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Monday 27 August 2000 THE REAL STORY ABOUT JOHN FASHANU'S SO CALLED PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR
by George Noah
The man with many identities,
his links with the Scientology organisation,
his recruitment of John Fashanu [and]
his intrigues with the Nigerian government in his
bid to destroy Bob Minton
David Lee (aka Robert Clarke aka Ron Christopher), whose real name is David Lebeau, is a private investigator who has worked for the Scientology organisation for at least eight years. For the purpose of this report, we shall refer to the investigator as David Lee. After he was handed the project of destroying, Bob Minton, the retired American investment banker, the Scientology organisation is hell bent on destroying, Lee's first task was to research into Minton's past to find out where he could be vulnerable. Lee soon found out that Minton's company once did a debt buy back operation for the Central Bank of Nigeria between 1988 - 1993. The private investigator/cum Scientology agent immediately went to work with the hope of digging up something unpleasant about Minton. For three years he compiled a dossier on Minton. These were the years Fashanu was later to claim, he spent his own money investigating those who looted Nigeria's treasury!
The fact is that Lee personally compiled the ''Fashanu Report'' and equally placed John Fashanu on his payroll and not the other way round as the former footballer has been suggesting. Through recommendations especially from another Scientologist, Chief Rilwanu Lukman, who claims to be a devout Muslim, Lee recruited Fashanu to spearhead the assault on Minton. Journalists who interviewed Fashanu on the debt buy back deal are unanimous in their views that Fashanu could not hold any intelligent discussion on the report he claims he put together. Lee who is Fashanu's boss, is extremely cagey about being identified as a Scientologist, lest his cover is revealed. This was why both men failed to appear at the public forum on the debt buy back deals organised by the Nigerian Democratic Movement at Howard University, Washington DC, two months ago. They both claimed to have been advised not to appear by their lawyers! Yet both men had craved media attention for the debt buy back scheme. Lee was always at the background whilst Fashanu hopped from one media house to another. Indeed, Lee was aware that former Scientology members were to attend the public forum. Hence his decision to abscond. As for Fashanu, he must have succumbed to his cerebral deficiencies and had decided not to embarrass himself or his paymasters.
Having recruited Fashanu, thought to be an ideal candidate for the job at the time, Lee devised a media plan in April this year, to give the ''Fashanu Report'' the required publicity blitz. He prepared a question and answer document and both men went to work. Within two weeks, the media began to take interest. The Nigerian debt buyback scheme soon became headline news in several London publications including; Africa Confidential, The Times, The Voice, New Nation and The Mirror. Shortly after, the Nigerian media followed suit.
Lee ensured that Fashanu was placed under surveillance. Fashanu on the other hand tried to outwit Lee by acquiring new fixed network and mobile phones to make discreet telephone calls. It is believed that Fashanu had considered quitting the project, due to the scrutiny of his credibility and his motives, but he appears incapable of doing so, because of the dossier Lee has on him. Sometime in May, Lee shocked Professor Bolaji Aluko in his Howard University office by playing back a conversation Fashanu had with Ned Nwoko, a member of the House of Representatives. Lee was at that time on the verge of abandoning Fashanu because the ex footballer was becoming a liability. He felt it was a high wire strategy to pin all his three year work on a man whose credibility was being eroded by the day and confided in Aluko that Fashanu could not be trusted. He said Fashanu was like a lose cannon. Fashanu had approached the Abachas with the aim of extorting money from them claiming the ''Fashanu Report'' had information that showed they stole Nigeria's money. The Abachas wanted Fashanu to substantiate his claims, but the former footballer never went past that stage because he never had that information in the first instance. Fashanu had also ''recruited'' Ned Nwoko as someone from the Presidency who could facilitate the prosecution of Minton. Lee was to find out from his secret taping of Fashanu and Nwoko, that Nwoko was on his own and was not working for the Presidency.
Sensing that the Fashanu angle had outlived its usefulness, and that the ex footballer was more of a liability than an asset, Lee began work on plan B. In June when President Obasanjo went to Switzerland, Lee and his group were on his trail. With the help of Lukman, Lee was able to meet Obasanjo for about 30 minutes. Lee later said he was so surprised about the lack of security around Obasanjo. ''They (security agents) did not even frisk me before I met the President'' Lee later told Aluko. It was during the meeting with Obasanjo that Lee brought up the Minton issue. After that meeting, Nigeria at attempted to press charges against Minton. But it is believed the government is reconsidering its move because independent lawyers have counselled that Minton has no case to answer. One source said several lawyers had rummaged through the ''Fashanu Report'' and thought the country could end up with eggs on its face if the case was taken any further.
