Thursday, August 16, 2018

FOIA Watch

Some truly interesting items are emerging through the efforts of researchers using the Freedom of Information Act. John Greenewald at The Black Vault is set to receive over 4,000 MKULTRA-era "behavioral modification" docs from the CIA.

As is the case with many researchers, Greenewald obtained the CIA compact disc collection of MKULTRA files. After posting them for visitors at The Black Vault, a user noticed some of the docs named in the index were apparently missing from the collection. As explained in an Aug. 15, 2018 Newsweek article:
The existence of the previously unknown MKUltra pages was discovered in 2016, when a Black Vault user, Oscar Diggs, discovered irregularities in the collection the CIA disclosed to Greenewald. Diggs created a list of missing records and pages described in the index. The CIA refused to fill in the gaps in their original FOIA disclosure, claiming that extant MKUltra documents pertaining to "behavioral modification" were not the same as those pertaining to "mind control." Greenewald is currently crowdfunding to cover the fees imposed by the CIA for the remaining 4,358 pages.

The crowdfunding effort is apparently complete and the publication of the docs seems to be on the horizon. Greenewald will be posting them as soon as he gets them, he reports via Twitter.

In related news, Emma Best and the crew over at MuckRock obtained and posted an Overview of the Office of Medical Services, 1947-1972 from the CIA. It was composed in 1973 and approved for release in 2017. Lots of material there.

Meanwhile, Steven Aftergood at Federation of American Scientists sought and obtained a list from the Department of Energy of classified programs involving the use of human research subjects. Whatever the purposes, the list indicates some dozen such projects were active in 2017 at the DOE.

Any number of valid FOIA submissions might be gleaned from the above material. We continue to have several lines out here at The 'Trail. Among other topics, we await responses on the following.

After a big initial splash, reports on the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program seem to consistently create more questions than answers. Numerous researchers await files pertaining to a variety of requests submitted to various agencies, including this writer who sought project docs from the Defense Intelligence Agency.

In 2017 we obtained a 1978 NSA memo prepared by an assignee about their attendance at a UFO conference. The conference was the 1978 MUFON Symposium and the author of the memo was in all reasonable likelihood Tom Deuley, a long time staple of MUFON and the UFO community. Subsequently requested from NSA was the release of any other material composed by the assignee pertaining to UFOs, UFO conferences or related subject matter. NSA responded that it does not use "UFO" as a category to file memos and similar documents. We therefore requested release of all material composed by the author of the 1978 memo and we look forward to the Agency's response.

We also await responses from various agencies on files pertaining to Project PALLADIUM, including reports and details of missions conducted. PALLADIUM activities involved collaborations between NSA and CIA teams which projected false paints upon radar screens. Some mid 20th century missions included the coordinated release of "balloon-borne metalized spheres of different sizes" with the false radar paints, according to a report authored by CIA man Gene Poteat.

Such material might be relevant to the UFO community for rather obvious reasons. Perhaps we could eventually cross reference what we learn about PALLADIUM missions with archives of UFO reports.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Caveat Emptor: A Paracast Saga of Discrepancies, Omissions and Unpaid Restitution

Multiple individuals contributed to this post.

Public court records reveal Stephen B. Beizer reached a plea bargain in 2004 stemming from what the Arizona Attorney General office described as bilking two elderly women out of money in an ongoing series of scams undertaken between 1995 and 1999. Some of the cash was repaid but Beizer was ordered accountable for over $186,000 in restitution. Files from the criminal case were obtained from Maricopa County Superior Court.

The late Stephen Beizer was the brother-in-law of Gene Steinberg, who solicited money on Beizer's behalf, according to Steinberg's emails and posted statements. Court documents indicate Steinberg also had business dealings with Beizer. Steinberg operates Paracast and Tech Night Owl, and has drawn increasing criticism for his years of requesting cash gifts - as frequently as several times per week by email - for his common living expenses perpetually framed as emergencies.

