Fake Federal Agent Fought Own Private Drug War
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A mystery man came to Gerald, Missouri. Said he was sent from Washington, DC to fight our town's meth plague. Wouldn't take any money. "Sargent Bill" said he didn't need a warrant to search people's houses because he worked for the federal government. Pretty soon, Sargent Bill was busting people left and right. It seemed almost too good to be true. Maybe we shoulda known:
GERALD, Mo. â€” Like so many rural communities in the countryâ€™s middle, this tiny town had wrestled for years with the woes of methamphetamine. Then, several months ago, a federal agent showed up.
Busts began. Houses were ransacked. People, in handcuffs on their front lawns, named names. To some, like Mayor Otis Schulte, who considers the county around Gerald, population 1,171, â€œa meth capital of the United States,â€ the drug scourge seemed to be fading at last.
Those whose homes were searched, though, grumbled about a peculiar change in what they understood, from television mainly, to be the law.
They said the agent, a man some had come to know as â€œSergeant Bill,â€ boasted that he did not need search warrants to enter their homes because he worked for the federal government.
But after a reporter for the local weekly newspaper made a few calls about that claim, Geraldâ€™s anti-drug campaign abruptly unraveled after less than five months. Sergeant Bill, it turned out, was no federal agent, but Bill A. Jakob, an unemployed former trucking company owner, a former security guard, a former wedding-performing minister, a former small-town cop from 23 miles down the road.
The strange adventures of Sergeant Bill have led to the firing of three of the townâ€™s five police officers, left the outcome of a string of drug arrests in doubt, prompted multimillion-dollar federal civil rights lawsuits by at least 17 plaintiffs and stirred up a political battle, including a petition seeking the impeachment of Mr. Schulte, over who is to blame for the mess.
And he would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn't been for that pesky reporter Linda Trest from The Gasconade County Republican!