Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Stolen Boat I Didn’t Want Story

                                                    The Stolen Boat I Didn’t Want Story
                                                                     A true story   
                                           Written 3/2011 Re Written 05/02/2016 unedited
                                                                   Howard Yasgar

     In 1976, I was running a small precious metals refining company. I was doing it part time in the evenings and on the weekends. I had called the company NEARCO Refining and when I started the company the main business was to processing scrap platinum tip aircraft sparkplugs. But, little by little I had started expanding the business by buying and refining some jewelers scrap, well as gold and silver metal from industrial sources.
    The main office of NEARCO was a nice desk I had set up in the living room of our house where we were living in Hialeah Florida.
     I was doing the actual processing and refining of the metals in a small building I had built in the town of Hialeah Gardens. It was located just off the Palmetto expressway at the 103 street exit. I didn’t like to have any of my suppliers come to the building because I didn’t want anyone to actually see what and how we were doing the business. That was because I didn’t have any type of security system in place, and dealing in precious metals can be a risky business.
    In 1976, the market for platinum metal was very low, so I was starting to experiment more with refining the other types of precious metals, like photographic x ray film, and processing the silver recovered from photograph developing laboratories as well as jewelers scrap.
    I was also doing business with a friend that had a booth at the Miami Jewelry Exchange in down town Miami. And because I was the only one doing any small lot precious metal refining at the time, it wasn’t long before I started meeting all kinds of strange people. My friend at the Jewelry Exchange was only trying to help me get my business rolling, so he had told lots of people that he had someone that was buying small lots of precious metals for cash. So because of that, my friend at the Exchange introduced me to several small time jewelry scrap dealers, and I started buying material from them. It sure didn’t take long before word spread from dealer to dealer that I was refining small lots of metals, and I was paying cash. That’s when strange people started to come out of the woodwork and were contacting me.
       It was easy to see that some of the people that came to see me appeared to be a little on the shady side, so I started to get concerned about my safety, as well as the safety of my good friend Miguel Marquez, who worked for me in the evenings. Many evenings we would be working alone in the building in Hialeah Gardens, and anyone could have walked in and held us up.
So it became a major concern to me, and if I had to meet someone, I often asked them to come to by my home with their metals. As bad as it was, I did it that way rather than to have them come to the building and see how vulnerable we were.
    One of the people that came over to my house was a fellow who was about 45 years old, and he had a son who appeared to be about 20 years old. He stopped by my house several times bringing me some platinum metal scrap, and sometimes small amounts of gold.
    After several months, he had come by so often that it was inevitable that we became very friendly, and we talked about a variety of subjects. He told me that he was a bachelor living with his son in a one family home in Miramar Florida. He said he had always wanted to do what I was doing, and that he and his son had emptied out their swimming pool and set up a small stove to heat chemicals up. They did it in the bottom where the deep end of the pool was. He said they were trying to learn how to refine some of the metals like I was doing. He said that by doing it in the empty pool, it kept the neighbors from seeing what they were doing. But he said the smell of the acids they were using was stinking up their whole neighborhood, so they gave up on the idea.
    One evening they stopped by my house and brought me a small quantity of scrap gold and the father said he wanted to show me something. He placed on my desk a small ingot of what looked like pure gold. It weighed about 1/4 lb. I looked at it and asked him how much he wanted for it. He smiled and said he couldn’t sell it to me because I was his friend and the gold ingot was a fake. I held it in my hand, and it looked pretty good to me and it had the right heft to be real gold. He said he and his son were having the ingots made out of a mixture of metals called jewelers alloy. Then they had a company that was electroplating them with 24 K pure gold. The object was that they were going to sell them to investors, who would put them away in safety deposit boxes and they would never discover that they were fake gold until many years later when some family member tried to sell them.
     He wanted to know if I thought it was a good Idea and if I wanted to do it with them. I had to stop and think for a minute. It was obvious that this guy, who was now my friend was a con man and asking me to get involved in an illegal scam with him. The worse part was that it was easy to see how they could do this and get away with it as I was almost fooled myself with their sample.
