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Project X

May 29, 1988

Today I sit in San Francisco City Jail No. 2 fuming over the many inaccuracies in Joshua Hammer's article ("Project X: A Tale of Technobanditry," April 10). I believe his article about me was a sincere attempt to describe some of the facts which led to the current charges against me; however, his interpretation of those facts resulted in a distorted, one-sided attack on me. Many of his conclusions are just plain wrong. I cannot comment on the current case against me, but I feel I must set the record straight on some personal issues. The conclusions that I am eccentric and unconventional are as true for me as they are for any successful practitioner of my profession. Without admitting guilt, I'll admit I have made serious mistakes. I strenuously object to the implication that I consider myself above the law.

Like hundreds of thousands of others, I once paid $20 to become a minister of the Universal Life Church. Unlike many others, however, I did not use contributions to the church as tax deductions. I joked with employees at Magnuson who did, but I actively discouraged the practice among my employees, because I felt the IRS would find it questionable.

I stayed at Magnuson Computer Systems for over a full year after all the other original officers of the company were gone. I made a major contribution to the effort to rescue the company. I refused to violate insider-trading regulations, bankrupting myself while other officers became very wealthy.

Mr. Hammer repeated the government's absurd contention that dirty underwear, which had been in my car for several weeks, indicated my intention to flee. I won't comment on numerous other distortions in the article, which relate to the criminal charges against me--except to express my unhappiness at the one-sided approach and lack of fairness in reporting the issues.

Although I've enjoyed restoring the interiors of standard early Mustangs, I've never owned a "souped-up" car. At the time of my arrest, I was in the process of replacing a high-performance engine in one of my Mustangs with a lower-performance 289 engine, because I felt it would be a safer car for Karen.

By implication, Mr. Hammer grossly mischaracterized my relationship with Karen Hobson. I knew her for over two years before I learned of her lifelong history of drug and alcohol abuse. The other sad aspects of her past I learned of even later. I knew her as a troubled, but faithful, loyal, loving partner. By the time Karen told me of her problems, and asked for my help with treatment, she had become the most important element in my life. I spent enormous sums of money on unsuccessful drug and alcohol treatment programs, and on legal expenses after her drug arrests. I did not , and never could, accept or approve of any substance abuse--even tobacco.

My friendship with Ivan Batinic was based, more than anything else, on dedication to our craft, and on his expressed desire to stay free of drugs. I had a serious problem with his "fast cars" and related behavior--although I did enjoy the Mustang-restoration projects he introduced me to, as a way of building quality, low-cost transportation.

I will freely admit to an unhealthy dedication with saving the life of the woman I loved--regardless of the cost to me.

Everyone who knows me well knows that I am an incredibly shy, introverted man. To overcome my shyness, I compensate by boasting, exaggerating and other behavior that I am not proud of. My feeling of inadequacy is further complicated by hypothyroidism and a related weight problem I have been fighting for almost 20 years.

Erroneous data leads to false conclusions. I have never had a desire to emulate Charles McVey's life style. I do not want " just a computer." The one constant in my adult life has been, and remains, my desire for a normal, modest family life, with a good woman--and to pursue my interests in music, poetry, literature, horticulture and computing.


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