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MLB May Never Eliminate Steroid Problem, But It Has Come a Long Way to Substantially Reducing It

This column first appeared in the New York Daily News on June 22. 

istock photo

By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

In August 1994, I was attending an FBI sports presentation conference. The bureau has a program where trained agents make presentations to college and professional sports teams regarding illegal sports gambling and other topics. Representatives from the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and NCAA were on hand as well, and attendees were made aware of an article I had recently written for the FBI magazine about an undercover operation (named Equine) that targeted illegal steroid distribution. Copies of the article were distributed at the conference.

One evening over some beers, some of the attendees were discussing steroids and their use by players in various sports. I told Kevin Hallinan, then the head of MLB security, that myself and fellow agent, Bill Randall, had learned through the Equine case that a dealer we prosecuted had told us he’d been supplying some MLB players with steroids. I also mentioned to Hallinan that the dealer believed steroid use in MLB was widespread and becoming a bigger problem. One of the players the dealer mentioned was Jose Canseco, then with the A’s.

Hallinan said he had heard reports of steroid use by players, but he didn’t think MLB could do much about it. Baseball was in the midst of trying to resolve a debilitating strike (which would end in 1995), there was no drug-testing program and it would be a full decade before players began being tested for performance-enhancing drug use. Hallinan did not express any interest in talking to the dealer or following up on the information.

The time frame of the FBI conference fell smack in the middle of baseball’s infamous “steroid era,” with such iconic events as the 1998 home run derby between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire, which culminated with McGwire breaking Roger Maris’ single-season home run record. These long-ball extravaganzas were putting fans back in the seats, but the cost was the integrity of the game.

In the early 2000s, there were revelations of steroid/PED use by players, including Ken Caminiti’s 2002 interview with Sports Illustrated, in which he speculated about widespread doping. Congressional hearings followed in 2005 and 2008, the latter featuring seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens pitted against his former trainer, Brian McNamee. Both Clemens and home run king Barry Bonds were tried in criminal trials, Bonds getting convicted on one count, and Clemens being acquitted of all charges. MLB was on the defensive and initially didn’t react well. But that has changed; MLB has taken the initiative and gained the support of the Players Association in the fight against PEDs. They’ve instituted rigorous testing protocols in their drug-testing program, including taking blood samples to test for human growth hormone.

In my view, more importantly, they are not relying on testing alone to ferret out drug use by players. When a Miami New Times report named numerous major leaguers’ PED links to the Miami anti-aging clinic, Biogenesis, MLB attempted to identify the players and get specific information from the newspaper. MLB also sent investigators to Florida and filed a civil suit against Biogenesis, its founder and several others in order to subpoena their records. It appears their aggressive efforts are about to bear fruit. MLB has reportedly convinced Anthony Bosch, the owner of Biogenesis, to name names and supply records. Players could ultimately be suspended, and it appears that the Players Association is in full support of baseball’s efforts.

You would think the baseball commentators and writers would be supportive, too. After all, a few years ago they were chastising MLB for having ignored the PED issue and not taking stronger action. Now, some pundits have said baseball has lost its “war on drugs,” and the large number of players apparently getting steroids from Biogenesis proves it. I would argue that MLB’s dogged efforts and apparent success in identifying the players linked to Biogenesis shows it is beginning to win the war.

I have never been in favor of criminal prosecution of players. They are nothing more than high-profile users. I think MLB is right to aggressively pursue the identification of PED users and then apply the appropriate sanctions. (The standard of proof in an administrative action is considerably lower than in a criminal prosecution.)

Although I warned MLB about the steroid problem almost 19 years ago, and I was concerned that it seemed to ignore the problem, I now commend MLB’s aggressive efforts to continue to rid baseball of performance-enhancing drug use. MLB may never totally eradicate the problem, but it has gone a long way in substantially reducing use. The other professional leagues and the NCAA should take note.

I think Abraham Lincoln’s words are appropriate: “I walk slowly, but I never walk backward.”

 

The History of April 19th: American Revolution, Waco, Oklahoma Bombing

By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

Listen my children, and you shall hear

Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,

On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy Five….

Longfellow’s poem forever immortalized Paul Revere’s ride. What the poem does not say is that Revere’s mission that night was to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that British soldiers were coming to Lexington to arrest them. It was after midnight, April 19th, when Revere arrived in Lexington and warned Adams and Hancock. Revere also aroused the country side, and that morning the “Minute Men” met the British regulars on Lexington green. No one knows who fired the first shot- “the shot heard around the world”. But on that morning, April 19, 1775, the American Revolution began.

Paul Revere/istock photo

Paul Revere/istock photo

In a perverse twist of fate, on April 19, 1993, it is the 51st day of a siege at the Branch Davidian compound, also known as Mt Carmel, outside of Waco, Texas. It is to be the last day of the siege, a culmination of a series of bad decisions and missed opportunities.

The siege began on February 28th. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) had gone to the Davidian compound to execute search warrants. The warrants were based on affidavits stating the Davidians possessed certain illegal weapons to include fully automatic weapons and components to convert semi-automatic weapons into fully automatic. Some of the Davidians were known to have a propensity for violence including their leader, David Koresh, who had changed his name from Vernon Howell. There had been a power struggle a few years earlier within the Branch Davidians and a gun fight had ensued. The history of the Branch Davidians and how they ended up here, led by Koresh is a long story and won’t be told here. Suffice it to say, Koresh became the leader and subsequently claimed to be a messiah, who could procreate with any women followers irrespective of their age or marital status. The group embraced an apocalyptic philosophy, which relied heavily on the Book of Revelation.

The ATF had been surveilling the compound for several weeks prior to the raid from a home across the road. They had also placed an undercover (UC) agent within the Davidians. However, the surveillance was compromised, and at some point Koresh learned of the UC agent. In addition one of the Davidians was the local postman. On the morning of the ATF raid, a TV crew asked the postman for directions to the compound as they had learned there was to be a raid. The postman gave them directions and took the news of the impending raid back to the compound.

The ATF was aware of the Davidian’s potential for violence and obviously knew they had a large stockpile of firearms and ammunition. Consequently the element of surprise was an important aspect of their raid plan. However, surprise was an early casualty. ATF’s leadership was aware their plan had been compromised, but chose to proceed anyway.

waco-branch-davidians

The ATF agents were met at the front door of the compound by Koresh and some of his “Mighty Men” (that’s how Koresh referred to his young male followers). There was a short stand-off . A shot or shots was fired. It has never been determined who fired the first shot-both sides claim it was the other. Whoever fired it, it escalated into a gun battle resulting in the deaths of four ATF agents (16 wounded) and six Davidians. Koresh was wounded along with several of his followers. Thus began the siege of the Branch Davidian compound.

