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Campbell's First Encounter--prof. Campbell

Roderick Campbell was 32 years old at the time of his first encounter with the law. He was only a half-dozen years out of graduate school with his PhD. I have known him for years. He is incredible bright, yet approachable, good natured, and the kind of person one wants to count among one's friends. He is 5 feet, 10 inches tall, a bit of a stomach, and has a ruddy complexion.

His intelligence gives him a grasp of things he endeavors--with the exception of religion, for he occasionaly attends Catholic mass. Though he understand my criticisms of the entire idiocy, he continues to have faith. I think it is because there is pleasure in prayer.

It deeply troubles me how his god has ignored him; so too has the courts. The government sets the demeanor of the courts, not just through statutes, but also through appointment of judges; they are the monsters responsible.

I have published his accounts as a small token of my friendship and an expression of my annoyance over the injustice in his case, and in general at the barbaric state of our penal system.


In 1983, Roderick Campbell was the director of synthetic research for the Hunt Chemical Division of Olin Corporation. Hunt Chemical made organophosphonates, photographic developers, and microlithography chemicals for major products. While most people dont know the meaning and use of these chemical products, their sophistication can be appreciated from the fact that it was a Hunt microlithography that permitted the creation of the first one-megabyte RAM memory chip in 1982.

When Olin bought its majority interest in Hunt Chemical, it took all the Hunt manufacturing procedures for study. One of the Hunt products was a chemical, called tolyltriazole, which Olin had unsuccessfully attempted to manufacture for at least ten years. After Olin chemists read the procedure, they sent a telegram that simply said, Devilishly clever, Dr. Campbell. They were red-faced when it was explained that at Hunt the project was only eight months old.
Campbell was asked if he might be interested in a promo-tion to head the Olin Specialty Chemicals facility in Rensse-laer, New York. He was interested despite the relocating in-volved. As a condition for such advancement, management wanted Campbell to divest himself of his chemical consulting firm, which was a holdover from before he had joined Hunt. This side business continued to make research pharmaceuticals and other specialty chemicals for the same customer base that Campbell had when he was in private business. It did about a half-million dollars gross sales a year by tolling the manufacture of its products to other chemical businesses.

About this time Campbell had made the acquaintance of one A.W. over a toll project making Grignard Reagents for AlfaVentron Corporation. A.W. was a degreed chemist who worked as a chemical broker putting suppliers together with customers either for a commission or as the wholesaler to the customer. Since A.W. was a chemist, Campbell approached him to buy Chemical Consultations and A.W. was very receptive. But by this time, the consulting business had been allowed to wind down over the years that Campbell had been with Hunt. A.W. wanted Campbell to use his reputation in the chemical commu-nity to secure some long-term sales; then he would solidify the deal.

Campbell and A.W. together approached American Optical Corporation and secured a letter of intent and an initial pur-chase order to make a specialty chemical that changed color in sunlight. The chemical would be priced about $1,000 per kilo-gram even in volume and most of the cost was the expertise of running the chemical reactions to make it. This business so-lidified A.W.s interest in buying Chemical Consultations.

Before actual manufacture could begin, starting materials had to be imported from Germany. A years supply had to be bought in advance for the manufacturer to schedule production. Naturally this took months of lead-time and Campbell had to take a loan to completely finance this scale of purchase. It was during this time that events took an untoward turn.

One of the projects that Campbell performed routinely was the refining of gold for Rhode Island Precious Metals. While he was doing one batch in March of 1983, he was called out of town for three days on Hunt Chemical business. When he returned, the price of gold had collapsed and R.I.P.M. was frantic. The gold had lost over $4,500 in value just for sitting three days!! Naturally, R.I.P.M. held Campbell responsible and began to harass him. But Campbells margin money was now all tied up in the raw materials he was waiting for.

