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Murder of Colonel Sabow
NEW REVELATIONS IN DEATH OF COL SABOW
HIGHLY-DECORATED MARINE AT EL TORO WAS
"MURDERED" SAYS EX-CIA CONTRACT PILOT WHO
FLEW GUNS AND DRUGS INTO CALIFORNIA MCAS
"SOMEONE KILLED SABOW AND STAGED CRIME TO
LOOK LIKE A SUICIDE," MIKE JACOBS, FORMER
CHIEF OF ORANGE COUNTY DA'S HOMICIDE SQUAD
DISCLOSES - BREAKS 15-YEAR SILENCE TO COME
FORWARD WITH FACTS ON WHAT HAPPENED TO
MARINE OFFICER - SAYS SOMEONE COVERING UP
HOW AND WHY COLONEL WAS "SUICIDED"
It's been 15 long years since Col. James Sabow was shotgunned to death in the backyard of his quarters at El Toro Marine Corps Air Station in California, but at last, the remaining pieces of the puzzle are finally falling into place.
MilitaryCorruption.com has learned two men have come forward to say they believe the highly-decorated USMC pilot was killed. One, a former CIA contract pilot, who admits he once ran guns and drugs into the now shutdown installation; the other, a former chief of the Orange County District Attorney's Homicide Squad.
The pilot, William "Tosh" Plumlee, says "Sabow was murdered," while top cop Mike Jacobs calls the military investigation a "whitewash" and flat-out declared "someone killed Sabow and staged the crime to look like a suicide."
MAINTAINING THE LIE - WHY WON'T THE MARINE CORPS COME CLEAN?
The latest revelations in the bizarre death of one of the Marine Corps best pilots of the Vietnam War, puts the top brass in an untenable position. To admit that justice was not served in 1991 and the official story that Sabow committed "suicide," (see our "related stories box" below for full details on the case), would greatly hurt the Corps' public image. However, to continue to "deny and lie" in the face of overwhelming circumstantial and forensic evidence the death had to be a homicide, could damage the Marines even more in the long run.
There's a famous saying in the Corps that "no wounded is ever left behind." What then, shall we do about an outstanding senior officer like Col. Sabow, who flew over 200 missions over North Vietnam in an A-6 Intruder? Isn't it about time the Marines admit a terrible crime was covered up and Sabow lost his life because he was about to "blow the whistle" on drug-running activities at the once-bustling military air station? We think so.
The Marines certainly owe that much to Sally, Col. Sabow's widow, as well as his family, including the dead officer's loyal brother, Dr. David Sabow, who has waged a long and courageous battle to find out the truth of what really took place.
WEEKLY NEWSPAPER REPORTER DIGS OUT THE DETAILS
Most of the media have forgotten the Sabow case by now, but one enterprising reporter has been instrumental in digging out the facts in this matter and locating both Plumlee and Jacobs. That man is Nick Schou. In a series of hard-hitting articles in the Orange County Weekly(www.ocweekly.com) he has expertly laid out the details of how the colonel was "suicided." When the truth is finally known, and the USMC apologizes to the Sabow family for putting them through an unspeakable hell, Schou is a sure bet for a top journalism award.
We too, at MilitaryCorruption.com, have been absolutely determined, over the past six years, in exposing how the military covers up murders and calls them "suicides" when a real investigation might prove embarrassing and inconvenient. Whether it's the strange death of USAF Col. Philip Shue in Texas, or the obvious slaying of Navy Chief Petty Officer Tom Traylor in California, and we have investigated both cases at length, our findings to date can be found using the "search" button under the masthead of MilitaryCorruption.com on the web site's "jump page."
It is unconscionable that the Pentagon would allow these abuses to continue. Not only is the reputation of fine men and women besmirched by labeling their suspicious deaths "suicide" when the evidence points elsewhere, but the families of the deceased are also victimized - sentenced to a lifetime of pain and humiliation, as well. This must stop. An honest accounting of what's happened so far is remote, however, as long as a slimy megalomaniac and political neo-CON like Donald Rumsfeld continues to disgrace the office of secretary of defense.
COMING FORWARD TO SPEAK OUT AT LAST
Plumlee was too scared to talk to investigative reporter Schou when the California newsman first contacted him in 1996.
The fear in the pilot's voice was noticeable as he stammered into the telephone, "I can't talk to you, this is all classified."
The veteran CIA contract pilot from Panama City, Fla.said he might go straight to federal prison if he talked. But that was then, and this is now. His children are through college and the nearly 70 year-old expert at jockeying a loaded aircraft in and out of tight spots around the globe was at last ready to give his views on how Col. Sabow died.
"There was talk about drugs going into El Toro," Plumlee said. "A lot of pilots talked about it." He told Schou crates of weapons were unloaded off his unmarked plane at El Toro and the cases could have easily contained drugs.
As to Sabow, known as a straight arrow who would tolerate no misconduct of any type on his watch and would certainly turn in fellow Marines if he suspected they were involved in drug smuggling, Plumlee confirmed the colonel was high in the chain-of-command at El Toro when the special flights took place.
"There's no way he couldn't have known about it, he would have had to have been briefed. I think he was murdered."
A TOP HOMICIDE INVESTIGATOR BREAKS HIS 15-YEAR SILENCE
Jacobs suspects foul play as well, and he was in a key position to know.
"I've always believed that someone killed Sabow in broad daylight and staged the crime to look like a suicide," he told the Orange County Weekly. While the veteran cop won't guess as to why Sabow was murdered - he says his investigation "never went that far" - he says "somebody is covering up a cold-blooded murder."
"After you look at the evidence, it's quite compelling that it wasn't a suicide," Jacobs said. "It looked to me . . . like a whitewash and possible cover-up. Why won't the government do something? This guy (Col. Sabow) was an honorable man with a good military record, and to sweep what happened to him under the carpet really says something about our government."
Jacobs is highly-skilled at working homicide cases. He's conducted more than 250 of them in his long career and contends the crime scene photos (which MilitaryCorruption.com has seen) "suggest foul play."
A "STAGED" CRIME SCENE AND A COVER-UP OF MURDER
"Even an amateur would view the scene as staged. A person who shoots himself with a shotgun does not fall forward," Jacobs said. "The manner in which the weapon was found underneath him and the positioning of the hands and the chair - the whole thing looked staged."
[In our earlier stories, MCC pointed out the colonel's fingerprints were nowhere on the weapon he supposedly used to fire the fatal round into his mouth. There was a large amount of aspirated blood found in the colonel's lungs - meaning Sabow had to have taken a few deep breaths after shooting himself in the head. Dr. David Sabow and other neurological experts who reviewed the evidence said those breaths would be impossible for a man like the colonel, whose brain stem - including the medulla - had been destroyed in the shotgun blast. The shocking lack of blood at the scene suggest the officer had been knocked out and was lying on the ground when the shotgun was fired. X-ray photographs showed a depressed skull fracture, suggesting the colonel had been struck from behind.]
Jacobs told Schou one of his former detectives, a Marine Corps veteran with decades of experience investigating homicides, agrees Sabow was murdered. But the detective has asked to remain anonymous. What he told Jacobs was revealing: "There's no evidence Sabow was suicidal," he said. "There's no suicide note . . . nobody at Naval Investigative Service conducted the investigation as a homicide. They immediately treated it as a suicide."
Why? To conceal the fact that a USMC colonel had been murdered in the backyard of his own living quarters at El Toro MCAS? Perhaps it was to cover-up drug-trafficking that was going on and believed to be known about at the highest levels of the Marine Corps.
"AM I MY BROTHER'S KEEPER?" A SALUTE TO DR. DAVID SABOW
In the Book of Genesis, the Old Testament, in the Holy Bible, the story is told of Cain and Able. The first-born of Adam and Eve, the brothers quarreled when Cain grew jealous of Able's favor in the eyes of God.
The evil Cain slew his sibling with a rock and hid the body. It was the first murder in recorded history. When God asked Cain where Able was, Cain replied: "Am I my brother's keeper?"
We honor Dr. David Sabow here, a man who never lost his love for his slain brother, Col. James Sabow, and who, someday, will be blessed with solving this case and bringing those responsible to justice.
Confined to a wheelchair and in poor health, the South Dakota-based physician never loses sight of his ultimate goal. Even faced with threats to his life, the determined and dedicated Midwesterner refuses to back off.
He has spent many thousands of dollars out of his own pocket trying to get to the bottom of the case. Dr. Sabow has had to endure indignities unspeakable from politicians, phony "investigators," opportunists, and out-and-out liars who have tried to block his path every step of the way.
We are inspired and awed by this man's courage and high degree of character. If you, dear reader, had a brother with even a part of the loyalty and devotion this man has shown, you can call yourself blessed indeed.
MilitaryCorruption.com "salutes" Dr. David Sabow as a unique American who gives us all hope in knowing there are still people of his caliber that exist. May God bless him and lead him to ultimate victory.
by David Hoffman
On January 14, 1991, Colonel James E. Sabow, 51, was named Acting Chief of Staff of Marine Corps Air Operations for the Western United States. Eight days later he was found at his home at El Toro Air Station, killed by a shotgun blast to the head.
Like Admiral Boorda, he left behind a wife and two children.
