumdance.

Some excerpts:

The tabloid press got a nice Christmas present late last year when Arnold Schwarzenegger tore through a day of publicity work in London, promoting his latest film, The 6th Day, which had just opened there. In less than 24 hours, the star was said to have attempted to, as high school boys used to say, cop a little feel from three different female talk-show hosts. The level of consternation expressed by those who received this hands-on treatment from the hulking, Austrian-born international superstar ranged from none whatsoever (Denise Van Outen of The Big Breakfast invites her guests to lie on a bed with her and, hence, probably has a rather elastic definition of what constitutes inappropriate behavior) to irked (on tape, Celebrity interviewer Melanie Sykes looks a little thrown off after Arnold gives her a very definite squeeze on the rib cage, directly under her right breast) to, finally, righteously indignant. Anna Richardson of Big Screen claims that after the cameras stopped rolling for her interview segment, Schwarzenegger, apparently attempting to ascertain whether Richardson’s breasts were real, tweaked her nipple and then laughed at her objections. ‘I left the room quite shaken,’ she says. ‘What was more upsetting was that his people rushed to protect him and scapegoated me, and not one person came to apologize afterward.’

‘The second I walked into the room,’ Anna Richardson says, several weeks after the incident, ‘he was like a dog in heat.’ Other stories about Schwarzenegger tend to fit her simile. During the production of the 1991 mega-blockbuster Terminator 2: Judgment Day, a producer on that film recalls Arnold’s emerging from his trailer one day and noticing a fortyish female crew member, who was wearing a silk blouse. Arnold went up to the woman, put his hands inside her blouse, and proceeded to pull her breasts out of her bra. Another observer says, ‘I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. This woman’s nipples were exposed, and here’s Arnold and a few of his clones laughing. I went after the woman, who had run to the shelter of a nearby trailer. She was hysterical but refused to press charges for fear of losing her job. It was disgusting.’

A former Schwarzenegger employee recalls another incident from the T2 days. At the time, director James Cameron was married but having an affair with one of the film’s stars, Linda Hamilton. One evening, while riding in a limo with Cameron, Hamilton, and others, Schwarzenegger suddenly lifted Hamilton onto his lap and began fondling her breasts through the very thin top she was wearing. The witness says, ‘I couldn’t believe Cameron didn’t have the balls to tell Arnold to get off his girl. The whole thing made me sick.’

A female producer on one of Schwarzenegger’s films tells of a time when her ex-husband came to visit the set. When she introduced the man to Schwarzenegger, the star quipped, ‘Is this guy the reason why you didn’t come up to my hotel room last night and suck my cock?’

A woman who went to the set of 1996’s Eraser recalls the friend she was visiting there being asked to retrieve Schwarzenegger from his trailer for a shot that was ready to roll earlier than expected. ‘He asked me if I wanted to meet Arnold, and I said sure. When we opened the door to his trailer, Arnold was giving oral sex to a woman. He looked up and, with that accent, said very slowly, ‘Eating is not cheating.’ I met him again about a year later and asked him, in German, whether or not eating was cheating, and he just laughed.’

A lot of people must feel the same. A lawyer who frequents Café Roma, a Beverly Hills bistro that is a hangout for real and wannabe wiseguys, says, ‘When ever I see Schwarzenegger and his crew [walk into the place], I leave quickly and go to another restaurant. This guy is a real pig. He will say the most disgusting sexual things to women he doesn’t know. Everybody knows he is Arnold Schwarzenegger. . . . But in any other city, somebody would have cracked him by now.’ In Hollywood, though, nobody cracks a billion-dollar box office gorilla.

108 From “The Bagman” by Mark Ebner:

Barresi moved sharply higher on the Hollywood notoriety scale in 1990 when the National Enquirer ran a front-page story showcasing his claim that he’d had a two-year love affair with John Travolta. Barresi told the tabloid he’d met Travolta in 1982 when the actor followed him into the shower room of an L.A. health club. They later had sex dozens of times, Barresi said. The star, he said, often showed up at his apartment for bedroom calisthenics, implored Barresi to tell him dirty stories over the phone, and told the porn actor he was sexier and more macho than Burt Reynolds and Clark Gable combined. Barresi said he’d gone to bed with other celebrities, too. “From time to time I’ve let them use me in hopes of furthering my acting career,” he said. But several months later Barresi retracted his story, saying in a letter to Travolta’s attorney that he’d never engaged in homosexual activity with Travolta.

109 From “The Bagman” by Mark Ebner:

Barresi, who’s married and has three children, also acted in or directed a string of gay porn films. Among their titles are Lusty Leathermen (An all star cast of Sex Soaked Studs) and Black Brigade (A chocolate-covered, licorice-licked, cocoa-crammed cum-a-thon that spins the Civil War into the 90s). Between porn jobs, he landed minor parts in TV shows and mainstream movies including Perfect, a 1983 hit about L.A. gym rats picking each other up that starred John Travolta.

By the early ’80s, Barresi had launched a parallel career as a fitness trainer, capitalizing on his Hollywood connections to attract such celebrity clients as David Geffen, Joan Rivers, Johnny Carson’s wife Alexis and Go-Go’s drummer Gina Schock. But his employers, he says, often wanted the muscular, hard-edged Italian to help them with matters that had nothing to do with pumping up their pecs. He found himself delivering summonses when his bosses sued someone, and collecting money for them from recalcitrant borrowers. He became, he says, a last-resort guy.

On a spring day in 1997, a veteran porn actor, bodybuilder and strong-arm man named Paul Barresi picked up a supermarket tabloid and spotted a 24-karat opportunity. What caught Barresi’s eye was an intriguing story about vice cops stopping actor Eddie Murphy just before 5 a.m. in a West Hollywood neighborhood known for its abundance of transsexual prostitutes. Sitting next to Murphy in the front seat of his Toyota Land Cruiser was a gorgeous, 21-year-old tranny streetwalker from Samoa. “Eddie Murphy’s Sick Obsession With Drag Queens!” shrieked the Globe. “H’wood Stunned by Superstar’s Secret Double Life as Cops Catch Him With Transsexual Hooker.”

The Enquirer’s coverage included an interview with the preoperative transsexual who’d been stopped with Murphy. Atisone Kenneth Seiuli had been trolling for johns, dressed in tight bell-bottoms and a black tank top, when Murphy drove up. After Seiuli got in, she claimed, Murphy placed two $100 bills on her leg and asked if she liked to wear lingerie. “”I said yes,” said Seiuli. “He said, “Can I see you in lingerie?’ I told him, “Whenever I have the time.’ He said, “I’ll make the time.'” Murphy also wanted to know what kind of sex Seiuli liked, and she replied that she was “into everything.”

110 From “The Bagman” by Mark Ebner:

Barresi had worked in the porn business long enough to know how easily its denizens could be bought, and he’d dealt with tabloid news outfits enough to know they could be manipulated. After acting in or directing more than 50 porn movies, gay and straight, he was connected enough to know he could find the trannies who’d blabbed to the tabs faster than any private detective. Barresi’s plan was to reach as many of the tale tellers as possible and pay them to change their stories and say they’d lied about having sex with Murphy. The star’s lawyers could then mau-mau the tabloids to back off him since the papers’ sources, by recanting, would have forfeited what little credibility they’d had to begin with.

Barresi was well aware that nothing chills a publisher’s blood more than the threat of a libel suit. If any of the trannies were planning to write kiss-and-tell books about Murphy, those projects might be quashed, too. “My role was pretty much to neutralize [the transsexuals],” says Barresi.

He dialed Murphy’s lawyer, Marty Mad Dog Singer, a corpulent, pugnacious ex-New Yorker renowned in Hollywood for his brass-knuckles defense of celebrity clients. Barresi got the attorney on the phone and told him: “I’ve got the wherewithal, everything you need to save Eddie Murphy’s ass on this issue.” Singer listened.

On July 17, Barresi drove Candace and Valerie to Singer’s office, where, in signed declarations, they took back everything they’d told the tabs. Candace wrote that she’d referred Valerie and Tempest to the Enquirer purely for money; that the two other trannies had lied about having sex with Murphy, also for money; and that an Enquirer reporter had coached and intimidated them to make false statements. “I have never met Eddie Murphy, nor do I know anyone who has had sex with Eddie Murphy,” Candace declared in her statement.

Despite the coup of obtaining Candace and Valerie’s recantations, “Singer couldn’t wait for the two trannies to leave,” Barresi says. “Singer was thoroughly disgusted, felt like creepy crawlers were going up his neck,” recalls Barresi. “I could tell he was very shaken and disturbed. Just being in their presence repulsed him. And he conveyed that to me outside the office: ‘Just get this over with, get them outta here!'”

For her efforts, Candace was paid $15,000 by Singer’s firm, according to an IRS document she provided to New Times. Valerie says she was paid $5,000. Sylvia Holland, who gave Barresi a videotaped statement at her West Hollywood apartment denying any sexual relationship with Murphy, says she received $2,500.

Asked about Barresi’s tactics, Singer initially insisted that Paul Barresi has in no way been employed by our firm. Told later that Barresi provided New Times with pay stubs indicating he received at least $3,451 from Singer’s firm for work on the Murphy/Enquirer account, the attorney conceded that Barresi had been retained as an investigator. Singer also acknowledges hiring Barresi despite knowing of the porn actor’s deceitfulness in the Travolta case, which was handled by Singer’s firm.

He brooded angrily on why the Century City suits had apparently ended their relationship with him. Had Singer and company thrown him more work, he says, “they certainly would have had my allegiance forever.” “But in the same way that they demonstrated that they had no respect for me, that’s how I felt about them. I gotta tell you, that plays on my emotions. Quite heavily. Because I put myself in harm’s way, is really what I did.” And that’s why, when a New Times reporter came calling much later, Barresi gladly turned over his records on the Murphy case. The documents included copies of paychecks from Singer’s law firm to Barresi, transcripts of his coached trial run interviews with the trannies, and memos to Singer and Wolf outlining some of Barresi’s activities.

Once again, Barresi exacted revenge on people he felt had screwed him.

“How much risk does a person have to take, how much crow does a person have to eat, before they’re gonna win some respect?” he asks rhetorically, reflecting on his handiwork. “I feel that as much as I did for them, they really didn’t give me a fair shake. My wife has brought this up many times. She says, ‘Eddie Murphy is probably completely oblivious as to what you did for him.'”

111 From “Ron Tutor: The Lawsuits, Losses and Private Struggles of the Man Behind Miramax” by Daniel Miller:

As he has waged his legal wars, Tutor has paid himself a handsome salary. According to Tutor Perini filings, his compensation in 2010 was $9 million. As part of a five-year employment contract Tutor signed with the company in 2008, he receives 150 hours of annual personal flying time in the company’s 737. Other perks include an apartment in Las Vegas and a car and driver (Tutor is chauffeured in a GMC Denali SUV). Currently, Tutor’s driver is Paul Barresi, who long worked with Anthony Pellicano as a private investigator and until 2006 was a director, writer and producer on such pornographic films as Frat Boys on the Loose 7 and Leather Bears and Smooth Chested Huskies. (Tutor said in a November deposition that many years earlier, he employed Barresi as a personal trainer; Barresi could not be reached for comment.)

112 From “Arnie’s Army” by Charles Fleming, specifc page “Arnie’s Army (page 65)”:

If Arnold really believes it is his right to do whatever stories he wants to do, though, he is in for a rude shock. In a race for the governorship or a Senate seat, “the real press will eat him alive,” as one magazine editor says. A longtime associate of Arnold’s agrees. “[Running for office] isn’t like doing a PR campaign for some movie. If there is anything at all unpleasant in his background, [the press] will go after it like animals.”

You can’t help but wonder, for example, how campaign reporters would have treated the dinner at the Simon Wiesenthal Center. This rather astonishing spectacle caused no stir whatsoever among the “outlets,” as they are known to the movie business, that cover Arnold, except as an ocasion to puff him. Neither Vanity Fair nor Entertainment Tonight, Premiere nor Good Morning America seemed very interested in the event. However, if Arnold were in the middle of a political campaign and were honored by a Holocaust philanthropy, some intrepid reporter would be digging into his past associations and comment faster than you can say, “Donna Rice.” Or, as they would put it on Entertainment Tonight, if Arnold does indeed go into electoral politics, his relationship with the press will change from The Silence of the Lambs to Dances With Wolves.

113 On Schwarzengger’s control of the press, from “Arnie’s Army” by Charles Fleming, specifc pages “Arnie’s Army (page 62)” and “Arnie’s Army (page 63)”:

Arnold has achieved his position in the world largely because he wields ruthless control over his press. As one Paramount executive says, “Arnold exercises power the way the old-fashioned moguls did — they could cover up anything, make any problem go away.”

Usually Arnold is successful. For example, there’s the journalist who mirthfully tells of the star’s backlot misdeeds — how he surprised Arnold in flagrante delicto during the filming of one of his blockbusters and how Arnold said, “Ve von’t tell Maria about dis” — but who will never commit that story to print. And there’s the movie executive who will tell you only in private, and never for attribution, about Arnold’s occasional suggestions to the owner of a store where he shops that the two find some chicks who will perform an act Arnold calls “polishing the helmet.” Arnold’s rationalization, according to the store owner? “It’s not being unfaithful. It’s only some plo-jobs.” Probably no one will ever quote the Hollywood producer who pals around with Arnold and says, “He’s an unstoppable womanizer, even worse than the Kennedys.” No, these tales will go with Arnold to the grave. Or at least they were supposed to have.

114 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 92)”:

Despite the Premiere story, Schwarzenegger still hoped to challenge Davis in 2002. Then matters took another bad turn. On February 27, 2001, the star’s nemesis – the tabloids – jumped into the fray. The National Enquirer published an “Arnold exclusive,” headlined “He’s Caught Cheating,” predicting his impending divorce from Shriver. A pull quote ran across the page: “Arnold has the worst reputation in Hollywood for groping, grabbing, and lewd remarks.”

Two months later, the Enquirer announced it had a “world exclusive.” The cover story, headlined “Arnold’s Shocking 7-Year Affair,” chronicled his dalliance with a former child actress named Gigi Goyette and was accompanied by photos of Goyette lounging in a thong bikini and posing with Schwarzenegger. Coming on the heels of the Premiere story, it was a lethal blow, certainly for a candidate who needed the support of the family-values, conservative base of the Republican Party to survive a primary.

115 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 93)”:

The tabloids posed another problem. One of the less ennobling secrets of the mainstream media is its reliance on the tabs to launder seedy but irresistible stories about celebrities and politicians. Once the story appears in the tabloids, it’s not long before it’s fodder for TV talking heads and late-night comics. Then, more often than not, it’s regarded as fair game for the mainstream media. In the last 15 years, the tabs have earned a reputation for nailing down hard-to-get stories for the simple reason that, unlike the mainstream media, they often pay sources and hire private investigators. The meshing of the tabs and the mainstream media went into high gear during the O.J. Simpson trial and was standard practice by the time of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal. Schwarzenegger, of course, could have curbed his excessive behavior. But there is scant evidence for this having occurred before 2003.

116 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 223)”:

The year 2001 would prove to be a terrible year in the tabloid kingdom. On October 2, 2001, AMI’s world headquarters, a showy glass-and-steel edifice in Boca Raton, Florida, became the first target of an anthrax attack in the United States. Within the week, AMI’s photo editor was dead from anthrax inhalation, another employee was clinging to life, and property, which only months earlier had been remodeled, was worthless. Everything inside the structures was declared contaminated and untouchable, including a film library of 5 million photographs and a collection of rare books. AMI’s chairman, CEO, and president, David Pecker, places the damages at $20 million.

The boarded-up facility was sold for $40,000 to a real estate investor, who then leased it to a company headed by Rudolph Giuliani that specialized in decontamination.

117 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 224)”:

Six months after AMI’s anthrax attack, Pecker started to look into buying L.A.-based Weider Publications. Founded by Joe Weider, the legendary bodybuilder who had brought Arnold Schwarzenegger to the United States in 1968, the company owned seven titles, including Muscle & Fitness, Shape, Flex, and Men’s Fitness. Eighty-three years old, Weider had decided it was time to unload his magazines. They were strong sellers, especially when Schwarzenegger posed for their covers, as he has done more than 50 times, mostly for Muscle & Fitness and Flex. The film star also “penned” the Ask Arnold column, though it was no secret that it was written in-house. Although Schwarzenegger was not paid for his cover appearances, he was well rewarded by the publicity they bestowed on his gyms and the Arnold Classic bodybuilding competition held each year in Columbus, Ohio.

“The supplement business makes up more than 70 percent of the ads in Weider magazines,” says Eric Weider, Ben’s 40-year-old son, who runs much of the Weider empire today. The supplement business also provides about 30 percent of the ads in the tabloids.

With the evidence mounting that ephedra could produce serious side effects, the FDA started to investigate the substance in the late ’90s. The agency’s actions may have been a factor in Weider’s decision to sell his publishing company. “The supplement thing had already reared its ugly head by 2000,” says one former AMI editor with firsthand knowledge of the negotiations between AMI and Weider. “I know two media players who backed away from the Weider magazines because they were worried that the supplement thing would blow up.” It eventually did. In 2004, the FDA banned all ephedra-based products.

118 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 224)”:

None of this deterred Pecker, who bought the company in November 2002. To the surprise of some media analysts, AMI paid $350 million in cash and stock for the seven magazines, a large photo archive of Schwarzenegger and offices in Woodland Hills and Manhattan.

119 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 224)”:

In early December 2002, Pecker and his wife had a celebratory dinner at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills with Joe Weider and his wife, along with Eric Weider. “Joe’s asking me, ‘How are you going to handle the bodybuilding world?'” recalls Pecker. “‘You should know that this is something that’s very important to me personally.’ I said, ‘Yes, I understand that. I know that you have a very close relationship with Arnold Schwarzenegger.'”

Weider sys that over dinner he recommended to Pecker that Schwarzenegger become part of AMI – that he should be given “maybe 10 percent of the company as our publicist.” He feared, though, that Schwarzenegger was too busy doing movies and concerned about “all the scandal” in AMI’s tabloids.

Pecker was enthusiastic about the idea of bringing Schwarzenegger into AMI and tried to allay Weider’s concerns that the actor would continue to be a tabloid target: “I said, ‘There is one thing that I can tell you. We don’t, as a company rehash old stuff.'” Pecker says he also told Weider, “Anything he does that’s newsworthy, we’re going to run.” Then he added a caveat not usually associated with the tabloids: “If we can validate it.”

120 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 224)”:

During the heat of the recall campaign, the New York Daily News reported that Pecker had assured Joe Weider that the tabloids would “lay off” Schwarzenegger. “We’re not going to pull up any dirt on him,” Weider quoted Pecker as saying. AMI denied such an arrangement.

121 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 224)”:

Recently, however, Weider offered a slightly different version of the dinner, one that corresponds with Pecker’s account: “David said he knew Arnold was close to me. ‘Oh, yes, Arnold is your friend, and I want you to know that we’re not going to bring up or print the old stuff. Only what’s new.'”

122 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 224)”:

But a funny thing happened soon after the Weider deal closed in January 2003. The tabloids suddenly became Arnold free. Despite Pecker’s denials, four sources at AMI say that the Schwarzenegger vanishing act was no accident. “When Weider was being bough,” says one senior AMI staffer, “the edict came down: No more Arnold stories.”

123 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 225)”:

After a flurry of telephone calls, Pecker flew to Los Angeles on July 11, 2003, to make a direct appeal to Schwarzenegger to stay on board with the Weider magazines. Pecker and Schwarzenegger met at the actor’s production office in a building he owns in Santa Monica.

Pecker then presented Schwarzenegger with his proposal. “I approached about the concept of having a bigger role with of the Weider titles,” says Pecker, “but specifically with Muscle & Fitness and Flex.”

124 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 225)”:

Three weeks later, on August 6, 2003, Schwarzenegger stunned the world with his announcement on The Tonight Show that he would be challenging Gray Davis in California’s historic recall election.

125 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 225)”:

Californians quickly learned, however, that the AMI tabs were not only laying off Schwarzenegger but were at the forefront of his campaign. One former staffer says that “Pecker ordered David Perel to commission a series of brownnosing stories on Arnold” that would hit the stands during the campaign. “It’s not true,” says Perel. “That’s absurd.”

126 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 225)”:

In August The Star ran a full-page story headlined “Vote Schwarzenegger!” and accompanied by a half-dozen flattering snapshots.

In September 2003, AMI published a 120-page glossy special edition titled Arnold, the American Dream. It was sold on newsstands for $4.95, with the cover line “Camelot’s Future.”

127 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 225)”:

To complete the coronation, Weekly World News ran its own “exclusive” – “Alien Backs Arnold for Governor.”

128 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 226)”:

Beginning on October 2, 2003, five days before the recall election, the Los Angeles Times published a series of stories in which 16 women – 11 willing to be identified – charged that Schwarzenegger had either groped or sexually harassed them. The Schwarzenegger team went on the offensive, attacking the Times for its “opportunistic” late timing and attributing the stories to the trash politics of the Davis campaign. The Times piece was picked up by the national media and monopolized the news cycle up to Election Day. And still not a murmur from the tabs.

The Times article was “Women Say Schwarzenegger Groped, Humiliated Them” by Gary Cohn, Carla Hall and Robert W. Welkos.

129 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 226)”:

To prove his case, Pecker cites an “Arnold exclusive” that ran in The National Enquirer with the headline “Arnold’s Love Child Scandal.” The Enquirer posted the story on its Web site on October 5, two days before the recall election, and published a heavily revised version in its print edition 14 days after the election. Certainly it was an incendiary story, but because it was posted so close to the election, the mainstream press had little time to follow up the account and confirm it. As a result, the story remained on the margins. Moreover, the Enquirer article cited as its source a story by a reporter named Wendy Leigh that appeared in the British tabloid The Daily Mail, indicating it was a life-and-clip job.

130 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 226)”:

Former AMI staffers dispute Pecker and Perel’s account, contending that the tabloid was offered the love-child story in mid 2003 but turned it down. According to one former AMI editor, the story had been brought to the tabloid by John Connolly, the author of the Premiere article on Schwarzenegger. Connolly, a former policeman with close ties to private investigators, has staked a reputation as Schwarzenegger’s archenemy. (The former staffer also credits Connolly with bringing the 2001 Gigi Goyette story to the tabloid.) There was considerable interest in the story, according to the former staffer, who says Perel worked with Connolly “for a couple of weeks on the story. They said the story was solid. Then Pecker became involved and said, ‘We’re not doing the story. In fact, we’re not doing any more Schwarzenegger stories.'”

Another former AMI staffer also questions Pecker’s account. “Connolly brought us that thing in May,” he says. “So you’ve got May, June, July, August, September, October. Are you telling me the Enquirer can’t do in six months what Wendy Leigh does? If that’s true, it’s a pretty sad state of affairs. Here’s how to look at it: If the Weider deal hadn’t worked out, do you really think the Enquirer would not have done the love child?@

Connolly ended up working on the story with Wendy Leigh of The Daily Mail, who had written a book about the star. “It all came from John,” says Leigh. “John came to me. Basically he was my partner on this. He was a silent partner.” Connolly confirms Leigh’s account, saying he “brought her a much bigger story and the love child became part of it.”

131 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 227)”:

At a press conference, Pecker and Schwarzenegger clutched the winner’s trophy and beamed. They announced that Schwarzenegger would become the executive editor of Muscle & Fitness and Flex. He would be paid $1.25 million over five years, which he would donate to the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness. He would also receive a $350,000 annual salary from AMI, according to sources close to the governor. Schwarzenegger has not disclosed his AMI salary in any of his filings with the state. According to his spokesman, he has until March 2005 to do so. Despite numerous requests for an interview, the governor declined.

In May, AMI announced it had deepened its relationship with Schwarzenegger and Weider, by buying a 50 percent stake in the Mr. Olympia competition. Pecker calls the event “the Super Bowl of bodybuilding.”

132 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 226)” and “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 227)”:

Since Schwarzenegger’s ascension, the tabs have been a fount of gushy news about him. “Make Arnie President” exhorted the headline of one story soon after his election, with the subhead “All We Have to Do Is Change One Stupid Law.” Another, titled “Wisdom of Arnie,” offered helpful tips from his movies. And then there were “Maria & Arnie: White House Bound?” “The Governator,” “American Dream: Arnold & Maria’s New Life,” and “Arnie’s Accent Will Soon Be All the Rage,” among others. Despite Pecker’s denials, AMI is now the press organ of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

133 From “Gov. to Be Paid $8 Million by Fitness Magazines” by Peter Nicholas and Robert Salladay:

SACRAMENTO – Two days before he was sworn into office, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger accepted a consulting job paying an estimated $8 million over five years to “further the business objectives” of a national publisher of health and bodybuilding magazines.

The contract pays Schwarzenegger 1% of the magazines’ advertising revenue, much of which comes from makers of nutritional supplements. Last year, the governor vetoed legislation that would have imposed government regulations on the supplement industry.

According to records filed Wednesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Schwarzenegger entered into the agreement with a subsidiary of American Media Inc. on Nov. 15, 2003. The Boca Raton, Fla.-based company publishes Muscle & Fitness and Flex magazines, among others.

Watchdog groups and state lawmakers called the contract — which refers to Schwarzenegger as “Mr. S” — a conflict of interest.

Larry Noble, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, D.C., said: “This is one of the most egregious apparent conflicts of interest that I have seen. This calls into question his judgment as to who he is working for, and it calls into question what he thinks he owes the public.”

As recently as a few days ago, American Media refused to say anything about Schwarzenegger’s pay. The company filed an 83-page annual financial statement with the SEC last month that, in one paragraph, mentioned a consulting agreement with an unnamed “third party.” Stuart Zakim, an American Media spokesman, refused to say whether the third party was Schwarzenegger.

The contract shows that Schwarzenegger’s firm, Oak Productions, gets 1% of the subsidiary’s annual advertising revenue. It holds that “in no event” will payment be less than $1 million a year.

The agreement estimates that the governor’s company will receive $2.15 million in fiscal year 2006; the same amounts in ’07 and ’08; and $1.7 million in ’09. Those sums exceed the salary of the chairman and CEO of American Media, David J. Pecker, whose base pay this year is listed at $1.5 million.

The governor used his regular column in the June issue of Muscle & Fitness to defend the supplement industry. He vowed to oppose any effort to restrict sales of the products in California, writing that he is “so energized to fight any attempt to limit the availability of nutritional supplements.”

Last year, the governor vetoed a bill by state Sen. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough) that would have required coaches to take a course in performance-enhancing supplements, created a list of banned substances for interscholastic sports and barred supplement manufacturers from sponsoring school events. In his veto message, the governor said that most dietary supplements were safe and that Speier’s bill would have been difficult to implement. He also said the bill unfairly focused on “performance-enhancing dietary supplements (PEDS) instead of focusing on ensuring that students participating in high school sports are not engaged in steroids use.”

134 From “Tabloid’s Deal With Woman Shielded Schwarzenegger” by Peter Nicholas and Carla Hall:

SACRAMENTO – Days after Arnold Schwarzenegger jumped into the race for governor and girded for questions about his past, a tabloid publisher wooing him for a business deal promised to pay a woman $20,000 to sign a confidentiality agreement about an alleged affair with the candidate.

American Media Inc., which publishes the National Enquirer, signed a friend of the woman to a similar contract about the alleged relationship for $1,000.

American Media’s contract with Gigi Goyette of Malibu is dated Aug. 8, 2003, two days after Schwarzenegger announced his candidacy on a late-night talk show. Under the agreement, Goyette must disclose to no one but American Media any information about her “interactions” with Schwarzenegger.

American Media never solicited further information from Goyette or her friend, Judy Mora, also of Malibu, both women said. The Enquirer had published a cover story two years earlier describing an alleged seven-year sexual relationship between Goyette and Schwarzenegger during his marriage to Maria Shriver, California’s first lady.

135 From “Tabloid’s Deal With Woman Shielded Schwarzenegger” by Peter Nicholas and Carla Hall:

American Media’s contract with Gigi Goyette of Malibu is dated Aug. 8, 2003, two days after Schwarzenegger announced his candidacy on a late-night talk show. Under the agreement, Goyette must disclose to no one but American Media any information about her “interactions” with Schwarzenegger.

American Media never solicited further information from Goyette or her friend, Judy Mora, also of Malibu, both women said. The Enquirer had published a cover story two years earlier describing an alleged seven-year sexual relationship between Goyette and Schwarzenegger during his marriage to Maria Shriver, California’s first lady.

On Aug. 14, 2003, as candidate Schwarzenegger was negotiating a consulting deal with American Media, the company signed its contract with Mora, who said she received $1,000 cash in return. Goyette declined to say whether she received the $20,000 promised in her contract.

But American Media was effectively protecting Schwarzenegger’s political interests, said a person who worked at the company when the contracts were signed. At the same time, American Media was crafting a deal to make Schwarzenegger executive editor of Flex and Muscle & Fitness magazines, helping to lure readers and advertisers.

If American Media was buying exclusive rights to the women’s stories, said the person, who has a confidentiality agreement with the company and spoke on condition of anonymity, “why didn’t the stories run? That’s the obvious question.”

“AMI systematically bought the silence” of the women, said the person. Schwarzenegger “was a de facto employee and he was important to their bottom line.”

American Media’s contracts with Goyette and Mora, both titled “Confidentiality Agreement,” are two pages long and never expire; they bind the two women “in perpetuity.”

Goyette’s agreement states that she is not to disclose “conversations with Schwarzenegger, her interactions with Schwarzenegger or anything else relating in any way to any relationship [she] ever had with Schwarzenegger,” except to American Media.

Mora’s contract bars her from disclosing anything about Goyette’s “conversations with Schwarzenegger … interactions with Schwarzenegger or anything else relating in any way to any relationship Gigi Goyette ever had or alleged to have had with Schwarzenegger.”

[Goyette] said she did not believe American Media would purchase the rights to her story and then do nothing with it. She thought signing the pledge would be the prelude to a book deal.

“In my mind, it was trying to seal a deal so I wouldn’t do the book with anybody else,” she told The Times. “That was my feeling in my heart and in my mind.”

[Charlotte Hassett, Goyette’s lawyer] added later: “She has reason to believe that she was manipulated by the actions of the people at National Enquirer.”

The contract was sealed just when interest in her story was peaking. Once Schwarzenegger’s campaign was launched, the media quickly dug up the 2001 National Enquirer article. She was besieged by reporters.

They were “in front of my house. In front of my school. In front of the coffee shop,” she said. “I didn’t answer anyone’s questions.”

136 From “The Two Biggest Assholes in Publishing” by Bagher Hossein, specific page “The Two Biggest Assholes in Publishing (page 51)”:

Formerly, Pecker had been Hachette’s unusually nerdy Chief Financial Officer – a “major dweeb-man” is how one columnist described him – ever since the French company (which also manufactures Exocet missiles) bought a grab bag of U.S. titles, including Women’s Day and Car and Driver, to buttress its launch of American Elle. But when Peter Diamandis, the American from whom Hachette bought the magazines, walked after two years, taking his management team with him, Pecker was suddenly in a position to land the company’s top job almost by default. For a glamour-deprived mathlete like Pecker, this was a legitimate, once-in-a-lifetime chance to build a public persona.

137 From “The Two Biggest Assholes in Publishing” by Bagher Hossein, specific page “The Two Biggest Assholes in Publishing (page 53)”:

Notorious for cutting staff with the purchase of each new title, Pecker promptly hacked Mirabella‘s staff of 80 down to 20 (what could all those editors be doing up there, anyway?) and Premiere‘s from 80 to 38. Similarly, 36 staffers at Travel Holiday suddenly found themselves practicing what they’d been preaching after Pecker took over. “Every time they buy a new magazine, they don’t add the staffing to go with it,” laments a former employee with first-hand experience of Hachette’s clear-out-your-desk-by-noon hatchet policy. “He squeezes people to do so many different things – so he doesn’t put the money into bringing in the best editors, or enough editors, or enough sales people,” he said.

From “The Two Biggest Assholes in Publishing” by Bagher Hossein, specific page “The Two Biggest Assholes in Publishing (page 51)”:

Inspired by what his banker-brain perceived as the looseness and inefficiency of the publications under his power, the professionally thrifty Pecker started making what he thought were obvious changes: slashing staff, pandering to advertisers, and generally making a mockery of the editorial process. “Pecker is a financial guy,” explains an ad-sales representative who worked for him. “He doesn’t understand publishing…He never worked on a magazine. He doesn’t know the right ingredients to make a magazine great, only profitable…He interferes with editorial integrity.”

138 From “The Two Biggest Assholes in Publishing” by Bagher Hossein, specific page “The Two Biggest Assholes in Publishing (page 51)”:

Last May, David J. Pecker, CEO of Hachette-Fillipachi magazines, found himself with a problem.

An unsettling piece of paper had landed on his desk: an article slated for Premiere magazine, Hachette’s cheerful movie monthly, detailing the involvement of muscled thespian Sylvester Stallone in the Planet Hollywood chain of theme-restaurants. Uh oh. Pecker’s good buddy Ronald Perelman, CEO of Revlon, was at that moment hoping to create a new chain of restaurants “themed” around Marvel Comics characters with both Stallone and Planet Hollywood. For a Hachette publication to run an article exposing the dysfunctional relationships behind the business dealings of the chain would be a major personal embarrassment for David Pecker.

139 From “The Two Biggest Assholes in Publishing” by Bagher Hossein, specific page “The Two Biggest Assholes in Publishing (page 52)”:

Pecker’s public response to the Planet Hollywood debacle – which made national news after two of Premiere‘s editors, Christopher Connelly and Nancy Griffin, resigned in protest – was similarly stiff with pioneer spirit. “We have found in our research that investigative pieces score the lowest,” Pecker number-crunched defiantly. “Our readers are not interested in negative journalism”; “There are hard-hitting journalistic pieces that have hurt the magazine”; “The last time I looked, I am CEO of the company.” And then a landmark utterance: “I have 100% control over what runs in Premiere.”

From “Two Premiere Editors Resign Over Column” by Claudia Eller and James Bates:

Reflecting a drastic change in the editorial direction of one of the movie industry’s most widely read publications, Premiere magazine’s two top editors abruptly resigned Tuesday afternoon in protest after a controversial investigative story about Sylvester Stallone and Planet Hollywood was killed by the magazine’s owner.

Editor in Chief Chris Connelly and Deputy Editor Nancy Griffin shot off a memo to executives at Premiere managing owner Hachette Filipacchi Magazines on Tuesday afternoon saying, “Because we feel that the editorial integrity and credibility of Premiere is the magazine’s most precious asset, we will not kill Corie Brown’s California Suite column for July as we have been ordered to do by ownership. We therefore resign our positions . . . effective immediately.”

Hachette executives said the story was killed because the magazine is positioning itself as a “fan” magazine that will profile celebrities and the movie industry and will no longer run investigative stories.

Sources said the resignations at Premiere come after months of meddling by Hachette executives, as well as pressures from the magazine’s business side to soften the publication so it won’t offend advertisers. Twentieth Century Fox pulled advertising after a recent Brown column examining talent deals at the studio.

140 “How mag helped to cover Tiger’s great ‘lie'” by Keith J. Kelly:

The National Enquirer caught Tiger Woods in a steamy extramarital affair two years ago, but killed the story in exchange for the golfer doing a rare cover-shoot for its sister mag – despite Tiger’s exclusive deal with a rival publication, a former editor told The Post.

Woods’ camp, fearful of a potential public-relations nightmare in spring 2007, allegedly agreed to do a cover for Men’s Fitness – a magazine owned by the Enquirer’s parent company, American Media, former Men’s Fitness editor-in-chief Neal Boulton said yesterday.

“[American Media CEO] David Pecker knew about Tiger Woods’ infidelity a long time ago,” Boulton told The Post. “[Pecker] traded silence for a Men’s Fitness cover.”

“We were going to [do a quid pro quo with] America’s favorite sports star, just to get his name on the cover of a magazine,” said Boulton. “That was too much for me. That’s when I high-tailed it out of there.”

Pecker dismissed all the quid-pro-quo allegations.

141 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 223)”:

Initially, Pecker was hopeful that the state of Florida would lend a hand in limiting the costs of the first act of terrorism in the state. Governor Jeb Bush, however, thought otherwise. Pecker acknowledges the tabs have run stories certain to have displeased the Bush family. There had been pieces on all three of Jeb Bush’s children and their run-ins with the police. Daughter Noelle’s drug problems were chronicled. Son Jebby’s police report for “sexual misconduct” with a young woman in a parked car also made it into the tabs, as did a police report on his brother George P., a rising political star, who was arrested for skidding across his girlfriend’s lawn in his car and breaking into her home.

On the other hand, the tabs were curiously restrained while the mainstream press was abuzz with items about Jeb Bush’s alleged philandering. Even after the Florida governor held a press conference in May 2001 in which he volunteered that he had never slept with anyone other than his wife, the tabs had nothing to say. One Globe reporter says he was eager to cover the story and had excellent leads but was told by his editor, “We’re not writing about Jeb.” The feeling at the tabloid, he says, was that as long as AMI was based in Florida, “Jeb Bush, himself, was off-limits.”