The FBI was given control of the siege. Negotiations between the Davidians and the FBI began and continued throughout the siege. Although the FBI was thrust into a situation not of its making, it learned valuable lessons. Unfortunately many of the lessons were learned from mistakes.

Ultimately it became clear Koresh was not negotiating in good faith. Koresh had said that he would surrender, but he needed to finish his own scripture, something he called the “Seven Seals”. But surreptitiously placed microphones inside the compound had picked up conversations indicating that Koresh was stalling and did not intend to surrender.

The FBI with concurrence of Attorney General Reno and President Clinton decided to pressure Koresh and his followers into surrender by punching holes into the compound walls and injecting tear gas. The conventional way to place tear gas is to fire projectiles containing tear gas into the target area. These projectiles explode on impact and expel tear gas, but this process also produces heat which can result in fire. The method devised for the compound entailed the use of converted tanks to spray the tear gas directly into the holes made in the walls. The error was not how the tear gas was injected, but rather underestimating the potential for mass suicide of an apocalyptic cult. The FBI was warned of this potential, but it was discounted- what person would choose suicide over surrender, not only for themselves, but for their children?

Then there were the fires that ultimately consumed the entire compound. Although a Congressional investigation determined the fires were actually set by the Davidians, the anti-government conspiracy minded will forever believe that they were set or caused by the government. Seventy six Davidians including Koresh died on that day at least twenty of those were killed by self-inflicted gunshot wounds or consensual execution (suicide by proxy). Nine people escaped from the fire and presumably others could have if they wanted. (One woman ran out of the compound and was tackled by a FBI agent to keep her from going back.)

Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber witnessed part of the siege. McVeigh was sympathetic with the Davidians and was outraged that the siege ended in the conflagration and death of Koresh and most of his followers. It’s not clear when McVeigh’s anti-government beliefs began, but those beliefs were growing and becoming an obsession.

Federal Building in Oklahoma at time of explosion/fbi photo

Federal Building in Oklahoma at time of explosion/fbi photo

It’s difficult to encapsulate McVeigh’s philosophy. It was clearly anti-government and became virulently so. It was an amalgamation of white supremacy, anti-Semitism and fear of a “New World Order”, i.e., a belief in a world-wide conspiracy to take over the world and the US Government’s leadership being in league with this conspiracy. If there was an over-riding theme to McVeigh’s beliefs, it was probably his trying to replicate the plot of The Turner Diaries, a 1978 novel written by William Luther Piece (a white supremacist) under the pseudonym Andrew MacDonald. The book depicts a violent revolution in the US ignited by the bombing of the FBI headquarters, which leads to the overthrow of the US Government, nuclear war and ultimately to a race war resulting in the extermination of all Jews and non-whites.

While in the military, McVeigh met Terry Nichols. They became friends and their friendship continued after they left the military. Nichols was a follower and embraced McVeigh’s philosophy and paranoia. After the Davidian compound siege ended, McVeigh began to develop a plan to destroy a Federal Building- an act of retaliation for what had occurred at Waco. Initially the plan was to destroy the building when it was unoccupied, but McVeigh decided he needed to send a stronger message and that would require people to die. Later McVeigh would say, “Kids and women are fair game”.

McVeigh and Nichols plan coalesced into the selection of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City as the target. The plan was to build a bomb and place it in the back of a truck. McVeigh and Nichols researched how to construct a large bomb and experimented with making and detonating explosives at the Nichols’ farm in Decker, Michigan.

In April, 1995, McVeigh, using another name, rented a truck in Junction City, Kansas. McVeigh and Nichols had previously obtained and stored the components for the bomb. In a park outside of Junction City, they assembled the bomb in the back of the rental truck. The bomb consisted 13-55 gal. drums: 9 containing ammonium nitrate (fertilizer) and nitromethane (racing fuel); 4 had fertilizer and diesel fuel. Also with the drums was about 350 lbs of Tovex, a commercial explosive. TheTovex would act as primary or initiator. McVeigh ran 2 fuses from the cargo bay to the cab of the truck. The fuses were attached to blasting caps that would set off the Tovex. The bomb weighed about 4,800 lbs. and cost about $5,000.

Prior to April 19th, Nichols and McVeigh drove to Oklahoma City and parked the getaway car several blocks from the Murrah Federal Building. They then drove back to Junction City. McVeigh stayed at a motel in Junction City. Although McVeigh used another name when he rented the truck, at the motel he used his true name with the Decker farm as his permanent address.

On April 19th, McVeigh drove the bomb laden truck to Oklahoma City. A few blocks from the Federal Building, he lit one fuse. Then just prior to parking the truck at the Federal Building, he lit the back-up fuse. He exited the truck and ran the few blocks to the getaway car. When the bomb exploded, it did so with the force of 5,000 lbs of TNT.

It destroyed the Federal Building and killed 168 people and injured over 700. It also damaged or destroyed 324 other buildings. Among the fatalities were children as the Federal Building housed a child care center on the street level. McVeigh had known of the child care center.

Within hours the FBI had identified the rental truck (from the VIN on an axle that had been blown some distance from the site) and knew it had been rented in Junction City. Agents dispatched to Junction City discovered the truck was rented under a false name, but the same person used a different name, Timothy McVeigh, at a nearby motel. A BOL (BE On The Lookout) bulletin was broadcast, and it was learned McVeigh had been arrested by the Oklahoma State Police driving a car without a license plate. An alert trooper also saw that McVeigh was carrying a concealed handgun. McVeigh was about to be released, but a hold was placed, and FBI agents took him into custody.

Two days later, the FBI went to the Decker farm to execute search warrants. The Detroit FBI SWAT team was sent in first to secure the farm as there was a concern about armed co-conspirators (The extent of the conspiracy was not yet known.) and explosives at the farm. I was one of the SWAT team leaders involved. The farm was operated by James Nichols, Terry’s brother. It was known James had anti-government sentiments, but there was never sufficient evidence to prosecute him for being involved in the conspiracy. The search of the farm did find bomb making materials and evidence bombs had been tested there.

McVeigh had picked April 19th for the bombing because it was second anniversary of the end of the siege at the Davidian compound. It also happened to be the 220th anniversary of that shot heard around the world. When McVeigh was arrested he had a quote from Samuel Adams (one of the men Paul Revere was sent to warn): “When the government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.” Underneath McVeigh had scrawled, “Maybe now there will be liberty.” McVeigh also had pages from the Turner Diaries, the racist/anti-Semitic diatribe masquerading as a novel.

It dishonors our founding fathers when McVeigh and some militias try to cloak themselves in the legitimacy of the men who valiantly fought for our independence and at the same time embrace the ideology of the white supremacy movement. It is perverse to equate what our founding fathers did and endured to establish a Constitutional government with the bombing of a Federal building- killing 168 people, whose only crime was being in or near that building.