So the problem lingered into June. Then the chemicals for American Optical arrived, but first that generated still more expense. Campbell was pretty upset with R.I.P.M.'s dunning while he tried to accomplish his other business. This was the situation when A.W. happened by the Hunt Laboratories while Campbell was catching up on work Saturday, June 23rd. He took Campbell to lunch to discuss starting the American Optical synthesis during the next week. When Campbell cried in his beer over the R.I.P.M. situation, A.W. had a surprising offer.

Here, he said, take this to our whining client and tell him that Im going to be responsible for the debt, producing a small baggie of white powder. The bag contained about an ounce of P.C.P., more properly known as Sernyl, with the bad reputation. As surprising as this was, it was only half a surprise to Campbell.

In the late spring Campbell had asked A.W. to supervise the moving of 200 tons of numbered I-beams that was Campbell's
previous chemical plant. One of Campbell's regular workers had told him that A.W. had attempted to recruit him to sell can-nibinol for him in the West Warwick area of Rhode Island. Campbell had confronted A.W. about this and used the example to show A.W. that making specialty chemicals made as much money for the chemist as making illegal chemicals. This had been a major persuasion for A.W. to get truly serious about buying the specialty business; but he, too, had become strung out for income when it took so long for the American Optical project to get started. Now it was clear he hadn't stopped dealing as he said he would.

That day, though, Campbell felt almost happy that A.W. hadn't stopped. He looked on the baggie as a one-time option that hadnt been available to solve his problem before. After the past two hours at the bar, Campbell did not think matters through.

When Campbell delivered the ounce and the message late that afternoon, as luck would have it, State Police were pre-pared to arrest R.I.P.M. And, Campbell walked right into it. Police had been investigating R.I.P.M. and Campbell,apparently for many months. Incredibly, they knew nothing of A.W. and thought that Campbell was the trophy chemist to their investigation. For his part, Campbell kept silent.

His career with Olin-Hunt was gone in an instant. But perhaps he could keep his consulting viable through A.W. even if he went to jail. Yes, silence.

The State prosecutor had big expectations for Campbell; they were spelled C-O-N-S-P-I-R-A-C-Y. While Campbell only knew R.I.P.M.; R.I.P.M., it seemed, knew everyone. And by association . . . . Once A.W. saw the gravity of Campbell's situation, he only stayed around long enough to be sure that Campbell was not a rat and then bowed out of everything and headed for the hills of Montana or Wyoming or Colorado or one of those States.

Meanwhile, recognizing that its conspiracy case was thin and the one possession could look like a frameup if properly handled by competent defense counsel, police took an aggres-sive stance toward their evidence. Detective Gerald Prendergast had R.I.P.M.s nephew call Campbell asking to visit his home under the pretext of having important information to re-lay in the case. The real reason was to plant a sample of P.C.P. in the house. This accomplishment would have major benefits for the police: it would revoke Campbell's bail and that would cripple his defense effort like it does most every-one elses. All they would need was the reliable informant telling them there were drugs in the house. And, second, it would create the two times ain't an accident logic needed to convict for conspiracy. Great plan, but it went terribly wrong.
Because of the bad weather that January day, Prendergast dropped off the nephew and a friend of his, R.R., within eyeshot of Campbells house. Campbells fiance recognized the station wagon, and alerted everyone present that something underhanded was probably about to happen. When the nephew came in, he was immediately lambasted for his motives and, of course, he had no case information to share. So he feigned being drunker than he actually was, which was pretty drunk to begin with. He denied that Prendergast had given him a ride.

Nephew tried several times to go downstairs, first he said because he wanted to see an engine project in the unfin-ished part of the basement and then, he said, to watch television in the family room. His persistence made everyone nervous and suspicious; Campbell and his fiance wouldn't let him go anywhere and watched him like hawks. Frustrated, nephew grabbed a highball just prepared for another person off the minibar and drank it in a gulp. Things evidently weren't going as planned. At that moment Campbells fiance said, I think we ought to search him. On that comment, nephew bolted to the bathroom and locked the door.

