To the outside world, Roy Bullock was a small-time art dealer who operated from his house in the Castro District. In reality, he was an undercover spy who picked through garbage and amassed secret files for the Anti-Defamation League for nearly 40 years.
His code name at the prominent Jewish organization was Cal, and he was so successful at infiltrating political groups that he was once chosen to head an Arab-American delegation that visited Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) in her Washington, D.C., office.
For a time, Cal tapped into the phone message system of the White Aryan Resistance to learn of hate crimes. From police sources, he obtained privileged, personal information on at least 1,394 people. And he met surreptitiously with agents of the South African government to trade his knowledge for crisp, new $100 bills.
These are among the secrets that Bullock and David Gurvitz, a former Los Angeles-based operative, divulged in extensive interviews with police and the FBI in a growing scandal over the nationwide intelligence network operated by the Anti-Defamation League.
Officials of the Anti-Defamation League, while denying any improper activity, have said they will cooperate with the investigation. They have refused to discuss Bullock and Gurvitz.
Transcripts of the interviews--among nearly 700 pages of documents released by San Francisco prosecutors last week--offer new details of the private spy operation that authorities allege crossed the line into illegal territory.
At times, the intelligence activities took on a cloak-and-dagger air with laundered payments, shredded documents, hotel rendezvous with foreign agents and code names likes “Ironsides” and “Flipper.”
On one occasion, Gurvitz recounts, he received a tip that a pro-Palestinian activist was about to board a plane bound for Haifa, Israel. Although the Anti-Defamation League publicly denies any ties to Israel, Gurvitz phoned an Israeli consular official to warn him. Shortly afterward, another official called Gurvitz back and debriefed him.
The court papers also added to the mystery of Tom Gerard, a former CIA agent and San Francisco police officer accused of providing confidential material from police files to the Anti-Defamation League.
Gerard fled to the Philippines last fall after he was interviewed by the FBI, but left behind a briefcase in his police locker. Its contents included passports, driver’s licenses and identification cards in 10 different names; identification cards in his own name for four American embassies in Central America; and a collection of blank birth certificates, Army discharge papers and official stationery from various agencies.
Also in the briefcase were extensive information on death squads, a black hood, apparently for use in interrogations, and photos of blindfolded and chained men.
Investigators suspect that Gerard and other police sources gave the ADL confidential driver’s license or vehicle registration information on a vast number of people, including as many as 4,500 members of one target group, the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee.
Each case of obtaining such data from a law enforcement officer could constitute a felony, San Francisco Police Inspector Ron Roth noted in an affidavit for a search warrant.
The Anti-Defamation League, a self-described Jewish defense and civil rights organization, acknowledges it has long collected information on groups that are anti-Semitic, extremist or racist. The ADL’s fact-finding division, headed by Irwin Suall in New York, enjoys a reputation for thoroughness and has often shared its information with police agencies and journalists.
However, evidence seized from Bullock’s computer shows he kept files on at least 950 groups of all political stripes, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Earth Island Institute, the United Auto Workers, Jews for Jesus, Mother Jones magazine, the Center for Investigative Reporting, the Bo Gritz for President Committee, the Asian Law Caucus and the AIDS activist group ACT UP.
The computer files also included information on several members of Congress, including Pelosi, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ron Dellums (D-Berkeley) and former Republican Rep. Pete McCloskey from the Bay Area.
In their statements, Bullock and Gurvitz said the Anti-Defamation League has collected information on political activists in the Los Angeles area for more than 30 years. They said they worked closely with three Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies who specialized in intelligence work, a Los Angeles Police Department anti-terrorism expert and a San Diego County Sheriff’s Department intelligence officer.
A spokesman for the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department said he knew nothing of any contact between the deputies and the ADL. The Los Angeles Police Department, which earlier refused to cooperate with the investigation, and the San Diego Sheriff’s Department declined comment.
Bullock, 58, is one of the most intriguing characters in the spy drama. Although he is not Jewish, he began working undercover as a volunteer for the ADL and the FBI in Indiana in 1954 after reading a book about a man who infiltrated the Communist Party.
