Con-artist convinces town he's a super Fed who doesn't need search warrants

Yoder sez, "Bill Jakob, a former trucking company owner with law enforcement experience, spent 'several months' pretending to be a federal agent in the town of Gerald, MO. Jakob apparently spent his time aggressively busting drug suspects, with the complicity of the local police department, claiming 'he did not need search warrants to enter their homes because he worked for the federal government.'"

Gosh, I guess that spending seven years telling everyone that the War on Terror demands that we defer to authority and trust in secrecy means that we end up being credulous patsies for con-artists -- who could have foreseen it?

The strange adventures of Sergeant Bill have led to the firing of three of the town’s five police officers, left the outcome of a string of drug arrests in doubt, prompted multimillion-dollar federal civil rights lawsuits by at least 17 plaintiffs and stirred up a political battle, including a petition seeking the impeachment of Mr. Schulte, over who is to blame for the mess.

And the questions keep coming. How did Mr. Jakob wander into town and apparently leave the mayor, the aldermen and pretty much everyone else he met thinking that he was a federal agent delivered from Washington to help barrel into peoples’ homes and clean up Gerald’s drug problem? And why would anyone – receiving no pay and with no known connection to little Gerald, 70 miles from St. Louis and not even a county seat – want to carry off such a time-consuming ruse in the first place?

Link (Thanks, Yoder!)


  1. We obviously need retroactive immunity for Mr Jakob, or no-one will ever cooperate in the War On (Some) Drugs again!.

  2. It’s pretty hard to hold onto your Constitutional rights when you don’t even want them.

  3. Please send this item to the NYT and let it have some national attention (BB is international but could pass under the radar in the USA) and maybe hopefully the republican madness will come under some constrain of civil liberties.

    I neither condom or endorse illegal activities, but wish everyman to have their day in court just as the bill of rights mandated.

    Fascism is another name for NeoComs and their like :)

  4. I’ve been saying since the start that these no-warrant gag-ordered laws are perfect for foreign agents (aka spies). Show up somewhere with a couple guys in black suits, show some fake badges, and tell whoever that it is a War on Terror investigation and that they are not allowed to tell anyone about it. Then gather the spy data you want, and leave.

  5. “to pull a gerald”: to be taken in in an utterly humiliating way, to be fooled and made an international laughing stock of. (var); “you from gerald?”

  6. Mayagrafix, the link leads to an article in the NY Times.
    By now the lawyers must be hungrily circling.

  7. So a con man scams a bunch of locals and it’s the War on Terrorism’s fault?…. okaaayyy…

  8. This guy probably did more damage then good. He took a dump on every case by becoming involved in them and now the public is going to have to pay for it by low lives getting off.

  9. some years ago, here in malaysia, some dude did something similar and pretended to be a high ranking police official. the best thing is that he managed to recruit new officials into his regime until the size was considerable and the government found out and took action on him. can’t seem to find links on it on the net but will try to look at the newspaper archives to see if i can scan something up

    1. Howshouse,

      No blog links, please, unless they’re topic specific. Your link goes on your profile page. Thanks.

  10. Reminds me of several other cases where police have been conned. It happens surprisingly often, my favorite case being plucky San Fransisco lad Brian Anthony Young, who impersonated a state fish and game warden for three months, inspecting boats, issuing tickets, and confiscating fish.

  11. A nurse that I used to work with had worked in Chicago(?) with a pediatrician who had, in fact, never gone to medical school or done a residency. Made the whole thing up. Worked for a couple of years before he was discovered. Apparently, he was quite good at it, too. If you look the part, or are at least attractive, you can get away with almost anything.

  12. Isn’t there a famous play about this? Russian if I remember correctly – which is what I think the Danny Kaye movie is based off of. The Government Inspector written by Nikolai Gogol, the famous Russian novelist. There was a German version this way back in the 20’s or 1910’s as well but I can’t for the life of me remember the name of the guy who pulled it off. Happened in Weinmar I think

  13. No matter what people claim, if they were so smart in small town America, then why are they living in small town America? Watching the grass grow is hardly intellectually stimulating.

  14. Actually, it sounds like he didn’t so much exploit the War on Terror hype (though this is definitely in keeping with the GWOT-driven trend toward too much deference to government) as step in and offer to help with the local meth problem. And he lives in, like, the next town over, so he probably did figure (like his lawyer seems to say) that he was helping. But, good grief – how do you work with a police force at any level for that long without getting asked for I.D.?

  15. “So a con man scams a bunch of locals and it’s the War on Terrorism’s fault?…. okaaayyy…”

    Yes. The laws that were supposed to make people more safe actually made them less safe. Use your brain.