142 From Glenn Kenny, a writer at Premiere at the time, the post “Memories of Arnold” from his blog Some Came Running:

I remember being at the Sundance Film Festival in January of 2001, having two-to-three hour conference calls with Connolly and Hachette’s legal team and Premiere’s fact-checkers (and let me mention that Hachette’s legal people were always incredibly helpful and encouraging to us whenever we did sensitive stories, which you wouldn’t necessarily think if you know certain aspects of the history of U.S. Premiere at Hachette) and thinking, “Holy crap, we’re really pulling this off.” We had a GREAT headline (“Arnold The Barbarian”), Matt Mahurin did a really creepy photo-illustration, and our stuff was fucking airtight. What it all meant in the larger scheme of things was completely beyond my ken at that moment, but at least I wasn’t going to get fucking fired.

You know who did get fucking fired? Michael Solomon. Before he had even served out a year as Premiere’s editor-in-chief. And believe it or not, the Arnold story represented the first couple of nails in his coffin. Yeah, we got A LOT of Hollywood blowback from Schwarzenegger’s claque: irate letters from very big-name collaborators, many of them women, complaining at how disappointed they were that Premiere was trucking in such baseless garbage and what a great guy Arnold was. (And I do believe, incidentally, that the protestations of Schwarzenegger’s great-guyness were entirely sincere; after all, don’t we all have friends who are generous and kind to us and may be less than entirely gallant in other respects, about whom we tend to say, “Oh, that’s just X?” when we hear stories of them doing things that aren’t so cool?) Every day for like two weeks there were a bunch of new letters, and the names: James Cameron, Jamie Leigh Curtis, Emma Thompson (whose verbal wrist-slapping was hand-written; I remember thinking she had the most beautiful handwriting of any living person that I had ever seen) and so on. But there was no black-balling, no “We’ll never work with Premiere again” grandstanding. From any of them. It was just due-diligent noise-making. Because, as much as they liked the fellow, they really did know what was up.

No, the blowback that counted actually echoed that which we got from our readers, many of whom were up in arms that we were “picking” on Arnold. It wasn’t just a matter of people thinking highly of Schwarzenegger; because of his rags-to-riches story and Terminator awesomeness, people actually had quite a bit invested in the idea of thinking highly of Schwarzenegger, and they just didn’t want that messed with. Quite a few of the bigwigs at Hachette, both French and American, apparently looked at “Arnold the Barbarian” and said “Why are they/is he doing this?” Hachette had acquired U.S. Premiere in order to unify it with the international editions of the book; aside from that, the company never really had much of an idea of what to do with it. THIS, however, they did NOT want to do. So the fellas upstairs all of a sudden got a little bit skeptical of the young man who had been their exciting new fair-haired boy just about ten weeks before. Michael was out in October, I think. And now when people cite the history of reputable Arnold scandal-mongering, all they talk about is the 2003 Los Angeles Times piece. Well, Premiere was there first, and we didn’t get sued. Next time I see Michael Solomon, I think I’ll buy him a drink.

143 From “‘Shoe leather’ leads to Schwarzenegger’s secret son” by Ann O’Neil:

Within hours of the story breaking, Schwarzenegger sheepishly conceded that at times he had “behaved badly.”

His wife, Maria Shriver, stood by him.

The paper immediately felt an intense public backlash.

“We had 10,000 subscriptions canceled,” [Times editor John Carroll] said. “The people who were answering the phones became convinced that the people who were calling and canceling the subscriptions weren’t actually reading the story.”

A rumor campaign targeted the “liberal” Times, alleging the newspaper deliberately held the stories until just before the election to hurt Schwarzenegger at the polls.

144 “How fall of Arnold Schwarzenegger was predicted by ‘Hollywood’s Nostradamus'” by Guy Adams:

The anchormen called it a bolt from the blue, Tuesday’s news that Arnold Schwarzenegger had fathered a child during an affair with his housekeeper.

Or nearly everyone. For while a gob-smacked mainstream media was coming to terms with the implosion of one of Hollywood’s foremost power couples, a scandal-mongering celebrity biographer called Ian Halperin was celebrating a remarkable journalistic coup.

Schwarzenegger’s foibles have long been rumoured in the entertainment community. When he announced his intention to stand for Governor of California in 2003, his campaign was almost derailed by a string of women who claimed that he had groped or made inappropriate sexual advances towards them. At the time, journalist Wendy Leigh alleged in Britain’s Daily Mail that a former flight attendant called Tammy Tousignant had given birth to his illegitimate son, Tanner, in the 1990s.

No US news organisation followed up the allegation. And while Tousignant yesterday denied that the boy (whose name is shared with Schwarzenegger’s character in Total Recall) was the ex-governor’s son, her lawyer said that a paternity test had been carried out.

[San Francisco Chronicle political editor Jerry Roberts] said that in the wake of a crippling recession and huge budget deficit, Schwarzenegger had a tarnished reputation. The recent disclosures about his personal life add to that perception, he said.

“As a practical matter, it doesn’t have a lot of effect, but among California voters and people in politics, (the latest scandal) was just a huge ‘F-you’ from him.”

145 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page is “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 224)”:

With the evidence mounting that ephedra could produce serious side effects, the FDA started to investigate the substance in the late ’90s. The agency’s actions may have been a factor in Welder’s decision to sell his publishing company. “The supplement thing had already reared its ugly head by 2000,” says one former AMI editor with firsthand knowledge of the negotiations between AMI and Weider. “I knew two media players who backed away from the Welder magazines because they were worried that the supplement thing would blow up.” It eventually did. In 2004, the FDA banned all ephedra-based products.

From “National Enquirer Owner Invites Default Talk” by Matt Robinson:

Just two years after emerging from bankruptcy, the publisher of the National Enquirer is being abandoned in the bond market on concern that competition from TMZ.com and Gawker.com will push it back into default.

American Media Inc.’s $470 million face value of bonds have lost 3 percent of their value this month, the worst performance among distressed issuers, even as the average bond yielding more than 10 percentage points above similarly dated Treasuries gained 4.6 percent, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch index data. Standard & Poor’s downgraded the Boca Raton, Florida-based company one level to B- with a negative outlook last week as cost cuts and higher prices haven’t compensated for lower sales.

From “Arnold Schwarzenegger returns to bodybuilding magazines as editor” by Chris Megerian:

Arnold Schwarzenegger has found lots of ways to keep busy since leaving the governor’s office, from starring in action movies to lending his name to a policy institute at the University of Southern California.

Now he’s going to be returning to a role that stirred controversy during his stint in Sacramento — Schwarzenegger will once again serve as executive editor at Muscle & Fitness and Flex magazines.

Schwarzenegger, who was named Mr. Olympia seven times, first took the job shortly after winning the 2003 recall election. When details of the arrangement were revealed in 2005, it was criticized as a conflict of interest and he quit the job.

Schwarzenegger was receiving at least $1 million a year from a magazine dependent on advertising for dietary supplements while also making decisions as governor about how to regulate the industry.

At the time, the leader of the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington called it “one of the most egregious apparent conflicts of interest that I have seen”

146 “Is a Revolt Brewing at AMI?” [archive link] by Hamilton Nolan:

Since emerging from bankruptcy at the end of last month, AMI has announced that it’s merging the LA newsrooms of Star and the Enquirer (and cutting jobs in the process), and that all employees “must take a three-day unpaid furlough before the end of the current fiscal quarter on March 31.”

Those things were bad enough-especially after CEO David Pecker (pictured, with Playboy bunny) reassured employees of the company’s strong financial health as soon as it came out of bankruptcy. But now, word is circulating among AMI employees that Pecker and a handful of other executives stand to receive hefty bonuses for their work on the bankruptcy. “The anger among the employees is widespread and morale is shot,” an insider tells us. It’s so bad that there have already been discussions of legal action by the employees, and/ or a “job action” from the rank and file. The immediate goal: to get rid of Pecker.

“Everybody believes the company would be better off without David Pecker,” says an insider. “His mismanagement, dishonesty and incompetence drove the company into bankruptcy. And now he and other executives are getting even more rich on the backs of good people who have worked very hard over the years for AMI. The stakeholders and employees would benefit greatly from new leadership and we are hoping the company’s board of directors takes action soon.”

147 From “AMI Executives Agree: Everything’s Fine at AMI” [archive link] by Hamilton Nolan:

Yesterday we told you [archive link] that a revolt may be brewing at National Enquirer publisher AMI, where employees are upset about furloughs, layoffs, and perceived management screw-ups following its recent bankruptcy. Did we get some feedback from AMI execs? Did we!

Our post went up at 12:56 yesterday afternoon. Before the afternoon was over, we’d received all of the following emails, in close succession. (We did not receive a forward of the email that went around the AMI offices saying ‘Everyone email Gawker immediately,’ but feel free to send it along.)

From David Jackson, AMI SVP and group publisher:

Revolt??? Nothing of the kind happening at AMI.
David Pecker is a great CEO and leader.
Check your sources!

And:

AMI employee here. I’ve been with the company [nearly a decade]. I haven’t heard of any revolt, but it wouldn’t surprise me, and it certainly wouldn’t be unjustified. Morale is not good right now for a variety of reasons…AMI is just a bad, poorly run company and has been for several years now.

148 From “Taming the Tabloids” by Darcie Lunsford:

“Pecker in the magazine business never thought he got the respect he deserved,” says John Masterton, an editor with Media Industry Newsletter, a New York-based publication covering the magazine industry. “He had a reputation in publishing as being an accountant, basically.”

An accountant by training, Pecker started off his professional career as an auditor for Price Waterhouse and Co. He broke into publishing in the late 1970s as a financial manager for CBS’ magazine unit. Its roster of titles at the time included Woman’s Day and Field & Stream.

Pecker was among a group of CBS executives who later orchestrated a $650 million buyout of the CBS publishing division to form Diamandis Communications, which in turn was purchased by Hachette in the spring of 1988. Pecker became Hachette’s chief financial and operating officer and later its president and chief executive.

He pushed Hachette to make a play for the tabs owned by Generoso Pope–including the National Enquirer and the Weekly World News–when they hit the auction block after Pope’s death in 1988. Hachette was outbid by MacFadden Holdings Inc. and its financial partners. But Pecker never lost interest.

A decade later, the sassy pubs would become his.

“Pecker is a big thinker,” Masterton says, “and he has got big plans for that place.”

149 From “The Machiavelli of Muck” by Joe Domanick:

He dressed in expensive double-breasted wise-guy suits and leather jackets set off by patent leather shoes, man-with-no-eyes shades, and a pinkie ring. He slicked back his thinning hair, doused himself with cologne, and popped Chiclets the way Kojak used to suck on lollipops. He was, said Kat, “the only man I ever met that could make a silk shirt look like polyester.” In the ’80s, he papered the walls of his office in bordello red velvet, later graduating to a hipper decor, highlighted by black leather furniture. His oak-finished office doors were painted in gold lettering announcing that you were entering the Pellicano Investigative Agency Ltd./Forensic Audio Lab/Syllogistic Research Group. He installed what he claimed was the latest in audio analysis equipment. He had his receptionist talk over the piped-in Puccini and offer cappuccinos to prospective clients.

From “Streetwise Gumshoe to the Stars” by Shawn Hubler and James Bates:

But to those on the business end of his $25,000 retainer fee, Pellicano is part hard-boiled detective and part hardball PR man, a tough talker in a thousand-dollar suit who does not carry a gun but whose telephone Muzak is the Sicilian opera used in “The Godfather, Part III.”

150 From “Talk of the Town” by Bryan Burrough and John Connolly:

Pellicano preferred his assistants young and beautiful; his executive vice president, Tarita Virtue, 36, who says she was the only employee allowed into the secret room where his wiretaps were monitored, once posed in lingerie for Maxim. Pellicano mused about arranging a Playboy layout on “The Girls of Pellicano.”

One sample from Virtue’s spread at Maxim, “Tarita Virtue: Girls of Maxim”:

Tarita Virtue from Maxim

151 From “Talk of the Town” by Bryan Burrough and John Connolly:

That $2 million fee, however, brought Pellicano into conflict with one of the few outfits more tenacious than he: the Internal Revenue Service. According to several people close to him, Pellicano reported only $1 million of the fee as income. The other $1 million, Denise Ward says, was reported as a loan: “I remember one morning when he opened his mail with the letter from the I.R.S., he jumped on his desk and started screaming, ‘Abandon ship! Abandon ship! We’re out of business!’ Women were crying and screaming in the office. Fortunately, Rich DiSabatino was in the office and pulled him aside and calmed him down. I understand it took him a few years to pay off the I.R.S.”

Yet between their boss’s flirtations and his bellicose management style, few stayed long. “I always thought when people left Pellicano they should be entitled to therapy instead of severance,” says Denise Ward, a P.I. who toiled six years for Pellicano and dated him as well. “He constantly screams and yells and threatens everyone who works for him. I would ask new employees, ‘Are you on Prozac yet?'” Adds another former Pellicano employee, “At one point every one of us in the office was on anti-anxiety and/or anti-depression medicine.”

152 From John J. Nazarian’s podcast with guest Kat Pellicano, “John Unleashed (09/23/2013)”.

This excerpt is at the 54:15-54:45 point in the podcast.

NAZARIAN
Ray Donovan‘s a great show, but I’ll tell you what, Anthony Pellicano’s got a show much better than that.

KAT
Oh, no question, no question. If he could ever really…if he was ever really able to tell the story, I don’t know if he ever would or not, there’s so many cases, and so many interesting stories, and so many that…things that never hit the news, that was his job and your job also, to make sure that the stories don’t get in the news.

153 From the transcript of the conversation between director John McTiernan and Pellicano “Rising Sun: Image of the Desired Japanese Part Three” footnote 214, made from the audio file available at “Pellicano Trial: Hear Hollywood Director Dish Film Gossip, Prostitutes, Cocaine and Phone Taps” by Allison Hope Weiner:

PELLICANO
Whenever you’re ready, I’ll take care of it for you. But I know who everybody is. That’s the other thing. I’ve got streams of fucking phone numbers, streams of them. Do you want me to find out who they all belong to? Or do you give a shit?

MCTIERNAN
I don’t think it matters. Unless I knew more about his business. But I don’t think it matters. I assume he’s talking-

PELLICANO
Well, let me tell you something. You know an awful lot about this business [cracks up while saying the last sentence] Boy, could we cause some chaos. [still cracking up] Do you realize that? I think…we could cause chaos like you have no idea.

MCTIERNAN
Probably. Probably.

154 From “Talk of the Town” by Bryan Burrough and John Connolly:

“Before this, I’d never heard of the guy,” the C.E.O. of a top New York agency told me. “No, check that. I read about him in Vanity Fair. Guy seemed like a real nut job.” The noted San Francisco P.I. Jack Palladino says of Pellicano, “I never took the guy seriously. The way he bragged openly about wiretaps and baseball bats, I mean, I just thought it wasn’t real. I didn’t understand that his Hollywood clientele lived in that same film noir world and accepted it as real.”

155 From “Talk of the Town” by Bryan Burrough and John Connolly:

“You have to understand, a lot of what he did was unnecessary,” says Palladino. “He was asking for information he could have gotten otherwise. Either he really didn’t understand how much is now available or he was just too lazy. I mean, this is not how anyone else in this business does business. It’s the way it is in the movies. And, unfortunately, he had this L.A. community-they’re like politicians, they don’t have much to do with regular people. They don’t know much about the real world. They don’t know much about bounda-ries or rules. They’re rich and spoiled and out of touch. And this was a guy who reflected their reality, which was the reality in films.”

156 From “Man of Dishonor” by John Connolly, specific page “Man of Dishonor (page 59)” and “Man of Dishonor (page 60)”:

Once, for example, Seagal said on Arsenio that he had spent a lot of his youth in Brooklyn. In fact, he was born in Michigan and lived there until he was five, when his family moved to California. He later clarified he recollection, saying he had visited cousins in Brooklyn. Also, he seems to have distanced himself from his Jewish side. Mom was Irish and the family worshiped indifferently, as Catholics or Episcopalians. But Dad was Jewish, and the family pronounced its name the normal way: SEE-gul. When he and Gary Goldman were in business together, Seagal said he didn’t want to call their production company Seagal/Goldman Productions “because that would sound too much like two Jews from the garment business.”

157 From “Man of Dishonor” by John Connolly, specific page “Man of Dishonor (page 60)”:

But Dad was Jewish, and the family pronounced its name the normal way: SEE-gul. When he and Gary Goldman were in business together, Seagal said he didn’t want to call their production company Seagal/Goldman Productions “because that would sound too much like two Jews from the garment business.” Shortly after that, the actor returned from an art exhibit where he had seen a painting by Chagall. The work moved him to decree that thereafter he would call himself Se-GAL.

158 From “Seagal Under Siege” by Ned Zeman and John Connolly:

Seagal’s not-so-secret history, it must be said, was a PR masterstroke, the beauty of it being that the CIA never comments on personnel matters–if Tori Spelling claimed to be an agency assassin, no one could disprove her. So on Seagal went, self-mythologizing in the grand Hollywood tradition. “Steven had to re-invent himself to fit in,” says his friend Bob DeBrino, a former New York cop and all-around Hollywood dabbler. “Hollywood’s a tough place to fit in, and he did a good job, man. Coming from nothing. Whether he lied, acted, or whatever, he made it and he became a star.”

159 From “Man of Dishonor” by John Connolly, specific page “Man of Dishonor (page 62)”:

In an interview with Spy, Goldman says he had long known that Seagal tends to tell grandiose tales about himself. Late in 1988, a former soldier of fortune and treasure hunter named Randy Wildner invited Seagal, Goldman and another man to hunt for treasure off the coast of Barbados. At that time, Seagal had been telling Goldman that he’d been a U.S. Navy SEAL. Evidently this was one frogman who did not take well to water. As Goldman recalls, “Randy was driving [a Zodiac raft] in circles while Steven and I carried the gear out to him. The surf was unbelievable, really tough… He started screaming and panicking and was sure he was going to die and all that crap.” Goldman says Seagal had to be helped onto the vessel. “Wildner had to pull Seagal by his hair; I pushed his ass onto the boat with my shoulder.” Later that evening, Goldman says, he realized that Seagal could not read a compass or a map. (Seagal describes himself as “autistic with numbers.”) With that, Goldman says, he totally dismissed the notion that Seagal had ever been involved in any covert operations. In his letter to the Times reporter, Goldman wrote that Seagal “would surely die of starvation if he was given a compass and a map that led to a restaurant five miles away.”

160 From “Man of Dishonor” by John Connolly, specific page “Man of Dishonor (page 58)”:

September 1989: Robert Strickland, a tall dark 68-year old businessman and former contract employee of the CIA, is on the set of Marked For Death, starring Steven Seagal.

Strickland has known Seagal for more than a decade, since they were both in Japan, where Seagal worked in his mother-in-law’s dojo (Martial arts school) and Strickland worked for the spooks. Seagal has been telling the press that he too worked for the agency – a claim neither the press nor Strickland has been able to substantiate but that certainly adds to the aura of terminal menace the Mike Ovitz protégé likes to project. Perhaps, goes a common Hollywood jest of the time, Seagal has the CIA and CAA [talent agency Ovitz founded] confused.

Strickland is enjoying the ultimate accolade that Hollywood bestows on civilians – he’s sitting in the star’s trailer. The star is mouthing off about one Gary Goldman, an ex-mercenary with whom he was collaborating on a screenplay the previous year. The two have had a falling-out over money and screenplay credits, and Goldman, in revenge, has written a letter to the Los Angeles Times exposing Seagal’s supposed intelligence background as a tissue of exploitative lies. This has made the tough guy very unhappy.

Seagal gets around to the point of the meeting, pulling out of a drawer a confidential profile of Goldman assembled by private investigators. Strickland, long aware that Seagal can be hotheaded, finds this something of an overreaction to a squabble over a screenplay. But the dossier is peanuts compared to what happens next. “I’d like you to do me a favor,” says Mr. Ovitz’s fair-headed boy, reaching under the table and pulling out an attaché case. “I’d like you to kill Gary Goldman.”

He opens the case. It contains $50,000 in cash.

All the stunned Strickland can say is, “You’re crazy.”

The actor merely looks frustrated. “If you won’t do it,” Strickland recalls him saying, “get someone who will. Pay him what you want and keep the rest.”

161 From “Man of Dishonor” by John Connolly, specific pages “Man of Dishonor (page 58)” and “Man of Dishonor (page 59)”:

Summer 1991: A top-level security consultant, a 28-year veteran of a government intelligence agency, flies from Washington to New York at Seagal’s behest. He is picked up by Seagal’s limousine, driven to his home on State Island and ushered out to the pool, where, shortly thereafter, he is joined by Seagal and his business partner, Julius Nasso.

The purpose of this meeting? Seagal wants the consultant to set up Alan Richman, a writer from Gentlemen’s Quarterly. Seagal doesn’t like the way he came across in a story Richman wrote about him; in fact, he had already gone on Arsenio and called Richman “a five-foot-two fat little male impersonator.” (Richman is, in fact, a lean, five-foot-nine former Army captain.)

Seagal tells the consultant that Richman is gay – “a fag,” in the actor’s words. (Richman is actually heterosexual.) He wants Richman Richman to set up with a homosexual “to get pictures of Richman going down on the man.” The pictures are to be used to destroy Richman’s career.

The security consultant, incredulous, refuses. But Seagal is undaunted. Later on in the meeting he asks his guest what it would take to “whack” a certain man from Chicago. Our man asks Seagal if he means whack as in “whack dead.” Replies, Seagal, referring to the man’s intelligence background, “Of course, you people do that all the time.”

“You’re crazy,” says the consultant, and once again Seagal’s bid to contract a murder is refused. (The consultant later told Spy, “I don’t really know whether if you agreed to hit some guy, if he’d draw up a contract for you, or if this is just his way of saying that ‘anyone who crosses me might get hit.'”

162 From “GQ Skewers Steven Seagal, Its Testy Cover Boy” by James Warren:

The letter-from-the-editor column in magazines, like your appendix, comes with the basic package but is virtually useless. Thank goodness your appendix doesn’t think it’s droll and can write.

Arthur Cooper, editor of Gentlemen’s Quarterly, pulls off a rarity, capturing one’s attention in his June issue as he sticks it to actor Steven Seagal, cover subject of the March issue. Seagal, a scantily talented, action-adventure star, was miffed by a somewhat intriguing, mildly critical profile by GQ’s Alan Richman that questioned murky areas in his past. Seagal appeared on Arsenio Hall’s TV show and, in what Cooper describes as “his charmingly inarticulate manner, raged that stars as big as he should not be treated so shabbily,” even calling writer Richman a “5-foot-2, fat, little male impersonator.” Richman, who is 5-foot-9 and won a Bronze Star as an Army captain in Vietnam, found being tagged mean-spirited by Seagal ironic. “If I wanted to be mean-spirited,” he tells Cooper, “I would have done a better job. For example, I didn’t put in the story that Seagal said Jews run Hollywood and that most of his directors were incompetent, because I thought it was just more of his careless shooting off at the mouth.” Cooper makes sure to disclose that when Seagal, who thrives on a macho image, showed up to have his picture taken for the March cover, he did so with “an entourage of 12, including bodyguards. His jet-black hair seemed to have a coating of shoe polish, and he was wearing a hair net.” “Having been ministered to earlier by his personal makeup artist, Mr. Seagal was wearing more pancake makeup than Tammy Faye Bakker on her very best day,” Cooper writes. “So, I ask you, who is calling whom a male impersonator?”

163 From “Seagal Under Siege” by Ned Zeman and John Connolly:

Never mind even the videotaped 1993 deposition Seagal gave while defending a civil suit brought by a parking-lot attendant who claimed that the star had roughed him up during a brief scuffle. The suit was settled, though not before a visibly agitated Seagal was asked whether he’d ever solicited murder. His response? He took the Fifth.

164 From “Seagal Under Siege” by Ned Zeman and John Connolly:

Often, Seagal’s wrath comes courtesy of his attorney Martin Singer, who once took the tack of suing a journalist before his story was even written. In 1993 a reporter who contributed to this article, John Connolly, began investigating Seagal for Spy magazine. Singer filed slander and libel suits against Connolly, alleging that he had falsely stated that Seagal associated with murderers and members of organized crime and had solicited murder.

After Connolly’s article was published, the suits were withdrawn. The story contained bombshell allegations by former Seagal associates, including an ex-CIA operative named Robert Strickland, who’d collaborated with Seagal on an aborted film project. In 1990, Strickland said, Seagal had opened an attaché case filled with $50,000 and asked him to kill a former friend and colleague of Seagal’s. The article also quoted a “top-level security consultant” who claimed that in 1991 Seagal had asked him what it would take to “whack” a certain man from Chicago. Shortly thereafter Seagal denied the charge and questioned Strickland’s sanity.

165 From “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast” by Ann Louise Bardach, specific page “Taming the hydra-headed carnivorous beast (page 91)”:

One would be hard pressed to confect a more devastating article for an aspiring politician. Gray Davis’s team couldn’t have been more delighted. ‘As far as I was concerned, [the Skelton column] put Arnold in the ring,” says Garry South, Davis’s campaign manager at the time. “If you’re going to call up a nationally known political columnist for the biggest paper in California and trash the sitting governor and announce that you’re thinking about running against him if he doesn’t shape up according to your own dictates, then you’re running. And by God, you’d better be ready for what’s going to come after you.” South sent the Premiere article to “50 to 80 reporters with a smart-ass little cover memo on it that said, Arnold’s piggish behavior with women-is it because of the pig valve?’ The Arnold camp went bananas.”

South was immediately confronted by Schwarzenegger’s first line of defense: Martin Singer, the combative attorney, also known as “Mad Dog” Singer, who has represented the star since 1990. Singer’s Century City firm, Lavely & Singer, employs 16 lawyers and handles many of Hollywood’s bad boys. “Marty Singer sent me a five page letter, threatening to sue me,” says South. “This was sent to my office, by the way, in person, and they demanded that somebody sign for the letter. Not only did he threaten to sue me for libel-for e-mailing out an article that anyone could have bought on any newsstand-the last paragraph said, ‘Oh, and by the way, this letter is in itself copyrighted, and if you release any part of this letter to the press, I will further sue you for copyright infringement.’ Now, I’ve got to tell you, in my 32 years in politics, I had never gotten a letter like that from anybody.”

166 From “Talk of the Town” by Bryan Burrough and John Connolly:

Those attorneys who used Pellicano’s services and who have cases known to be under federal examination, or who have retained their own attorneys, include some of the best-known lawyers in Southern California: Dennis Wasser, the renowned Beverly Hills divorce attorney whose clients have included Kerkorian, Spielberg, Rod Stewart, and Jennifer Lopez; Martin Singer, who has represented Jim Carrey, Eddie Murphy, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, and Celine Dion, and whose office number is said to have appeared on Pellicano’s speed-dial list; the late Edward Masry, best known for spearheading the class-action lawsuit that inspired the 2000 movie Erin Brockovich; Charles N. Shep-ard, head of litigation at Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman Machtinger & Kinsella; two attorneys who have represented Pellicano, Victor Sherman and Donald Re; and Daniel G. Davis, a Beverly Hills criminal-defense attorney best known for his work in the late 1980s on the McMartin pre-school child-molestation case. (None of the attorneys or their representatives would comment for this article.)

167 From “Steven Seagal Gets a Shot at Stardom” by Patrick Goldstein:

Tall and lean, with the rough, good looks of a daredevil jet pilot, Steven Seagal is more than just a 6-foot-4 martial-arts wizard who can flip a man 5 feet in the air with a flick of his wrist.

His fans proclaim that he’s a star waiting to be born.

Ludwig wasn’t exaggerating. When Seagal sweeps through a restaurant, quickly crossing the room with his long, supple strides, heads do turn. With his huge hands, finely sculpted cheekbones and quick, cat-like movements, Seagal radiates plenty of movie-marquee sex appeal. And his martial-arts expertise seems to offer plenty of action-film credibility.

But what really grabs your attention is his voice.

Whether he is recounting his exploits overseas or wondering about his box-office reception, he speaks with a hushed, conspiratorial purr–as if he were worried that a tiny man hidden under the floorboards might be taping the conversation.

From “Man of Dishonor” by John Connolly, specific pages “Man of Dishonor (page 58)”:

According to [Joe] Hyams, Warners was impressed enough to hire Andy Davis, an up-and-coming director, and spend $50,000 on a screen test for Seagal. “The test was a disaster,” Hyams says. “Seagal’s voice was squeaky, and he did not come across well on-screen.” At that point, Hyams said, Ovitz took a most unusual step: He went back to Warners and offered them Donner for Lethal Weapon 2 for the same fee he’d gotten for the incredibly successful original. Whether the latter part of this deal went down is unknown (Donner would not return our phone calls), but Seagal got his break.

From “Fire Down Below” review by John Krewson:

Steven Seagal, the uncharismatic stack of puffy, aging flesh who stars in Fire Down Below, is a federal agent posing as a church mission carpenter while he works for the Environmental Protection Agency to stop rich coal barons from storing toxic waste in abandoned Appalachian mines. He believes in stopping evil polluters, but his pal got killed investigating the same dumps, so it’s also personal.

168 From “Seagal Under Siege” by Ned Zeman and John Connolly:

When Warner Bros. put him on a strict diet and supplied him with a trainer, they found cookie crumbs on the fitness equipment. On the set of Fire Down Below, according to a source, Seagal was so overweight that the crew spent much of its time trying to find flattering camera angles–which, given the final product, seem to have been few.

169 From “Is Actor Steven Seagal the Biggest Jerk in Hollywood?” by Kosmo:

There have been many bad hosts on Saturday Night Live, but perhaps the worst of all time is Steven Seagal; in fact, Seagal made the list of the Top Ten Dubious SNL Hosts. According to the book, Live From New York by Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller, back in 1991 when Seagal hosted the show, cast member David Spade said it was the first time he heard talk about replacing the host and doing a cast show.

Julia Sweeney said: “When we pitched our ideas for Seagal at our Monday meeting, he gave us some of his own sketch ideas. And some of his sketch ideas were so heinous, but so hilariously awful, it was like we were on Candid Camera.

“He had this idea that he’s a therapist and he wanted Victoria Jackson to be his patient who’s just been raped. And the therapist says, ‘You’re going to have to come to me twice a week for like three years,’ because, he said, ‘that’s how therapists freaking are. They’re just trying to get your money.’ And then he says that the psychiatrist tries to have sex with her.”

From “EXCLUSIVE: The Full Steven Seagal Story Jenny McCarthy Told Movieline in 1998” by Kyle Buchanan, a re-print of an excerpt from a profile by Stephen Rebello:

When I press her on the subject, the hurt in her voice says she’s still freaked. “I went to the audition for Under Siege 2 with, like, 15 other Jenny McCarthys. These girls came in and out of his office and I was last. Steven comes out and goes, ‘Hmm, so you’re last.’ I’m thinking, ‘Shouldn’t a casting person be doing this?’ I go inside his carpet, which has shag carpet and this huge couch, and he’s by himself and says, ‘Sit on the couch.’ I have my [script pages] and I say, ‘OK, I’m ready,’ but he says, ‘No, I want to find out about you.’ I knew what was coming. He goes, ‘So, you were Playmate of the Year,’ and I was trying to go–” Here, McCarthy breaks off and adopts a Laverne & Shirley blue-collar foghorn delivery: “Yeah, but, like, I lived in Chicago, see, and…”

The accent was apparently no turnoff. “I was wearing this very baggy dress,” she continues, “which I always wear to auditions, with my hair pulled back. I’m listening to him go on and on about how he found his soul in Asia and is one with himself and whatever. When I said, ‘Well, I’m ready to read,’ he said, ‘Stand up, you have to be kind of sexy in the movie and in that dress, I can’t tell.’ I stand up and he goes, ‘Take off your dress.’ I said, ‘What?’ and he said, ‘There’s nudity.’ I said, ‘No, there’s not, or I wouldn’t be here right now.’ He said again, ‘There’s nudity,’ and I said, ‘The pages are right in front of me. There’s no nudity.’ He goes, ‘Take off your dress.’ I just started crying and said, ‘Rent my [Playboy] video, you a**hole!’ and ran out to the car.” That wasn’t quite the end of it. “I’m closing my car door and he grabs me and says, ‘Don’t you ever tell anybody.’ He won’t sue me or say anything because he knows it’s true. If I saw him today, I would still say, ‘You’re a f***ing a**hole and I really hope you change your ways.'”

170 From “Man of Dishonor” by John Connolly, specific pages “Man of Dishonor (page 58)”:

Late 1990. The set of Out for Justice. Same principals – Seagal and Strickland. Raeanne Malone, one of four women hired by Warner Bros. to serve as Seagal’s personal assistants, is in the bathroom of his trailer, brushing her teeth. Strickland watches as Seagal begins loudly calling for Malone, saying he needs her immediately. She emerges still brushing her teeth. “Gee, Raeanne,” says the man of honor and protector of the weak, “You look like that when I come in your mouth.”

In May 1991 all four assistants – Malone, Nicole Selinger, Christine Keever and another woman – quit because of Seagal’s continuing piggery. Three of them threaten to bring sexual-harassment charges against him. Malone and another of the women, in return for a pledge of confidentiality, are paid in the vicinity of $50,000 each.

171 From “Seagal Under Siege” by Ned Zeman and John Connolly:

By 2000, Seagal’s relationship with Warner Bros. was effectively over. The studio had given him one last shot, paying him roughly $3 million to play a supporting role in Exit Wounds, an action vehicle for rapper DMX. The film performed decently, grossing about $72 million worldwide, but Warner Bros., fed up with Seagal’s work habits and bad karma, walked away from its 49-year-old Frankenstein, whose per-picture fee has dropped to about $2.5 million.

172 From “Man of Dishonor” by John Connolly, specific pages “Man of Dishonor (page 64)”:

What’s the explanation for Seagal’s extraordinarily rapid advance? Does he have powerful friends other than Ovitz? Certainly he claims to, and they tend to be invoked when he has differences with people.

A case in point: After Bob Strickland noticed that Seagal was appropriating his stories, he left dozens of messages warning him to stop. Seagal filed a harassment suit against Strickland and got an order of protection against him. In answer, Strickland filed a sworn affidavit in Burbank Superior Court. Among much else, Strickland said, “On December 11, 1991, Steven Seagal stated to me, in my attorney’s presence, ‘If anybody from the CIA fucks with me, they will be hurt.’ He claimed he was backed by very powerful people.” (Charlotte Bissell, who was present as Strickland’s attorney, confirmed his statement.)

The affidavit went on to state that a mutual friend named James Berkley “called me from New York…and advised me to ‘watch my ass.’ He stated that my safety could be in jeopardy because Steven Seagal is backed by powerful people who have a vested financial interest in preserving his image and reputation.” When interviewed by Spy, Berkley elaborated a little, saying only, “You don’t fuck with people from 18th Avenue in Brooklyn.”

173 From “Man of Dishonor” by John Connolly, the high school photo is on “Man of Dishonor (page 58)” and the photo of contrasting houses is on “Man of Dishonor (page 61)”:

steven seagal

steven seagal

174 From “Man of Dishonor” by John Connolly, specific pages “Man of Dishonor (page 64)”:

Julius Nasso is a 40-year-old pharmacist from Staten Island and the owner of Universal Marine Medical Supply Company, which supplies pharmaceuticals to merchants vessels. He is also Steven Seagal’s partner in Steamroller Entertainment, formerly Seagal/Nasso Productions, which has its New York headquarters on the second floor of Nasso’s offices on 12th Avenue in Brooklyn. It’s not clear how he and Seagal became partners. In an interview with Spy, Nasso said he broke into filmmaking in 1984, when he served as an assistant to the late director Sergio Leone during the filming of Once Upon a Time in America. He said his good friend Tony Danza, the actor, was instrumental in getting him involved. Danza told Spy, “I know Nasso, but he’s no friend of mine. I didn’t introduce him to Seagal.”

Seagal tells people Nasso is his cousin, and Nasso sort of agrees. “Our ancestors were related,” Nasso told us, although he couldn’t be more specific. Nasso is Italian and immigrated to the United States from Sicily when he was three. Seagal is Irish and Jewish. America is a wonderful melting pot, but this seems to stretch all limits, baffling even Seagal’s mother. “I never heard of Jules until a few years ago,” Pat Seagal told Spy. “I know he’s not related to us.”

175 From “Seagal Under Siege” by Ned Zeman and John Connolly:

If ever there were a little taste of Brooklyn in Beverly Hills, it would be Madeo, a chubby Italian fixture famous for its prosciutto, its veal, and an atmosphere not inhospitable to gold jewelry for men. That’s where Nasso and Seagal first met, in 1986. Seagal was there with his girlfriend, the actress Kelly LeBrock, best known for her role in the 1984 Gene Wilder comedy, The Woman in Red, and for a shampoo ad in which she famously said, “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.” Their romance had begun at Hong Kong’s Peninsula Hotel, where she was on a modeling assignment and he was on a mission for love, having persuaded friends that LeBrock was his “destiny.” Which evidently came as something of a surprise to Seagal’s wife at the time, Adrienne La Russa, whom he’d wed while technically still married to Fujitani, and who subsequently filed for an annulment.

It turns out that Nasso knew LeBrock through a friend, and pretty soon Nasso and the lovebirds were tight. A sweetheart, Nasso recalls of Seagal at the time. Stand-up guy. No booze, no drugs. Thin and fit. He wasn’t yet a star, wasn’t even acting. He was teaching aikido at a dojo on La Cienega but had some private clients as well.