     There was no point in my getting upset, acting indignant or saying anything to them as I should have realized when I first met them that whatever they did for a living was probably illegal, so I told them I would have to think on it, and he said that he would leave me the sample fake gold ingot.
     In a few days they were back again, this time they had some normal jeweler’s scrap, the type of material that they usually brought me. That’s when I asked them what else they did for a living. The father looked at me and said as straight forward as possible, our real everyday business is insurance fraud. I told him that I had never heard that from anyone before, so he went on to explain it to me.
      He said that a lot of people wanted their cars or other property to disappear so that they could collect the insurance money. I had heard of Insurance fraud, but I never knew it was a regular business that anyone did, nor had I ever met anyone who admitted that they were in the business. So I asked them how the heck they did it. I wondered how they made the cars disappear, they said that it was easy as they drove them into canals all around Miami. They said that they had had put so many cars in some canals, that some couldn’t be used anymore. They said some canals were now stacked 5 deep with cars they had stolen and sunk on top of each other. They said that they had to always look to find new canals to sink the cars in.
      I was flabbergasted to hear their story, I always knew that stolen cars sometimes ended up in the canals, and here I was with the very people that put them there. It was then that they asked me if I ever wanted a late model car to let them know, as they had several every week to dispose of. I couldn’t believe that I was hearing this. I told them that I didn’t need any cars, but jokingly I said that if they ever ran into a good fishing boat cheap, they should let me know.
     It was about two weeks later, long after I had all but forgotten about the conversation that I had with these two guys. I came home about 5 PM and there, parked in my carport was an 18 foot boat on a trailer. I got out of my car and walked up to it, wondering what this boat was doing in my car port. It was a fiberglass bow-rider style boat on a trailer, and it had a 200 horse power Chrysler outboard engine on it, and several fishing rods.
      My wife said that she had heard some noises in the carport earlier in the day, but hadn’t noticed anyone putting a boat there, and that’s when it dawned on me that my friends, the insurance fraud guys, had probably brought me a stolen boat.
      I started to think of what would happen if the police found the boat at my house. I knew that I certainly couldn’t ever use the boat, as it probably had already been reported stolen, and I was sure the police were already looking for it. The more I thought about it, the more nervous I became.
     That night I could hardly sleep, I tossed and turned, worrying about the possibility of the police finding the boat in my carport. So the next morning, I got my friend on the phone and asked him if he had left the boat, and he said yes. According to him it was part of a friendly divorce and the owner wanted it to disappear, so they could collect the insurance money.
     I told them that I was very concerned about having a stolen boat in my carport, and I wanted them to remove it as fast as possible. He saw I was very mad, but he was very calm and told me not to worry he would take care of everything. The next day, when I came home, the boat and trailer were gone. But there were 3 fishing rods they left for me leaning against my house, and from that day on, I never heard from them again. I never tried to contact them as I now knew for sure that they were not only con men but car and boat thieves as well, and I certainly didn’t want to anyone to ever associate me with them, so I was quite happy not to ever to see them again. That was until 20 years later in 1995.
      In 1995 I had bought a building located on 47 Street and 36 Avenue in Miami. The building had been owned by an old friend named Arthur, Arthur had moved out of the building and into a much larger warehouse. One day, when I went to Art’s new building for a talk with him, but his secretary told me that he was in a meeting with his new accountant, so I sat down and waited in his outer office. After a few minutes, Art walked out of his office, his new accountant was right behind him, and boy was I surprised, it was the same con man that was involved with the insurance fraud and who had left me with the fake gold ingot. He was just as surprised to see me, as I was to see him. I tried not to show any sign of recognition and he did the same.


The George Lustig and the Pipe Bender Story

                                        The George Lustig and the Pipe Bender Story
                         This is a true story that was confirmed to me by several people.    
