Continuing with a couple more chapters from The Crimes of Patriots
A True Tale of Dope,Dirty Money & The CIA By Jonathan Kwitny
.... On January 7, 1980—the day Bernie Houghton was entertaining the Republican head of the House Armed Services Committee— Nugan walked into a store, and with speed that startled the store-owner, bought a rifle. To anyone's recollection, it was the only gun he'd ever owned.
Two days later, Nugan flew back to the United States with his wife. But then he was off alone to Florida, the Caymans, and Switzerland. He apparently visited Colby in the United States, and made plans to see the former CIA director in Asia the next month. He told people he was moving to the United States, and entered negotiations to buy a Florida condominium.
He was back in Sydney January 25. Bernie Houghton told police he stopped by Nugan's office to say hello that day—a bit odd, considering Houghton's outspoken distaste for Nugan—and saw nothing untoward. Hill says he and his boss had a confrontation over the audit that night—that Nugan tried to tell him everything had been taken care of at Price Waterhouse, and that Hill didn't believe it. Hill says he resigned, which certainly looks good for Hill; there's no way to prove it, and Hill was back at work when the disaster hit the next week.
On Saturday, January 26, Nugan agreed to purchase a $2.2 million country estate he had been dickering over with the owner. The estate contained 828 landscaped acres and a mansion. It was, he told the prospective seller, "the finest in Australia." He agreed to close on it the next day.
Instead of keeping the appointment, he put the rifle in his Mercedes and made his trip to Lithgow.
Pat Swan, Frank's secretary, has said she got a call about noon on Sunday, January 27, from Ken Nugan. Steve Hill has testified that Pat Swan called him that day.* Bernie Houghton says Hill woke him up with a phone call, "told me that Frank was dead and that I should get the people out of Saudi Arabia." Houghton did, though soon they all went back. ...
.... So cowed were the investigators that Moloney was able to stall them, and sometimes literally fight them off. Months passed before it was publicly known that the fraud was not just a minor or technical one.
To protect his wife from angry creditors, he said, Michael Hand secretly moved into some unoccupied rooms over Bob Gehring's butcher store, where the company records were also secluded. Gehring was fully trusted by Hand and Houghton, as a nominee (or front man) of Houghton's companies, Gehring sometimes had signing power over Houghton's money.
According to Michael Moloney, Gehring had even applied to the CIA, and used to tell a story about it. The marine from Dayton "had no academic credentials," Moloney relates, but the CIA "liked his attitude. 'The world is full of commie bastards and all I wanted to do at that time was kill, kill, kill,' " Moloney quotes Gehring as having said.
"They told him to report to a place in California. But he heard first from Bernie. This was in the late '60s. Bernie didn't say what it was, but Gehring said he decided to come to Sydney because it was quiet." While waiting for his CIA appointment, Moloney says, Gehring had taken up reading in the library on Guam, and even developed a habit of quoting a lot from Shakespeare. (This account, of course, begs the question of whether Houghton might have been Gehring's CIA appointment.)
Gehring had done all he could for his friends through the crisis after Nugan's death. As he remembered it in his task force interview (which he gave in exchange for immunity from prosecution, and only after Hand and Houghton were long out of the country), Hand had walked into the Bourbon and Beefsteak bar and asked Gehring's help in storing the records. "I said I'd only be too happy to help him."
That very night, Gehring testified, he, Bernie Houghton, George Shaw, and a butcher-shop employee moved the records in the meat van to the butcher shop, from a temporary office location where they had been stored. "There were files in manila folders, there were cash books, journals, and ledger-type books," Gehring said. Later, "with the assistance of all my employees," he said, he moved the files again, for convenience's sake, scattering them among a couple of nearby locations he owned for his meat and provisions businesses....