For me, toward the end of my 3 year investigation, Gordon Novel appeared to be just a troubled, nearly-homeless man with a past that is storied only in his own mind, and within small circles of certain conspiracy theorists who bought into his tales through the years. In the final days of my investigation, I learned otherwise.
That isn’t to say that he wasn’t an enigma – he was – but he was only an enigma of his own making. He was a snake oil salesman whose smooth-talking, name-dropping, sharp-shooting attitude and his wild stories brought believers from the within the corporate ranks of companies that you would be shocked to learn the names of. Briefly, even government agencies tasked with identifying and exploiting cutting-edge, fringe technologies from the private sector gave audience to his rants, at least temporarily, until they realized exactly what they were dealing with.
He was smooth. He was rash. If you tried to peel back any of the layers in his ever-unfolding tales – he would snap at you like a rabid dog when someone tries to snatch away his bone.
Gordon Novel. If you don’t know him, consider this your introduction to his long career of running scams. If you know about him, then consider this an education into the truth behind all of the tales he told throughout his life. Gordon passed away in 2012, and left behind a family who loved him. This expose isn’t meant to disrespect, but to slide back the veil and cast away the shadows – so that future research into important past events like the JFK assassination or the Watergate scandal is no longer cluttered with the remains of Gordon’s lifetime of mostly-untrue stories.
A Criminal Turned Scam Artist
According to author Jack Wardlaw in Plot or Politics,
CIA documents released via FOIA related to “Gordon Dwane Novel” do not paint a story that matches the tales of CIA employment Gordon Novel used to tell people during his days protraying himself publicly as involved in the JFK assassination plot. Although, as with most of Gordon’s stories, a gem of truth exists – his early associations with David Ferrie, who was a central character in the Garrison investigation into JFK.
What the CIA and other documents do reveal is a man who started out as a troubled neo-Nazi youth in New Orleans, a young criminal who eventually robbed a Schlumberger Well Co. munitions dump near New Orleans – and who later used that burglary to bolster his own story to Garrison, that he was in fact associated with the entire CIA-JFK plot. Novel was highly skilled at twisting the truth. He indeed had New Orleans associations with JFK figures David Ferrie and with the CIA-operated “materials pickup” that took place that the Schlumberger munitions depot for the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion. (Although many investigators still debate whether the robbery was really a CIA weapons transfer). However, Novel went on to create his larger fiction, the integral nature of his connection with the CIA, as opposed to the reality that he was just an unwitting stooge in the robbery.
It was far more likely that only one or two members of the group were aware it was a CIA operation (if it was), and the remaining members, like Novel, were selected for their authentic criminal background, to increase the appearance that the heist was a real robbery.
Garrison bought enough of the story that he issued a subpoena to question Novel about his claims – and the subpoena was all Gordon needed to further bolster his ludicrous stories, and to launch himself throughout the annals of conspiracy theory writings on the JFK assassination as a shady character somehow involved with the JFK affair. To muddy the waters even more, Gordon sought out work inside of Garrison’s own office, without Garrison’s knowledge. The ruse was successful. Gordon once told journalist Dick Reavis that he “was working as Garrison’s chief of security, while at the same time working for the White House to destabilize Garrison’s operations.”
Gordon Novel was nothing of the sort. He was, and remained, nothing more than an opportunistic swindler – who knew how to play the game just right – so that no one would ever be able to really nail down the truth, amidst all the noise and mayhem Gordon himself had created.
FOIA CIA Files on Gordon Novel
There are in fact CIA files that mention Gordon’s name, but it is in no way confirmation that he was employed or worked for the agency in any way.
On page 4 of CIA Security Record number 104-10305-10000, a CIA memo states:
“Sergeant Haas was advised that a Gordon Novel, believed to be identical to the Gordon Novel of interest to Fort Lauderdale’s Organized Crime Division, is not now nor has he ever been an employee or employed in any capacity with the CIA. The undersigned added that since the late 60’s, Gordon Novel has periodically claimed employment with the CIA.”
Page 7 of this same official CIA file reads:
“Subject advised that he had an economic formula which would solve the world dollar dumping crisis – IR – 9 February 1973″
This was related to a message Gordon sent the CIA in 1973, offering to solve the energy crisis of the time, by selling the CIA his “economic formula”. This was only one example of the ways in which Gordon had spent a lifetime using whatever opportunity presented itself, to swindle and defraud.