  16. Gerald’s mayor and police department seem completely incompetent and certainly deserve to get the boot. However, I think calling the Gerald residents “rubes” and the like is pretty harsh – most people are afraid to question or assert themselves to someone else who claims to be an authority figure and plays the part well, especially if they are “kicked in the head” or “have shotguns held against them.” Also, don’t forget that while the NYT has made the story national, a reporter in Owensville, a very small town about 10 miles from Gerald, is the one who initially investigated Mr. Jakob’s true identity.

    If the people of Gerald reelect that mayor, though, then I am totally on board the the rubes label.

  17. “And why would anyone — receiving no pay and with no known connection to little Gerald, 70 miles from St. Louis and not even a county seat — want to carry off such a time-consuming ruse in the first place?”

    -They always confiscate not just drugs but all cash on hand as “evidence”. No mention in the article of what happened to anything confiscated. The guy must have brought in a pretty good haul.

    Why 70 miles away? -Just far enough away not to be recognized, dt.

    This just illustrates what one rogue sshl can do, given the current political climate. (For those who think the backdrop of the “war on drugs” and now the “war on terror” had nothing to do with this guy’s success: Who’s methlab are you visitin’? The shifting sands of our diminishing civil rights were the very fulcrum of his ploy, if you read the article.) Down heah in Texas, we deputize guys like him. (Takuan, add “Tulia” to your new list of verbs.)

    Make no mistake: The “war on drugs” was just round one of the “war on terror.” Both are simply the war on the American people, and our government is just getting warmed up… The natural consequence of power without oversight, it seems. We need to stop enabling these fevered egos tainting the gene pool, as Bill Hicks put it.

    I’m not naive enough to believe that this madness will end if Obama comes to power. Just as Bill Hicks said of Bill Clinton when he took office (and I’m paraphrasing): “They escorted him into a room and showed him the equivilent to The Zapruder Film, but from a hitherto unseen angle, and then it’s: “Any questions?”

    But as Gandhi said (again paraphrasing): Every evil regime that ever existed has not endured. I have to believe we can wake up before it’s too late and make real change occur within our lifetimes. It starts with you.

  18. One of the most prominent examples (if slightly more benign) from Germany is the Hauptmann von Köpenick:

    In 1906, Voigt dressed up as a prussian army captain and managed to seize the towns koffers (signing a receipt no less). Even the mayor did not question the captains authority, even thogh Voigt had no military training, and the uniform was cobbled together from various pieces.

  19. Pity, you will be liquidated of course. Let that be a warning to all: fly not too close to the Ultimate Sun Source.

  20. But as Gandhi said (again paraphrasing): Every evil regime that ever existed has not endured.

    That’s true, but only as a degenerate case: every regime that has ever existed has not endured. Government is not a stable state of society – eventually it is always conquered from without or overthrown from within, for any one of a handful of reasons.

    The problem is that the new regime is usually no different to the old regime, just with different people telling you what to do. There are no recorded instances of that being solved.

  21. It’s a shame that citizens cannot do what the police themselves cannot do.

    What I mean is, it is a shame that someone who ultimately wanted to do good (stop the drug problem) can’t do that because of legal tape.

    I know what he did is wrong–legally. Morally? I think he is on the right track… But he needs to work out his methods to make them more legal.

    There is nothing against a citizen making anonymous tips to let the local law enforcement do busts…

    It just goes to show you that people who are willing to put themselves on the line can do a lot of good–or a lot of bad–really quick.

  22. @#30, Spokehedz,
    Vigilantism only works in Gotham city. :]

    No matter what the intentions are, no one is above the just laws. I’m still for the whole “innocent until proven guilty” thing.

  23. the only reason meth’s a problem is because speed clears the body and urine far faster than pot.
    If pot were legal there’d be no “meth problem”…people stick with pot, they move to other drugs cause the system wants them to…by design, I think.

  24. Please send this item to the NYT and let it have some national attention

    …says someone who didn’t even bother to hover over the LINK and see that it’s a NYT article that is being quoted.


  25. What will crack me up is if the charges against the con-man for impersonating a police officer get him branded as a “terrorist”.

  26. #30, spokehedz, It is NOT okay to pry into people’s personal lives. Their body is their property, and if they want to put drugs into it, then that’s their decision. Who is anyone, especially our government, to tell them they can’t?

  27. I’m going to start telling people I’m a “Terrorism Liason Officer” and they better comply with my demands. Then I’m going to deputize them all and arrest Bush and Cheney.