                                 Written 2/2012, and rewritten 05/02/2016 unedited
                                                               Howard Yasgar

      This interesting story is all about how a person that I had met in Chicago, had gotten his start in the very unusual business of buying excess government surplus merchandise. His name was George Lustig, and I personally met, and did business with George starting in 1975.
      The following story was told to me by several of his friends, these were people that knew George very well when he was a young man just starting out in business. So I am sure the story is 100% true, and it’s a classic surplus dealer story.
      The only reason I even heard the story, was because I had been doing business with two other surplus dealers that were working in the Chicago and Detroit area who all grew up in the business together with George, and when I eventually met them, they all still were doing a very similar type of business, they were buying excess, factory surplus materials.
      All their businesses were so similar that they often bought and sold material from each other, and not only did they buy and sell from each other, but on some occasions they were also competitors with each other.
      What was interesting about them, was that besides from the fact that their businesses were very similar, and they all had a similar love-hate relationship with each other, each of them, was bad mouthing the other’s constantly, but still, they all remained friends, and the love-hate relationship they had lasted as long as I knew them. So whenever I visited one of them, I had to listen as they always bad mouthed the others, but yet the bottom line was that since they all worked in similar businesses together, and sometimes they were even partners with each other in buying surplus deals.
      After WW2, there was a large quantity of excess military surplus items available, and the government did their best to bring a lot of it back to the United States and dispose of it. The government’s method of disposal was usually by public auction, and all of the larger cities had many warehouses filled with this excess military surplus material and the government held weekly auctions to dispose of the stuff, and Chicago was one of those cities.
      After the war, and all through the 1950’s and the 1960’s, the surplus business in the United States was booming, lots of fast thinking, inventive guys started to take advantage of it by bidding to buy the tons of material that had become available. There was so many items available that the government couldn’t get rid of it fast enough.
      The guys that became involved with buying this type of excess government property became known as the “Surplus Dealers”, they were people who would try to buy from the government any merchandise that they thought that they could sell and make a profit on.
However, it wasn’t always easy for them to sell what they bought, as a lot of the items had only specific military applications and there were no commercial buyers that could re-utilize any of it, so sometimes, it became a tricky game, and the people involved had to be very quick thinkers in order to stay in business.
      In 1974, I started doing business with two companies in the Chicago area, both located on Canal Street, their warehouses  backed up to the Chicago railroad yard. One of the companies was Fleet Supply, it was managed by the star of this story, George Lustig. A few doors down the street from George was one of George’s friends and rivals Abe Greenstein, he ran a company called Automotive Supply.  
     Now George and Abe, while they were old friends and neighbors, they still didn’t talk to each other, however, Abe Greenstein was one of the fellows that told me this story. He had said that George had told him the original story many years ago. The other person who corroborated the story was another one of George’s love-hate relationship friends named Barney Kaplan of the B. K. S. Surplus Company in Detroit Michigan.
      Barney, who in the early days, started out doing business in Chicago, also still in 1974 did business with both George Lustig and Abe Greenstein. Barney was the third party in the love-hate relationship they all had. When I visited any of them, unfortunately I had to listen as they always talked bad about the others. However I got along with all of them, and on several occasions, I was used as a messenger between them. I was used to be the intermediary while the three guys were always feuding with each other over some reason or other.
      I first heard this story from Barney Kaplan in Detroit and it was later confirmed by Abe Greenstein in Chicago, both said George had told them the story.
      In the early days, after WW2, around 1950, George Lustig, Abe Greenstein and Barney Kaplan, all had little or no money. They were so broke that Barney said that if he or Abe got invited out for supper by a customer, they would save half the meal and heat it up on a radiator in their office the next morning so they had breakfast.
      They told me that every week, their friend and rival George Lustig, would go to the docks in Chicago where the government was auctioning off surplus material. He religiously attended the government sales every week, and he always arrived early to be able to inspect everything before bidding on it. By inspecting everything, George was always hoping to find something he could buy cheap and sell quickly, because he had little money to invest. In those days, George could not afford to make a mistake, as his weekly bankroll to spend was less than fifty dollars.