Maricopa County Courthouse
Beizer was initially indicted in 2001 by an Arizona State Grand Jury "on 3 counts of Fraudulent Schemes and Artifices, 11 counts of Theft and one count of Illegally Conducting an Enterprise," according to the documents. A guilty plea was entered in 2004 on amended charges of Sale of Unregistered Securities and Theft, which included a sentence of eleven months jail time, five years probation, and restitution. 

The charge of selling unregistered securities, according to court records, resulted from Beizer's tactic of issuing fraudulent stock certificates. He would sell worthless certificates as well as give them as purported repayment for numerous delinquent loans and empty investments. Beizer was subsequently ordered to pay $186,822 in restitution. From the above linked April 12, 2004 sentencing doc: 



























In an Aug. 13, 2018 email response to request for comment on soliciting funds on behalf of Stephen Beizer while failing to fully disclose the circumstances and restitution, Steinberg replied, "If your sister-in-law's family needed financial help, would you launch a full background check first?"

The Aug. 13 email exchange between this writer and Steinberg for full context:
Mr. Steinberg,
Do you care to comment on the following for a blog post?
Attached please find an image of a June 2, 2009 Maricopa County Superior Court public document indicating Stephen Beizer owed in excess of $171,000 in restitution at that time. Also attached is a screen shot from your Jan. 1, 2010 email soliciting cash on behalf of the Beizers.
Any comment on requesting donations for your in-laws while failing to fully disclose his restitution responsibilities?
Jack Brewer
The UFO Trail

Steinberg's initial response:

Mr. Brewer,
At least you finally admit that I originally sought help for a relative, not for me. That’s refreshing.
If your sister-in-law’s family needed financial help, would you launch a full background check first?
Obviously, if I knew then what I know now, I would have made very different choices and I’d be in much better financial shape today.
Stephen Beizer died of pancreatic cancer in 2014. It was a painful death. He left his widow and handicapped son penniless and I will never be paid back.
Gene Steinberg

This writer replied:

To be clear, is it your contention that you were unaware of Mr. Beizer's criminal charges while you were soliciting money on his behalf? Is that your position?

Steinberg:
I made the decision to help the Beizers around 2003. Don’t forget that the family includes a seriously handicapped son.
I was aware that Stephen did not live a squeaky clean life but not the specifics of any court records. I think most families would be generous even when imperfect family members were involved.
Gene Steinberg

Soliciting Cash for Beizer

Steinberg apparently began raising money allegedly for Beizer some time prior to Aug. 1, 2003, as indicated in an email shared at an online forum. According to the copy of the email, Steinberg discussed previous and continuing attempts to solicit cash for in-laws, including encouraging readers to forward the message to others or link his solicitation from their websites. 

An entry in the court record dated June 2, 2009 shows the vast majority of restitution remained unpaid in 2009. Restitution hearings indicate Beizer largely failed to pay the debt while $171,572 was still owed at that time:










A Jan. 1, 2010 email to Paracast newsletter subscribers demonstrates Steinberg continued to request money on behalf of the Beizers. Steinberg wrote that many readers had previously been extremely generous in providing assistance, reminding them, "I made a public appeal for donations to help to [sic] sister-in-law survive the onslaught of legal harassment from a vengeful woman." The same message was again distributed to the Paracast list in emails dated Jan. 12 and Jan. 29 of 2010, and in all likelihood many more times. A screen shot from the Jan. 1, 2010 email:



Steinberg's portrayal of circumstances surrounding the Beizers varied. The alleged legal harassment from a vengeful woman, as noted above, was one account. Another was that Beizer needed money until a financially lucrative civil case, in which a favorable ruling was anticipated, was completed. There has yet to be any evidence produced of the existence of such a legal case, which, according to Steinberg's above 2010 email, was expected to be fully resolved that year. Steinberg would later state the civil case remained unresolved upon Beizer's death in 2014. No records of any such legal proceedings were located during a search that revealed Beizer's criminal history as presented in this post. 

