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Scam Artist’s Radio Career Tuned Out

Times Staff Writers

“The Bill Clark Celebrity Time” radio show may not have ranked high in the ratings, but it sure beat a jail cell, which is where confidence man Bill Clark was supposed to be when detectives caught up with him on Thursday.

Barely two months after being arrested in the Pasadena area on outstanding theft warrants, Clark was back--this time with his own weekly show on Pasadena radio station KPPC.

Clark landed the radio job, after he was mistakenly released from custody in San Diego on March 10, police said.

He was arrested this time at a South Pasadena bank, where an employee recognized his name from a newspaper story about his February arrest in Arcadia for warrants in Texas, Idaho and Colorado. No additional charges have been filed against Clark, South Pasadena police said, but he is being held on an El Paso warrant.

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“Bill Clark,” police say, is the alias used by William Buwalda, 56, the son of a prominent Pasadena family. They say he has spent much of his adult life in and out of jail for a variety of scams.

San Diego authorities said they were unaware that he was listed as a Texas fugitive when they released him on his own recognizance and ordered him to return on May 9.

“I was disappointed when I found out that we lost him, but I knew in my bones that he would pop up somewhere,” El Paso Detective Kevin Pierce said.

KPPC manager Dick Marsh said he hired Clark in late March. “The Bill Clark Celebrity Time” made its debut at 8:30 p.m. April 2. The station aired two segments of the show.

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“He looked like he just rolled out of bed and I said to my secretary, ‘This guy’s a short timer,’ ” Marsh said of the first time he met Clark.

But, Marsh added: “He passed himself off as a radio interview personality. He had all kinds of newspaper clippings. He knew the area. He pulled it off. He did it to me.”

Marsh said that under arrangements for the show, Clark charged businessmen $50 to be interviewed for the program. Three businessmen interviewed by The Times on Thursday said that Clark also approached them about paying to have their taped interviews syndicated. Two said they paid him $325 as a down payment on the syndication plan.

Clark was cashing a $325 check from a San Marino chiropractor at the First Arroyo Bank, when he was arrested.

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In El Paso, where he faces theft charges, Clark allegedly defrauded several businessmen of thousands of dollars by taking money for appearances on a radio show there and then skipping town, Pierce said.

“He’s good, and he’s got a lot of gall,” Pierce said.

According to family members, Clark’s--or Buwalda’s--late father, John, founded the geology department at Caltech. His mother, Imra, was a noted criminologist who helped establish the California Youth Authority. She died last year.


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