Page 10 from the CIA file notes the following from 1980:
“…and in the ensuing conversation Novel indicated that he was involved in a ‘commercial venture’ and felt that the results might be of interest to ‘ONI’. He indicated, in essence, that his project involved outfitting a ‘fast patrol craft’ with various means of testing defense systems (NFI).”
While it paints a picture completely opposite what JFK conspiracy theorists paint of Gordon Novel as the mysterious “Umbrella Man”, the reality is far more likely that he was nothing more than an unwitting stooge in the Schlumberger raid – chosen due to his criminal background – and once learning of the conspiracy-theories of CIA involvement after-the-fact, began a campaign to exaggerate and capitalize on this indirect “connection” to the Agency.
FAIL #2 – DeLorean Motor Company
Capitalize he did. In the years following the JFK fiasco, Gordon exaggerated his role in the Garrison investigation, and convinced well-placed people that he was more important and better connected than he really was.
He obtained work as a private investigator for the DeLorean Motor Company. Initially his job was to go to Belfast and obtain the master body mould and body dies to resume production of the vehicles. It was a mission doomed to fail, because the dies had been sold as scrap to fishermen in the Bay of Galway to be used as weights to hold down salmon fishing nets. Gordon dutifully hired divers to go down and take photos of the sunken parts.
Needless to say, nothing came of the DeLorean. Not with a man like Gordon Novel even remotely close to the helm.
FAIL #3 & #4 – Kingdom Come and RAM
By the time I personally encountered this legendary character known as Gordon Novel, it was at the tail end of an investigation where our team had just busted a UFO scam, and some sources mentioned that there was a film production in the works that could potentially have a UFO theme related to this scam.
As late as 2008, Gordon Novel reported to anyone who would listen, that he was working on funding a film project called “Kingdom’s Come.”
According to my sources, in 2008 Gordon Novel attempted to get a wealthy Virginia man named Dan Smith to give him $6,000 so he could pitch his idea to Jim Marrs and offer Jim a $6000 “retainer” to put together two PowerPoint presentations – one for a project Gordon called “RAM” and one for Kingdom’s Come.Nothing ever came of the film project – primarily because the project didn’t exist except as an exaggeration. Failing to secure enough funding for his alleged film project, Gordon then moved on to his next scam. The production of what he called a Replication Alien Machine, or RAM for short.
It was supposed to be a project – making the use of physicists and engineers – to build an antigravity device that could replicate the sort of behaviors witnessed and reported related to UFO sightings. With the possibility that Gordon might be drawing in actual funding sources from a number of company owners – in one case the owner of a major hair shampoo brand – a number of usual suspects started gathering around Gordon and offering support for his efforts. These included individuals like Paul Murad, Hal Puthoff, and other scientists – approximately 12 scientists who are known for their survival off of funding from people and investor groups who are gullible enough to invest into impossible scientific research in the hopes that such risky ventures will turn up a gold-mine return. It’s the investor’s version of casino gambling.
Proof of this came in the form of a RAM business plan that was leaked to us in 2010 – written up by none other than Paul Murad, and including some of the silliest diagrams and pseudo-scientific terms for different modules of the craft – including a component labeled “flux capacitor”. Yes, the fictional part of the DeLorean engine used in the film Back to the Future. How anyone who saw this business plan took any part of it seriously is the only real mystery here.
By 2011, once Gordon started acting irrationally, getting paranoid and scaring off serious investors with his rants. Paul Murad, with seed funding from investor Morgan Boardman dropped Gordon completely, and launched “Morningstar Applied Physics” – bringing over many of the same scientists who had been swarming around Gordon’s potential funding sources.
In an email leaked to us in 2010, Morgan wrote the following to his team of project managers:
“All this means is that we are still out beating the bushes for capital. We seriously want to pursue our collective dreams of developing solutions to solve mankind’s problems through the use of advanced technologies. The twelve scientists who are agreeing to assist in our dream of making a safer happier healthier world, have our ongoing gratitude and good will.