A quote from an Aug. 25, 2011 Steinberg email cash solicitation sent to the Paracast list and titled, "An Urgent Summer Update!":


There's also that large payoff from a relative's investment, delayed for several years due to endless legal complications and slow court schedules, which is due this fall. It will help us pay off all our bills, invest in the business, and maybe provide some savings for a rainy day.

Steinberg claimed to have sunken all of his own money, along with his son's college fund, into support of the claimed forthcoming Beizer windfall. Steinberg subsequently blamed the situation in part for continuing to request cash gifts several times per week until present day. From Steinberg's Correcting the Lies About My Money Situation and posted on the Paracast website:

















Going back much further we find a 2003 message attributed to Grayson Steinberg, Gene's son:


Update: A Special Request From Grayson Steinberg
July 31st, 2003
My dad and I never like to devote any part of our daily content to personal matters, but this is a severe exception, because members of our family are involved and have nowhere to turn.
My aunt, Helene, and uncle Stephen have a son, Jaret (pictured at left), who is severely handicapped and requires special care. Life is tough enough balancing the burdens of raising a handicapped child and dealing with work and social concerns as well. Unfortunately, their problems have been greatly increased over the past five years, as an elderly woman with millions of dollars in the bank and time on her hands has been harassing them relentlessly because of a failed financial deal. Her actions are completely unjustified. The matter has gone through several federal and state court actions, and my family has won every time. Yet this woman won't give up, and her actions have deprived my cousin of his disability insurance, and left his parents destitute. Creditors are constantly hounding them and they are on the verge of becoming homeless.
My mom and dad have established a special fund to raise money to help cover their huge legal bills and other expenses, including food and shelter. The situation is really complicated, and I’ve spared you some of the details. If necessary, my father can explain the rest if you wish to help us. I assure all our readers, however, that this is a serious problem, the need is urgent, and time is extremely short. As a result of your generous financial contributions, we've raised nearly a third of what we need, but there's still a long road to travel. The rest of our small family has helped as much as it can. We still require outside support. Readers who wish to provide some immediate assistance may write to help@macnightowl.com for further details.
You may also send your donations directly via PayPal using the following link (if you prefer not to use PayPal, write us and we'll send you a snail mail address for donations):

A 2003 update:


Thank You for Your Generosity
October 1st, 2003
We are making great progress toward resolving the serious financial trials being faced by my sister-in-law and her family. Your donations have made a huge difference, and we hope to reach our goal shortly. For those who haven't seen the online appeals, the story is long and complicated and the situation has left them nearly penniless. In brief, they have been the victims of ongoing legal harassment by someone with deep pockets and a desire to inflict as much financial and emotional pain as possible.
We have already contributed as much as we can afford. My son has even donated a large portion of his college fund for their needs. We have also established a special fund to provide financial assistance to help them pay legal bills and other mounting expenses. If you want to know more about the situation, or would like to send a donation, please send your inquiry to help@macnightowl.com.
You may also send your donations directly via PayPal using the following link (if you prefer not to use PayPal, write us and we'll send you a snail mail address for donations):


Steinberg undertook long term fundraising efforts for Beizer, a convicted thief owing a six-digit figure in restitution, while failing to fully disclose the actual circumstances to potential contributors. That might particularly be considered questionable in light of the findings of a March 12, 2004 pre-sentence investigation, in which an Attorney General Investigator expressed "concerns on where the defendant is currently obtaining his money to live and pay a private attorney." The investigator also reported Beizer had more victims who were unwilling to cooperate with the court, as seen in the screenshot below. 











The same file establishes "friends and family" were giving the Beizers "$750.00 per month or more." Concerns were again expressed about how such money was being obtained, including the recommendation, "[T]his will have to be monitored to see if he is soliciting victims." Beizer's lack of gainful employment was pointed out, as was his failure to produce legitimate income through his businesses for over nine years.