The lesson that was learned on April 19, 1995, was that we in law enforcement or as citizens have to take the anti-government movements seriously. Their ideology may seem foolish, historically and theologically spurious, but that does not diminish their potential for harm.

This column was previously  published in ticklethewire.com.

The FBI, Some Gay Murders and a Fingerprint Examiner Named Thurman Williams

ice photo

By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

I was seated, facing Michael Lee Sprague as I interviewed him. We were on the same side of the table. As an FBI agent on the fugitive squad in the Detroit Division, I never liked having anything between me and the person I was interviewing. It was  easier to observe body language, and it didn’t  give the person being interviewed the psychological shield of having an object between them and me.

I was transfixed by Sprague’s eyes. He had just confessed to a double homicide, but his eyes revealed nothing. I knew the aphorism, “The eyes are the windows to the soul.” Sprague’s eyes were more like black holes – they didn’t reflect light they absorbed it.

But how did Sprague come to be arrested and interviewed by the FBI?

The story really begins in Jackson, Tennessee. Sprague was a drifter, and he had met Thomas Menth on the road. They had decided to travel together. In December, 1975, they picked up two gay professors from Bethel College which is near Jackson. They had all gone to a room at the Holiday Inn where Sprague and Menth overpowered the professors. They bound and gagged them, stabbed them multiple times and slit their throats – their throats weren’t just slit, the professors were nearly decapitated.

The murder scene was extremely bloody. When Sprague and Menth left the room, one of them put his hands covered with the victims’ blood on the wall near the light switch. This left impressions of several of his fingerprints from both hands. These prints were” identifiable,” but there was a problem.

There was a common myth at the time probably propagated by the movies and TV, that a fingerprint found at a crime scene could be matched with someone if their fingerprints were on record. The reality was, at the time, fingerprints were classified using all 10 fingers. The US central repository for all the fingerprint records was the FBI Identification Division in Washington, DC. (In 1924, J. Edgar Hoover, the Director of the FBI, was responsible for the establishment of a national repository for fingerprints.)

ice photo

When a person was arrested their inked prints were put on a fingerprint card which had pre-marked spaces for each finger. At the Identification Division, the card was classified by fingerprint examiners using the Henry classification system. Each fingerprint is unique like a snowflake. All fingerprints have common characteristics referred to by terms like loups, arches & whorls. Using these common features with their infinite variations, each of the fingerprints is classified with numbers and letters. These individual classifications are written in sequence determined by the order of the fingerprints on the card. The total sequence of all 10 fingers is the classification.

If an investigator were lucky enough to find an identifiable fingerprint at a crime scene, that is, one that was at least partially classifiable, the investigator could compare the single print to the fingerprints of a suspect. But only if a suspect was developed through investigation, a suspect could not be identified with just the found fingerprint.

Today each fingerprint is digitally classified by a computer. The fingerprints can be electronically transmitted to the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services Division in Clarksburg, W. Va. (the new Identification Division). So a single fingerprint obtained at a crime scene can be immediately sent to the CJISD and within minutes matched with any of the 100s of millions of prints that are on file. Real life crime detection has caught up to the movies.

But in 1975 all the fingerprints were still needed. The Jackson, Tennessee police had 6 or 7 identifiable prints from the wall and because they were found together their sequence was discernible, that is, right index finger next to right middle finger, etc.

The latent prints, those found at the scene, were sent to the FBI. As luck or fate would have it, they were received by a very dedicated fingerprint examiner named Thurman Williams.  Williams  did a partial classification of the latent prints. Using that partial classification, he was able to narrow the possibilities of matching fingerprint cards on file to several thousand. That was assuming the person who left their fingerprints on the wall had their fingerprints on file.

Williams  would set aside time each day to methodically go through the stacks of fingerprint cards that might match the prints from the murder scene. After examining 1,000s of cards, the examiner got a hit. The person who left those bloody fingerprints was Thomas Menth, a petty criminal, who had been arrested before and had his prints on file.

A warrant charging Menth with murder was issued in Jackson. Menth had no reason to believe he was wanted. He had been involved in a double murder in a town he was passing through. No one knew him in Jackson so how could he be a suspect. But Menth was tracked to New Orleans where he was arrested.

Being the “honorable” criminal that he was, Menth quickly gave-up Michael Sprague as the other murderer. A murder warrant and a federal Unlawful Flight to Avoid Prosecution (UFAP) warrant were issued for Sprague. Sprague’s hometown was New Haven, Michigan, so leads were sent to the Detroit FBI office.

We made contact with Sprague’s family and explained his plight. Within a few weeks, Sprague’s mother told us Sprague was back in Michigan and staying at a motel on the eastside of Detroit. We went to the motel and arrested Sprague. He didn’t resist, nor did he question why he was being arrested. We took Sprague back to the FBI office.

I tried to make Sprague comfortable. I knew it was important to illicit a confession from him as the case against him was not strong. It would be nice to say that my outstanding interview technique resulted in Sprague’s confession, but the truth was, he was ready to confess.

He gave us a detailed account of how he and Menth picked up the two professors and took them to the motel room where they killed them. According to Sprague it was never his intent to kill them, only to rob them. He said he didn’t have anything against homosexuals – they were just “easy prey.”

After they had bound and gagged the two men, Menth became agitated and violent. In Sprague’s version, Menth stabbed both men repeatedly and then slit their throats. That level of violence suggested some deep-seated hatred towards the victims. Since neither Sprague nor Menth knew the victims well, the deduction might be that the murderer(s) hated homosexuals.

When Sprague had finished describing the murders and how they had fled from Jackson, my partner, Paul Lindsay, pulled me aside and told me he was going to call the Jackson authorities to advise them Sprague was in custody and had confessed. I would wrap-up the interview.

Sprague told me how, after leaving Jackson, he and Menth began hitchhiking south through Arkansas and Texas. Sprague was telling me about truck stops and some of their rides. I was thinking about finishing the interview.

I knew that when the interview was finished, we would lodge Sprague in the Wayne County jail. He would then be arraigned in federal court, assigned an attorney before being ordered removed to Tennessee. Once he had an attorney, most probably no one would have an opportunity to interview him again.

As I’m thinking about making sure we got it right and looking at his expressionless eyes, Sprague said: “Then we killed the old man in Texas.” I wanted to react calmly so he would think I knew what he was talking about. So I said something like, yeah, tell me about the “old man.” (I knew nothing about a murder in Texas.)

Sprague proceeded to tell me about how he and Menth were picked-up near Sealy, Texas by a man in a newer car. He described the man as a white male in his 50s. The man took them to his apartment in Sealy. The man told them that he owned several movie theaters. Sprague believed the man was a homosexual. At the man’s apartment, Menth took a shower then Sprague took a bath.