      One morning George overslept and he arrived at the government auction late. By the time he got there the auction had already started, and he had no time to inspect any of the items being sold, so George tried bidding blindly on a few lots. Not having inspected them beforehand, he had no idea of their value, consequently as the sale progressed he had no success buying anything. By the afternoon the final items were being auctioned off, and it seems as though most of the bidders had disappeared. So George listened carefully as the last item was being offered. They were supposed to be two, new and unused pipe bending machines.
      Well George certainly knew what a pipe bending machine was. They were probably just a couple of old machines that bent pipes. George raised his hand planning on bidding a maximum of $15.00 for each machine, it was all the money he had to spend. His thinking was that if he was successful, he could load the pipe bending machines on to his pickup truck that afternoon, and try and peddle them to some company that bent pipes.
      As luck would have it, there were no other bidders, and George easily won both machines for only $12.00 each. As it was getting late, George was anxious to load up the pipe bending machines and hit the road.
      George found the site manager who walked with him to the rear of the long Chicago storage warehouse, where the two machines were supposed to be. But as hard as they both looked they didn’t see anything anywhere that looked like a pipe bending machine. What they did discover was at the very end of the warehouse were two big monster machines. The two machines were so big they actually blocked the light from the windows of the warehouse, each machine must have weighed several tons.
      George double checked all his papers, could it be possible these were the machines he had just bought for twelve dollars each, He felt that it wasn’t possible, perhaps there was a mistake. If it wasn’t a mistake, George knew that he neither had the money or equipment to move these giant machines, so he started to get very nervous just thinking about it. He knew that if he defaulted on his bid it would cost him twenty percent which would be five dollars, money he could ill afford to lose.
       However, on the other hand, George knew he certainly couldn’t afford to pay anyone to come and move the machines. He knew it would take a lot of expensive heavy equipment to do it, besides, where would George move the machines to. So George was really sweating now, and as he walked around the machines he saw that each machine had a metal data plate on it with the name of the pipe bending machine manufacturer who was located Akron, Ohio.
      George drove back to his office, where he used an old wooden crate as a desk. He called information in Akron Ohio and got the phone number of the company that had made the two machines, and fortunately a young man answered the phone. George told him that he had two machines that had been made by his company years ago and he gave the fellow the serial numbers off the data plates. However, the young man appeared less than enthusiastic, he said, he knew the company had made the machines many years ago,
But it was way before he went to work for them.
      George, had that bad feeling in the pit of his stomach, he felt he knew that he had hit a dead end, and he now realized that he would have to default on the sale and lose his five dollars. So, as a last resort, George asked the young man if he knew of anyone that might be interested in buying the pipe bending machines, the fellow said no, but that George could ask his grandfather who was the original owner of the company. He told George that his grandfather was ninety six years old, and he only comes by the office for a couple of hours every day, but George could call him on the phone the next day.
     The next day George got the boys grandfather on the phone, and the grandfather said, he remembered the pipe bending machines very well as he had built them himself. He said that the machines were very old but he would love to see them again, as they were his first government contract. He asked George, if he got on a train in Akron, would George take him to see the machines. He said he didn’t want to buy them, he only wanted to see them. George wanted to say no, but he eventually relented and agreed to pick the old man up at the Chicago train station.
     The next day George met the old man at the Chicago train station, and brought him to the government warehouse. At the warehouse, the old man saw the machines and he said, they were the first machines he had ever made. So again George asked if he would be interested in buying them back. The old man said, “Yes I would, but I only can give you twenty for them.”
      George was stunned, as he never expected the offer “That’s twenty for each machine?” George asked, “Yes” the old man replied, forty for both.
     Well George quickly calculated, he had $24.00 invested and $40.00 would give him a $15.00 profit. It wasn’t much, but it was a profit.