176 From “Man of Dishonor” by John Connolly, specific pages “Man of Dishonor (page 65)”:

Whether or not Nasso and Seagal are cousins, they are certainly close. Nasso served as Seagal’s best man when he married Kelly LeBrock, and he is godfather to two of their children. Also, they are next-door neighbors. And yet, they are more than neighbors – tax records show that Nasso is the co-holder of the deed to Seagal’s Staten Island home, the one with the $560,000 mortgage, which sits across from the house formerly occupied by the late Tommy Billotti, who was whacked with Gambino boss Paul Castellano in 1985.

In a deposition in a civil assault case in which Seagal is involved, Seagal stated under oath that he doesn’t know how much money he has, doesn’t know what he owns and doesn’t know what he is paid per picture. At that point, his attorney, Martin Singer, interrupted with a clarification: Seagal does not have an individual contract with Warner Bros.; other people are involved. In fact, the contract is with Steamroller, and the other party is Nasso. Nasso seems to have quite a bit to say about Seagal’s financial affairs. For example, when Bob Strickland’s business deal with Seagal soured, he was told to repay the advance, which had been drawn on Seagal’s personal account, not to the actor but to Nasso.

177 From “His Two Worlds Are Worlds Apart” by Barnaby J. Feder:

He may not have had the artistic impact of the composer Charles Ives and the poet Wallace Stevens, both versatile executives who juggled careers in insurance and the arts, but Julius R. Nasso’s dual career has a similarly diverse flair.

Mr. Nasso runs Universal Marine Medical Supplies, which he has built into the world’s largest distributor of pharmaceuticals to ships, while helping produce action films like “Hard to Kill” and “Out for Justice.”

“I had no idea,” said William Muggenthaler, a senior purchasing executive in the shipping subsidiary of the Chevron Oil Company, which has counted on Universal Marine to stock its oil tankers’ medicine chests in ports around the world for nearly a decade. “We talk strictly about business. We look at other suppliers every two or three years, but we keep renewing his contract.”

Even fewer people know about several shorter-lived but also profitable ventures, like Mr. Nasso’s ownership in the early days of the Cabbage Patch doll craze of Baby Land General Hospital opposite the New York Public Library, where families came to adopt their dolls. Or Tishcon, a Westbury, L.I., company, established in 1976 with Satish Patel, one of his college pharmacy professors, to make over-the-counter drugs and vitamins sold by drugstores and supermarkets under their own labels. The company was sold to Cosmo Laboratories in 1985 in a deal that will provide Mr. Nasso with payments until 2005.

Mr. Nasso got his first taste of pharmacy when he went to work as a 7-year-old stock boy in a Bay Ridge pharmacy, now one of four he owns and operates under the Bi-Wise name. He held numerous other jobs as well, including pouring concrete as a teen-ager on a Manhattan skyscraper being built by the prosperous and influential uncle for whom he was named.

Mr. Nasso founded Universal Marine while still an undergraduate at St. John’s University in Queens, jumping at an opportunity he discovered on his evening shift managing a Brooklyn pharmacy. A harried mate from a freighter docked nearby had rushed in with a lengthy order for drugs and medical equipment that the Coast Guard required the ship to have on board before the scheduled sailing, only hours away. Mr. Nasso filled nearly all of the order by calling around to other drugstores and immediately began to wonder if there was not a better way to do business.

Today, Universal Marine grosses more than $30 million annually, providing shippers with one-stop shopping for supplies ranging from aspirin to hospital beds. It competes with local pharmacies by offering shipping concerns standard prices for worldwide delivery, quantity discounts, inventory control services and expert guidance on the use and disposal of regulated narcotics like morphine.

178 From “Man of Dishonor” by John Connolly, specific pages “Man of Dishonor (page 65)”:

Of course, if in fact Seagal and Julius Nasso were cousins, they might have the same uncle. In an interview in The New York Times, Nasso shows respect for his successful uncle, the one for whom he was named, the one for whom at one time or another he worked. That would be Julius Nasso, the owner of Julius Nasso Concrete Corporation. In 1985 the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York charged Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno and ten other defendants with a wide range of racketeering activities, including extorting money from construction companies to submit fraudulently rigged bids. Julius Nasso Concrete was named in a civil case for participating in the bid-rigging scheme. Employees of Julius Nasso Concrete testified for the government, and Salerno was sentenced to 100 years in prison.

On Julius Nasso’s uncle, also named Julius Nasso, from “When Life Imitates a B-Movie” by Paul Lieberman:

Another profile mentioned that his early jobs included pouring concrete for an “influential uncle,” with no mention of how the elder Nasso’s name had come up at a 1980s mob trial. According to testimony, the uncle attended a meeting with the then-head of the Gambino crime family to discuss the contract to pour concrete for the Jacob Javits Convention Center.

179 From “Man of Dishonor” by John Connolly, specific pages “Man of Dishonor (page 65)”:

Another performer in a Seagal film, Jerry Ciauri, is the stepson of a Mafia capo, Robert Zambardi, who reportedly got Seagal to give his stepson a part in Out for Justice. Seagal hired Ciauri, who has ambitions to be a movie star, to play a bookmaker. In a key scene, Seagal beats up a number of bad guys in a bar; the one varmint who never takes a punch is Ciauri. “No way Seagal was going to take a swing at Bobby Zam’s kid,” Spy was told. Ciauri is awaiting trial on charges of attempted murder, grand larceny and coercion.

On Nasso’s family, from “When Life Imitates a B-Movie” by Paul Lieberman:

He is not the only one in his family embroiled in the criminal case. His brother Vincent, 43, is accused of paying the mob $400,000 in kickbacks in return for a three-year contract to administer a union prescription plan.

A second brother in health care, a chiropractor, was not implicated. He’s the one who in 1989 married a daughter of Johnny Gambino, an imprisoned mob captain.

Nasso says he and Seagal were so close by then, “he escorted my mother up the aisle …. Steven was the star of the wedding.”

180 On Zambardi’s indictment, from “Prosecutors Tell of Colombo Family Murder Plot” by Arnold H. Lubasch:

Victor Orena, reputedly the acting boss of the Colombo crime family, has narrowly escaped an assassination plot, according to a court document.

The plot stemmed from a power struggle between Mr. Orena and a group loyal to Carmine Persico, the convicted Colombo boss now serving a long prison sentence, the document said. It noted that the information about the alleged murder plot came from confidential informants.

Federal prosecutors submitted the document last week at a detention hearing for a defendant, Robert Zambardi, in a loansharking case in Federal District Court in Brooklyn. The document identified Mr. Zambardi as a Colombo crime family soldier who reports directly to Carmine Sessa, identified as the family’s counselor.

“Five confidential sources have informed agents of the F.B.I. that members of the Colombo family close to Persico and concerned that Orena wanted to take over complete control of the family, ordered Orena’s murder,” the document said.

“On June 20, 1991,” it continued, “Carmine Sessa, Robert Zambardi and two other men went to Orena’s residence intending to murder Orena. The plan failed because Orena arrived home prematurely before the conspirators were ready.”

Mr. Zambardi, who is 51 years old and lives on Staten Island, was the only defendant the Government tried to detain without bail in the loansharking investigation. Five others, accused of links to the Gambino crime family, were indicted on separate loansharking charges and were released on $250,000 bail each.

The other defendants were Joseph Bilotti, 58, of Staten Island; Vincent D’Antoni, 48, of Staten Island; Joseph Seggio, 54, of Brooklyn; Peter Sgarlato, 56, of Edison, N.J., and Michael Murdocco, 48, of Staten Island.

Mr. Bilotti was identified as a brother of Thomas Bilotti, who was killed with Paul Castellano, who reputedly headed the Gambino family. They were shot to death on Dec. 16, 1985. Their murders are among the charges against John Gotti in a racketeering trial scheduled for early next year.

The details of Zambardi’s conviction and sentencing can be found in his later, failed, appeal, “164 F.3d 796 UNITED STATES of America, Appellee, v. Theodore PERSICO, Robert Zambardi, and Richard Fusco, Defendants-Appellants.”:

Background

The charges and the Persico trial. The charges in this case arose from an internal war between the Persico and the Orena factions of the Colombo organized crime family, which was fought on the streets of New York City from mid-1991 through the end of 1994. The war was the subject of numerous indictments and has already precipitated several decisions of this Court, which recount its complex details.1

Appellant Persico, the brother of the Colombo family boss, Carmine Persico, Jr., was a member of the Persico faction. He was tried in this case with four other members of that faction, Joseph and Anthony Russo (hereinafter “the Russos”), Joseph Monteleone, and Lawrence Fiorenza. Appellants Fusco and Zambardi, who pled guilty, were also members of the Persico faction.

The trial focused on a conspiracy among members of the Persico faction to murder members of the Orena faction and on three murders of Orena faction members that occurred during the conspiracy: John Minerva and Michael Imbergamo, killed in one incident, and Lorenzo Lampesi, killed separately. Evidence was also presented showing many other incidents in which one or more of the defendants plotted or attempted to kill members of the Orena faction.

The proof consisted largely of the testimony of four cooperating accomplice witnesses: Carmine Sessa (the former consigliere of the Colombo family’s Persico faction), Lawrence Mazza, Joseph Ambrosino (both lower-level soldiers in the Persico faction), and Salvatore Miciotta (a soldier in the Orena faction). These witnesses all testified from their personal knowledge of the conspiracy and the murders, and the defendants’ participation in them. Their testimony was corroborated by tape-recorded conversations, law enforcement surveillances, and evidence seized through lawful searches.

Zambardi’s guilty plea. Zambardi was originally charged in five counts of the indictment with substantive and conspiracy RICO violations, conspiracy to murder, using and carrying a firearm in connection with the murder conspiracy, loan-sharking conspiracy, and possession of a firearm by an ex-felon. At the start of Persico’s trial, Zambardi pled guilty to one count of racketeering, 18 U.S.C. § 1962(c), pursuant to a plea agreement stipulating to a 15-year term of imprisonment. If convicted on all counts, Zambardi would have faced life imprisonment.

Following the disclosure of Scarpa’s role as an informant, Zambardi moved to withdraw his plea. He relied on Brady and its progeny, and also alleged that the Government had engaged in “outrageous conduct.” Zambardi claimed that if he had known these newly disclosed facts, he would not have pled guilty.

The District Court denied the motion, finding that the evidence against him was overwhelming. The Court also analyzed the legitimate use that Zambardi might have made of the newly disclosed information and concluded that it would have been immaterial to Zambardi’s trial and to his decision to plead guilty, because there was ample direct evidence against Zambardi without resort to the Scarpa hearsay. Thus, any impeachment of Scarpa’s statements would have been of no value to Zambardi. In Chief Judge Sifton’s view, Zambardi was not seeking to withdraw his plea for any reason other than to try to bargain for an even more lenient sentence. After denial of his post-plea motion, Zambardi received a sentence that included a term of 15 years.

Zambardi’s later guilty plea to four murders is in “Feds Stick With Mob Turncoat” by Helen Peterson and Jerry Capeci:

A top Brooklyn mob turncoat released on bail two years ago was recently returned to prison for possessing guns and beating his wife but the feds still think he’s a credible prosecution witness. Former Colombo consigliere Carmine Sessa, who killed 12 men and a woman in his mobster days, pleaded guilty last month to gun charges and lying to the FBI about terrorizing his wife, Anne, and son, Thomas, for seven months. Despite the renewed violence, Sessa, 48, who made his bones as a member of the Bensonhurst-based crew of Greg Scarpa Sr., was returned to a prison unit for cooperating witnesses. There he was prepped to testify in Brooklyn Federal Court at the racketeering and murder trial of Colombo mobster Robert Zambardi, according to court papers. Zambardi also was a member of the Scarpa crew that operated out of the Wimpy Boys Social Club on 13th Ave. Zambardi, charged with four murders and facing life, pleaded guilty last week after prosecutors made him an offer he couldn’t refuse 11 years.

A piece at the time of Ciauri’s conviction is “State jury makes it official: La Cosa Nostra does exist”:

The jury convicted [Jerry] Ciauri and [James] Besser of shaking down a supermarket owner and stealing $60,000 from the market. In addition, it found that Besser forced the market manager to cash bad checks and that Ciauri made him buy produce from a mob-connected supplier. Ciauri also was convicted of murder conspiracy related to internal warfare in the Colombo mob.

The two man face up to 25 years in prison when sentenced at a later date.

That Ciauri was still serving time in 2001 on various charges is mentioned in “Metro Briefing New York: Albany: Crime Figures’ Appeal Is Rejected” by the Times:

The state’s highest court yesterday rejected an appeal by two imprisoned members of the Colombo organized-crime family. The decision by the Court of Appeals means that James Besser, also known as James Zerilli, will continue to serve 15 years to life in prison, and that Jerry Ciauri will continue his sentence of 12 1/2 to 25 years. According to court records, Mr. Ciauri and Mr. Besser were involved in a failed conspiracy to kill Vic Orena, acting head of the Colombo family, in 1991.

181 From “Seagal Under Siege” by Ned Zeman and John Connolly:

As ever, there were whispers about the duo’s rather exotic origins–Nasso’s in gangland, Seagal’s in his own mind. Nasso, especially, had colorful connections. There was his Uncle Julius, whom federal authorities describe as having connections with the Gambino crime family, and there was his brother, whose wife’s maiden name happens to be Gambino. “I’ve known the good, the bad, and the ugly,” Nasso says. “On my block there’s been a judge and a gangster.” The latter would be Tommy Bilotti, who in 1985 was whacked alongside former Gambino boss Paul Castellano. “That’s the way of life in Staten Island. We all do what we do, and then, when we go home at night, we’re neighbors.”

On Joseph Bilotti’s involvement in the attempt on Orena’s life, from “Prosecutors Tell of Colombo Family Murder Plot” by Arnold H. Lubasch:

The other defendants were Joseph Bilotti, 58, of Staten Island; Vincent D’Antoni, 48, of Staten Island; Joseph Seggio, 54, of Brooklyn; Peter Sgarlato, 56, of Edison, N.J., and Michael Murdocco, 48, of Staten Island.

Mr. Bilotti was identified as a brother of Thomas Bilotti, who was killed with Paul Castellano, who reputedly headed the Gambino family. They were shot to death on Dec. 16, 1985. Their murders are among the charges against John Gotti in a racketeering trial scheduled for early next year.

182 From “The Brooklyn Guy and the Movie Guy: It’s a Mobster Scenario” by Alan Feuer:

In addition to making movies, Mr. Nasso, 49, is the president of Universal Marine Medical Supplies, which sells prescription medicines and surgical products to freighters, cruise ships, off-shore oil rigs and military vessels. He got his start in the pharmacy business by working weekends as a stock boy at Lowen’s, a drugstore in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, according to a 1999 interview he gave to The Friars Epistle, which is published by the Friars Club.

In that interview, Mr. Nasso spoke of meeting Mr. Seagal on a business trip to Kobe, Japan. The chance encounter eventually led to a movie partnership, Seagal-Nasso Productions, said Mr. Nasso’s lawyer, Barry Levin. ”They made movies together,” Mr. Levin said. These included ”Hard to Kill,” ”Marked for Death” and ”Under Siege.”

Here’s another version from “When Life Imitates a B-Movie” by Paul Lieberman:

Nasso has often said he met Seagal in Japan, while on business for Universal Marine Medical Supplies, his Brooklyn-based company that sells pharmaceuticals and health gear to cruise lines and merchant ships. Nasso said he needed a translator and looked up Seagal, who was fluent in the language: He’d been married to a Japanese woman and had run a martial arts studio in Japan.

Nasso sometimes told people he and Seagal were distant cousins. They’re not, and the whole Japan story is “puffery,” Nasso now acknowledges.

He now says they met in Los Angeles in early 1987.

…as well as in “Seagal Under Siege” by Ned Zeman and John Connolly:

If ever there were a little taste of Brooklyn in Beverly Hills, it would be Madeo, a chubby Italian fixture famous for its prosciutto, its veal, and an atmosphere not inhospitable to gold jewelry for men. That’s where Nasso and Seagal first met, in 1986. Seagal was there with his girlfriend, the actress Kelly LeBrock, best known for her role in the 1984 Gene Wilder comedy, The Woman in Red, and for a shampoo ad in which she famously said, “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.” Their romance had begun at Hong Kong’s Peninsula Hotel, where she was on a modeling assignment and he was on a mission for love, having persuaded friends that LeBrock was his “destiny.” Which evidently came as something of a surprise to Seagal’s wife at the time, Adrienne La Russa, whom he’d wed while technically still married to Fujitani, and who subsequently filed for an annulment.

It turns out that Nasso knew LeBrock through a friend, and pretty soon Nasso and the lovebirds were tight. A sweetheart, Nasso recalls of Seagal at the time. Stand-up guy. No booze, no drugs. Thin and fit. He wasn’t yet a star, wasn’t even acting. He was teaching aikido at a dojo on La Cienega but had some private clients as well. One of them, as fate would have it, was then the most powerful man in Hollywood, Michael Ovitz, who ran the vaunted Creative Artists Agency. They had met through another mutual client, actor James Coburn.

183 From “His Two Worlds Are Worlds Apart” by Barnaby J. Feder:

Mr. Nasso’s involvement with movies was an outgrowth of business trips to Universal Marine’s branch office in San Pedro, the port of Los Angeles. Mr. Nasso fell into the habit on trips there of taking a couple of extra days to stop in on childhood acquaintances who were making their mark in television: Tony Danza (“Taxi”), Jimmy Baio (“Soap”) and Scott Baio (“Happy Days”). He was immediately intrigued by the organizational skills that went into filming.

From “Man of Dishonor” by John Connolly, specific page “Man of Dishonor (page 64)”:

In an interview with Spy, Nasso said he broke into filmmaking in 1984, when he served as an assistant to the late director Sergio Leone during the filming of Once Upon a Time in America. He said his good friend Tony Danza, the actor, was instrumental in getting him involved. Danza told Spy, “I know Nasso, but he’s no friend of mine. I didn’t introduce him to Seagal.”

184 From “Seagal Under Siege” by Ned Zeman and John Connolly:

By 1983 the magic found Nasso–in, of all places, Brooklyn–courtesy of the late spaghetti-Western director Sergio Leone, who was in town making his gangland epic, Once upon a Time in America, starring Robert De Niro. Leone needed an assistant, and who better than Nasso, who spoke paesan and was, at the very least, familiar with the subject matter? At age 29 Nasso became Leone’s gofer, earning $35 a day while keeping his day job. “You’re a doctor?” Leone asked him, embarrassed that a pharmacist was fetching him lunch. “What are you doing here?”

“You’re the master,” Nasso replied.

185 From “Seagal Under Siege” by Ned Zeman and John Connolly:

Nasso’s heritage, by contrast, has never been in dispute–except perhaps for the time in the early 1990s when he claimed to a reporter that he and Seagal were related. (He’s sure not claiming that anymore.) Little Jules was a classic Brooklyn scrapper, working his way through college at St. John’s, in Queens, while climbing the ladder at Lowen’s, a pharmacy not far from the Brooklyn Piers, which were lousy with mobsters who shook down the major shipping lines. (Nasso also earned a doctorate in pharmacy from the University of Connecticut.)

From “His Two Worlds Are Worlds Apart” by Barnaby J. Feder:

Inside, the counter behind his desk is filled with a large model of the Titanic and a computer terminal that connects Mr. Nasso to Universal Marine’s operations. The wall above it is covered with pharmacy degrees and certificates. A model anchor serves as a paperweight. But off to the side are a series of movie posters, pictures of Nasso family members with stars like Sylvester Stallone and the cast of “Ghostbusters” and a director’s chair with Mr. Nasso’s name.

From “When Life Imitates a B-Movie” by Paul Lieberman:

Three newspapers did profiles tracing his rise from humble roots, one account saying he had two doctorates, apparently not realizing that Nasso proudly counts a 1979 testimonial dinner at Fordham University as the equivalent of an honorary degree and bases his other on a membership certificate from the Connecticut Pharmaceutical Assn.

186 From “Cabbage Patch Fever: 25 Years After” by Colleen Kane:

Whenever I see a Cabbage Patch Kid slouching naked on a shelf at a thrift store, yarn hair pulled out of her former fat pigtails, I think about how far her value has fallen.

In the Christmas season of 1983, Cabbage Patch Kids were America’s most wanted dolls. They were nearly impossible to find selling at their $30 retail price, with the black market values going to $75 and beyond into triple digits. The dolls were ugly, each one was unique, and each had their own ugly unique compound name, like Eunice Grismelda or Archibald Jehosephat.

I was 9 going on 10, edging up on being a little old for dolls, but I was not immune to Cabbage Patch fever. Most of my friends already had them, some even had more than one (NOT FAIR). My wish for a doll coupled with an even more urgent desire to not be left out. I knew it would take more than a letter to Santa to acquire one of these. It would take lots of begging.

From “About New York; A New Cabbage Patch Arrives On 5th Avenue” by William E. Geist, from The New York Times, December 7, 1985:

Two burly truckers sheepishly entered the pastel ”adoption room,” the larger of the two deciding to stand so as not to smash to smithereens the delicate furniture.

They watched in wonder as their two new children received a final checkup from the doctor, then they signed the papers and raised their right hands: ”I solemnly promise,” they said, to be understanding parents, to provide for the childrens’ needs, to love and nurture them, to train them properly and to cherish their roles as adoptive parents of Cabbage Patch Kids.

No one cracked a smile, not in Babyland, a new store at 475 Fifth Avenue, at 41st Street, that sells only Cabbage Patch Kids dolls and accessories. ”Adopt,” Nurse Eileen softly corrected. ”They are up for adoption, not for sale. And they are babies or children or kids, not dolls.”

She and the other nurses and doctors on the staff of the store – ”We prefer the term ‘hospital,’ ” corrected Nurse Kathleen – dress in nurse’s and doctor’s uniforms, complete with real stethoscopes. What is more, they use the stethoscopes.

They know how. They were trained at Babyland General Hospital in Cleveland, Ga., where Cabbage Patch dolls were created, and where the doctors learned such things as how to perform freckle-otomies and dimplectomies – simple, outpatient procedures done at nominal charges. They also treat crackitis with needle and thread.

From “Coleco Moves Out Of The Cabbage Patch” by N. R. Kleinfeld:

What still hangs over Coleco, though, is the unanswerable question of how much longer the Cabbage Patch roll will go on. Coleco is reliant on its homely dolls for three-quarters of its sales. Toyland is a fickle place. What is Silly Putty today is often just silly tomorrow.

In fact, Toy & Hobby World, a trade magazine that surveys retailers to compute the 10 best-selling toys, reports that robots and various action figures are the toys that are sizzling these days. Cabbage Patch, which led the hit parade for a dazzling 16 months, was displaced in April by Transformers, a line of transformable toy robots manufactured by Hasbro Inc. In May, Cabbage Patch tumbled to third, behind Transformers and Mattel’s Masters of the Universe action figures, but then the dolls climbed to second in the June survey.

”Cabbage Patch, after all, is just a toy,” remarks Rick Anguilla, the editor of Toy & Hobby World. ”It’s not a world event. It was so hysterically big, but it has to tail off.”

187 On “Operation Which Doctor” from “Cops on Steroids” by Sean Gardiner:

In the past year, Lowen’s has become what law-enforcement officials believe was one of the busiest steroid and HGH outlets in the country. Those involved in this alleged ‘roid mill include a Beverly Hills chiropractor with a degree in hypnotism, a mob associate/ movie producer named Julius “Jules” Nasso who did time for extorting actor Steven Seagal, a former pump-and-dump stock operator who owns a gym, and a Staten Island doctor who had an office in what was known as the “Fountain of Youth Building,” across the street from a cemetery.

In the past two years, the probe zigzagged from upstate New York to South Florida before focusing on the community drug store in Bay Ridge. The Brooklyn investigation started in a roundabout way. In 2005, officials from the state Department of Health contacted Albany D.A. David Soares after their records showed that a doctor in Rome, New York, was issuing an unusually large amount of methadone, according to Soares’s spokeswoman Heather Orth. The probe took an unexpected turn when the doctor, who eventually was sentenced to six years in prison, began explaining how the Internet and so-called anti-aging clinics were being used to illegally prescribe drugs without doctor’s exams and then ship steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs.

“Operation Which Doctor,” as they called it, eventually led investigators to Orlando, Florida, where this past February a task force raided the Signature pharmacy and several anti-aging clinics. Orth maintains that the focus of the investigation was always the suppliers. To date, she says, 22 people have been indicted, with 10 of those convicted, including several doctors and pharmacists. But what made the headlines (and caused some criticism of the district attorney as being a publicity hound) was that several professional athletes were found to have obtained steroids from Signature. Among them, reportedly, were former heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield, baseball player Gary Matthews Jr., and New England Patriots safety Rodney Harrison.

On the involvement of Joseph Colao, from “N.J. doctor supplied steroids to hundreds of law enforcement officers, firefighters” by Amy Brittain & Mark Mueller:

From a seemingly above-board practice in Jersey City, Colao frequently broke the law and his own oath by faking medical diagnoses to justify his prescriptions for the drugs, the investigation shows.

Many of the officers and firefighters willingly took part in the ruse, finding Colao provided an easy way to obtain tightly regulated substances that are illegal without a valid prescription, the investigation found.

Others were persuaded by the physician’s polished sales pitch, one that glossed over the risks and legal realities, the newspaper found. A small percentage may have legitimately needed the drugs to treat uncommon medical conditions.

In most cases, if not all, they used their government health plans to pay for the substances. Evidence gathered by The Star-Ledger suggests the total cost to taxpayers reaches into the millions of dollars.

On the involvement of Richard Lucente, “Richard Lucente, doc in NYPD steroid scandal, arrested on charges of prescribing ‘roids” by Scott Shifrel:

A Staten Island doctor at the center of a steroid scandal involving NYPD officers was busted Tuesday on charges he illegally peddled the drug to bodybuilders.

Dr. Richard Lucente pleaded not guilty to a 76-count indictment for his part of the scandal, which included kickbacks for sending patients to a pharmacy, prosecutors said.

Lucente, a 37-year-old osteopath and former personal trainer who ran the New York Anti-Aging and Wellness Center in West Brighton, Staten Island, was one of the main doctors writing prescriptions for cops and high school athletes.

“He gained a reputation as someone who would sell to any bodybuilder, weightlifter or athlete,” Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said. Lucente’s clinic and Lowen’s Pharmacy in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, also were indicted.

On the Victor Vargas episode, from “N.J. doctor supplied steroids to hundreds of law enforcement officers, firefighters” by Amy Brittain & Mark Mueller:

The man on the stoop looked “wild-eyed.”

Mathias Bolton stood inside the vestibule of his Jersey City apartment building, trying to decide what to do.

Moments earlier, after hearing footsteps and bangs on his roof, he had called police to report a possible break-in. Then he had rushed down the stairs to let the officers in. Bolton had expected to find a uniformed officer when he opened the door on that August night in 2007.

Instead he saw a man in street clothes, with no badge visible, shouting at him, he claims in a lawsuit against the Jersey City Police Department.

“He looks very nervous and wild-eyed and looks like … to me he looks like a thug,” Bolton said in a deposition last year. “And he yells at me, ‘Did you call the police? Did you call the police?’ And I’m hearing the sirens coming, and I – at that point – I’m just terrified. I just let the guys in who were on the roof.”

The man on the stoop wasn’t a burglar. He was Jersey City officer Victor Vargas, whose use of steroids would come to play a central role in Bolton’s lawsuit against the city.

During the suit’s discovery phase, Bolton’s lawyers learned Vargas, now 33, was one of two officers on the scene that night to have received steroids or growth hormone from Colao. The other is Stise, the officer who was just 26 when Lowen’s sent him drugs.

Between January and August 2007, Vargas filled 11 prescriptions for HCG, testosterone and growth hormone through Lowen’s and a local Walgreens, the lawsuit states.

Bolton claims Vargas never identified himself as a police officer and, in a steroid-induced rage, sent him sprawling with a punch to the face.

“I grab onto the railing and this guy – it turns out to be Victor Vargas – and he’s pounding me like a bear, like over and over,” Bolton, 37, said in his deposition.

Bolton contends Vargas then tossed him down the stairs to the sidewalk, where other arriving officers, including Stise, continued to beat him.

“Mr. Bolton’s description of the sudden and violent behavior he allegedly encountered with the city police officer Vargas, if true, is consistent with a manifestation of the aggressiveness that is known to occur with anabolic steroids,” wrote Gary Wadler, Bolton’s steroids expert.

The officers provide a markedly different account of the incident in legal papers, saying Vargas and others on the scene clearly identified themselves, repeatedly ordered Bolton to stop resisting and acted with restraint in subduing a man they claimed was punching and kicking them.

Bolton was charged with resisting arrest and aggravated assault on a police officer. The counts were later dropped.

188 From “Staten Island doctor pleads guilty to selling steroids to cops, body builders” by Scott Shifrel:

A Staten Island doctor charged with peddling steroids to cops and body builders pleaded guilty in the middle of his trial Friday.

Richard Lucente, 38, admitted he got kickbacks from a Brooklyn pharmacy for feeding it patients – including 19 city cops and a heart transplant patient who died.

Lucente – who could have faced more than 30 years if convicted at trial – pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy in exchange for five years probation, 200 hours of community service and giving up medicine. “He has surrendered his medical license.

He is a convicted felon. He is not writing prescriptions,” prosecutor Michel Spanakos said afterward.

On the death of Joseph Colao, from “N.J. doctor supplied steroids to hundreds of law enforcement officers, firefighters” by Amy Brittain & Mark Mueller:

On a rainy August morning in 2007, the news rippled through New Jersey’s law enforcement ranks, officer to officer, department to department.

Joseph Colao was dead.

The 45-year-old physician had collapsed in his Jersey City apartment, the victim of heart failure.

Within hours, officers were calling the Hudson County public safety complex.

“Is it true?” they asked, recalled Detective Sgt. Ken Kolich, who’d drawn the routine assignment to look into the death. “Did Dr. Colao die?”

Kolich didn’t suspect foul play, but he found it odd – and a little disturbing – that so many officers were interested in the fate of a man with no official ties to any police agency.

Today, it’s clear Colao was more than just a doctor, friend or confidant to many of the officers.

He was their supplier.

On Vargas getting his prescriptions filled at Lowen’s, from “N.J. doctor supplied steroids to hundreds of law enforcement officers, firefighters” by Amy Brittain & Mark Mueller:

Between January and August 2007, Vargas filled 11 prescriptions for HCG, testosterone and growth hormone through Lowen’s and a local Walgreens, the lawsuit states.

On the number of steroid prescriptions filled out at Loew’s, from “Cops on Steroids” by Sean Gardiner:

In addition to the pharmacy’s connection with Nasso, it is also associated with New York Anti-Aging & Wellness Medical Services, a Staten Island hormone-therapy clinic also at the center of the steroid probe. The principals in that venture include osteopath Richard Lucente and John Amato, a/k/a “Flames,” who owns several Dolphin Fitness Center gyms. Amato did 15 months in prison and was ordered to make $182,000 in restitution for a pump-and dump stock scam in 2000 involving a company supposedly operating health clubs. Rossi’s son-in-law, Edward Letendre, is also a partner in the clinic and a vice president of Lowen’s.

The Staten Island clinic was located in the small, redbrick “Fountain of Youth Building” across the street from St. Peter’s Cemetery. In a small office on the lower level of that building, Lucente also operated the Life Longevity Center. The office was raided several months ago and appears to have since been vacated. Investigators have found that Lucente wrote more than 2,000 of the 9,300 steroid prescriptions filled at Lowen’s over the past 18 months, according to law-enforcement sources.

On the HGH being illegally imported from China, and the kickbacks received from Colao, from “N.J. doctor supplied steroids to hundreds of law enforcement officers, firefighters” by Amy Brittain & Mark Mueller:

Representatives of Lowen’s Pharmacy, a neighborhood drugstore in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn, were shopping for doctors who could help them expand by moving huge quantities of steroids and growth hormone illegally imported from China, said Mark Haskins, who investigated the pharmacy for the New York State Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, a division of the health department.

“Without a doctor, you can’t peddle the stuff,” said Haskins, who retired from the agency after helping secure an indictment against Lowen’s. “You only need one doctor, and you’re golden.”

Colao became that doctor.

The physician steered clients to Lowen’s, and the pharmacy sent Colao boxes of HGH as a kickback, Haskins said. The more product Colao pushed, the more he received off the books. And the more he received, the more he could sell for cash, Haskins said.

“Dr. Colao sold drugs,” Haskins said. “Lowen’s sold drugs. There was no doctor-patient relationship here.”

On Lucente accepting kickbacks, from “Richard Lucente, doc in NYPD steroid scandal, arrested on charges of prescribing ‘roids”:

A Staten Island doctor at the center of a steroid scandal involving NYPD officers was busted Tuesday on charges he illegally peddled the drug to bodybuilders.

Dr. Richard Lucente pleaded not guilty to a 76-count indictment for his part of the scandal, which included kickbacks for sending patients to a pharmacy, prosecutors said.

On Nasso’s involvement with Lowen’s, from “Staten Island film producer denies any wrongdoing” by Associated Press:

A law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press that state prosecutors are probing Nasso’s connections to a small Brooklyn pharmacy whose large-scale sales of steroids and human growth hormone earned it a mention in the Mitchell Report on the use of those drugs by Major League Baseball players.

No one has been charged, and Nasso denies any involvement — but there has been intrigue enough to fill a movie script.

State narcotics investigators raided Lowen’s Pharmacy twice last year, carting away enough Chinese-made human growth hormone in one visit to make $7.5 million worth of shots.

As Brooklyn prosecutors were preparing to convene a grand jury, the store’s principal owner and chief pharmacist, John Rossi, apparently shot himself to death on Jan. 28.

What does any of this have to do with Nasso? He was Rossi’s friend and business partner for 40 years and still co-owns the building housing Lowen’s.

189 On Nasso being a silent partner in Lowen’s, from “Cops on Steroids” by Sean Gardiner:

A lawsuit filed in July by Beverly Hills chiropractor Shirley Elzinga against Lowen’s and its owners, John Rossi and Nasso, details Lowen’s meteoric rise from family pharmacy to Internet drug supermarket.

Elzinga, who runs a Rodeo Drive anti- aging center called Preventive Medicine Clinic, contends that sometime in 2004 she was approached by Nasso, who is described in the suit as “an owner of Lowen’s.” (A law-enforcement source tells the Voice that Rossi has described Nasso as a “silent partner” in the pharmacy.)

190 On John Rossi’s death and the letters he sent before he died, from “A Shot Reputation” by Sean Gardiner:

A well-known pharmacist gets involved with shady characters who force him to transform his neighborhood drugstore into an illegal steroid factory that becomes part of a major scandal involving NYPD cops. Then, when the heat is on and the pharmacist agrees to talk, he ends up dead of a gunshot wound. Unfortunately for Bay Ridge pharmacist John Rossi, this may have been the movie of his life. How much Rossi was part of the burgeoning scandal revolving around Lowen’s Pharmacy could be difficult to determine. Employees found him shot to death in his store office on January 28. The death has been ruled a suicide.

It appears that he shot himself twice. Authorities say that Rossi stuffed small wads of paper towels into his ears, then placed a .380-caliber semiautomatic handgun gripped in his right hand to the left side of his chest, near his nipple, and pulled the trigger. The bullet passed through his pectoral muscle and out his armpit; it was only a flesh wound. He then put the gun to the right side of his head and fired again, authorities say.

Rossi spent Sunday, January 27, at a hospital, celebrating the birth of a grandson. The next day, he went to work. His attorney, Richard Signorelli, says he spoke with Rossi that morning and they discussed the case. Signorelli says that Rossi maintained, as he had throughout the probe, an attitude of being “stoic and resolved to fight this case and clear his name.” Signorelli adds, “I had no sign that anything like this was going to happen.”

Following a major October raid, Rossi wrote two letters published in the local Bay Ridge edition of the Brooklyn Eagle, in which he defended himself and the pharmacy by saying that his suppliers had sent unlicensed substances to the store. “Lowen’s and its pharmacists and employees have done nothing improper,” he wrote. He taped the letters to the front window of the store.

“My family is my life,” one of the letters says. “Lowen’s staff is part of my family and will be always.”

On the skepticism of people to the suicide, from “In Bay Ridge, Shock Over a Pharmacy Owner’s Death” by Jake Mooney:

Finally, hushed gossip in the neighborhood focused on the circumstances of Mr. Rossi’s death, which the city medical examiner ruled a suicide. He reportedly was being sought to testify in the steroid inquiry, and people who have doubts about the official story say he had a lot to live for, and a lot of information that could have hurt others. They also focus on what killed him: two gunshots. Mr. Rossi was a pharmacist, after all, and, as his longtime customer Lorraine Daly, a rare neighbor who would express such sentiments on the record, put it, “If you had a choice, pills or a gun, what are you going to use?”

191 From “Seagal Under Siege” by Ned Zeman and John Connolly:

Fair enough. But Nasso says Seagal’s camp has yet to rebut persuasively the raft of noncontractual evidence suggesting Seagal’s tacit participation in the slate of projects. In 1998, Seagal/Nasso’s corporate president, Phillip Goldfine, announced that Seagal would star in at least two projects, most memorably the story of Genghis Khan. The company took out full-page ads, featuring Seagal’s name and face, in trade publications. “I always understood and was told by Steven that he was going to star in the movies,” says Steve Perry, the producer. “We had a number of other conversations, and I understood that they were going to pre-sell the foreign rights.”

