I met Bruce Perlowin through my friend Michael Harkins.
Perlowin’s wife, Svetlana, is no stranger to CBS’ 60 Minutes. In 1984, Sveltana Ogorodnikov was convicted of being a Russian spy. The ‘Spy Who Couldn’t Go Home’ scandal was the most watched 60 Minutes show in their history. She was also featured on “The Best of 60 Minutes for the decade of the 80’s, “Mike Wallace Remembers 25 years of 60 Minutes,” and “35 years of 60 Minutes.” Additionally, Perlowin’s co-founder of Medical Marijuana, Inc., Don Steinberg, was also featured on 60 Minutes for his role as the largest marijuana smuggler in US history, back in the 70’s.
Svetlana, Perlowin’s wife of 35 years, is also one of the co-founders and one of the largest shareholders of Hemp, Inc. (OTC: HEMP). On the horizon for the couple, is a major motion picture on Perlowin’s life as the ‘King of Pot’ as featured on CNBC’s “Marijuana, Inc. Inside America’s Pot Industry” in 2008, which was the most watched documentary in CNBC history. The documentary is still re-airing 4 years later. (http://www.cnbc.com/id/28281668)
Even with mass publicity, a Discovery Channel show, a motion picture in the works and a reality show featuring the company’s products (in which three segments have already been filmed), Perlowin remains humble and is proud of how other marijuana companies are moving forward. “It’s gratifying to see the concept and company that I founded soar to new heights as the new management gets national media recognition. Although I have moved on to another venture in the same industry, I am proud that my legacy is provoking worldwide interest,” Perlowin stated.
Forging a path in the industrial hemp industry, while educating consumers on the many uses of industrial hemp, Hemp, Inc. (OTC: HEMP) (http://www.hemp.com), is also producing hemp-based products proven to increase the body’s overall health and performance. The company boasts HerbaGenix™ nutraceuticals (herbagenix.com); BasicHemp (http://www.basichemp.com), their hemp protein shakes brand; and, custom-branded MJ Lover for Him and MJ Lover for Her (http://www.mjlover.com) and Re-Load Hemp nutraceuticals (http://www.re-load.biz) which is derived from a blend of organic nutrients, herbs, and vitamins including hemp extract (0.00% THC) and AFA blue-green algae which is known for its healthful effects.
Not only has Hemp, Inc. (OTC: HEMP) been flooding the market with health products, its CEO, Bruce Perlowin is quite the philanthropist, according to inside sources. “Bruce Perlowin is an interesting character. Very philanthropic. His journey reminds me of the ‘Catch Me If You Can’ movie,” says David Tobias, President of Hemp, Inc. (OTC: HEMP).
SAN DIEGO — In halting and heavily-accented English, a former Soviet spy recounted Wednesday how she became an FBI informant in a murder-for-hire case.
Svetlana Ogorodnikova this week is testifying as a key government witness, seven years after her release from prison. She was convicted of seducing a Los Angeles FBI agent into selling a confidential document to the Soviet Union in the 1980s.
After serving half her 18-year sentence, Ogorodnikova was released and spent several years fighting deportation from the United States — an effort she gave up by moving to Tijuana, Mexico, with a convicted drug trafficker she met and married in prison.
Ogorodnikova returned illegally to Southern California in 1999 and moved with her husband to a ranch in Fallbrook. The ranch was owned by Kimberly Bailey, who is now on trial in federal court on charges of having a San Diego private investigator tortured and murdered in an abandoned house in Tijuana.
Bailey repeatedly asked Ogorodnikova if she could hire a hitman to kill witnesses and others involved in the murder of the private investigator, Richard Post, the Russian woman testified.
“I became very scared,” said the former spy, dressed in a dark blue suit, her hair cut short. “I think maybe she’d forget, maybe she’s not serious.”
Bailey is accused of having Post kidnapped, tortured over five days in Tijuana, and then murdered because she believed he cheated on her with other women and stole money from her.
Bailey has pleaded innocent to conspiracy to murder a person in a foreign country and other charges. Through her lawyer, she has insisted that Post is alive and in hiding.
FBI agents who had the Fallbrook ranch under surveillance approached Ogorodnikova, who agreed to covertly tape conversations over the phone and in person with Bailey.
The Russian woman, according to the tapes, set up a meeting in the Mandalay Bay casino between an FBI agent posing as a hitman and Bailey, who allegedly wanted to have him kill several people involved with Post’s slaying.
In their conversations, Ogorodnikova said she and Bailey developed a code. Examples included “brother” or “lawyer” to mean hitman and “investigation” to refer to murder. “It was like a spy movie, like in James Bond,” she testified.
Bailey’s defense attorney, Philip DeMassa, said he hoped to use Ogorodnikova’s past to convince jurors that she is not a reliable witness.
“She’s an experienced KGB agent and she’s lying about everything,” he said outside the federal courtroom.
Ogorodnikova pleaded guilty to espionage charges in 1985, after she admitted seducing Richard Miller, the first FBI agent charged with espionage.
The former Soviet spy had no trouble slipping back into the United States when a friend drove her across the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego, where inspectors failed to check Ogorodnikova’s background, according to her husband, Bruce Perlowin.
The Bailey trial is expected to last several more weeks.
Butler, a licensed investigator, started working for the original owner of the firm, former FBI Special Agent Charles Latting, two years after the firm opened in 1996, the website says. At that time, the firm operated under the name Corporate Intelligence Resources and specialized in undercover corporate work and investigative research for corporations and businesses throughout California.
The commander of a state Justice Department-led county drug task force and the owner of a Concord-based private investigations firm, nationally known for its “Mommy P.I.s,” have been booked into county jail on suspicion of conspiring to sell drugs.