And, as in the case of Admiral Boorda, the Marine Corps and the NCIS claimed that Colonel Sabow took his life because he was despondent over an investigation of a minor infraction: whether he took some stereo equipment and household items to his son while making a routine flight onboard a military plane.[*]
Yet Sabow suspected that there was more than just the alleged misuse of aircraft. He and his friends in the Corps found it rather absurd that Marine Headquarters would consider the matter of such importance that they would jeopardize the operations of this strategic base during “Operation Desert Shield.” At least some of the allegations levied against Sabow (and his neighbor, Colonel Joseph Underwood, Chief of Staff at El Toro at the time) were of a type that were considered trivial and “common practice” among the military flying community. In fact, retired Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Major General J.K. Davis said that any pilot who had ever flown in the military would be “canned” had they been held to the same standards as the allegations against Colonel Sabow.[*]
General David Shuter gave a glowing eulogy of Colonel Sabow, in which he described him as a man “without compromise,” one of the few who could give himself fully to the Corps and country and simultaneously to his family. He also described Sabow by all those in the Corps who knew him as the “straightest of straight arrows.”
Sabow’s family asserts that “Jimmy” Sabow - a dedicated, discipline Marine and family man - would not kill himself. “He was a fighter, and I don’t see how he could just change like that,” said his 17-year-old daughter, Deirdre.
Sabow’s attorney, Captain Paul McBride, wrote that “Colonel Sabow was in a state of high anxiety; however he never displayed hysteria or irrational behavior.”[*]
Sabow’s brother, David, a South Dakota neurosurgeon, didn’t buy the suicide story. If the Colonel killed himself, his brother wanted to know, why did X-rays show a swollen area on his head, a possible sign that he had been struck?[2*] As Dr. David Rubinstein, a radiologist from Denver’s University Hospital writes:
“The depressed skull fracture... is not likely to have resulted from the shotgun blast. What caused the depressed fracture is open to speculation. It is unlikely to have occurred if the patient fell backwards and struck the ground.”
Since the shotgun blast severed Colonel Sabow’s brain stem - which Dr. Sabow and other forensic pathologists say would have ended breathing instantly - why was there a large amount of blood in his lungs?
And if Sabow put the shotgun in his mouth and pulled the trigger, why, as in the case of Vince Foster, was there no blood on the gun? As Martin L. Fackler, a world renowned wound ballistics expert, writes:
“The position of the shotgun (under his body) and the lack of gross blood on the front of the white garments that Col. Sabow was wearing at the time of his death make suicide appear, to me, unlikely....”
Since none of Sabow’s fingerprints were found on the gun or the shell casings, his wife and brother became highly suspicious.[6*]
As Fackler adds:
“One of the reasons given, however, for the lack of fingerprints - that the barrel gets so hot that any fingerprints on it would be burned off - is simply absurd. This is within my area of expertise: I have handled many shotguns immediately after they have been fired - the barrels are not even hot to the touch.”[7*]
According to standard police procedure, all shootings are supposed to be treated as “suspicious” until proven otherwise. Yet before the autopsy report was even complete, the Provost Marshal and the NCIS ruled that Colonel Sabow had committed suicide. This ruling was made within minutes, even before forensic evidence or ballistic reports were available![*]
Contrary to policy, the Orange County Coroner was summoned to participate in the investigation and to conduct the autopsy.[8*] By law, either a Navy pathologist or his representative must be present, and the autopsy results would have to have been reviewed by the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP). Yet neither the AFIP nor the regional military forensic pathologist were invited to participate in the examination nor review the autopsy report.[*]
“All of these laws were broken,” says Dr. Sabow. “Not one of these procedures were followed.... The NCIS and the Marine Corps refused to give me certain information that obviously I should have been privy to: the autopsy report, the NCIS’s preliminary findings, fingerprint evidence, ballistic evidence, etc., etc.... I was stonewalled and told I could not have the autopsy report. That generated even more suspicion....”
Sabow subsequently sought the help of his government - a government he believed existed to “serve and protect” the rights of its citizens.
“I tried to obtain the help of the military, the Marines, the NCIS, the FBI, Justice Department, my Senators, Congressmen, you name it,” says Sabow, “and I was totally shut down....”[10*]
Within 12 hours of granting an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Dr. Sabow was called by General Tom Adams, the commander of El Torro.
“Adams had been informed by NCIS agent Cheryl Baldwin through her supervisor, Mike Barrett, that I intended to go to theLA Times because I was not satisfied with the conduct of the investigation.”
As a condition of the meeting, Sabow asked that Colonel William Lucas, the Staff Judge Advocate, General David Shuter and General J.K. Davis, retired Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps be present. Adams agreed.
Yet when Sabow got to the meeting, Lucas was nowhere to be found.
“I was disturbed by his absence, for I believed that he had the most critical information that I needed at this point in my search,” says Sabow. “He was privy to the events leading up to the dismissal of Colonel Sabow, and surely he would have access to the autopsy report and other essential documents that I was being denied.”
Instead, Lucas was replaced with Colonel Wayne Rich.
“At that time, I had no knowledge of Rich’s importance in relation to his presence at this meeting,” says Sabow. “Later I learned that he was the Assistant Attorney General of the U.S. ‘in charge of training.’ In fact, he never did any training, but rather was brought into the Attorney General’s office in the late 80’s for ‘damage control’ in such matters as ‘Iran-Contra’ and the ‘Inslaw affair.’
“It was obvious at that meeting that these people were lying - from beginning to end. They said at the meeting again, that the autopsy material wasn’t available, fingerprint material wasn’t available, etc., etc.....
“Then I realized they were trying to intimidate me. They were accusing my brother of horrible activities. They thought they would deter me from going ahead with the interview, for if I did then they would tell what a horrible person Colonel Sabow was - what he crook he was, and a felon.”
Dr. Sabow and the Colonel’s grieving widow, Sally, said they were threatened and yelled at during the meeting.
“The abuse we sustained during that meeting was horrible,” says Sabow. “At one point, Adams leaned in front of me, pointed at Mrs. Sabow, then screamed at her to stop any contact with his ex-wife. Adams then warned Sally to stop spreading a rumor that he had some involvement in Jimmy’s death. In fact, at that point, Sally had not given this even the slightest consideration!”
It was only then that Sabow realized he being played for a pawn in a complex web of conspiracy and intrigue.
“It became obvious to me that these two had conspired to concoct a scenario of lies that would paint the dead Colonel with a brush of disgrace,” says Sabow. “They hoped this would shame the Colonel’s widow and me into silence. I didn’t buy their act.”
After Sabow threatened to go public, Adams drafted a letter to the South Dakota medical authorities, “making the strongest complaint that could be mustered against Dr. Sabow,” and threatened to send it unless Sabow “ceased all questioning of the investigation,” according to civil suit documents.[11*]
Slightly over two months after Dr. Sabow’s traumatic meeting at El Toro, he received a mysterious package containing some very disturbing documents.
“I received a package from what I call a ‘deep-throat’ source,” says Sabow, “and that package had hand-written notes from an individual who subsequently proved to be Colonel Wayne Rich, who really chaired the meeting.”
The notes were written during a conversation with Colonel George Lang III, Deputy Staff Judge Advocate in Washington, stating their intention to convince Dr. Sabow that his brother’s death was a suicide. The call was made on March 8, l99l, the day before Sabow was to meet with General Adams.
“It’s things like this,” says Sabow, “in his own handwriting now: ‘Dr. Sabow is planning on giving an interview with the LATimes. We are about to try to convince Sabow’s brother that his brother was a crook & so big a crook....’ Towards the end it says: ‘script meeting.’”[12*]
The mystery package also contained requests to the legal department at El Toro to inquire about methods of having Dr. Sabow’s medical license suspended - a directive from none other than General Tom Adams. (See Appendix)
Also included was a copy of responses of “witnesses” interviewed by the Inspector General (IG), attempting to depict misconduct by Colonel Sabow. Only the responses were transcribed.
“Not one of the questions that were supposedly asked in these interviews was included,” claims Sabow. Sabow also learned that at least one Marine officer interviewed, Major Bob Friend, when asked to sign the transcript, refused, claiming the statements did not accurately reflect his responses.
Shortly thereafter, Dr. Sabow received a phone call from an ex-NCIS agent who offered his help. Fearing that he might be a plant, Sabow had him checked out. Yet the ex-investigator would prove to be a highly valuable source of information. He had learned from a lawyer in the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) office that dates on documents written following Colonel Sabow’s death were altered to show that they were written before his death - an attempt to bolster the fraudulent allegations against him. The falsification was ordered by senior officers, but was carried out by those in the JAG office, all of whom were attorneys.[*]
Yet Dr. Sabow would soon come to learn that documents and witness statements weren’t the only thing that was altered. Another of Sabow’s sources - an NCIS agent at the time of the shooting - had watched a series of bizarre events unfolding at the scene of the crime. Hidden in a trash cubical behind Colonel Sabow’s backyard, the agent witnessed everything that would take place at the scene subsequent to the shooting.
Several minutes after the fatal shot was fired, the Provost Marshall, Major Goodrow and his deputy, Captain Fouquer arrived on the scene. Their radio dispatch was intercepted by Sergeant Randy Robinson, an M.P. patrolling in the vicinity, who arrived a minute later.
At the same time, the NCIS was notified, and soon after their entire office showed up, followed by the base emergency medical technicians.
That, according to Sabow, is where the situation started getting weird.