While R.I.P.M.s nephew was indisposed, Campbell learned from R.R. that they had been in a bar when nephew said he had to make a call. When he returned from his phone calls, nephew asked R.R. if he wanted to take a ride to Cumberland and visit Campbell, because the guy bringing them would buy some beer and liquor. R.I.P.M.s nephew had drunk most of the pint of whiskey that was bought before they had arrived and only brought in a six-pack of beer.

Hearing this, Campbell just wanted the nephew out of his house. There is more to the story that is not relevant here. But Campbell eventually got rid of the nephew back in West Warwick.

The next night the nephews arrest was the lead story on the evening news. The story said he had kidnapped and sexually assaulted a woman who had given him a ride. It was two days later that Campbell learned of the scene that had taken place at the court arraignment, but which had not been shown on television. The nephew had screamed into Channel 12 cameras: You [state police] cant be doing this to me. I did what you wanted. It was Rod that was supposed to be set up, not me. You cant blame me I had to swallow it. When Campbell approached Channel 12 to see the tape, their counsel, Attorney David Carroll, informed him that he could not see it and it was being erased. This point of view was decidedly onesided; before anything could be done legally, the tape was gone.

Using the true facts behind his criminal charges, R.I.P.M.s nephew was able to plea bargain behind the scenes to a sentence of twelve years imprisonment. Several years later, however, Campbell managed to get the nephew into a witness stand before Superior Court Judge Pederzanni primarily because the nephew had learned of the trick behind his plea bargain: State Police intervention had made him unparolable! But the nephew had learned to play the system better, too. Instead of testifying about what had been done, he parlayed his Fifth Amendment silence into immediate parole. This whole episode has remained completely invisible to public awareness until this telling.

As perhaps the reader can tell from what has just been told above, Campbell took trial. The States plea bargain offer was twenty years. The States case consisted of over 300 hours of taped Campbell telephone conversations on all the phones at Hunt Chemical and the June 23rd delivery. The de-fense listened to all the tapes, R.I.P.M. plus Campbell, in preparation for trial. R.I.P.M. was pretty guilty; after a while he chose to stay away. But over months of listening to hundreds of conversations on the Campbell tapes the State still did not have a case against Campbell. This prompted R.I.P.M.s lawyer, Attorney David Martin, to ask, Do we really have to listen to any more of this? Oh, yes, the prosecutor answered, its the last conversation on the last tape that is going to send Dr. Campbell away for twenty years. And so the agony continued.

The prosecutor finally hyped the fact that everyone would be listening to the last call now; his face beamed with boyish delight. A female voice was heard calling Hunt Chemical on June 23rd: Oh, youre back! . . Will you be coming over? Keeping his sangfroid, Campbell leaned over to defense coun-sel, Mr. Burke, and whispered, They think thats Mrs. R.I.P.M. Thats really my fiance. Make sure you look glum for the opposition. The horror of listening was over.

There were more evidentiary surprises for the defense, though, and they were not so good. The ounce of impure P.C.P. had undergone a bread and fishes miracle. It was now a 133 gram ounce! Campbell, of course, knew what was going on; but how would he prove it, and could he? This miracle was only possible for two reasons. First, better than transubstantiation, any mixture that has an atom of drug in it legally becomes 100% drug. When you read the history for justifying this policy, it seems that the Courts couldnt figure when to stop prosecuting people. And so it was decided the correct answer was, Never. For this reason, the prosecuting agency does not have to ever tell a person what the other portion of the stuff is.

In Mr. Campbell's case, he suspected police had mixed some of the P.C.P. with pyridine-3-sulfonic acid samples he had in his truck for Mr. Korbelak. If that were the case, he could at least prove the unsuitability of such a chemical being a cutting agent. That would create reasonable doubt. But Campbell could not get the rest of the mixture analyzed because the Court called it irrelevant.

