Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Outrageous Abuse of Power

This posting is a rant against abuse of power by a federal agent with a personal religious bias and the unchecked ability to abuse his power. It is by far the longest post I’ve ever put up.

A good friend, Al Imhoff, died recently of natural causes in his motor home in Apache Junction, AZ. He was 71, bad heart, bad lungs, drank in excess, and smoked. His death wasn’t unexpected. R.I.P. Al.

My friend, Al Imhoff, had his life turned upside down by FBI agents. At the end of June 2009, he became a “person of interest” in the disappearance of ten year old Lindsey Baum of McCleary, WA.  A Goggle search will pull up many pages.

One of Al’s grandchildren was in the same school  and the same grade as the girl. McCleary is a very small town. This grandchild is known for a wild imagination (tells lies). He told Al some things about this girl, things she had said at a neighborhood gathering, that Al believed the police should know. He took his grandson to the police station and made sure the Chief and his two man force had the information.

There is much to tell and no good way to tell it; just putting it in print will have to suffice.

Al lived alone, in a motor home, at a county ORV park several miles from McCleary. He exchanged security guard service and some custodial work for a stipend and a place to live in his RV.

The time line of the girl’s disappearance is fairly well established. During this period, Al,  and other park employees, were ushering out customers and securing the premises. After the place was locked up, Al went to his parked motor home for the rest of the night.

The McCleary Police Chief asked for help. First, the Greys Harbor County Sheriff office and state agencies. The FBI came in a few days late

Al had spent time in a Catholic orphanage as a young boy. He, and others, were subjected to severe abuse. A few, as adults,  finally decided to sue. They approached Al. He wasn’t terrible interested but wanted to show solidarity with his fellow orphans.  To him it was never about the money.  He told me more than once, “I would settle for $25 and a written apology”.

A few days into the investigation, the Sheriff’s deputies came calling. No search warrant. Al cooperated; let them look around.

The next day, the FBI arrived. They took his computer, .22 rifle, several hundred DVDs, digital camera, and busted up the interior of his motor home; wanton vandalism. Instead of opening a cabinet door, they tore it open with pry bars. Still no search warrant. Two days later the county did use a search warrant (illegible judge’s signature and no typed name) to seize his car.

A few days after taking his car, he was allowed to pick it up. The interior was torn up. One bonus was all the dog hair from his Cocker Spaniel was vacuumed.

Al was subjected to several interrogations. He cooperated because a little girl was missing. Seems Al was the only one focused on the most important issue. He wanted her found.  He wanted the “authorities” to stop wasting time and resources on him and cooperated so they wouldn’t waste valuable time looking at him. Finally, he had enough, and refused to cooperate further.

A big deal was made of Al, one time, buying ice cream from the ice cream truck, driving down the street his grandson lived on,  for his grandson and some of the grandson’s friends. The girl may, or may not, have been one of the kids getting ice cream.

A law enforcement officer told Al that he, Al, was seen talking to the girl the day before at the local library.  We all know law enforcement would never tell a lie, right?  Al had been at the library that day to return some books.  He didn’t recall talking to anyone except the librarian. He was there for just a few moments; long enough to drop off some books.

The FBI took his legal papers, including the orphanage lawsuit. The lead FBI dude let Al know that he, Mr. FBI, was a practicing Roman Catholic. Further, he let Al know how he felt about anyone suing the church. Alone with Al, he flat told him he would find something to nail Al on.

We all have a few important papers. Birth Certificate, DD 214, VA papers, tax returns, etc. Imagine losing all of them.

The county supervisors panicked and fired Al. He lost his job and a place to park his home.

Other than his car, none of Al’s property has ever been returned.

Al spent a large portion of his life as a professional soldier. He was a decorated Special Forces NCO who went on to what is referred to today as “special operations.”  Among other things, he was a Selous Scout (Rhodesia).   The big bad FBI agent browbeating Al,  in Al’s own residence, didn’t  know how close he was to death. Al sat there thinking of ways to kill him. Have no doubts that Al had the skills to do it.

No question Al made a good looking suspect. The authorities needed to check him out. No question he wasn’t in McCleary from early morning to late in the evening. No question where he was during the time the girl vanished. No question he couldn’t be in two places at once.  No question there were several witnesses as to Al’s whereabouts.  These included other ORV park employees and ORV park patrons being ushered out at closing time. Al was with some of these people from mid morning until nearly 10 p.m. Could he have, days before, made arrangements to meet the little girl that night?  Unlikely. Competent police work should have answered that question.

Al took two polygraph tests. He was told he “failed” them. Again, we know the FBI never lies.

Al supposedly had access to a “backhoe”. There was a large backhoe at the ORV park. Al had a hard time starting and driving a motor home,  let alone heavy machinery.

I think something like this went down among the FBI agents. “What the hell, he looks good for it, we are catching a lot of heat so lets break him and spin it to the press.  Find the little girl? Oh, well.”

For weeks Al lived with the thought he might be killed by the FBI. Maybe driving into town, being stopped on the way, and getting killed in a staged gunfight. The press is told, “We have good evidence and tried to arrest him. Sadly, he threatened our officers. Now he can’t tell us where he put the body.”  Plausible? He lived for months in Condition Orange.

Other suspects?  Her mother isn’t a candidate for Mother of the Year. The man she lived with creeped out  the kids in the neighborhood. The little girl talked to other kids more than once about running away.  Strong indicators she was being abused. Absent biological father. The little girl was living in what is best described as a white trash life. Alcohol, drugs, filthy trash filled house, etc.