“Before they even have the crime scene secured,” says Sabow, “three men in civilian clothes show up in the backyard. And they walk up and ask who is in charge of the crime scene. And an NCIS agent by the name of Cheryl Baldwin, who was assigned as the case officer, said ‘I am.’ At this point nobody knows who they are, nobody except Baldwin. And a big argument ensues, and they do something or show her something that convinces her to get the hell out - clear everybody out of the entire crime scene. They were not only forced out of the backyard, they were forced across the street![*]
“And then after everybody was cleared out, then these three men go back through the house, and proceed to sanitize the entire backyard.”
According to the hidden NCIS agent, one of the men walked directly to the common area separating the Sabow and Underwood homes, stooped down in the relatively lush grass, and picked up a club - most likely the club that had caused the bruise on Colonel Sabow’s head.[*] While the others rearranged the remainder of the crime scene, this man headed directly for a gate that few knew existed, hidden in the back of Colonel Underwood’s yard, and disappeared. Once the crime scene had been sanitized, everyone was allowed back in.
“One of the NCIS agents who witnessed this, from the short distance in the backyard,” said Sabow, “knew that something very, very strange - totally unorthodox, was taking place. Later he wrote the series of events in his official report, and was ordered to destroy it.”
Sabow would never learn the identity of the three mystery men. But he would later learn of the presence of a CIT (Counter-Intelligence Terrorism) team at El Torro that day. The team was stationed at Camp Pendelton, flown by a regular Marine courier helicopter and dropped off at a remote area of the El Torro airfield, directly behind the Sabow house, approximately 300-350 yards away. Rather than land at the tower, the chopper landed at a point on the field that was closest to the back of the Sabow and Underwood homes.
“Four civilian-dressed people were dropped off from the helicopter,” says Sabow. “The helicopter then immediately took off, went right across the airfield, and landed where it usually does, at the tower. The pilot got out and told the people in the tower that he was having some trouble and he was checking himself out and that’s why he had landed across the field. But he said he wasn’t sure and he may do the same thing again, and he did.”
The team was dropped off at 8:05 am.
“And at five or ten after 9:00, he landed there again, and picked up the men. We were told he picked them up from the records. However, we feel the records are false and he only picked up only one man,” accounting for the three that remained behind at the scene of the crime.
Colonel Sabow was killed between 8:00 and 9:00 am.
“The window is very narrow,” says Sabow. “It’s between 8:32 and 8:58 am. And everybody agrees to that.
As for as the CIT team, “They’re nothing but professional assassins, trained by and work for the military,” says Sabow. “They can use any uniform they want. From what I understand from the experts, they have a team like in two or three places in the country. There’s only a few of these teams. These are tough, tough sociopaths. And let’s say they are going to do something domestically, say on a military base, then they don the appropriate apparel.”
Dr. Sabow believes plan was to kill Colonel Sabow and his wife.
“The team was in charge of killing the Colonel and Sally,” said Sabow. “It was supposed to be a murder/suicide.”
Killing both would make it appear that the Colonel first murdered his wife and then took his own life. This would help explain the lack of a suicide note, for it was common knowledge that the Sabows were very close, and if Sabow would take his own life, he would surely have said “good-bye” to Sally. Murder, followed by suicide, solved this problem. But equally important, if Sabow had confided in Sally concerning the clandestine operations that led to his murder, her death would ensure the continuing secrecy. Hence, there were two shells in the chamber of the double barreled shotgun, not just one!
In a chronology meticulously pieced together through years of dogged, painstaking investigation, Dr. Sabow believes the events that unfolded on the morning of his brother’s death transpired as follows:
“At 8:30 and I mean exactly at 8:30, Colonel Sabow received a phone call, which Sally witnessed. He said ‘This is Colonel Sabow’ and there was a hesitation, and he said ‘this is Colonel Sabow’... three times, and there was no response.”[*]
Dr. Sabow is convinced the mystery caller telephoned to determine whether his brother was at home. Yet he believes either that call or another caused him to go into the backyard. Sabow thereupon met Underwood who had just passed through the gate. They started to walk back to Sabow’s house when Underwood asked Sabow where Sally was. Sabow explained that Sally had just run to Mass but would be returning immediately thereafter. Underwood realized that a weekday Mass would indeed last only from 20 to 30 minutes and that she would probably return between 9:00 and 9:l0 a.m.
The walk continued along the 50 foot distance from the fence to the door. Suddenly, Underwood dropped a step behind and hit Sabow in the back of the head, “cold-cocking” him. The blow fractured the base of Sabow’s skull (although it’s possible that while Underwood was diverting Sabow’s attention one of the accomplices delivered the fatal blow).[*]
With Sabow rendered unconscious, one or perhaps two accomplices rushed through the gate from Underwood’s backyard to join him, carrying the loaded shotgun which had previously been removed from the Sabow house (probably by Underwood the previous weekend). Sabow lay on the ground, already near death, drowning in his own blood. The gun was then shoved into the dying Colonel’s mouth and fired.[*]
The assailants then ran into the house to apprehend Sally, for Underwood still wasn’t sure she was not home since her car was in the driveway when he called. The killers then waited, peering out a bedroom window, expecting Sally at any moment. Yet their plan to kill her was thwarted by the arrival of Lieutenant Colonel Gary Albin, who was returning some flight manuals to Sabow. Getting no answer, Albin decided to wait on the porch and try again.
By this time, it was nearly 9:l0 and Underwood knew Sally would return from church at any moment. If she did, in all likelihood, she would invite Albin into the house. This would result in Albin discovering the body with Sally, and it would then be necessary to kill Albin too. But that would ruin the murder-suicide plan which was already in place.
Instead the killers ran out the back of the house and put the shotgun under Colonel Sabow. The accomplices then exited through a partially hidden gate in the rear of Underwood’s backyard which led to the airfield, allowing for a quick getaway by helicopter.
In the meantime Underwood ran through his kitchen door, picked up a coffee mug and proceeded to walk casually out his front door to be seen by Albin, hoping to establish an alibi.
Stepping from his porch, coffee cup in hand, he was noticed by Albin, who asked where Colonel Sabow was. Underwood casually replied that Sabow was not at home, and was with Sally at the base exchange.
“Not only should Underwood not have known the whereabouts of Jimmy,” says Dr. Sabow, “he initially told Albin that Sabow wasn’t at home, and then only an hour later told the NCIS that he was on his way to visit him! Furthermore, Underwood never visited Sabow by the front entrance but always through the gate in the back yard!”
After Sally discovered her husband’s body, she ran to Underwood’s house in hysterics and screamed “Jimmy is dead!”[*]Feigning shock, Underwood ran to the backyard, opened the gate, and without taking another step, came out, picked up the phone, called General Adams and said, “Jimmy Sabow shot himself in the mouth.”
Interestingly, Mrs. Sabow only said that her husband was dead, not that he had shot himself in the mouth, or that he lay in the back yard.
“Yet, Underwood, without even asking, ran directly to the backyard and then confirmed the death from a distance of over 40 feet!” exclaims Sabow.... Now if you were standing right on top of my brother, you could not tell he was shot in the mouth, you could not. I have the photographs. How did Underwood know the exact nature of the wound? He was 30 yards away.... The photos prove that he couldn’t have determined that from that distance.”
Underwood also claimed that he didn’t hear the shot, stating that he was watching TV with his wife. However Underwood’s wife had a brain tumor and was hypersensitive to sound, so the TV volume was always kept quite low.[*] Furthermore, there were ill-fitting horizontal Plexiglas louvered panels in the Underwood’s TV room which provide virtually no acoustical insulation. A shotgun blast is quite loud.
“These facts were totally disregarded,” says Sabow, “not out of sheer ignorance, but because of a frightful and glaringly transparent government participation in a cover-up in the murder of Colonel Sabow!”
Nevertheless, the OIG would attempt to explain away this discrepancy, claiming that local air traffic muffled the noise. Yet records from air traffic control document that there were no departures between 8:30 and 9:00 that morning.
“Since it has been documented and conceded that the death occurred during that time frame,” explains Sabow, “the explanation for the next door neighbor not hearing the blast is absurd.”
Approximately one month after his brother’s death, Dr. Sabow confronted Underwood.
“He suspected that I wasn’t satisfied with the suicide theory and was being too inquisitive about the details,” says Sabow. “When I inquired about Underwood’s activities while Albin was on the Sabow front porch, he became defensive and blurted out that he was not even in my brother’s house when Albin was knocking. I had never even remotely implied that he was!”[*]
Approximately one week after Sabow’s death, NCIS Special Agent Craycraft visited Sally. According to Sally, the agent told her, “I could swear it was Joe [Underwood]. I just can’t pin it on him.”
Also mentioned in the OIG (Office of Inspector General) report is a conversation Sally had with a woman (who’s name is redacted), who told her during a dinner at their home, “I’ll deny I ever said this, but I want you to know that your husband was murdered.”
As the report states: “When asked if XXX had told her who was responsible for the murder, she stated, “She implied that it was Joe (Col. Underwood.)”
Ultimately, Dr. Sabow believes his brother was killed to cover up the government’s drug-smuggling activities. His suspicions about Colonel Underwood would prove portentous.
