4. CHURCHS INVOLVEMENT
I have many a time, in this stand, dared the world to produce as mean devils as we can; we can beat them at anything. We have the greatest and smoothest liars in the world, the cunningest and most adroit thieves, and any other shade of character that you can mention....I can produce Elders here who can shave their smartest shavers, and take their money from them. We can beat the world at any game. (President Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 4, page 77)
...Hofmann came to my office and said he thought the police would question him. What should he say when they questioned him? (Apostle Dallin H. Oaks, Salt Lake Tribune, October 27, 1985)
While some people originally subscribed to the theory that "the bombs were planted by people radically opposed to the teachings of the Mormon Church," the facts seem to completely discredit such an idea. At this point it appears that the entire Salamandergate scandal grew out of an internal problem which took root within the Mormon Church itself. Almost all of those who played a role in the transactions which brought international attention to Salt Lake City were members of the Mormon Church. Mark Hofmann himself was at one time a missionary for the Church. According to the Church Section of the Deseret News, Oct. 20, 1985, "Hofmann... served in the England Southwest Mission, 1974-76." On February 4, 1986, the same newspaper said that on "one mission report of average proselyting hours, Hofmann's name ranks 49th out of 208 missionaries. Part of the time, Hofmann served in the mission office in Bristol." Utah Holiday, Jan. 1986, p. 53, reported that Hofmann married "in the Salt Lake LDS temple." In an interview published in Sunstone Review, Sept. 1982, p. 19, Mr. Hofmann described himself as "an eighth-generation Mormon, and my mother is a stake Relief Society president right now." Some of Hofmann's closest associates (Lyn Jacobs, Shannon Flynn and Brent Metcalfe) were returned Mormon missionaries. Linda Sillitoe and Jerry Spangler wrote the following:
"...[Brent] Metcalfe...went to work for Hofmann. Before he worked with Ashment, Metcalfe worked for Christensen, with the support of Sheets, researching the Martin Harris letter. After the letter became controversial, Metcalfe was dismissed and Christensen donated the authenticated letter to the church....
"Hofmann, Metcalfe and Jacobs became acquainted during the time Jacobs worked in the Genealogical Department [of the Church] and Metcalfe worked for Church Security. Both had an interest in Mormon and early Christian history, a friend said. Hofmann was a frequent visitor to the Historical Department and the History Library, a favorite haunt of both Jacobs and Metcalfe.
"Flynn was a member of Jacobs' Sunday School class, and through him met Hofmann." (Deseret News, Nov. 30,1985)
Like Hofmann, Brent Metcalfe had served his mission in England. Lyn Jacobs was a missionary in Canada, and Shannon Flynn served in Brazil. One of the persons that Hofmann defrauded was Wilford Cardon. Mr. Cardon testified: "Mr. Flynn served a mission in Brazil and I was his mission president from July 1978 until the end of his mission." Shannon Flynn introduced Mark Hofmann to Wilford Cardon, and Hofmann proceeded to talk Cardon into investing heavily in his schemes. Another faithful Mormon who lost a great deal of money by investing in Hofmann's forgeries is Brent Ashworth. The Church Section of the Deseret News, June 23, 1985, said that Mr. Ashworth was "bishop of the BYU 82nd Ward." On July 23, 1986, Brent Ashworth filed a lawsuit against Mark Hofmann in which he claimed that Hofmann had sold him many forgeries and that he had paid $225,100 for the documents:
"3. At all times herein referred to, the defendant Hofmann represented that he was a document dealer, that he was a document expert, and the documents that he possessed and the documents he sold to the plaintiff were real and genuine....
"6. The total amount paid by the plaintiff to the defendant for said documents was $225,100....
"8. The representations of the defendant were in truth and in fact false, were made by the defendant for the purpose of causing the plaintiff to rely upon the same which the plaintiff did, to his detriment.
"9. The documents by the plaintiff are in fact without value....
"14. Great publicity was attached to the transactions referred to in this Complaint.