As always, Paul and I feel an ‘Unqualified sense of giddy optimism’ regarding our prospects, however now we can with all confidence say that our optimism is making headway and that eventually we will succeed.”
Since 2010, we’ve attempted to interview Paul Murad directly regarding these issues. He has consistently avoided answering any and all questions, except to answer an email early in 2010 to say:
Obviously I would like to leave Gordon out of this; however, I have no problems about answering questions concerning why I got involved and what I was hoping to achieve. [snip] All of the negativity that Gordon was spreading was basically an over active imagination and that he clear ly demonstrated his lack of character.
Although he promised to answer questions as to his involvement in the RAM project – those questions have gone unanswered since 2010, despite Morgan Boardman’s constant attempts over the last 3 years to get Paul to talk to me.
This RAM power generator diagram was included in the RAM business plan compiled by Paul Murad for Gordon Novel. It included pseudo-intellectual terminology and erroneous scientific claims.
Gordon Novel and Ron Pandolfi
So why did Gordon get drawn into scamming the UFO community with his kind of noise? The answer comes in the form of a man named Ron Pandolfi, a scientist who works at the Science & Technology Division of the CIA – in particular the man assigned to what is known within the agency as the “Weird Desk”…the man stuck dealing with requests and projects related in any way to fringe interests like UFOs, aliens, and the paranormal. Ron ended up there after getting demoted following the Hughes affair (to be covered in a future post).
Gordon initially met Ron at a private dinner party where a friend of Ron’s named Dan Smith brought Gordon along as an uninvited guest. Ron remained friends with Gordon since, but once Gordon learned of Ron’s CIA connections, he began using that in all of his RAM business dealings as “evidence” that the CIA supported the RAM project. In July of 2009, Gordon wrote to potential investor Morgan Boardman:
“RAM is to me in great measure an official U.S. Intelligence business.”
In July of 2009, I asked Ron directly whether he supported Gordon’s technology project in any way, and if not, why these potential investors were convinced that he (Ron) represented the CIA’s interest in Gordon in any way. Ron replied:
“You can tell [name removed] that when anyone asks about Gordon I give them a straight enough response, that is straight enough if they are somewhat in contact with reality. Otherwise nothing I might say would help. I am also straight with Gordon. But frankly the idea of a guy running around the country saying he has the backing of CIA to reverse engineer a UFO using parts from old cars and junk electrical circuits is really funny!”
This was the summation of Ron’s entire dealings with the UFO community. Being forced to man the “weird desk”, Ron had found a way through the years to “suffer fools” easily – by making a game out of it.
To Ron – demoted and humiliated into a post that he felt was beneath him – Ron started following and interacting with the various fringe UFO writers – both the sane and the lunatic. He toyed with people. He blew their minds by contacting people – with his name well-known in the Ufology community as a “CIA” contact, a call from Ron was meant to shock and awe. The reality, as admitted by Ron himself, is that he found the entire game funny – a way to bring humor into a role at the agency that he found demoralizing and insulting to his superior intellect.
Gordon Novel and Hal Puthoff
In 2007, Ron Pandolfi mentioned fringe theoretical Physicist Hal Puthoff’s involvement in Gordon Novel’s RAM project as another humorous aspect of the whole show. When I emailed Hal to ask him about this, Hal denied involvement with Gordon, and downplayed his interest and involvement with Gordon Novel by writing:
“…it’s just like I’m listed as being Gordon Novel’s chief scientist because I answer questions when he calls me (my answers not usually to his liking, I might add!).”
At least it was an admission by Hal that he was in fact listed in the business plan and in Gordon’s emails as a chief scientist for the fraud known as RAM. In fact, this was the tact taken by most scientists who had been scrambling after Gordon Novel for the money they hoped he could secure with his distict ability to score a mark – an ability he’d proven well throughout his lifetime.
Hal’s dismissal of his involvement was contradicted by Gordon’s own report on the RAM project when it ended. Gordon explained (regarding Hal Puthoff’s involvement) in a final writeup:
– Page 20: “Hal Puthoff, whose intellect is truly without peer, once let me read a deep black unpublished paper of his that explained how he thought the zero-point field (ZPF) caused gravity.”
– Page 68: “…it is possible to have fluctuations beyond unity in which the Second Law is violated, or so I am told by Hal.”
