Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A Small Town Gets Conned

by Joyce

On 60 Minutes Sunday night, there was a fascinating piece about a man who conned a rural police department into thinking he was a federal agent.

The town of Gerald, Missouri has approximately 1200 residents and a four man police department. When Bill Jakob arrived in town one day brandishing a badge and business cards with the Justice Department logo, no one thought twice about accepting his assistance. He told Police Chief Ryan McCrary that he was from the "Multi-Jurisdictional Narcotics Task Force" and was sent to assist the department with the growing problem of methamphetamine labs that had sprung up in the area. The one phone call anyone made to check on Jakob was to a number he provided, and the call was answered by a woman whom authorities now believe was his wife.

Jakob began rounding up drug suspects using whatever means necessary. Residents state that he always used excessive force, brandished a shotgun and never had a warrant. While Jakob contends he got most suspects to confess, he did so without bothering with Miranda rights. When one suspect asked for a lawyer, Jakob refused.

When complaints about Jakob's tactics began surfacing, reporter Linda Trest of the Gasconade County Republican did a background check, something which the police department never bothered to do. A check of public records revealed that Jakob had a record. In 1994 he plead guilty and paid a fine for having sex with an underage girl. In 2003 he and his wife filed for bankruptcy. In 2007, a jury ruled that he pay $600,000 to the family of a 6 year old boy that Jakob hit with his pickup truck (Later overturned and settled for $50,000).

After this hit the papers, the chief and two officers were fired. No charges were filed on the 20 people arrested by Jakob. Some of these people are now suing the town, the mayor, and the police department. One of those suing is an elderly woman who was involuntarily committed to a mental institution when she refused to cooperate.

Jakob has pleaded guilty to charges of impersonating a federal officer and will most likely spend several years in prison. He still insists he was only trying to help.

Here is the entire interview, if anyone is interested.


Anonymous said...

Wow, Joyce, great story! What were we saying yesterday about checking out the details?

What does it say about our times, that these days vigilantes come with federal "credentials"?

Annette said...

This is one of those stories that would never get published if you wrote it as fiction because it's too unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

I love the cases you come up with, Joyce. (Have I told you the tale of the white-tailed deer used for stud---hey, I come from a really, really rural part of this state!) and how a competitor in the deer-breeding business (yes, it exists) stole the big deer in the middle of the night, only to set him up in an even more lucrative deer-breeding business and---well, nevermind. It's another story that would never make it into a book!

Joyce Tremel said...

Jeez Nancy, that sounds like a story Lee would tell!

Wilfred Bereswill said...

Truth is stranger than fiction. Welcome to Missouri, Meth Capital of the U.S.

Dana King said...

Let's see: expected local police to submit without question to his authority. Used excessive force. MAde htreatening gestures with deadly weapons. Uncncerned with warrants.

What exactly was it about him that made the newspaper think he WASN'T a Fed?