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.

Carnaby was an insatiable networker and had scores of photos of himself hobnobbing with high-ranking intelligence officers and law-enforcement officials. Records show that when he died, his BlackBerry was filled with names and contact information for dozens of politicians, judges and other luminaries such as the first President Bush, former CIA Deputy Director for Operations James Pavitt and Hall of Fame baseball pitcher Nolan Ryan.

Bush's spokesman says the former president did not know Carnaby, Pavitt declined to comment and Ryan also says he did not know Carnaby.

After Carnaby died, Poteat says, the Houston chapter collapsed.

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.

The last time Susan Carnaby saw her husband was two months before the shooting. Prior to that it was at Christmas 2007. At the time of his death, Susan believed her husband was in Washington, D.C., where he often traveled. It was not unusual for Carnaby to leave his home for weeks or months at a time, says Susan. And from the day they started dating through 11 years of marriage, she never asked questions.

"To me," she says, "it was logical not to. I just understood it to be that way."

As it turned out, Carnaby was lying to Susan and was not in D.C. He was in Houston, dining with friends and reportedly spending time with a local woman named Donna Baker, to whom he was allegedly engaged. Carnaby's friends say he told them that he was separating from his wife. Baker declined to comment to the Press.

Susan had no idea Carnaby was in Houston the day he was shot or that he was supposedly planning to leave her. She only found out when the media began reporting it hours after his death. She had, however, been suspicious he might have been having an affair. She says she confronted him once, but he denied it.

"I thought he was going through a midlife crisis," says Susan. "He was buying sports cars and wearing fancier jeans. I figured, 'Well, we'll be together until we're 85, so this is just a blip that we'll get over.' And then he was killed."

Others, such as Helfman, say Carnaby was acting strangely in the days leading up to his death and looked "distraught." It seemed apparent that he was off his game when he ran into the cops that April morning along the highway.
_____________________

Despite the fact that Carnaby always told his wife Susan that if anything ever happened to him the intelligence agencies would deny any knowledge of him, Susan also began to doubt her husband and the life they'd built together.

"I didn't know what to believe," she says, tears rolling down her cheeks. "Maybe he was just lying about everything, about what he did, who he was, and no one was publicly vouching for him. People were just running from him. It took me a long time to figure out they were lying."

Following her husband's death, Susan Carnaby started going through his papers and began learning more about her husband. One of the first items she found was a copy of former CIA Director George Tenet's autobiography, At the Center of the Storm. On the title page was the inscription "Dear Tony aka 'RC'. #007 You have always stood side by side with me and I will never forget it. We will always be brothers. I'll always have your back." Carnaby also had an e-mail allegedly from Tenet addressed to "RC" confirming a meeting together, signed "Regards and Be Safe. GT."

Tenet did not respond to questions from the Press sent to his employer, Allen & Company, a merchant bank in New York.

Susan Carnaby says she learned that her husband's entrée into the intelligence community came through his Lebanese father. Around 1983, she claims, Carnaby's dad had the only contract to deliver weapons from the United States to Lebanon. "That's how he got tied into the [U.S.] government," she says. "It was the beginning of the relationship as far as I know."

That relationship allegedly continued into the 1990s. Susan says she learned that Carnaby's family company was shipping cars for an Iranian who was involved in a large-scale counterfeiting operation and implied that Carnaby began gathering and passing along information about it to the U.S. government. Houston attorney Randall Kallinen says that he thinks at least one of these operations is still considered classified and asked that the Press not report them.

Three days after Carnaby's death, Susan Carnaby filed a lawsuit in Houston federal court against officers Starks and Washington and the City of Houston. She claims that the police violated Carnaby's constitutional rights by using excessive force and that his death was caused by officers not following police department policy when they ran up to his Jeep after it had run out of gas.

Kallinen, who is handling Susan Carnaby's case, says that the officers violated HPD's high-risk vehicle-approach policy because they had been poorly trained. He also claims that the written policy is too vague and that there is a pattern of officers disregarding and violating the policy.

In late August, U.S. Judge Keith P. ­Ellison dismissed Washington and Starks from the lawsuit. Among his reasons, Ellison wrote in a court order that "in the moment [Carnaby] exited his vehicle with an object in his hand, Foster and Washington's use of deadly force was reasonable."

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