      George decided to give the old man one last push, perhaps he could get him to go up to $50.00 for the two machines. “Are you sure forty is your best offer George asked”  “Yes” the old man replied “$40,000.00 for the two machines is the best I can offer you.”

The Stolen Army Trucks Story

                                                      The Stolen Army Trucks Story
                                  This is a true story about how we almost became involved
                                                    Written 3/2011 and rewritten 05/02/2016
                                                                 Howard Yasgar
    This true story is about how our company CME Arma Inc, unwittingly almost got ourselves involved in one of the biggest military vehicle theft cases of 1996. We had no idea of how deeply involved we were until all the participants were put on trial, and a copy of the prosecutions evidence was made available to one of the defendants.
    In 1996, we were trying to establish our company in the business of rebuilding of military electrical parts. I had started CME Arma in 1991, and my wife Katherine joined the company shortly after that. So we were slowly learning the intricacies of the military parts business.
    We soon learned that there were several major companies that were entrenched in the military spare parts business in the United States, and they had been doing it for many years. The main thrust of their business was the buying of surplus vehicles and parts from the Government and then selling them back to our government or to foreign militaries that used U.S. vehicles. All of this being a very proper and legal business that was encouraged by the government.
    It was the practice of the U.S. government to give lots of used military vehicles to friendly foreign countries and these countries then bought all their repair parts from U.S. companies. This created quite a bit of business which was good for our U.S. economy. But the selling of used military vehicles also created several other types of businesses besides just supplying parts to foreign governments. One of the businesses it created was the restoration and collector business which had now become big business. Collectors and restorers were people that bought old army vehicles from Jeeps to tanks and rebuilt them to look like new. Some of the restored vehicles went to museums and others went to private collectors, and some are simply used in parades.
     Our company was going to specialize in the re building of military electrical parts, so to establish ourselves in this industry, we needed to find suppliers and customers that dealt in military parts, so to find them, I purchased magazines that were dedicated to the collector market. One day, I saw an ad in the magazine, placed by a military parts dealer in Saint Paul Minnesota called “Tony's Surplus”.  I was curious as to who and what they were, so I called them up. The fellow that answered the phone said his name was Tony Piatz, and he was the owner of Tony's Surplus, Tony Piatz said, “Everyone just called him Tanker Tony, and we should do the same”.
      I asked Tanker Tony, “What he specialized in, and he told me his civilian business was moving house trailers, but he also did several other things.” Tony said, “He restored old military tanks, as well as other vehicles.” Tanker Tony said, that he was also in the scrap metal business. I was intrigued, as I knew that there was a big collector market for restored military vehicles, but I had never met anyone before who was actually in the business.
     Tony went on to say that one of the things he did was to clean off the old firing ranges on a nearby military base “Fort McCoy.” He said that the army put old tanks on the ranges and helicopters shot rockets at them, eventually pounding the old tanks right into the ground. Then once the target range was littered with trash, from the rockets and blown up vehicles, Tony came in and bid on a contract to clean up all the scrap metal. In his contract, he said that he could keep the metals and vehicles he cleaned off the ranges. That was what Tanker Tony said to me.
       Tony said, “He was recently able to dig 3 or 4 old tanks up when he cleaned off a target range, and he said that out of 3 or 4 blown up tanks he was able to put one complete tank together.” Tony said, “He would fill up all the bullet holes with “Bondo” automotive body putty.” I was fascinated with listening to Tony. He said, “Fixing up the old tanks was lots of fun.” Tony told me that one time he was fixing up an old tank that he had removed from a firing range and he found a live missiles in the engine compartment. He said, He buried the live rockets at a sand pit that he owned.
      One day, I was having a conversation with Tony, and he said, “He had bought an old “Nike Missile Site” from the government. He said it was located in Minnesota and he intended to make it into an underground military vehicle museum. It sounded exciting, Tony said the Nike site had an electric elevator that still was in working order, as well as a vast tunnel system under ground. He said that he thought it would be a perfect place to display restored military vehicles and he could even charge admission for people to see them.