  28. He wasn’t just a con-man, he was a neo-con-man, man. -Breaking all laws that get in the way of furthering his own extreme agenda, trampling people’s lives to do so. If this country wanted to successfully eradicate hard drugs, it could; but the “war on drugs” is simply to eliminate the competition and criminalize a segment of our population. Meth addicts are sick and need treatment, not prison. The US government have covertly been the only ones importing hard drugs into this country for decades.

    The “war on terror” similarly hopes to eliminate the competition on global intimidation while eroding at our basic freedoms back home. Let’s bring democracy to the US (and UK) before trying to export it in a self-righteous corporatist war-profiteering hypocritical frenzy.

  29. I’m with you, Subterrene. We could rent uniforms, walk into a DC police station, and a few hours later we’d have two war criminals in custody. All it takes is the total self-assurance of a con man; I’m sure I have that around here somewhere…

  30. Sergeant Bill’s only mistake, in my opinion, was in thinking small. When infiltrating mechanisms of the Establishment, you don’t start off in Mudhump.

  31. As a not-so-happy resident of the town of Gerald, Missouri; I neither voted for or support the officials that have made a mockery of our city.
    It would be great if all of the people who have time to put their two cents’ worth in, would also take the time to find out the real truth behind the story. You can’t always believe everything you read, not even in the New York Times! (Oh, and by the way, this story has been out for over a month now and was uncovered by a RUBE from Gerald!) Everyone has placed their own sensational spin on the story changing it a little as they go, pretty soon Mr. Jakop is a hero instead of people seeing the damage that he caused. The truth would be nice at this point.

    Our mayor and aldermen are to blame; as is the chief of police and any of the department that worked with him. They all knowingly went along with all of it, jeopardizing the townpeople, the “drug cases” that were worked on (the sheriff’s department and DEA may lose many cases because of the stupidity), and now the town itself. The lawsuits could rock Gerald to its very core. The city could go bankrupt, forcing other entities to come in and take over power of the water, streets, police, etc.

    All because of the actions of one man and the lack of action of many others…

  32. I think people dont know the whole story. No one really does. The media turns things around so much to try to get their ratings up. None of the stories are consistent. So who is telling the truth?? And on a side note, the “reporter” that broke the story in Gerald was a gossip columnist up until this story broke. Think about that.

  33. Please enlighten us as to the “real story” then, if you are in Gerald. Help those of us not from there sift through the media spin.

  34. First of all, the reporter is not a gossip columnist, she’s an investagative reporter, and obviously a better detective than what was on the police department.

    Second, the mayor claims he had no way of knowing that Mr. Jakop was a fake, yet in the past he has checked out numerous other people. This is different how?

    I personally believe that the mayor and the police knew what was taking place. Here was free help, someone coming in, offering to help rid us of our “drug problem”, which by the way is not as bad as it has been made out to be. (We do not have meth dealers on every corner.)

    All it takes is someone like NYT to get ahold of a story like this and all of a sudden it’s BIG news. Guess what? This has been monopolizing the news in town for about two months. Way to be on top of things!

    This guy is not a hero, he is an idiot. The fact that the chief of police let him do this should show everyone out there that he’s an idiot, too. Most of the police department followed along after him mindlessly, violating people’s civil rights, ruining active cases and jeopardizing future cases.

    “Chief” Ryan McCrary (and I use that term extremely loosely) had been let go from Gerald during a previous hire. That should tell you something. Why “mayor” Otis Schulte chose to rehire him is a mystery.

    Sorry if I seem a little cranky, but the whole thing is just a tad ridiculous. I know that the townpeople are rather sickened by the whole thing, and is not even close to being over! I hope that the mayor, Jakop, alderman and police get what is coming to them. All of them, with the exception of Jakop, were sworn in and promised to uphold the laws of the city, state and United States.

    Somewhere that went terribly wrong…

  35. I do know Jakob personally. You guys don’t know this guy. I have met him. I have known him for a long time. Hes not as bad as the world and media are making him out to be. You guys dont know the whole story. What happened to innocent until proven guilty?? Everyone is going by what some druggies are saying. They were probably hopped up on meth when this all went down. I grew up in Franklin county Missouri and I have relatives that live in Gerald. Dont believe everything you read in the media. How many times is the media wrong?? Maybe this will go in the file with the “weapons of mass destruction” accusations.

  36. If he was impersonating law enforcement, no matter how pure his motives, then he just put each and every ‘druggie’ (innocent until proven guilty) he was significantly involved in catching – back on the street.

    He may have meant well, but it appears it will take a lot of people (whose time would be better spent on the meth problem) a long time to sort it all out.

    Net effect = negative on society. Again, no matter how pure his motives.

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