The innuendos against Al’s good name were so bad his daughter and grandchildren moved to another county. Al wasn’t comfortable going to McCleary for groceries or an occasional restaurant meal and moved to another town in the area.  It took him some time to find a place to park he could afford. The financial strain nearly overwhelmed him.

The FBI pounced. Al was accused of having “child porn” on his computer.  He had bought the computer used. He had let others use the computer. Al was a very generous person. Who knows what a previous owner, or an acquaintance using the computer, had accessed. This was the computer taken with out a search warrant but, supposedly, with his permission.

By the end of the first month, the local police and sheriff deputies weren’t talking to the FBI. The Fan Belt Inspectors heavy handed tactics turned the locals off to the point the wait staff at the local restaurants refused to accept tips from them and suggested they find somewhere else to eat. Not the FBI’s finest hour, to be sure.

What is most disturbing is there seems to be no FBI accountability.
They can behave as they please and no one calls them on their behavior.

Al never went on the offensive. He didn’t want anything to distract from the search. Imagine, if you will, a trained Special Forces Southeast Asia veteran starting an agitation/propaganda operation in a small, rural, town, with an anti government predisposition (forestry, fisheries, spotted owl, constant urban “greenies” interference, etc.) and high unemployment. Wouldn’t that have been interesting!

Now I’m not naive. Al had some sexual kinks. He had scores of sex partners in his life. He liked them young and skinny, but always of legal age. I never picked up on a S&M vibe. He enjoyed taking explicit pictures. I also know the “facts” I have are seen through filters and colored by my personal friendship.

Al received a substantial settlement from the church, along with others, and used part of the proceeds to buy a nice older Prevost Motor home. He then hit the road.

On July 25, 2012, while going in for a hernia operation at the Phoenix VA Hospital, Al was arrested. Multiple officers, proned out at gun point, and handcuffed. He was arrested by local police on the behalf of the FBI. Oh, his Jeep, dog, and Motor home? One local cop did make a call to one of Al’s friends for him. Probably violated regulations doing so. The friend managed to secure Al’s property, and find a home for “Princess”. During the time Al was in jail his Motor home was ransacked.

He didn’t see a judge until 8/31/12. He didn’t see a lawyer for four months. He was moved around from jail to  jail; Florence, AZ, Las Vegas, and finally Tacoma while not being allowed any outside contact or telephone calls.  While being held, he was treated like the Unibomber. Solitary, thin mattress, no pillow, no books, yellow jump suit, and shackled wherever he went. Finally, he was charged with child pornography and bail was set at $250,000. A friend posted his bail. Out on bail, he wore an ankle monitor and was on close supervision by the probation officers. He didn’t go to trial until the next spring.

Al’s resources were being depleted, but he was able to hire a lawyer. The lawyer found out the FBI had taken Al’s charges to four different judges until they found one who would sign for his arrest. That was the last good thing that the lawyer accomplished. All he ever brought Al was one plea bargain offer after another. Al’s friends, including me, urged him to go to trial. Finally, exhausted and wanting closure, he agreed to plead to a Misdemeanor and be on lifetime probation.

At this time, the prosecutors told Al he was no longer a person of interest in the Lindsey Baum case; he had been “cleared”.

Seems there are  levels of probation, and all kinds of ways probation officers can make you jump through hoops. Al got their full press.

Living in an RV Park in Apache Junction, AZ, Al was contacted by the Apache Junction police. Convinced they had a major predator on their hands, they told Al what their plans for him were. Al presented his case to them. They checked it out, discovered they were being bullshitted by the Feds, and put an end to the major harassments. This was just a few weeks ago.

Throughout this ordeal, what hurt Al the most was the loss of his reputation. Internet searches have sites now that posted raw, unedited internal police documents of the Lindsey Baum case. Al doesn’t look good in some of them. Fact is, he was often a damned fool. Still, that is not a crime.

The pain all this caused Al’s daughters and grandchildren must be considerable.

Consider the amount of our taxpayer money spent on this,  and for what? Guess it shows what a pissed off  FBI agent can do to a citizen.

Speaking of damned fools, how smart am I in posting this? Oh,  that’s right, I am a well seasoned fool. Damned if I will self censor.

Should any federal agent read this, consider this. You need to clean your own  house. If all of you won’t respect the rights of your fellow citizens, why should any of us citizens respect you?


Old NFO said...

Closer and closer to a police state...

Ami said...

This is an utterly horrible story.
What an awful thing to happen to the guy. It sounds like he was no angel (which of is???) but that he was a decent person who got shafted.

What a shameful way to treat a person.

Anonymous said...

I certainly hope that the Fan Belt Inspectors get their "due". I never met Al, talked to him on the phone a couple of times, but know how much his friendship meant to WSF. This has been an utter travesty of "justice". The harassment that he endured probably took several years off of his life. Shame, Shame, Shame!!!


Well Seasoned Fool said...

Yes. That is why I put up this post.

Well Seasoned Fool said...

Talked to one his daughters. Seems the FBI came to her house while she was at work and talked to her kids. Months later, they talked to her ex husband. About the same time Child Protective Services visited her home.

Well Seasoned Fool said...

His health was bad, so who knows? For sure, the quality and enjoyment of his life was destroyed. Like the abuse her suffered as an orphan was revisited as an adult.