Chapter Twenty-one

Night Riders to the Rescue

Roy Frankhouser is a roly-poly cigar-chomping little man with a glass eye and a taste for loud sport jackets. For much of his adult life he has lived with his mother in Reading, Pennsylvania. His late stepfather was a private detective, for whom Roy worked in the early 1960s. After that he usually worked as a department store salesman. Genial and polite, he is a difficult person not to like. He could be an officer of the local Rotary Club and a pillar of the community.

But Roy turns nasty in the twinkling of an eye. He has a recorded message on his telephone, which he changes every week. In early 1988 the messages were about Jesus Christ and the forgiveness of sins. But Roy was feeling the pressure from his financial and legal difficulties. The message changed to a shrill call for local Aryans to join the "Reading Night Riders." The Zionists, he said, are the "sons of Lucifer." It's time to send them "to the rope and telephone pole." It's time for a "Final Solution...a real solution for treason," and concluding: "You can smell the gas, can't you?"

Born in 1939, Roy has belonged at one time or another since his high school years to most of the important white supremacist groups--the United Klans of America, the American Nazi Party, the Minutemen, the National Renaissance Party, the Liberty Lobby, the White Citizens Councils, the National States Rights Party. For years he was the Grand Dragon of the Pennsylvania Klan. He took the Fifth Amendment over thirty times during a 1966 congressional investigation of the Klan. In 1972 he demonstrated on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue in a National Renaissance Party storm trooper uniform to challenge a state law against wearing Nazi garb in public.

In his youth Roy participated in numerous cross burnings and street rallies and was arrested over two dozen times. He stockpiled guns and ammunition, and once ran a paramilitary training camp to prepare for the coming race war. He lost his eye in a 1965 bar room brawl. The American Nazi Party claimed a "Jew gang" did it. Roy sometimes claims it's a Bay of Pigs battle wound.

He operates the Mountain Church of Jesus Christ in a run-down Reading neighborhood, and lists it as his official residence. Some folks believe the electric cross in front is a Klan symbol. The church is the local arm of the Mountain Church in Cohoctah, Michigan, a neo-gnostic Identity church whose pastor is Robert Miles, one of Roy's closest "racial comrades" and a LaRouche ally for many years. ("Mountain" stands for Mont Ségur, the medieval fortress of the gnostic Cathars in southern France.)

In the late 1960s some of Roy's comrades began to suspect he was an FBI snitch. Roy says the FBI started the rumor as part of a plot to instigate his assassination. But in 1972 Roy did become an informer for the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Bureau's Reading office, using the code name "Ronnie." Special agent Edward Slamon, Roy's controller, reported to superiors that Roy had solemnly promised to sever "all relationships with other federal enforcement agencies" and work exclusively for the ATF. "This point was dwelled on and explored at length," Slamon wrote. "I informed Ronnie that at any time...I determined that he was dealing with any other agency and supplying them with the same information, our bargain was null and void."

Roy told Slamon that a Black September cell in Toronto was planning attacks on prominent American Jews. Earlier information from Roy had checked out, and the ATF asked the National Security Council in the White House for approval to send him to Toronto. John Caulfield, the ATF's assistant director for enforcement, obtained the go-ahead, and Roy thus embarked on his very brief career as a foreign agent.

His reports of his Toronto adventures, as reflected in Slamon’s own reports to superiors, suggest that the Black September cell, if indeed it existed, was composed of the world's most indiscreet terrorists. Barely acquainted with Roy, they were supposedly willing to tell him everything. Roy claimed to have picked the brains of one cell leader while they strolled around the city "visiting museums and public places." Roy said the cell was planning skyjackings and kidnappings with the help of Quebec nationalist bomb technicians and Czech diplomats. Roy was supposed to recruit a bush pilot to pick up ransom money, and also was assigned to "keep track of all visitors from Israel to America." The ATF finally became suspicious. Slamon met with Roy and asked him if he would be willing to return to Canada and discuss his story with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Roy "became visibly upset and agitated," Slamon wrote, and flatly refused, apparently knowing that the RCMP would see through his deception.