Special agents from the Department of Justice, Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, arrested Norman “Norm” Wielsch, a 12-year veteran of the bureau, Wednesday in Benicia. Wielsch was arrested on 22 felony counts. The charges are related to the distribution of methamphetamine, marijuana and steroids, bureau spokeswoman Michelle Gregory said.
During an interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes while he was in prison, colleagues observed that Miller had at one time lost his gun and FBI credentials. Additionally, Svetlana Ogorodnikov alleged that Miller had initiated the affair and had forced himself upon her. When confronted with these accusations by Mike Wallace, Miller demurred, stating that of the two, he was by far “more enthusiastic” in their “lovemaking”.
On October 3, 1984, Miller was arrested with Svetlana and Nikolai Ogorodnikov, Russian immigrants who had moved to Los Angeles in 1973 to seek refuge, but who were actually access agents of the Soviet KGB. Miller was alleged to have provided classified documents, including an FBI Counterintelligence manual, to the Ogorodnikovs after demanding $50,000 in gold and $15,000 cash in return. Miller, who had eight children and was faced with financial difficulties, was having an affair with the married Svetlana Ogorodnikov, and was preparing to travel with her to Vienna at the time of his arrest. It was later alleged that Svetlana Ogorodnikov had been in touch with a KGB case officer working out of the Soviet Consulate in San Francisco and had made arrangements for Miller to meet with the KGB in Vienna.
U.S. law enforcement agencies investigate the case of illegal shipments of U.S. high-tech equipment for the Russian Defense Ministry. New details have emerged about yet another US-Russian spy scandal. Three of the alleged “agents of the Russian government,” are staying in Russia. The Kremlin has not commented on the situation yet, while diplomats do not hurry to confirm the fact that the “spies” hold Russian citizenship.
LOS ANGELES — By several accounts, Richard W. Miller was a dismal failure as an FBI agent and everyone knew it. The mention of his name prompted jokes and peals of laughter, yet he held one of the FBI`s most coveted jobs.
Miller, a portly, excommunicated Mormon, retained his spot on the Soviet counterintelligence squad despite his numerous professional and moral failings through the good graces of the fellow Mormons who controlled the squad and the Los Angeles FBI, his attorney says.
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Those claims, advanced during Miller`s 11-week espionage trial, have placed the FBI under a rare magnifying glass, raising questions about the competency of the massive investigative agency.
When the FBI handcuffed Miller on Oct. 2, 1984, he became the only FBI agent ever charged with espionage. The government claims he gave secret documents to his Soviet lover, Svetlana Ogorodnikova, for a promised $65,000.
He denies the charges, claiming he was trying to appear “recruitable“ in an attempt to infiltrate the KGB and save his otherwise lackluster FBI career.
The federal court jury was expected to hear closing arguments in the case this week.
An unusual element of Miller`s defense is the contention that his Mormon supervisors coddled him for years because of their shared faith and later singled him out for unusually harsh treatment – including dismissal and prosecution – when his misdeeds multiplied.
They claim Miller, 48, was just the example the Los Angeles FBI needed to quell allegations of Mormon favoritism raised by Bernardo “Matt“ Perez, an FBI supervisor who claims his Catholicism kept him at arm`s length from a promotion.
Three weeks after Miller`s arrest, FBI Director William Webster said he doubted inept Mormon agents were being protected by a circle of fellow Mormons in the Los Angeles office.
“Every assignment has been based on merit and I have no reason to believe that anybody offered any kind of blanket of protection,“ he said.
But the agency has been silent on the issue since.
“It would be inappropriate for the FBI to respond to that,“ an FBI spokesman said recently in Washington, D.C. “The courtroom would be the proper forum to litigate that.“
The Mormon Church also has refused to deal publicly with the issue.
Faced in court with allegations of the existence of the so-called “Mormon Mafia,“ FBI supervisors responded with repeated denials. But several startling disclosures were made, including an admission that Miller`s faith was a factor in winning him the spot on the Soviet counterintelligence squad.
P. Bryce Christensen, a Mormon who headed the squad, said Miller`s bosses at the Riverside field office transferred him onto the prestigious Soviet squad in 1981 because he needed maximum supervision.
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“They also indicated they were transferring him to my squad because of our common religious background, thinking I could possibly be a role model,“ said Christensen, who is now an assistant special agent in charge in Los Angeles.
The portrait of Miller that has emerged from detailed testimony about his work history shows an agent whose wide girth got him several censures and suspensions without pay.
One of his supervisors testified he took Miller off sensitive street work in 1982 because an FBI psychiatrist feared a mental breakdown. Miller`s moral character has also been sullied by his own admissions of petty thievery and adultery.
Perez, whose testimony was laced with bitterness about the alleged favoritism, said Miller had no place in the FBI.
“From my personal knowledge, he was a bumbler,“ Perez said. “He was in all sorts of trouble. He was more than the office joke. He was the FBI joke. There were R.W. Miller jokes all through the office.“
Perez testified he believes Christensen and Richard Bretzing – a Mormon bishop who heads the Los Angeles FBI – kept Miller from being fired.
“I wanted to fire Mr. Miller from the FBI but Mr. Bretzing was opposed to it,“ Perez said.
Perez said Bretzing told him to “let Mr. Christensen handle it.“
“I believe that happened because they are both Mormons,“ Perez said. “I saw it happen with other Mormons and only Mormons.“
Miller`s attorneys argue that the same religious ties that cushioned him against threatened dismissal for years turned to shackles in Bretzing`s hands.
They say it was Bretzing`s impassioned religious plea to “repent“ on Sept. 29, 1984 that coaxed repeated false confessions from the distraught, exhausted agent.
After that meeting, a tearful Miller began changing the version of the story he had revealed voluntarily to Christensen two days earlier, finally telling FBI interrogators he had given secret documents to Ogorodnikova.