“We developed information that implicates Underwood in an operation that involved the misappropriation of C-130 Hercules aircraft to small proprietary airlines,” says Sabow. “These in turn were contracted to the CIA and other agencies for unauthorized activities such as the transportation of weapons to Central and South America, as well as bringing cocaine into the U.S. on their return trips.”[*]
According to the OIG report:
“Mr. [Gene] Wheaton alleged that MCAS El Toro was being used in support of a legal covert activity that had been undertaken by a U.S. intelligence agency under the cover of a U.S. Department of Agriculture program named “Screw Worm,” allegedly a program to eradicate the screw worm in Mexico. Mr. Wheaton also alleged that the covert operation was actually legitimately providing weapons, ammunition and other material to the Government of Peru in their struggle against guerrilla forces know as the “Shining Path.” Mr. Wheaton further alleged that a number of individuals involved in this covert operation were concurrently conducting an illegal covert operation whereby they were smuggling additional weapons, ammunition and material to Peru. The individuals were allegedly selling the weapons, ammunition and material to the Shining Path as well as to the Government of Peru, for money and narcotics. The money and narcotics were then allegedly smuggled back into the United States and air dropped at remote locations on military installations in the western part of the United States.... Mr. Wheaton further alleged that this operation continued until approximately the time of Col. Sabow’s death.”
Interestingly, General Tom Adams, El Torro’s base Commander, was the base Commander at Yuma, Arizona Marine Corps Air Station in the mid ‘80’s at the time when several duffel bags full of cocaine were dropped “by mistake” next to the runway. Sabow was Commander of the Third Marine Air Group stationed at Yuma during that time. This base was the very first secret National Programs Office (organizationally part of the NSA), set up in 1983 by Oliver North. According to CIA researcher Brian Downing Quig, “NPOs are top security guarded by the CIA.”[20*]
The OIG report continues:
“Mr. Wheaton alleged that his investigation had developed witnesses who stated that during the period of time from 1989 to about the time of Col. Sabow’s death, C-130 aircraft landed at MCAS El Toro in the middle of the night, unannounced and unknown to anyone on the installation other than Col. Underwood. Mr. Wheaton told us that, according to his witnesses, the aircraft were unmarked or marked with logos of civilian companies, and were flown by nonmilitary type crews, i.e., long hair and bluejeans. The C-130s would go to a remote part of the airfield, described as “Spook Corner,” where unidentified material and equipment was loaded or unloaded as part of the illegal covert operation or for some sort of servicing of the aircraft. The aircraft would then depart El Torro. Mr. Wheaton stated that he had MP witnesses who had provided testimony to this effect. Mr. Wheaton identified one such witness as Mr. Robinson, but he refused to identify any other member of the military who possessed knowledge of these alleged covert operations. Mr. Wheaton alleged that Mr. Robinson had informed him that Col. Underwood had directed the Provost Marshal, Capt. Betsy Harries, to keep all military policemen away from the unidentified aircraft while they were on the airfield.
“In our interview of Mr. Robinson, he stated that on one occasion he had gone to Col. Underwood’s office to brief him on an investigation and that Capt. Harries had accompanied him. During the conversation the topic of aircraft landing late at night came up and Col. Underwood told them “Keep your ass off the airstrip at night. Leave those airplanes alone. Don’t go near them. Don’t worry about them....”[21*] (See Appendix)
A similar illegal operation, “Operation Black Eagle” was the basis for what came to be known as the Iran-Contra affair. (The exposure of the sale of TOW missiles to Iran, a relatively minor event by comparison, was intended to divert the attention away from the government sanctioned drug-running.)
Al Martin, a self-described former Naval officer, claims to have set up phony corporations for former Major General Richard Secord (a close associate of Ted Shackley and Tom Clines), through which wealthy right-wing donors could “invest,” money funneled to the Contras. They would then write off the investment on a two-for-one basis.
Martin told the author via numerous interviews that he worked closely with Oliver North, Felix Rodriguez, Secord, and Jeb Bush (son of then-Vice President George Bush).
According to some in the foreign press, Jeb Bush and his Colombian-born wife are reportedly big in laundering dope proceeds overseas.
The operation reportedly involved sophisticated electronics developed by NSA contractor E-Systems of Greenville, Texas. E-Systems, owned by Raytheon, allegedly developed sophisticated systems to create electronic “holes” which would allow planes to cross the border without tripping aircraft warning systems. (See Chapter XX) E-Systems, a major intelligence contractor which allegedly has “wet-teams” (assassination teams), was directed by former NSA Director and CIA Deputy Director Bobby Ray Inman.[*]
Other facilities were reportedly located at Mena, Arkansas, Fire Lakes, Nevada, Joppa, Missouri, and Iron Mountain, Texas, some guarded by Wackenhut.
As researcher J. Orlin Grabbe writes:
“The monetary logistics of this operation were overseen in part by Vince Foster of the Rose Law Firm, using the financial software resources of Systematics, Jackson Stephen’s Little Rock software company. Vince Foster’s “NSA connection” involved an extensive knowledge of the NPO’s management of the flow of men and materials, money and drugs.”
As one pilot told Grabbe: “It was good money. They would pay $100,000 a flight. They would send out maybe eight planes at a time, and if only two of them got shot down, the operation would still be profitable. So there was some risk involved.”
On February l9, l995, CBS “60 Minutes” did a story on the illegal C-l30 acquisitions and some of the activities in which these planes were engaged, including the transportation of drugs. The producer of the show, David Fitzpatrick, attempted to interview the manager of Aero Union, a proprietary airline in Chico, CA which had received a C-l30 and a P3-A from the Air Museum at El Toro. Fitzpatrick was denied the interview and was then informed that the “Justice” Department had ordered Aero Union to say nothing.
“There were 37 C-130s,” says Sabow. “Then there were about eight P-3 Oriens and several helicopters. And all of these planes went through the Department of Agriculture, Forestry Division, into the hands of Hemet Aviation. Hemet has I think seven of them. And then a couple of them ended up in Grayville, Wyoming, There’s one up at Aero Union. I have the tail numbers of every one of them and know exactly where they all are - every one of them.
“El Torro was the seat of operations for the hiring and disposition of these contract airlines to transport weapons and materiel,” adds Sabow. “That was at the time when these little proprietary airlines were being placed and provisioned to carry out activities previously undertaken by Air America. And our investigations show that General J.K. Davis was one of the main architects of this.”
While Sabow claims he has no definite proof, he makes some interesting observations.
“First of all, the C-130 aircraft swindle was hatched in the early ‘80s when General Davis was the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps (1983 to 1986). And that was at the height of the activity in Iran-Contra. And being part of Marine Air, he had to at least be aware of these plans if not an active participant. I have no proof but I have been told that during that period, he was a member of the Joint Special Operations subgroup which was tasked to develop and coordinate clandestine military activities which would have included the C-130 plan....”
At the time of his death, Colonel Sabow was Chief of Operations for Marine Corps Air, Western United States.
“I’m talking about entire Marine Air,” says Sabow. “Being in the position he was in, he had to be involved in covert activities... had to be. However, my brother was aware and probably participating in what he considered ‘on the table,’ approved covert activities.”
Dr. Sabow claims his brother had meetings with Oliver North on at least on three occasions in the late 80s, after Iran-Contra broke. North was in charge of the Joint Special Operations subgroup supplying weapons to the Contras.
“My brother knew about the U.S. [illegally] supplying military materiel to the Latin Americans,” says Sabow. “However he knew only about the north-to-south runs (weapons), but he found about the south-to-north runs (drugs), several days before he died.
“One of the brains behind this, in the field, was Colonel Underwood,” says Sabow. “Underwood was a significant operative of this whole business. Underwood was actually more powerful than General Adams - much more powerful! We’ve traced him and his activities from 1980 all the way up to this. He came on board in covert activities in ‘81-‘82, and he became a friend of [former Panamanian President Manuel] Noriega, and was working, even back then with Noriega and others in South America, on a special assignment in the Marine Corps.
“They used these people - the Ollie Norths and the Underwoods - kind of in the field, as tactical operatives. But as far as architects, as far as the brains in the operation it was people at the level of [George] Bush, [Ted] Shackley, Rob Owens, J.K. Davis....”
Underwood, however, had been formerly investigated by the NCIS for smuggling contraband into this country.
“What type of contraband?” says Sabow. “That’s what we don’t know. After a 13 month investigation it was dropped. I looked at Underwood and said, ‘Tell me, why was it dropped?’ and he wouldn’t answer.”
In October of 1991, General Hollis Davison, the Inspector General for the Marine Corps, arrived at El Toro for the express purpose of closing down the illegal operation in a way that would give the least possible publicity to the Corps.
“They wanted Underwood out of there,” says Sabow. “And they wanted him out of there quietly, because Underwood knew so damn much he could ruin the reputation of the Corps. He was forced to resign, and he just resigned with a full pension.”[*]
General Davison also felt that it would be wise to have Colonel Sabow’s resignation because of his potential knowledge of the operation. Yet Underwood and his operatives became fearful that Sabow would not go quietly. As the situation worsened, Sabow made a decision to fight the allegations and informed Underwood as well as General Davis. Dr. Sabow said his brother was a protégé of Davis’ going back almost 20 years.