Another inside source said the government was advised that the ''Fashanu Report'' did not prove Minton had committed any offence and that the whole controversy was being spearheaded by the Scientology organisation in its bid to embarrass Minton. They also proffered the following advise; that the Nigerian Senate had claimed in its report that the debt buy back deal in question was transparently executed and that the companies Lee and his group claimed was owned by Minton in defrauding Nigeria was actually owned 100 per cent by the Central Bank of Nigeria; that Minton's debt buy back scheme had saved Nigeria about $5 billion;and that Nigeria had demonstrated financial engineering in reducing its debt at the expense of the nation's creditors.
Nigerian government officials have gone cold in their liaison with Lee and Fashanu, having realised Lee's motives, the futility of the case against Minton, and that Lee is a man of various identities. Sources said Lee attempted to see Obasanjo in London last week through the Nigeria High Commission, but was given a cold shoulder. It is believed that Lee has returned to the drawing board to devise another method of attack against Minton.
From 1993 onwards, Lee ensured that Minton lost his privacy. Lee and his group virtually kept tabs on Minton's telephone conversations and travel itinerary. They compiled a list of all those who knew Minton and approached them with the aim of gathering incriminating information about him. They tailed Minton's daughters, wife, father and mother whether they were in the United States or abroad. It was a sophisticated surveillance activity. The Scientology organisation did not spare a dime in ensuring that they trailed their public enemy number one and his family. The idea was to intimidate and overwhelm Minton. But that approach failed, because Minton vowed that he would continue to expose the totalitarian nature of Scientology and to continue the funding for the civil case instituted against the cult organisation for the death in custody of one of their former member, named Lisa MacPherson. The Scientology organisation stand to lose a whopping $100 million if they lose the case. Hence the need to force Minton to abandon the funding for that litigation by all means necessary.
In 1998, Lee and his agents broke into the London West End offices of Minton's business partner, Jeffrey Schmidt and photocopied all the documents they found. The bulk of the documents found is what we now know as the ''Fashanu Report''. Lee and Fashanu have declined to include Schmidt or Selwyn Lewis, the two other business partners of Minton in the debt buyback scheme. This is because Minton is the only target. The ''Fashanu Report'' is about 150 pages thick. On the face of it, it looks impressive but the document on its own does not prove any criminal act perpetrated by Minton. It only demonstrates that someone had taken great pains to do some investigation and gather confidential documents.
Lee came up with the $6 billion debt buy back scam to generate interest in his project. But no such money was involved in the debt buy back deal. Indeed, the Central bank employed $1.1 billion to buy back over $4 billion of Nigeria's debt. But Fashanu and Lee hopped from one media house to another, telling those who cared to listen that they had uncovered about 6 billion dollars of Nigeria's money looted from the treasury. Fashanu swore that his revelations had led to the freezing of some bank accounts in Europe, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. To date he and Lee has failed to provide details of such accounts that had been frozen and where they had been frozen. Not a single name has been linked to accounts that have been frozen through the Lee/Fashanu crusade. Not one. Lee even claimed Minton's accounts had been frozen, but has declined to substantiate his claims. Minton on the other hand had called the duo liars, insisting they were in fantasy island.
Back to David Lee and his background. Lee's base of operations has been in Los Angeles in Scientology-owned offices. Notionally, he work for Omega Legal Services, or Omega Legal Investigations, in Cedar Ridge, Colorado, where anyone can be a private investigator no license is required. The business in Cedar Ridge is owned by a man named George Bacon. This "business," however, is only someone's house with a phone line in it.
The first time David Lee surfaced working for Scientology was in 1992, when he befriended a group of high-level Scientology executives who had recently left the organisation. Their names were Terri and Fernando Gamboa, Janice and Paul Grady, Mark Fisher, and several others. They all settled in Las Vegas and started a mortgage company together. These people knew him as David Lebeau. He was sent in to keep tabs on them to make sure they didn't cause any trouble for the organisation. These people knew he was a plant because of certain questions he asked and the way he behaved generally, but they never let on to him that they knew. Their thinking was that it was better to know who was being run in on them, thereby being able to control the situation, than to blow his cover and risk having another person sent in that they might not spot.
Lebeau kept especially close tabs on Terri Gamboa, who had been the highest-ranking executive and knew the most about Scientology's underhand activities. He went so far as to travel with Terri and Fernando to Australia when they went there on a vacation. Lebeau was reportedly in Las Vegas with these people for two years. He next appeared in Seattle, Washington, in charge of a surveillance team that was set up under the control of Scientology intelligence officer Ben Shaw in Los Angeles. From 1994 until 1998 David Lee ran this team, whose job was to monitor and report on the activities of two former-Scientologists-turned-critics, Stacy and Vaughn Young. (Stacy's name is now Brooks).
