("Quid coniuratio est?")
CIRCUMSTANCES SURROUNDING THE DEATH OF COLONEL JIMMY SABO
Tom Valentine's guest on Radio Free America (Shortwave, 5.065
MHz, mon-fri, 9 pm cst) on November 14, 1994 was private
investigator Gene Wheaton. Mr. Wheaton has been looking into the
suspicious death of the late Colonel Jimmy Sabo. Following is my
transcription of that interview.
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[Awesome sounds of John Phillip Souza's "Stars and Stripes Forever"]
- It's Radio Free America, the talk show for intelligent
Americans, with your host, Tom Valentine.
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And now, the newspaper that "tells it like it is" presents Tom
Hello, everybody! Welcome back to Radio Free America.
We're beginning the week with a bang, right now, by recalling a
guest, a man who's been a guest on this show a couple of times.
He is, he's an extraordinary guy, he's an investigator. He came
here before to talk about the crash of the aircraft at Gander,
that killed so many young Americans in the military. And he put
it together... That was one of the few air crashes in which the
evidence, instead of being combed through, was buried as fast as
they could possibly bury it.
Well, we have another mystery. And my guest is investigating that
mystery. I want to welcome back to Radio Free America Mr. Gene
Wheaton. Hi, Gene.
Hi, Tom. How ya doin'?
- I understand that you've got another story that you're lookin'
- That's correct. I'm looking into the murder of a Marine Corps
colonel, Jimmy Sabo(sp?), out here in the Marine Corps air
station at El Toro, in 1991.
- I had read that that was a suicide!
- That's what they wrote it off as. However, we have conclusive
medical, scientific evidence that the man was murdered.
- All right.
A lot of people have no idea, even though I understand this was
on ABC's "Dateline", or somethin' like that, television...
- ...Connie Chung's show.
- Connie Chung did it [the TV show, not the murder -- CN]. A lot
of people don't know a thing about it, including me.
- O.K. On the 22nd of January, 1991, between 8:30 and 9:00 o'clock
in the morning, Colonel Sabo was found shot to death in his back
yard, in the housing area of the Marine Corps air station at El
- So this is quite awhile ago. It wasn't just something that
- No. It's... The investigation initially was closed down real
quickly, calling it a suicide. A year later, while I was
investigating the Gander crash, the family contacted me and asked
me to assist them. And I've been working on this since the spring
- So when you were on this show before, you were already in the
midst of this one.
- That's right. And it's an ongoing investigation. I've been called
back to Washington by the commandant of the Marine Corps to brief
his staff. I've been called back to the Department of Defense and
the Pentagon to brief them on it. And it's a heavy case,
involving covert operations that are sort of renegade that some
Marine Corps units got involved in, that would cause a scandal if
they became public.
- I see.
Gene, before we go any further into this thing, how about your
background, your military background and so forth.
- I've served in the Marine Corps, the Air Force, and the Army. And
I was a police officer in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I'm a retired special
agent with the Army's Criminal Investigation Division, retired as
a chief warrant officer, from the Army. [I] served in Korea,
Vietnam, Iran, Italy. I have a degree in police science, and a
masters in public administration. I teach some criminal justice
courses to police officers out here in California.
- All right. You've "been around"; it's pretty obvious, then.
Let's go into this. This then is not necessarily a CIA or a Mena,
- No, not necessarily. There are some inter-relations to the
operations going on in Mena, Arkansas. As we got into this case,
we found that civilian contractors were flying in and out of U.S.
military bases and using the protection of legitimate flights to
conduct some illegal operations. And the Marine Corps air station
in El Toro happened to be one of those bases.
- Now how'd you determine that?
- Well, it was a long, tenacious investigation, as I said, that's
still going on. A surprising thing that came out last year was
that 32 C-130 Hercules aircraft have been pilfered out of U.S.
military channels, and funneled through the Department of
Agriculture to civilian, covert operators who used to be part of
the old southeast Asia, "Air America" [CN -- notorious as a front
for CIA drug smuggling] crowd. And they get sweetheart contracts
to haul weaponry around the world, and then their tail numbers
are cleared so that they can come back into the United States
without clearing through customs, landing at military bases and
civilian airports. And they're allowed to run their own,
privatized, smuggling operations to help support their little
airlines, between government flights.