By 2001, Seagal was all but estranged from Nasso, who by then was wondering why he’d earned a grand total of $850,000 from all those hit movies that had made Seagal a multimillionaire. Nasso dates their final conversation to July 5, 2001. The subject, he says, was weapons. Nasso no longer wanted his or his company’s name on Seagal’s New York gun permit, he says, and had gone to the police about the matter. When Seagal found out, Nasso says, he called in a rage. Nasso says the conversation ended this way:

Nasso: Are you finished?

Seagal: Yes.

Nasso: You’ll never hear from me again. Go fuck yourself.

All was relatively quiet until this past March, when Nasso hit Seagal with a $60 million breach-of-contract suit.

192 From “Seagal Under Siege” by Ned Zeman and John Connolly:

Three months later, on June 4, in a lightning-fast pre-dawn sweep, police in New York and New Jersey arrested 17 accused mobsters in 17 minutes, charging them with 68 counts of extortion, threats, and loan-sharking in and around the waterfront of both states. The biggest fish by far was Peter Gotti, acting head of the notorious Gambino crime family and older brother of “Dapper Don” John Gotto, who would die in a federal-prison hospital that same month. Next in line were several Gambino heavies, among them Anthony “Sonny” Ciccone, Frank “Red” Scollo, and Primo Cassarinio. One of the smallest fish, though, was the most exotic: Jules Nasso, who was awakened and arrested at Villa Terranova, and charged with “conspiracy to commit extortion” and “extortion of an individual in the film industry.” Nasso was released later that day on $1.5 million bail.

The “individual” went unnamed, but everyone knew it was Seagal. In the weeks preceding Nasso’s arrest, word got back to him that Seagal had been bad-mouthing him to a federal grand jury. Nasso didn’t take the news lightly.

193 From “When Life Imitates a B-Movie” by Paul Lieberman:

He is not the only one in his family embroiled in the criminal case. His brother Vincent, 43, is accused of paying the mob $400,000 in kickbacks in return for a three-year contract to administer a union prescription plan.

A second brother in health care, a chiropractor, was not implicated. He’s the one who in 1989 married a daughter of Johnny Gambino, an imprisoned mob captain.

194 From “Gotti’s Golden Goose: Drug Contractor for City Unions Named as Mob Conduit” by Wayne Barrett:

A prescription drug company that services 91,188 city workers and retirees has been linked to mob payoffs in the trial of Peter Gotti, the recently convicted head of the Gambino crime family. At least five major public-employee unions, representing firefighters, police sergeants, corrections officers, Teamsters, and transit workers, have multimillion-dollar, city-subsidized contracts with General Prescription Programs Inc., which manages their drug plans. The millions in city or Transit Authority contributions paid to support these often no-bid contracts is the latest example of abuses by these funds detailed recently in a three-part Voice series. The Bloomberg administration is exploring the possibility of the city taking over the funds as part of the $600 million in labor gap-closing concessions it’s seeking, with a joint management/union board setting policy, as is done almost everywhere else in the country.

Federal prosecutors have connected GPP to the alleged funneling of more than $400,000 in bribes to Gotti and other gangsters in a successful effort to secure the national pharmaceutical-management contract of the mob-controlled International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA). The small, closely held, New Jersey-based company won the contract though it was rated fifth of five finalists by outside consultants, according to prosecutors, and was paid $4 million more than the nationwide prescription provider that succeeded it.

In the ILA deal, GPP was the 80 percent partner of Value Integrated Pharmacy (VIP), a firm owned by Vincent Nasso, an indicted Gambino associate. Tapes and testimony at the trial indicated that Sonny Ciccone, a Gambino capo who controlled the Brooklyn docks, fixed the 1998, three-year contract for GPP/VIP. Nasso, who will be tried separately from Gotti in September, is charged with steering the bribes to Ciccone, who allegedly “kicked up” some of the payoffs to Peter Gotti, the brother of longtime Gambino boss John Gotti.

While GPP is not associated with Nasso in any of its city union business, its principal, Joel Grodman, did join with another Nasso entity, Pharmaceutical Consultants & Administrators Inc. (PCAI), to win the prescription contract at Local 6, which represents hotel and restaurant workers. In addition to describing the PCAI partnership with Grodman, Nasso attorney Barry Levin told the Voice that his client has frequently used GPP as a subcontractor on contracts with other private unions. Local 6, the Sergeants Benevolent Association, Teamsters Local 237, and the Transport Workers Union are in the process of terminating their contracts with Grodman and GPP, neither of which were indicted in the case.

These details can also be read about directly in the appeal of the conviction of Peter Gotti, under the “MILA Counts” section (MILA is the Management–International Longshoremen’s Association), from pages 8 to 11 of “United States of America v. Peter Gotti”, specific page “United States of America v. Peter Gotti (page 8)”. The opening:

2. The MILA Counts

The MILA Counts related to a scheme of the Gambino and Genovese Families to use their control over MILA (the ILA’s national health plan) to ensure that a particular company called GPP/VIP – which was partially owned by Gambino Family associate Vincent Nasso, and which paid substantial kickbacks – was awarded MILA’s lucrative pharmaceutical services contract. Indictment ¶¶ 110-113. Ciccone was the only defendant-appellant named in these counts.

At trial, the government adduced evidence of the MILA scheme from several sources. David Tolan – the management co-chairman of MILA since 1997 – testified that MILA had been established in early 1997 as a national health plan for all ILA members, and that its Board of Trustees included eighteen management-side trustees and eighteen union-side trustees. Tr. 1079, 1082. In 1997, the MILA trustees decided to include a prescription drug benefit for the members and, to that end, requested proposals from twenty-two pharmaceutical benefit providers. Tr. 1088. All twenty-two companies responded with bids; MILA’s outside consultants then produced a list of the top five contenders. Tr. 1088-89. A company called GPP ranked number five in that list, while a company called Express Scripts ranked first. Tr. 1089. Nolan recommended that GPP (which he believed lacked sufficient financial resources) be eliminated from the list, and that MILA engage Express Scripts. Tr. 1092. The union trustees, however, did not agree with that recommendation, and wanted to enter into an arrangement with GPP. Tr. 1093, 1097-98. The trustees eventually reached an agreement whereby everything below the Virginia border would be managed by Express Scripts, and everything above the Virginia border would be managed by GPP, which had since become part of a larger entity called GPP/VIP. Tr. 1099-1101. The principals of GPP/VIP were Joel Grodman and co-defendant Vincent Nasso. Tr. 1101.

From “Tale of docks and mobsters gets new life” by Ted Sherman, originally published in the Star-Ledger, now hosted at the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor:

According to state records, the company’s principals include Vincent Nasso and Joel Grodman. Nasso, who is from Long Island, has pleaded guilty to a single charge of wire fraud in connection with the ILA contract with GPP/ VIP and is in prison.

Grodman, who lives in Millburn, was never charged in the matter.

“It’s not my company,” Grodman said in a brief phone interview regarding GPP/VIP. “Basically I was acting as a subcontractor.”

195 From “Gotti’s Golden Goose: Drug Contractor for City Unions Named as Mob Conduit” by Wayne Barrett:

In addition to the continuing Uniformed Firefighters Association contract with GPP, the union’s welfare fund has also paid over $6 million to another company associated with the Grodman family, Bio Reference Laboratories Inc., formerly known as Med-Mobile Inc., which dispatches vans to firehouses for physicals and blood tests. Levin says that Dr. Marc Grodman, who is Joel Grodman’s younger brother, “formed BRLI with Nasso in 1989 as a partnership” and that Grodman “bought Nasso out, making interest and commission payments to Nasso up to at least two years ago.”

However, ex-BRLI vice president David Bennett claims in a still-pending 2002 lawsuit against the company that Grodman told him Nasso was “a salesman” for the company. Bennett says that when he “repeatedly questioned” Nasso’s “connections with organized crime” and “employment by BRLI,” Grodman told him any claims that Nasso was connected were “outrageous,” firing Bennett two weeks later.

Joel Grodman got his brother’s fledgling company the UFA contract in the mid ’80s, according to the union’s then president Jimmy Boyle, who called the contract “a waste” (Voice, March 12-17). BRLI and GPP have also begun a joint venture, and BRLI has contracts with other unions that use GPP, including Local 6. In addition to its association with Nasso, BRLI’s public offering was handled by A.S. Goldmen, a brokerage house whose allegedly mob-tied principals were convicted by Manhattan D.A. Robert Morgenthau, on fraud charges and, in one instance, a conspiracy to murder the judge hearing their case. BRLI’s precursor, Med-Mobile, was one of a handful of “house stocks” fraudulently marketed by another penny-stock brokerage house, J.T. Moran Inc., brought down by federal civil and criminal prosecutions.

Despite this history, the fire department entered into a $6.6 million deal with BRLI in 2001 for lab tests of firefighters beyond those already provided by the union, with a $5 million agreement still in place. Corrections officials have also awarded BRLI contracts to do lab tests at Rikers Island and other detention facilities. Neither Grodman responded to Voice inquiries, though Joel Grodman’s criminal attorney, Mike Shaw, acknowledged that “all of his records were subpoenaed” and that he was referred to “as the fat Jew” on tapes in the Gotti case. “But I’m not aware of his name coming up in any culpable context,” said Shaw.

The strange financing of BRLI can be found in Barron’s, “There Will Be Blood” by Bill Alpert, via The Street Sweeper‘s “Bio-Reference (BRLI): Loads of Dirty Laundry” (an account of J. T. Moran, one of the financiers and the investment bank behind Boiler Room, is “Charging Brokers Of Penny Stocks” by Diana B. Henriques):

[Marc Grodman] outfitted a couple of vans as mobile-examination rooms and won contracts with New York-area unions to provide physicals for firefighters and other workers. Med-Mobile went public in 1986 through a little firm called Kureen & Cooper. Med-Mobile’s banker was Russo, who’d joined Kureen & Cooper after his previous firm collapsed. The banker was subsequently convicted for conspiracy and stock fraud in a scheme that also led to the successful bribery prosecution of New York Congressman Mario Biaggi and Brooklyn’s Democratic party boss Meade Esposito. Wiretap evidence in the bribery case showed Russo helping a Kureen & Cooper corporate client try to extort city employees with the help of a notorious Genovese family capo named Federico “Fritzy” Giovanelli (see Barron’s, “Scientists and Stock Pushers,” March 21, 1988).

Grodman’s next investment banker was John Moran. The doctor was named to J.T. Moran Financial’s board of directors in 1988 and also became a director of another Moran client, Transpirator Technologies, which offered oxygen therapy for racehorses. After an equity financing for Med-Mobile, Moran in 1991 pled guilty to manipulating “house stocks,” or those a broker dominates, including Med-Mobile, to defraud investors of $60 million.

“We were not aware that there was any issue with them whatsoever,” says Grodman, of his financiers.

The med mobiles kept breaking down, so Grodman had sold them off in 1989 and got into the clinical-laboratory business—changing the name to Bio-Reference. The business got a line of credit from Towers Financial, at a 27% annualized rate, before the 1993 collapse of Towers and the guilty plea of its chairman, Steven Hoffenberg, to defrauding investors of a half-billion dollars. Grodman had personally guaranteed the debt to Towers, but Bio-Reference was able to pay off most of it with a 1993 securities offering underwritten by a new investment banking firm named A.S. Goldmen. This relationship proved short-lived, too, when Goldmen folded a few years later and its executives were successfully prosecuted for swindling investors of $100 million.

“I was a doctor,” says Grodman, to explain his repeatedly bad hook-ups. “What world experience did I have?”

The incidents of extortion at BRLI can be found in the countersuit by the two former employees Matt Carey and Sam Ruta, “Bio-reference laboratories, Inc. v. Matt Carey and Sam Ruta: Defendants’ Answer and Counterclaims”.

“Bio-reference laboratories, Inc. v. Matt Carey and Sam Ruta: Defendants’ Answer and Counterclaims (specific page: 13)”:

24. After a time at BRL, Mr. Carey and Mr. Ruta discovered a culture of corruption — a place with little regard for basic rules, where extortion, fraud, and intimidation were routine. A few examples of the conduct Mr. Carey and Mr. Ruta discovered at BRL, which BRL seeks to cover up by this litigation, are set out below.

“Bio-reference laboratories, Inc. v. Matt Carey and Sam Ruta: Defendants’ Answer and Counterclaims (specific page: 15)”:

40. In the course of performing his duties for BRL, Mr. Carey routinely incurred travel and lodging expenses for meetings and conferences, expenses related to providing meals for doctors’ offices and hospitals when he visited his accounts, and expenses related to client meals and entertainment. These expenses were incurred on behalf of BRL and in order to generate business for BRL.

41. These expenses often reached several thousand dollars a month.

42. Mr. Carey itemized his expenses and attached original receipts for them to his expense reports, which he submitted for reimbursement.

43. In or about September 2006, Mr. Carey realized that over $25,000 of his submitted expenses were not being reimbursed.

44. When he sought to have the expenses reimbursed, Littleton, the vice president of sales, informed Mr. Carey that his expenses would not be paid unless Mr. Carey bought Littleton a $6,000 Rolex watch. (See 9/18/2006 e-mail from J. Littleton attached as Ex. D.)

45. Initially, Mr. Carey resisted, but some months later he was forced to comply or risk losing both his expense reimbursements and his job.

46. At that point, apparently unashamed by his blatant extortion and entirely unconcerned about his use of his BRL e-mail account, Littleton decided to up the ante to a more expensive, $8,000 Rolex. “Let’s switch it to a platinum Yacht-Master, with a ‘red’ second hand.
I have a picture in my office in case you need to see it,” he wrote to Mr. Carey. “Stop in when you are free, and I will give you the book.” (2/7/2007 e-mail from J. Littleton attached as Ex. E.)

“Bio-reference laboratories, Inc. v. Matt Carey and Sam Ruta: Defendants’ Answer and Counterclaims (specific page: 16)”:

49. But the extortion did not stop there. Indeed, it had barely started.

50. Having secured his chosen timepiece, Littleton moved on to more prosaic demands for envelopes full of cash (again using his BRL e-mail account), dribbling Mr. Carey’s expense reimbursements out a little at a time and taking a piece of each one, never permitting Mr. Carey to recover what he was owed.

“Bio-reference laboratories, Inc. v. Matt Carey and Sam Ruta: Defendants’ Answer and Counterclaims (specific page: 17)”:

52. At one point Littleton refused to pay three months of expenses totaling many thousands of dollars, and wrote to Mr. Carey’s immediate supervisor—Mr. Ruta—that Carey would have to pay up to get them processed. “August – Gold / September – Frankincense / October – Myrrh / Matt needs to drop off the Trifecta or they just sit.” Littleton forced Mr. Ruta to pass this information to Mr. Carey, who was compelled to provide the “cash envelope” as demanded. (11/14/2007 e-mail from J. Littleton attached as Ex. H.)

53. When Mr. Ruta and Mr. Carey complained about this system to Littleton, he informed them that this was “business as usual” in the company and that there was nothing they could do about it. Mr. Ruta and Mr. Carey reasonably believed that, had they complained further, they would have lost their jobs or worse.

196 The details of the purchase of Bio-Dynamics by BRLI can be found in Nasso’s suit against BRLI following his termination, “Vincent Nasso v. Bio Reference Laboratories, Inc.”, this section at the bottom of page two, “Vincent Nasso v. Bio Reference Laboratories, Inc. (page 2)”:

9. That in 1989 Bio Dynamics, Inc was involved among other things, in providing for profit, blood laboratory work and diagnostic work up for Medical facilities and provided those services to specified facilities including the International Long Shoreman’s Union.

10. That defendant, in 1989, did purchase Bio Dynamics, Inc including all of the accounts the aforesaid Bio Dynamics, Inc was servicing at the time.

11. That said purchase required the approval and consent of among others, of Vincent Nasso, a Principal Officer and Principal shareholder of Bio Dynamics, Inc, Plaintiff herein.

The details of the termination of the GPP contracts are from “Gotti’s Golden Goose: Drug Contractor for City Unions Named as Mob Conduit” by Wayne Barrett:

While GPP is not associated with Nasso in any of its city union business, its principal, Joel Grodman, did join with another Nasso entity, Pharmaceutical Consultants & Administrators Inc. (PCAI), to win the prescription contract at Local 6, which represents hotel and restaurant workers. In addition to describing the PCAI partnership with Grodman, Nasso attorney Barry Levin told the Voice that his client has frequently used GPP as a subcontractor on contracts with other private unions. Local 6, the Sergeants Benevolent Association, Teamsters Local 237, and the Transport Workers Union are in the process of terminating their contracts with Grodman and GPP, neither of which were indicted in the case.

The city’s largest union, DC 37, saved $7 million a year when it finally put its NPA contract to bid after 14 years of no-bid renewals, and the ILA saved $4 million when it dropped GPP. That’s some measure of what might be saved if Bloomberg took over the 104 funds and made central contracting decisions himself, conforming to regular bid procedures.

197 From “Seagal Under Siege” by Ned Zeman and John Connolly:

Nasso’s immediate response, after his arrest, was simple and utilitarian. He denied everything, via one of his attorneys, a big bear of a man named Robert Hantman, whose clients include a pagan sect called the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and models who posed topless with NYPD officers. Hantman denies even that it was his client on the tapes, on which Ciccone and Nasso allegedly discuss forcing Seagal to kick back $150,000 for every film he’s made. “I don’t think it’s Jules at all,” Hantman says, referring to the excerpts. “I think that’s all they have. I think that what they’ve played–Sonny Ciccone berating or yelling at somebody, assuming he’s yelling at somebody–is not Jules.”

From “Former Seagal Associate Plea-Bargains in Plot to Extort Actor” by Paul Lieberman:

NEW YORK – Julius R. Nasso, the pharmacist-turned-movie-producer who was described by federal prosecutors as an associate of a powerful Mafia family, announced Wednesday that he will plead guilty to a charge that he participated in an extortion plot targeting his former partner, movie action star Steven Seagal.

Under the plea bargain announced at a status conference in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, Nasso will formally enter his plea next week, ending a wide-ranging prosecution that began as an investigation into mob influence over the Brooklyn and Staten Island docks.

198> From “Seagal Under Siege” by Ned Zeman and John Connolly:

And as for Nasso? “You wanna know which one of us was the brains? Seagal’s making straight-to-videos in fuckin’ Bulgaria,” he says exaggerating for dramatic effect. “I’ve been making big-time movies.” (That would be Narc with Ray Liotta, out this December.) Still and all, Nasso remains the prisoner of Villa Terranova out of fear, he says. “I was the one who was threatened,” he says. “Why do you think I’ve got 24-hour security? You think it’s all staged? Let’s put it this way: my children are not allowed to come here. I was told to get security. I can’t go to my office. Not allowed. Three weeks, I haven’t been there.” He waves toward the trees, the house, the ocean. “Can’t see ’em, but they’re there.” He smiles.

199 From “On the edges of influence in Hollywood” by Paul Lieberman:

As Nasso tells it, he got the call on “Narc” about six months after he split with Seagal in 2000, from an old friend who does completion bonding for films. A production in Toronto was in trouble. Could he help out with some “bridge money”?

Nasso says he borrowed about half a million dollars, “not off the street, not gangster money,” for the then-obscure project of a fledgling writer-director, Joe Carnahan. The shaved-head son of a grocer had a one-film resume, “Blood, Guts, Bullets and Octane,” which he’d made for less than $8,000 and somehow gotten released in 1998.

They began shooting in Toronto in February 2001, under a financing deal with Los Angeles-based Cutting Edge Entertainment, one of whose principals mortgaged his house to come up with part of the $3-million-plus budget.

“A week into shooting, we got a phone call [telling us] we didn’t have the money,” recalled Diane Nabatoff, the principal producer for Liotta’s new company. “Everyone told us, ‘Walk off. Shut down.’ ”

They didn’t, though. As Cutting Edge and others scrambled to find additional investors, Carnahan used whatever film they could afford and finished the shoot in an intense 28 days.

Carnahan, Liotta and Nabatoff all said they only learned later how many people had been recruited to help fund their film — and how these strangers they had never met, or seen, had become “attached” as producers. They wound up with four listed producers (including Nasso), nine executive producers, five co-executive producers and their one line producer. That roster became a running gag this past Sunday when the lead actors, director and Nabatoff appeared on a panel after a screening at the Directors Guild in New York — and not because one of the names was now also listed on a federal mob indictment.

No, the joke was the producer proliferation. “We bummed a cigarette off some guy — he got an E.P. credit,” Liotta quipped.

At a Starbucks several miles from where Nasso ordered his omelets, Liotta told of calling Nasso a few weeks ago with some bad news. Under the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science rules, only three producers may be named for each film nominated for best picture. In the long-odds event that “Narc” gets one in February, Liotta said, the named producers would be the trio who did the “hands-on everyday stuff” — Liotta, his wife and Nabatoff. Not Jules Nasso.

Nasso responded with a rant about how he had “saved” the film, Liotta said. Nasso has told friends that he did everything from help edit it to advise Liotta to gain weight to make his vengeful detective more convincing.

Such stories astonish the actor.

“Never saw him. None of those producers ever spent a day [on set],” the 47-year-old Liotta said. “I’ll bet deep down the guy’s really nice. He wants legitimacy. ‘Who needs Steven Seagal — I just did a movie, “Narc,” with Ray Liotta.’ I understand. But … don’t yell at me.”

On Dec. 2, Paramount took out one of those full-page “For Your Consideration” ads touting “Narc” in Variety, and listing four other companies behind the film, including Liotta’s Tiara Blu Films.

A week later, there was another full-page “Narc” ad, offering “Congratulations and Thanks to Our Cast and Crew.” But this one was taken out by Julius R. Nasso Productions.

200 “Producers Julius R. Nasso and Todd Moyer Launch Wakefield International Pictures” by Jay A. Fernandez:

Producers Julius R. Nasso and Todd Moyer have partnered to launch Wakefield International Pictures LLC, a film financing and production company. Their first project will be Squatters, which is scheduled to begin filming in L.A. in early May.

Nasso has been the producer of films such as Narc, On Deadly Ground and Sing Your Song, while Moyer has produced Barb Wire, Wing Commander and George and the Dragon. Together, their next film is The Legend of William Tell: 3D.

Directed by Martin Weisz, Squatters is set to star Thomas Dekker and Gabriella Wilde in the story of a young homeless couple who move into an empty Pacific Palisades mansion while its owners are on vacation. Complications ensue when the owners return early. Actor Justin Shilton (Little Miss Sunshine) wrote the screenplay.

Nasso, Moyer and Cordula Weisz are producing; Frankie Nasso and Jeff Kranzdorf will serve as executive producers.

From “Brendan Fraser Sues Over ‘William Tell’ Pay Me My $2 Million!!!” by TMZ:

Brendan Fraser claims the producers behind a new 3D movie about William Tell have screwed him out of more than $2 million in acting fees — and now, he’s suing for every penny … plus more.

Brendan filed the lawsuit in L.A. County Superior Court — claiming producer Todd Moyer hired him to act in “The Legend of William Tell: 3D” in early 2011, promising to begin shooting in October of that year.

Brendan claims he fully committed to the schedule — passing up several other lucrative acting jobs to remain available for the William Tell gig.

But according to the lawsuit, Moyer couldn’t stay on schedule due to financing problems — relegating the William Tell project to development hell. The movie is still listed in pre-production on IMDb.

From “Brendan Fraser Sued for Allegedly Battering Movie Producer” by TMZ:

UPDATE 5:55 PM PT: Fraser’s lawyer, Marty Singer, tells TMZ, “This is a ridiculous and absurd claim by Mr. Moyer. He’s desperately trying to avoid the monies that he guaranteed to pay to Brendan — more than $2 million — and has concocted this claim. He recently just put his company into bankruptcy. This is just another desperate attempt by him to avoid paying his debt.”

Brendan Fraser unleashed TWO physical attacks on one of the producers of a movie he is set to star in … so says the producer who is now suing the movie star … TMZ has learned.

The man who filed the suit is Todd Moyer — one of the producers on the movie “The Legend of William Tell” … a movie that has been in the works since 2011.

In his suit, Moyer claims he was hanging out at the Hilton Hotel in Indianapolis on July 27, 2011 … when an “intoxicated” Brendan Fraser began to “physically push, verbally threaten and poke [Moyer] in the chest repeatedly.” Moyer doesn’t specify what led to the alleged attack.

201 From “A Producer Is Back on Location and Ready to Celebrate” by Campbell Robertson:

Mr. Nasso, 52, was released at the end of June, about two months early for good behavior, and now he is planning a party to celebrate his next business venture: about 500 guests have been invited to the groundbreaking on Sept. 8 of Cinema Nasso Film Studios in Staten Island.

According to the invitation, the festivities include cocktails, dancing and fireworks on the beach. Kylie Minogue and Armand Assante are expected to attend, a publicist for the event said. But the groundbreaking, which is how Mr. Nasso refers to the party, is a bit of a misnomer.

From “Minogue’s cancer shock ends tour” by CNN:

Tuesday, May 17, 2005 Posted: 1932 GMT (0332 HKT)

SYDNEY, Australia (CNN) — Australian pop star Kylie Minogue has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

The 2004 Grammy winner, who turns 37 on May 28, will undergo immediate treatment and has postponed her upcoming Australian tour, according to a statement released by her promoters in Australia on Tuesday.

“I was so looking forward to bringing the Showgirl tour to Australian audiences,” Minogue said in the statement.

“I am sorry to have disappointed my fans. Nevertheless, hopefully all will work out fine and I’ll be back with you all again soon,” she said in the statement, released by The Frontier Touring Company.

Minogue’s management said she had been staying in Melbourne with her family this week when she was diagnosed with the illness.

From “‘Gravity has taken over’: Kylie Minogue, 44, admits she is horrified when she sees her own face” by Chloe Thomas:

Despite her astronomical success which boasts sales of 68 million records worldwide, the singer experienced a personal low in 2005 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

After a year of treatment, which involved a partial mastectomy to remove a malignant tumour, followed by eight months of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, the pop star was given the all clear in November 2006.

In the January edition of Elle Magazine, Miss Minogue says that her experience has made her feel a strong affinity with other cancer sufferers.

She says: ‘ Women come up to me in the street and just start talking to me about what they are going through, how they are on tamoxifen (a cancer treatment drug) and its making them feel terrible. I’ll tell them there were times I cried to my doctor begging to come off it, but I did it, I went through it.

‘I am still here, I am still working. I just stand there and hug them. I hug them because we both know what they are feeling. I feel very close to every one of them and I think they do to me, it’s not about anything else but what we’ve all been through’.

From “Kylie Minogue Biography”, from the Biography Channel UK:

Her children’s book, ‘The Showgirl Princess’, written during her period of convalescence, was published in October 2006, and her perfume, ‘Darling’, was launched in November. On her return to Australia for her concert tour, she likened her cancer battle and chemotherapy to experiencing a nuclear bomb and said that she was determined to resume her career.

202 From “He’s Under Siege! Steven Seagal faces lawsuit over unpaid debt to mafia backed former partner” by Mike Larkin:

His most famous movie role saw him evading pursuit by a group of well trained operatives.

So there is a certain life imitating art aspect to Under Siege star Steven Seagal being hit with a lawsuit over unpaid debts to his former business partner.

The martial arts actor has been accused of failing to pay up on $500,000 he owes to film producer Julius Nasso.

The executive, who has connections to the mafia, claims in court papers Seagal failed to pay him two installment payments of $50,000 each last year.

The deal also required the actor to seek a pardon for Nasso, who was convicted in 2003 for trying to extort the money from the actor with the help of Mafia muscle

According to the New York Times his Manhattan federal court suit demands payment of the unpaid $100,000 plus 10 percent interest for ‘breach of settlement agreement.’

From “Steven Seagal – Steven Seagal Wants Presidential Pardon For Convicted Producer” by WENN:

Hollywood tough guy Steven Seagal has called on U.S. President Barack Obama to pardon a former producing partner who was convicted of attempting to extort money from the actor.

Nasso, who was released from prison two months early in 2005 for good behaviour, now appears to have mended his relationship with Seagal, who has since written a letter to America’s Department of Justice backing a Presidential pardon for his former associate.

The letter, obtained by New York Post gossip column Page Six, reads, “I have no objections to and would support the application (when it is timely) of Julius R. Nasso for a Presidential pardon.”

From “Seagal extorter asks for presidential pardon” by Mitchel Maddux:

Authorities at the time described Nasso as a mob associate.

Yesterday Nasso filed more paperwork as part of his pending application with the Justice Department requesting a presidential pardon.

“I am NOT an associate of organized crime,” Nasso protested during his stay in an Ohio federal prison, according to official records.

It is not yet clear whether the White House will act.

203 Transcript has been made from documents at “FBI Implicates Steven Seagal In Reporter Threat”, at The Smoking Gun.

204 From “The Man Who Bagged The Pelican” at The Smoking Gun (no author listed):

Patterson has exhibited that unique attitude for most of his life, which he sketched out for TSG. He left college after a semester and worked at Muncie Chevrolet before moving to Hawaii at 18 to work on a salvage ship for two years. Upon his return to Indiana, Patterson said he re-enrolled in Ball State University and eventually got a Master’s degree. Since he planned a career in academia, he took a teaching post at West Texas State University.

It was there in 1966 that Patterson claimed he was accidentally shot in the stomach by a couple of joyriding teenagers who stole their father’s car, got liquored up, and began shooting up the neighborhood. The bullet, he said, shattered his spine and left him unable to walk for a year. He eventually returned to Indiana where he taught high school for a year before taking a job as an organizer for the Textile Workers Union.

While working for the union, Patterson recorded his first two federal criminal convictions. He was first nailed for trying to extort money from an employer in return for not organizing its workers. Patterson said he was sentenced to probation on the “trumped-up charge.” His second conviction, for obstruction of justice, came as a result of his role in a convoluted insurance fraud scheme orchestrated by two union members. Patterson, who claimed he pleaded guilty when prosecutors threatened to indict his wife, said he was sentenced to 90 days in a Salvation Army halfway house.

At that point, he drove a 1972 Monte Carlo west and settled in Southern California, not far from where he lives today. After working assembly line jobs at Ford and Chevrolet (where he painted and wet-sanded Camaros), Patterson said that he no longer “wanted to be a drone.” After jobs with Getty Oil and Occidental Petroleum, he founded a hazardous waste transportation business and then segued into the “corrupt” mining business in Mexico for four years.

His Mexican venture ended, Patterson claimed, shortly after he was kidnapped by “the Secret Service of Mexico” one Easter weekend in the late 1980s. As Patterson tells it, he was abducted at gunpoint at a Mexican airport and shoved into a 1968 Impala, where his head was wrapped in an Ace bandage. “If I picked it up, they blow my fucking head off,” he recalled.

From there, he was transported to a farmhouse outside Mexico City, where he was severely beaten his first night in custody. His partner was kidnapped the following night and transported to the same holding facility where Patterson was incarcerated. Their captors wanted $500,000 hand-delivered to Mexico City. When the ransom request was transmitted to Patterson’s U.S. representatives, the FBI was contacted. At a subsequent money-for-prisoners exchange, undercover law enforcement officers (some of whom, Patterson claimed, were disguised as nuns and doctors and carried machine guns) jumped some of the kidnappers. They were told unless the Americans were released, they themselves would be killed.

As Patterson convincingly recounts this unbelievable (and surely fabricated) tale, a visitor can see how he has talked people out of their money and got a career criminal like Proctor to convict himself.

205 From “The Man Who Bagged The Pelican” at The Smoking Gun (no author listed):

For instance, he was sued in 2005 by an L.A. businessman who agreed to sell Patterson a boat for about $400,000. Patterson claimed to be a wealthy investor who traded oil commodities and operated a Las Vegas investment firm. He offered to pay the owner’s asking price if the seller agreed to invest in one of his businesses.

Of course, Patterson defaulted on promissory notes after using the boat without permission for several months. Asked about the lawsuit, Patterson claimed the litigation was being settled, when, in fact, a judgment was entered against him in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Patterson acknowledged using the boat to entertain “potential investors” in an offshore sports book operated by an outfit called Diamonds Reef Investments. The Nevada firm’s other officer, L.A. accountant Roger Arcaro, filed for bankruptcy protection in July 2005 using the same lawyer who handled Patterson’s Chapter 13 petition.

Two sources who dealt with Patterson at this time recalled him offering them investments in an unspecified $65 million project based in the United Arab Emirates and a package delivery service that he said would rival Federal Express. One of the sources said that Patterson also sought $100,000 investments in a supposed venture that leased foreign satellites. “He said he was number eight on the list from Yugoslavia or Russia to buy a satellite,” the source said. “And that I could double my money.”

Same source, on the industrial gold scam:

That cooperation was prompted by his arrest for a rather audacious scheme to swindle precious metals from several manufacturing firms. Using an assortment of aliases, forged documents, counterfeit checks, and his very convincing telephone manner, Patterson and his fellow bandits succeeded in conning two companies out of $615,000 worth of gold and platinum products. So where does a crook fence gold wire and sheet? Patterson & Co. opted for a pawn shop in Pacoima in the San Fernando Valley.

On the heels of the first two scams (during which he posed as an employee of firms like Sun Microsystems and Ball Aerospace), Patterson and three cohorts attempted an even larger haul.

206 From “The Man Who Bagged The Pelican” at The Smoking Gun (no author listed):

Operating from a Pasadena Holiday Inn and claiming to be a Department of Defense official, Patterson arranged the shipment of $1.6 million in gold products from a Massachusetts company. The valuable material, Patterson told the manufacturer, was urgently needed by the government’s Jet Propulsion Laboratories (JPL), which was working on a “neutron accelerator” for the “shuttle.” In communications with the targeted company, Patterson used the alias “Michael Jeffries” and notified the company that the gold would be accepted at the JPL facility by a Dr. Charles Schultz. In letters, he consistently misspelled his purported military rank, listing it as “Sargent.”

Around noon on December 19, 2000, an armored car arrived at a Pasadena warehouse. Posing as deliverymen were undercover FBI agents, who were met at the facility by two men, one of whom wore a white lab coat with a label identifying himself as “Charles Schultz, PhD.” Agents then arrested Anthony Macaluso, 19, and Aleksandr Drabkin, 42, the purported doctor. Good grief, indeed.

Within months of Macaluso’s cooperation, Patterson also cut a deal. In subsequent FBI debriefings, he not only detailed his involvement in the precious metals scheme, but also provided “other information to other agents in other cases and investigations,” according to a court filing. While Patterson declined in an interview to get into specifics of those other “cases and investigations,” he did say that agents were interested in developing drug cases and gathering information about L.A.’s Russian gangster element.

On Patterson wearing a wire to his meetings with Proctor, same source:

After an initial contact by Los Angeles Police Department detectives, Patterson was approached by FBI Agent Stanley Ornellas, who was examining the Busch incident. He asked Patterson–who was already cooperating with other FBI agents on unrelated matters–to wear a wire on Proctor. Patterson agreed.

On Patterson’s motivation, from “The Pellicano Brief” (PDF) by Howard Blum and John Connolly:

Even as they listened to this story, the F.B.I. agents were working out their next move: they would put a wire on The Engineer and get him in a room with Alex.

But other questions still gnawed at the F.B.I. men and were soon raised: Why did you warn Ms. Busch? What did you want?

Nothing, insisted The Engineer. He had a daughter about the reporter’s age, and he just didn’t want to see anyone get hurt.

207 From “Talk of the Town” by Bryan Burrough and John Connolly:

By 1999, after 15 years of marriage, the Pellicanos were squabbling. That December, Kat encouraged her husband to buy a condominium on Doheny Drive, near his office, telling him to sleep over there when he was working late. A few months afterward, when she threw Pellicano out of the house for good, the detective began living in the condominium full-time. The turmoil in Pellicano’s private life, Kat and others speculate, made him sloppy, made him do things he wouldn’t ordinarily do. “He was definitely distracted,” says Rich DiSabatino, a Beverly Hills private investigator who probably qualifies as Pellicano’s closest friend. “He was, in his mind, a family man, and he was losing his family.”

In fact, the famous incident in which that dead fish was left on the hood of Los Angeles Times reporter Anita Busch’s silver Audi came as Pellicano was desperately trying to re-unite with Kat. Two months later, in August 2002, she allowed her husband to come home for a single Sunday, to see if he had really changed. In the old days, Sunday was a time of ritual in their household. Pellicano had his weekly massage promptly at six p.m., during which the children were ordered to remain silent, and afterward he would watch The Sopranos, a rite so solemnly observed “it was like he was going to church,” Kat remembers.

It took only a few hours for Kat to realize that her husband hadn’t changed. He remained prickly and cold. Finally, she says, “my oldest daughter came to me and whispered, ‘Say the magic word, Mom, say the magic word.'” The magic word was “asshole,” which always caused him to leave the house when Kat called him one. “Eventually, I said that magic word that day, he left, and I have not regretted it since.”

That same August, Vanity Fair’s Ned Zeman, who was investigating one of Pellicano’s former clients, actor Steven Seagal, was driving through Laurel Canyon when a dark Mercedes displayed a flashing light in his rearview mirror. When Zeman rolled down his window, the Mercedes pulled up beside him. The passenger rolled down his window and rapped a pistol on the side of his car. Then he pointed it at Zeman. “Stop,” he said, and pulled the trigger. The gun wasn’t loaded. “Bang,” he said.