Bullock moved to Los Angeles in 1960 and was given a paid position by the ADL as an intelligence operative, he told authorities. In the mid-1970s, he moved to San Francisco and continued his spy operations up and down the West Coast.
To keep his identity secret, his salary has always been funneled through Beverly Hills attorney Bruce I. Hochman--who has never missed a payment in more than 32 years, Bullock said.
“I was an investigator for the ADL. I investigated any and all anti-democratic movements,” Bullock said. " . . . Officially, I’m a contract worker with Bruce Hochman. That way, the league would not be officially connected with me.”
Bullock said he became a master at infiltrating groups from Communists to Arab-Americans to gay radicals to skinheads, usually using his own name but once adopting the alias Elmer Fink.
“I’m a one of a kind,” he told police.
In recent years, however, his ADL affiliation has increasingly become known, and at one point he was confronted by a skinhead armed with a shotgun who threatened to kill him.
In the mid-1980s, he helped San Francisco police solve a bombing at a synagogue by combing through the trash of extremist Cory Phelps and matching handwriting with samples on a threatening letter obtained by police. In part because of this investigation, he became close friends with Gerard, who at the time was working in the San Francisco police intelligence division.
Bullock frequently searched through the garbage of target groups. An FBI report noted how he investigated one Palestinian group:
“Bullock would write reports based on what he found in the trash, and would share the reports with Gerard. Bullock also gave the trash to Gerard for Gerard to examine. Gerard would later return the trash to Bullock.”
From a wide range of sources, Bullock compiled files on 9,876 individuals and more than 950 political groups. Gerard, whose files contained many identical entries, kept files on 7,011 people.
In 1987, Bullock and Gerard began selling some of their vast wealth of information to the South African government. Bullock tells of meeting secretly with South African agents at San Francisco hotels and receiving envelopes filled with thousands of dollars in new $100 bills.
Bullock insists the information he sold consisted of data he culled only from public sources. Once he rewrote an innocuous item published by San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen about South African Bishop Desmond Tutu and the wife of prominent attorney Melvin Belli--and submitted it as his own work.
Bullock said it was Gerard who sold official police intelligence. Bullock said he split about $16,000 from the South African government evenly with Gerard, telling him at one point, “I may be gay but I’m a straight arrow.”
In his interviews with the police and FBI, Bullock talked freely about engaging in certain activities that prosecutors say would appear to violate the law.
For example, Bullock admitted receiving driver’s license records and criminal histories from Gerard on about 50 people--a fraction of the confidential police data found in his computer. And he said Gerard gave him complete San Francisco Police Department intelligence files on various Nazi groups that were supposed to be destroyed under department policy.
Bullock said he also received a confidential FBI report on the Nation of Islam that he later shredded at the Anti-Defamation League’s San Francisco office.
Bullock seemed proud of his “Operation Eavesdrop,” in which he used a paid informant, code-named Scumbag, to help tap into a White Aryan Resistance phone message network, listening to the messages left by members of the right-wing group. “For a short time, it was wonderful,” he told police.
In Los Angeles, ADL operative Gurvitz was hired about four years ago as a “fact-finder” to keep intelligence files and occasionally go undercover to the meetings of target groups.
Among other things, he told San Francisco authorities, the Los Angeles ADL office kept a record of any Arab-American who had “anti-Israel leanings” or who wrote a letter to a newspaper expressing such sentiment.
Gurvitz was recently forced to resign after an incident in which he attempted to misuse the ADL intelligence network to seek revenge on a rival who got a job Gurvitz wanted at the Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies. Gurvitz got confidential police data on the rival and threatened to expose him as a Jewish spy to a right-wing hate group.
Gurvitz has since begun cooperating with police and the FBI in the probe, providing considerable information about the ADL operation. Unlike Bullock, he has been assured he is not a subject of the investigation.
Gurvitz declined through his father in Los Angeles to be interviewed by The Times. Bullock’s attorney said his client would not comment.