"15. The documents were presumed by the plaintiff and the news media to be of historical significance and therefore greatly newsworthy and substantial publicity was attached to the discoveries of these documents and the use of the documents by the plaintiff and the public media.
"16. The plaintiff had acquired a reputation in the community for being an expert in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and an authority on Church documents. The discovery that the documents which were sold to the plaintiff by the defendant were false and fraudulent and which were created by the defendant for the sole purpose of fraud and deception was equally newsworthy and the public portrayal has caused the plaintiff great embarrassment, humiliation and injury to his reputation and stature in the community, all to his general damage in an amount to be established upon proof.
"17. The result of the defendant's conduct was to libel and slander the plaintiff and to cause him great and debilitating emotional injury all to his general damage in an amount to be established upon proof." ("BRENT ASHWORTH, Plaintiff, vs. MARK HOFMANN, Defendant," pages 1-3)
Alvin Rust, who invested in the McLellin collection and a number of Hofmann's other forgeries, has served as a bishop in the Mormon Church. Steven Christensen and J. Gary Sheets, who invested in the Salamander letter and later had bombs delivered to them, were also bishops in the church. (Sheets' wife, of course, picked up the package addressed to him and died in the explosion.)
Mark Hofmann was well acquainted with Wade Lillywhite and Curt Bench who worked at the Church's Deseret Book. Many of Hofmann's forgeries, in fact, were sold to the Church's bookstore. David Sorenson, who was to purchase the McLellin collection on the day Hofmann was injured, was serving as a mission president. Mr. Hofmann was well acquainted with the former Church Archivist Donald Schmidt and sometimes met with Gordon B. Hinckley, of the Church's First Presidency. Hinckley and Apostle Boyd K. Packer often gave approval for the Church to purchase Hofmann's documents. Donald Schmidt testified as follows:
QEach one of the items we discussed so far
AI believe that is correct.
Qdid have the approval of the advisors...?
AThat is correct.
QAny other approval? Who are the advisors to the Historical
AAt the time I was working?
. . . . .
AI believe I am safe in saying that during the that period of time, Elders Gordon B. Hinckley and Boyd K. Packer were the advisors.
QAll right. Then one or the other or both of them would have approved each of the transactions that we're about to talk about or that you talked about earlier this afternoon?
AThat is correct.
Hugh Pinnock, of the First Quorum of Seventy, helped Hofmann find a buyer for the McLellin collection and secure a loan of $185,000, and even Apostle Dallin Oaks found himself meeting with Hofmann.
That the Mormon Church was involved in a highly secret transaction (or transactions) with Mark Hofmann became obvious at the Church's press conference. Apostle Oaks claimed that after the bombings began, three different men came to the Mormon Church Administration Building enquiring about what they should tell police:
"...just before 3 p.m., Mark Hofmann came to the Church Administration Building and asked for Elder Pinnock, who was out at that time....Hofmann came to my office and said he thought the police would question him. What should he say when they questioned him? And I said, 'You should simply tell them the truth. You don't have any reason to believe that this bombing has anything to do with you, do you? And simply tell them the truth.' And then, when he seemed to be questioning whether we should tell them about the McLellin collection, I said, 'Look. That's been handled on a confidential basis, but there's a murder investigation under way. You should tell the police everything you know and answer every questionand I intend to do the same.'...
"On Thursday, the following day, Shannon Flynn came to the Church Administration Building...I met with Flynn...In brief, Flynn wanted to know what he should say if he was questioned, and I told him to tell the truth, just as I had told Hofmann.
"On Friday, Alvin Rust came to the Church Office Building....He said, 'I know some things. I've already talked to the police, but I know some more things.' And I said, 'Whatever you haven't told the police, tell them. Give them everything (Salt Lake Tribune, October 27, 1985)
Alvin Rust was rather upset about Apostle Oaks' comment concerning him: "I didn't run to the church asking what to say to the police,' said Mr. Rust. 'I wanted to know about the McLellin papers. I love the church but Elder Oaks' statement sounded funny."' (Ibid., Oct. 24, 1985) In any case, the fact that people would have to seek out an Apostle to know what to tell the police certainly reveals that there were secret activities going on. On Nov. 18, the Salt Lake Tribune revealed that it was learned that church security officers had been a step ahead of the detectives in interviewing some of the people:
"Early on, when it was learned that LDS Church officials had dealt with one of the victims, the prime suspect and key witness in the killings, the investigators' lives suddenly became much more difficult. It was learned that some of the people detectives wanted to talk to had been interviewed first by church security officers, and nobody really knew how to approach church general authorities with questions about murder."