Beizer and Steinberg submitted paperwork showing full ownership of one such business, Numis Gems, was transferred to Steinberg, according to the 2004 file. Beizer was then hired by Steinberg, at least "on paper."

From the "Presentence Investigation, State of Arizona v. Stephen Barry Beizer, CR2001-003702":







































Numis Gems




Steinberg, Beizer, and family members held various positions on the articles of incorporation of numerous businesses, including Numis Gems. Entities registered to Steinberg or immediate family members of Beizer or Steinberg also included GoldBugg, All Things Precious, and Making the Impossible, among others. One such apparent company discovered was Cross-Country Consultants, where Steinberg was named as president of an outfit whose stated primary business activity was investment advice.



















Information on All Things Precious and GoldBugg, as it was often referenced:







The Numis Gems website in 2006 posted content pertaining to selling sports memorabilia, but a few years later offered what were termed proven methods to improve your bottom line. All Things Precious was described as part of the "Numis Gems family of services" on the Numis Gems home page in 2014. According to the website, your precious metals could be liquidated by a registered agent of one of America's largest refiners. The outfit boasted some 45 years of experience and claimed its customers thought of them as super heroes. 


In comments posted June 14, 2018 at The UFO Trail, a blog reader quoted Steinberg from an email exchange. It appears Steinberg adamantly denied business relationships with Beizer as recently as a few weeks ago. Per the screen shot below, Steinberg was quoted as writing, "Mr. Beizer's corporate name was NOT transferred to me. To help him boost his income, I set up a site for him and paid for him to register a trade name, since I filed, my name was on it. Period. I had no other involvement in his business. He was never involved in my ventures..."



Steinberg's denial of business relationships with Beizer, and particularly the transfer of Beizer's Numis Gems, obviously contradicts information established above per court records. A file from the Arizona Corporation Commission further calls Steinberg's denial into question. A March 2, 2004 document indeed appears to transfer full ownership of Numis Gems from Stephen Beizer to Gene Steinberg:





Offered an opportunity to comment on the discrepancy between his denials of a business relationship with Beizer and public records, Steinberg replied in an Aug. 13 email, "I never owned his business."

The email exchange with this writer:
One more point, please.
Attached you'll find an image of June 14, 2018 comments submitted at The UFO Trail in which the submitter quoted you adamantly stating in a recent email exchange that Mr. Beizer's corporation was not transferred to you and that you had no involvement in his business. Also attached please find a doc available on the Arizona Corporation Commission website and dated March 2, 2004 which indicates Beizer's company was fully transferred to you. 
Do you care to comment on the discrepancy?

Steinberg's full response:
Here we go again:
I never owned his business. I simply helped him with some paperwork as a favor when he had his legal issues. Remember, family.
Numis Gems was always Stephen’s. It was not a corporation, just a registered name. Someone is misreading the filing with the State of Arizona.
I was not involved in its affairs. I just wanted him to earn living, partly in the hope that I would be paid back.
You see how that turned out.
Gene Steinberg

Another record from the Arizona Corporation Commission:




Such discrepancies are many. Steinberg's above contentions he was unaware of Beizer's criminal history, for instance, are difficult to accept based on many items contained in the court records, including the following entry in a motion by the defense to modify Beizer's release:












On Dec. 6, 2009, Beizer was a guest on Steinberg's Paracast. Between a series of 2009 restitution hearings and Steinberg's early 2010 continuing pleas to provide money for his in-laws, each as referenced above, Beizer was presented to the Paracast audience as a "currency trader." He was not introduced as either a beneficiary of Steinberg's cash solicitations or a business associate.
















The web link for Beizer at Paracast directs to the GoldBugg site. The 2010 GoldBugg website claimed to offer unspecified financial services ensuring financial freedom through private, personal service. Later versions of the GoldBugg site redirect to Numis Gems.