After his bath Sprague walked out of the bathroom and saw the old man bound and gagged. Menth was ransacking the apartment trying to find money. When Menth was satisfied he had found all the money, he handed Sprague a filleting knife that Menth kept in his backpack. Menth told Sprague to stab the man. Sprague refused so Menth took the knife and said, “It’s easy.” Menth then “stabbed the old man in the back many times.”

Sprague and Menth took the old man’s car and fled the area. On Interstate 10 near Beaumont , Texas, they abandoned the car and walked to a truck stop. Sprague told Menth he wanted to separate. They split-up and Sprague hadn’t seen Menth since.

I had Sprague write a signed statement. We contacted the police in Sealy and confirmed that they had an unsolved murder matching the one described by Sprague. They also said they had neither suspects nor leads in the case.

So thanks to an extraordinary effort by a fingerprint examiner, three murders were solved that probably wouldn’t have been resolved otherwise. I also believe Sprague and/or Menth would have continued to prey on gay men.

Epilogue: In June, 1977, in Jackson, Tennessee Sprague and Menth were both convicted of 1st degree murder and received life sentences, the maximum they could receive. (At the time of their convictions, the US Supreme Court had ruled that capital punishment was unconstitutional as it had been administered.)

In addition to the FBI national repository of fingerprints, it now maintains a repository of DNA, the National DNA Index System which may ultimately be a greater aid to crime detection than fingerprints.

 

 

 

 

 

 

NCAA Shouldn’t Ignore Steroid Problem

The author (right) Greg Stejksal and late Michigan coach Bo Schembechler

By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

In the summer of 2004, a Senate sub-committee, chaired by Senators Charles Grassley and Joseph Biden held a hearing regarding the prevalence of steroids in sports. I had helped arrange for two of the witnesses who testified at this hearing.

One was Curtis Wenzlaff, a convicted steroid dealer, who had supplied steroids to Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. Wenzlaff had been prosecuted as part of an FBI undercover operation (UCO) targeting illegal distribution of steroids, codenamed Equine.

It was the late Michigan football coaching legend, Bo Schembechler, that urged our FBI office in Michigan to initiate our steroid UCO in 1989. Schembechler was concerned not only about the prevalence of steroids in college football, but indications that performance-enhancing drugs were being used by high school players as well.

During the ’04 hearing, Wenzlaff testified that the short-term incentives for using steroids were perceived by young competitive athletes to be far greater than the potential health risks later in life – the classic Faustian bargain. Wenzlaff testified that among other incentives, athletes would readily use PEDs if the end result were securing a multi-million dollar playing contract.

The other witness I arranged to appear was the “Mystery Man,” which the Daily News dubbed in their coverage of the hearing. The mystery witness was never identified, wore a hood as he entered the hearing room, and had his voice modified electronically. He was a 4-year football player from a prominent Division-I program, whose last season was 2003. The mystery witness testified that “it became evident that many players on my team were using steroids at some time during their career.” One player was supplying seven to eight other players, according to the witness. He also testified that he knew of players on other Div-I teams using steroids.

The NCAA had already begun to recognize there was a problem; in 1996 the NCAA instituted random, year-round testing with relatively stringent penalties for positive tests – a one-season suspension for a first positive test and permanent ineligibility for a second. The tests are, in theory, unannounced, but athletes can often know up to two days’ in advance. (Steroids are generally clear of a individual’s system within 24-72 hrs. Anabolic steroids are a specific type of steroid that promotes muscle growth, and not all steroids are anabolic. Steroids referred to in this column are anabolic.) The NCAA’s current position is that steroid use is no longer a problem with college athletes. In support of their conclusion they point to less than 1% failure rate on their tests.

In a recent Associated Press article about the continued use of anabolic steroids in college football, the report relied on research that catalogued weight gain of different football players. Extraordinary weight gain by athletes can be an indication of steroid use. Citing training experts, the report said, “Adding more than 20 or 25 lbs. of lean muscle in a year is nearly impossible through diet and exercise alone.” The report also relied on interviews of players who admitted to steroid use or knew of other players using steroids.

Steroid use by college football players affects the integrity of the game. It gives those players and their teams a competitive advantage, and it also puts pressure on other players and their teams to use steroids. This “arms war” mentality filters down to high school players thinking they have to use steroids to play at the next level.

Some football programs, while not explicitly, encourage steroid use. Some schools do testing in addition to the NCAA testing. But it is not required to report positive drug test results and penalties vary and are not nearly as stringent as those imposed by the NCAA. This leads to a patchwork of testing with some schools trying to eliminate steroid use and others just making a show of addressing its use.

I think the resolution should be that NCAA institute a much more rigorous testing regimen. That would mean more random testing, and testing for just cause (based on extraordinary weight gain and/or symptoms of steroid use).The NCAA can afford the increased costs associated with these measures. With the NCAA conducting all the testing, it will insure the testing and penalties are uniformly applied.

I saw firsthand what happened when MLB ignored warnings about prevalence of steroid use in baseball in the mid-‘90s. I hope the NCAA doesn’t repeat their mistake.

Santa’s Helper, a Giant Elf, a Cuban Inmate Uprising and the Salvation Army

 
By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

This is a Christmas story, but it really began just before Thanksgiving in 1987, at the Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta.

The Cuban inmates had rioted and had taken control of a sizeable portion of the penitentiary. The catalyst for the riots happened years before that in 1980.

The Mariel boatlift, a massive exodus of Cuban refugees from Cuba to the US, had among its refugees, convicted criminals. Fidel Castro had apparently thought the boatlift was an opportune time to decrease his prison over-crowding.

Upon arrival in the US those Cubans who were determined to be criminals were detained and placed in US penitentiaries with no clear plan as to what to do with them in the long term.

This uncertain future led predictably to unrest and ultimately to the prison riots.

When the inmates rioted and took control of part of the Atlanta Penitentiary, they also took some of the staff hostage.

The FBI was tasked with negotiating with the inmates and providing SWAT teams should it become necessary to retake control of the penitentiary by force and rescue the hostages.

SWAT teams from many of the large offices were called to respond to Atlanta. Our Detroit team was one of those teams.

So on a cold, rainy November night, an Air Force C-141, flying a circuit, landed at Detroit Metro Airport to pick up our team. Already on board were teams from Pittsburgh and Cleveland. We arrived in Atlanta early the next morning.

The Atlanta Penitentiary is a foreboding place. It was built in phases beginning in the late 1800s, into the first few decades of the 1900s.

