GUNDERSON, THE DRUG RING INVESTIGATOR AND HIS INVOLVEMENT IN DANNY CASOLARO'S INVESTIGATION OF THE OCTOPUS.

Excerpt from Chapter 3, The Last Circle by Cherie Seymore © 1997
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"....The last remnants of the D.I.G. group were beginning to call themselves "The Loser's Club," resembling forlorn characters out of a Stephen King novel. They had squared off against a labyrnthine evil so incomprehensible, they didn't know what they were fighting. It was time to bring in some outside help.

During a strategy meeting in Jackson, California, Ben Wagner had received an impressive 700 page report commissioned by the Tulare City Council. The report, compiled by Ted Gunderson, a former Los Angeles FBI agent, was indepth and straightforward about deputies receiving payoffs and distributing drugs in the small farmtown of Tulare. Wagner had given me a copy for my files.

On an impulse, I picked up the phone and called Gunderson's telephone number listed at the top of the attached resume. The resume was impressive. He'd worked as SAC (Senior Special Agent in Charge) at Los Angeles FBI headquarters, Washington D.C. headquarters and in Dallas, Texas. It would be two years before I would grasp the significance of the Dallas connection. After retiring from the FBI, he'd worked for F. Lee Baily, Esq., then formed his own investigative agency in Los Angeles county.

I left a message with the answering service and he returned the call a few days later. His voice was open, attentive, devoid of the bureaucratic hollowness I had come to expect from FBI agents. We talked briefly, mostly about the problem DIG was experiencing in Mariposa. I said I needed help, anticipating his next question. But none came forth. Instead, a clipped knowingness entered his tone, as if nothing more should be said on the phone. He agreed to meet with me at his home a few weeks later and we hung up.

Unknown to me at the time, I had taken a quantum leap in the direction of the Octopus when I contacted Ted Gunderson. The mystery of the Mariposa coverups would soon be divulged through an associate of his, a former member of "The Company" in nearby Fresno, California.

******

On November 30, 1991, Ted Gunderson opened the door at his Manhattan Beach home and ushered us into a small living room cluttered with toys. He made no explanation for the toys scattered around the floor and the couch, but offered coffee and donuts, then proceeded to eat most of the donuts himself. I had expected someone dripping with intrigue, instead he was classic in the sense of an investigator; rumpled shirt and slacks, nervous movements, distracted behavior. We sat on the couch bunched together amongst the toys. Gunderson pulled a kitchen chair up in front of us, leaned over and began stuffing his mouth with cheese and crackers, all the while talking, his body in perpetual motion. He was a big, handsome man with an aging face and tossled silver hair. He seemed entirely unaware of his appearance or the appearance of his home, but his pale eyes were intelligent and probing. Intuitively, I knew he was more than he appeared to be.

A young woman, perhaps early thirties, entered the room brushing long blond hair, still wet from the shower. Her faded jeans and sundrenched appearance reminded me of friends I'd known growing up in Newport Beach. Gunderson introduced her as his "partner," as she seated herself silently on the floor next to him. The flush on her face brought a fleeting prescience to me that they had been making love shortly before the meeting.

Ray Jenkins recounted the Mariposa story for several hours, with the rest of us digressing to insert a fact here or there. The investigation had led beyond Mariposa into MCA Corporation, and various State and Federal levels of government. I noted that Danny Casolaro's research had started at the eastern end, in Washington D.C., yet he had been preparing to travel to California for the rest of the story, before his death three months earlier.

Gunderson listened carefully, occasionally interrupting to ask questions, then motioned us to follow him to the backyard. There we stood in a circle in the middle of his yard while he surveyed the area. Satisfied that he was not being watched, he agreed to come to Mariposa, with media, and perform a citizens arrest on the corrupt officials. He pulled a frazzled piece of paper from his pocket and gave me a list of telephone numbers to write down. They were numbers to telephone booths at various locations in the vicinity of his home. Each booth had been coded 1,2,3,4, or 5. He instructed that the next time I called him, he would give me the code number of the booth and a time to call. I would then call him at the designated booth.

Eight hours later, I handed him a copy of my first book, as a courtesy, then left Manhattan Beach loaded with newspaper clippings and documents, mostly relating to Casolaro's investigation of the Octopus. One packet was titled, "The Wonderful Weapons of Wackenhut," others related to the Inslaw affair, Iran/Contra and various savings and loan scandals.

In the van, reviewing the documents, I wondered what relationship they had to Mariposa County and why I was given the packet. The documents were far ranging, beyond anything I had heretofore imagined. But within days of my visit to Gunderson, I would be introduced to the Octopus.

******

The following morning, at 7:30 a.m., I received a collect call from a man who identified himself as Michael Riconosciuto (pronounced Riconoshooto). Riconosciuto, calling from the Pierce County jail in Tacoma, Washington, said he had been informed by Gunderson that I was investigating a corruption/drug ring in Mariposa County. For 45 minutes Riconosciuto related the names of those in charge of methamphetamine operations in Mariposa, Madera and Fresno counties.


CLICK TO READ THE ENTIRE CHAPTER: http://www.lycaeum.org/books/books/last_circle/3.htm