Spy Story

Con man or super spook — either way, Roland Carnaby wasn't supposed to meet his death on a Houston highway in a high-speed chase with the cops.

Michael Bechaud, formerly with the FBI, and James Napolitano, an ex-Secret Service officer, gave sworn statements during separate depositions following his death that they used Carnaby as a confidential informant. According to Napolitano, the Secret Service tried to keep him from talking. A Department of Justice lawyer was present during the depositions to make sure the men did not divulge classified information.

Bechaud, who worked as an FBI foreign counterintelligence officer for 25 years, said he first met Carnaby in 1992 through another U.S. intelligence agency that was using Carnaby as an informant. In 1993, Bechaud said, he too began using Carnaby to gather intelligence. Their professional relationship lasted for two years.

"He would provide information generally about a hostile target that we had no ability of gaining otherwise because he was able to go into countries and speak languages that we couldn't," said Bechaud. "So he would find out things about targets of interest to us and report what he found out."

Carnaby's spy friends say Carnaby must have been working with the CIA to be allowed behind the seal at the agency's Virginia headquarters. The CIA, however, says that's not necessarily true.
Courtesy Susan Carnaby
Carnaby's spy friends say Carnaby must have been working with the CIA to be allowed behind the seal at the agency's Virginia headquarters. The CIA, however, says that's not necessarily true.
Though it appears Carnaby did provide information to U.S. intelligence officers, it is unlikely that his death will merit a star on the CIA's wall commemorating the agency's fallen heroes.
Courtesy Susan Carnaby
Though it appears Carnaby did provide information to U.S. intelligence officers, it is unlikely that his death will merit a star on the CIA's wall commemorating the agency's fallen heroes.

Carnaby allegedly knew as many as seven languages. Bechaud said Carnaby did not get paid for his work, but that the FBI reimbursed him for expenses. The total amount Carnaby collected was $9,600, he said.

In a letter to Bechaud, Carnaby outlined 18 investigations he allegedly worked on. They included: two assassination attempts on the first President Bush, one in Kuwait and the other in London; the 1993 World Trade Center bombing; a Secret Service operation regarding an Iranian counterfeiting scheme called the "Super Note" case; the alleged sale of classified information by a U.S. customs agent; the shipment of nuclear materials from Russia to unfriendly nations; the delivery of nuclear fuel rods to Syria and Iran; Hamas terrorist activity and others.

Bechaud said he recalled Carnaby was involved in all of those but the Hamas case and one of the two Bush assassination attempts.

Napolitano, who said he retired from the Secret Service in 2008, claims he met Carnaby in 1991 while working on a counterfeiting case. He said a U.S. customs officer put the two men in touch and that Carnaby provided valuable information 85 to 90 percent of the time until they stopped working together in 1993.

Napolitano said he'd tell Carnaby he needed information about some "bad guys" and "sure enough, a week later he'd have everything I needed to know: cars, who they were, what they were doing, what their activities were, what they did at night, where they spent their time and how they spent their time," he said. Carnaby provided "major information that led to the arrest or the seizures of a lot of different contraband items that made good cases for me."

One case involved a group of Pakistanis who were trying to sell 55 kilos of cocaine for 100 million in counterfeit deutsche marks. "Mr. Carnaby was able to help me out with who the players were and where they operated and how they worked," Napolitano said. "Because of his ethnic background...he was very comfortable in the Islamic community to find out information that somebody like myself would never be able to find out."

Another case, Napolitano claimed, involved Jim "Mattress Mack" McIngvale and actor Chuck Norris. According to Napolitano: In 1992, a man contacted Carnaby claiming to be in the CIA. At the time, Carnaby was doing "risky" work on a case for the Secret Service. While wearing a wire, Carnaby met with the man, who said he had read classified documents that Napolitano had written and was trying to gather information about a few Houston cases. Napolitano then arrested the man for impersonating a federal officer.

Later that day, while an officer was driving the man's car back to the field office, he noticed a pair of documents on the front seat. They were movie scripts. It turned out that the man was a screenwriter who had illegally received classified information about Carnaby and Napolitano and had written two scripts about their clandestine activities. The U.S. Attorney's Office later prosecuted several people for peddling intelligence information.

Jim McIngvale was allegedly producing the movie, which was supposedly going to star Chuck Norris.

Prosecutors allegedly gave McIngvale immunity in exchange for his testimony against the federal agent who provided the writer with classified information, Napolitano said. Norris was never implicated and did not know how the information that the script was based on had been gathered.

When contacted by the Press recently, McIngvale said, "I don't know anything about that."

Bechaud said that he stopped using Carnaby as an informant in 1994 because Carnaby's information was becoming less credible and because Car­naby could not keep his mouth shut.

"Frequently we'd go to a bar and have some drinks and [he'd] start telling people that he worked for different agencies," said Bechaud. "I was pretty much directed to not operate him anymore because it was getting to the point that we didn't know how many people knew who he might be providing information to or where it was coming from and that sort of thing."

Still, Carnaby continued to send Bechaud information. Bechaud believed Carnaby kept it up because he was a patriot and liked interacting with intelligence officers.

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