The following information appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune on Nov. 28, 1985:
"Two days after bombs killed two people last month, Shannon Patrick Flynn told Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Apostle Dallin H. Oaks that the 'whole room is falling down' and asked what 'posture' he should take with police when interviewed, according to a transcript of their conversation....
"Mr. Flynn was one of three characters...who went to LDS Church officials to ask advice before taking their information to the police in the bombing investigation....
"Investigators have said that they found it 'disconcerting' that several people they interviewed in regard to the bombings had first consulted with authorities in the church and church security officials.
"In his meeting with Elder Oaks, which took place in the presence of a church stenographer and three security guards, Mr. Flynn told the former Utah Supreme Court justice that he was told by Mark Hofmann that President Gordon B. Hinckley, a counselor to the late church President Spencer W. Kimball, 'was nervous' to have the [McLellin] collection...
"Mr. Flynn, like Hofmann and Mr. Rust, went to the church for guidance on what to tell police.
" '...I need to meet with the police quickly. I have questions to be answered before I go and speak to them so I will know what posture to take,' he told the apostle....
"Elder Oaks urged Mr. Flynn be truthful...'Mark Hofmann has told you some things that are not true,' Elder Oaks said.
" '...Let me tell you I know something about this transaction. You will understand when it comes out.' Elder Oaks said. '...The church is going to cooperate fully and it has absolutely nothing to hide. Sometimes there are some confidential transactions but this is a murder investigation. Confidentiality is set aside....
" '...Tell them what you know. This is no time to withhold anything. I am not going to talk to the newspapers. The less said to the newspapers the better,' he advised.
" '...People read the papers and get their whole ideas from the newspapers,' he said."
The Salt Lake Tribune for Oct. 21, 1985, reported that "Friends of Mr. Hofmann have said he did regular business with President Gordon B. Hinckley, a member of the church's First Presidency." At the press conference, President Hinckley admitted that the Church had acquired "40-some documents" that came through Mark Hofmann:
"I first met Mark W. Hofmann in April of 1980 when he was brought to my office by officers of our Historical Department....he had found what has come to be known as the 'Anthon Manuscript' in Joseph Smith's handwriting....
"On March 17, 1981, our Historical Department people again came with him to my office with the transcript of the blessing given by Joseph Smith to his son....
"Since that time, Mr. Hofmann has sold various documents to the church....The church has acquired by purchase, donation, or trade 40-some documents, some of relatively little importance, and some of significance." (Salt Lake Tribune, Oct. 27, 1985)
The Los Angeles Times, Nov. 8, 1985, claimed that 'most' of these documents have not been made public.
Mormon Church Archivists have always been very careful who they show documents to, but during the murder investigation they were compelled to show them to detectives. Glen Rowe testified that "We have received several subpoenas..." Just before Hofmann's preliminary hearing, Mormon Church leaders had to drastically revise President Gordon B. Hinckley's claim that they had acquired "40-some documents" that came through Hofmann.
According to the Deseret News, April 12, 1986, they had found that they had received almost ten times that number:
"Approximately 300 century-old court records donated to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1983 by Mark W. Hofmann have been returned to an Illinois courtthe place of the documents' origin, a church spokesman announced Friday.
"Richard P. Lindsay, managing director of public communications, said the records were found and inventoried while members of the church historical department were assembling documents for study by law enforcement officials conducting a criminal investigation.
"The court recordsreturned to the Circuit Court clerk in Hancock County, Ill.date from 1831 to 1865 and consist of complaints, summonses, subpoenas, indentures and notices...