During the time frame Beizer appeared on Paracast, the show featured ads promoting GoldBugg, as can be heard at the 15:25 mark of this Nov. 29, 2009 episode. The basic concept was cash for gold. The owners had decades of experience in the business, the ad claimed, so listeners were encouraged to call or visit them online.

As of this writing, the Numis Gems website is stagnant. A message to "all hard asset subscribers and believers" informs them Numis Gems is closed due to the death of its founder, Stephen Beizer.

Stephen Beizer

According to court docs, Stephen Beizer resided in Greater Phoenix while attracting victims through his sports memorabilia venture, building rapport with them, and subsequently employing a variety of techniques to illegally obtain their cash. In the instance of one Florida woman, he sold her an item then kept in touch with her and falsely claimed to be starting an otherwise nonexistent business. Records indicate Beizer persuaded her to invest in the scam, sold her worthless stock, got her to buy an Arizona condo under the false pretense she'd make money on a quick turn around sale, then he resided in the condo while obstructing its sale, among other acts perpetrated. 

Beizer used his aged father-in-law as an excuse to solicit more money. As demonstrated in the screen shot below, investigators reported that Beizer did not use the acquired money for his stated reasons and was actually depleting the cash of his father-in-law.




In 2000 authorities began administrative action against Beizer and his wife, Helene, for fraud and sale of unregistered securities by unregistered salesmen. They fled Arizona to avoid prosecution, according to the public record linked above. Beizer's attorney would later deny his client was intentionally evading authorities.

A warrant was issued for Beizer's arrest in 2003, and he was taken into custody in Las Vegas. The State's response to a defendant motion to reduce bail:























The actions of Stephen Beizer, presented by Gene Steinberg to the Paracast e-list as worthy of charity and to Paracast listeners as a currency trader, as described by the State of Arizona in the Presentence Investigation:






















From a sentencing memorandum submitted to the court by the defense:















Gene Steinberg

In fairness to Beizer, he paid his debt to society - but he did not pay his restitution debt to his victims. More importantly to former and potential future supporters of Gene Steinberg and his radio shows is the questionable ways Steinberg framed his relationship with Beizer at different times. That would be relevant while considering sending money to Steinberg in response to his chronic pleas for cash. One might also question Steinberg's commitments to accuracy. At best, Steinberg's judgement is called into significant question, all actions considered, and it is entirely reasonable to expect full accountability when someone publicly and perpetually requests money. That might particularly be considered the case in the UFO community, long known to attract the antics of hoaxers and charlatans.

Steinberg's assertions that assisting Beizer triggered Steinberg's long claimed financial crisis are further complicated by public court records which do not support the claim. While Beizer was not indicted until 2001 and entered a guilty plea in 2004, Steinberg had a $1,600+ judgment ruled against him on behalf of First Deposit National Bank in 1994. Similarly, Household Finance was awarded a $4,000+ monetary judgment against Steinberg in a case beginning in 1994 and completed in 1997, among several more actions publicly available for viewing. Public records show Steinberg defaulted on tens of thousands of dollars in debt spanning many years both before and after Beizer's indictment and subsequent hearings. This makes it difficult to lay the blame for Steinberg's hundreds of pleas for cash gifts at the feet of Stephen and Helene Beizer. 

Moreover, the scenario does not adequately account for requesting money on behalf of someone owing restitution for felony criminal activity while failing to disclose that to be the case. It arguably makes it more difficult to accept. In order to entertain Steinberg's claim Beizer substantially contributed to his financial woes, one must weigh the likelihood Steinberg knew very little about Beizer while Steinberg was repeatedly named in significant court docs and suggesting his following give money to Beizer. Otherwise, Steinberg solicited cash for the man while he was failing to financially take care of himself and failing to pay restitution, all while failing to repay Steinberg. Then, we would have to suppose, Steinberg decided it was a good idea to present Beizer as a currency trader on the Paracast. Such scenarios are not supported by public docs and the court records obtained.

