Thought some of you might find this interesting, it's quite the story here in Mid MO.
By Todd C. Frankel
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Thursday, Jun. 05 2008
Gerald — They were giving the FBI agent a hard time. The agent wanted to ask
questions. The mayor and aldermen wanted proof he was really FBI.
The agent's gun and brass badge did not sway the town officials. They were
still reeling from being hoodwinked by a fake undercover federal officer who
for weeks ran raids and made arrests with local police. The FBI agent just
wanted to ask about the case. He produced an ID card. The mayor still balked.
The agent bristled. Finally, town leaders agreed to talk, but only after making
"He didn't think that was very funny," Mayor Otis Schulte recalled, smiling.
"But we did."
There was a time, say a month back, when people here probably would never
question an FBI agent's identity.
But questions are flying these days over just how this town was conned, who to
believe, who to blame and why this happened in Gerald of all places, a sleepy
spot in Franklin County that has become a regional laughingstock. "Why in the
world us?" the mayor asked.
As new details have emerged, a bizarre case has gotten only more bizarre. The
fake agent's attorney insists his client was motivated by "good intentions,"
and hints that he did not act alone in planning the ruse. There is a growing
suspicion among some residents that the fake undercover cop was, perhaps, real.
"This is a strange story," confirmed Chet Pleban, a St. Louis lawyer hired by
the three former Gerald police officers, including the chief, who were fired
over the scam.
For at least two months, the role of undercover drug enforcement agent was
played by Bill Jakob, 36, a married father of two from nearby Washington, Mo.
He played the part well, according to townspeople.
Jakob favored black T-shirts with "Police" emblazoned across the chest. He
carried a gun and badge. He knew the law. He looked like The Law, too — tall,
clean-cut, short-cropped hair and a linebacker's build. In February, he bought
a 2003 Ford Crown Victoria. The unmarked car was perfect; it once had been used
by the Phelps County Sheriff's Department, according to public records.
Jakob was a cop down to the tiniest details, except he was not one. Not for any
federal agency or any local town.
"He made some serious errors in judgment. He regrets them," explained Jakob's
attorney, Joel Schwartz of St. Louis. "His intentions were in the right place,
but they were not gone about in the right way by him or the department."
According to Schwartz, the ruse began "innocently enough" after Jakob read in a
local newspaper in early January about Ryan McCrary, then Gerald's police
chief. The article noted McCrary had worked as a contractor in Afghanistan.
Jakob was intrigued. He drove 30 miles down to Gerald to meet with McCrary, and
the two men became friends, Schwartz said.
Jakob "didn't just show up in Gerald and say, 'I'm here to save the day and rid
the town of all the drugs,'" said Schwartz.
That idea was hatched with others, although Schwartz stopped short of saying
the former chief aided Jakob. "I think it is next to impossible for someone to
pull this off alone," he said, adding: "It is very, very difficult, if not
impossible, to believe that there were not those who knew — either by willful
negligence or outright knew."
McCrary's attorney called the notion "absolutely, categorically false."
But for some people in town, there is something hard to understand at the heart
of the case: Jakob seemed to excel at his fake job.
Jakob started working with the town's five-person police force in February,
shortly after the town applied for a federal grant to buy police radios. Jakob
told officials he was on loan from a regional drug task force.
Mayor Schulte figured someone in the federal government spotted the radio
application and decided to send help. The town does have a problem with drugs,
especially methamphetamine. Police tried to verify Jakob's story, even calling
a phone number provided by Jakob for the drug task force and talking to a woman
who confirmed his story.
With Jakob on board, the department embarked on a series of raids and made at
least a dozen arrests, all of which are now in doubt and likely will end as
"Either he was a super-good impersonator, or he was who he said he was,"
Alderman Richard Johnson said. "I'm not sure about him yet."
Neither is the mayor.
"He knew too much about what was going on. He knew too much about the law,"
Plus, Schulte said, if Jakob really was a fake, why is he still a free man?
Jakob had not been charged as of Tuesday, but Schwartz said he has been told
that federal authorities plan to indict Jakob. He could face felony charges.
Jakob never made a dime from the town, Schulte said. The closest he came was
being appointed a reserve officer in late April, a move requested by Jakob so
he could enforce town ordinances. In Gerald, a reserve officer must work eight
hours a month before earning $9 an hour. Not exactly a get-rich scheme, the
mayor pointed out. A day after the appointment, Jakob's charade was uncovered.
The key to Jakob's unveiling was search warrants. According to several
witnesses, Jakob liked to brag that federal agents do not need them. That
struck many people as odd.
"I asked him for a search warrant. But after 9/11, I thought maybe they had
changed the law," recalled Karen Couch, 60, whose home was raided during a
search for her grandson.
Michael Holland, who was arrested by Jakob in April, said he, too, questioned
the lack of a warrant. "You can watch the DEA on TV and see that they need a
search warrant," said Holland, 21.
Holland is one of 17 people who have filed federal suits claiming unlawful
arrest and civil rights violations. One of the suits — which names Jakob, the
Police Department, the mayor and the city — seeks $11 million for each victim.
"Come on, let's get real," Mayor Schulte said. "The whole assessed valuation of
the town is something like $13 million."
But it was the problem with search warrants that, to some people, makes it seem
even more possible that Jakob is a true rogue agent. The theory is that Jakob
was an undercover agent who messed up.
While the FBI has declined to comment, Franklin County Sheriff Gary Toelke shot
down that idea. "There is no way in the world this guy is an undercover agent
that no one wants to recognize," said Toelke, whose department is helping
investigate the case.
Jakob, who declined to comment for this story, is something of a mystery.
According to interviews and public records, he was raised in Fairview Heights.
He served in the Army National Guard and transferred into the 101st Airborne at
Fort Campbell, Ky., according to his attorney. Documents show a Fort Campbell
address for Jakob. He never saw combat. In 1994, when he was 22, Jakob pleaded
guilty of misdemeanor sexual abuse for having sex with an underage female. He
paid a $100 fine.
In 2003, he filed for bankruptcy in federal court, claiming he ran a trucking
company and was $184,000 in debt. He recently settled a wrongful death suit for
a May 2003 accident in which he struck a 6-year-old boy who ran into the path
of his Ford F-150 in Franklin County.
While Jakob's fate remains uncertain, Schulte, as mayor, has been criticized
for the fake-cop debacle. A local newspaper editorial called town officials
"Barneys and Goobers" without any "Andys." There was a brief effort to have
But Schulte, who runs a home store in town, said he barely knew Jakob. He met
him a handful of times with the police chief, who told him Jakob was an
undercover federal agent.
Plus, Schulte said, he did not want to know too much. He worried about
befriending Jakob and then accidentally waving to him at the gas station or
saying hello at the store.
The last thing the mayor wanted to do was blow the man's cover.
So was the "fake cop" just trying to go vigilante and clean up the streets?? It didn't seem like he was getting anything out of it, except the stand-by LEO job they offered him.
Too bad all those cases will probably get dropped.
Follow up story: Real FBI agent didn't think it was funny when the town officials wouldn't take his gun and badge as proof that he was a real FBI agent.
Read that link and find my post near the bottom of page 2. Now look at the date!
I knew there had to be something more! I knew the chief in question at one time. There is a WHOLE lot more to the story!