"In addition, 45 other court records received from Hofmann in 1983 were discovered during the inventory. These records, which date from 1839 to 1882, will be offered to public officials in Illinois, Missouri, Utah and Wisconsin.
"The church also released a list of 48 other documents acquired by the LDS church from Hofmann and referred to during a news conference Oct. 23, 1985. Lindsay said the list was released to complete the public record and to correct erroneous speculation in the media about the acquisitions."
The Salt Lake Tribune for April 12, 1986, indicated that there was a question regarding the legality of "obtaining or receiving" the court records:
"Mormon officials have released descriptions of almost 400 documents and court records they received as a gift, traded or bought...
"Out-of-state officials said they are examining some of the documents to determine if violations occurred in obtaining or receiving the records....
"About 300 court documents Mr. Hofmann donated to LDS officials in 1983 were returned to Hancock County, Ill., officials Monday. In examining the court records, LDS workers became 'convinced that they were originals of public documents, which would normally be retained at the site of the court and should therefore be turned over to the responsible public official if he desired to receive them,' according to the prepared statement.
"Hancock County Circuit Court Clerk John Neally said he has given the records to the state attorney to determine if any violation has occurred in taking or receiving the records. He said two men from the Mormon Church gave him the records Monday....
"Illinois Circuit Court Judge Max Stewart said it's illegal to take court documents out of the courthouse without permission, and he couldn't 'imagine anyone getting permission to take out 300.' "
Since the Church has already revised the number of Hofmann documents it acquired from "40-some" to almost 400, I wonder if there could be even more. It appears that some of the Hofmann documents that the Church obtained came through his friend Lyn Jacobs. At the preliminary hearing Jacobs testified that he "was in the habit of making a great deal of book trades with Don Schmidt. In other words, with the Church Historian's Office." In the interview in Sunstone, pages 10-11, Lyn Jacobs gave this information about his contact with Church Archives:
"SUNSTONE: Who were you trading with?
"JACOBS: With Weller and others. I worked primarily with the Church archivist, Don Schmidt....
"SUNSTONE: When did you meet Mark Hofmann?
"JACOBS: I met him around 1979 or 1980. 1 remember the occasion clearly. I visited Deseret Book early one day. Mark was there and I had never met him before. He had just spoken briefly with Mr. Scow, who was running the rare book section at that time. I spoke with Scow briefly as well and then looked over at Mark and said, 'Well, it looks like we've got the same sort of interest....He'd come in that day with some Kirtland bills or something like that....
"We didn't really consider working together for some time. I knew practically nothing about documents....Consequently, if I found a manuscript, I'd often call Mark up and have him take care of it.
"SUNSTONE: Did you ever become business partners?
"JACOBS: There has been a certain amount of misrepresentation on this account. When I was working with the Church archives, there were times when Mark and I combined forces as it were. Let's say, for example, that Mark didn't have time to bring some item into the Church archives. Often we agreed that if he gave it to me to deliver for him, I would receive whatever cut I wished in trade. Consequently, I would bring the document in and tell them, 'This is what Mark wants, and this is what I want.' We used to do this kind of deal all the time with the Church archives simply because it was so convenient. Most of my business with the archives was my own, however. I have worked with the institution much more than Mark primarily because I had a rapport with the Church archives...I have never thought of myself as Mark's partner but as one of his best friends. The only document we ever worked with in tandem that has any real significance is the Martin Harris letter."
One thing that must be very embarrassing for Mormon Church leaders is that they not only gave Hofmann money for forgeries, but that they also traded genuine material stored in the Archives for bogus documents. At the press conference, President Gordon B. Hinckley said that the "Historical Department later traded him other documents of interest for the 'Anthon Manuscript.' " (Salt Lake Tribune, Oct. 27, 1985) Hinckley also said that the Joseph Smith III Blessing "was acquired from Mr. Hofmann with a trade of historic materials..." (Ibid.)