While working for the ATF, Roy seems to have tried to help out his friend and fellow Grand Dragon Bob Miles, who was facing a long prison sentence for masterminding the 1971 Pontiac, Michigan, school bus bombings to protest integration. Miles would serve six years in Marion for this crime, but at the time of Roy's ATF employment he was free pending the outcome of an appeal. Roy brought Slamon tapes of conversations with Miles and offered to set up a crony of Miles for a "controlled buy" of stolen explosives. Although Roy's maneuverings during this period are extremely murky, the best bet is that he was fishing for information about the Miles case and trying to compromise the feds so Miles could charge federal misconduct. Miles himself certainly believes this. He told journalist Martin Lee in 1986 that Roy "never really threw any right-wingers to the wolves" and that Roy was beaten up by ATF agents in reprisal. Roy says that he was indeed a double agent for the racialist cause, and that he was beaten by a motorcycle gang in Berks County Prison at ATF instigation.

Roy landed in prison because, after the ATF rejected his plan for a controlled buy, he went ahead on his own with a real buy. In February 1974 he was arrested and charged with "aiding and abetting" the transportation of 240 pounds of stolen explosives to Michigan. At this point, the ATF washed its hands of Roy. His bail was set at $50,000, and he spent several months in prison before he could raise the money.

Finally out on bail and awaiting trial, Roy encountered members of the Reading NCLC as they sold New Solidarity. They had only just begun their swing to the right, and interaction was difficult at first. But Roy knew how to ingratiate himself with leftists from his experience infiltrating Socialist Workers Party meetings in New York in the early 1960s. (He claims he first met LaRouche then, but LaRouche denies it.) Roy was helped in approaching the NCLC by neo-Nazi occultist Ken Duggan, who introduced him to security staffer Scott Thompson in New York.

Regarding his indictment, Roy told the LaRouchians he was an honest, dedicated government agent who had risked his life in the war on gunrunners, drug traffickers, and terrorists. He was being "hung out to dry" by the intelligence community because he knew too much about local cover-ups and corruption. The LaRouchians put him through an intensive grilling, and he thoroughly convinced them. They issued broadsides in his defense and sponsored a well-attended press conference at which he made numerous detailed allegations about unlawful activities by federal agents in the Reading area {for instance, directing him to commit burglaries and secretly tape conversations between the Pontiac defendants and their attorney). "My partner in crime was Uncle Sam," he said.

In a press statement aimed more at the NCLC than at the media, Roy claimed that while working for the ATF he had really been working for the CIA. He had been a CIA agent ever since the Bay of Pigs. He had perused a top secret White House Committee of 40 report. He had been drugged and brainwashed in Berks County Prison. Roy's account of his brainwashing was remarkably similar to LaRouche's account the previous year of Chris White's alleged ordeal: "strapped in a medical chair," "a sensation of receding into a tunnel," "an overwhelming sense of drowning," a lingering "disassociation reaction."

At Roy's trial, retired agent Slamon testified for three days. His account of the NSC-approved Toronto caper stimulated press attention, and Roy was glad to oblige with more details. The upshot was a deal whereby he pleaded guilty to trafficking in explosives and was given five years' probation, although he had originally faced a possible fifty-one years in prison. A Reading police official told me years later that he believed the intelligence community had intervened.

Roy's maneuverings during the trial apparently made a deep impression on the LaRouchians. He had shown that if you can get government agents to meet with you and give you money, then no matter what you do later, you can tell the court you were doing it for the feds. And if you happen to have observed any improprieties while working for the feds, you can use that for leverage. The LaRouchians would use similar tactics in Boston thirteen years later.