- Amazing stuff! And somebody fairly high-up has to approve this.
Of course, the fourth-floor bureaucrats could do this without
anybody knowin' it, couldn't they?
- Yes. It's a networking of a covert operation sub-culture of a
very small group of people that are implanted in the CIA, the
State Department, and the National Security Council, and the
- And you've run into these people before. We haven't got any time
for you to comment on it, but we'll bring you back to that point.
My guest is Gene Wheaton, as you heard, [an] investigator with
excellent credentials. I'm Tom Valentine, this is Radio Free
All right, we are back, live. This is Tom Valentine coming at ya
from stormy southwest Florida.
Out in California I have Gene Wheaton as my guest. Gene is
investigating the... Well I guess it's not necessarily a case, or
something that has got a name, does it, Gene?
- Well, it does have a name. It is the... We have briefed the
Department of Defense and they have re-opened an investigation
into the thing. And it is into the circumstances surrounding the
death of Colonel Jimmy Sabo, the number 3 man at the Marine Corps
air station at El Toro. He was a Marine fighter pilot in Vietnam,
28 years in the Marine Corps. [He] had a distinguished record
And when I got into this, I stumbled across the covert operators
to the extent that it rattled headquarters in Marine Corps up so
badly, that the commandant invited me back to Washington to brief
his staff on it.
After I finished briefing the staff at the commandant of the
Marine Corps, I went to the National Institute of Health and
various government medical agencies in Washington to get some
expertise on the circumstances around a shotgun blast to the head
of a man. And I needed the world's top forensic pathologists and
the top respiratory pathologists, to study the autopsies and the
death photos, to determine whether this man could've actually
killed himself or not.
- And those experts agreed that he could not have.
- That's correct. The shotgun blast blew out the pons medulla and
pulpified the cortex of the brain and severed the spinal cord.
And yet we have a major bruise, like a goose-egg bump, on the
back of his head where he had been struck. And the shotgun blast
destroyed all of the capability to breathe, and yet we can prove,
through the aspirated blood in his lungs, that he breathed blood
for several minutes after a major injury to his head. But before
the shotgun blast went off.
- Mm-hmm [understands]. So he got clubbed and then shot.
There was a CIA fella who was found with a gun, and it was almost
impossible for him to reach the trigger... I believe over in
Australia, the famous Nugan-Hand. I think it was, was it Nugan?
Not Michael Hand. Michael Hand is still alive. But Nugan was
found dead. And the investigators there say, well they don't know
how he could've killed himself with that rifle.
- That's Frank Nugan, of the Nugan-Hand Bank, which was a
laundering bank for narcotics money comin' out of southeast Asia,
out of Laos and Cambodia during the covert war there. He was
found shot to death in his automobile with a high-powered rifle,
and he had former CIA director Bill Colby's business card in his
pocket. And a huge amount of that money, $150 million or so out
of that bank, disappeared and has never been accounted for.
- Yes, and Michael Hand has never shown back up.
- That's right.
- But he's still alive!
- Yes, I'm sure he is.
- And he's probably got an alias and he might be listening right
- Yeah, well it's a bad world out there. There's an awful lot of
things going on.
So this fellow, Colonel Jimmy Sabo, evidently, he got wind of
something going on.
- Yes. The week before he died, the inspector-general himself, of
the Marine Corps, General Hollis Davison(sp?) and his staff, came
out to El Toro to investigate the activities of Jimmy Sabo's
superiors. However, this was the result of a whistleblower
operation where someone was "blowing the whistle" on contractor
aircraft getting sweetheart deals for hauling weaponry to the
Persian Gulf War. And the people above Jimmy Sabo deflected the
inspector-general away from themselves and tried to get Jimmy
Sabo to take an administrative reprimand and retire, to "take the
rap" for his superiors.
He refused to do it. And the night before he died, he had a major
clash with his superiors, and stated that he was going to, the
next day, "blow the whistle" on the illegal, covert operations.
And the next morning, he was found dead.
[...to be continued...]
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