The Hofmann documents which were not unfavorable to the Mormon Church were proudly displayed in Church publications. The Church's Ensign magazine, Dec. 1983, printed an article which was filled with pictures of documents that came through Hofmann. On page 34 we find a picture of the Anthon transcript. The Lucy Smith letter appears on the next page. Pages 37-38 contain portions of the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon which came through Hofmann. The following page has the 1873 David Whitmer letter to Walter Conrad. The Grandin contract appears on page 41 of the Ensign article, and the 1873 Martin Harris letter to Walter Conrad is found on page 45.
On the other hand, the unfavorable documents which the public were not aware of were buried in the Church's vaults. In the Salt Lake Tribune, Feb. 6, 1986, we find the following:
"Sources close to the investigation have said the church apparently did little to authenticate many of these documents before they were purchased, stating that church historians felt 'they had time and all eternity' to check their veracity. 'They just wanted them off the streets,' the source said."
Donald Schmidt, former Church Archivist, testified at the preliminary hearing that the Church relied heavily on Dean Jessee's opinion as to the authenticity of the documents. In Schmidt's testimony we find the following:
QYou mentioned Dean Jessee....Is Mr. Jessee in general a handwriting expert?
AHe is not.
QIs he a forensic expert?
AI don't think so.
QIs he more or less just kind of an in house consultant?
AHe is the expert as far as we were concerned with the handwriting of Joseph Smith.
The following appeared in the Deseret News on April 18, 1985:
"Donald P. Schmidt, former archivist for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, testified Friday under cross-examination that the LDS Church took few steps to authenticate any of the 48 documents the church purchased from Hofmann since 1980.
"Defense Attorney Bradley C. Rich grilled Schmidt over minute details of each of the transactions, particularly over the church's apparent lack of interest in providing rigid authentication of the historical documents.
"In many of the cases, Schmidt testified, the documents were examined solely on the basis of historical context."
If the Church had not suppressed some of the important documents, it is possible that the forgery scheme would have been detected earlier. In an article published in the Salt Lake Tribune, April 19, 1986, Mike Carter wrote the following:
"Convoluted deals involving the attempted sale of million-dollar documents, the manufacturing of plates to counterfeit 'Mormon money' and the seemingly blind trust of LDS officials in bombing suspect Mark W. Hofmann dominated the fifth day of his preliminary bearing Friday....
"It was apparent from Mr. Schmidt's testimony that the LDS Church relied on its own peoplewho the historian acknowledged were 'not forensic or handwriting experts'to authenticate the more [part of] almost 50 documents the church purchased from Mr. Hofmann. It also was apparent that church leaders, including President Hinckley, trusted Mr. Hofmann implicitly, to the point where negotiations over the price the church was willing to pay for Hofmann documents reached the offices of the first presidency.
"Mr. Schmidt testified that, in a number of the deals, President Hinckley or another member of the general authorities became involved early in the negotiations."
David Hewitt, contributing editor for the Maine Antique Digest, commented:
" 'Considering the value of the items he was selling, acquisition procedures, particularly by the LDS Church, were terribly flawed,' Hewett said. 'It would be like a person buying real estate over the telephone or buying pork bellies without an understanding of the commodities market.' " (Deseret News, April 21, 1986)
The following comments concerning the bombings scandal appeared in the Los Angeles Times on Nov. 8, 1985:
"The affair has taken this city through collective spasms of emotion. Initially, there was fear that a mad bomber was loose;...'It's beginning to seem more like Lebanon than Salt Lake City,' one resident told the Deseret News.
"The immediate shock and fear was replaced with a sense of wonder about the church's admitted involvement in the transactions, and anticipation of where investigation might lead next. Many people here believe the case could cause the church substantial embarrassment, especially when it comes time to call certain people to the witness stand."