    As time went on, Tanker Tony and I became very good friends, and he was helping us to find parts for several projects we were doing. Then one day Tony called and said a large Company in Minnesota was disposing of their inventory. He wanted to know if we wanted to buy any of it He said that they had a trailer full of DUKW parts. DUKW as the old WW2 amphibious military vehicle called the Duck. We discussed it at length and finally decided that CME Arma should, through Tony, offer $7000.00 for the trailer of DUKW parts and Tony could store them under ground at his Nike site. Everything went perfectly as planned and Tony picked up the trailer full of DUKW parts and stored it at his Nike site for us. Our arrangement with Tony was that we would be partners on the parts. CME would advertise the parts and Tony’s Surplus would ship them, and we would split any profit.
    Several weeks later, Tony called me up to ask if we were interested in buying any military vehicles. I asked Tony what he had, and he said that he was buying a whole variety of vehicles from the Fort McCoy army base, in Wisconsin. He said that all the vehicles were destined to be put on the target ranges to be shot at, but the ranges had been closed down and Tony was allowed to purchase all the vehicles rather than have the government send them to the scrap yard.
     Tony said he was hauling off all the vehicles from Fort McCoy as we spoke. Tony said he had a legal bill of sale for all the vehicles from the government.
     I asked Tony if he had a list made up of what vehicles were available and he said he did and would fax it to me. When we looked the list over we were very surprised as it contained a big variety of vehicles which included Jeeps, shop vans, and three M113A2 personnel carriers.
      When I saw the M113A2 personnel carriers, I immediately brought it to the attention of Henry Moed who was a semi-retired military vehicle specialist that worked with us. Henry knew a lot about heavy military vehicles, and he said he thought we could sell the M113A2 personnel carriers to either the country of Pakistan or Chile. That was because at the time, the M113A2 was probably the most popular troop carrier in the world. So I quickly called Tony back and asked him the price for the three M113A2 vehicles. Tony said, “I want $33,000.00 each for them.”  So I asked him what condition the vehicles were in, and “He said they were just like new.”
     Tony then said, “The three vehicles all had Tow Missile launchers attached to the top of them,” but then Tony said, “I’m thinking of removing the Tow missile launchers from the vehicles.” I asked him, why he would do that as it reduced the value of the vehicle. Tony said,
It was because he thought that they looked too menacing. I told Tony, not to remove the missile launchers, but he became adamant that he was going to do it anyway, so I told him we would purchase the Tow launchers separately if he took them off.”
      Tony then said, “He had also brought in 28 M151A1 Jeeps that were all just like new all with low mileage.” He said, “If we wanted them they were $1,500.00 each.” I told Tony that we were pretty sure we wanted the M113A2 carriers and I would like to buy all the M151A1 Jeeps, but I had to find an economical was of shipping them to Florida first. So I told Tony to give us a day or so to try and make shipping arrangements.
      I then spoke again to Henry Moed regarding the M113A2 personnel carriers and he said he would call his friend Knut Barth, who did business with the Chilean Army. Henry said Knute was sure Chile would buy them all. I then spoke with my wife Katherine, and I asked her to find a way to ship the 28 pieces of M151A1 Jeep to Miami. So Katherine started working on the project, and she first called the railroad, to see if we could ship on a flat car, but after working on the problem all day, we decided that the best way to bring the Jeeps to Florida was on a car carrier and the cost was $900.00 for each vehicle. Then we realized that we had another problem of where to store the Jeeps. We knew that the local population in Miami would steal the parts off them if we left the Jeeps outdoors. So the bottom line was, that after paying for the Jeeps plus the freight and storage costs, there was not enough profit left for us, considering all the troubles. We knew the current collector market in for the Jeeps in 1996 was only about $2400.00 ea. This would mean we would be in the used Jeep business for a long time to get our money back.