A few weeks later the aging detective’s divorce went through, and he lost his family for good. Two months after that the F.B.I. raided his office, and nothing in Hollywood will ever, ever be the same.

It should be mentioned that Kat Pellicano objected to the use of her quotes in the “Talk of the Town” article, saying that she had not consented to be quoted, and that quotes attributed to her and her children are erroneous. These statements were issued via an article in Deadline Hollywood, “EXCLUSIVE: Kat Pellicano vs Vanity Fair” by Nikki Finke:

The information in the VF article which she maintains is erroneous includes: that Anthony Pellicano ever began to think and act like Don Corleone, the fictional Godfather; that Pellicano’s son Luca was ever in his father’s office known as the War Room ; that her eldest daughter ever used the word asshole to describe the P.I.; and that Pellicano ever wanted to convert to Judaism because most of the lawyers in Los Angeles are Jewish. About the latter, she maintains that the article misconstrued Pellicano’s motive. She says he wanted to do it because, since he was raised Catholic and she was raised Baptist (she maintains that she’s never been an atheist as VF claims), he felt their kids needed a religion and he believed in Judaism more than their own faiths.

208 From “The Pellicano Brief” (PDF) by Howard Blum and John Connolly:

Armed with a search warrant, a team of F.B.I. agents burst into Pellicano’s offices on November 21, 2002. Straight off he showed them two loaded handguns in a desk drawer. Then he obediently opened the two metal combination safes in the back room. Inside was about $200,000 in cash, the money wrapped in neat $10,000 bundles, as well as what seemed to be a treasure trove of jewelry in boxes and pouches. And, digging deeper, they found more goodies: a cache of C-4 plastic explosive, a live blasting cap, and two U.S. Army Mark 26 grenades that someone had put some effort into enhancing-they were filled with photoflash powder and, if dropped, would fragment and spray shrapnel. The C-4 and the grenades were just the sort of nasty, powerful stuff that could be used, the F.B.I. theorized, to blow up a car. And the explosives were all illegal. Pellicano was arrested that day and faced charges that carried a statutory maximum sentence of 21 years in federal prison.

But the F.B.I. was not done. Anita Busch had been complaining to Ornellas that her phone was bugged, and their interest was further piqued. Another search warrant was issued, and they returned to Pellicano’s office eight days later.

This time they hit the mother lode. Some of what they found was encrypted. Some was already laid out in typed transcripts. Some was on audiotapes. Some was stored on computer hard drives. And many, law-enforcement officials believed, were conversations recorded by illegal wiretaps. There were, these officials estimated, millions of pages!

That’s a lot of secrets.

From “Pellicano Is Wed on Verge of Prison” by Andrew Blankstein:

LAS VEGAS – Beleaguered private investigator Anthony Joseph Pellicano, who has worked for some of Hollywood’s best-known stars, was married in a small chapel at the Bellagio Hotel on Saturday — two days before he is due to start a federal prison sentence for possessing illegal explosives.

Pellicano, 59, is at the center of an FBI investigation and federal grand jury inquiry into alleged illegal wiretapping, which has rattled some of Hollywood’s legal elite.

Saturday’s low-key, private ceremony began at noon. It ended 40 minutes later when the couple and their eight guests emerged from behind closed doors. The wedding party was briskly escorted by security guards outside the hotel through emergency exits.

Pellicano’s marriage to 42-year-old Teresa Ann DeLucio marks his fifth trip down the aisle — and the bride’s first — according to the Nevada marriage license obtained by the couple Thursday. He divorced Kat Pellicano of Oak Park in September 2002. He has four children with her and five adult children by other wives.

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Has Donald Trump Ever Been Rich?

I had always thought of Donald Trump as someone who had once been very rich, lost a great deal of money, and now tried to pass off his fractional fortune as the bounty of a Midas. This ancient article, “All of the People, All the Time” from the valuable Spy magazine archive puts that idea to rest for me. This creature was always a nuisance, and never rich.

I excerpt the beginning, three interesting points, and its conclusion.

The opening:

YOU CAN FOOL ALL THE PEOPLE ALL THE TIME

How Donald Trump Fooled the Media, Used the Media to Fool Banks, Used the Banks to Fool the Bondholders and Used the Bondholders to Pay for the Yachts and Mansions and Mistresses

by John Connolly

With his bluster and his extravagance and his tabloid love life, Donald Trump has always been a source of considerable entertainment. If we’re honest, we all have to admit that after his every achievement in greed or vanity we’ve said to ourselves, Heck, you’ve gotta love that guy! Like some funny, impossibly venal puppet in a Punch-and-Judy show, Trump has always given us a good laugh. In fact, Trump’s image as a buffoon is just another example of how the press has protected him from real scrutiny for so long. While one would prefer not to be considered a joke, that is not so bad if it distracts people from seeing what one really is: a charlatan, a liar, a cheat. But if Trump has thrown the press and public off his trail during the last year, he has not managed the same trick with law enforcement. SPY has learned that Trump’s 1988 sale of Resorts International to Merv Griffin is now the subject of two criminal investigations, one by the FBI. “We are looking into the organized-crime [side of it],” says a law-enforcement official. Furthermore, John Sweeney of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement confirms that his agency is also studying Trump’s participation in the Resorts deal.

A former…well, top Trump executive told SPY he considers Trump “evil incarnate.” A mobster who knew Trump socially said of him once, “He’d lie to you about what time of day it is – just for the practice.” And indeed, a close study of Trump’s actions over the past few years reveals a man addicted to deception, a man who invested like a fool, a man who shaved from deals and bled failing companies of cash so that he could live with absurd excess, a man who borrowed huge amounts from credulous banks and investors, a man who not only is not now a billionaire but never had $1 billion or $500 million or – very possibly – even $100 million and who has been strapped since 1987. Donald Trump is not just some cartoon character, a guy with a comb-over and a press agent and a board game named after him; he is and always has been a real and fairly treacherous human being.

In the history of finance, Donald Trump will be known for one brilliant innovation. No one before Trump had used the press so cunningly to give himself legitimacy with creditors. Trump made the media his balance sheet. Reports of Trump’s wealth in newspapers and especially in sober business magazines such as Fortune and Forbes and Business Week were the basis upon which banks lent him money and the public bought his bonds.

A spokesman for Arthur Andersen, Trump’s accountants until 1990, admitted to SPY that they had never conducted a financial audit of Donald Trump. Andersen did conduct “financial reviews” – the term for a very superficial analysis of management and procedures, a once-over quite unlike an audit, which would include the accountants’ solemn opinion of the finances under examination. Sources at Chase Manhattan and Citibank – from which Trump borrowed $290 million and $990 million, respectively – say that although Trump may have given the bank audited financial statements for certain specific properties, they never had an audited statement of Donald Trump and his finances generally. Bankers Trust – which has lent Trump more than $100 million with no collateral – declined to comment for this article. Manufacturers Hanover – which has lent Trump $160 million – also declined to comment.

Two of the most powerful banks in the world report that no one ever audited Donald Trump. Some of the loans that the banks made to Trump even had provisions stating that if his net worth fell below a certain level ($600 million, for example), Trump would have to pay back the loans immediately. Very prudent – except that the banks never insisted that Trump verify his net worth by audit.

So, without audits, often without collateral, how did Trump manage to borrow all that money? Well, every one knew that Donald Trump was a billionaire, and who wouldn’t lend money to a billionaire? Banks are in the business of making loans, and in the overheated eighties, a banker couldn’t wait to make a loan to Donald Trump. The banks and the people who bought Trump’s bonds were influenced by the news accounts of Trump’s billions.

If Trump had told the press the truth, or if the press had held his claims up to even a rudimentary level of scrutiny, then Trump might not owe the banks $2 billion on which he has suspended interest payments, and he might not have sold $1.277 billion in bonds that are now worth only $493 million. But Trump didn’t tell the truth, and the media were pathetically gullible. Even the press reports of Ivana’s prenuptial agreement are wrong – it is for $10 million, not $25 million. The information presented below is not based on hindsight – if journalists had been inclined to look, they could have found out the truth at any time.

Interesting point one:

Trump Tower and the Grand Hyatt were Trump’s first major projects. Both were initiated when New York was still reeling from the fiscal crisis of the mid-seventies and was willing to make any deal with any developer, just as long as he developed. As New York’s economy took off in the early eighties, the deals made Trump look like a winner. What the media have ignored for purposes of assessing Trump’s wealth and ability, though, is that neither project was Trump’s alone. The Hyatt, a renovation of the 64-year-old Commodore Hotel, is half owned by the Pritzker family of Chicago. Equitable Life holds the mortgage to the hotel, and since the Pritzkers presumably really are worth about $5 billion, Equitable probably felt safe entering a deal with them. What did Trump bring? He knew his way around city government, so he won the tax abatements that made the Hyatt a success.

Equitable then agreed to be Trump’s partner in Trump Tower, putting up half the money. Equitable sold those condos at the height of the market and then wanted out of the market and then wanted out of the retail and commercial space. Trump bought them out with a $75 million loan from Chase Manhattan. He has come to them with other plans, but they have decided to pass on these ventures.

It is difficult to determine exactly what value to place on Trump’s equity in the Hyatt and Trump Tower. One popular misconception is easily remedied, however: Donald Trump in no sense owns Trump Tower. The condominiums that make up all but 19 floors of the building are owned, of course, by the people who bought the apartments. Trump owns only the retail space and his apartment and office. He surely made some money on those condominiums, with Equitable’s help, and the Hyatt continues to be profitable. But like a movie star with a couple of early hits, Trump traded on those successes for a decade.

Two:

During our look into Trump’s stock transactions, we came across an interesting item. In 1986, Trump, the “billionaire,” needed $31 million to meet a margin call for his purchase of Bally Corporation stock. The funds to meet the margin call came from his Holiday Corporation stock profits; a credit line from Bankers Trust; a distribution from Trump Equitable 5th Avenue Corporation, which is the agent for Trump Tower commercial space; miscellaneous credit lines from other banks; and a 1985 federal income tax refund. All this desperate scrounging by a top-of-his-form billionaire for a measly $31 million.

And three; the cited article is “The Unmaking of a Documentary” by Edwin Diamond.

“[Trump] had the accounting firm of Arthur Andersen & Company do a special audit. The CPAs declared Trump had cash assets of $700,125,00 as of November 30, 1988…So much for Trump’s not being as big as he says he is”

– “The Unmaking of a Documentary,” New York, September 4, 1989

Ah, yes, “So much for Trump’s not being as big as he says he is.” In some ways, his use of the Arthur Andersen letter is Trump’s most elegant deception. The accountants’ carefully worded letter did say – perfectly accurately – that on the specified date Trump had $700,125,000 in cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities. Having seen the lengths to which Trump was driven in order to raise a mere #31 million back in late 1986, we may be surprised to learn that on a typical day in 1988 he had 20 times that in liquid assets. Fortunately, a simple explanation presents itself: if one interprets it properly, which the Trump-adoring editors at New York were in no way inclined to do, the Andersen letter actually demonstrates that on November 30, 1988, Donald Trump was $20 million in the red.

The date of the review was not the end of a fiscal year or quarter, but neither was it arbitrary. It happened to be eight days after Merrill Lynch had given Trump $651 million in cash specifically for the purpose of building the Taj Mahal. The money had been raised through a junk-bond offering. The accountants’ letter made only passing reference to the possibility that any of the $700 million was earmarked for specific projects. It also failed to explain that the marketable securities were shares in Alexander’s department stores – stock that Trump had borrowed $69 million from Citibank and Bear Stearns to buy.

Andersen stated that Trump had $700 million in cash and stock. Deduct the $69 million owed on the stock, and that leaves Trump with $631 million. But Merrill Lynch had just given Trump $651 million for the Taj Mahal, so, in fact, he was “overdrawn” for $20 million.

The conclusion. The Castle referred to is the Trump Castle Casino, an Atlantic City casino, now called the Atlantic City Golden Nugget.

A fool and a liar and a deadbeat Trump may be, but no one can say that he doesn’t have touching, human qualities. Take his solicitude to his aging father. In January, The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump had surreptitiously borrowed $3 million from Fred Trump to help him make an $18.4 million Castle Casino bond payment. A week before Christmas, Trump had Howard Snyder, an attorney for his father, walk into the Castle, go up to the cashier’s window, buy $3 million in chips and leave with those chips. With that $3 million, Trump had the money he needed to make the bond payment.

The CCC requires that all loans be reported. Needless to say, Trump did not advise the Commission of the loan from Fred. “We found out about [the transaction] the next day. We began to look into it right away,” John Sweeney, the new director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, told SPY. “We sent a letter to the Trump Organization saying, ‘We are treating it as a loan.'” This is what things have come to for Donald Trump. The boy from Queens had to go back to Queens for a bailout.

Addendum, added on September 17th, 2013:

While reading Mark Singer’s collection of profiles, Character Studies, I came across the one source of actual, substantial income by which one might label Trump rich, not mega-rich, not the wealth of Midas that he affects, but still very rich. It occurred after his supposed heyday, with the sale of his share of the Grand Hyatt Hotel to the Pritzkers. I give it over to Singer:

Then, last October, Trump came into possession of what a normal prson would regard as real money. For $142 million, he sold his half interest in the Grand Hyatt Hotel, on Forty-second Street, to the Pritzker family, of Chicago, his longtime, and long-estranged, partners in the property. Most of the proceeds weren’t his to keep, but he walked away with more than $25 million. The chief significance of the Grand Hyatt sale was that it enabled Trump to extinguish the remnants of his once monstrous personally guaranteed debt. When Forbes published its annual list of the four hundred richest Americans, he sneaked on (373rd position) with an estimated net worth of $450 million. Trump, meanwhile, had compiled his own unaudited appraisal, one he was willing to share along with the amusing caveat “I’ve never shown this to a reporter before.” According to his calculations, he was actually worth $2.25 billion – Forbes had low-balled him by 80 percent. Still, he had officially rejoined the plutocracy, his first appearance since the blip.

I hand off the ending of this post to the ending of Singer’s own piece, which is as memorable and well-written as anything in the collection. The profile came out shortly after Trump’s first divorce:

Next, we headed north, to Mount Kisco, in Westchester County – specifically to Seven Springs, a fifty-five-room limestone-and-granite Georgian splendor completed in 1917 by Eugene Meyer, the father of Katharine Graham. If things proceeded according to plan, within a year and a half the house would become the centerpiece of the Trump Mansion at Seven Springs, a golf club where anyone willing to part with $250,000 could tee up.

From the rear terrace, Trump mapped out some holes of the golf course: an elevated tee above a par thre, across a ravine filled with laurel and dogwood; a couple of parallel par fours above the slope that led to a reservoir. Then he turned to me and said, “I bought this whole thing for seven and a half million dollars. People ask, ‘How’d you do that?” I said, ‘I don’t know.’ Does that make sense?” Not really, nor did his next utterance: “You know, nobody’s ever seen a granite house before.”

Granite? Nobody? Never? In the history of humankind? Impressive.

In Trump’s office the other morning, I asked whether, in light of his domestic shuffle, he planned to change his living arrangements. He smiled for the first time that day and said, “Where am I going to live? That might be the most difficult question you’ve asked so far. I want to finish the work on my apartment at Trump International. That should take a few months, maybe two, maybe six. And then I think I’ll live there for maybe six months. Let’s just say, for a period of time. The buildings always work better when I’m living there.”

What about the Trump Tower apartment? Would that sit empty?

“Well, I wouldn’t sell that. And, of course, there’s no one who would ever build an apartment like that. The penthouse at Trump International isn’t nearly as big. It’s maybe seven thousand square feet. But it’s got a living room that is the most spectacular residential room in New York. A twenty-five-foot ceiling. I’m telling you, the best room anywhere. Do you understand?”

I think I did: the only apartment with a better view than the best apartment in the world was the same apartment. Except for the one across the park, which had the most spectacular living room in the world. No one had ever seen a granite house before. And, most important, every square inch belonged to Trump, who had aspired to and achieved the ultimate luxury, an existence unmolested by the rumbling of a soul. “Trump” – a fellow with universal recognition but with a suspicion that an interior life was an intolerable inconvenience, a creature everywhere and nowhere, uniquely capable of inhabiting it all at once, all alone.

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Angola, Namibia, South Africa, and a Tea Party Leader

Occasionally, one comes across an old story, an obscurity, that is like a small rock launched at fine glass, the spiderweb of cracks traveling out from the initial impact, all the way to the edges of the frame. It is marring, and destructive, yet we are held agape at the reach of this forgotten moment. The auguring incident is a magnet for any writer, so much so that a now extinct magazine Spy made fun of this technique, with its Ten Years Ago in Spy Today, where it would approvingly quote a decade-old story from its pages unerringly anticipating contemporary events; Spy was a magazine full of vicious satire, and these decade old stories were always made up. The necessary repetition involved in writing is too frequently unacknowledged, and I am by no means the first to cite this feature in an introduction; James Traub, a Spy veteran1, did so effectively in “The Way We Live Now”, and he gives a more succinct intro to this feature: “There used to be a column in Spy magazine, Ten Years Ago in Spy, which featured astonishing and, of course, completely fictitious acts of journalistic foresight. ‘NASA’s enthusiasm notwithstanding, the space shuttle is a potentially deadly hodgepodge of untested technologies,’ ran one breathless article. ‘High on the list of suspected components are the enormous flexible gaskets…'”

I give some extensive mention to this, because it is in the pages of this magazine that we can find the epicenter of one such quaking event. This magazine is ancient, this magazine is extinct – an ad makes you think, “Oh, these are the people Patrick Bateman killed” – but its tremors reach us even now. The story is diligent, quality reporting – Spy‘s alumni are widely spread and fertile spores, its writing a shaming standard to the low watermark that’s attempted now – but very much a back of the book, short feature, its ominous qualities impossible for the writers of the time to discern, but obvious to most readers now. We go back not ten years, but twenty two, to August 1990, the magazine’s cover featuring a weeping pseudo-billionaire still very much with us, and inside is “Fooled on the Hill: How some die-hard Cold Warriors and a Belgian con artist tried to change U.S. policy in Africa”, by David Aronson and David Kamp.

The piece opens with the tumult around the inauguration of the president of Namibia, a country sharing borders with both Angola and South Africa. The nation was beginning its transition to independence, after decades of being the vassal state of apartheid South Africa, the ruthless segregation policy of that country imposed on Namibia as well. For this transition to independence to take place would require UN supervision, which would require funding from wealthier nations, including the United States. Many hard-line conservatives, however, did not want this independence to take place, people like the notorious senator from North Carolina, Jesse Helms. They tried to stop it from happening through legislative chicanery and deception. I quote extensively from the piece, because it tells the story better than I can paraphrase it, and I begin such quoting now:

Four months earlier Helms and his right-wing allies had managed to put the United States in a position of disapproving of Namibian independence by sneaking a rider through a budget bill through Congress. The rider authorized the president to halt U.S. funding for a United Nations team, called UNTAG, that was overseeing Namibia’s peaceful, carefully negotiated secession from South Africa. As we shall see, the basis of Helms’s legislative gambit was bogus, a fabrication that might have been revealed had Congress administered some rudimentary tests before enacting the bill into law.

Helms, like most of Capitol Hill’s extreme conservatives, never wanted an independent Namibia, a country whose dominant party (SWAPO) is aligned with Moscow. Neither do Helms and his ilk hold much affection for Namibia’s friendly neighbor, Angola, whose Marxist government is backed by Cuba and is fighting a civil war against Jonas Savimbi’s U.S.-supported UNITA (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola) guerillas. In December 1988, Angola, Cuba, and South Africa signed an agreement in which Cuba promised to withdraw its troops from Angola by mid-1991 and South Africa agreed to allow Namibia’s independence. This deal was not universally approved; Duncan Sellars, chairman of the conservative International Freedom Foundation (IFF) in Washington, says that after the agreement was signed, right-wingers thought of it as “a sellout of [South Africa-controlled] Namibia and a sellout of UNITA.”

This group then goes into action:

Helms and a platoon of right-wing operatives (the lobbyists at Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly, who represent UNITA, and the think-tankers at the Heritage Foundation and the IFF) coalesced around a piece of legislation – the rider to the budget bill – that would have given President Bush an excuse for withholding Washington’s funding for the UN team in Namibia if any evidence was found that the Cubans were using chemical weapons to support their Marxist pals in Angola. In other words, the bill said that if the Commies misbehaved in Angola, we couldn’t help pay for Namibia’s transition to independence.

We are then told the genesis for this action:

The idea for the bill was born during a trip taken to Angola in March 1989 by Michael Johns, the Heritage Foundation’s policy analyst for African affairs.

There he met Andries Holst, a West German who claimed to be filming a documentary about Cuba’s use of chemical weapons in Angola. Johns brought Holst to Washington where the German filmmaker was introduced to Helms, State Department officials, lobbyists and other conservatives likely to be moved by his footage, which purported to show the horrors of chemical warfare.

The filmmaker’s evidence, however, does not persuade, so another tact is tried:

For whatever reason, Holst did not impress, and Hems’s bill foundered. To salvage the effort, the IFF’s Duncan Sellars refocused attention on a scientific report Holst had commissioned from Aubin Heynrickx, a toxicologist from the University of Ghent in Belgium, which substantiated Holst’s claims. In July, Sellars brought Heyndrickx to Washington to tour the same conservative network Holst had earlier traveled. The difference: Heyndrickx’s opinions carried the heft and credibility of science.

And this time, it works.

While Heyndrickx held forth, Helms rallied his allies on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to lash the rider to a vital appropriations bill and Black, Manafort’s lobbyists hit the Hill. And son of a gun, with the boost Heyndrickx provided, the plan worked: on November 21, George Bush put his signature on a bill containing the Cuban-chemical-warfare provision.

There is a caveat:

But what might look like a model of parliamentary maneuvering is more likely an instance of ultraconservative fraud. For as it turns out, Holst is an impostor with no serious journalistic or filmmaking credentials, and Heyndrickx, on whose reports the rider was entirely predicated, is a publicity-seeking showboat.

The evidentiary foundation of this bill, the proof of use of chemical weapons, is soon revealed to be bunk:

Heyndrickx’s examination of Holst’s bomb fragments and environmental samples showed that chemical weapons were used. Other chemical-weapons experts – one is tempted to say real chemical-weapons experts – disagree. Finland’s Marjatta Rautio, who is perhaps the world’s preeminent expert in this field, examined Heyndrickx’s data and reports. “I don’t see the connection between the results and the conclusions,” she says. Julian Robinson, senior researcher at the University of Sussex, doubts Heyndrickx’s descriptions of the victims’ medical conditions. And André De Leenheer, Heydrickx’s overseer at Ghent, is frankly contemptuous. “I’ve been studying everything in detail that has been written,” De Leenheer says of Heyndrickx’s findings. “It’s a real joke.” De Leenheer says he would kick out any student who handed in a similar report.

A toxicologist claims that a soviet journal gave high marks to Heyndrickx’s work, but it turns out that the source for this commendation is Heyndrickx himself. The lobbying firm behind this whole effort, Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly, gave no scrutiny whatsoever of the work of this supposed expert. When Heyndrickx passed the material on to the state department, their tests came back negative for any evidence of chemical contamination. A representative of UNITA, the Angolan military group that helped shepard Heyndrickx’s work to those in the U.S., claimed that he had discussed the work with other experts at “a university of chemical warfare” in Switzerland. When a swiss embassy is contacted, the reporters are told that no such studies are undertaken at any swiss university, and no such university in Switzerland exists. The article puts it best: “this significant piece of legislation was passed with no credible substantiation whatsoever.”

The article ends with a definitive putdown: “Is Heyndrickx a charlatan?” A chemical weapons expert at the state department responds, “I have no doubt about that,” adding, “That’s for sure.” Of course, this is not the story’s true end, but part of a larger picture. Anyone who reads this piece now sees immediately its unconscious prescience for the war in Iraq: poorly examined evidence passed to the U.S. by third parties with a vested interest that such evidence prompts the U.S. into action, all helpfully co-ordinated by a lobbying group that has no problem representing a murderous dictator, but has no interest in anyone working minimum wage. Then, the price would have been Namibian independence; in Iraq, it was death and maiming for hundreds of thousands. So, this small story (though not small at all, especially if one is from Namibia) holds that illumination, but it holds other light as well, by simply examining some of the players in the context of what a brief two decades of extra knowledge can give us.

At least one of the participants, the film-maker Andries Holst, has seemingly disappeared from the eye of history. Aubin Heynrickx, the ridiculed toxicologist, shows up again during the lead-up to the trials over the massacre of Kurds in northern Iraq, “In Iraq chemical arms trial, scientists face many burdens of proof”. He is described as “somewhat of a maverick in the field”, Heynrickx asserting that the Iraq army used cyanide and biological toxins, an assertion which most in his field disagree with2. No mention is made of his sorry involvement in the attempt to block Namibian independence. The best known members of the lobbying powerhouse Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly are Charlie Black, Roger Stone, and Lee Atwater. Atwater, a man best known for his use of the infamous Willie Horton ad during the 1988 election, died, thankfully, very young. Roger Stone, a Nixon campaign alumnus, would go on to stage the Brooks Brothers riot in the 2000 election in order to stop vote counting in Miami3, help destroy the Reform party in that same year in order to eliminate a third-party threat on the right4, as well as fund and co-ordinate Al Sharpton’s 2004 presidential run in order to hurt the eventual democratic candidate with black voters5. Other notable incidents included his work as a liaison for the ill-viewed NXIVM cult6, flogging the possibility of a Michelle Obama “whitey tape”7, and a consulting venture with Scott Rothstein, the man behind the largest ponzi scheme in Florida history, now serving half a century in prison8. After a New York campaign in which he backed distribution of a flyer accusing a libertarian candidate of being a pedophile9, he would go on to run the campaign of the libertarian federal candidate, Gary Johnson, either out of devout libertarian belief, financial need, or perhaps again manipulating a third party or outsider candidate to arrange for a republican win10.

Charlie Black would continue to be a man of incredible power and toxic clientele. His list of clients would include Ahmed Chalabi, the Iraqi exile behind most of the bunko evidence of biological and chemical weapons, as well as the mercenary firm Blackwater, which he called “a fine company that’s provided a great service to the people of the United States and Iraq”, along with Phillipine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Congolese dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, and Phillip Morris11. He would retire from lobbying when he went to work in the 2008 race for the crusading anti-lobbyist candidate John McCain; following the campaign, he un-retired from lobbying, and went back to work at his old firm12. During that same campaign, Mitt Romney criticized McCain for having so many lobbyists as associates. When someone pointed out that Romney also had plenty of lobbyists in his campaign, the candidate insisted that they were not involved in his campaign, but simply informal advisers13. In 2012, Black would join Romney as an informal adviser as well. Not that he was actively participating in any way: “No formal role in the campaign. Just offer advice occasionally.”14

These men, however, were well known already for their ignoble work. There was one player, crucial in the incident, that was behind a veil, and this was the International Freedom Foundation. I re-quote again their first appearance in the story: “Duncan Sellars, chairman of the conservative International Freedom Foundation (IFF) in Washington, says that after the agreement was signed, right-wingers thought of it as ‘a sellout of [South Africa-controlled] Namibia and a sellout of UNITA.'” The IFF was a think tank started by Jack Abramoff, the disgraced lobbyist who served half a decade in prison15. This, however, is not the chief notoriety of this organization; its chief notoriety is that a substantial amount of its funding secretly came from the apartheid government of South Africa, for the purpose of opposing sanctions, defaming its opponent, the ANC, and the ANC’s leader, Nelson Mandela. The funding of the IFF within the South African intelligence service was sometimes referred to as “Pacman”, and sometimes as “Operation Babushka” – a babushka is one of those wood russian dolls which contain another doll within16. This operation was handled by Craig Williamson, an intelligence agent who was also behind the assassination of Ruth First, Joe Slovo, and other anti-apartheid activists17. The South African interest in this case was that the country very much wanted to remain in Namibia, where it could continue its apartheid policy. Namibian independence would end all that.

This information all came out a half-decade after the Spy magazine piece, during South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Here is the foundation as described in volume two of the commission’s summary report:

An overview is provided below of certain projects undertaken by the South African Defence Force (SADF), South African Police (SAP), National Intelligence Service (NIS), Department of Foreign Affairs and Department of National Education, as presented to the Kahn Committee, the Ministers’ Committee on Special Projects and the Secret Services Evaluation Committee.

Most projects appear to be related to the establishment of front organisations or actions aimed at counteracting the activities of the African National Congress (ANC) and its allies, primarily in the sphere of information, communication, disinformation, propaganda and counter-propaganda. Other projects were aimed at circumventing sanctions.

South African Defence Force (SADF)

The SADF secret projects covered a range of activities such as publications, front organisations, and support to surrogate groups.

Two of the more costly projects were Pacman and Byronic. Pacman was the code name for the International Freedom Foundation, which had offices in Johannesburg, Washington, London, Brussels and Bonn. Its objectives were described as the combating of sanctions and support to constitutional initiatives through publications, lobbying, conferences etc. It specifically supported Mr Jonas Savimbi and UNITA. Leading personalities in government circles in Europe and the USA were involved, with half of its funds coming from abroad. Pacman’s annual budget for 1991/92 was listed as over R10 million. In late September 1991, the Minister of Finance agreed to a one-off payment of R7 million, approved by Minster of Defence, “to enable the country to withdraw from the enterprise”. This payment was vested in a trust controlled by trustees appointed by SADF.

All those who had any connection with the IFF, or might have had any connection with the IFF, denied knowing of the South African funding. “This is nothing I ever knew about. It’s something that I would have resigned over or closed the foundation over. I would have put a stop to it,” said Sellars, now a Virginia businessman18. Jesse Helms, the senator who put the rider in the original legislation, would deny even having knowledge of the group, through his then spokesman, Marc Thiessen: “Helms has never heard of the International Freedom Foundation, was not chairman of their advisory board and never authorized his name to be used by IFF in any way shape or form. We never had any relationship with them.”19 Thiessen would go on to be a speechwriter for George W. Bush, and would write a book defending the administration’s use of torture, Courting Disaster. In her review, “Counterfactual: A curious history of the C.I.A.’s secret interrogation program”, Jane Mayer, author of the definitive torture history The Dark Side, would write that the book “downplays the C.I.A.’s brutality under the Bush Administration to the point of falsification.”20

Abramoff also denied knowing of the source of funds for his organization, though another Abramoff venture makes this less credible. The IFF was only one Abramoff project which involved Africa; another was a symbolic meeting of anti-communist unity, the Democratic International, organized in Jamba, Angola, of various cold war anti-communist leaders: Contras, Afghan mujahaiden, Angola’s UNITA, among others. None of these groups spoke each other’s language, they soon ran out of food, the pact of co-operation signed there had no meaning and led to nothing21. The only one to benefit from this meaningless ceremony was Abramoff, who was approached to make a movie of Jonas Savimbi, the leader of UNITA, a man who was later to be charged with war crimes, before being killed in battle22. “Nobody watches documentaries,” replied Abramoff, and instead he made Red Scorpion 23. Scorpion is a too little examined movie which is ostensibly anti-communist (Cuban and Russian military are the main villains), but whose chief purpose appears to serve as South Africa propaganda24. Its hero is a Russian defector who does not look slavic at all, but resembles nothing less than the aryan ideal of a blonde superman. This man helps the black insurgents against their true oppressors, the Soviet alliance, much as South Africa tried to set up allied governments in Namibia and Angola which fought against anti-colonial movements that had soviet support. The movie ends with a triptych that illustrates how a white south african military man might see himself during that struggle – the Aryan ideal flanked by his allies, an unctuous american reporter and a black rebel leader. That the movie strongly suggests South African propaganda is not an accident – Williamson, the South African intelligence agent would say that Scorpion was funded by “our guys”, and that they also provided military equipment for the production25. Russell Crystal, an adviser to F.W. DeKlerk, South Africa’s president, was an informal producer on the film26. After Swaziland fell through as a filming location, it would be shot in Namibia, then the protectorate of South Africa27. Abramoff planned on using South African Defense Force (SADF) troops and equipment; Carmen Argenziano, the actor playing the villainous Cuban colonel, confirms that many of those playing Russian and Cuban troops were SADF soldiers28.

That South Africa was heavily involved in such ventures, a connection seemingly unknown to so many, was seemingly known very well to others. “We heard that very right-wing South African money was helping fund the movie,” said Argenziano, “It wasn’t very clear. We were pretty upset about the source of the money. We thought we were misled. We were shocked that these brothers who we thought were showbiz liberals – Beverly Hills Jewish kids – were doing this.”29 Chester “Chet” Crocker, assistant secretary of state for African affairs from 1981 to 1989, did not think there was any way the Democratic International could have been organized without help from the SADF.30 “We knew that the IFF was funded by the South African government,” Herman Cohen, who ran Africa operations for the National Security Council during the Reagan era, would tell Salon magazine. “It was one of a number of front organizations.”31 When asked about South Africa’s involvement with the IFF and Scorpion in 1995, at the time of the Truth commission revelations, Abramoff called them “outrageous.”32 When his brother, Robert, was asked about the allegations in 2006, after Jack’s arrest, he would say, “It’s a family matter and I prefer not to comment on anything.”33

The exact influence of the South African government on the conservative movement is difficult to discern exactly, because they often seem to move in lockstep, without dissent or question, whether it be opposition to sanctions, support for South Africa in Naimbia, support for the South African proxy in Angola, Jonas Savimbi’s UNITA, harsh criticism of Nelson Mandela, or strong support for Madela’s rival, Mangosuthu Buthelezi. A good way of getting insight into this is by looking at the writings of Michael Johns, then an africa specialist for the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. It is Johns, remember, who is the seed of the Namibian chemical weapons story. I quote again the relevant section:

The idea for the bill was born during a trip taken to Angola in March 1989 by Michael Johns, the Heritage Foundation’s policy analyst for African affairs.

There he met Andries Holst, a West German who claimed to be filming a documentary about Cuba’s use of chemical weapons in Angola. Johns brought Holst to Washington where the German filmmaker was introduced to Helms, State Department officials, lobbyists and other conservatives likely to be moved by his footage, which purported to show the horrors of chemical warfare.

Johns was a passionate supporter of Jonas Savimbi, the head of Angola’s UNITA – as mentioned already, a man later indicted as a war criminal and killed in battle. After Angola’s independence from Portugal, UNITA would break away from the coalition which fought for this independence, and wage a long civil war; it fought entirely out of self-interest, colluding with the former colonial power of Portugal34. UNITA had nothing like the support of the other political parties in the country, and would not have been able to wage its long struggle without military support and funding from South Africa and the United States35. Savimbi was fluent in four languages, an educated man, a brilliant tactician, an opportunist, and a sociopath36. Chester Crocker described him as “a brilliant military warlord who operated by the gun, lived by the gun, and died by the gun.”37 Don Steinberg, ambassador to Angola during the first Clinton administration, on Savimbi: “He was the most articulate, charismatic homicidal maniac I’ve ever met.”38 He recruited children into his armies, he burned women for being witches, he specifically targeted medical workers and school teachers for killing39. When he suspected top members of his command of betrayal, the men who were his ambassadors to the United States, he had them and their families killed. UNITA, according to one survey, was responsible for the majority of the landmines in Angola, supplied by the United States, and placed in fields – a measure which had a devastating effect on agriculture and triggered a famine40. He was seen as an anti-communist by the U.S., but those within his movement say that Savimbi ran UNITA like a communist organization41. After a long, bloody war, there were finally elections in 1991. When Savimbi lost at the ballot box, he went back to living by the gun42. The campaign of maiming, killing, and mining by UNITA continued for another decade, funded by blood diamonds43. In 1999 he was indicted for war crimes, and then, finally, out of some strange mercy, he was killed in battle, and Angola’s civil war ended. Angola is still recovering from this time of horrors: it is a hideously inequitable place, the most expensive country in the world, its economy designed around guest workers for the oil industry and the ruling elite, who get swimming pools, nightclubs, and underage girls, while most citizens get shantytowns44.

It is in this context that we can read Johns on Savimbi. In 1990, after the end of the Cold War, he argues for continuing aid to this man so that he might finally take power. In the essay, “With Freedom Near Angola: This Is No Time To Curtail UNITA Assistance”, he charges that the obstacle to freedom and democracy in Angola lies not with Savimbi, but his opponents:

Since it began arming UNITA in 1986, Washington has made a substantial investment in UNITA’s bid for a democratic Angola. American support for UNITA has discouraged Soviet and Cuban military involvement in southern Africa. Indeed, having been defeated in battle, some 65,000 Cuban troops in Angola are now headed back to Havana as a result of a negotiated settlement reached in December 1988.

American support for UNITA since 1986 has also helped advance the cause of democracy in Angola, raising hope that the 15-year conflict can be settled without further loss of blood. Angola’s Marxist regime took power in 1975 promising free and fair multi-party elections; it has yet to hold them. Since 1975, UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi has been demanding that the Angolan regime keep its promise. George Bush has supported Savimbi’s objective, promising last January that UNITA will receive American support `until genuine national reconciliation has been achieved.’