The foregoing was probably a naive hope anyway because police had a second miracle at their disposal: control of the evidence room. About a year after Campbell's goose was cooked, he saw the potential for manipulation exposed in another criminal case too late to make a claim in his own. It seems that a Mr. Gallego was stopped for speeding while he drove on Interstate Route 95 through Rhode Island and police said they found a kilogram of cocaine in his briefcase. Mr. Gallego said they only found it by illegally forcing the locks of the briefcase; otherwise, it was not in plain view, a principle which forgives police even if parts of their search are illegal. On this occasion, police committed an unforgivable gaffe: the pictures of the briefcase locks at arrest were noticeably different than the locks on the briefcase in the courtroom. Not even the most sympathetic judge could find a way to rationalize the difference.

When this difference was analyzed, it seems that the briefcase had made a trip from the State Police evidence room to T.W. Rounds for repairs, paid for on the arresting officers credit card. This after-the-fact evidence didn't directly affect Mr. Campbell's case; but he used the occasion to write a letter to then Governor of Rhode Island Bruce Sundlun explaining what he believed had been done in his case. Apparently a number of other people wrote similar letters because sometime later Lieutenant Leon Blanchette, the evidence room officer in both cases, was denied permission to continue with the State Police past twenty-year mandatory retirement. The reasons for this decision have never been made public.

By the time of trial the evidence was still the same; so the State had to use its ace in the hole: Give Mr. R.I.P.M. a deal. Nine years to serve with guaranteed first-shot parole (i.e., effectively three years to serve), if he would blame Campbell. After all, a lie in the name of justice counts for no evil. All that is required from the prosecution point of view is to really hide the fact that there has been a lie to begin with. And if that cant be done, the prosecutor is al-ways insulated from the effects of the lie personally anyway.

Given the absolute control which the prosecution generally enjoys over the evidence, manipulation is easy to achieve. It is something of a federal scandal that in the past thirty years only one person, Anthony Gurglia, has been prosecuted for lying to convict a defendant. Champion Magazine, March, 1996, p. 38, regular feature by Barry Tarlow, Esq. What prevents this from being an actual scandal is that nothing matters except to the victim-defendant. If the gold is tarnishing, what must the iron be doing?

In his trial, Campbell couldn't testify without incrimi-nating or perjuring himself. That was no choice at all. It was wrenching to watch his single indiscretion be parlayed into the whole conspiracy.

Still, the defense had a strategy. It would call Mr. Korbelak to testify that he was expecting the pyridine-3-sulfonic acid samples that weekend. From this foundation, Campbell could demand the analysis of the balance of the material which the Court was calling irrelevant. It would then be for the State to explain what P.C.P. was doing uselessly contaminated with 3P.S.A.

On the appointed day for Mr. Korbelaks testimony, how-ever, Campbell was removed to a bullpen cell for private con-ference with his lawyer. Attorney Burke began by saying, Look, Rod, I cant be responsible for getting your witnesses to the courtroom. Mr. Korbelaks not here and the judge wont give me a continuance. Campbell was flabbergasted. He had spoken with Mr. Korbelak personally and Korbelak had specified the day he could be available. Everything had been geared to that Monday; otherwise, the Korbelak family was leaving the country on a one month vacation. Now he was reneging?

Campbell was livid, then resigned. After losing trial, he was able to reach Mr. Korbelak when he came home. Oh no, Mr. Korbelak said, I only left because Mr. Burke told me that if he didnt call and say to come, then I wasn't necessary. In fact Mr. Korbelak went on to explain that he was told to ignore anybody elses instructions because defendants always lose their objectivity at times like this. By this time even the posttrial motions were over and these reasons never mean anything after the fact, again except to the defendant.

When Campbell went to jail for twenty years, he began to appreciate the prevalence of situations analogous to his. He had good issues himself for appeal, like the months of wire intercept that were secured by lies and the denial of continuance for Mr. Korbelak. But the appellate bar values decorum consistent with the Courts it represents. Besides, financially, when an appeal loses, false-hope merchants can sell the next appeal. Here appellate counsel watered the effort to losability and ignored the winning issues outright. The prin-cipal trick is to promise the client that everything is taken care of, but file the appeal without the client being able to see it beforehand. After it is filed, little can be done to change anything. Unrepresented appellants are considered whiners and disposed of for that reason alone.