It has 60-foot walls with watch towers on each corner. Upon our arrival we climbed to the top of one of the watch towers and looked down into the prison yard. It looked like a scene from a post-apocalyptic “Mad Max” movie.

Inmates were walking around the yard, all carrying homemade weapons: long-knives, swords, etc., made from scrap metal and sharpened on some of the prison machine tools.

After seeing that scene, we all assumed we were going to be in Atlanta for awhile. We knew we would prevail if it came to having to use force. After all they had made the critical tactical mistake of bringing knives to a gun fight. But they had hostages and a large supply of non-perishable food in their control.

The next morning I was walking to the Penitentiary administration building for the shift change briefing when I saw a tent where free coffee and Krispy Kreme donuts were being served. It was the Salvation Army tent. The Salvation Army was there every day of the insurrection including Thanksgiving serving coffee, donuts, smiles and kind words. I’ve been on a lot of SWAT operations, but I had never been offered coffee, donuts or kind words from the neighborhood in which we were operating.

Knowing the Salvation Army was there for us, had me thinking that I owed this selfless organization a debt – a pay it forward kind of thing.

The penitentiary insurrection was resolved peacefully after about two weeks. The key factor was that no social order was developed among the inmates just anarchy. They went through several months food supply in days. (There are a lot of good stories from the “siege” of the Atlanta Penitentiary, but those can be told another time.) We all went back to our respective homes.

I didn’t forget the Salvation Army’s generosity. I decided every holiday season for a few hours, I would volunteer to ring the bell and tend the red kettle in my hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Some years later, I was ringing the bell at a local super market with my wife. We had both donned our Santa hats and were wearing the Salvation Army issue red vests. It was snowing lightly, the Christmas lights were shining and Christmas carols were playing on the stores PA system.

We were at one door of the store greeting shoppers and collecting donations in our kettle, when all of a sudden there was a commotion at the other door.

A man ran out of the store. He was closely followed by two other men in white butcher smocks. The men in the smocks tackled the man in the parking lot. They were trying to hold him down, but he was struggling & screaming as they pulled several cuts of meat from under his coat. The erstwhile meat thief continued to yell, flail and kick.

I turned to my wife and said, “I should probably go help them.” I kept flex-cuffs (large heavy duty zip-ties) in my car. I grabbed some flex-cuffs, walked over and knelt next to the struggling man.

He was facing away from me. In my “soothing,” authoritative voice, that I used for arrests and reading someone their rights, I told him, we could let him up, but he needed to let me put these cuffs on him.

The man turned his head to look at me, and his eyes got very big.

I’m about 6’4” and weighed about 235 lbs. I had forgotten I was wearing a Santa hat and a big red vest. After staring at me for a few moments, he asked, “who are you?” I smiled and replied, “I’m Santa’s helper.”

He immediately stopped fighting and struggling. He submissively allowed me to place the cuffs on him. The butchers and I stood him up, and he placidly waited for the police to arrive.

I have often thought there might be some profound Dickens type message to be derived from this incident. I don’t know if the meat thief was stealing prime rib for his family, sort of a protein version of Jean Valjean, or maybe he was planning to host a barbecue at a homeless enclave.

There is certainly some irony in collecting donations for the Salvation Army at one door of a grocery store, and at the same time, to have an economically disadvantaged meat thief fleeing from the other door.

Maybe the message is as simple as, if you’re poor and hungry at Christmas time, there are places other than your local grocery store you can go that care, like the Salvation Army.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

This column first ran last Christmas season. 

3:10 to Marquette: The Manhunt and Capture of Vincent Loonsfoot in the North Woods of Michigan

By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

In the summer of 1988, Vincent Loonsfoot, an American Indian, drove to the Hannahville Potawatomi Reservation near Escanaba, Mich. There he ambushed and shot to death four members of his wife’s family and kidnapped his estranged wife. Loonsfoot then set off into the woods – beginning a highly publicized manhunt through the almost impenetrable forest of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Michigan is made up of two peninsulas, the upper and the lower. The Upper Peninsula extends east from Wisconsin and is bounded on the north by Lake Superior. The Lower Peninsula, the bigger of the two, looks like a mitten. So Michiganders tend to point to their hand when giving directions.

The Lower Peninsula is bounded by Lake Michigan to the west and Lake Huron to the east. The shortest distance between the two peninsulas, the Straits of Mackinac, is where the two lakes meet at the top of the Lower Peninsula. For years the only way to get from one peninsula to the other was by boat or plane. In 1957 the Mackinac Bridge was finished allowing for car and truck traffic between the two.

Although the two peninsulas are now connected, they remain dramatically different. In some ways the U.P. remains the pristine wilderness immortalized in Longfellow’s epic poem, “Hiawatha.” “By the shores of Gitche Gumee….” was Longfellow describing the Lake Superior coast of the U.P.

Vincent Loonsfoot and his wife, Peggy, were living near Baraga on the Keweenaw Bay Reservation. An Ojibwa Indian Tribal Court awarded Peggy sole custody of the Loonsfoot’s 2-year-old daughter, based on a finding that Loonsfoot had repeatedly, physically abused Peggy. Peggy was afraid of Loonsfoot, so without telling him, Peggy moved with their daughter to Escanaba on the south/ Lake Michigan side of the U.P.

Loonsfoot followed her, but not being certain where she was staying, he staked out the home of her brother, David Smith, on the Hannahville Reservation near Escanaba. While waiting for Smith and his family to return, Loonsfoot used cocaine and drank beer. It’s not clear if Loonsfoot had a plan, but when the Smith family came home, he ambushed them. Loonsfoot shot and killed David, his wife and two of the daughters, ages 2 and 11. He wounded a third daughter, Amanda, age 10.

Loonsfoot driving the Smith’s car then forced Amanda to take him to the home where Peggy (Amanda’s aunt) was staying. There Loonsfoot kidnapped Peggy leaving Amanda behind. (Amanda would recover from her wounds.) Loonsfoot drove to a ski area outside of Escanaba where the car stalled. Then Loonsfoot set off into the woods with Peggy who was barefoot and 3 months pregnant. He had no provisions, and only the clothes they were wearing. He did have a .30 caliber lever-action rifle and some knives.

Because the murders had occurred on an Indian Reservation, the crimes fell under federal jurisdiction. The Marquette FBI office was notified. (Marquette is the largest city in the U.P. and is on Lake Superior.) When the Marquette FBI agents were able to assess the situation, they called the main Michigan FBI office in Detroit. It was decided that the FBI SWAT team would be dispatched to the U.P. to conduct the search for Loonsfoot and Peggy.

In the meantime State and County law enforcement were attempting to cordon off the area around Escanaba to keep Loonsfoot from escaping the area. The FBI SWAT team was flown to the U.P. in an Air Force National Guard C-130. I was a SWAT team leader, but was in the midst of a trial in which I was case agent and couldn’t deploy until it was concluded.