“They were very close, professionally,” says Sabow. “J.K. Davis was the last person my brother talked to the night before he died, for 63 minutes.... My brother told him that if they persisted in bringing charges against him for improper use of a military plane, my brother would demand a court-martial and tell it all. He wanted J.K. to ‘call the bastards off.’ He was literally telling J.K ‘What in the hell do they think they are doing?! I’ve never done anything. What in the hell do you think they are doing?’”[*]
Colonel Sabow made it quite clear that he did not intend to leave the Corps under any but the most honorable circumstances, even if it required him to expose what he was learning about the illegal activity taking place at El Toro. To dissuade Sabow, Davis and Underwood warned him that he would be implicated in those very same activities (a common silencing tactic).
Colonel William Callahan (USMC, retired) a fellow pilot and long-time friend of Sabow’s, also believes the Colonel was murdered. According to the OIG report:
“Mr. Callahan alleged that during a visit to Col. Sabow’s house, Col. Underwood told Col. Sabow what had transpired over the previous years, citing several reasons that he believed put himself at risk. Col. Underwood then told Col. Sabow that the USMC considered Col. Sabow to be just as guilty as himself. “It was at this time that Jim (Col. Sabow) knew he would not accept early retirement and his only choice was to clear his name and take his case to court martial.” According to Mr. Callahan, “it was this decision that started the chain of events which lead [sic] to Jim’s death.” (See Appendix)
On the evening of January 21, the day before Sabow was killed, Underwood visited him and pointed a finger in his face while screaming, red-faced, “You will never take this to a court-marshal!”
Less than 12 hours after the tense discussion with Davis and the heated warning by Underwood, Colonel Sabow was dead. Dr. Sabow believes the conversation with Davis was the catalyst for the Colonel’s death.
“I believe with all my heart that J.K. Davis was the one who ordered the death of my brother,” says Sabow.
Another link may come through Major-General Rich Herndon. Although probably not involved in the murder, Hernon was head of the 3rd Marine Air Group in Yuma, Arizona in late 1970s-early ‘80s. Sabow was his Executive Officer.
In 1987 Herndon was Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps under General Al Gray. One of Gray’s immediate subordinates was Colonel George Griggs. As Grigg’s wife, Kay Pollard Griggs, told the author, “Army General Carl Stiner, Marine General Jim Joy, General Charles Wilhelm, head of Marine Southern Command - part of Joint Special Operations Command, and my husband who worked under him at the State Department - they’re all Al Gray’s boys. They do the assassinations. Say if they’ve got someone who’s talking too much. Gray will say, ‘We’ve got a problem....’[*]
According to Griggs, Gray is heavily involved in drug-smuggling. Herndon was stationed in Panama - a key drug transshipment point - and had a key position with Special Operations (CIA), training death squads in Central America.
“They train assassins,” says Griggs. “It’s called the Phoenix Program, but it involves mind-control.... It’s an old boy network, it’s an institution, and it’s run through the State Department....[*]
As Griggs says, “Herndon is one of Al Gray’s boys.”
Curiously, Herndon sent a condolence letter to Sabow’s widow, but according to Dr. Sabow it was a rather cold letter. Dr. Sabow feels it was strange because the two were very close. Yet, mirroring the bizarre behavior of Colonel Underwood, Herndon didn’t show up at the funeral (Underwood, Sabow’s “friend” and next door neighbor, didn’t show up at the bereavement.)
Interestingly, at approximately 9:00 am on the morning of the 22nd, a message from Headquarters, El Toro, was transmitted to Marine Headquarters, Washington, DC, informing them that Colonel Sabow had committed suicide. The message was transmitted using the standard AUTODIN operating system and SARALITE software, which dates and times the message automatically. For worldwide standardization purposes, ZULU (zero longitude or Greenwich Mean Time) time is used. Yet when the message was corrected to Pacific Standard Time by subtracting eight hours from the ZULU time, it indicates that the message was begun at 11:45 pm on the 21st, over eight-and-a-half hours before Colonel Sabow was killed!
On January 12, 1991, Inspector General Hollis Davison’s team visited El Toro.[*] The first place they went was to Building 53 - the records department. They ordered Sergeant Felix Segovia to access the command staff computers. Segovia assigned this task to Sergeant Tom Wade, his networking specialist. When Wade accessed the MWR computers, he discovered that they were completely “purged.” There was absolutely nothing in their memory, not even a program!
“General Adams also suspected trouble when the IG requested certain documents on Underwood,” says Sabow. “When the IG kept requesting more and more, Adams knew that there was trouble brewing and he realized that he likewise was vulnerable. That’s why Adams ordered Segovia to rid all documents from the MWR computer which contained the trail of the covert activities.... After Davison found the computer at MWR purged, he went ballistic.”
The MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation) Department was in charge of all civilian contracts, including the appropriation of civilian aircraft, the maintenance and fueling records, the overseeing of the “air museum” (As previously mentioned, the El Toro Air Museum supplied a C-130 and a P3-A to Aero Union in Chico, CA) and all activities on the base which required civilian participation.[29*]
As Dr. Sabow’s investigation turned from the murder of his brother into the criminal activities at El Toro, people who could expose the cover-up began dying.
Arriving home from church services on Christmas Day, l994, Sergeant Tom Wade was dragged from his car as his four-year old daughter watched, then shot in the head, execution style. The girl spent the night whimpering in the car.
Even though the killing occurred off-base in a civilian apartment complex, the Marines cordoned off Wade’s apartment, not allowing the local police to investigate. The County Sheriff informed Gene Wheaton (who was working for Dr. Sabow) that the Marines sealed Wade’s apartment before local law enforcement agencies could conduct their investigation, on the grounds of “national security.” Wade’s death remains a mystery.[*]
On February 24, l995, five days after “60 Minutes” did a story on the illegal C-l30 acquisitions, Colonel Jerry Agenbroad was found hanging in the Bachelor Officers Quarters at El Toro. He was in charge of MWR at the time of his death and at one time headed the air museum.
A source of Dr. Sabow’s whom he calls “Kevin,” retired from the Marines in the summer of l994. On July l7, l993, he was with his wife at the home of some friends having dinner when “Eye To Eye” with Connie Chung appeared on TV. It was the show’s premier and included the segment on the death of Colonel Sabow, including information about C-l30s ferrying drugs onto military bases. The group watching the program couldn’t believe what they were seeing. Kevin assured them that what they saw was factual as he, himself, had been taken to Mexico with several other Marines and were ordered to load vast quantities of cocaine onto planes. They were told that the drugs would be used for “sting operations” (a common cover-story given to military personnel) and as evidence. They were forbidden to discuss the matter.
“That information was passed on to me by the couple who were with Kevin viewing the program,” says Sabow. “I tried unsuccessfully to interview him before he left the Corps. I was finally able to track him down, but again he resisted my efforts to meet with him. He was literally worried for his life.”
In the spring of l994, Dr. Sabow passed some of this information to Larry Swails, a special investigator for the DoD, giving only the first name of his Marine source. But Sabow did tell Swails the name of the small rural town where he lived.[*]
“I had that telephone conversation with Swails on May l8, l994,” says Sabow. “I then contacted my sources to find out where Kevin worked and if we could obtain his unlisted phone number.”
Five days later, on May 23, Sabow’s source informed him that he had obtained the information, but that Kevin was dead. He was found hanging from a rafter in his parent’s barn, in a manner similar to Colonel Agenbroad, on Sunday morning, May 22.
No investigation was ever conducted.
Another of Dr. Sabow’s sources was an active duty Marine sergeant at Camp Pendelton. In the Spring of ‘98, he was on his way to hand over the flight manifest of the mysterious helicopter which reportedly delivered Colonel Sabow’s assassins, to Dr. Sabow. On his way to Sabow’s house, he was run off the road and killed. Another person in the car was injured.
In late l99l, Jack Chisom, a co-owner of T&G Aviation, which supplied two C-l30s and two DC-7s for the clandestine operations, was found dead in an irrigation ditch in the Arizona desert. His death was attributed to a hit-and-run driver.
“There was no reason for this 60-plus year-old man to be out in the desert in the middle of the night,” says Sabow. “He knew too much.”
Chuck Hendricks and Bob Weldon, crew members on a C-l30, were killed in Angola when their plane crashed. The plane was registered to St. Lucia Airline which was formed by Oliver North and Ted Shackley. The cargo included small arms and other weapons. Hendricks was from Mena, Arkansas.
Sergeant Felix Segovia, who was in charge of the records center at El Torro, discovered that wholesale theft of computers and support equipment had occurred. He was told that it was none of his business and to forget what he had seen. He refused to drop the matter and continued to gather evidence, including the names of those responsible. In early 1994 he filed a complaint to the Fraud and Abuse officer at El Toro.
Sergeant Segovia was court-martialed - accused of falsifying his personnel records. Segovia had taken a computer course in his first year in the service and had misplaced his course completion papers. After 20 years of service in the Marine Corps, Segovia was charged with lying about taking the course. Segovia had been a close friend of Tom Wade’s.
Sergeant Randy Robinson was the MP who was one of the first to arrive at the scene of Colonel Sabow’s death, and had stated: “This isn’t a suicide, it’s a murder.” Robinson also witnessed the crime scene tampering. (He had seen a chair placed over Colonel Sabow’s buttocks when it was actually two or three feet away and not in contact with him at all. He also found ammunition neatly stowed in a cabinet, then saw it photographed on the garage floor as if that was where it was discovered.)
In April of l99l, only two months after Sabow’s murder, Robinson was arrested by the Provost Marshall and charged with raping the mother of a battered child who was under investigation.