In the Salt Lake City Messenger for April 1986, we wrote the following:
"Many people are concerned that when Mark Hofmann comes to trial there will be some kind of a cover-up to protect the Mormon church. One fear that has been expressed is that prosecutors might give preferential treatment to the Mormon leaders. Our greatest concern, however, is how Mr. Hofmann's lawyers will handle their side of the case. From all indications Hofmann is deeply in debt and would have no way of paying for his defense. Since the case is so complicated, his legal fees could mount to a million dollars. While his lawyers were originally talking about setting up a public defense fund, they have now indicated that funds have become available to them. Our fear is the the church could either directly or indirectly provide funds for Hofmann's defense. While there would be nothing illegal about this, the church certainly has its own vested interest in how the trial is conducted. If Hofmann's lawyers were to receive money from the church or its leaders, they might feel somewhat obligated not to cause the church any embarrassment with regard to Hofmann's document dealings with them. Such a move could possibly influence what witnesses Hofmann's lawyers called and how Church leaders would be questioned. Futhermore, it might make it hard to subpoena documents the church has in its possession. For instance, if the Oliver Cowdery history really talks about salamanders appearing to Joseph Smith, it could be subpoenaed in an attempt to support the claims for the authenticity of the Salamander letter. If the church were paying the legal bills, however, it is unlikely that the lawyers would want to embarrass church leaders by demanding that it become a part of the public record. (It would, of course, be of no help if the prosecution could show that Hofmann had access to it.)
"At this point we have no evidence that the church is paying any of Mr. Hofmann's legal bills. We do know, however, that the church was willing to pay a great deal of money to get rid of embarrassing documents. It is also reasonable to conclude that church leaders would like to keep their secret dealings with the documents from coming to light. The General Authorities, therefore, will probably do their best to keep on the good side of Hofmann. He knows too much with regard to their secret document deals. Although church leaders could not resist the temptation to suppress embarrassing documents, we hope they have learned their lesson and will not try to influence the course of the trial with their money or power. In any case, the cancellation of Hofmann's public defense fund is certainly another mystery in this bizarre case. Even if some persons or organizations were willing to give a large amount of money for Hofmann's defense, we would think that they would let the defense fund be set up first and then pay only the amount which was over that raised through the publicly supported fund."
During Hofmann's preliminary hearing it became evident that there was a move afoot to excuse President Gordon B. Hinckley from giving testimony in the courtroom. Mike Carter commented:
"Meanwhile, The Tribune learned that defense attorneys were to meet Tuesday morning with President Gordon B. Hinckley...to see if a stipulation to his testimony could be reached in order to prevent the necessity of calling President Hinckley as a witness. President Hinckley is named as a victim of theft by deception in a complaint alleging that a letter he purchased allegedly authored by church founder Joseph Smith is a forgery.
"The defense would like to ask President Hinckley about the church leader's role in pressuring Mr. Hofmann to pay back an overdue $185,000 bank loan arranged by another church elder." (Salt Lake Tribune, May 6, 1986)
An agreement was worked out and President Hinckley did not have to testify at the preliminary hearing. We find the following in an article by Associate Press writer Michael White:
"Health concerns prevented a high Mormon Church official from testifying in the preliminary hearing...says the judge who presided.
"Fifth Circuit Judge Paul Grant,...said President Gordon B. Hinckley,...was kept off the stand because it was feared a court appearance would be too stressful.
"I think the attorneys were respecting President Hinckley's duties and the stress of his position and his age.'...
"But attorneys for both sides said Wednesday that President Hinckley's health was never a factor in their agreement to rely solely on out-of-courtroom interviews with the church leader. And church spokesman Don LeFevre said he knew of no problems with President Hinckley's health....
"President Hinckley was spared a court appearance in the 11-day hearing last spring after prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed to a stipulation regarding his testimony....defense attorney Ron Yengich said President Hinckley's health was never discussed when the stipulation was arranged.
