Reverse Sting

A Lightning Strike target turns the tape on the FBI

Moss also sketched a rather unflattering picture of former fellow agent Hal Francis, who quit the FBI after masterminding the Lightning Strike sting. Posing as good ol' boy businessman John Clifford, Francis tried to lure contractors, NASA employees and at least one astronaut into his scheme to sell the space agency on a fake kidney-stone-smashing device that could be taken on the shuttle.

Francis, said Moss, is a "very, very brilliant person" but an "egoist" who left the agency to get rich. "He wanted to go out and write books and make movies E. [He] left because he was greedy and he wanted to make some money." It sure beats working for the government, in Moss' eyes.

"How much you gonna make as a government employee? You start at 40 [thousand], and the most I can make is $120,000. That's it! That's the max! Whereas, if you get a case like Lightning Strike and it sounds good and you can get a publisher to publish the book, the sky's the limit."

Nor was Moss especially generous in his characterization of NASA's astronaut corps. One of them, David Wolf, was wined, dined and taken to a strip club by Francis and others in an unsuccessful effort to win his cooperation in the bogus venture. But astronauts, at least according to FBI mouthpiece Moss, "stand above the law, they can do no wrong E. Congress didn't realize, we had a monster, and America's made that monster, and I think that sooner or later E when you take these so-called elite individuals and you put them in these positions, all you do [is] ask for problems." (Wolf, however, was never implicated in any wrongdoing.)

Transcriptions of the "Rock Bottom Tape" were sent recently to a number of reporters by anti-Lightning Strike activist Gayle Hight of Austin. She is the sister of Neal Jackson, a NASA subcontractor who last week was given three years probation for offering a $500 bribe to a Department of Defense official. Jackson was the last of the Lightning Strike defendants to be sentenced.

When contacted by the Press about the transcript, Moss stressed that his remarks to MENSA were his personal opinions and not the FBI's. Of course, he wouldn't have made them had he known that he was being recorded, he said.

"But now he's going to go back and try to fuck me, is that it?" Moss said of Maleche.

Not exactly. Maleche says that he had second thoughts about the wisdom of incurring the renewed attention of the FBI by circulating the tape. But by that time, Hight had a copy of the tape and was disseminating the transcript to the media.

Maybe Moss shouldn't worry. His boss, Houston FBI office director Mike Wilson, dismissed the transcript as inconsequential. "You've got a convicted felon that's doing this," Wilson said of Maleche. "There's nothing I've read in here that we haven't read in the papers already."

Maybe so, but he sure hasn't read it coming from his chief spokesman.

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