The SWAT team was on the ground and searching within 48 hours of the murders/abduction. The trail was cold and the woods extremely thick. Tracking dogs were able to pick up a scent. It appeared Loonsfoot was using railroad right-of-ways, but would periodically go into the woods to avoid detection. Trains leaving the area were searched. Aircraft were also used in the search, but they had not made any sightings.

Loonsfoot seemed to have been moving in a westerly direction from Escanaba. Making the search more difficult, it was the height of the blackfly season and the woods were full of voracious ticks. The SWAT guys made a game of picking ticks off each other at the end of the day – seeing who had collected the most.

There were several possible sightings of Loonsfoot and Peggy by local residents and reports of eggs being pilfered from local farms. Response to these sightings hadn’t resulted in any confirmation of Loonsfoot’s past or present locations.

The search had been ongoing for about a week when my trial ended. The following day I headed for the U.P. It was over 400 miles from my home in Ann Arbor to Escanaba, not as the crow flies, but I had to drive my Bureau car and cross the Mackinac Bridge to get there.

When I arrived in Escanaba, I saw some of the SWAT team guys near the County Fair grounds. I stopped, and they filled me in on the status of the search. They had just finished checking the area based on a sighting, but hadn’t found anything. They directed me to the command post.

At the CP I met with Jerry Craig, the over-all SWAT team leader. Jerry gave me a tour of the area, showing me where the murders occurred and where Loonsfoot had left the car and entered the woods over a week before.

I also learned that the full search would be terminated the following day leaving me in charge with 3 SWAT guys who volunteered to stay: Steve Hancock, Bill Randall and Chuck Smith. We would act as a roving patrol to respond to sightings or other indications that our quarry may be at a location. There was some doubt that Loonsfoot and/or Peggy were still in the area or were still alive. One non-SWAT agent at the CP suggested I be alert for congregations of crows or buzzards as it might be evidence of human carrion. A logical tip until you consider how many dead animals there are in the north woods.

The next day I had a sinking feeling as I watched the C-130 rise from Escanaba airport. I was now in charge of a 3 man team searching for an armed and very dangerous Indian and his hostage somewhere in the vast woods of the U.P. I went back to the CP. All the media and their satellite antenna trucks were gone. I reviewed the maps, checking the locations of the sightings, etc. It did seem most of the recent sighting, if they were accurate, were relatively close to town. But it was difficult to connect the dots.

I went to dinner with my team and explained to them what our mission would be starting in the morning. After dinner we all went back to our hotel knowing we would start early the next day. I had no idea how early.

At about 3 am, I was awakened by a call from an FBI supervisor, who had received a call from the Sheriff’s office. Loonsfoot with Peggy had just walked into the Sheriff’s office. Loonsfoot had indicated he wanted to surrender. I called Bill Randall, and we drove to the SO. The other two SWAT agents would follow as quickly as they could.

There was only one person at the SO, the dispatcher. He was in a room separated from the reception area by protective glass. The dispatcher did not want to leave his enclosure for fear Loonsfoot’s intent was less than honorable.

Bill and I approached the SO carefully. We were able to see Loonsfoot and Peggy sitting placidly on a bench in the reception area. We entered guns drawn and ordered Loonsfoot to the floor. He offered no resistance. We handcuffed and searched him. Loonsfoot was shirtless, and we noted with some satisfaction he was dirty and badly bug-bitten.

We also talked to and searched Peggy just to make sure she hadn’t succumbed to the Stockholm syndrome, when a captive becomes sympathetic with their capturer. Peggy looked very tired, but seemed to be in relatively good shape and relieved her ordeal was over. We had the dispatcher call for medical assistance for her.

Later that morning the agents from Marquette arrived to interview Loonsfoot. They would be handling the federal prosecution. I sat in on the interview as Loonsfoot was my responsibility until we turned him over to the US Marshal.

Loonsfoot matter-of-factly confessed to ambushing and killing the Smith family and kidnapping Peggy. It was as though he was discussing yesterday’s baseball game. He showed no emotion and seemed to have no regret.

He talked about his first day and night in the woods. He and Peggy had walked to a highway rest-stop west of Escanaba. There Loonsfoot waited all night for a car to arrive. If one did stop, he intended to kill the driver and any occupants and take the car. He waited all night for a car, but none stopped. Only an 18-wheeler pulled into the rest-stop, and Loonsfoot didn’t know how to drive a big truck. That truck driver will never know how lucky he was.

Loonsfoot never made it further than the rest-stop. He and Peggy had doubled back and spent the rest of their time on the run near town. He would retrieve scraps of food from garbage. One night when it was raining they slept in a dumpster. Loonsfoot was not a skilled woodsman, just an urban Indian.

During the interview, Loonsfoot looked at me and said: “I saw you a couple of days ago by the County Fair grounds. You were standing by a white car (my Bureau car) and talking to some guys with rifles, wearing vests and helmets. You weren’t wearing a vest or helmet. I had you in my sights and I was going to shoot you. But I knew if I did the guys with the rifles would have got me.”

Like that unknown truck driver, the angel of death had apparently passed me over too.

I asked him where his rifle was. He said it was in a field behind the grocery store not too far from the Fair grounds. At first light, Bill Randall and I drove to field and within minutes found the lever-action rifle. It still had a round in the chamber. That bullet had special significance for me.

When we got back to the SO with the rifle the media had returned as had the hierarchy from the FBI office in Detroit. There was also a crowd of local citizens many of them Indians.

It would be my responsibility to arrange for Loonsfoot’s transfer to Marquette where there was a Federal District Court and a US Marshal who would take custody of Loonsfoot for prosecution. Marquette is about 65 miles north of Escanaba. My concern was for Loonsfoot’s safety. I was feeling like Van Heflin’s character* in the movie, “3:10 to Yuma,” having to transport a notorious bad guy, knowing his gang was waiting to spring him. Only those Indians in the crowd outside didn’t want to help Loonsfoot to escape. They wanted revenge; he had killed most of an Indian family from their community. *In a later version of the movie the character was played by Christian Bale.

My plan was to use 3 vehicles. The two agents from Marquette would be in the lead car as they were familiar with the route. I would put Loonsfoot in the second car with the other 3 SWAT agents who would be armed with automatic weapons. I would be in the tail car with my Remington 870, literally riding shotgun.

I planned to load the cars in a big garage attached to the SO and then just drive out, en-route to Marquette. But I was overruled, as the media wanted a “perp walk” outside. We would just have to put a Kevlar vest on Loonsfoot, walk him to the car and hope there were no Jack Rubys (potential assassins) in the crowd. The whole transport operation went smoothly although I kept thinking about contingencies like a big tree lying in the road portending an ambush.