“The entire matter was bizarre, according to Captain Anthony Verducci from the JAG office,” says Sabow. “The alleged victim never filed a complaint before Robinson’s arrest and never testified in court against him.”
The charges were filed by a Sergeant Onge who Sabow claims “had a dubious reputation” and since has left the Corps. Robinson, an investigator with 16 years of experience who has investigated over 50 shootings, was found guilty of the lesser charge of “adultery” and served a six month sentence in the Camp Pendelton brig.
Colonel Archibald Scott (U.S. Army, ret.) was in Colonel Underwood’s house on the afternoon of January 2l, just 18 hours before Colonel Sabow was killed. The two had just finished a game of golf, and retired to Underwood’s house for a drink, when Jimmy Sabow arrived. As the OIG report states:
“During the conversation in Col. Underwood’s house, Col. Sabow had informed Col. Underwood that he was going to demand a court martial. Col. Underwood replied that Col. Sabow would be making a mistake.... Mr. Scott said he and Col. Sabow left after about an hour, and during the walk from Col. Underwood’s house, Col. Sabow told Mr. Scott that he was concerned about something that was “frightening and irritating,” but would not say what it was....” (See Appendix)
According the version provided by David Sabow, Scott heard Sabow state, “Quitters never win, and winners never quit.” He also allegedly told Gene Wheaton: “Jimmy never killed himself, and I think Underwood did it.”
A highly decorated officer, Scott was charged with “impersonating an officer” less then two months after Sabow’s death. Colonel Lucas, the Staff Judge Advocate who participated in the cover-up, ordered his department to file the charges. Rather than being forced out of the Army, Scott chose to finish his 20 years of service at the reduced rank of sergeant, denying him the privileges afforded by his rank. His case was tried in federal court where he lost, but the decision was reversed on appeal in l994.
Both the Provost Marshall, Major Goodrow and his deputy, Captain Forquer, the first ones at the crime scene, were “short-termed” - given new assignments far away.
“This is a most unusual occurrence,” says Sabow, “especially when it involved the two Marine police officers who were the first at the crime scene.”
Captain Leslie Williams, who had worked for and admired Colonel Sabow, was extremely critical of the accusations against him, and made her feelings known. In spite of high ratings given her performance, she was “passed over” for promotion and forced to resign.
Another who had cast a suspicious eye on the circumstances of Colonel Sabow’s death was Pete Barbee. A courageous ex-Marine, Barbee knew that his idol did not commit suicide, and devoted much of his time to apprehending the killers. Believing the murder to be related to drug trafficking, his search proceeded in that direction. In the process, he was attacked by a known vicious drug dealer, Rudy Garza, and in self-defense killed him. He was charged with 2nd degree manslaughter for using “excessive force,” and received a one-and-a-half year prison sentence.
Pete Barbee and the Drug Connection
by Gary Null (edited for length)
During this time, Colonel Sabow became aware of drugs on the base. He and his staff decided to use undercover methods to find out how the drugs were getting there. Somebody recommended [Marine Captain Pete] Barbee, who, as a Mustang, had rapport with the troops. In the latter part of 1987, Colonel Sabow contacted Barbee and discussed his concern about drug trafficking within the El Toro and Tustin bases....
After much research, Barbee discovered chemicals used to make methamphetamine were being sold.... Barbee learned that the chemicals red phosphorus and P2, a bluish liquid used for cleaning ships and aircraft for quality control, were being removed from the military stockpile and transferred through DRMO, the Defense Regional Management Office, and several NIS agents....
In 1993, Barbee moved to Fontana, close to Waters’ Country store, the center of massive and open drug dealing. Twelve to twenty drug dealers worked there seven days-a-week, and he could not understand why they were dealing so openly, and why nothing was being done to stop them. There were no drug busts made, and no police monitoring them. Yet everything from heroin to cocaine, speed, and pot were being sold and bringing in easily $50,000 to $70,000 a week.
Barbee became too visible. On the night of November 10, 1993, he was kidnapped, drugged, and left for dead in Ventura County. Several underlings who worked for drug lords Carlos Segura, Rudy Garza, and Augustine were responsible. They were major dealers and providers at Waters’ Country Store.
Barbee was discovered by the police, and after a short stay in the emergency room was taken to jail on drug charges. After getting out of jail, he obtained a gun, and continued his search. He slowly gathered more knowledge on why and how these dealers were allowed to operate with such impunity. He discovered a great deal of corruption....
Barbee worked with the [Ventura] Sheriff’s Office for approximately three months, during which time he denied the drug dealers access, moved things around so that they weren’t familiar with their territory, and gave the Sheriff’s Department information about types of drugs and drug deals being made.
At the end of three months, a big raid took place, and the drug dealers were gone. Once they found out that Barbee had a lot of information, and that he was passing it along, Garza and Augustine saw to it that Barbee was badly beaten. This happened more than once. Guns were pulled on him, his head was cracked, and his nose was crushed.
After recovering, Barbee continued working.... On August 29, 1994, Garza attacked Barbee with a knife at his place of business... Barbee shot him four times in the head.
Several witnesses saw what Garza had done. Others heard Garza’s threats to kill Barbee. Unfortunately, the Sheriff chose to ignore witnesses. They also ignored reports by emergency medical technicians who found Garza lying on the pavement, knife in hand. Barbee was arrested that night for first-degree murder, which shocked several police officers who had been working with him.
Barbee subsequently identified the District Attorney in the Fontana Court as someone he frequently saw with Garza at Waters’ Country Store. He told the Sheriff’s investigator, and co-defender investigator this information. They informed Barbee that they were doing an investigation into the prosecuting DA. They said that the situation would be worked out and that it would not be a problem - this was strictly a case of self-defense....
While in jail, Barbee was threatened and beaten. He was told he would be killed in jail. At one point, Barbee was moved from his cell block to another one, right next to Rudy Garza’s cousin, Eddie. Like his cousin, Eddie Garza was involved in a great deal of violence and drug trafficking....
Dr. Sabow informed Jim Willworth, an investigative reporter for Time magazine, about Barbee, and he subsequently interviewed him in depth several times. Willworth later told Dr. Sabow, “I’ve done this business for 28 years. This man is legitimate.” After Jim Willworth’s interview, the prosecution changed the charge against Barbee from first-degree murder to manslaughter....
Barbee... actually gave the information to the Sheriff’s Department, and they were supposed to have turned it over to other authorities, including the DEA. But nothing has been passed along. Also of interest is the fact that Barbee was interviewed by the FBI months ago, and has heard nothing from them since that time.
Some say that Barbee was arrested because of his insight into Colonel Sabow’s death and his knowledge of covert government operations. Not surprisingly, Barbee fears for his life. “There is a lot of corruption here in Fontana,” he says. “I am going up against a DA who has prostituted his position, and a judge who has prostituted his. The judge has eliminated evidence, and has lied about it. I am scared. I fear for my life, and my wife fears for hers. She has had to move. I need help, and I just pray that I can get it.”
Colonel Underwood was forced to retire, with a full pension.
“You know what he’s doing now?” says Sabow, he’s working for Ted Shackley! We know this because we’ve had a tail on him for a long time. He’s highly guarded, and he travels to Europe an awful lot, mostly to Germany.
“He’s presently working for a subsidiary of Continental Shelf Corporation, run by Shackley, in Jupiter, Florida. Continental Shelf is the “maritime” arm of the CIA. It’s headed by Shackley and that whole group from the CIA - old, ex-CIA people.[*]
“This man (Underwood), who was broke when he left the Marine Corps, is fairly well-to-do now. He’s had several houses, several Volvos... he went from literally nothing financially to something fairly solid.
Interestingly, Underwood had been stationed in Panama at the time he was accused of smuggling somewhere between $300,000 and $400,000 worth of contraband into this country. The NCIS conducted a 10-month investigation of Underwood and then suddenly dropped it for unknown reasons.
General Adams was sent to Quantico and ultimately allowed to retire with less than a slap on the wrist. This infuriated General Davison, who confronted General Cook, the commander of Quantico.
“It got nasty and Cook had to get his Provost Marshall and MPs,” says Sabow. “Davison was physically escorted off the base. I feel that Davison knew even back then that Adams was in on the death. He became unglued when he learned that Adams was literally ‘getting away with murder.’”
Dr. Sabow continues to seek justice for the murder of his brother through a civil lawsuit. He believes he is not alone in wanting justice to be served. “There’s a certain group in the Marine Corps that wants me to pull this off,” concludes Sabow, “very high people.”
As Sabow adds, “This whole outfit, the Criminal Division of the Justice Department, still worries that I am going to pull this whole thing off - the investigation of the murder of my brother. If I do that, then the finger gets pointed right back at the Department of Agriculture. And it will also be pointed right back at the Justice Department that was supposed to follow through with Fuchs and Regan (the two Agriculture Department patsies who took the fall for the C-130 scam) and others in the stealing of the C-130s.”[*]
In spite of his brother’s murder, and his own relentless investigation, Sabow feels that he is in no immediate danger.