Ted Kennedy, the usual conservative bogeyman, is the enemy in all this for his opposition to more aid for Savimbi. Kennedy’s action, Johns warns, will lead to a longer war:

In Angola, where a civil war has raged for 15 years between the country’s Soviet-backed Marxist regime and an American-supported resistance movement, peace and freedom are now within sight. Unable to achieve a military victory, the Angolan regime of Jose Eduardo dos Santos is at last considering resistance demands for multi-party elections. These elections would allow a cease fire in the Angolan civil war. An obstacle to this has appeared not in Angola, but in the U.S. Congress. There Senator Edward Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat, intends this week to attach an amendment to the defense authorization bill that would end American military assistance to Angola’s democratic resistance forces, known as the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). Kennedy thus would remove all incentive for Angola’s Marxist regime to continue negotiations, and would likely encourage that regime again to seek a military–rather than diplomatic–solution to Angola’s civil war.

It ends with this vision of what would take place if military aid to Jonas Savimbi is ended:

It would open the door for further militarism on behalf of the Angolan regime, and close the door on the democratic aspirations of the Angolan people.

We also have this piece, again by Johns, “Namibian Voters Deny Total Power to SWAPO” read into the congressional record by Indiana congressman Dan Burton [archive link], in reaction to the vicious smear of Savimbi by those who wanted an end to U.S. aid for this man. Again, it is Savimbi fighting for democracy and good government, ideals blocked by his opponents:

Over the past 12 months, an estimated $1.5 billion in Soviet military assistance has arrived in Angola with the sole intention of driving the Angolan freedom fighters into the ground.

But Jonas Savimbi is still standing. His forces operate in every Angolan province, and over one-third of the country is firmly in their control. All this from a movement whose every survival remains nothing short of miraculous.

In resistance terms, Savimbi is clearly correct. UNITA has won the war. In political terms, however, the struggle for Angolan freedom remains even elusive. The Angolan regime shows little sign of agreeing to the free and fair elections it promised in 1975, leaving Savimbi with little alternative but to continue his battle for freedom.

In Washington, the picture is no prettier. The Angolan government had launched a propaganda campaign intended to discredit the Angolan freedom fighters among its Washington supporters.

Last week, the Angolan government purchased advertising space in the Washington Post and the New York Times in which it quoted from an August National Review article that described Savimbi’s intentions as fighting to extend ‘his autocratic grip on the people within his domain.’ Despite Savimbi’s consistent support for democratic values, the author described UNITA as ‘a highly centralized, Leninist organization.’

The radical organization TransAfrica, which has received donations from the governments of Cuba and Angola, is also weighing in against the freedom fighters. Last week TransAfrica director Randall Robinson held two press conferences in one week to denounce UNITA, and in an apparent effort to overturn any diplomatic gains made by Savimbi’s Washington visit, his organization invited Angolan dictator dos Santos to visit Washington to press his case for a termination of UNITA aid.

We can discern a strong contrast with the way in which Johns views Savimbi and Nelson Mandela. While Savimbi’s murder of civilians goes unmentioned in Johns’ writing, Mandela, though praised sparingly for his work combating apartheid, is described as a terrorist, the head of a communist affiliated terrorist organization, the ANC, and a man who deserved to spend decades in prison. From “For Mandela’s Visit, Some Words of Caution”, written after Mandela was released from prison, just prior to his first visit to the United States:

It is appropriate that one of apartheid’s most heralded resistance figures, Nelson Mandela, will be welcomed to the U.S. next week. Mandela will meet with George Bush on Monday. He will address a joint meeting of Congress the following day, joining the ranks of Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, Douglas MacArthur, and more recently Vaclav Havel and Lech Walesa.

Americans nevertheless have reasons to be skeptical of Mandela. First, Nelson Mandela is not a freedom fighter. He repeatedly has supported terrorism. Since Mandela’s release from prison and his subsequent refusal to renounce violence, the Marxist-dominated ANC has launched terrorism and violence against civilians, claiming several hundred lives. Further, the ANC, in which Mandela serves as Deputy President, has tortured and executed its own members when they have refused to tow the party line, a fact Mandela conceded in a press conference on April 14. ANC dissidents who escaped to Kenya in April contend that at least 120 political prisoners are being detained and tortured in ANC camps in Angola and Uganda. Because of its support for violence against civilians, Mandela’s ANC was labeled a “terrorist” organization last January in the U.S. Defense Department’s Terrorist Group Profiles.

He then goes on to paint Mandela as a potential communist dictator:

Second, though Mandela has spoken out against apartheid, he is not likely to support economic and political freedom if he or the ANC takes power in South Africa. At the very moment communism was collapsing in Eastern Europe, Mandela praised the South African Communist Party in his first speech following his release from prison. Mandela said in Cape Town on February 11: “We are heartened by the fact that the alliance between ourselves and the [communist] party remains as strong as it always was.” Mandela also continues to propose the nationalization of South African industry, even though this failed policy has been rejected not only throughout Europe, Latin America, and Asia, but increasingly in Africa.

Johns appears to have a strong preference for Mandela’s rival, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, instead:

In forming its South Africa policy, Washington must now decide what sort of political system it wants in South Africa. Partly because of its terrorism and alliance with South Africa’s communist party, not all South African blacks support the ANC, and many have sought political alternatives. Foremost among these is the Zulu-dominated Inkatha movement, led by Chief Manosuthu Buthelezi, which represents some 1.5 million black South Africans.

A deferential attitude on the part of Johns towards South Africa is most strikingly revealed in a Heritage lecture on Namibia. From “Namibia and the Global Democratic Revolution”:

Part of the reason the potential dangers of the Namibian independence process, most notably, the rise of a Marxist-Leninist dictatorship in Namibia, receive so little attention in the U.S. is that there is a general feeling that South Africa knows about Namibia – that South Africa has carefully weighted the potential benefits and costs of granting Namibia independence, and if South Africa views the independence process as acceptable to their security interests, there is little reason for the U.S. to have further concern. Our questioning South Africa’s Namibia policy is viewed a little bit like South Africa questioning our Mexico policy.

This lecture was made in 1989, after the U.S. had imposed sanctions on South Africa with overwhelming public support. The apartheid state was viewed as utterly evil; yet here Johns is arguing that the common sense U.S. perspective is that this same apartheid state should have full sway over the government of its neighbors. Note that this is not simply his perspective, it is supposedly the general feeling in the United States, at a time when the public was strongly supporting sanctions, that South Africa should have such sway, and that it is expected for such rule to go unquestioned.

Equally insightful is a review of After Apartheid: The Solution for South Africa by Leon Louw and Frances Kendall (“Swiss Family Buthelezi”). Though the anti-apartheid struggle involved the collective effort of people from many native tribes, as well as south-east asians, Johns opens his review by portraying the country as a place of ethnic strife, where prejudice of white against black is just one conflict of many, and as if that hostility is equal to both sides, and between parties of equal power:

South Africa is a rich and beautiful land where many people hate each other. The hostilities are not simply betwen black and white, or Zulu and Xhosa, or Hindu and Moslem, or Afrikaner and Anglophone. Sometimes the bloodiest conflicts are between rival political organizations within the same ethnic group, especially between radical blacks in the townships associated with the African National Congress (ANC) and the leaders of tribal homelands with strong rural power bases.

We have the continued defamation of the ANC:

It has long been the aim of the South African Communist Party, which exerts significant influence on the ANC, to take control in a unitary state, destroy the power bases of the country’s independent black leadership, and assume totalitarian control. And in pursuit of this objective they have accepted and actively sought the support of the Soviet Union. Occasionally, the ANC might try to cover these facts with cosmetic remarks and there may even be differing viewpoints toward Marxism-Leninism within the organization, but it remains clear that the ANC leadership is, in fact, wedded to terrorism and violence, and very much aligned with Soviet ambitions in southern Africa.

[If] there has been one common characteristics to ANC rhetoric and actions since its 1969 Morogoro conference, it has been that total uncompromising power in South Africa is their only objective, and they have seldom spared any level of violence to achieve this end.

Another figure is brought in to deal with this book’s primary flaw of its insufficiently critical look at the ANC. The man is Warwick-Davies Webb, and I award no points for guessing which think tank he’s from. I will also make the small observation about a strange quality of this review of a South Africa policy book: the only people quoted in the review on the feasibility or commendability of a canton type government appear to be members of its white minority.

However since the ANC cannot thrive without Soviet and other external assistance, why not insert a meaningful constitutional provision that would outlaw foreign intervention in South African affairs? “The book does not take into consideration the possible exploitation of the system by totalitarian groupings,” says Warwick Davies-Webb of the International Freedom Foundation’s Johannesburg office, a group committed to individual liberty and free-market values. The totalitarian threat, Webb thinks, would probably be greatest during the transitional phase. “By bringing in the SACP, ANC, and PAC (Pan-Africanist Congress) into the transitional phase, Leon [Louw] fails to take into account their nature and their short term expedient tactic of accepting co-option into the system in order to further their own political agenda,” he says.

This might be one of the only times where I have seen a book, and its review, refer to the apartheid state as a product of both right and left prejudice, of apartheid as a problem of statism, and most strikingly, one characterized as implicitly racist – if there is any system whose defining, explicit purpose is racist, it would be apartheid.

Again, from the review:

The book contains a brilliant analysis of how apartheid has thrown the South African economy into near shambles. While mineral wealth has kept the country alive, regulations on who can buy and sell goods, who can own property, and who can be employed have generally crippled economic growth. Before “grand apartheid” was enacted by the National Party in 1950, apartheid laws were intended to protect white farmers and workers from black competition. And this is a shame, Kendall and Louw argue, because the South African black tradition – back to the 1800s when the Mgengus and Ngunis were successful herdsmen and farmers – falls solidly in the entrepreneurial tradition. “There is an extraordinary implicit racism in all of this,” remarks Louw, “from the Left and the Right, but especially from the Left. The Left regard blacks as welfare cases, disabled people, for whom the only hope is a masssive paternal welfare state.”

Today South Africa is swamped with a whole array of white-sponsored statist laws that discourage individual initiative and disrupt free enterprise, including minimum standards regulations, extensive licensing laws, discretionary laws regulating the opening of new businesses, and large levels of government ownership over the means of production. South Africa remains perhaps the most overregulated economy in the non-Communist world, and the dead hand of bureaucracy is most stifling for blacks.

The problem is not primarily apartheid, but a strong state. The state must be weakened, for the greater economic benefit of South Africa, to avoid the dominance of a white minority by a black majority, and to prevent the outbreak of ethnic strife warned of in the first paragraph.

The “one man, one vote” unitary state proposed by the ANC and its front organization, the United Democratic Front (UDF), would be unacceptable to Afrikaners and other whites who fear being governed by a black majority, to smaller black ethnic groups who fear oppression of tribal minorities so typical in much of the rest of Africa, and to homeland leaders who fear they would lose their local political authority. The most pressing political challenge for the nation, then, is to find a way of broadening democratic participation while at the same time preventing any one racial, ethnic, or political group from dominating the others.

The book’s solution, one that Johns commends, is for a federal, decentralized state:

For a number of years, many South Africans have argued that strong local government – federalism – is the only democratic system that realistically could replace apartheid. With power decentralized, each group would have the opportunity to govern itself in the areas where it composes a majority. The struggle for national power would become less important if each group knew it would be protected in its own area; national conflict would therefore be diffused.

Johns presents this solution as one equally opposed by the ANC and the pro-apartheid National Party, which is a little unusual, since this federal solution seems uncannily like the one put forth by the same National Party during negotiations over the post-apartheid state, and described by Nelson Mandela in his memoir Long Walk to Freedom, as apartheid in disguise:

Despite [F.W. De Klerk’s] seemingly progressive actions, Mr. de Klerk was by no means the great emancipator. He was a gradualist, a careful pragmatist. He did not make any of his reforms with the intention of putting himself out of power. He made them for precisely the opposite reason: to ensure power for the Afrikaner in a new dispensation. He was not yet prepared to negotiate the end of white rule.

His goal was to create a system of power-sharing based on group rights, which would preserve a modified form of minority power in South Africa. He was decidedly opposed to majority rule, or “simple majoritarianism” as he sometimes called it, because that would end white domination in a single stroke. We knew early on that the government was fiercely opposed to a winner-takes-all Westminster parliamentary system, and advocated instead a system of proportional representation with built-in structural guarantees for the white minority. Although he was prepared to allow the black majority to vote and create legislation, he wanted to retain a minority veto. From the start I would have no truck with this plan. I described it to Mr. de Klerk as apartheid in disguise, a “loser-takes-all” system.

The Nationalists’ long-term strategy to overcome our strength was to build an anti-ANC alliance with the Inkatha Freedom Party and to lure the Coloured Afrikaans-speaking voters of the Cape to a new National Party. From the moment of my release, they began wooing both [Mangosuthu] Buthelezi and the Coloured voters of the Cape. The government attempted to scare the Coloured population into thinking the ANC was anti-Coloured. They supported Chief Buthelezi’s desire to retain Zulu power and identity in a new South Africa by preaching to him the doctrine of group rights and federalism.

The use of Inkatha and Buethelezi to divide and conquer is another example of the striking lockstep in the attitudes of the hardline conservative intellectual class of the U.S., including Johns, and the government of South Africa. We have seen this already in the way Johns gives far more sympathetic treatment to Buthelezi than Mandela in his writing. Buthelezi, along with Savimbi, were both invited to speak at Johns’ think tank, the Heritage Foundation45. The other side of this wicked arrangement took place in South Africa, again, like the funding of the International Freedom Foundation, behind a veil. For even though he was thought to be an independent actor, Buthelezi, just like the IFF, had received secret aid from the South African government. Some of this was to sustain his party, the Inkatha, while the more nefarious involved collusion and training between Inkatha members and the South African Defense Force, collusion which resulted in the Inkatha instigating ethnic violence, the very violence that Johns cites as a reason for why a strong, single state would be impossible.

This is a controversial subject, so I quote at length from the relevant notes on Buthelezi from the Truth commission – on his attraction for conservative whites overseas, his collusion with the apartheid government, as well as the violence and autocracy which characterized KwaZulu, his tribal region (note: Buthelezi refused to co-operate with the Truth commission and did not offer testimony which might have qualified or refuted any testimony against him). All the following excerpts are from volume two of the commission:

During the latter part of the 1970s, Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi became vocal in his opposition to protest politics, economic sanctions and the armed struggle being promoted by the ANC in exile. This, together with his calls for investment and a free-market economy and his embracing of constituency politics, won him increasing support from the white business and white community at large. However, it placed him at odds with the ANC’s leadership in exile. The leaders of the two parties met in London in October 1979 to discuss their differences. At the London meeting Chief Buthelezi accused the ANC leadership of being hypocritical and of having deserted black South Africans.

Following the 1979 meeting, Chief Buthelezi faced growing hostility from an increasing number of Zulu-speaking people in Natal and the KwaZulu homeland for his rejection of the ANC’s strategies and, in particular, for his decision to participate in the homeland system, to work through the tribal authorities, the KLA and the black urban councils. The two organisations’ differing approaches to opposing apartheid laid the basis for the bitter and bloody political conflict that ensued.

Note that the roots of the conflict between these groups is not ethnic, as Johns states, but over political beliefs.

During the early 1980s, Chief Buthelezi still had high standing in the international community and amongst South African (white) businesspersons. Part of this was due to Inkatha’s official and international rhetoric of non-violence. This was indeed true of Inkatha’s stance towards the South African government and the white electorate. Inkatha supporters did not bomb shopping centres or defence force installations, or kill black Security Branch members. However, Inkatha members clearly employed violence against the ANC/UDF and against other extra-parliamentary opponents of the state, as did members of the UDF. The following quotes from speeches made by Chief Buthelezi at Inkatha meetings or in the KwaZulu Legislative Assembly during the early 1980s indicate an increasingly militaristic tone emerging in his addresses to his constituency:

I believe we must prepare ourselves not only to defend property and life but to go beyond that and prepare ourselves to hit back with devastating force at those who destroy our property and kill us.

I have stated that our commitment to peaceful change does not take away the inalienable right which every individual has to defend himself or herself…We cannot, just because we are a peaceful movement, lie down so that people can trample on us or destroy us without lifting a finger.

There are many examples of such violence; one of the more prominent was the Umlazi Cinema massacre:

On 1 August 1985, Victoria Mxenge, an UDF executive member, was murdered at her home in Umlazi, Durban. A memorial service was held in her honour in the Umlazi Cinema building on 8 August 1985. Whilst the service was in progress, hundreds of Inkatha vigilantes armed with assegais, knobkieries and firearms burst into the cinema, and began randomly stabbing and shooting at the mourners. In the attack, fourteen people were killed and many others injured. Witnesses allege that the attackers included Inkatha vigilantes recruited from the adjacent shack settlements and from Lindelani, north of Durban. The soldiers and police were allegedly still present but did not act to prevent the attack. This was the worst incident yet of clashes between Inkatha and UDF.

The following excerpts provide some illustration of the co-operation between Buthelezi, Inkatha, and the South African government:

An Inkatha-supporting and state-sponsored vigilante group known as the A-Team was set up with the help of the SAP [South African Police] Riot Unit, in 1983/4 in the Chesterville township, Durban. Statements made to the Commission allege that the A-Team was responsible for the perpetration of human rights abuses in the township between 1985 and 1989. These included at least ten killings, several cases of attempted killing and many incidents of arson and severe ill treatment.

The picture painted by witnesses who gave evidence at public hearings of the Commission in Durban was that this group established a reign of terror in Chesterville over a number of years. They took over Road 13, illegally occupying houses in that road and burning surrounding houses in order to make a safe area for themselves. They also allegedly brought in Inkatha youths from other townships to bolster their power-base. Their sole aim was to target members of youth and other UDF-linked organisations. This they did with the active complicity of the SAP, including the Riot Unit and the Security Branch.

In his application for amnesty, former member of the Durban Riot Unit, Mr Frank Bennetts, gave evidence of the extent of the Security Branch’s involvement in and collusion with members of the A-Team. He described the A-Team as:

a group of Inkatha supporters who were acting in their capacity, or so I believed, in assisting the police in the curbing of the growth and support of groups and organisations opposed to the government and the order of the day.

According to Bennetts, the A-Team assisted the Riot Unit by identifying alleged perpetrators and UDF activists to be detained. They also served as informants, passing on information to the security forces. In return, the Riot Unit offered them protection by putting extra patrols into the street where they lived, and giving them escorts in and out of the township if and when they required it.

Bennetts told the Commission that the A-Team members were never detained under the emergency regulations, although there was good cause to detain them. He said that had the police arrested the A-Team members, the incidents of violence in Chesterville would have been reduced “by 99.99%”. In his words, ‘[The A-Team] wrecked half the township”. Nevertheless, the Riot Unit openly and blatantly sided with the A-Team, perceiving the gang as a legitimate ally in their struggle against the UDF.

The latter 1980s: Collusion with the South African security forces

By 1985, Inkatha supporters found themselves increasingly under attack by virtue of the positions they held within local government and homeland structures. Threats of assassination against Chief Buthelezi in 1985 prompted the Inkatha leader to turn to the South African government, in particular to the SADF, for assistance to take on the ANC/UDF. Contact with the central government had of necessity to be secret given Chief Buthelezi’s public stance towards the South African government. During the latter half of the 1980s, Inkatha began to draw increasingly upon the support of the South African government, and to rely more heavily on the South African and KwaZulu government’s infrastructure and resources. In the process, its aggression turned away from the apartheid state and became directed at those who were advocating alternative structures and thus threatening its power-base.

The South African government not only welcomed but also actively promoted this covert alliance with Inkatha, as it fell squarely into its response to what it saw as the total revolutionary onslaught against it. Covert logistical and military support to UNITA in Angola, RENAMO in Mozambique and to the Lesotho Liberation Army (LLA) was a critical part of the South African government’s counterrevolutionary strategy. Although these operations were external, the State Security Council resolved in 1985 to establish such groups internally, in addition to those it was already supporting. Inkatha was seen as being able to play the same counter-mobilisation role inside the country as their external surrogates (such as UNITA) had played, and had become a “middle force” between the South African government and its political enemies. A common feature of the external and the internal operations, was that in both cases training and weapons supply were undertaken by the SADF’s DST, and by Special Forces personnel.

Furthermore, the media images projected of white policemen assaulting and shooting at black demonstrators were clearly unacceptable internationally, and there was a feeling that repression should as far as possible not be carried out by state security forces, but by black surrogate groups. Part of the government’s strategy was to characterise the political conflict in the country as “black-on-black” violence.

One of the first instances of covert military assistance between Inkatha and the South African government was Operation Marion, the SADF Military Intelligence project set up in early 1986 in order to provide assistance to Inkatha and the KwaZulu government. During 1985, Chief Buthelezi was alerted by Military Intelligence to alleged assassination plans against him. This prompted him, in late 1985, to approach Military Intelligence with a request for various capabilities, including an offensive paramilitary capacity, in order to take on the ANC/UDF.

Flowing out of this was what has become known as the Caprivi training, the clandestine training in offensive action of some 200 Inkatha supporters conducted by the Special Forces arm of the SADF in the Caprivi Strip, South West Africa/Namibia in 1986. Secret military intelligence documents make it clear that the project was undertaken as much to further the strategic aims of the South African government and Defence Force, as it was in response to a request from Chief Buthelezi. Planning for this project took place in circumstances of utmost secrecy, and involved the highest echelons of the State Security Council and Military Intelligence on the one hand, and Chief Buthelezi and his personal assistant, Mr MZ Khumalo, on the other. The defence force was at pains to ensure that the entire project was covert, and that the funding of the project could not be traced back to its source.

The trainees were controlled and supervised by a political commissar, later to become their commander, Mr Daluxolo Wordsworth Luthuli. Luthuli was a former ANC guerrilla fighter who had recently joined Inkatha after being released from a lengthy term of imprisonment on Robben Island. His appointment was authorised by Chief Buthelezi.

Luthuli was unequivocal concerning the purpose of the Caprivi training. He told the Commission that the training was aimed at equipping Inkatha supporters to kill members of the UDF/ANC. According to Luthuli and other Caprivi trainees who spoke to the Commission, this is what they were explicitly told by their SADF instructors. They knew that they were being trained as a hit squad.

With their deployment in various parts of KwaZulu and the former Natal, the trainees were partly responsible for the dramatic escalation of the political conflict in the region, and fundamentally changed the political landscape in the former KwaZulu homeland, the repercussions of which are currently playing themselves out in this region. Their modus operandi, their mobility, their access to infrastructure and sophisticated weaponry exposed large numbers of people and vast areas of the province to their activities. As a result, they were responsible for facilitating the easy and quick resort to violence as a means of settling political scores and greatly enhanced the development of a culture of impunity and political intolerance that is so well established in the province at the present time.

The Commission heard evidence of the involvement of Caprivi trainees in the KwaMakhutha massacre on 21 January 1987 in which thirteen people, mostly women and children, were killed and several others injured in the AK-47 attack on the home of UDF activist Bheki Ntuli. A large number of people including former Minister of Defence General Magnus Malan and MZ Khumalo of the IFP, were tried for murder in 1996 in the Durban Supreme Court. Although the accused were acquitted, the Supreme Court found that Inkatha members trained by the SADF in the Caprivi were responsible for the massacre and that the two state witnesses, being members of the SADF Military Intelligence, were directly involved in planning and execution of the operation. The court was not able to find who had provided backing for the attack.

Following the revelation of the depth of their collusion with the apartheid government, Buthelezi’s Inkatha party would end up boycotting the elections: “Inquest Finds South Africa Police Aided Zulus in Terror Campaign” by Bill Keller.

With the end of the Cold War, Johns leaves the Heritage Foundation, goes to work for Eli Lily, health care lobbyists S.R. Wojdak & Associates, then Gentiva Health Services, and for the past decade, work as an executive at Electric Mobility Corporation46. Electric Mobility sells Rascal scooters, motorized wheelchairs which allow the elderly and disabled to travel with greater ease; it is an interesting company. Prior to Johns tenure there, it was fined close to a quarter of a million dollars by the state of New Jersey and signed an agreement with the state’s attorney general to cease hard-sell practices, such as misinformation on medicare reimbursements47. Michael Flowers, the president of the company, objected to the reporting of this as a fine. Electric Mobility was not fined, he wrote: “Electric Mobility entered into an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance with the State of New Jersey. By doing so, we believe that we have set the industry standard for ethical sales practices.”48 This same Consumer Affairs site now lists 69 complaints about Rascal scooters. I include some of the more notable, from 2005 through to December of last year, all after Johns had joined the company:

I have Rascal 115 scooter that quit working. I called Rascal in February 2012 and was directed to service center Watkins & Riggs in Ocala, FL. I was called a couple days later and was told speed controller was bad and was on backorder. After three weeks, I called service center to find they were still waiting on parts. So I then called Rascal and left message as directed but never got a call back. A month later, I called Rascal again and call got redirected to new owner who in just a few words told me that they just purchased Rascal and any problem before the buyout two weeks ago was not their problem. Again, I called service center who again told me parts are still on backorder. What good is a product that you need but cannot get parts?

Bought Rascal 600 scooter. It worked for about 6 months then just stopped working. Was taken to an authorized repair shop, they didn’t know what was wrong & why it stopped. After having it at their shop. Weekly calls on when it would be fixed, was told someone would call. Finally had to stop at shop. They would try to find what was wrong. Repeated calling again, I took it home worked for couple of months, stopped again-took back to same shop for help. Both times had to pay for shop time & was not told what the problem was.

I am 83 years old-diabetic neuropathy both legs and feet. Can’t walk. Has caused mental/emotional distress! My lifestyle is limited. Very unhappy with performance! Help. Medicare will not let me get another & I am on limited income. I would like to live the rest of my life enjoying the outdoors and being mobile again! I would like to have this “Lemon” scooter replaced! Can I sue for damages or another option? Please help me!

I was looking at numerous electric mobility scooter, and I chose the “Rascal 600 B”. The representative came to my home to show me how the “rascal 600 B” looks and operates. I was told that the Rascal company would file with Medicare all papers that I provided to him at the time of purchasing. He told me that I would be getting 80% of my money back. I had all the correct paper work that he needed to file my claim on 5-27-10. Since then I’ve been turned down by Medicare, stating that the forms & codes were improperly filed.

I have contacted and informed the Rascal company regarding this matter. I have stage 4 lung cancer and cannot walk short or far distances without the help of this scooter. I have neuropathy of both feet & legs and some in my hands. Using this scooter has improved my living skills in my home and outside, where I could not walk w/o pain. I’m asking that someone check into this claim. If I don’t get any compensation for this scooter, fine, but I was told that I would get 80% back. No consequences, I’m using the scooter for self well being. It’s just that I was lied to and nothing can take that away. If I’m not going to get some money back, don’t tell me such.

I just found your site and read complaints from buyers of the Rascal Scooters. My parents, in their 80’s at the time, were also scammed by the saleswoman, promising Medicare would reimburse the cost of the Rascal Scooter. I contacted the Rascal Company and the creditor to no avail. I contacted the saleswoman and she claimed she never said any such thing, and that there was nothing she could do for them now. Unfortunately, my father suffered a massive stroke and never even used the thing. I ended up paying off the remainder of the bill, just to relieve some of the stress in the months following my father’s death. It now (2 1/2 years later) sits in my driveway with a For Sale B/O sign. I know we’ll never get near the full purchase price. Oh well, live and learn. Do not trust the Rascal sales reps!

My 82-year-old mother received an unsolicited high pressure sales call today from a salesman named Mike who insisted he had an appointment for a scooter demonstration and said he would not leave unless she agreed to a demo. When she said she had not requested an appointment and did not want a demo and was not able to participate in a demo because of her health, he became very hostile and repeatedly said he would not leave until she agreed to a demo. She said she was going to call the company and demand to know who said they scheduled the demo. The salemand [sic] physically jerked his business card from my mothers hand and left.

The hostile and high pressure sales tactics including refusing to leave when asked threatened my mother who is recovering from hip replacement surgery with complications from a staff [sic] infection.

I was told by Jerri, telephone sales, that I could get a new scooter by having an Orthopaedic Surgeon order one for me. Mine gave me a prescription for one, but she sent papers for a power chair to him. He filled them out and I received a power chair INSTEAD of the scooter, which I needed. I was told by Lauren, who made the delivery, that it was a power chair or nothing!

I did not want it, but was afraid to refuse it, since I don’t know when I may get worse. I have serious heart trouble and, being preoccupied with my other disabilities, I just let the chair sit unused until October when I began to try to get it exchanged for a scooter.I was told by another dealer that Electric Mobility pushed the chairs because they made 3 times as much on them as on the scooters. Tim called me last week and said that my family physician could now request a scooter for me and, if he filled out the papers, EM would pick up the chair and bring me a scooter.

Today I was called by an arrogant motor-mouth named Steve who would hardly let me get a word in edgewise. HE said Tim was wrong about the family physician, etc., and pretty much told me I was out of luck. He would not allow me to talk with a rational representative and kept threatening to terminate this conversation until I finally gave up and hung up. I refuse to believe that I have to be run over and mistreated by Electric Mobility and that they have a license to steal from Medicare and Blue Cross. They billed around $6,000 for a useless chair; I have seen scooters for sale at Costco for $1,200! Something doesn’t smell right! Do you agree?

They seem to figure that all older people who have trouble walking are also brain-dead. They assign a fast-talking slick,sleazy spokesman to out-talk and put off the old folks. Since my brain still works, I want to see that this abuse is corrected.

This is Johns’ vocation, but he has a far more distinctive avocation. Of all those involved in the Namibia chemical weapons scam, Charlie Black is the most powerful, but Johns is the most visible. He has not vanished from the earth, and in fact is more prominent than ever before. He is the national chairman of The Patriot Caucus, a three thousand member strong Tea Party organization, listed in National Journal’s “12 Tea Party Players To Watch”. By virtue of his leadership of this group, he’s also listed on “The Top Conservatives to Follow on Twitter”, in the coveted intellectual acreage between Michelle Malkin and John Boehner. He’s there speaking at the March for Liberty, Washington D.C. (part one and two); the Dallas Tea Party, same day (part one, two, three); a Philadelphia Tea Party rally; a softball Katie Couric interview with Tea Party patriots; he has a blog devoted to freedom and prosperity, and a twitter feed devoted, presumably, to these same.

Johns is Janus-like in his promotional work; with Couric, he affects a congenial, open-minded pose. At tea party rallies, his voice is almost always an uncontrolled, angry shriek, so he resembles no one so much as Chris Farley’s lunatic motivational speaker. His rhetorical approach at these meetings is simple, beginning with a premise that few would consider controversial (we differ on many issues, but we still have shared beliefs) and then moving on to the supposed shared belief, which is more than a little controversial – Hillary Clinton is a traitor, America is inherently a christian nation, etc.

One example, from a Philadelphia Tea Party rally:

Michael Johns at a Philadelphia Tea Party rally

Let me say this: America has a unique standing in the world. And we may differ over issues here and there, but I know we are united on one. This state department, under Mrs. Clinton, is surrendering american autonomy to international bodies…they are surrendering our constitutional rights to form our own foreign policies, to make our own national security interests [sic], the message needs to go out to Washington, MR. OBAMA, WE WILL DEFEND AMERICA, NOT THE UNITED NATIONS!

Another, from a Boston Tea Party gathering, 2009:

Michael Johns at a Boston Tea Party rally

Let me just say, as we gather today, republicans and democrats, liberals and republicans, independents, third party members, many members of the Ron Paul movement, maybe there is a new coalition emerging right now. Maybe this is the beginning of something truly exciting. Maybe we can put aside whatever petty differences that have kept us from working together and start anew, and build a new resistance in this country that is rooted in the belief of the american people [sic], in a free market enterprise system, in our democratic processes, and our national autonomy.

I want to be clear on one other comment. Mr. Obama was in Europe. Made a very controversial statement. Said this is not a christian nation. (audience loudly boos) The message needs to go forward to Washington, Mr. Obama every historical document signed in Philadelphia, every founding document of this nation, has cited our creator, that is the basis on which we distinguish ourselves from the world (audience cheers). That is the foundation of our liberties, and our god-given freedoms. AND THEY ARE GOD GIVEN FREEDOMS. A nation that denies its creator, and rejects its principles will not long endure. And we need to re-unite today with an understanding of the principles, start with Sam Adams, start with the bravery of these men and…who led this great initiative which has started and begun the most powerful nation in the world. The time has come to defend those principles, THEY ARE BEING ERODED!

When America stops being a christian nation, it will end up living in a van down by the river.

Most of his writing is the expected angry boilerplate. “Release the Birth Documents Already”, demands one blog post; “Van loads of Somalis being transported to #Ohio polls, instructed to vote straight Dem ticket. goo.gi/qLVv“, warns a tweet49. When a Marvel comic pokes fun at the tea party movement, by suggesting they are slightly less than heterogeneous in skin color, he is alert, active, and involved, demanding why Marvel didn’t issue an apology the moment they saw the comic panel50. “The Tea Party movement has been very reflective of broad concerns of all Americans,” says Johns, who appears to live in a different universe than I do, “Membership is across ethnic, religious and even political lines.” He was an unambivalent supporter of the Iraq war; in 2007, he defends the cruddy intelligence that got the U.S. into the war, then waves the point away, insisting that whatever started the war is irrelevant, since Iraq is now the central point of the war on terror, then demands an apology from Harry Reid for having the audacity to call the Iraq war a failure51.

There is a foolish game that someone outside Africa can play, and I’m certain I’ve played it, where, as if by a magic trick, the people of the continent are made to be either people or as inanimate as sticks, depending on one’s convenience. When one wants to feel warmth over some compassionate act, they are human; when one feels guilt over some neglect, or the possible horror that a politician one supports has inflicted on a country there, they are suddenly sticks again. When one wishes to grief an enemy over the harm they’ve caused some place on the continent, they are human, and when this griefing is returned in kind over one’s own misdeeds, the continent’s people are suddenly sticks again. For me to invoke the dead of Angola for the sole purpose of an argument is to diminish them, and as someone outside Angola, I cannot demand an apology on their behalf. So, my curiousity is my own, and my curiousity is this: whether this man, Michael Johns, who demands apologies of so many, for so many slights, has ever felt the impulse to ask forgiveness for the thousands dead from the civil war unleashed by Jonas Savimbi, the man he abided, abetted, and encouraged. The head of Zambia’s government, which gave support to Savimbi during the long civil war, gave apologies for this support52. I know that the dead of Angola are not an important issue – nowhere near as important as a panel in a Marvel comic – but I can only hope that they are important enough that what took place there would be remembered, prompt some questions of why it took place and how to keep such a thing from ever happening again, and might prompt something other than the simple dictum that African life is cheap. That African life is viewed cheaply is beyond dispute, but that other lives can be viewed as cheaply, that there is nothing inherent in those who live on the continent that renders it cheap, is not beyond dispute either. The lives of Angolans were thrown away easily. The independence of Namibia was almost thrown away just as easily. Ten years later, the lives of americans in Iraq were thrown away very easily as well. That Iraqi life was extinguished with even greater ease is another indisputable. That all these lost lives once had great political significance, their fight of great political convenience, and their deaths now incredibly inconvenient, something that must be forgotten as soon as possible, so that we might all move on to the next frame of the movie, to a place without horror – this is a horrific truth as well.

On February 27th, 2008, William Buckley died, and Johns eulogized him as if he were a messiah: “There was the time before him and there was the time after him…We will not likely see his type again.” (“Walking the road that Buckley built”) It is in this modern messiah that we might have the rosetta stone of why conservatives were so pliant before the efforts of South African intelligence, why their approach was often indistinguishable from official policy in South Africa. In 1957, with the public conflagration over civil rights only kindling, Buckley’s National Review would feature an editorial, unsigned – though most likely written by the messiah himself – which asked, “whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not predominate numerically? The sobering answer is Yes–the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced one.” Then: “If the majority wills what is socially atavistic, then to thwart the majority may be, though undemocratic, enlightened. It is more important for any community, anywhere in the world, to affirm and live by civilized standards, than to bow to the demands of the numerical majority.”53 Thirty years later, National Review would ask whether the South African majority were “intellectually and practically prepared to assume the social, economic, and political leadeship in a highly industrialized country?”54 Africa was across the ocean, and Africa was here as well. Just a few short years before apartheid was destroyed, Buckley would advise the U.S. to forget about the “one man/one vote” business over there55. Various states are now weighing measures so that rural votes count for more than urban ones56. George Will praised the idea of deterring “potential voters with the weakest motivations”57. The day after Barack Obama’s re-election, Johns’ former employer, the Heritage Foundation, declared war on the president58.

In 1989, the year before Namibian independence, the article “Young Bucks”, by Bob Mack, a very good writer perhaps best known as editor of the greatest magazine in the history of journalism, appeared in the now extinct Spy. “Young Bucks” dealt with the going-ons at the National Review. One staff meeting, headed by Buckley, discussed the issue of the week before, one featuring a provocative cover story titled “Blacks and the G.O.P.: Just Called to Say I Loved You”, on the difficulties the republican party had attracting black voters. Buckley was a man known for his sterling silver wit, and he had just the bon mot for this provocative cover. “Maybe,” he began, the brilliant, rare wine of a yacht and windsor knot mind about to be poured, “Maybe it should’ve been titled ‘Just Called to Say I Love You, Niggah.'”59

(On January 16th, 2014, the transcript of the Whitey tape video in footnote #7 was added. On April 10, 2015, this post underwent a session of copy editing. On April 14, 2015, the stills from Red Scorpion were replaced with higher quality images.)