Under Lee's direction, activities against the Youngs were calculated to destroy their reputations, get them put in prison, and get Stacy incarcerated in a mental institution. The Youngs' trash was stolen repeatedly, as evidenced by many phone calls from local businesses advising them that their trash envelopes with their names on them, were overflowing in the garbage cans. Both David Lee and Eugene Ingram, another Scientology-hired private investigator, went door-to-door in the Youngs' neighbourhood, spreading negative stories about them and passing out photographs. A fifteen-page "newsletter" was placed on the doorsteps of everyone in the Youngs' neighbourhood. This "newsletter" contained negative reports accusing the Youngs' of pornography, child abuse and more.
One of the men on the surveillance team later quit in disgust and contacted Bob Minton to tell him what the team had done. He said they had parabolic microphones on the Youngs' house twenty-four hours a day so that they could tape record all of their conversations. The tapes were sent down every day to Ben Shaw.
The Youngs were in the process of establishing a sanctuary for lost and abandoned cats. David Lee's team targeted these animals for destruction as a way of forcing the Youngs to stop their public criticism of Scientology. In the summer of 1997 Stacy Young was interviewed by the popular American 60 Minutes TV programme for an expose about Scientology. Scientology attorneys sent her a threatening letter telling her to withdraw her permission to allow 60 Minutes to use her interview on the show. Stacy refused to do so. At the same time, Vaughn testified before the state government in Hamburg, Germany, about his knowledge of Scientology's criminal activities. In retaliation for the Youngs' actions, Scientology ordered David Lee and his team to launch an all-out assault to have them arrested on criminal animal abuse charges.
Two Scientology operatives under David Lee's direction moved into an apartment next door to the Youngs and began going door to door in the neighbourhood complaining about diseased cats and filthy conditions. The neighbours knew these complaints were false and did nothing about them. Lee organised a phone campaign against the Youngs to Animal Control, which began coming to the Youngs' house nearly every day to inspect, based on these anonymous phone complaints. The house was always impeccably clean and the rescued cats were healthy and clean. Then anonymous calls were made to the City Council and Mayor's offices.
David Lee visited the Youngs' veterinarian and told him the animals at the Youngs were diseased and filthy. The veterinarian made regular house calls to the sanctuary, so he knew Lee's reports were false. Next Lee left anonymous letters on the doorsteps of all the Youngs' neighbours warning the neighbours they better complain to the authorities about the Youngs' filthy, diseased animals.
David Lee had his team make anonymous calls to the county mental health department, complaining that Stacy Young was crazy and needed to be incarcerated. One evening two officials from the commitment division arrived at the Youngs' house in white coats to take her away. Fortunately Stacy was able to convince them that she was sane, and went on the explain that the anonymous calls they had received were part of an orchestrated campaign by David Lee, working for Scientology, to keep her from speaking out about Scientology.
Lee had people picketing the Youngs' house, but all the neighbours would come and chase the picketers away. Finally David Lee began targeting the Youngs' landlord, who lived in the neighbourhood. Lee called the landlord threatening to have him arrested for violations of the local city ordinances. The landlord told the Youngs they would have to move the sanctuary elsewhere.
Just as David Lee thought he had been successful in driving the Youngs into silence about Scientology, Robert Minton contacted them and offered to help them purchase another house where they could safely care for their rescued animals.
The Youngs moved to Vashon, an island in Puget Sound a half hour from Seattle. Lee took his team to Vashon and launched a new assault on the Youngs there. He circulated false "public health warnings" about the Youngs' filthy, diseased cats, telling people they could catch AIDS from the animals. He approached the county storage facility, which was next door to the Youngs' house, and asked to be allowed to set up surveillance equipment on the Youngs. The county refused. While Vaughn Young was in Germany to testify again about Scientology, David Lee had the Youngs' dog kidnapped, presumably with the intention of killing him. Fortunately, the dog was able to escape but was nearly dead when neighbours found him. All his teeth had been kicked out by what the vet thought must have been a big boot, and his back was severely hurt as if he had jumped out of a moving car or truck.
It was discovered in late 1998, that Lee was the case officer for a deep undercover agent (Laura Terepin aka Jolie Steckart). Jolie Steckart was provided with a false identity and operated under an assumed name when she first volunteered to work for the Cult Awareness Network (CAN) in 1990. CAN was sued out of existence by Scientology in 1997. In early 1998, she volunteered to work for another anti-cult group, FACTNET which was also being sued by Scientology. But while she was at FACTNET Minton hired an investigator who uncovered Jolie and her more-than-eight-year undercover operation against the anti-cult community which was in 1998 being orchestrated by David Lee. She has not been seen since.