After turning Loonsfoot over to the US Marshal, we returned to Escanaba. The sense of relief in the town was palpable. There was no longer an armed killer possibly lurking in the woods. We went out to dinner and stayed to celebrate. We didn’t buy our own drinks all night. It seemed like every guy in town wanted to shake our hand and every girl wanted to give us a hug. I felt guilty about accepting this adulation having arrived late to the manhunt, but felt it was my duty to take one for the team.

Epilogue:

In December, 1988, Loonsfoot was tried before a US District Court Judge in Marquette. The Judge found him guilty of 4 counts of 1st degree murder, as well as kidnapping. In February, 1989, Loonsfoot was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole. The Judge could have imposed the death penalty under federal law even though Michigan has never had a death penalty.

Peggy Deleon (formerly Loonsfoot) is remarried and still lives in the Escanaba area. She gave birth to a son with whom she was pregnant at the time she was abducted. He is now 23 years old.

 

 

Thirty Years Later, Carrying on a Tradition: Talking to U of M Football Team About Gambling and Other Matters

The author (right) Greg Stejksal and late Michigan coach Bo Schembechler

By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

 In 1982 legendary Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler called the FBI office in Ann Arbor. Bo wanted the FBI to talk to his team primarily about the perils of illegal sports gambling.

The Senior Resident Agent, Tom Love, agreed to make the presentation. Tom knew I had played (read mostly practiced) college football and asked me to help.

At the time Michigan’s football team was housed in a relatively small one story building that reminded me of a Quonset hut. Michigan’s transition from that modest building to the state of the art facilities they have today is emblematic of the change in Division 1 football in the last 30 years.

In our talk we explained how sports gambling worked. How it’s not about who wins. It’s about covering the point spread. How important it was for gamblers to get inside information as an edge to better divine how a team will perform, and if possible, have a cooperating player or ref with the ability to control the point spread, “point shaving.”

Sports gambling was and is a potential threat to the integrity of sports. The huge amount of money bet illegally in the US on sports is an incentive to gain an advantage in knowing or trying to control the outcome of a game. Recent estimates of the annual amount bet illegally in the U.S. are north of $300 billion.

When I started doing the FBI presentations, a D-1 college team, like Michigan, might be on TV once or twice a year. Now sports programing has become so pervasive that a dedicated fan or gambler can watch just about any game played anywhere in the country.

 

With the increase in TV coverage, sports gambling has also increased. And with the advent of the internet, gamblers have access to more current information and can place bets on-line.

Recognizing the need for educating players, the FBI developed a sports presentation program, and trained agents to address college and professional teams. After my first talk to the Michigan football team, I went through the training and attended periodic conferences with representatives from NFL, MLB, NHL and NCAA.

Over the years I’ve talked to pro and college teams. (I talked to the Michigan basketball teams several times including the “Fab Five” teams. That might have been a case of a failure to communicate.)

Something I didn’t always do, but learned was important, was to ensure that the head coaches stayed during the presentations. If the coaches didn’t think it was important enough to be there, the players would think the same thing.

The FBI program still exists in theory, but priorities have changed. It is no longer as active as it was, although sports gambling is bigger than ever and point shaving scandals continue to surface.

Our first talk with the Michigan football team must have gone well. Bo invited Tom Love and me back the next year. Tom was not as enthusiastic about speaking to the team as I was. So he told me to handle it on my own.

Little did I know that it was to be the “beginning of a beautiful friendship” between Bo and me. It was to have a substantial impact on my career.

Bo and I would work together on several FBI cases – notably the investigation of Norby Walters/Lloyd Bloom, two notorious sports agents who bribed and signed about 20 blue chip college football players while they were still eligible to play college ball. Walters and Bloom post dated the contracts and kept them secret, a clear violation of NCAA rules. Under NCAA rules, once you sign with an agent, your college eligibility ends.

Bo would be the “star” witness in the successful federal prosecution of Walters and Bloom. (Walters had been a New York music agent and had organized crime ties and a NY Mafia family helped finance Walters’ sports operation. It was believed that the ultimate goal of signing so many star athletes was to try to get some of the players in the stable to become involved in point shaving.)

Bo also convinced me –he was very persuasive — to pursue an undercover operation targeting the illegal trafficking of anabolic steroids. That UCO, Equine, was international in scope and resulted in the successful prosecution of over 70 dealers. (I’ve written several stories about Equine.)

Although illegal sports gambling continued to be the primary topic over the years, other concerns were discussed like: drugs, steroids, domestic violence (more specifically don’t beat-up your girlfriend) and recently the improvident use of social media. Obviously social media can also be a source of inside information for gamblers – makes you wonder how many star players’ twitter followers are professional gamblers.

The topics may have changed, but the message never really did. The common theme was using good judgment, having good values and making good decisions.

Bo had a concept of a “Michigan Man” (not meant to be gender specific). A Michigan Man not only demonstrated traditional values like integrity, honor and responsibility, on the field, but he/she lived them.

When Bo retired in 1989, I continued to talk to the Michigan football teams.

Later I was fortunate to become friends with Lloyd Carr during his 13 year tenure as Michigan coach. Lloyd reminded me of Jimmy Stewart, whereas Bo was more like George C. Scott playing General Patton. Both men led by example and practiced the values they taught.

During four of the seasons Lloyd coached (2000-03), my son was a walk-on. Those presentations were special for me. When I spoke to those teams, I was not only a FBI agent speaking to Michigan’s football team, but a father seeing his son in a group of men representing a program that I had come to respect.

This week I will again talk to the Michigan football team. Brady Hoke is Michigan’s coach now.

Before leaving to be head coach at Ball State and San Diego State, Brady was an assistant at Michigan under Lloyd Carr for 7 years (1995-2002). Brady has embraced the traditions of Michigan and the concept of the Michigan Man.

It is Michigan’s 133rd football season, and it will be my 30th year.

The topics have changed. There are still the perils of illegal sports gambling, but now there are the issues of social media: texting, sexting, twittering, etc. New problems, but the message stays the same: making good choices based on good values.

I always end my talks with a quote attributed to John Wayne: “Life is tough. It’s tougher if you’re stupid.”

Now More Than Ever I Believe Bo Schembechler Would Have Done Right Thing in Penn State Scandal

The author (right) Greg Stejksal and Michigan coach Bo Schembechler

By Greg Stejskal
ticklethewire.com

Last November I wrote a column about how I thought legendary Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler would have handled the Penn State scandal.

Since then Joe Paterno was fired and subsequently died from cancer. Jerry Sandusky was convicted of 46 of 48 counts of sexual child abuse involving 10 boys.

Now the results of an independent investigation, the Freeh report, have been released.