FOOTNOTES

1 He wrote this insightful piece on William Kunstler, “Still Crazy After All These Years”.

2 He is mentioned at the beginning of “In Iraq chemical arms trial, scientists face many burdens of proof”:

For 18 years, Dr. Aubin Heyndrickx has tended the sealed jars containing strands of hair and scraps of clothing he gathered from a dead woman’s body. Collected in Halabja, one of many Kurdish towns in northern Iraq that were attacked with chemical weapons by Saddam Hussein’s army in 1988, they have sat in a blue plastic drum in his lab ever since, waiting.

Now, as prosecutors prepare to try Saddam in Baghdad for genocide against the Kurds, Heyndrickx would like the material to be analyzed. “May I insist these proofs are mentioned at the trial?” the doctor asks.

He is one of a small group of doctors, scientists and Middle East experts who have studied chemical weapons use by Iraq against its Kurdish citizens in the 1980s. Now, they are dusting off evidence and attempting to collect new data in an effort to define the scope of a distant tragedy that is only now to come under scrutiny in court.

Near the very end is a brief reference to his maverick quality:

Because of the lack of hard data and the imprecise testing there is some disagreement about how many people were affected and what chemical compounds were used.

Heyndrickx, somewhat of a maverick in the field, believes that the Iraqi Army also used cyanide and biological toxins, although most other scientists disagree.

Still, he was one of the few Western experts on the ground in Halabja just after the attack, and the samples in his lab – particularly the clothing – could still provide valuable clues if they were properly sealed and stored, Hay said.

3 From a profile of Stone, “The Dirty Trickster” by Jeffrey Toobin; Stone’s role in the riot is disputed.

A substantial contingent of young Republican Capitol Hill aides, along with such congressmen as John Sweeney, of New York, who had travelled to Miami, joined in the protest. Thanks to this delegation, the events at the Clark center have come to be known as the “Brooks Brothers riot,” but Stone disputes that characterization. “There was a Brooks Brothers contingent, but the crowd in front of the courthouse was largely Spanish,” he said. “Most of the people there were people that we drew to the scene.”

At one point on November 22nd, Stone said, he heard from an ally in the building that Gore supporters were trying to remove some ballots from the counting room. “One of my pimply-faced contacts said, ‘Two commissioners have taken two or three hundred ballots to the elevator,’ ” Stone said. “I said, ‘O.K., follow them. Half you guys go on the elevator and half go in the stairs.’ Everyone got sucked up in this. They were trying to keep the doors from being closed. Meanwhile, they were trying to take the rest of the ballots into a back room with no windows. I told our guys to stop them-don’t let them close the door! They are trying to keep the door from being closed. There was a lot of screaming and yelling.” (In fact, the Gore official in the elevator, Joe Geller, was carrying a single sample ballot.) The dual scenes of chaos-both inside and outside the building-prompted the recount officials to stop their work. The recount in Miami was never re-started, depriving Gore of his best chance to catch up in the over-all state tally.

As is customary with Stone, there is some controversy about his precise role. “I was the guy in charge of the trailer, and I coördinated the Brooks Brothers riot,” Brad Blakeman, a lobbyist and political consultant who worked for Bush in Miami, told me. “Roger did not have a role that I know of. His wife may have been on the radio, but I never saw or heard from him.” Scoffing at Blakeman’s account, Stone asserts that he was in the trailer; he said that he had never heard of Blakeman. (Rule: “Lay low, play dumb, keep moving.”)

4 “The Sex Scandal That Put Bush in the White House” by Wayne Barrett explores the strange and labyrinthine sex scandal involving Pat Buchanan and the reform party. Stone himself confirms his work in a Reason magazine interview:

QUESTION:

Should the libertarian party continue to exist?

STONE:

Well, as one who, I think, either helped kill, or killed the Reform party, because I believe they cost us the White House in 1992 and 1996…their lack of any ideology at all…it was a hodgepodge of vegetarians, goldbugs, and a few libertarians, and gun people, and gun control people, there was no consistency there other than people who couldn’t make it in any other party.

In an interview with Reason magazine editor Nick Gillespie and in a classroom discussion moderated by Gillespie, political operative Roger Stone states openly and explicitly that he destroyed the third party Reform Party in 1992 and 1992 because it split the conservative vote, and caused the Republicans to lose. Taken from the interviews, “Roger Stone at Reason November 28, 2007” and “Roger Stone on New Media and Old Campaign Tricks”.

5 Wayne Barrett’s “Sleeping with the GOP: A Bush Covert Operative Takes Over Al Sharpton’s Campaign” is the definitive piece on the strange alliance of Sharpton and Stone.

On Sharpton’s attacks on the front-runner, designed by Stone himself:

While Bush forces like the Club for Growth were buying ads in Iowa assailing then front-runner Howard Dean, Sharpton took center stage at a debate confronting Dean about the absence of blacks in his Vermont cabinet. Stone told the Times that he “helped set the tone and direction” of the Dean attacks, while Charles Halloran, the Sharpton campaign manager installed by Stone, supplied the research. While other Democratic opponents were also attacking Dean, none did it on the advice of a consultant who’s worked in every GOP presidential campaign since his involvement in the Watergate scandals of 1972, including all of the Bush family campaigns.

On the Sharpton campaign as part of a larger Bush strategy:

The Washington Post recently reported that the Bush campaign was planning a special advertising campaign targeting black voters, seeking as much as a quarter of the vote, and any Sharpton-connected outrage against the party could either lower black turnout in several key close states, or move votes to Bush. Both were widely reported as the consequences of Sharpton’s anti-Green rhetoric in 2001, [Mark Green, democratic candidate for New York City mayor, beat Fernando Ferrer, the Sharpton backed candidate in a bitter primary race]a result Sharpton celebrated both in his book and at a Bronx victory party on election night.

6 Stone’s connection with NXIVM was first reported in the New York Post, Top GOPers ‘Cult’ Favorites; The Times-Union series on NXIVM is the definitive work on the cult, comprising “Secrets of NXIVM”, “‘NXIVM is a litigation machine'”, “In Raniere’s shadows”, “‘Ample evidence’ to justify investigation”, all by James M. Odato and Jennifer Gish. “Poor Little Rich Girls: The Ballad of Sara and Clare Bronfman” by Maureen Tkacik, is an insightful read as well.

7 “Roger Stone Brings Up the Infamous ‘Whitey’ Tape!”:

The following is a transcript of the video, with the most striking text bolded:

GERALDO RIVERA
Roger, I want to start with you. You have some news, or at least your own incendiary prediction on Michelle Obama’s allged vulnerabilities. What do you know, or at least, what do you think you know?

STONE
Well, there’s a buzz which I believe now to be credible, some indelible record exists of public remarks that Michelle Obama allegedly made, which are outrageous at worst – at best – but could be termed racist, including some reference to white people as “whiteys”. Allegedly. And there’s been a race here, Geraldo-

RIVERA
Now, wait a sec- wait a sec- Roger, you can’t just say that when there’s no proof for it-

STONE
No no, let me finish. There’s been a race here between Clinton research people who are seeking this tape, and the republican opposition researchers and the Republican National Committee. I now believe a network has this tape, I believe that reliably, something like that could roil the race, which explains why, to me, Hillary Clinton is staying in this race. What other reason is there to stay in this race, other than hoping that there is a bomb, at high level, Clinton operatives say there is a bomb of this nature. I have heard that from credible-

RIVERA
Hold it there…okay. We hear that you heard it. Let me go to Michael Brown for his response, and let me also point out that Roger Stone was the person who said that he heard that New York governor Eliot Spitzer was using the services of prostitutes, and at least in that incendiary allegation, there was some facts behind it, and ultimately it was proven true. But Michael Brown why don’t you respond to what you just heard from Roger Stone?

BROWN
Well, I’m not gonna question whether he believes what he’s saying is true. But I will say that the Republicans are up to their usual stuff, when they cannot beat Democrats on issues, they always go personal negative. That’s what this is all about. We’re gonna see this for the next six months from the Republican party, this is what they do. I don’t know why we should be shocked by all of this. I think they’re starting a little early, they’re probably off their timeline a little bit…I’m not surprised by this, it has nothing to do with anything except flat-out politics, and it’s ugly, and these are the kinda things that don’t help the American people come to the polls to vote. They don’t keep people inspired and I’m sure the Obamas will obviously prevail on issues like this and stay focused on issues, assuming he’s the nominee.

STONE
This really has very little to do with the general election, this has a lot to do with why Hillary Clinton is staying in this race. Look, there’s already a buzz in Washington. At least seven news organizations have contacted me, wanting to know, how to get their hands on this tape, giving me more information than I had after I spoke to each one of them. I now believe the tape exists, I believe a network has it. If this pans out to be true, based on Michelle Obama’s previous comment, that this was the first that she had been proud of her country…which I think shows, an attitude that is problematic.

RIVERA
And I’ll give you a hundred bucks if it’s true. I’ll give you a hundred bucks if it’s true. I don’t believe it’s true. Michael Brown, you respond.

BROWN
Well, his premise is that this is why Hillary Clinton is staying in, hoping that this bombshell derails Senator Obama’s nomination effort. That’s not why Senator Clinton is staying in the race. She’s staying in the race, hoping that now she has the popular vote lead, the superdelegates will say, maybe Senator Clinton is the best person to take on John McCain. That’s why she’s staying in the race. She wants to make the argument to superdelegates. And to obviously put out this notion that there’s some race between the Clinton campaign and the news media organization is nonsense. This is a republican tactic-

STONE
And the republicans.

BROWN
And the republicans. Roger, you and I both know that this is a republican tactic, this is what they do. And this is what we’re going to continue to see for the next six months, because they have no answer about the war, they have no answer about gas prices, they have no answers about health care, so they do smear. That’s what they do.

RIVERA
Michael Brown, thank you. Roger Stone, thank you, we’ll see.

8 Stone’s work at the Rothstein firm is mentioned in “Roger Stone, Political Animal” by Matt Labash.

Stone has a nice life in Miami. He gets out to kayak quite a bit, enjoying the year-round good weather. He and Nydia have five grandchildren. A power law firm based in Fort Lauderdale, Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler, recently brought him on to head their burgeoning public affairs side. The firm’s head, Scott Rothstein, is a pitbull litigator with a taste for Bentleys and $150,000 watches. He shares Stone’s operating philosophy, telling me that he tells all his lawyers, “Get into the game, or get the f– out of the way.”

A good overview of the Scott Rothstein scheme can be found on the episode of “American Greed”, “$1.2 Billion Scam: Ft. Frauderdale”

9 The flyer in question:

Angola Namibia South Africa

From “False, Defamatory Lit Distributed Against Libertarian Warren Redlich” by Celeste Katz:

This grossly false and damaging flier, accusing Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Warren Redlich of being a dangerous “sexual predator” and credited to “People For A Safer New York,” is being circulated in the Capitol Region and perhaps beyond. Redlich, as you can read below, has naturally condemned the material.

I am admittedly late to the game on this one, and it’s frankly because I struggled with whether to write about this at all. Redlich, by nature of his candidacy, is a public figure, but this is extreme, to say the least. (The usual reminder: I am not a member of any political party and I do not support any candidate for any office, financially or otherwise.)

The backstory is that this seems to come out of a comment Redlich made on his “Stop Wasting Money” blog about the “hubbub” over racy pictures of Miley Cyrus, which reads, in part, “If you look at literature like Shakespeare, and at some historical figures like Sir William Johnson (a prominent pre-revolutionary leader in New York), you get the impression that it used to be normal for men, even much older men, to be interested in teenage girls.”

From the Times-Union “Capitol Confidential”:

I asked Roger Stone, a self-avowed political dirty trickster and Davis’ campaign manager, if he knew about the mailer. (The sex predator flier came from a group called “People for a Safer New York” that I can’t find a record for.)

“I’ve seen both mailers, I think that they’re both accurate. People for a Safer New York is called a first amendment group,” Stone told me by phone. “I’m in touch with them. Who are they? They’re a first amendment organization I urged them to do this, this is a first amendment issue.”

He defended the flier, even though he declined to claim credit for it when I asked him. (Or otherwise characterize how heavily involved with this he is.)

“Let’s be very clear: everything here is 100 percent legal, everything here is 100 percent accurate,” Stone said. “As somebody who has two granddaughters, I really find Redlich’s advocacy and defense of sex with underrate girls disgusting and repugnant, and voters need to know about it prior to voting on Tuesday.”

10 The NSFW Corporation’s “The Gary Johnson Swindle and the Degradation of Third Party Politics” by Marc Ames looks at this story in-depth; my own “Maureen Otis: A Mystery Inside A Mystery” touches on it as well.

11 From “‘Steady Hand’ for the G.O.P. Guides McCain on a New Path” by Kate Zernike:

Blackwater, he says over steak salad at the Morton’s off the K Street lobbying corridor, “is a fine company that’s provided a great service to the people of the United States and Iraq.” Saudi Arabia, another client: “a great ally.” Mr. Savimbi, the brutal Angolan leader whom President Ronald Reagan promoted as a freedom fighter but many Democrats derided as an ally of apartheid South Africa: “a great pleasure to work with.”

From “McCain Adviser’s Work As Lobbyist Criticized”, by Michael D. Shear and Jeffrey H. Birnbaum:

In addition to Savimbi, Black and his partners were at times registered foreign agents for a remarkable collection of U.S.-backed foreign leaders whose human rights records were sometimes harshly criticized, even as their opposition to communism was embraced by American conservatives. They included Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, Nigerian Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre, and the countries of Kenya and Equatorial Guinea, among others.

From “‘Steady Hand'” by Zernike:

Mr. Black has worked for some of the city’s most controversial clients (Jonas Savimbi, Philip Morris, Blackwater) and with the baddest boys of Republican politics (he cut his teeth on Jesse Helms‘s campaigns, and was a mentor to Lee Atwater). But he has managed to stay ahead of controversy himself.

That year was the last moment when Black was able to stay outside of controversy; during the election, a MoveOn.org ad would specifically target the list of reprehensible men the super-lobbyist had taken on as clients.

12 From “McCain Adviser’s Work As Lobbyist Criticized”, by Michael D. Shear and Jeffrey H. Birnbaum:

Black has retired from lobbying, having left BKSH & Associates recently. But he says he has no intention of leaving the campaign and is unapologetic about a lobbying career spanning 30 years and seven presidential campaigns. He said his firms never represented foreigners “without first talking to the State Department and the White House and clearing with them that the work would be in the interest of U.S. foreign policy.”

“Veteran Lobbyist to Advise Romney Campaign” by Shear:

During 2008, Mr. Black resigned from the lobbying firm he founded, BKSH while he traveled with Mr. McCain. He returned to the firm after Mr. McCain lost to President Obama. The firm has now merged with another company and is called Prime Policy Group.

13 “Veteran Lobbyist to Advise Romney Campaign” by Michael D. Shear:

Four years ago, Mr. Romney assailed Mr. McCain for having close ties to big-time Washington lobbyists like Mr. Black.

“I don’t have lobbyists running my campaign,” Mr. Romney said at the time. “Somebody doesn’t put the kind of financial resources that I have put into this campaign and the personal resources I have put into this campaign in order to do favors for lobbyists.”

When a reporter pointed out at the time that Mr. Romney had lobbyists who worked on his campaign, Mr. Romney insisted they were merely informal advisers, and were not paid to run his campaign.

14 “Veteran Lobbyist to Advise Romney Campaign” by Michael D. Shear:

In an e-mail to The Caucus, Mr. Black said he and his wife, Judy, decided to support Mr. Romney about six weeks ago, but he said he was not actively participating in the presidential campaign.

“No formal role in the campaign. Just offer advice occasionally,” Mr. Black said. “The right man to be president.”

15 “The tale of Red Scorpion” by James Verini:

In 1986, [Jack Abramoff] founded the International Freedom Foundation, whose stated goal was “to foster individual freedom throughout the world by engaging in activities which promote the development of free and open societies based on the principles of free enterprise.” More specifically, among the IFF’s aims were to oppose the Anti-Apartheid Act and other sanctions and to urge greater support in Washington for Pretoria and less support for the African National Congress, the party that would come to power in 1994 under Nelson Mandela. At its height, around the time “Red Scorpion” was released, the IFF employed about 30 young ideologues in offices on G Street in Washington, Johannesburg, London and Brussels. Churning out reports and presentations (for one such presentation on the Contras, it borrowed the slide show that North had used to raise money for his arms-deal network, according to Pandin), the IFF attracted notable members such as Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., and Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind.

16 This material comes from an important Newsday article, “Front for Apartheid: Washington-based think tank said to be part of ruse to prolong power” by Dele Olojede and Tim Phelps, that has almost entirely vanished from the web, except for Lexis-Nexis. It can be found in full at the disreputable conspiracy site bilderberg.org, though its most shocking points are re-iterated in the AP story, “Report: Conservative Think Tank Was Front For Apartheid”. The post “Apartheid Regime” by Joe Amato at the Crooks and Liars blog also contains many relevant extracts.

The relevant excerpt about the IFF:

The International Freedom Foundation, founded in 1986 seemingly as a conservative think tank, was in fact part of an elaborate intelligence gathering operation, and was designed to be against apartheid’s an instrument for “political warfare” against apartheid’s foes, according to former senior South African spy Craig Williamson. The South Africans spent up to $1.5 million a year through 1992 to underwrite “Operation Babushka,” as the IFF project was known.

“We decided that, the only level we were going to be accepted was when it came to the Soviets and their surrogates, so our strategy was to paint the ANC as communist surrogates,” said Williamson, formerly a senior operative in South Africa’s military intelligence, who helped direct Babushka. “The more we could present ourselves as anti-communists, the more people looked at us with respect. People you could hardly believe cooperated with us politically when it came to the Soviets.”

I re-post the article from the bilderberg site, making only the small correction of Thiessen’s name (they had it as “Mere”).

FRONT FOR APARTHEID
Washington-based think tank said to be part of ruse to prolong power

Sunday July 16, 1995

This article was reported by Dele Olojede in South Africa and Timothy M. Phelps in Washington, and was written by Olojede.

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa A respectable Washington foundation, which drew into its web prominent Republican and conservative figures like Sen.. Jesse Helms and other members of Congress, was actually a front organization bankrolled by South Africa’s last white rulers to prolong apartheid, a Newsday investigation has shown.

The International Freedom Foundation, founded in 1986 seemingly as a conservative think tank, was in fact part of an elaborate intelligence gathering operation, and was designed to be against apartheid’s an instrument for “political warfare” against apartheid’s foes, according to former senior South African spy Craig Williamson. The South Africans spent up to $1.5 million a year through 1992 to underwrite “Operation Babushka,” as the IFF project was known.

The current South African National Defence Force officially confirmed that the IFF was its dummy operation.

“The International Freedom Foundation was a former SA Defence Force project,” Army Col. John Rolt, a military spokesman, said in a terse response to an inquiry. A member of the IFF”s international board of directors also conceded Friday that at least half of the foundation’s funds came from projects undertaken on behalf of South Africa’s military intelligence, although he refused to say what these projects were except that many of them were directed against Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress.

A three-month Newsday investigation determined that one of the project’s broad objectives was to try to reverse the apartheid regime’s pariah status in Western political circles. More specifically, the IFF sought to portray the ANC as a tool of Soviet communism, thus undercutting the movement’s growing international acceptance as the government-in-waiting of a future multiracial South Africa.

“We decided that, the only level we were going to be accepted was when it came to the Soviets and their surrogates, so our strategy was to paint the ANC as communist surrogates,” said Williamson, formerly a senior operative in South Africa’s military intelligence, who helped direct Babushka. “The more we could present ourselves as anti-communists, the more people looked at us with respect. People you could hardly believe cooperated with us politically when it came to the Soviets.”

The South Africans found willing, though possibly unwitting, allies in influential Republican politicians, conservative intellectuals and activists. Sen. Jesse Helms, now chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, served as chairman of the editorial advisory board for the foundation’s publications. Through a spokesman, Helms said that he did not know anything about the foundation.

“Helms has never heard of the International Freedom Foundation, was not chairman of their advisory board and never authorized his name to be used by IFF in any way shape or form. We never had any relationship with them,” Marc Thiessen, a Helms spokesman, said.

Rep. Dan Burton, who was the ranking Republican on the House subcommittee on Africa, and Rep. Robert Dornan were active in IFF projects, frequently serving on its delegations to international forums. Alan Keyes, currently a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, also served as adviser. (He did not return a call seeking comment.) The Washington lobbyist and former movie producer Jack Abramoff, and rising conservative stars like Duncan Sellers, helped run the foundation.

All those contacted denied knowing that it was controlled and funded by the South African regime.

Although there are strong indications that U.S. laws may have been broken some IFF officials have admitted in interviews that they knew that South African military intelligence money helped pay for the foundation’s activities in Washington there is no clear evidence that the politicians associated with IFF either took campaign contributions or otherwise directly benefited financially from the foundation .

Under U.S. law, anyone who represents a foreign government or acts under its orders, direction or control, has to register with the Justice Department as a foreign agent. Asked if a “think-tank” sup up and supported by a foreign government has to register, a Justice official said, “If the foreign [government] has some say in what they are doing and, obviously, if they are funding it they probably do then they probably do have to register.” Violation of the law carries a fine up to $10,000 and a prison term of up to five years.

Several key figures involved in the IFF and contacted by Newsday denied any knowledge that the foundation was a front for the political agenda of a foreign government. Duncan Sellers, now a Virginia businessman, said, “This is nothing I ever knew about. It’s something that I would have resigned over or closed the foundation over. I would have put a stop to it.”

“The Congressman didn’t know anything about it,” said a spokesman for Dornan, Paul Morrell. “This is all news to him if it is true.” Morrell described Dornan’s impression of the IFF as simply “pro-freedom, pro-democracy, pro-Reagan.”

Phillip Crane, another U.S. representative listed as an IFF editorial adviser, joined the board in 1987 at the request of Abramoff, said an aide, and by 1990 had quit. “He never attended a board meeting that he can recall,” said the aide, Bob Foster. “He had no idea that any such situation [intelligence connections] existed.”

Williamson said that the operation was deliberately constructed so that many of the people would not know they were involved with a foreign government. “That was the beauty of the whole things guys pushing what they believed,” he said. Helms for example, voted against virtually every punitive measure ever contemplated against South Africa’s white minority government, however mild. And Burton was nearly hysterical in arguing against sanctions that a large bipartisan majority passed in 1986 over President Ronald Reagan’s veto, at one point warning that “there will be blood running in the streets” as a result.

But in some cases, such as Abramoffs, the relationship with the South African security apparatus was more than merely coincidental, according to Williamson and others. A former chief of intelligence, now retired, said emphatically that the South African military helped finance Abramoffs 1988 movie “Red Scorpion.” The movie was a sympathetic portrayal of an anti-communist African guerrilla commander loosely based on Jones Savimbi, the Angolan rebel leader allied to both Washington and Pretoria. Williamson also said the production of “Red Scorpion” was “funded by our guys,” who in addition provided military trucks and equipment – as well as extras.

Abramoff reacted with anger when told of the allegations Friday, saying his movie was funded by private investors and had nothing to do with the South African government. “This is outrageous,” he said.

Details of South Africa’s intelligence operations in the last years of apartheid have begun to rapidly emerge with the imminent establishment of a Truth Commission by the Mandela government. The commission will elicit confessions of “dirty tricks” by apartheid’s foot soldiers and their Commanders, in exchange for immunity from prosecution. Williamson, for instance, recently revealed that he was involved in the assassination of Ruth First, wife of the ANC and South African Communist Party leader Joe Slovo, and other anti-apartheid activists.

In South African government thinking, the IFF represented a far more subtle approach to defeating the anti-apartheid movement. Officials said the plan was to get away from the traditional allies of Pretoria, the fringe right in the United States and Europe, “some of whom were to the right of Ghengis Khan,” said one senior intelligence official. Instead, they settled for a front staffed with mainstream conservatives who did not necessarily know who was pulling the strings.

“They ran their own organization, but we steered them, that was the point,” Williamson said.

“They were very good, those guys, eh?” said Vic McPheerson, a police colonel who ran security branch operations and participated in the 1982 bombing of the ANC office in London. “They were not just good in intelligence, but in political warfare.”

Starting in 1986, when Reagan failed to override comprehensive U.S. economic sanctions, the South African government began casting about for ways to survive in an international environment more hostile to apartheid than ever. A very senior official in South African military intelligence, to whom IFF handlers reported at the time, said the operation cost his unit between $l million and $1.5 million a year. The retired general said the funds represented almost all of the IFF’s annual operating budget, although the foundation gained such legitimacy that it began to attract funding from individuals and groups in the United States.

On at least one occasion, the IFF had trouble accounting for its money. It was unable to comply in 1989 with a New York State requirement that it provide an accountant’s opinion confirming that its financial statements “present fairly the financial position of the organization.” It was eventually barred, in January, 1991, from soliciting funds from New York. According to financial records provided by Jeff Pandin, the foundation’s last executive director in Washington, IFF revenue in 1992 dropped by half of the preceding year’s, to $1.6 million. It just so happened that President Frederik W. de Klerk ended secret South African funding for the foundation in 1992, in response to pressure from Mandela to demonstrate that he was not complicit in “Third Force” activities. Pandin expressed shock that much of the organization’s money had been coming from clandestine South African sources. “I worked for the IFF from Day One to Day End,” he said. “This is complete news to me.” He said he once had met Williamson when he was in Mozambique, but was unaware of any official links.

On the surface, the IFF’s headquarters was in north-east Washington, D.C., , at 200 G Street, next door to the Free Congress Foundation, another conservative institution. From that base, it launched campaigns against communist sympathizers and perceived enemies of the free market. It broadly supported Reaganism, and its principal officers ran with the Ollie North crowd. But it always paid special attention to ANC. When Mandela made his first visit to the United States in 1990, following his release from prison, the IFF placed advertisements in local papers designed to dampen public enthusiasm for Mandela. One ad in the Miami Herald portrayed Mandela as an ally and defender of Cuba’s Fidel Castro. The city’s large Cuban community was so agitated that a ceremony to present Mandela with keys to the city was scrapped.

The IFF published several journals and bulletins, in Washington and in its offices in Europe and Johannesburg. One of its contributors was Jay Parker, an African-American who was a paid public relations agent of successive apartheid regimes throughout the 1970s and 1980s. People like Henry Kissinger were invited to IFF seminars to deliver keynote speeches. The foundation brought together the together the world’s top intelligence experts at a 1991 conference in Potsdam, Germany, to mull over the changing uses of intelligence in the post-Cold War world. Among those in attendance was former CIA director William Colby and a retired senior KGB general, Oleg Kalugin. The IFF also waged a major but not surprisingly futile campaign for U.S. retention of the Panama Canal. But its main purpose was always to serve the ultimate goals of the South African government, according to those who helped nudge it in that direction. The former senior South African military intelligence official said he traveled to the United States and Canada in 1988 as a guest of the IFF. But the real reason for his trip, he said, was to try to strengthen South African intelligence operations on the ground, at diplomatic posts and the North American offices of Satour, the country’s tourism promotion agency.

“I was surprised at the kind of access the IFF operation provided us,” said Wim Booyse, who went by the title of Senior Research fellow at the Johannesburg office of the IFF. Booyse said when he visited Washington In 1987 to attend IFF-sponsored seminars, part of the propaganda training he and other visitors received came from a disinformation specialist at the United States Information Service, an official he identified as Todd Leventhal. Leventhal said in response that he remembered meeting with Booyse and possibly a few other IFF people, but gave no formal talk and talked to them only about countering disinformation, not spreading it

Far from being a mere branch of the IFF, the Johannesburg office was in fact the nerve center of IFF operations worldwide. According to Martin Yuill, who served as administrator of the “branch,” he began to realize that perhaps Johannesburg was not just a branch office after all, since it was always deciding how much money the other offices, Including the Washington headquarters, should have. “I guess one would have to conclude that that was the case,” he said.

Although he insisted that the IFF was no clandestine operation, Russell Crystal who ran the Johannesburg office, said it was vital to the foundation. He said Friday in an interview that “jobs” for South African intelligence provided at least half of total IFF revenue, and that he sometimes asked military intelligence to send the fees from these “jobs” directly to the Washington office of the IFF.

“The military intelligence, there were certain things they wanted done — tackling the ANC as a terrorist-communist organization,” Crystal said. “The projects we did for them, they paid for. ” He added that it was not impossible that South Africa accounted for far more than his estimated 50 percent, of IFF revenues.

As an example of this “tackling,” Crystal cited the targeting of Oliver Tambo, whenever the late exiled leader of the ANC traveled around the world. Once, when Tambo visited with George Shultz, then-secretary of state, the IFF arranged for demonstrators to drape tires around their necks to protest the “necklace” killings of suspect ed government informers in black townships in South Africa.

“The advantage of the IFF was that it pilloried the ANC,” said Williamson. “The sort of general western view of the ANC up until 1990 was a box of matches [violence] and Soviet-supporting — slavishly was the word we latched on. That was backed up with writings, intellectual inputs. It was a matter of undercutting ANC credibility.”

By 1993, the IFF effectively shut down after de Klerk pulled the plug on many politically motivated clandestine operations. But the IFF did not go down before one final parting shot.

In January that year, the foundation financed a investigation into alleged human rights abuses during the 1980’s at ANC guerrilla camps in Angola. Bob Douglas, a South African lawyer, concluded there was evidence of torture and other abuses, forcing the ANC to acknowledge some abuses. Douglas said Friday he did not believe that the IFF worked for military intelligence. “I did a professional job for which I charged professional fees,” he said crossly. “I did my job of work, I finished my work, and had nothing to do with it since then.”

17 From “Front for Apartheid: Washington-based think tank said to be part of ruse to prolong power” by Dele Olojede and Tim Phelps:

Williamson, for instance, recently revealed that he was involved in the assassination of Ruth First, wife of the ANC and South African Communist Party leader Joe Slovo, and other anti-apartheid activists.

18 “Front for Apartheid: Washington-based think tank said to be part of ruse to prolong power” by Dele Olojede and Tim Phelps:

Several key figures involved in the IFF and contacted by Newsday denied any knowledge that the foundation was a front for the political agenda of a foreign government. Duncan Sellers, now a Virginia businessman, said, “This is nothing I ever knew about. It’s something that I would have resigned over or closed the foundation over. I would have put a stop to it.”

19 “Front for Apartheid: Washington-based think tank said to be part of ruse to prolong power” by Dele Olojede and Tim Phelps:

“Helms has never heard of the International Freedom Foundation, was not chairman of their advisory board and never authorized his name to be used by IFF in any way shape or form. We never had any relationship with them,” Marc Thiessen, a Helms spokesman, said.

20 From “Counterfactual: A curious history of the C.I.A.’s secret interrogation program”, by Jane Mayer:

“Courting Disaster” downplays the C.I.A.’s brutality under the Bush Administration to the point of falsification. Thiessen argues that “the C.I.A. interrogation program did not inflict torture by any reasonable standard,” and that there was “only one single case” in which “inhumane” techniques were used. That case, he writes, involved the detainee Abd al-Rahim Nashiri, whom a C.I.A. interrogator threatened with a handgun to the head, and with an electric drill. He claims that no detainee “deaths in custody took place in the C.I.A. interrogation program,” failing to mention the case of a detainee who was left to freeze to death at a C.I.A.-run prison in Afghanistan. Referring to the Abu Ghraib scandal, Thiessen writes that “what happened in those photos had nothing to do with C.I.A. interrogations, military interrogations, or interrogations of any sort.” The statement is hard to square with the infamous photograph of Manadel al-Jamadi; his body was placed on ice after he died of asphyxiation during a C.I.A. interrogation at the prison. The homicide became so notorious that the C.I.A.’s inspector general, John Helgerson, forwarded the case to the Justice Department for potential criminal prosecution. Thiessen simply ignores the incident.

21 From “My Dinner with Jack” by Mark Hemingway:

In the summer of 1985 Abramoff helped plan and organize an event that, as Abramoff told me, inspired Red Scorpion. Abramoff joined forces with Jack Wheeler, another anti-Communist activist, to create the “Jamboree in Jamba”–known more formally as the Democratic International. The pair approached Lewis Lehrman, a conservative benefactor who made a fortune off his Rite-Aid drugstores, with the idea: For years the Soviets had been sponsoring what amounted to supervillain summits, where Sandinistas, African Communist insurgents, and representatives of the PLO and Cuba convened presumably to stroke their fluffy white cats and update their arms-dealer Rolodexes.

Abramoff convinced Lehrman that this put the “good guys” at a comparative disadvantage–the Nicaraguan contras, the Afghan mujahedeen, Savimbi’s rebels in Angola, and other freedom fighters needed a meeting of their own. Congress was in the process of cutting off aid to the contras, and anything that could be done to bolster the group’s public reputation would be politically helpful to Reagan. Lehrman agreed to fund it, and Rohrabacher was brought in to help muster support from inside the White House. Abramoff and Wheeler would handle the details on the ground.

According to Abramoff, the event was a goat rodeo from the start. Hardly a government in the world was enamored of the idea, and simply deciding where to hold the event was no small affair. Only two governments were publicly supportive: South Africa and Israel, and for PR reasons it was quickly decided that neither country was a suitable venue.

So they settled on Jamba, Angola, the home base of Savimbi’s UNITA movement (National Union of Total Independence for Angola), which was fighting the Cuban troops that propped up the Soviet-backed Angolan government. Not exactly the most hospitable locale.

Logistically, the event was a nightmare. Simply trying to get the attendees into the Angolan hinterland provoked international incidents. Pakistan blocked some Afghan rebels from leaving, and skittish Thai officials almost stopped Laotian anti-Communist leader Pa Kao Her from departing Bangkok.

Facilities consisted of little more than grass huts and an airstrip, and managing the various cultures and egos proved challenging, as demonstrated by Abramoff’s deft and hilarious impersonation of a frenzied Afghan warlord who insisted on ranting and raving for 45 minutes, long after the translator who had been procured on his behalf proved worthless. Not only was Abramoff’s mimicry compelling, he gestured wildly with his hands in a way that caught me totally off guard, making me laugh harder. He clearly wasn’t afraid to embarrass himself, a quality that was endearing, considering I had started out the evening somewhat intimidated. I also became aware of how carefully he was gauging my reaction to his tale. He didn’t care about impressing me; it was obvious he had little to prove. But he did tell his story in a generous way–he wanted me to enjoy it, and I did.

The final insult in Jamba was running out of food. Abramoff, who keeps kosher, had packed all his own provisions into the African jungle. Upon leaving the event early, he stood on the stairs of the plane auctioning off his remaining cans of tuna for as much as $20 to ravenous members of the press who had yet to leave.

The jamboree itself ended up being largely ceremonial. Everyone pledged to share intelligence, and Lehrman read a letter Rohrabacher had drafted on Reagan’s behalf, expressing solidarity with those struggling against the Soviet empire. The Time reporter on the scene concluded that the meeting marked the beginning of “a new lobby to urge Congress to support the Nicaraguan contras and other anti-Communist guerrillas.” Considering the improbability of the thing coming together at all, everyone involved considered it a success.

22 “Angola seeks Savimbi’s arrest” by Lara Pawson:

The Angolan Government has issued a warrant for the arrest of Unita leader, Jonas Savimbi.

Late on Friday state radio broadcast a statement from the national department for criminal investigations.

Rebellion, sabotage and the use of explosives are among a long list of crimes alleged to have been committed by the Angolan rebel leader.

The announcement comes seven months after the Prosecutor General labelled Savimbi a war criminal, shortly after a fresh outbreak of war in the battered southern African state in December.

Under Angolan law, the Unita leader is accused of committing a myriad of crimes, ranging from murder and assault to the trafficking of war material.

Indeed, there is no shortage of allegations against Dr Savimbi.

Aside from official testimonies given by victims of Unita, hundreds of thousands of Angola’s displaced recount similar tales of massacres in their rural villages. More often than not, they blame Dr Savimbi for the deaths of their relatives and friends.

From “Jonas Savimbi, 67, Rebel Of Charisma and Tenacity” by Michael T. Kaufman:

Jonas Savimbi, who was killed yesterday by Angolan government soldiers, spent more than 35 years in the African bush battling first for Angolan independence and then for personal power.

At least one conservative mourned the death of this man, even after all the blood on his hands, and this was Howard Phillips.

He is mentioned in the John’s article arguing for continued aid to UNITA, read into the congressional record by Indiana’s Dan Burton [archive link]:

Savimbi told conservative leader Howard Phillips and me last March during a visit to Savimbi’s headquarters in the Angolan bush, `there are a lot of loopholes in that agreement. The agreement is not good at all.’

A background on this figure can be found at “Howard Phillips’ World” by Adele Stan.

On the event of Savimbi’s death, Phillips and his son, David, issued a statement via Newsmax, “Angolan Christian Rebel Leader Assassinated”, mourning the rebel’s death and blaming it on the collusion of George W. Bush, the state department, Chevron, and the Angolan government.

From the statement of David Phillips:

My family and I have spent the weekend grieving the loss of a longtime friend and heroic Christian leader, Dr. Jonas Mahleiro Savimbi.

