Ex-FBI Agent Sues GTE, Charges Office Wiretapping

Times Staff Writer

The former head of the FBI’s Los Angeles office, Ted L. Gunderson, now a private investigator, has sued General Telephone Co., alleging that his business telephone had been tapped to allow eavesdropping on confidential conversations.

And what’s worse, he told The Times on Friday, he was billed for the extra service for 20 months before he knew there was a line linking his Westwood office with a telephone answering service on Pico Boulevard.

“I suspect that it’s the government (that monitored his telephone calls) in order to discredit me,” Gunderson said in a telephone interview.

Started in 1981

The 57-year-old former special agent said he has been “harassed” by federal agencies since 1981 because of his efforts to vindicate Dr. Jeffrey MacDonald, the former doctor and Green Beret who was convicted of murdering his pregnant wife and two daughters in 1970.

Gunderson said he did not know there was a telephone line linking his Westwood office with the Answerall Telephone Answering Service until he asked the phone company last April why his bills were so high.


He said he learned he had been paying $42 a month from October, 1983, for the “extra service.”

Gunderson’s Los Angeles Superior Court suit contends that General Telephone did the wiring without his knowledge or consent, and that Answerall, also named as a defendant, caused the connection to be made “to listen to privileged telephone conversations and gain access to sensitive information concerning (Gunderson) and his client.”

Urged Investigation

According to the suit, he asked the phone company to investigate the parties who had gained illegal access to his lines and General Telephone “failed and refused to report the eavesdropping to the proper authorities.”

A spokesman for General Telephone told The Times that in 1983 “we received an order to place the line in service and the company complied. He said he thought the order came “from Mr. Gunderson or one of his associates or the answering service.”

“Our investigation showed we did receive an order,” said David Elfattal, a General Telephone customer relations representative, “but we couldn’t determine whether we received it from him or his employee, so we issued him a credit.”

Refund Arrived

Gunderson said Friday that he eventually got a refund of $973 from the phone company.

The former FBI agent opened his own investigation agency after his 1979 retirement from his government post. He headed the FBI’s Los Angeles office for the last two of his 27 years with the bureau.

He insists that he has been targeted for harassment by government agencies since he turned over to the Department of Justice signed statements of a woman who said she was a member of a satanic cult, some of whom invaded MacDonald’s home and committed the murders.

Died Before Testimony

“I thought they might think maybe this fellow really is innocent after all. But instead, they began investigating me and Helen Stoeckly (the woman),” Gunderson said. Stoeckly died in 1983 before she was scheduled to testify at a hearing for a retrial for MacDonald.

Spokesmen for the FBI and the U.S. attorney’s office here said they were not aware of any wiretaps involving Gunderson. The Times was unable to contact any officials of the answering service Friday.

Gunderson’s suit asks for damages in an unspecified amount, but he said Friday he will ask for $10 million.