After the trial, Roy began to spend more and more time with the "comrades," as he called the LaRouchians, He exchanged information with NCLC security chiefs Jeffrey Steinberg and Paul Goldstein almost daily on the phone. He traveled to New York at NCLC expense on security assignments. While staying at the homes of Jewish members he was the perfect gentleman, never displaying any bigotry. For Roy, it was just one more manipulative relationship--to get money out of the LaRouchians and to persuade them to take political stances that would serve the fight against the pro-Zionist establishment.

Roy chiefly fascinated the LaRouchians because of his alleged intelligence community ties. When they indicated that they too wanted to hobnob with secret agents, he set about facilitating it to the mutual advantage of himself and various third parties. It was Roy who first suggested that the LaRouchians should link up with Mitch WerBell. Claiming to have worked with WerBell on CIA assignments, Roy helped them compile a detailed dossier on him. At the time WerBell was in trouble with the ATF and strapped for cash. His son, Mitch IV, had been arrested on charges of trying to illegally sell machine guns to an undercover agent. Although the charges against Mitch IV were dropped, the ATF forced WerBell out of the armaments business because of improprieties in his record keeping. An NCLC dossier suggested that the Rockefeller family and Interpol were behind this: "Roy believes that if we can pin down how the operation is being run against WerBell there is a possibility...he can be turned."

Months passed, yet no deal between LaRouche and WerBell was finalized, and it was time to prime the pump. When LaRouche went to Wiesbaden in the summer of 1977, Roy sent a warning from "Mister Ed" (an alleged mysterious personage whom Roy said was linked to the highest levels of the CIA) that LaRouche might be in danger from terrorists. In previous months there had been several highly publicized terrorist assassinations and kidnappings in West Germany. On July 31 a band of anarchists linked to the Baader-Meinhof gang gunned down Jürgen Ponto, a banker much admired by LaRouche. Shortly before 5 A.M. on August 1, LaRouche received a transatlantic phone call from Roy, passing on an emergency message from Mister Ed: A hit list had been found in a terrorist safe house, and LaRouche's name supposedly was included. LaRouche panicked. In a news release later that day he announced the threat to his life. He did not specify the source, merely saying that it was "relayed...from high-level sources of the best qualifications." LaRouche immediately agreed to hire WerBell as his security adviser.

Roy's role as the cutout for Mister Ed became the centerpiece of his dealing with the LaRouchians. Mister Ed supposedly had asked him to open the channel because LaRouche's knowledge of terrorism had impressed many important people, including George Bush. (Roy knew the LaRouchians had called Bush's home in an attempt to brief him on terrorism.) Roy said that Mister Ed would be requesting reports from LaRouche on various questions which would be transmitted to the highest levels of the CIA and the White House. Roy was careful not to neglect Steinberg and Goldstein, He said Mister Ed had assigned them the code names ''Purple Haze" and "Honeywell."

Over a seven-year period Roy delivered to the LaRouchians dozens of "E to L" (Ed to LaRouche) memos. A typical memo included advice that LaRouche should try to work with Colonel Qaddafi, who supposedly was getting a raw deal from Zionist elements in the U.S. government and thus was being driven, against his will, into the Soviet camp. Roy also transmitted numerous verbal messages. LaRouche prepared the intelligence evaluations as requested, and his followers carried out the propaganda "assignments" suggested by Mister Ed. These assignments were often anti-Zionist, as when Roy told the LaRouchians that Mister Ed wanted them to spread the word that Israel had the A-bomb and was the main threat to world peace. Someone claiming to be Mister Ed also began to communicate directly with Paul Goldstein. Former NCLC members recall him rushing out of the office on West Fifty-eighth Street in Manhattan to answer the celestial ring at a street pay phone.

The identity of Mister Ed became a subject of endless speculation. Defectors from the security staff stated in a report prepared in 1979 for The New York Times that they believed he was former CIA deputy director E. Henry Knoche, whose 1977 firing by Admiral Turner had been denounced by LaRouche. The LaRouche leadership also claimed Knoche was Mister Ed in 1987 court documents. Knoche in a 1988 telephone interview denied ever meeting Roy or LaRouche or anyone that he was aware had any connection to them. "If I thought I was ever duped into dealing with those people I'd commit hara-kiri on the front porch," he said. Referring to LaRouche's trial, he added: "I hope they nail him."

