"I will know," Stapleton said he replied.
Ingram denied ever asking Stapleton to tap telephones.
"I've never done it and I've never asked anyone to do it," Ingram said. "It's just not worth it. It's a crime. You're going to get caught, so why do it?"
Ingram also said that he has not harassed anyone during his probes. He describes himself simply as "aggressive."
"People who claim that I have conducted an improper investigation against them probably have so many things to hide," said Ingram.
Church lawyer Cooley backed the investigator, saying: "I know of no impropriety that has ever been engaged in by Mr. Ingram or any other (private investigator) for the church. Mr. Ingram has done nothing wrong."
Last year, Ingram and his colleagues surfaced in the small town of Newkirk, Okla., to investigate city officials and the local newspaper publisher. The publisher has been crusading against a controversial Scientology-backed drug treatment program called Narconon.
At the core of the dispute is a contention by publisher Bob Lobsinger that Narconon concealed its Scientology connection when it leased an abandoned school outside town to build the "world's largest" drug rehabilitation center.
Lobsinger's weekly newspaper has written about Scientology's troubled past, and published internal documents on the drug program. In the process, he has helped rally community opposition.
Fighting back, Scientology attorneys in September mailed an "open letter" to many of Newkirk's 2,500 residents announcing that Ingram had been hired to investigate Narconon's adversaries. The letter said that "a few local individuals have sought to create intolerance by broadsiding the Churches of Scientology in stridently uncomplimentary terms."
After arriving in town, Ingram tracked down the mayor's 12-year-old son at the local public library, handed him a business card and told the boy to have his father call, Lobsinger said. "It was just a subtle bit of intimidation," he said. "It certainly did not do the mother much good. She was very unnerved."
Lobsinger said investigators also camped out at the local courthouse, where they searched public records for "dirt" on prominent local citizens.
"They were checking up on the banker, the president of the school board, the president of the Chamber of Commerce and, of course, the mayor and his family, and me," Lobsinger said.
Newkirk Mayor Garry Bilger, who opposed the drug treatment program, said a man he believes was a church member tried to coax him into disclosing personal information. Bilger said the man showed up without an appointment and claimed that he was helping his daughter with a report on small-town government for a class at a nearby high school.
"He wanted to interview me and take pictures around the office but I didn't allow that," the mayor recalled. "Finally, I said, 'Are you with Scientology or Narconon?' He said, 'I don't know about those people.' But he did, because he got outta there in a hurry."
Before the man left, he gave Bilger the name of his daughter. The mayor then checked with the school system and was told that no such girl was enrolled.
"They have a standard pattern," Bilger said of the Scientologists. "They try to be very aggressive. They try to intimidate. This is not the kind of atmosphere we need in the Newkirk community. . . . This tells me they are far from being harmless."
Scientology critics contend that one church writing, above all others, has guided the organization and its operatives when they fight back. It is called the Fair Game Law.