“Now it’s too late for them to do it to me.... In fact - and they know I have it - I have the video of the entire investigation.They are scared shitless.”[*]
Judge Alice Marie Stotler, a Reagan/Bush appointee who Dr. Sabow called a “heartless” woman and a “pawn,” would not allow critical evidence and witnesses to be entered at the Sabows’ civil trial. Yet Stotler summarily dismissed the case in the middle of the trial, as soon as General Adams was called to the witness stand! Although Sabow testified that his brother was murdered, Stotler ruled that he had not proved that the defendants acted outrageously.
Senator Tom Daschle is currently working with Sabow. His plan is to request a special Senate inquiry and a meeting with Janet Reno and Louis Free in the hopes of obtaining a federal grand jury investigation.
[*] Another military pilot and CIA operative, Gunther Russbacher, would be charged with a similar offense in an effort to silence him. Russbacher was involved in many CIA covert operations, including “October Surprise” (See Chapter XX)
[*] In fact, no investigation of Colonel Sabow would ever be conducted.
. Eric Lichtblau, “Marine’s Vindication is his Family’s Crusade,” Los Angeles Times, 12/11/91.
[*] As McBride writes: “I offer this observation within the context of having represented one high-ranking officer, a lieutenant colonel, who did display an extreme reaction to being accused of misconduct. This lieutenant colonel would shout and weep uncontrollably, bang his head on the wall, and scream, ‘I can’t take this much longer. Can’t they see that they’re killing me!’ I am not a psychologist. I can only offer that I considered the lieutenant colonel a serious threat to kill himself (he didn’t). I did not consider Colonel Sabow in that category.... No comments were made... which indicated to me that his frame of mind was desperate.” (Letter from Cpt. Paul T. McBride to NCIS, 1/28/91, copy in author’s possession.)
. Autopsy of James Emery Sabow, Orange County Sheriff-Coroner, Dr. Aruna Singhania, Case No: 91-00474-SU, 1/23/91, copy in author’s possession.
[*] The NCIS case officer, Cheryl Baldwin, also observed the swelling and testified to this in an interview with the Judge Advocate General. Mrs. Sabow also described this same swelling when she was interviewed by the NCIS. Furthermore, the crime scene and coroner’s photographs clearly show an orange-size bulge on the occiput lobe. Yet Dr. Sabow was told by NCIS forensic specialist Burt Nakasone and Mike Barrett, that there was no sign whatsoever, of external trauma.
. Letter from Dr. David Rubinstein to Dr. David Sabow, 3/21/96, copy in author’s possession
. Letter from Dr. Martin L. Fackler to Dr. David Sabow, 6/16/94, copy in author’s possession; Rubinstein, Op. Cit., Letter from Dr. Kent B. Remley to Dr. David Sabow, 4/2/96. Dr. Jack Feldman, widely recognized as the world’s leading authority on the brain control of respiration, states in greater detail, “Colonel Sabow must have received a severe blow to the head, rendering him unconscious but still breathing for several minutes, and then he was shot.”
. Fackler, Op. Cit.
. Matthew Brelis and Mary Kurkjian, Boston Globe, 6/10/97. X-rays of Sabow’s skull showed “an external blunt force trauma that caved in his skull and there are no pellets anywhere in the area,” said Dr. Sabow.
[*] “Because of litigation, we are not in a position to comment,” said Cole Hanner, spokesman for the NCIS. Asked about the lack of fingerprints on the gun or shell casings, an NCIS official familiar with the case said: “I can’t explain that.” (Boston Globe, 6/10/97)
. Fackler, Op. Cit.
[*] See Appendix.
[*] Colonel Lucas ordered Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Verducci to write a JAGMAN report - a non-criminal investigation, concurrent with the NCIS report. As Verducci writes in a letter to Dr. Sabow: “He (Lucas) made it clear that I was not to investigate the matters that the IG had investigated. He told me that the family had endured enough pain and that they should be spared any additional allegations and investigations. Colonel Lucas reminded me that NCIS was conducting the criminal investigation, and told me I should be able to satisfy the requirements of the JAGMAN without bothering the family or waiting for a complete NCIS investigation.” Verducci added that he thought “that Colonel Sabow did not die of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.” (letter of Lt. Col. Anthony J. Verducci, USMC, 3/25/99, copy in author’s possession.)
. James Beissner was the Orange County Coroner. Dr. Arvna Singhania conducted the autopsy.
[*] The Orange County Coroner’s Office is under the supervision of the County Sheriff, which prohibited the Deputy Coroner Jim Beisner from reopening the investigation. “Just this past spring, I was told by the Assistant DA in charge of violent crimes for Orange County that my evidence proved that Colonel Sabow’s was ‘highly suspicious,’” said Dr. Sabow. “His detective pointed to the grand jury chambers in my presence and told me that I would be spending a great deal of time in that room.” But several days later, Assistant DA Mike Jacobs told Sabow that Sheriff Gates said, “Under no circumstances, whatsoever, will there be any further investigation of the death of Colonel Sabow.”
[*] According to Dr. Sabow, a Navy Pathologist was available at Balboa Naval hospital in San Diego, only one hour away by car or a few minutes by helicopter. Not that it would have made a difference. The AFIP played its own role in covering up the murder of Commerce Secretary Ron Brown.
. “The Orange County Coroner’s office supposedly has an arrangement with El Toro,” says Sabow. “However, this does not allow them to perform an autopsy on an active duty serviceman who died on government property.”
. Dr. John David Sabow, interview with author. All quotes, interview with author.
[*] FBI Agents Bill Grode and Fred Collins of the north central FBI district in Minneapolis sent a report on the case to Washington. Sabow subsequently learned that from Washington it had been referred to the Los Angeles FBI bureau but that “it was too hot to handle” and sent back to Washington.... Dr. Sabow wrote a letter to the director of the FBI after not hearing anything for several months. The letter was detailed, and filled with hard evidence. A week or two later, Dr. Sabow received a letter from the Congressional liaison and public affairs officer for the FBI, a man by the name of Collingwood, stating, in essence, that the FBI had already conducted investigations into the matter in 1993, and had found absolutely no evidence of foul play. They were sorry that his brother was dead, but it was over. The FBI didn’t want any part of it. (Gary Null, “The Strange Death of Colonel Sabow,” Pacifica Radio Network, no date provided.)
. Sara Sabow, et. al. v. United States of America, case no. 94-56634, D.C. No. CV-93-00991-AHS.
[*] Unable by law to sue for wrongful death, the Sabows tried to sue the U.S. Government for emotional distress resulting from mis-handling of the investigation and the family’s subsequent treatment. The case was dismissed. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit found the investigation had “alarming instances of poor judgment and a general disregard for sound investigative procedures.” Although the court ruled that officials did not violate any regulations regarding death investigations, the court did say the meeting with General Adams and the attempt to investigate Dr. Sabow resulted in “intentional infliction of emotional distress” and ruled that part of the suit could proceed.
. Dr. David Sabow, interview with author; Notes from Colonel Wayne Rich, copy in author’s possession.
[*] According to Dr. Sabow, Colonel Rich admitted, under oath, in the presence of the U.S. Attorney, to writing the notes.
. Memo from General Ben W. T. Adams to Lt. Poague, 5/17/91, copy in author’s possession.
[*] Colonel Verducci, a JAG officer at the time of the murder, has said on record that Colonel Sabow was murdered. He was assigned by Colonel Lucas to do the first JAGMAN (Judge Advocate General Manual) investigation in the death. Verducci stated that after he was assigned to conduct the re-investigation by the Commanding General, Drax Williams, Colonel Walker in the JAG office gave him a yellow-pad that was compiled by Colonel Lange containing a list of items which were to be the official findings of the re-investigation. Verducci refused to be a part of this scheme. Consequently, he was relieved of the responsibility of conducting the investigation. As Verducci states, “This was nothing more than me reviewing the death certificate stating the name, age and address of Colonel Sabow, much like you would quote in a newspaper obituary.” He was told not to wait for any of the criminal material from NCIS.
[*] Dr. Sabow never did find out from Baldwin the identity of the three men. Said Sabow: “Baldwin won’t talk. She is scared out of her mind.”
[*] They also put a chair underneath Colonel Sabow to say that he was sitting in the chair when he supposedly shot himself. Yet Robinson has testified that chair was nowhere near there. Robinson also stated that he had witnessed the ammunition neatly packaged and stored in a cabinet in the garage, yet it was subsequently photographed on the floor, loosely, to make it appear that the ammunition was found in the middle of the floor for all to see.
[*] “Mysteriously, the one who placed this final call to Colonel Sabow has never acknowledged making that call,” said Sabow. “That call was made just minutes before Colonel Sabow died and consequently identification of the caller was of the utmost importance. All other calls made to Sabow earlier that morning have been identified.”
[*] This is a hypothetical version of events according to Dr. Sabow. In addition, the blow was so violent that it caused a massive depressed occipital bone fracture that penetrated into the back of Sabow’s brain. This evidence is seen on the x-rays taken at the Orange County Coroner’s office but which have been denied by all involved in the cover-up. The NCIS case officer, Cheryl Baldwin, also observed this swelling at the back of the head and testified to this in an interview with JAG officer Colonel Pearcy. Yet, the official reports of the NCIS, the JAGMAN investigation, and the autopsy, state that there was no sign of external trauma.
