Law Office Report #48
August 15, 1978
from June [Crym]
- Vincent Lopez [handwritten insertion: “Sr. (natural dad of Vincent Jr.)”] – attached is a copy of rap sheet on him; Brewster is checking further to see current situation re 7/7/78 arrest, whether he is in jail. [Editor’s note: See pages B5b(11a2) – (11a7) on PDF for paperwork related to this item.]
- The hearing on the PT v. Stoen order to show cause has been continued to October 17, to give Charles breathing space and a chance to go overseas first and meet firsthand.
- FCC letter to Tom – see attached. Note that they address the letter to Tom at WD6DVI [ham radio call letters] but the first paragraph refers to WD6DTJ the old station. We think that was an error on their part but it shows to us the conspiratorial nature of the whole thing. Also, the traffic was monitored from [next word circled] Arizona, as was the previous FCC problem last time when the unknown “coordinator” intercepted overseas traffic. [Marshall] Bentzman knows nothing about FCC law and is going to call a friend attorney in Washington who specializes in FCC law; Charles [Garry] knows nothing either about FCC law and was in a terrible mood today when we asked him briefly, said see Marshall about it. (He just had the bags under his eyes removed and had a hard time of it with a double dose of morphine, insisting on driving himself home from the hospital, barely being able to see, and felt rotten when we showed up at the office the next day. He went home early. This would explain his current attitude towards any questions whatsoever, and we backed off, till the next day, when he would be feeling better.)
- Mendocino Grapevine article by Kathy Hunter – attached is copy of transcript of the article, telephoned down from the [Redwood] Valley.
- Air compressor suit – Bentzman feels it’s worth it to answer the complaint and tried to get the compressor back. We sold the office complex and garage to Redwood Empire Investment Corp; who then sold it to Snyder within the week. We had a rent free lease from Redwood Empire Investment for 6 months; when those 6 months for up and we needed the garage, we were in the position of having to rent the garage from Snyder who was by now the owner. There are some California cases which say that if a fixture is necessary for the operation of the business, and the compressor is necessary for garage to operate, then the fixture should remain the property of the buyer. But, we didn’t sell the garage to Redwood Empire Investment to operate as a garage; they bought it as a business deal, off which to make money, and so we would have no obligation to Snyder to leave the compressor in the garage. If Snyder intended to operate the garage as a garage, he would have had to get his own compressor anyway assuming we hadn’t taken the 6 month lease. Harold’s having orally told him otherwise doesn’t make any difference. Bentzman also was considering countersuing for malicious prosecution but we talked him out of it because it’s a waste of time and money in redneck country.
[Handwritten note at bottom of page: “Bring power of attorney forms down”]
Law Office Report #48
August 15, 1978
- Ranch audit – See Law office report #46, #4 – Claire [Janaro] wrote to the Franchise Tax Board and they sent her back the attached waiver form, about which Bentzman has some concern and wants to discuss it first. I am sending a copy on to you, and would appreciate some study of it over there because if the final decision is to go ahead and sign it, then you can have Richard [Janaro] sign and mail it back and save a lot of time. (Bonnie [Beck] told us tonight that Claire told the taxman that she would be glad to sign the waiver and that she would have it back from Guyana signed by Richard within 3 weeks…) [Editor’s note: See pages B5b(11c) – (11c1) on PDF for paperwork related to this item.]
- General remarks on meetings with Charles the past week or so – He talked to the LA DA [Steve] Ramirez who is poking around into the Medlock situation, etc. – who told Charles he wants to meet Lorie Efrien [Laurie Efrein], who had sent him the most interesting letters. Charles wanted to know who was Lorie and if she could hold her own in talking with Ramirez. Charles wants to bring Ramirez over to the SF Temple; meet with Vee [Hollins], Florida [Johnson], and Mac [Jim McElvane], and he wants Kay’s husband to meet with him also. Says we should completely deny any wrongdoing. Re filing affidavits by people already overseas in the 3 lawsuits: he’s not sure whether anyone signing affidavit may be subject to coming back for court appearance; but Nancy, the law clerk who passed the Bar and who has been researching our case said the local rules seem to indicate that affidavits are sufficient and oral testimony is not required. Still checking into this. In reference to Debbie Touchette, Phil B [Blakey] and Lisa L [Layton] writing affidavits re Debbie [Layton], he said no, that would open us up for a libel suit; re writing letters to media as relatives – we’d be part of a conspiracy and they’d have a libel suit on us for that. He wants us not to do anything re publicizing here that Debbie stole $15,000+ – not unless he files something in court first. And he can’t do that until something starts overseas first, until there is a formal warrant out for her arrest over there. “There isn’t anyone here who can testify to her stealing; it happened there” so there is where the action will have to start. He said if there is a warrant out for her arrest over there, then we can talk about it here.