As I had speculated in my column, Joe Paterno knew of allegations of Sandusky’s sexual child abuse as early as 1998. He apparently forced Sandusky to “retire” from the PSU coaching staff (after the 1999 season), but gave him a unique severance package including $168,000 and the designation Assistant Professor Emeritus – thus, allowing Sandusky continued, unrestricted access to Penn State athletic facilities.

This makes Paterno’s actions and inaction in 2002 all the more indefensible. When confronted with an eyewitness account of Sandusky sexually abusing a child in a shower at the PSU football facility, Paterno passed the report to his superiors.

But rather than actively pursue it, Paterno counseled that the allegations not be reported to law enforcement or child welfare services.

Paterno was an active participant in the cover-up. Then he lied about it under oath.

I am more certain now that faced with the situation that occurred at Penn State, Bo Schembechler would have handled it differently from the beginning, and it would not have ended like this.

Here is the column as it appeared last November:

“Do the Right Thing –Always,” Bo Schembechler

I want to preface this by saying, I was an admirer of Joe Paterno and Penn State football, which in my adult life have been synonymous. I don’t know Joe Paterno, but I know that he has been head coach at Penn State for 46 years and has been extremely successful, winning 409 games and two national championships.

Paterno achieved this seemingly without compromising sound values. His players were encouraged to be student-athletes with equal emphasis on the student part.

 

The football program’s slogan was “success with honor.” All of that including Paterno’s legacy is in jeopardy.

There was a seamy underside to all that success, Jerry Sandusky. Sandusky played for Paterno then became a coach. Ultimately he was Penn State’s defensive coordinator (the face of Linebacker U).

He was characterized as Paterno’s heir apparent. But if numerous allegations are to believed, Sandusky was, at least, as far back as the mid 90s, a child molester – using his position and its status to sexually abuse young boys.

Sandusky’s alleged transgressions go beyond despicable, but the issue for Paterno is what did he know, when did he know it and what did he do about it.

According to the report of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury, that was investigating the allegations against Sandusky, in 1998 the Penn State police conducted an investigation regarding allegations that Sandusky was in involved in the molesting of young boys.

The case was presented to the local prosecuting attorney, but no charges were brought as a result of that investigation. (It is difficult to believe a case could be presented to the prosecutor without Paterno being aware of the investigation.) Coincident with the conclusion of that investigation, Sandusky was informed by Paterno that he would not be Paterno’s successor as head coach. Following the 1999 football season, at the age of 55, Sandusky retired from the Penn State coaching staff.

I don’t know what caused Sandusky’s precipitous fall from grace, but the timing, at best, seems curious.

Although Sandusky was no longer on the Penn State coaching staff, he was still a member of the PSU faculty. He remained an Assistant Professor of Physical Education Emeritus with full access to Athletic Department facilities and other perks.

 

According to the Grand Jury report, March 1, 2002, Mike McQueary, a PSU football graduate assistant (now the wide-receiver coach) saw Sandusky sodomizing a young boy in the shower area of the football building. McQueary knew Sandusky and was shocked and unsettled, but on the following day he reported what he had seen to Paterno.

Paterno then told the Penn State Athletic Director, Tim Curley, of McQueary’s eyewitness account. Later McQueary would be interviewed by Curley and Penn State Senior Vice-President, Gary Schultz. It is not clear what further actions were taken as to Sandusky, but it is clear this incident was never reported to the police or child welfare authorities. Nor apparently was any action taken to identify the young boy or ascertain his welfare.

Sandusky retained his Assistant Professorship (He was listed in the faculty directory as recently as last week.) and his access to University facilities. According to the Grand Jury report, Sandusky’s abuse of young boys continued after 2002.

So did Paterno fulfill his responsibility as head football coach and as Sandusky’s former boss?

I don’t think it can be overstated the prestige and sheer clout that Paterno has at Penn State, but for whatever reason, he apparently never used any of that to further pursue the Sandusky matter or to inquire about the welfare of the alleged victims.

In comparison, I pose the hypothetical question: What would Bo Schembechler have done?

Bo is a man I did know. Bo was a legendary football coach at Michigan from 1969-1989 and a peer of Paterno.

To the best of my knowledge, Bo never had to deal with any of his staff being alleged child molesters. He did have situations that required staff and players having to take responsibility for their acts even if it might reflect badly on Michigan, a place he loved and revered.

In 1987, the FBI was investigating two sports agents, Norby Walters and Lloyd Bloom, who had ties to organized crime. Walters and Bloom had worked up a scam where they bribed blue-chip college football players to sign post-dated, secret, agency contracts while they were still eligible to play college football – a clear violation of NCAA rules. Ultimately some of the players balked, threats were made by Walters and Bloom, and the whole thing fell apart.

Players who had signed the contracts were identified. They were all star players on prominent college teams. Two of the players were on Bo’s 1986 Michigan team.

When Bo found out, he was livid. He called one of the players, Garland Rivers, an All-American DB, into the office and had Rivers tell him the whole story. Then Bo called me.

When I got to Bo’s office, Bo told Rivers “Tell this FBI agent everything about your relationship with Norby Walters.” Bo could have distanced himself and Michigan from the investigation. Michigan would have been just one of many major football programs victimized by Walters and Bloom. But that wasn’t Bo. Damage control doesn’t mean hiding from the truth. It means taking responsibility for your actions and trying to rectify the mistakes.

Walters and Bloom had enticed his players to break the rules. They had besmirched Michigan. Bo knew he had to take a stand and do what he could to protect future players from illicit agents. Later when Walters and Bloom went on trial in Federal Court for racketeering and fraud, Bo testified. He was the star witness. His testimony was so strong, the defense declined to cross exam him. Walters and Bloom were convicted. What had been a dark moment in Michigan football history was a comeback win as important as any that had occurred on the field.

So what would Bo have done if faced with an assistant coach who was allegedly molesting young boys. We’ll never know for sure, but I’m certain that he wouldn’t have just reported the allegations to his boss and done nothing else. Bo would have made sure the police were aware of the allegations. And that assistant coach would not have had access to Michigan athletic facilities or be emeritus anything.

It has been said that Paterno fulfilled his legal responsibility by reporting the allegations to the Penn State AD. However, it would seem he did not fulfill his moral responsibility by making sure the allegations were pursued and, thus, protecting potential future victims. We may never know why Paterno failed to pursue the Sandusky matter further.

Perhaps Paterno didn’t do more out of a misguided effort to protect the reputation of Penn State, but if that was the motive, far more damage has been done to Penn State’s reputation than would have been done had this matter been fully confronted in 1998 or 2002.

Bo did not see degrees of honor and integrity. You either did the right thing or you didn’t – half way was unacceptable.