Among journalists, Mister Ed became one of those unsolved puzzles--something like the tramps on the grassy knoll in Dallas. Lou Wolf, editor of Covert Action magazine, thought Mister Ed was "someone in Angleton's shop." Kevin Coogan argued that it was CIA renegade Ed Wilson, who was known in Libya as Mister Ed and held political views remarkably similar to those expressed in some of the E to L memos. Detroit journalist Russ Bellant thought it might have been one of Wilson's former superiors. In the mid-1980s the LaRouchians mocked such speculation with an advertisement in their publications for "Mr. Ed's Elephant Farm"--a Pennsylvania tourist trap--with a drawing of a charging elephant, presumably a rogue.

Some cynics theorized that Mister Ed was simply Roy. But the E to L memos, although anti-Zionist and extremely right-wing, displayed a conceptual grasp of international politics beyond anything Roy would have written on his own. This anomaly was explained, at least in part, by former associates of Roy who testified in court that the memos had been plagiarized from defense and foreign policy journals. Nevertheless, Roy claims there were a number of people--fifteen of them--who used the Mister Ed channel. Although Roy's word alone is dubious evidence, it makes sense that someone in the zany world of ex-spooks, contract spooks, and private spooks would have linked up with Roy (who did have contacts in that milieu) to milk the LaRouchians. After all, here was a multimillion-dollar international intelligence and propaganda network just begging to be used by anyone claiming to be from the CIA. In their eagerness to be accepted in the spy world, the LaRouchians would prepare massive dossiers at the drop of a hat, and publish the most outrageous disinformation and slander in EIR--as long as they believed the request was coming from "down the way" (i.e., from Langley). Apparently word of this circulated, and various people on the far right decided to use the channel to unleash the LaRouchians on personal or political enemies--or simply to get a free dossier. There was little risk of exposure or embarrassment. Roy would take care of all direct dealings with the LaRouchians. And he himself had such a bizarre history that no one would believe him if he decided to expose the operation.

For years Roy's personal prestige with the LaRouchians was tied to his role as Mister Ed's messenger boy. If the LaRouchians wanted to talk directly with a real spook, they went to someone like WerBell. But after WerBell’s health declined, Roy had his chance to emerge as a full-fledged security guru. He did not accomplish this overnight. In 1982, when LaRouche was living in a Manhattan town house on Sutton Place, Roy was brought in merely to provide backup security under his code name "Clay." Phil Perlonga, a retired New York City police officer, was working at the time for Metro Security, a professional firm hired by LaRouche. Perlonga recalled how Roy gave the Metro men KKK belt buckles as gifts. But Perlonga became annoyed when Roy tried to interfere in his work. Roy once took charge of whisking Lyn and Helga LaRouche out of a meeting. "He ran them into a locked door," Perlonga said.

Roy needed a sidekick with the physical presence and at least part of the expertise he lacked. He rekindled his acquaintance with Lee Fick, a Reading security guard who had been active on the far right. Fick had served in the Marines, mostly as an MP in California. When approached by Roy, he was unemployed and had a wife and children to support. He agreed to go to work for LaRouche as Roy's assistant, and Roy presented him to the security staff as an experienced operative.

For Fick it was a chance to play James Bond for $500 a week. He drove LaRouche's armored Pontiac Bonneville limousine, accompanied him to a meeting at CIA headquarters, and became the object of amorous advances from one of Helga's German Amazons. He and Roy cadged a free trip to Europe on the Queen Elizabeth II to overhaul LaRouche's security in Wiesbaden. Traveling on to Rome, they told the LaRouchians they would meet with the CIA station chief to arrange security for a LaRouche conference. "The Mediterranean climate offered us seven days of springlike weather which added great comfort to our tour," reported an unsigned article in Dragonfire, a rightist newsletter published by Fick.

