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New Details of Extensive ADL Spy Operation Emerge : Inquiry: Transcripts reveal nearly 40 years of espionage by a man who infiltrated political groups.

April 13, 1993|RICHARD C. PADDOCK | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Bullock, 58, is one of the most intriguing characters in the spy drama. Although he is not Jewish, he began working undercover as a volunteer for the ADL and the FBI in Indiana in 1954 after reading a book about a man who infiltrated the Communist Party.

Bullock moved to Los Angeles in 1960 and was given a paid position by the ADL as an intelligence operative, he told authorities. In the mid-1970s, he moved to San Francisco and continued his spy operations up and down the West Coast.

To keep his identity secret, his salary has always been funneled through Beverly Hills attorney Bruce I. Hochman--who has never missed a payment in more than 32 years, Bullock said.

"I was an investigator for the ADL. I investigated any and all anti-democratic movements," Bullock said. " . . . Officially, I'm a contract worker with Bruce Hochman. That way, the league would not be officially connected with me."

Bullock said he became a master at infiltrating groups from Communists to Arab-Americans to gay radicals to skinheads, usually using his own name but once adopting the alias Elmer Fink.

"I'm a one of a kind," he told police.

In recent years, however, his ADL affiliation has increasingly become known, and at one point he was confronted by a skinhead armed with a shotgun who threatened to kill him.

In the mid-1980s, he helped San Francisco police solve a bombing at a synagogue by combing through the trash of extremist Cory Phelps and matching handwriting with samples on a threatening letter obtained by police. In part because of this investigation, he became close friends with Gerard, who at the time was working in the San Francisco police intelligence division.

Bullock frequently searched through the garbage of target groups. An FBI report noted how he investigated one Palestinian group:

"Bullock would write reports based on what he found in the trash, and would share the reports with Gerard. Bullock also gave the trash to Gerard for Gerard to examine. Gerard would later return the trash to Bullock."

From a wide range of sources, Bullock compiled files on 9,876 individuals and more than 950 political groups. Gerard, whose files contained many identical entries, kept files on 7,011 people.

In 1987, Bullock and Gerard began selling some of their vast wealth of information to the South African government. Bullock tells of meeting secretly with South African agents at San Francisco hotels and receiving envelopes filled with thousands of dollars in new $100 bills.

Bullock insists the information he sold consisted of data he culled only from public sources. Once he rewrote an innocuous item published by San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen about South African Bishop Desmond Tutu and the wife of prominent attorney Melvin Belli--and submitted it as his own work.

Bullock said it was Gerard who sold official police intelligence. Bullock said he split about $16,000 from the South African government evenly with Gerard, telling him at one point, "I may be gay but I'm a straight arrow."

In his interviews with the police and FBI, Bullock talked freely about engaging in certain activities that prosecutors say would appear to violate the law.

For example, Bullock admitted receiving driver's license records and criminal histories from Gerard on about 50 people--a fraction of the confidential police data found in his computer. And he said Gerard gave him complete San Francisco Police Department intelligence files on various Nazi groups that were supposed to be destroyed under department policy.

Bullock said he also received a confidential FBI report on the Nation of Islam that he later shredded at the Anti-Defamation League's San Francisco office.

Bullock seemed proud of his "Operation Eavesdrop," in which he used a paid informant, code-named Scumbag, to help tap into a White Aryan Resistance phone message network, listening to the messages left by members of the right-wing group. "For a short time, it was wonderful," he told police.

In Los Angeles, ADL operative Gurvitz was hired about four years ago as a "fact-finder" to keep intelligence files and occasionally go undercover to the meetings of target groups.

Among other things, he told San Francisco authorities, the Los Angeles ADL office kept a record of any Arab-American who had "anti-Israel leanings" or who wrote a letter to a newspaper expressing such sentiment.

Gurvitz was recently forced to resign after an incident in which he attempted to misuse the ADL intelligence network to seek revenge on a rival who got a job Gurvitz wanted at the Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies. Gurvitz got confidential police data on the rival and threatened to expose him as a Jewish spy to a right-wing hate group.

Gurvitz has since begun cooperating with police and the FBI in the probe, providing considerable information about the ADL operation. Unlike Bullock, he has been assured he is not a subject of the investigation.

Gurvitz declined through his father in Los Angeles to be interviewed by The Times. Bullock's attorney said his client would not comment.

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