    In the meantime, while we were working on the Jeep project, Henry’s friend Knute told him that the M113A2 personnel carriers were a bargain and we should buy them. He was certain he could sell them to the country of Chile.
     I called Tony Piatz back and told him that we wanted the M113A2 personnel carriers at $33,000.00 ea. Tony asked, “What are you going to do with them,” I said that we intended to export them to Chile. Tony then asked, “If you sell them to Chile, would you need to report the serial numbers to export the vehicles.” Yes, I told him, we would have to apply for an export license and we would definitely need the serial numbers. Tony then got hesitant, and both Henry Moed and as we were both listening to Tony on the phone, we looked at each other, we now both smelled a rat. Tony was obviously lying about how he got the vehicles.
     Then Tony said he had a collector customer for one of the M113A2 vehicles that very day and he was going to sell it for $35,000.00. So at this point we pretty much knew that something was very wrong with Tony, and all the vehicles we suspected were illegally purchased, or possibly even stolen. I was happy to hang up the phone with Tony, and I was very lucky that I did.
      Next, I received a call from a friend and customer named George Pretty who had a company called “Surplus Enterprises” in Sturgis Michigan. George said he was buying a couple of the M151 Jeeps from Tony. Then George confirmed to me that Tony had sold one of the M113A2 vehicles for $35,000.00 to a collector. So we knew that Tony had not lied about that.  
    After about a month, a very disturbed George Pretty again called me up. He said that the FBI and the Governments Criminal Investigative Division, had swooped down on his business and confiscated all the Jeeps he had bought from Tony, and they also confiscated a M114 Personnel carrier George had, as well as an HMWV (Hummer) that George was fixing up. George said the Government agents told him that they intended to prosecute him for buying and possessing stolen military vehicles. He told me, “I’m now nearly bankrupt, financially and I don’t know what to do, I need to hire an attorney.”
     I debated if I should call Tony up, perhaps I could get him to ship our container of DUKW parts we owned, so I called Tony up. Tony answered the phone, and I asked him, what he was doing, I asked him like I didn’t know about all the trouble he was in. He said, “I’m sitting in the middle of my shop, with my head in my hands, waiting for the FBI to come get me.”
      “I didn’t ask him why.” I already knew, but I did ask him if he could ship our DUKW parts to Florida. Tony said, “I sold your parts to a collector for cash. I needed the money for a lawyer.”
      I said, “You shouldn’t have done that Tony as it was our money, but there was no point in pushing the issue, as I knew Tony had enough problems ahead of him.”
     The next week, it became big news world wide, and it was in all the newspapers, as well as on television. They referred to Tony as “Tanker Tony”, and they said he stole over 13 million dollars in vehicles from the government. He was arrested along with 5 other military and civilian employees at Fort McCoy. They also arrested a military museum owner that also bought vehicles from Tony, probably the M113. “Tanker Tony”, they said, was the ringleader, and he had bribed the Fort McCoy employees. They said that there was 2 military guys and 3 civilian government employees that Tony had paid off.  The news also reported that Tony had 11 charges against him and could get up to 125 years in jail, as well as 2.75 million dollars in fines.  We heard that all the vehicles were confiscated and anyone who bought them lost their money.
     Eventually Tony and the other 6 people were all convicted. I heard Tony got 5 years in jail. But the most interesting part of it all was my later conversation with my good friend George Pretty from Sturgis Michigan. George had hired an attorney, and his attorney got a copy of all the government’s evidence. When George read all the evidence, it included a transcript of the governments tapping of Tony’s telephone. Every conversation that I ever had with Tony had been recorded and printed out in the evidence package.
     Our friend George Pretty was eventually acquitted, of any wrong doing, but he never got his vehicles or his money back, and this pretty much bankrupted him.
     Interestingly enough, no one from the government ever contacted us, and our name was never mentioned at the trial, I think that was a close call.