Below is a screen shot of the body of Steinberg's Aug. 13, 2018 email, "Monday and broke again!", sent to the Paracast e-list. As of this writing it was Steinberg's approximately 127th such email of 2018, and his 266th since Jan. 1, 2017.




Fraud or other crimes perpetrated through the internet may be reported at the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center. Other resources include your state's Attorney General, the Department of Justice, and the Federal Trade Commission.

Monday, July 30, 2018

UFO Misinformation: Relevant as It Ever Was

The late Paul Bennewitz
Paul Bennewitz lived just outside Kirtland Air Force Base, where he became convinced aliens were executing a plan to take over the planet. Air Force personnel contributed to reinforcing and shaping the man's beliefs, according to Greg Bishop's 2005 nonfiction book, Project Beta: The Story of Paul Bennewitz, National Security, and the Creation of a Modern UFO Myth

Bishop was prominently featured in Mirage Men, a 2013 documentary written by Mark Pilkington and directed by John Lundberg and others. The film explores at length the circumstances of Bennewitz's ill fated association with Richard Doty, who, during the time in question, was an Air Force Office of Special Investigations Special Agent. Bennewitz also became acquainted with UFO researcher William Moore, further sealing the confused Bennewitz's unfortunate fate. 

The work of Bishop and Pilkington is essential material in gaining understandings of what's known and speculated about the Bennewitz chain of events, as well as the general intelligence community propagation of UFO-related stories. An abundance of unsubstantiated assumptions about UFOs and their extraterrestrial, underground dwelling, cattle mutilating pilots - which are now commonly yet mistakenly taken for granted as accurate - can be directly traced to events and the cast of characters surrounding Paul Bennewitz. And none of it was true. 

Also deserving mention is an article by Alejandro Rojas titled, Open letter to the U.S. Air Force regarding allegations of UFO disinformation. The 2014 piece takes readers through the FOIA efforts of Rojas surrounding the Bennewitz case. The citations contain a wealth of material for potential further FOIA requests. FOIA subject material may also be mined from Project Beta and Mirage Men.



My FOIA efforts include submitting the above material quoted from Project Beta to multiple agencies. Former Special Agent Doty apparently told Bishop about investigations surrounding Bennewitz. I have yet to receive any positive responses but, as often seems to be the case with such matters, my preparation to appeal the unfilled requests presents more circumstances worthy of FOIA submissions.

Take, for example, statements below contained in a letter written by Doty and sent to Jim Moseley, published in Moseley's July 15, 2000 edition of Saucer Smear:



I encourage interested parties to cite specific published statements as quoted above and submit FOIA requests for files which may have resulted from the alleged circumstances. In the above example, requests might be sent to AFOSI and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

While I find such circumstances intriguing, their relevance arguably goes much further than how interested we may be. There is actually a very important reason to better inform ourselves of past events: It teaches us better understandings of current events.

Richard Doty
Adam Gorightly has a forthcoming book exploring the cultivation of a great deal of questionable UFO stories. He takes a close look at tales surrounding Dulce, the big reveal that never happened at Holloman AFB, the birth of the infamous Serpo fiasco, and much more. I look forward to the release of the book and resulting discussions.

I contend it is important to be aware of these stories because doing so demonstrates the critical significance of prioritizing established facts over suppositions. It should be understood that statements need not be immediately discounted, nor should we necessarily distrust people with ties to the intelligence community. An important point is that there are extremely well documented instances of individuals going to great lengths to control the UFO narrative for a variety of reasons. That being the conclusively demonstrated case, we should proceed with caution - whether someone with a story worked on the federal payroll or not. 

There is no substitute for transparent research practices and making evidence available for public review. We should expect those making claims to understand this as well. As history teaches, beware those who minimize transparency and talk in circles. It doesn't mean every story is not true, but it's not like we don't have valid reasons to suspend judgment until verification comes along. To criticize those who do so is unreasonable.