- Attached is copy of latest letter to Frolich which he wanted to formalize relationship between him and us … written by Martha.
- I am sending not attached to this Maria’s affidavit to be signed by her and notarized. While I am writing this, she is in Jonestown; hopefully she will still be there when this reaches you. Otherwise, you’ll just have to ship it back down the river to her because it does have to be notarized in Georgetown, and we will need it soon.
[Editor’s note: B5b(11a2) – (11a7) is arrest record of Vincent Lopez, referenced in Item 1.
B5b(11b) – (11b2)
Mendocino Grapevine 8/10/78
front page: “More Trouble for Peoples Temple”
page 3: “Is Time Running Out on Peoples Temple?” by Kathy Hunter … Last in series…
“Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceedingly small. The with patients he stands waiting with exactness, he grinds all.”
In the case of Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple, however, it appears that the mills are picking up speed and what must be a most disconcerting pace for Jones. The Rev. Jim Jones, called Father by his flock, parlayed for a small group of dedicated followers he brought with him to Redwood Valley from Indianapolis into an empire which now stretches from San Francisco and Los Angeles to this controversial agricultural mission in the remote jungles of Guyana, South America. This “empire” is now in danger of collapsing under the combined weight of disenchanted followers, 3 civil suits charging slander, fraud, extortion, and threats of physical violence, and the growing feeling on the part of certain state and national figures that they’ve been had.
The latest development poses the most serious threat of all to Jim Jones. An official investigation by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office into whether or not a criminal indictment should be brought against this self-styled Messiah. Criminal charges could involve grand theft and extortion, officials said.
“The investigation is ongoing and active,[“] Steve Ramirez of the LA District Attorney’s Office told the reporter this week. “We are making every effort to corroborate the facts.” Ramirez, who is coming to San Francisco next week, where he hopes to delve more deeply into the background of those connected with the Peoples Temple, both in the city and in Redwood Valley, says he hopes to have things “wrapped up” by the end of this month. To that end he is seeking a more intimate knowledge of what really went on in Redwood Valley once Jones, his family and his followers bought the old Van Fleet property. Robert VanFleet was once the right arm of Judge Fred Goss, the Ukiah Justice Court Judge back in the 50s and 60s, and the sale of the house and land on Redwood Valley’s East Road was conducted by Paul Johnson, a former Ukiah realtor who was impressed by Jones and his group, and suggested to this reporter that their coming to the area might make a good local story. She followed up on the tip and interviewed Jones in his new home, took photographs of his multiracial family. She also came away with the feeling that Peoples Temple would be a real asset to the community. In many ways it was. The Temple brought men and women into the area whose talents encompass the fields of social service, nursing, technical-medical expertise and education. Children who needed dental care did not go without for lack of money. Jim Jones saw to that whenever it was brought to his attention. A family en route to Eureka, where the husband had a job waiting for him, was stranded in Ukiah when their car broke down. Not eligible for any official aid because they were not residents of the county, a non-official appeal was made to Jim Jones. He provided the family with food and lodging for three days while the car was being repaired,
[page 2 of article]
paid the mechanics’ charges, gave the family money enough to tide them over until the first payday check came in from the new job.
A local Caucasian married an Indian girl and when she became pregnant, he had no money with which to pay for the hospital and the doctor. Because of his belief and integration, Jim Jones paid the bill. All efforts to repay him were refused by Jones.
“Just pass the gesture on to someone else when you’re able” was his reply to all offers of recompense.
Jim Jones’ love of animals was evidenced by his taking in at his Redwood Valley home any stray who wandered in or who was abandoned. This provided an easy out for those who no longer wished their responsibility for an unwanted or sick animal. In the late 60s because of his humanitarian approach to the problems of today and particularly those of the young, Jim Jones was named Foreman of the Mendocino County Grand Jury, a post in which he served with distinction and compassion.
Is it any wonder that the forward thinking, the tolerant “you go your way, and I’ll go mine” people believed in him and what they thought he was trying to do to ease the tensions between the haves and have-nots?
It has only recently become apparent that the face Jim Jones presented to the establishment level was the face of a man who was well-versed in how to appeal to individual holy grails.
There are many people in Ukiah now who, while licking their wounds of pride and frustration and parrying the taunts of those who say I told you so, wish they had listened more carefully to those who reputedly brought their charges of charlatanism, fraud and behind-the-scenes manipulations of human lives to their attention. In the wake of the waves of distrust, fear, and disbelief which have surfaced in these past months, there are those who have reason to denounce, to speak the unspeakable, who therefore must lock their doors at night, look over their shoulders as they walk, who lift a telephone with trepidation every time it rings.