Lee's campaign against Minton has been the most pervasive anyone familiar with Scientology's methods has ever seen. David Lee has been assigned to supervise a campaign to destroy Minton since at least October 1997, when he directed a Scientology operative named Mary Frances Newey to go to Nashville, Tennessee, to begin doing a background check on Minton. This woman bumbled the job, asking about Bob's father, Robert Minton Sr., by mistake.
But a few days later, the same operative called Minton and told him that Scientology was prepared to start attacking him on several fronts unless he stopped giving financial support to Scientology's enemies. The areas of possible attack she listed to Minton were family, children, his ex-wife, his ex-business partners, his state and federal taxes, his mental health, drugs, and paying picketers. Of course, Minton informed her he had no intention of backing away because of her threats.
At the end of November, Minton was in Seattle to visit the Youngs after they moved into the house he had bought for them. While there he discovered that on the morning the house closed, Lee had visited the real estate agent who had taken care of the transaction. Lee admitted to the realtor that he had trespassed on the property, just "having a look around."
In mid-December Therese Minton arrived at the house in New Hampshire and found a dead cat on the doorstep, courtesy of Lee. In January 1998 Lee launched a flurry of picketing and leafleting in Boston against Minton. The first leaflet, distributed under cover of darkness in Minton's Beacon Hill neighbourhood, was titled "HATRED HIDDEN BEHIND FREE SPEECH" and was signed the Church of Scientology. The day after Lee's partner Eugene Ingram was making phone calls to Minton's friends and associates saying he was investigating Minton for conspiracy to commit extortion. The same day, Minton found out that Lee had called his father to drive a wedge between them.
On January 8, 1998, David Lee visited Minton's mother, uncle, aunt, and his two brothers at their places of business, to do his usual job. Meanwhile, Lee's group of undercover leafleters returned to Minton's neighbourhood in the middle of the night with a new leaflet: NEIGHBOUR PAYS TO CREATE HATRED AGAINST RELIGIOUS GROUP. This leaflet accused Minton of funding pornographers, sado-masochists, and neo-Nazis. Later in January, Lee surfaced in Los Angeles, having tracked down a former employee of Minton living there. Lee told the former associate that he was contacting everyone he could find who had worked with Minton. Again, Lee did the usual.
By March 5, a private investigator calling himself Ron Christopher offered a large sum of money to a former business associate of Minton in return for information about Minton. There is reason to believe that Ron Christopher is a pseudonym for David Lee. This same private investigator identified himself as being with Financial Researchers when he made calls to several of Minton's friends and associates asking questions about him. On August 24, 1998, a group of people picketed the office building of a former associate of Minton's, Bob Smith, who had been quoted in the New York Times giving a favourable report about Minton's character. Private investigator Lee was undoubtedly the source of the information about where Bob Smith could be found, at the Turan Corporation, a company Smith and Minton had founded together.
Later in August David Lee contacted Minton's son to do what he knows best. A few days later, Lee directed an event in Minton's Beacon Hill neighbourhood during which leaflets were passed out to friends, neighbours, and parents of his children's classmates, primarily intended to upset his children about their father. That evening people with picket signs showed up in New Hampshire holding picket signs again intended to upset Minton's children. In September, David Lee's counterpart in England, Peter Franks, continued the co-ordinated campaign to destroy Minton's family by visiting Therese Minton's friends and family there. Franks said Lee would visit every neighbour in Boston, as well as the Minton children's teachers, administrators and parents of their friends.
In October 1998, Lee co-ordinated with Franks to see that a 14-page pack of discrediting materials was delivered to Minton's former partner, Jeff Schmidt, and the Nigerian Minister of Finance in Washington, D.C., during the IMF meeting there. This was the beginning of the campaign to use Nigeria to go after Minton. Shortly after that IMF meeting, as earlier stated, someone burgled the London office of Minton's former partner, Jeff Schmidt. Based on the Greenland Holding information contained in the Scientology written Fashanu Report released in April 2000 by John Fashanu, the data from Jeff Schmidt's office was stolen by someone working for Franks and Lee and included in the Fashanu Report.
Peter Franks has had numerous meetings and phone calls with Jeff Schmidt and Selwyn Lewis since early 1998 and conducted a serious campaign of harassment directed at Jeff and his wife which forced them to leave England for Brunei (where Jeff's wife is from). Lee has continued to work in co-ordination with Peter Franks on the non existent $6 billion debt buy back scheme that would turn the Nigerian Government against Minton.
But it appears the government now has a better appreciation of these intrigues.