[*] Underwood was the only one except for family who knew where the guns were kept. Underwood told Dr. Sabow that he helped his brother carry them from the garage where they previously were stored to Colonel Sabow’s son’s bedroom for safe-keeping. Underwood helped Sabow carry several guns from the garage to the bedroom after suggesting that the guns could easily be stolen from the garage. Shortly before the funeral, Underwood told both of Colonel Sabow’s brothers about helping Sabow put the guns in the bedroom. In spite of this conversation, when he was interviewed at the crime scene by an NCIS agent, Underwood stated that he had no knowledge that Sabow even owned a shotgun!
. Underwood never went to Sabow’s house other than through the gate in the backyard. This would have been especially true when Underwood stated that he was carrying a cup of coffee to have with Sabow, for Underwood’s kitchen is in the back of his house, only a short distance from the backyard gate.
[*] After Sally burst into the Underwood house announcing Sabow’s death, Jean, Underwood’s wife, screamed, “Joe, this has gone too far!”
. Underwood stated this under oath.
. A sworn statement of General Adams states that Underwood announced to him that Sabow killed himself by “shooting himself in the mouth.” However, Underwood testified to the NCIS that he never got closer to the body than approximately 30 to 40 feet before he returned to his house to call General Adams.
[*] Underwood told Dr. Sabow that his wife was having epileptic seizures throughout the morning of Colonel Sabow’s death. Yet, he told the NCIS that he was watching television with her when sally burst into his house.
. The official tower records show that there were no plane take-offs from 8:32 a.m. until 9:03 a.m. Several landings occurred but all on the north runway several miles distant. Therefore, plane noise could not have muffled the shotgun blast.
[*] Immediately following the funeral, Underwood disappeared and did not attend the gathering of the family and close friends, a rather odd occurrence for a “close friend” and next door neighbor.
. “Review of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service Investigation into the Death of Colonel James Emery Sabow, United States Marine Corps,” Office of the Inspector General, Department of Defense, 6/5/96, p. 23, copy in author’s possession. According to the OIG report, Craycraft denied making this statement.
[*] According to Dr. Sabow’s sources, C-130 simulators were being used at El Torro to train civilian pilots.
. Ibid., p. 24.
. Brian Downing Quig, e-mail to author.
[*] Former DEA agent Celerino Castillo, along with Dave Harmon, gave the following account in their 1994 book, Powder Burns: Cocaine, Contras and the Drug War: “... every pilot had his own preferred technique for getting his illegal payload to U.S. soil. Some liked the John Wayne approach, flashing their CIA credentials at Florida airfields and unloading the drugs in plain view. Those who wanted to maintain a lower profile shipped the kilos out in innocuous cargoes like towels, seafood, frozen vegetables or auto parts. Many landed at military bases around the United States, knowing no one would inspect a Contra plane....” As former Contra pilot Michael Tolliver states, in March 1986 he flew 28,000 pounds of weapons to Honduras and returned to Florida with 25,360 pounds of marihuana, which were flown directly to Homestead Air Force Base, where they were unloaded and he was paid $75,000 cash.
. OIG report, p. 24.
[*] According to the OIG report, Harries would later deny this, and control tower personal, and emergency fire and rescue personnel would deny any knowledge of the landings.
. Israeli agents are the ones who broke the story of the Iran-Contra scandal in the Lebanese newspaper Al-Shiraa, as a retaliation against Bush for betraying Israel to Iraq. It is also the Israelis who witnessed arms deals, including the transfer of INSLAW’s PROMIS software, in a Chilean meeting.
. “FBI Muzzling Witnesses to Aid Clinton and Bush Family - The Big Purge in Chicago,” Sherman Skolnick’s Report,1999.
[*] Interestingly, when this author and his attorney, Mike Johnson, began investigating allegations of drug smuggling, fraud and murder by E-Systems, Johnston’s office was broken into - twice. The perpetrators left him a tape recording with his voice dubbed into a conversation with two unidentified men. Johnston feels the message was: “Hey, we’ve got you on a wire statute violation, and if you don’t back off, we’ll take you down.” Two weeks later, as I was about to drive to Dallas to meet with an E-Systems whistle blower - Winfred Richardson, a former employee - all four of my tires were slashed. Richardson told me that two other persons connected with the case had their tires slashed in a similar way. E-Systems, possibly in conjunction with the NSA, has also been intercepting and rerouting my e-mail.
. J. Orlin Grabbe, “Allegations Regarding Vince Foster, the NSA, and Banking Transactions Spying, Part XXX,” posted on Internet, no date provided; Al Martin, interviews with author.
. Underwood was a Lt. Colonel at the time.
[*] Underwood’s office was subsequently broken into by the Inspector General’s staff in an attempt to secure documents outlining the extent of the unauthorized clandestine criminal activity.
[*] According to Sabow, Davis admitted that the conversation took place.
. Underwood informed Sabow of some of these activities on Sunday, January 13, 1991.
. OIG report, p. 27.
. Statement of Sally Sabow.
[*] According to Griggs, Steiner, Linda Tripp’s boss, was the head of the JFK assassin school (a nickname). Joy was with the Delta Force, and according to Griggs, trained the operatives that went into Waco and were involved in abducting Panamanian President Manuel Noriega.
[*] Grigg’s may be confusing the Phoenix Program with the assassinations run by the military and CIA in Vietnam, that was responsible for almost 40,000 murders of non-combatants. Most likely, the Phoenix Program she describes is an off-shoot of that program.
[*] “We learned only relatively recently that [Davison] wore two hats,” says Sabow. “One hat was in the role of the IG for the Corps. The other was in ‘intelligence.’ Davison suspected that Colonel Sabow was murdered and returned to El Toro in February, a few weeks after the assassination. We don’t know the results of that visit. After I gave information to the LA Times regarding Adams which hit the front pages, Davison returned a third time. This was in May.
. Ace Hayes, “Colonel Sabow Murder and Cover-Up,” Portland Free Press, July-October, 1996; David Sabow, interview with author. According to Lt. Col. Craig Roberts, retired Army officer, former Marine and noted investigative journalist: “The Navy and Marines have a section on each base that deals with the morale, welfare and recreation of the personnel and families. It used to be called “Special Services,” where you could check out sports equipment or play games, pool, etc. It has expanded and now personnel are assigned to maintain a facility, organize events, meetings, and handle all recreational or civilian related activities. The Morale Officer is a regular officer with other duties that has this as an additional duty assignment.”
[*] Colonel Ron Fix was in charge of this department and, among other duties, was in charge of letting all civilian contracts, including those for proprietary airlines. He also was capable of making the arrangements for acquisitions and dispersal of planes through the base air museum.
[*] Wheaton claims he was approached by CIA Deputy Director of Operations Carl Jenkins to help set up dummy airlines which would later be used for drug and weapons smuggling. Rep. Bill McCollum (FL), a long-time friend of CIA DCI William Casey, was also implicated in this operation.
[*] On October 22, 1994, Swails and his assistant, Nancy Sundervan, came to Sabow’s home. The investigators immediately started questioning Sabow about his knowledge of covert activities and his sources of documentation. Their questions were direct: Who are your sources? Who supplied you with information from headquarters? Sabow insisted on going over the evidence point by point, and the two so-called investigators continued to resist. They were not open to any evidence that did not support their point of view. The two were particularly disturbed by statements and autopsy photos regarding a large lump on the back of Colonel Sabow’s head, and by the idea that it was not likely that a person would hit himself over the head before shooting himself. According to David, whenever such an inconsistency arose, the two would ignore it, change the topic, or offer to show it to the FBI. At one point during the interview the investigators actually said that they were not going to consider any evidence that was not pointing toward suicide. After Swails and Sundervan left, Judge [Marshall] Young (who sat in on the meeting) told David that “I have never seen anything in my life like this, and I’ve been on the bench for over 30 years. I have never seen a capital crime proved so conclusively. You have proved murder in spades.” He went on to say, “But I want you to know, you’re dealing with evil people. And you make one grave mistake. You have faith in the judicial system. I don’t.” Three or four days after the meeting, Gene Wheaton called Larry Swails to find out how the Rapid City investigation went. Gene had known Larry years before when he was a criminal investigator for the army. Swails answered that the meeting was “an absolute waste of time. All Dr. Sabow wanted to talk about was the investigation of his brother’s murder. He didn’t want to say anything about covert activities.” (Gary Null, “The Strange Death of Colonel Sabow,” Pacifica Radio Network, no date provided.)
. Ace Hayes, “Colonel Sabow Murder and Cover-Up,” Portland Free Press, July-October, 1996; David Sabow, interview with author.
. Dr. David Sabow, interview with author.
. Weldon is the nephew of Congressman Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania.
. OIG report, p. 28.
. Gary Null, “The Strange Death of Colonel Sabow,” Pacifica Radio Network, no date provided.
[*] Shackley is the retired CIA Miami Station Chief and a past Deputy director of Operations for the CIA.
. Davison’s statement according to a witness at the scene.
[*] In U.S. v. Roy Regan, Tucson (1998) former CIA pilot and special independent counsel Gary Eitel testified that CIA was flying drugs into Mena, AR as far back as 1972.
[*] The NCIS video of the crime scene investigation. “The video obviously did not capture the THREE but it showed the NCIS Forensic ‘expert’ contaminating the hands of Colonel Sabow,” says Sabow. “After extracting the spent shell from the shotgun He grabbed Colonel Sabow's hand without changing his gloves, then he swabbed the hand for residue.”
. Gary Null, “The Strange Death of Colonel Sabow,” Pacifica Radio Network, no date provided.