In a stunning turn of events, just days before the California primary, Sheriff Gore appears to have embellished his FBI exploits. Statements like “I stormed hijacked planes, I did all that stuff,” could have been exaggerated and needs further explanation.
The emotional aspects of the San Diego County Sheriff’s race may have caused Gore, the current appointed caretaker of the Sheriff’s office, to misspeak or embellish his background as an agent with the FBI.
After dozens of phone calls to verify Sheriff Gore’s days as a young G-man in the FBI storming hijacked planes and killing bank robbers it seems it is Gore who has some explaining to do. According to multiple news stories Sheriff Gore talked about his high flying days in the FBI in order to shrug off complaints from San Diego Sheriff Opponents Jim Duffy and Jay LaSuer about his lack of street experience. This game of one-upmanship have led to more questions than answers
In several recent print articles published in San Diego County, Sheriff Gore is reported to have offered specific details, regarding his background in law enforcement, which in turn caused questions to be asked by many who found inconsistencies in the facts contained in the articles. And when contacted there were no requests from Gore to correct the obvious inaccuracies in the articles. In the East County Magazine story an email was sent from the Sheriff’s Dept. thanking them for a good story, said Miriam Raftery.
Those asking questions about Sheriff Gore’s comments about his background were concerned that he may have embellished details regarding his involvement in two incidents- a 1972 hijacking in Seattle and a bank robbery in 1978.
Once the details of the background check unfolded, dates did not match up. In the published articles, Sheriff Gore related his involvement in a 1978 bank robbery and a 1975 hijacking incident both of which occurred in Washington State.
Sheriff Gore says he stands by his record as a FBI agent and has no reason to lie about the details to prove anything to the Sheriff candidates Duffy and LaSuer.
(Links to the stories; East County Magazine- http://www.eastcountymagazine.org/node/1865, San Diego Tribune- http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/may/16/sheriffs-campaign-brings-out-macho-side/, and Voice of San Diego- http://www.voiceofsandiego.org/government/article_974ac536-62e8-11df-b754-001cc4c03286.html)
When questioned and asked for specific details regarding his involvement in the incidents, Sheriff Gore began to validate his involvement by explaining that the hijacking incident actually occurred in 1973 rather than the 1975 as reported, and then proceeded to provide news reports. Both the 1973 and 1975 dates were wrong and the hijacking actually took place in August of 1972 according to the Seattle Times article provided by Gore. Further research pointed to the agents involved in the hijacking as Special Agent Dave Maples and Philip R. Miller from the Portland FBI office and they were driven to the aircraft by S.A. Martin, according to the book Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI.
When Gore was asked about the incidents in question, he was combative and claimed to not remember specific dates and questioned this reporter as to why a fact check was even needed. However, numerous discrepancies contained in San Diego news articles made it clear fact checking was necessary.
Gore described the hijacking event vividly with Raftery of East County Magazine.
“I helped stop a plane hijacking in 1975 (actually 1972). I was in a chase car under the plane (not how agents who boarded the aircraft recall the event), which had landed in Seattle. We came up with a plan to storm the plane…We convinced the hijacker he needed to put a new crew on the plane (the hijacker Frank Markoe Sibley requested a new crew with experience flying across the ocean). We sent in an FBI agent who had flown military planes (actually two FBI agents boarded the aircraft both with flight experience) and thought he could bluff his way through, but we didn’t know the hijacker had been a commercial pilot. He started quizzing our guy about specs of a 727 and realized he was faking…He made them [the agents] strip down,” Gore described.
“Our man had a gun in the lining of his jacket and he managed to toss it down to us (there is no mention of this). The hijacker handcuffed our agents in the front, instead of behind their backs, big mistake. He put him up in the pilot’s seat. Our agent dropped a Styrofoam cup or something pre-arranged…We raised up the gun on a pole and we were waiting to storm the doors…Sure as hell: boom, boom, boom! Our agent managed to shoot the hijacker and no one on board got hurt.”
“Then we went back in the terminal. There were 400 people there. To get a hero’s welcome was definitely a high for a 29-year-old agent (except to make this story plausible and accurate Gore would have to be 25 as he was born on July 11, 1947).”
The press contact for the Seattle SeaTac Airport, Perry Cooper (no relation to DB Cooper he says), searched for details on Gore and came up empty handed. Longtime newsman and purveyor of Seattle news, Chris Ingalls of NBC’s King 5 also checked into the story without any luck.
Seattle’s most infamous hijacking is the DB Cooper case, Cooper stole $200,000 and jumped out of the plane never to be found his case remains open in the FBI to this day.
When the FBI was contacted about the airplane hijacking, Seattle agent Fred Gutt (goot) said the agency doesn’t discuss current or retired employees with the media. However, the easiest way to confirm the story would be with the FBI report regarding the hijacking, but according to several law enforcement agencies the FBI is reluctant to work with any other agencies and is by far the most secretive operation in the United States.
Another event in the Seattle region that Gore spoke about was a bank robbery in which he claims to have shot and killed the robber as he fled the scene of the crime. Police records regarding the August 24, 1978 robbery indicate the event took place and the bank robber was killed by FBI agents. Three FBI agents’ names are in the police report; Gore is not one of them.
This is how Gore remembers the bank heist in Bremerton, Washington.
“It’s not like TV. When you take somebody’s life, it stays with you. That was in 1978. I was in a shoot-out with a bank robber in Seattle. He had a pistol. I had a shotgun…We had a tip that the bank was going to be robbed. I was outside and my wife who was an FBI agent—actually we were engaged back then--was inside, posing as a teller. All she heard was two shots fired outside. There were some tense moments, but the good guy won,” Gore told East County Magazine.
Similar recounts of the events appeared in the Voices of San Diego and the San Diego Union Tribune and it is worth pointing out that the Tribune has endorsed Sheriff Gore’s quest to continue on as Sheriff.
Gore’s academic, military and law enforcement record is certainly impressive. He finished his undergraduate work at the University of San Diego in 1969 and somehow picked up a masters at Seattle University, completed basic navel officer military training, finished a 20-week FBI training and serve in Kansas City FBI office all before the 1972 hijacking.
Something has to give. Plus, Gore is reported to have said he was 29 at the time of the hijacking, but he was at least 24/25 which would have made him a newly-minted FBI agent and it’s highly unlikely the FBI would let him plan and storm a high-profile hijacking case, according to law enforcement agents.
San Diego Sheriff Deputy and contender for Gore’s office, Jim Duffy says he is not critic of Gore’s FBI experience, but it’s his lack of California Penal code experience. “He has never arrested anybody and he recently spoke about arresting speeders and it’s unlawful for law enforcement to arrest speeders. He simply lacks the basic fundamentals of California law,” says Duffy. “This is where he falls short and it makes him unsuited for the Sheriff job.”
Gore’s other Sheriff Opponent, Jay LaSuer says, “If these embellishments are true he (Gore) has tarnished the badge of every law enforcement officer in this county.”
It looks like the voters have a tough decision in front of them tomorrow.
For more stories; http://www.examiner.com/x-10317-San-Diego-County-Political-Buzz-Examiner