A fool no longer, Campbell argued his own motion for sen-tence reduction. Although the Court said it was unimpressed with his reasons, it reduced the sentence from twenty to twelve years. As its stated reason, the Court said Campbell's sentence was disparate with that given to Mr. R.I.P.M. Camp-bell was lucky. Disparity is now a disallowed reason for leniency in the federal judicial system and many States parallel their systems on the federal.

Encouraged, and still mildly foolish, Campbell now thought he could get the truth out. He threw himself at learn-ing State law. He did this in largest measure by pleading other peoples cases. In a major way, the State itself was responsible for this direction because in the prison environment there was nothing else worthwhile to do for which there were any resources to work with. Campbell overcame the reluctance to take on responsibility for his fellow prisoners be-cause he saw that he could consistently improve on what they were being forced to file for themselves. In the beginning there were few victories. But one time Campbell persuaded a defendants lawyer to seat his client in the jury box for a hearing. The States chief witness wound up identifying the clerk sitting next to the lawyer at the defense table as the defendant. Both the State and the Court went ballistic over the trick.
The system still has some judges who create the facade of justice: if a defendants ideas are truly worthwhile, a court will still completely deny relief. For real ideas, the Courts eventually appoint counsel and take the jailhouse lawyers out of it (other judges won't bother). For an example here, read a case like DeWitt v. Ventetuolo, 6 F.3d 31 (1st Cir. 1993). You wont find the jailhouse lawyering mentioned. Regardless, over five years Campbell acquired a reputation behind the scenes. His despise of the secret and underhanded tactics used in the name of justice grew; but most of all, he despised the exaggerations that magnified most prosecutions purely for prestige or propaganda. One time, when Campbell was approaching release eligibility, the lawyer appointed for one of his next friend clients asked to see him when he came on an attorney visit. Merlin OKeefe said he just wanted Campbell to know that some members of the Defense Bar appreciated the no compromise stance he had taken in his legal work and the competence of his pleading. Others, he said, took a different view. He explained that the R.I. Attorney General had labeled Campbell as the most vicious writ writer we have ever had to contend with. From Campbells point of view, OKeefe added, that should be high praise.

Mr. Campbell got dumped out of jail quite unexpectedly on parole on a day in March, 1992. He owned $500 and little else, including family. His old clothes still fit and he got some of them back. So he ran a video store for income, put on a suit, and started professional job hunting. By August, he was the chemical research director of a Cambridge think-tank company recently renamed Spectra Science. Spectra Science Corporation researched so called laser dyes, many with military application. For example, fighter pilots must protect their eyes from bursts of 300,000,000 pulses per second of blinding laser light fired from opposing aircraft. To do this, helmet visors contain custom laser dyes which absorb and neutralize the energy of the light for at least the three major frequencies of power lasers, Lambda I, Lambda II, and Lambda III. Other laser dyes were made to defeat active-infrared nighttime sighting systems and night vision goggles used against American infantrymen. See Popular Science, 21st Century Soldier, circa June, 1993 or after (cover story with futuristic soldier portrayed on cover). Campbell was on the road to reestablishing his life.

JK's afterwords:
Mysteriously after a couple of months, he lost his job. The state police offier whom he had gone public over, Campbell suspects, had made a phone call or visited Spectra Science Corporation. That was the first step in a case that was farm more outrageous than the first. To read about this in Campbell's own words, click below.

The courts are much different, however, the police and prosecutors have their own vision of public service, and it doesn't comport with the concept of fair play. For having gone public over his first case the state police had not forgotten Campbell. This time he ended up in federal court where the judges have the same vision as police and prosecutors, for most of them were prior to being given a judgeship, an Assistant U.S. Attorney, or fellow traveler. Skunks are skunks, they see the world a certain way, and Campbell was still in their sight. See his account The Soup is in the Can for an account of his current situation.

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