When asked about Roy in a 1984 deposition, LaRouche described him as "an expert in security matters...he knows certain nasty people by sight or reputation...." LaRouche praised Roy's ability to keep his "pair of eyes" alert (so much for LaRouche's own powers of observation) and to "detect nasties by their wiggle." Roy's standing became even higher with the security staff. Steinberg and Goldstein marveled at his never-ending revelations from high-level sources inside the FBI, the CIA, the New York Police Department, and NBC-TV.

There was a good reason for Roy's success as a secret agent: He was making up most of it. "It was bullshit," Fick said. "Roy would make up a source A, then a source B, C and D. I'd be sitting right beside him while he did it." Internal reports from LaRouche's security staff in 1984 confirmed Fick's story. They quote Roy as providing information from an alleged source inside NBC during its preparation of a First Camera report on LaRouche. The allegations pertain to incidents that the show's producer, Patricia Lynch, says never took place.

The LaRouchians asked Roy and Fick to provide them with a direct CIA channel in Reading. The two complied by introducing Paul Goldstein to "Nat" at a Reading motel. "Nat," a.k.a. "Nat Regnew," a.k.a. "Mister Nat," a.k.a. "N," was supposed to be Roy's control officer, a CIA covert operations specialist holding GS-15 or GS-16 rank. After Nat met with LaRouche, a flow of "N to L" memos began. Alas, Nat was just a neighbor of Roy's, actually named Monroe Wenger, who worked on an Army Corps of Engineers dredging barge. When the LaRouchians found this out years later, they naturally said the barge was a spy ship.

Meanwhile Roy and Fick began to supplement these memos and the E to L memos with weekly "COMSTA-C" reports from an alleged high official, much higher than Nat, called "the Source." Whatever the truth regarding Mister Ed, the provenance of the Source is known: Roy dictated the reports to Fick, making them up as he went along. Fick then took them to a local copy center in Reading to be typed.

Some high-level NCLC members, although not aware of the full depths of the deception, sensed that something was wrong, not just with Roy but also with Murdock and all the other security consultants. Steven Bardwell noted in his pre-resignation letter that the NCLC's "susceptibility to any information presented in clandestine form through a covert (or apparently covert) source is a serious vulnerability. The amount of garbage we have retailed because it came from 'down the way' is quite remarkable." But this was a minority view. Most of the leadership believed that LaRouche had deep influence at Langley and that the Source was someone incredibly powerful.

Because they believed this, they decided they must be invulnerable to prosecution. Their real if limited success in gaining meetings with CIA and NSC officials helped to feed this view, but it also was stimulated by phony reports from consultants, such as the following from early 1984: "LaRouche['s] prestige [is] highest ever on economy and terrorism. White House collective view is we can no longer ignore LaRouche....LaRouche is now magnet for anti-Kissinger forces." In addition, the COMSTA-C reports provided apparent evidence, week after week, that LaRouche had friends and sympathizers in the highest places. Only a few NCLC leaders ever viewed the COMSTA-C reports, but the general belief that LaRouche had powerful allies trickled down to the rank and file. In 1984 the NCLC's fund-raising methods became wildly reckless, and many fund raisers and security staffers seemed to have no fear of the law. They ran the risk of indictment because they believed there was no risk.

Fick realized things were getting out of hand in the summer of 1984, when Goldstein approached him and Roy with a deadly proposition. As Fick later described it to NBC Nightly News, Goldstein’s idea was "that we...go along with him and kill or assassinate Henry Kissinger." According to Fick, Goldstein said he knew where Kissinger parked his car in an underground garage, and that it would be "a relatively easy thing for us to do, to make a bomb, and strap it to his car."