Where did the Jim Jones who first came to this community change? Was it back in Indianapolis when he reportedly saw a vision of a Holocaust enveloping that city and told his followers they must seek a safe place if they wished to survive man’s inhumanity to man? Did he really believe in his vision or was it only a theatrical ploy designed to bind his people more closely to him?
Why, after an extensive study of purported safe areas of which Ukiah was one, did he leave his approaches to the Brazilian government, another safe area, and select Ukiah?
How much credence to this one gives the woman who was once high up in the Temple’s council and is now hiding out under another name in the Southwest, when she says she has 8 hours of tapes on Temple counsel matters what is so in fear of her life
[page 3 of article]
that she demands $1000 a tape from their publication?
“I am in danger of my life,” she said in a telephone conversation with this reporter. “I think $1000 a tape and there are 8 hours on them, should be worth what I ask.”
The tapes are safely tucked away in a safety deposit box and the woman is holding them as her guarantee that she may live longer. “If I didn’t have them where they can’t get them,” she said, “I probably would not be talking to you now.”
There is no way, sympathetic and understanding of her situation as this reporter is, that this amount of money can be obtained personally so we can only surmise what her hostage tapes might reveal about the inner workings of the Peoples Temple counsel which, according to the ex-Temple official, includes the scenarios for Jim Jones’ faith healing exhibitions.
He has gleaned and purportedly shown in open church that he can diagnose and cure an illness on the spot.
The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office it is, according to Ramirez, also taking a closer look into the death in Los Angeles of a young man named Jim Head, who was listed 3 years ago as suicide.
Speaking of Head, who originally joined the Temple in Redwood Valley, Ramirez said that there was some reason to believe that his death might not have been a simple suicide.
This reporter is meeting Ramirez in San Francisco next week to present her documented material on Peoples Temple activities gleaned from the numerous telephone calls in letters she has received from former Temple members and relatives of those still in Jonestown, Guyana.
Fearing what steps might be taken against them there, the stateside relatives have only talked with this reporter upon her promise that their names would not be used in print but have said that if they are called into court we will testify as to their knowledge of individual situations.
The clock may be running out for Jim Jones and his Temple hierarchy.
[Editor’s note: B5b(11c) – (11c1) are tax documents referenced in Item 6.]
B5b(11d) – (11d1)
[Editor’s note: Letter referenced in Item 8.]
[Letterhead of Peoples Temple]
August 14, 1978
Mr. John N. Frolich
Attorney at Law
727 West Seventh Street
Los Angeles, California 90017
Dear Mr. Frolich:
We are in possession of a copy of your letter dated August 4, 1978, to the National Enquirer. In this letter you made it quite clear to the Enquirer that if they published an article which you judge to be libelous or untrue regarding Peoples Temple, you would represent the Temple and file suit against the weekly.
We have received further information that the New West magazine also has intentions of writing another article about Peoples Temple. This is the magazine which initiated the whole series of press attacks on our church in July and August of 1977, and whose articles were preceded by the obviously trumped-up “New West break-in.” All Bay Area media covered this so-called break-in of the files of New West in which author Phil Tracy alleged that Peoples Temple had tampered with the magazine’s files on the then upcoming article about the church. Rev. Jones called for a full police investigation of the incident, and the San Francisco Police Department concluded that no break-in had occurred at all.
Further investigation of the anti-Temple attacks in subsequent months revealed that the New West articles had been the culmination of nine months of work by private investigator Joseph Mazor, who was retained by an undisclosed source to discredit Peoples Temple.
[Page 2 of letter]
To that end, according to Art Silverman of the Berkeley Barb, Mazor hired one of the largest public relations firms in San Francisco and asked them to coordinate a publicity campaign against the Temple and Rev. Jones. (Please see the attached article by Mr. Silverman.) Joseph Mazor is a highly questionable figure who has a 75 page criminal record including at least 8 arrests in 3 states for various bogus checks and fraud charges, and six convictions.
New West magazine also sponsored a press conference on July 20, 1977, to help promote their articles. At this conference a certain David Conn appeared as a sponsoring agent – the same man who approached Dennis Banks several months prior to the media smears with inattentive blackmail of the American Indian Movement leader. Banks had refused Conn’s offer – which was to speak out publicly against Rev. Jones in exchange for consideration in Banks’ then tenuous extradition status.
There is absolutely no reason to believe that the New West magazine intends to do anything but a continuation of the same sensationalized, malicious series it began a year ago. The conspiratorial overtones are quite apparent; we continue to believe that there is much more to the New West anti-Temple campaign than has been exposed thus far.
Thank you for your time and consideration of our concerns.
/s/ Maxine Betts
[Editor’s note: B5b(11e) – (11f1) are forms and correspondence from Pacific Gas and Electric Company.]
[Editor’s note: B5b(12a) – (12e1) duplicate the law report, from B5b(11a) – (11f1).]