Savimbi was the leader of the only organized opposition to the totalitarian rule in Luanda. He sacrificed his life for more than 40 years in pursuit of liberty and self-determination for his people. He had a following in Angola up until his death because he personified hope for the most marginalized and downtrodden segment of Angolan society, the indigenous non-assimilated African people.

The son of an evangelical pastor and railway stationmaster, he relied on his Christian faith for strength, courage and wisdom to wage a lifelong struggle for the freedom of the Angolan people.

Africa has lost one of its best Christian leaders and America has lost one of its most faithful Cold War allies.

From the statement of his father, Howard:

Dr. Jonas Savimbi was a great Angolan patriot, truly a man who served as a loving, self-sacrificing father to those of his countrymen who shared his love of freedom and who were willing to die to escape the bonds of Portuguese colonialism and Communist tyranny.

In the war against Soviet imperialism America had no more faithful and courageous ally.

In 1992, Savimbi won a popular election, which victory was stolen from him even more blatantly than Mayor Daley stole Illinois for John F. Kennedy in 1960.

[With] no fear of rebuke from those who govern the New World Order of socially respectable international opinion, the Angolan Reds targeted Dr. Savimbi to be hunted down and murdered.

His death is a tragic loss.

His blood is on the hands of the government of the United States, as well as on the hands of the Angolan gangster government which directly gave the orders.

23 Mark Hemingway’s “My Dinner with Jack”:

But for Abramoff, the pivotal moment in Jamba came when he was approached by someone trying to secure funding for a documentary about Savimbi. Abramoff scoffed. Rambo: First Blood Part II had just been released in theaters three weeks earlier, becoming the first film to open on more than 2,000 screens. “Why would you want to make a documentary? Nobody watches documentaries,” he told me. “I said to the guy, ‘You should make an action film.'”

YOU CAN ALSO SAY THIS for Abramoff–the man has a gift for making wild ideas a reality. Jack revisited his movie idea in an entertainment law class he took while finishing his degree at Georgetown a few years later. He sketched out a story based loosely on what he knew about Savimbi’s plight and the Soviet operations in that part of Africa.

24 The movie opens with the credits featuring a name that is now indissolubly linked with D.C. scandal:

Jack Abramoff in Red Scorpion credits

Jack Abramoff in Red Scorpion credits

Jack Abramoff in Red Scorpion credits

It is a movie about a russian fighter who, after seeing the plight of africans under russian siege, defects to their cause and fights on their behalf. His appearance, that of a blonde, muscular uberman, is the aryan ideal; his identity is inextricably linked with being a warrior. He is a member of the spetsnaz – russian special forces – and, over and over again, this is how he identifies himself: “I am spetsnaz.” After defecting, he is re-captured, and his captors humiliate this man by exiling him from this group: “you are no longer spetsnaz.” One of his last lines is declaring that he still belongs to this military ideal, while no longer belonging to the soviet state: “I am still spetsnaz, but I am no longer you.” This man fits the aryan ideal, but the fascist ideal as well, a man for whom belonging to the military group is more important than his belonging to the larger society.

That this man defects from a colonial group, then ends up fighting against it, is analogous to the Boers of South Africa, who came as colonizers to the continent, and then ended up fighting against Europe itself. The National Party which took power after World War II was pro-Germany and opposed to South African involvement on the side of Britain. The Red Scorpion title character fights against the colonizers of which he was once one, becomes a savior to african freedom fighters, and possibly, the true heir to africa. This man’s transformative moment is to meet the chief of a group of Kalahari San (they are also called the Bushmen, which I believe is considered a pejorative), who burns on this man a tattoo signifying membership in their tribe. The Red Scorpion hunts with an african spear as well or better than the chief, and the chief gives this man his spear, a gesture which I read as signifying tribal membership, access to tribal hunting grounds, and status as an african warrior.

It is impossible to watch the movie without thinking immediately of Susan Sontag’s “Fascinating Fascism” which found links between the aryan ideal of the Nazis and the warrior ideal of the Nuba tribe. Even though the Kalahari are not the Nuba, the Kalahari’s culture distinct and dissimilar from that of the Nuba, what is striking is that all the features Sontag cites as a crucial part of the warrior ideal celebrated by Leni Riefenstahl in both Europe and Africa are in Red Scorpion: the celebration of the physical over the mental – the title character never solves a problem through ingenuity, only strength or marksmanship – and the sublimation of the self into some larger martial force, in this case, the spetsnaz. The Red Scorpion moves from being a warrior in a soviet military force to being a warrior in a tribe of hunters – the same warrior character is never altered, only re-directed towards a different enemy. There is also an important distinction. When Riefenstahl traveled to Africa, the Nazi warriors were either dead or elderly, while the Nuba still had youthful devotees to their ideal. The Red Scorpion, on the other hand, is the youngest member of the cast, and the youngest, fittest man compared to any of the Kalahari, whose chief is elderly, and played by an actor in his nineties; the implicit message is that the future of Africa lies with the Red Scorpion, not the Kalahari.

Red Scorpion

Red Scorpion

Red Scorpion

Red Scorpion - passing the spear - URL if gif doesn't load: http://gfycat.com/LikableUnkemptHyena

Red Scorpion

The movie ends with an image which might embody how a white south african military man might see himself: the aryan ideal, flanked by a sycophantic american journalist, their conservative allies in the U.S., and an african anti-Soviet freedom fighter, someone like Jonas Savimbi, to whom the South African government gave so much financial and military aid.

Red Scorpion three together

25 From “Front for Apartheid: Washington-based think tank said to be part of ruse to prolong power” by Dele Olojede and Tim Phelps:

A former chief of intelligence, now retired, said emphatically that the South African military helped finance Abramoffs 1988 movie “Red Scorpion.” The movie was a sympathetic portrayal of an anti-communist African guerrilla commander loosely based on Jones Savimbi, the Angolan rebel leader allied to both Washington and Pretoria. Williamson also said the production of “Red Scorpion” was “funded by our guys,” who in addition provided military trucks and equipment – as well as extras.

26 “The tale of Red Scorpion” by James Verini:

[Jeff] Pandin [an Abramoff associate] recalled that Abramoff enlisted Russell Crystal, the head of the IFF’s Johannesburg office and an advisor to F.W. DeKlerk, to be an informal producer on “Red Scorpion” (whether this meant Crystal helped fund the film, Pandin did not remember).

27 “The tale of Red Scorpion” by James Verini:

Initially, the movie was set to shoot in Swaziland, but at the last minute Abramoff moved the production to Namibia, which was occupied by South Africa’s apartheid government.

28 “The tale of Red Scorpion” by James Verini:

The actor Carmen Argenziano, who played the villainous Cuban colonel, said he knew that many of the men playing Russian and Cuban soldiers were actual SADF soldiers.

29 “The tale of Red Scorpion” by James Verini:

“We heard that very right-wing South African money was helping fund the movie,” [Carmen] Argenziano said. “It wasn’t very clear. We were pretty upset about the source of the money. We thought we were misled. We were shocked that these brothers who we thought were showbiz liberals – Beverly Hills Jewish kids – were doing this.”

30 “The tale of Red Scorpion” by James Verini:

By 1988, when shooting started on the film, Abramoff likely had connections in the South African government. For a decade, after all, South Africa had been Savimbi’s main backer, and according to [Chester] Crocker and others, Abramoff would not have been able to put together the Democratic International without extensive help from the SADF.

31 “The tale of Red Scorpion” by James Verini:

“We knew that the IFF was funded by the South African government,” Herman Cohen, who ran Africa operations for the National Security Council, told Salon. “It was one of a number of front organizations.”

32 From “Front for Apartheid: Washington-based think tank said to be part of ruse to prolong power” by Dele Olojede and Tim Phelps:

Abramoff reacted with anger when told of the allegations Friday, saying his movie was funded by private investors and had nothing to do with the South African government. “This is outrageous,” he said.

33 “The tale of Red Scorpion” by James Verini:

After Jack returned to Washington, Robert Abramoff stayed in Los Angeles and continued to produce films. He is now a full-time lawyer. Reached at the offices of Burgee & Abramoff in Woodland Hills, he refused to speak about his brother or “Red Scorpion.” “It’s a family matter and I prefer not to comment on anything,” he said.

34 From “Angola’s Jonas Savimbi Was No Freedom Fighter” by Piero Gleijeses:

During Angola’s war of independence against the Portuguese in 1961-1974, Savimbi was an impressive guerrilla leader, but his movement, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, or UNITA, was far weaker than Neto’s Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, or MPLA.

In February 1972, Savimbi proposed to have his forces cooperate with the Portuguese to “eliminate” the MPLA. The Portuguese responded favorably, and for the next 18 months Savimbi was their ally. But in late 1973, Lisbon broke the agreement and attacked UNITA. And so Savimbi became known, much against his will, as a “freedom fighter,” even though he was still trying to forge a new alliance with Lisbon when the Portuguese regime was overthrown in April 1974.

By 1977, the story of Savimbi’s betrayal of the Angolan independence movement was public knowledge in Western Europe. In 1979, the mainstream Lisbon weekly Expresso concluded: “The fact that Savimbi collaborated with the Portuguese colonial authorities has been so amply proven that no one can question it in good faith.”

No one, that is, but Americans.

Savimbi’s betrayal of the independence struggle has been overlooked in the thousands of press reports and scores of books written about Angola, and, even now, in the articles about his death.

35 From “Angola’s Jonas Savimbi Was No Freedom Fighter” by Piero Gleijeses:

Within weeks of the collapse of the Portuguese dictatorship, Savimbi approached the white rulers in Pretoria for help in the impending civil war in Angola. If he won, he promised to maintain friendly relations with the apartheid regime. How tempting, particularly when the MPLA vowed that there would be no peace in southern Africa until apartheid had been defeated.

In July 1975, with Washington’s blessing, South Africa began its covert operation in Angola to support Savimbi.

Yet Savimbi was not a South African puppet. He was simply being true to himself. He was a warlord whose overriding principle was absolute power, and if this required an agreement with Portuguese colonial authorities first, and then a dalliance with apartheid, so be it.

In October 1975, with Washington’s urging, South African troops invaded Angola. Crashing through MPLA resistance, they would have taken Luanda, the MPLA stronghold, had Fidel Castro not sent Cuban soldiers to Angola in early November. Contrary to U.S. reports of the time, Castro did so without consulting Moscow. He was no client. “He was probably the most genuine revolutionary leader then [1975] in power,” Kissinger writes in his memoirs.

From “Land Mines in Angola: An Africa Watch Report”:

In late 1983, the UN Security Council demanded that South Africa withdraw from Angola. Shortly afterwards, Angola and South Africa signed the Lusaka Accords, under which South Africa agreed to withdraw if Angola ceased support for SWAPO. However, South African withdrawal was extremely slow, and was reversed in 1985 when another invasion was launched, in support of UNITA which was facing defeat against a full-scale attack by FAPLA with Cuban support. The government clearly believed that if South African support for UNITA was withdrawn, it would be able to achieve a military solution to the conflict.

36 From “Jonas Savimbi: Washington’s ‘Freedom Fighter’, Africa’s ‘Terrorist'” by Shana Wills:

Jonas Savimbi, a member of Angola’s largest ethnic group, the Ovimbundu, was born and raised in the southern Angolan province of Moxico. A bright, charismatic, former doctorate student, Savimbi became fluent in more than six languages–including Portuguese, French, and English. His knack for learning languages boosted his credibility among the various groups with whom he negotiated. His gift in European languages facilitated his dealings with political opponents, diplomats, and foreign reporters, while he switched into Umbundo when rallying his followers among the Angolan people.

From “Angola’s Jonas Savimbi Was No Freedom Fighter” by Piero Gleijeses:

Friend and foe acknowledged the abilities and charisma of Jonas Savimbi, the Angolan rebel leader who was killed by government troops last month.

“Savimbi is very intelligent,” Lucio Lara, a senior aide to his bitter rival, Agostinho Neto, once admitted.

Savimbi also never deviated from his overriding goals or principles. It is odd, however, that Americans have failed to appreciate what these goals and principles were.

During Angola’s war of independence against the Portuguese in 1961-1974, Savimbi was an impressive guerrilla leader, but his movement, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, or UNITA, was far weaker than Neto’s Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, or MPLA.

We might end this note on Savimbi’s formidable intellectual abilities with a contrast in how he is portrayed in the videogame Black Ops II; from “Call of Duty: the recall of Jonas Savimbi” by Sean Jacobs:

Black Ops II paints Savimbi as some kind of brute with his halting English and screams. But he was, in fact, a consummate media figure and understood the power of western press on public opinion. Three clips – the first in French (with Portuguese subtitles), the second in Portuguese, and a third in which Savimbi answers questions, in English, at a surreal “Unita News Conference with Republicans” – provide a brief contrast to his depiction in Black Ops II. He spoke many languages fluently. His English speech and diction was refined – not the kind of brutish bush English they give him.

37 “The tale of Red Scorpion” by James Verini:

[Chester] Crocker described Savimbi, who was killed in 2002, as “a brilliant military warlord who operated by the gun, lived by the gun, and died by the gun and ultimately had a failure of judgment, like warlords often do.”

38 “The tale of Red Scorpion” by James Verini:

Others are less charitable. “He was the most articulate, charismatic homicidal maniac I’ve ever met,” said Don Steinberg, ambassador to Angola during the first Clinton administration.

39 From “Jonas Savimbi: Angolan nationalist whose ambition kept his country at war” by Victoria Brittain:

By the end of the 1980s his proxy army, supplied and funded by the CIA and aided by numerous South African invasions, had sabotaged much of Angola. Swathes of the countryside were cut off from agriculture by minefields, mine victims and malnourished children swamped the hospitals and tens of thousands of children were also kidnapped by Unita troops and taken to Unita-controlled areas in the south around Savimbi’s capital at Jamba.

Appalling rites, such as public burning of women said to be witches, characterised the reign of terror in which many of Savimbi’s close associates were imprisoned or killed on his orders.

From “Jonas Savimbi: Washington’s ‘Freedom Fighter’, Africa’s ‘Terrorist'” by Shana Wills:

For decades, Savimbi’s forces fought Angola’s MPLA government, which was supported militarily by the Soviet Union and thousands of Cuban troops–and was recognized by every country in the world except South Africa and the United States. In order to instill terror in the population and to undermine confidence in the government, Savimbi ordered that food supplies be targeted, millions of land mines be laid in peasants’ fields, and transport lines be cut. As part of this destabilization effort, UNITA frequently attacked health clinics and schools, specifically terrorizing and killing medical workers and teachers. The UN estimated that Angola lost $30 billion in the war from 1980 to 1988, which was six times the country’s 1988 GDP. According to UNICEF, approximately 330,000 children died as direct and indirect results of the fighting during that period alone. Human Rights Watch reports that because of UNITA’s indiscriminate use of landmines, there were over 15,000 amputees in Angola in 1988, ranking it alongside Afghanistan and Cambodia.

40 “The dragon of death who had to be slain”, an account by Fred Bridgland of Savimbi and the murder of one of Savimbi’s closest associates, Pedro “Tito” Chingunji, and Chingunji’s family:

With Savimbi that day was a tall, slim 19-year-old guerrilla with soft, intelligent eyes, wearing a beret set at a jaunty angle. Pedro “Tito” Chingunji was to become my closest African friend; in due course, Savimbi would execute him and his entire family, including his one-year-old twins.

Later:

Then Tito asked me to fly to meet him in Washington on a matter of life or death. It was the most disturbing conversation I have ever had.

His mother, father, three brothers and a sister had been executed by Savimbi. His wife and children were being held hostage at Savimbi’s bush headquarters, Jamba, to ensure that Tito continued to perform diplomatic miracles in Washington.

The slaughter of his family was only part of the horror, said Tito. Savimbi had also ordered the public burning on bonfires of dissident women and their children.

On his next visit to Jamba, Tito was arrested and put on trial for trying to open a dialogue with the MPLA, for allegedly trying to overthrow Savimbi and for allegedly having had an affair with one of Savimbi’s many wives and concubines.

I never saw Tito again. We now know that he and his wife and children were executed shortly before Angola’s first election in 1992. Savimbi narrowly lost the election. With Tito and a whole range of other second-tier leaders he either executed or forced to flee, Savimbi might have won.

From “Land Mines in Angola: An Africa Watch Report”:

In Africa Watch’s 1992 survey, among a total of forty-five, six said that FAPLA [Forças Armadas Popular para a Libertação de Angola, the Angolan army] was to blame (including one soldier blown up by a mine his colleagues had planted earlier), twenty-seven said UNITA, and twelve said that they did not know. Many of the “don’t knows,” particularly the six who were interviewed in Luanda, may have been reluctant to mention FAPLA.

The 1990 ICRC survey came up with a similar result. Eighty-three blamed UNITA (73.5 percent), fourteen blamed FAPLA (12.4 percent), one blamed the Cubans (0.7 percent), and fifteen said that they did not know (13.3 percent).

The war was fought in a manner that reduced much of Angola’s population to a state of famine. There were no recognized front lines, and fighting raged backwards and forwards over large areas of the country. As a result, a very large proportion of the population was directly affected by the war, and an even larger number of people lived with the pervasive fear that fighting could come to their locality at any time. The widespread use of land mines, especially on roads and paths, was a crucial factor in creating famine. The threat of land mines prevented free movement of people and commerce, and proved a serious obstacle to relief efforts.

During 1990, serious food shortages threatened much of the country. According to estimates by the US Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, up to 10,000 people died in the first four months of the year. In September, the United Nations estimated that about 1.9 million Angolans in nine central and southern provinces faced famine. About three quarters of those at risk were in areas made inaccessible for relief. About 1.2 million people were in the central Planalto of Huambo and Bíe provinces and the neighboring areas. This, the most fertile and densely populated part of Angola, was the center of UNITA’s war effort. UNITA aimed to destabilize the government by preventing it from exercising any form of authority in these provinces. This strategy, together with the shifting battle lines, meant that the delivery of relief to the Planalto by establishing tranquil zones or safe passage agreements would be possible only if UNITA dramatically revised its military strategy.

The United States government and Congress have been significant though inconsistent supporters of UNITA, and have provided financial and military support. At least seven types of US-manufactured mines are present in Angolan soil. Major Cox of the British army noted that “the mines laid by UNITA forces were mainly from the USA.” He did not, however, say who was the immediate supplier of mines to UNITA. His fellow British officer, Col. Griffiths also declined to characterize the US as a major direct supplier of mines. At this writing, the United States government has not accepted that it bears any responsibility for the large number of US-manufactured mines in Angola.

41 From “Jonas Savimbi: Washington’s ‘Freedom Fighter’, Africa’s ‘Terrorist'” by Shana Wills:

Whatever the case, Savimbi certainly showed his skill as a political chameleon. In 1988, several former UNITA members reported to the Portuguese newsweekly, Espresso, that UNITA’s political elite all followed the precepts of Savimbi’s Practical Guide for the Cadre, which was described as “a manual of dialectical materialism and Marxism-Leninism with a distinct trait of Stalinism and Maoism.” The UNITA dissidents claimed that the Guide was taught in a room filled with Lenin and Mao Tse-Tung busts, where the anthem of the Communist International was sung every day. These former UNITA members denounced as fraudulent Savimbi’s widely publicized pro-Western ideology and defense of democracy. They pointed out that there was a huge discrepancy between what UNITA claimed abroad as its objectives (i.e., negotiations with the MPLA, reconciliation, and coalition) and what the Guide taught. The Guide, said to be written by Savimbi, was considered a secret book accessible only to the political elite of UNITA.

42 “Jonas Savimbi: Angolan nationalist whose ambition kept his country at war” by Victoria Brittain:

US pressure brought the Angolan government to accept a peace agreement at Bicesse in 1991 that required both sides to disarm and demobilise before a UN-monitored election in 1992. Washington was confident that Savimbi would win the election. But in February 1992 his oldest associate, Antonio da Costa Fernandes, and another leading Unita cadre, Nzau Puna, defected, declaring publicly that Savimbi was not interested in a political contest, but was preparing another war. However, so strong were US ties to Savimbi that those warnings and others were disregarded.

He launched a catastrophic new war when he lost the election in late September, and came close to seizing power in the following months.

43 From “Jonas Savimbi: Angolan nationalist whose ambition kept his country at war” by Victoria Brittain:

Jonas Savimbi, who has died aged 67, was, for 20 years, a figure as important in southern Africa as Nelson Mandela, and as negative a force as Mandela was positive.

For the past 10 years, using the proceeds of smuggled diamonds from eastern and central Angola, he fought an increasingly pointless and personal bush war against the elected government in which hundreds of thousands of peasants were killed, wounded, displaced, or starved to death.

44 From “Welcome to the World’s Richest Poor Country” by John Kampfner:

Aihameselle Mingas beckons me inside his house. He wants to show me his new architect-designed kitchen, with its floor-to-ceiling fridge, and its architect-designed sitting room with its Italian furnishings. Each room has a plasma home-entertainment screen. “Come see the marble. It’s from Brazil,” he says.

I have seen conspicuous consumption in London, Moscow, New York, and Paris, but never a contrast such as this. Outside the high walls of Aihameselle’s house stand two dilapidated tower blocks. The holes in the road resemble lunar craters. Dozens of bored youths stand around, their eyes blank. And the stench. The shit is, literally, floating down the street.

Luanda was built for less than half a million folk. The war drove the population up to four million people, fleeing as the two sides – the communist government backed by the Soviet Union and Cuba, and the rebel UNITA forces supported by America and apartheid South Africa – fought out one of the most vicious conflicts of the Cold War. That is why you have such fast urbanisation. That is why everywhere you look, you see shanties, shacks in fetid and treeless slums that stretch for miles to the horizon. That is why the city suffers power cuts, why traffic doesn’t move and why sanitation has collapsed. When it rains, the polluted Bengo river overflows; the water merges with the garbage-strewn banks, producing yet another bout of cholera.

By night, people party – hard, until dawn. Then, before they return home (drivers have been sleeping in the car park), they gather for one last time to eat fish soup. A popular night-time venue for drink and watching bands play Kuduro music, is Miami. This is a younger, more local and hipper crowd, a far cry from the sad middle-aged men I see at another place down the road, accompanied by their catorzinagas, 14-year-old escorts.

For the rest, life consists of eking out a miserable existence, working on construction sites, if you are lucky, or hawking anything you can find. Life expectancy is 42. Angola has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world. Three quarters of the population earn less than a dollar a day – the UN definition of absolute poverty. Some 50 per cent of people have no access to clean water; 24 percent of children under 14 are forced to work.

45 “My Vision For South Africa” is the lecture Buthelezi gave at Heritage; Savimbi’s has the sick joke of a title, “The Coming Winds of Democracy in Angola”.

46 From Johns’ LinkedIn profile:

Michael Johns is a health care executive with extensive experience in leading medical device, medical supply, home health, pharmaceutical and specialty pharmaceutical revenue and market share growth. His industry expertise includes executive management, sales and marketing management, operational management and efficiencies, Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance contract and reimbursement management, investor and public relations, the development and implementation of organic and acquisition-oriented growth strategies and other industry functions.

As Divisional Head and Corporate Vice President for Electric Mobility Corporation, a global medical device company, Mr. Johns drove top-line sales from $3.8 million to $30 million, increased divisional profit contribution by 150 percent, and reduced Medicare, Medicaid, and managed care DSO by 75 percent. He launched a national clinical sales force of 200 from scratch and developed over 250 managed care contracts. Prior to this, he was Vice President and a member of the senior management team of Gentiva Health Services, the world’s largest home health care company.

Prior to beginning his health care management career in 1994, Mr. Johns was a White House speechwriter to the President of the United States, a senior aide to the Governor of New Jersey and a U.S. Senator, and a policy analyst and editor at one of the nation’s most influential public policy research institutes.

47 From the Consumer Affairs website, “Electric Mobility Fined $225,00 by New Jersey”:

Electric Mobility has agreed to pay more $225,000 in fees and consumer redress after an investigation by the state of New Jersey. The company also agreed that it distributors will prominently state the conditions under which Medicare is likely to pay some or all of the purchase cost of a motorized wheelchair.

The company also agreed to clearly disclose the requirements for transporting the scooter in the consumer’s personal vehicle, including the need to disassemble the device or to use a ramp or other accessory that must be purchased separately.

48 The full letter, from the Consumer Affairs site:

Mr. James R Hood
Editor in Chief & President
Consumer Affairs.Com
400 N Capitol St., NW Suite G-50
Washington, DC 20001

Dear Mr. Hood,

Once again, I have viewed, with great concern, the misinformation you have posted to your website concerning Electric Mobility Corporation. Electric Mobility was not fined $225,000 by the State of New Jersey as your website erroneously reports.

Electric Mobility entered into an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance with the State of New Jersey. By doing so, we believe that we have set the industry standard for ethical sales practices. It is also important to note that this was an amicable agreement and that Electric Mobility voluntarily cooperated and agreed to this Assurance of Voluntary Compliance. Furthermore, the agreement resolved and settled all issues in controversy without any findings of law or fact. Moreover, the agreement, executed by the Attorney General of the State of New Jersey and me, specifically acknowledges “Electric Mobility admitted no wrongdoing and the fact that Electric Mobility promises to act in specific ways or not to act in specific ways does not constitute an admission that Electric Mobility has acted any differently in the past. Indeed, Electric Mobility contends that it has always been in compliance with the laws and regulations of New Jersey.”

The majority of the provisos contained in the Agreement have been in place for many years. Medicare coverage criteria is a complicated issue—one that we have always addressed during our sales presentation. Whenever customers do not meet this criteria, we have had the customers execute an Advance Beneficiary Notice, as required by Medicare regulations. We have taken additional steps to change our documentation to assure that all Medicare beneficiaries now acknowledge, in writing, that they have received both the Medicare coverage criteria and the fee schedule amount applicable to their state of residence.

Electric Mobility paid the amount specified in the Agreement for “attorney fees, investigative costs and future consumer initiatives” and to establish an escrow fund. After resolution of any previous consumer concerns, the remaining balance of the escrow fund will be returned to the company. Nowhere in the agreement is the there any mention of “fines” as purported in your website.

We believe that we have always upheld high ethical standards in our industry. We voluntarily entered into this Agreement to assure our customers and all persons associated with the company are aware of the standards to which we are committed.

Sincerely,

Michael Flowers
President

49 The tweet itself:

50 From “Tea Party Jab to Be Zapped From Captain America Comic, Writer Says”:

In issue No. 602 of Captain America, “Two Americas, Part One,” the title hero and The Falcon, a black superhero from New York City, stumble upon a protest rally in Boise, Idaho. They see scores of protesters carrying signs that say “Stop the Socialists!” and “Tea Bag The Libs Before They Tea Bag YOU!”

Captain America says the protest appears to be an “anti-tax thing,” and The Falcon jokes that he likely would not be welcomed into the crowd of “angry white folks.”

Ed Brubaker, who wrote the story, told FoxNews.com he did not write the “Tea Bag The Libs Before They Tea Bag YOU!” sign shown in the edition, insisting that the words were added by someone in “lettering or production” just before being shipped to the printer. It will be changed in subsequent editions, he said.

“I don’t know who did it, probably someone who thought it was funny,” Brubaker wrote in an e-mail. “I didn’t think so, personally. That’s the sign being changed to something more generic for the trade reprint, because I and my editor were both shocked to see it.”

But the change may come too late to placate a chorus of critics who noticed the apparent jab at the Tea Party movement and who accused Marvel of making supervillains out of patriotic Americans.

Michael Johns, a board member of the Nationwide Tea Party Coalition, said he felt the “juvenile” dig will ultimately do more damage to Marvel’s brand than to the Tea Party movement. He also disputed the insinuation that the growing movement lacks diversity.

“The Tea Party movement has been very reflective of broad concerns of all Americans,” Johns said. “Membership is across ethnic, religious and even political lines.”

Johns accused Brubaker of “blame-shifting” and questioned why an apology or retraction hadn’t been issued as soon as the writer or Marvel executives noticed the politically charged signs.

The offending image:

Angola, Namibia, South Africa

51 From “One Iraq Option Only: Victory”

Disturbingly, there is an emerging consensus among the Democrat-led United States Congressional leadership that the war in Iraq is “lost.” The most recent example that this thesis has worked its way into official party talking points was offered by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat, who pointedly stated last month that “…this war is lost and the surge is not accomplishing anything….”

Setting the obvious contrarian politics aside, could there be a more defeatist, demoralizing and undermining statement at this time?

Clearly, one hopes that is not a message Congressional Democrats want to be sending al-Qaeda and America’s enemies in the region at this juncture, and I think it would be unfair to assign any member of Congress such malicious motives. But it’s already becoming very clear that driving the Republicans from the White House will first mean ensuring no 2008 Republican candidate can run on the coattails of a Bush-led victory in that nation. Putting politics ahead of national security, this nation’s Democratic leadership knows all too well what the prolonged nature of the Iraq War has done to President Bush’s national popularity. It has set the table for the Democrats to reclaim the Presidency in a mere 20 months.

If it is not politics that is driving the Democratic inclination to label the Iraq War “lost,” then Senator Reid’s course of action should be clear: He owes this nation, its deployed troops and their families an apology because this conflict has been anything but “lost.”

This demand for an apology from Reid for calling the Iraq war “lost” is especially interesting given the veneration Johns has for William F. Buckley. From “Buckley Says Bush Will Be Judged on Iraq War, Now a `Failure'”, by Heidi Przybyla and Judy Woodruff, a year before Johns made his demand:

William F. Buckley Jr., the longtime conservative writer and leader, said George W. Bush’s presidency will be judged entirely by the outcome of a war in Iraq that is now a failure.

“Mr. Bush is in the hands of a fortune that will be unremitting on the point of Iraq,” Buckley said in an interview that will air on Bloomberg Television this weekend. “If he’d invented the Bill of Rights it wouldn’t get him out of his jam.”

52 From allAfrica, “Angola: Zambia Leader Apologises Over Past Support to Jonas Savimbi”

Lusaka – Zambia has apologised to neighbouring Angola over the Frederick Chiluba-led Government’s support to late rebel leader Jonas Savimbi, President Michael Sata confirmed today.

Savimbi, who waged an almost three-decade-long civil war against President José Eduardo dos Santos’ regime, died in combat aged 68 in 2002.

Speaking at State House in Lusaka when he received credentials from Angola’s new Ambassador to Zambia Balbina Malheiros Dias Da Silva on Wednesday, President Sata said he had sent Zambia’s founding father, Dr Kenneth Kaunda, to apologise to President José Eduardo and Angolans.

President Sata, a long-time ally of the late Chiluba – Zambia’s president between 1991 and 2001 – and key leader of the then ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD), said the MMD was “very treacherous” during Angolan Government’s battle against Savimbi.

“I apologise on behalf of Zambia that what our colleagues in MMD did was fraudulent, was greed,” said President Sata, 74, who is less than one month old in power.

“As I am talking, our first president Dr Kenneth Kaunda is in Angola. I sent him as my envoy to go and personally apologise to the President.”

53 This editorial, along with much National Review archive material has been pulled by the magazine from the internet. I am deeply grateful to Bradford DeLong who preserved a copy in his post “From National Review’s Archives”, and I re-paste it here.

National Review editorial, 8/24/1957, 4:7, pp. 148-9: The most important event of the past three weeks was the remarkable and unexpected vote by the Senate to guarantee to defendants in a criminal contempt action the privilege of a jury trial. That vote does not necessarily affirm a citizen’s intrinsic rights: trial by jury in contempt actions, civil or criminal, is not an American birthright, and it cannot, therefore, be maintained that the Senate’s vote upheld, pure and simple, the Common Law.

What the Senate did was to leave undisturbed the mechanism that spans the abstractions by which a society is guided and the actual, sublunary requirements of the individual community. In that sense, the vote was a conservative victory. For the effect of it is–and let us speak about it bluntly–to permit a jury to modify or waive the law in such circumstances as, in the judgment of the jury, require so grave an interposition between the law and its violator.

What kind of circumstances do we speak about? Again, let us speak frankly. The South does not want to deprive the Negro of a vote for the sake of depriving him of the vote. Political scientists assert that minorities do not vote as a unit. Women do not vote as a bloc, they contend; nor do Jews, or Catholics, or laborers, or nudists–nor do Negroes; nor will the enfranchised Negroes of the South.

If that is true, the South will not hinder the Negro from voting–why should it, if the Negro vote, like the women’s, merely swells the volume, but does not affect the ratio, of the vote? In some parts of the South, the White community merely intends to prevail on any issue on which there is corporate disagreement between Negro and White. The White community will take whatever measures are necessary to make certain that it has its way.

What are the issues? Is school integration one? The NAACP and others insist that the Negroes as a unit want integrated schools. Others disagree, contending that most Negroes approve the social separation of the races. What if the NAACP is correct, and the matter comes to a vote in a community in which Negroes predominate? The Negroes would, according to democratic processes, win the election; but that is the kind of situation the White community will not permit. The White community will not count the marginal Negro vote. The man who didn’t count it will be hauled up before a jury, he will plead not guilty, and the jury, upon deliberation, will find him not guilty. A federal judge, in a similar situation, might find the defendant guilty, a judgment which would affirm the law and conform with the relevant political abstractions, but whose consequences might be violent and anarchistic.

The central question that emerges–and it is not a parliamentary question or a question that is answered by merely consulting a catalog of the rights of American citizens, born Equal–is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not predominate numerically? The sobering answer is Yes–the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced ace. It is not easy, and it is unpleasant, to adduce statistics evidencing the median cultural superiority of White over Negro: but it is fact that obtrudes, one that cannot be hidden by ever-so-busy egalitarians and anthropologists. The question, as far as the White community is concerned, is whether the claims of civilization supersede those of universal suffrage. The British believe they do, and acted accordingly, in Kenya, where the choice was dramatically one between civilization and barbarism, and elsewhere; the South, where the conflict is by no means dramatic, as in Kenya, nevertheless perceives important qualitative differences between its culture and the Negroes’, and intends to assert its own.

National Review believes that the South’s premises are correct. If the majority wills what is socially atavistic, then to thwart the majority may be, though undemocratic, enlightened. It is more important for any community, anywhere in the world, to affirm and live by civilized standards, than to bow to the demands of the numerical majority. Sometimes it becomes impossible to assert the will of a minority, in which case it must give way, and the society will regress; sometimes the numberical minority cannot prevail except by violence: then it must determine whether the prevalence of its will is worth the terrible price of violence.

The axiom on which many of the arguments supporting the original version of the Civil Rights bill were based was Universal Suffrage. Everyone in America is entitled to the vote, period. No right is prior to that, no obligation subordinate to it; from this premise all else proceeds.

That, of course, is demagogy. Twenty-year-olds do not generally have the vote, and it is not seriously argued that the difference between 20 and 21-year-olds is the difference between slavery and freedom. The residents of the District of Columbia do not vote: and the population of D.C. increases by geometric proportion. Millions who have the vote do not care to exercise it; millions who have it do not know how to exercise it and do not care to learn. The great majority of the Negroes of the South who do not vote do not care to vote, and would not know for what to vote if they could. Overwhelming numbers of White people in the South do not vote. Universal suffrage is not the beginning of wisdom or the beginning of freedom. Reasonable limitations upon the vote are not exclusively the recommendations of tyrants or oligarchists (was Jefferson either?). The problem in the South is not how to get the vote for the Negro, but how to equip the Negro–and a great many Whites–to cast an enlightened and responsible vote.

The South confronts one grave moral challenge. It must not exploit the fact of Negro backwardness to preserve the Negro as a servile class. It is tempting and convenient to block the progress of a minority whose services, as menials, are economically useful. Let the South never permit itself to do this. So long as it is merely asserting the right to impose superior mores for whatever period it takes to effect a genuine cultural equality between the races, and so long as it does so by humane and charitable means, the South is in step with civilization, as is the Congress that permits it to function.

54 From Jacob Heilbrunn’s masterful “Apologists Without Remorse”, on the sorry history of conservative intellectual attitudes toward South Africa:

As [Chester] Crocker [undersecretary of state] told a South African reporter in October 1980, “all Reagan knows about southern Africa is that he’s on the side of the whites.” “To what extent,” asked the March 14, 1986, National Review, “is the vast majority of South African blacks intellectually and practically prepared to assume the social, economic, and political leadership in a highly industrialized country?”

55 From Jacob Heilbrunn’s “Apologists Without Remorse”:

On August 1, 1986, William F. Buckley, Jr., advised the United States to forget about the “one-man/one-vote business.”

56 There are may pieces out there discussing this issue. One of the more recent is Jonathan Chait’s “Who Needs To Win To Win?”

57 From “Mountain out of a molehill”:

Because the likelihood of any individual’s vote mattering is infinitesimal and because the effort required to be an informed voter can be substantial, ignorance and abstention are rational, unless voting is cathartic or otherwise satisfying. A small voting requirement such as registration, which calls for the individual voter’s initiative, acts to filter potential voters with the weakest motivations. They are apt to invest minimal effort in civic competence. As indifferent or reluctant voters are nagged to the polls – or someday prodded there by a monetary penalty for nonvoting – the caliber of the electorate must decline.

58 “Stand With Us”:

59 As this is a slightly controversial quote, I upload scans of the article portion where it’s featured, so there won’t be doubts as to its veracity. The anecdote begins on page 73 and continues on to page 74; I thought it was a distraction to mention in the main piece the insight of one of the Review editors that, “under a real government, Bishop Tutu would be a cake of soap.”

Angola Namibia South Africa

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