Although Goldstein was probably just trying to impress them, the proposal unnerved Fick, and it apparently also worried Roy. Shortly afterward, I received a series of phone calls from Roy, posing as "Special Agent Phillips" of an unnamed federal agency. The calls were intended to interest me in investigating Goldstein. Roy did not mention the plot against Kissinger, but he did say Goldstein was a menace who must be stopped. He said his own hands "were tied," but if I would write an article on Goldstein or communicate Phillips's information to the federal prosecutor's office in Boston, then it could help to avert serious criminal acts.

In the fall of 1984 a federal grand jury was convened in Boston to probe allegations of LaRouchian credit-card fraud. LaRouche ordered Roy and Fick to go to Boston and conduct a counterinvestigation. Instead, they went to a Star Trek convention in Scranton, although Roy called the security office and warned them there were "feds all over" in Boston. Jeffrey and Michelle Steinberg then asked Roy and Fick to contact E. Henry Knoche (whom they believed to be Mister Ed) and get him to "quash" or "fix" the investigation. How this was to be done, the Steinbergs weren't clear. But they felt the "cookie factory" (the CIA) owed them for their loyal services through the years. Fick's response was that if the CIA wouldn't go to the wall for Richard Nixon, it was unlikely to do so for LaRouche. Still the security staff believed the Boston investigation was an isolated and easily containable probe conducted by Kissinger-influenced FBI chumps. According to Federal authorities, the Steinbergs and other security staffers set about destroying records and arranging for NCLC members who might be subpoenaed to move to Europe--to hide out, as Michelle put it, "where the sun doesn't shine."

Roy encouraged these efforts to obstruct the grand jury's work. In a memo to LaRouche he commented on the fact that "paper burns at 451 degrees Fahrenheit." Fick wanted no part of this, and stopped working with Roy. Briefly he continued to do bodyguard work for LaRouche under the auspices of a New York private detective agency, but he still felt uneasy. He met with NBC's Patricia Lynch and then appeared on NBC Nightly News with the car-bomb story. As the Boston investigation heated up, the feds began to take his allegations seriously, and he became a key witness.

Meanwhile the LaRouchians blithely continued with their credit card and loan schemes. They believed Roy's assurances of support from "down the way," the cumulative faith built up by a decade of transmissions from Mister Ed and the Source. When almost four hundred federal agents and state and local police officers swooped down on the NCLC's Leesburg headquarters in October 1986, the LaRouchians could blame it in no small part on the misleading advice of their Ku Klux Klan scout.

Roy was indicted for obstructing justice, along with several of LaRouche's security honchos. When I met him at a hotel near La Guardia Airport several months later, he was scared, and with good reason. He was already a convicted felon. He had avoided a prison sentence on his first conviction, but this time he'd end up with the Black Muslims and Five Percenters. Although he had sung "like a canary" (according to the FBI) the day after his arrest, the feds were no longer interested in cutting a deal. Roy had jerked them around, first promising to testify and then playing coy and claiming the feds had "tortured" him. The LaRouchians no longer trusted him, and wouldn't help with his legal expenses.

Roy told me that LaRouche had ruined his life, and that his mother would lose her home. Anything illegal that happened was the LaRouchians’ fault, not his. He'd never had anything to do with defrauding any old ladies. Indeed, the LaRouchians had ripped off his mother and his uncle for thousands of dollars behind his back. Fick, Wenger, and the Major meanwhile had all double-crossed him. The remark about 451 degrees Fahrenheit had merely been a literary reference to the Ray Bradbury novel; Fick had misinterpreted it because he was illiterate and stupid.

Roy plucked out his glass eye, wiped it on his shirt, held it up to the light, and regarded it with his good eye, like Hamlet gazing upon the skull of Yorick. "Life is more than bullet holes," he said. In December 1986 he went on trial in Boston federal court. After hearing prosecution witnesses Fick, Wenger, Charles Tate, and others, the jury found Roy guilty of obstruction of justice. He was fined $50,000 and sentenced to three years in prison.