– Page 90: “…Were it not for being privileged to know the good Doctor (Puthoff) and his wonderful family, I seriously doubt that I would have continued my high interest in the ARV/UFO matter, much less be writing this case treatise for his critical scrutiny.”
– Page 90: “A paper Dr. Puthoff furnished me when we met is extremely relevant to the How-To function of the ARV system.”
– Page 143: “About that same time (1995), Hal Puthoff sent me a very informative paper in response to my query on the rest mass voltage…”
– Page 179: “…as Dr. Puthoff will confirm from discussions we had in 1994 and some CAD/CAM graphics that I sent him in 1995.”
– Page 230: “Further, the statements of UFO contactees and abductees, the crash report of Rennie Beicker (according to Hal Puthoff)…”
Whether you can take the word of a 5-decades-long scam artist, or that of a fringe scientist who evades hard questions like Mohammad-Ali dodges punches, I leave up to you the reader to decide.
The Death of Gordon Novel
Around 3:00 A.M. on October 3rd, 2012, a 74 year old Gordon Novel quietly passed away in his sleep in a hospital bed. His son and remaining family immediately made plans to have him cremated and buried in a plot next to his mother’s down in Florida.
The family held a memorial service for Gordon on February 7th, 2013 at Forest Law Memorial Park in Long Beach, California. The Eulogies that made up the service portrayed just how colorful a character Gordon Novel was. Most of the stories were repeated excerpts of the tales Gordon often told people about himself through the years, such as his proposed degaussing of the Nixon tapes, his alleged “involvement” in the Garrison JFK assassination, and other tall tales.
The one, most accurate account I had ever read about Gordon Novel came from US Patent Attorney Tom Peterson, who wrote:
“It took me nearly 10 years to realize that Gordon was one of mankind’s biggest frauds. While often projecting a caustic and impatient exterior, it was all for show. Beneath was a heart made of pure gold. Of his many fine qualities, none was more genuine than his compassion for other people, especially the less fortunate.”
And this, better than anything else ever written throughout the annals of conspiracy theory literature, laid out the truth about Gordon Novel in just four sentences. It was the fact that sane people realized and acknowledged that the man was a complete fraud – but they had come to appreciate and even love his character, his showman’s passion for the current “game” at hand, and his underlying compassion for others. This should come as no surprise, considering that Gordon Novel was actually the out-of-wedlock son of William Samuel Rosenberg (Billy Rose) – one of the most famous Broadway showmen of the 1930’s.
The family turned some of Gordon’s ashes into “keepsake ornaments” to be distributed to friends and family who wanted one. I’m not sure if they charged for them – but I think Gordon would have been mightily disappointed if they hadn’t.
Unlike Tom Peterson, it did not take me 10 years to realize that Gordon was one of mankind’s biggest frauds, and I did what very few people were willing to do – tell Gordon so directly. In return, I endured a 30 minute telephone call where Gordon unleashed a flurry of curse-words and insults at me. Each time he slowed down, I taunted him with a comment like, “Gordon…you do realize that MJ-12 doesn’t even exist, right?” Whereupon the flow of vulgarity went back to full force.
After a few weeks of email exchanges – after Gordon realized that I was not daunted or at all convinced by his “show”, he softened in an email which he cc’d Ron Pandolfi on, where he finally wrote:
“I kind of like you, as you are if nothing else salaciously quite funny and entertaining for a purported investigative journalist. Does it come across I am still very angry at you? Notice I have not cursed you once.”
That one line gave me a brief glimpse into the mind of Gordon Novel. It was a mind that reveled in the fact that he could enter any arena – be it JFK, Nixon/Watergate or UFO conspiracy theories, and in turn he could manipulate and defraud the frauds.
It was with this line from Gordon to me that I finally understood why Ron Pandolfi liked him so much. I finally understood why some people had come to call this penniless, homeless old man a genius. It was because he had figured out how to enter into a den of wolves disguised as a wolf, and succeeded in making total fools out of the fools.
References & Image Credits:
(3) Dumping of Delorean Body Dies
(4) Gordon’s Memorial materials publicly released by Novel family
(5) Columbus Dispatch on Gordon Novel