" 'I stipulated solely for tactical reasons,' Mr. Yengich said.... Yengich declined to elaborate on the tactical advantages of the stipulation." (Salt Lake Tribune, August 14, 1986)
I really doubt that Mormon Church leaders have anything to cover up concerning the murders. When it comes to the document dealings, however, I feel that there is a great deal of information Church leaders would like to see suppressed. Although no real evidence has come to light, there could be a possibility that a major document deal had gone sour. There are some rumors concerning a purported translation by Joseph Smith of the Kinderhook Platesi.e., a set of bogus plates that were created by Joseph Smith's enemies in an attempt to trick him into making a false translation. As I will later show, Mark Hofmann actually asked President Gordon B. Hinckley if he would be interested in obtaining some of the original plates. While a purported Joseph Smith translation of these plates would be a very good blackmail item to try to palm off on the Church, the missing 116 pages of the Book of Mormon or a document written by Sidney Rigdon or Solomon Spalding which could be linked to the Book of Mormon would be even more tempting to those who wanted embarrassing documents suppressed. Although it may just be a poor choice of words, Apostle Dallin Oaks made a statement to Mark Hofmann which might lead one to conclude that there was something besides the McLellin collection which led to the murders:
"Elder Oaks also recalled that Mr. Hofmann visited him in his office just hours after Kathleen Sheets was killed. In a typed statement released in conjunction with the press conference, Elder Oaks recalled asking Mr. Hofmann 'if he had any reason to suppose that these bombings had anything to do with his activities or connections with Christensen. He said no. I then asked. 'Do you know anyone in your documents business who would enforce his contracts with bombs? When he said no, I concluded 'Well, then, what do you have to worry about? The police probably won't question you, and if they do, just tell them the truth.' " (Salt Lake Tribune, Oct. 24, 1985)
Apostle Oak's question ("Do you know anyone in your documents business who would enforce his contracts with bombs?") seems to be a meaningless question unless Oaks suspected that Steven Christensen and J. Gary Sheets had invested in some very expensive document(s) and had failed to pay off the money that was owed. It is known that Christensen and Sheets had a very large amount of money at one time but had later fallen on hard times and were in serious financial trouble at the time of the bombings. The company Christensen and Sheets had been associated with, CFS Financial Corporation, finally went under and filed for bankruptcy. In any case, the McLellin collection certainly does not fit with Apostle Oaks' question. There was no need to "enforce" a contract because no contract had been signed. Furthermore, the lawyer who held the check for $185,000 was only waiting for the delivery of the collection before he turned over the check.
Although it is just a matter of speculation, it is possible that at some time Hofmann created or had someone else create some major document that was purchased by Christensen and Sheets. The evidence shows that Mr. Christensen was certainly familiar with the concept of buying up sensitive documents and donating them to the Mormon Church for a tax write-off. It is true that Sheets' testimony at the preliminary hearing does not support this idea. He claimed that he did not even know Mark Hofmann. On the other hand, testimony was given which showed that in some cases Hofmann would have his associates sell the documents as their own and then give him the money. If this were the case, Christensen and Sheets could buy a very controversial document and never know that it came from Hofmann. In such a situation, Hofmann could not directly put pressure on them to obtain the money because it would expose his role in the document deal. The reader will remember that when the Salamander letter was sold to Christensen and Sheets, Lyn Jacobs posed as the owner of that document. At any rate, the Deseret News, Feb. 1, 1986, informs us that when he filed for personal bankruptcy, J. Gary Sheets had over 2,000 potential creditors:
"Sheets filed for liquidation under Chapter 7 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. The bankruptcy petition concerns Sheets only, not his company, although rumors of CFS's financial problems have been circulating for months.
"And while CFS is not involved in Sheets' bankruptcy petition, most of the 2,260 potential creditors Sheets lists in a mailing matrix filed with his petition are CFS investors.
"The list of potential creditors includes the names of state senators, physicians, businessmen and attorneys. The list includes Brigham Young University, Valley Bank & Trust, Nevada National Bank and the Denver Post Corp.
"Also included is Brent Metcalfe, an associate of documents dealer Mark W. Hofmann....
"With the filing of the bankruptcy petition, Sheets is now protected from the claims of creditors, many of whom have filed lawsuits alleging Sheets owes them thousands of dollars....
"In one such case, U.S. District Judge David K. Winder has awarded an Arizona company $150,000 in a judgment against Sheets and the estate of Christensen."
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