PREVIOUS POSTS IN THIS SERIES
Introduction (January 28)
Everything They Didn’t Want to Know and Were Afraid to Ask (January 29)
THE TWO-STATE POLICE RECORDS STONEWALL
I remember that when my late uncle Sam Muchnick promoted pro wrestling in St. Louis, the security at his shows was run by off-duty cops. Where have you gone, Moose Mueller?
While researching my book about the Chris Benoit murder-suicide, I spoke with Captain Richard Conklin of the Stamford police about Matthew T. Greenberg, the “Benoit Wikipedia Hacker.” Conklin confirmed that over the years some of the guys on the force have moonlighted as private security at World Wrestling Entertainment shows.
Outrageous conflict of interest? Or run-of-the-mill community back-scratching? I think most reasonable observers would conclude the latter.
But with Linda McMahon, the former CEO of WWE, now running for the U.S. Senate, I’d like to know a little more about higher levels of go-along, get-along local politics. I’d like to know, for example, whether her and her husband Vince’s position among Stamford’s leading corporate citizens served them in the pinch in June 2007, once the world realized that the guy who had made a mysterious edit of Benoit’s Wikipedia biography happened to live in the company’s home city.
On that score, Captain Conklin didn’t exactly allay suspicions.
Conklin seemed like a nice fellow. And through his work with a private database of pharmacy crimes, called RxPatrol, he has enjoyed an extra-regional reputation in law enforcement circles. (One further note: 2008, the year of our contacts, was one of several last decade in which Conklin earned the distinction of the city’s highest paid employee; that year he grossed more than $276,000 with the help of accrued overtime.)
But when it came to the kid who had bewildered the world with a Benoit scoop, the only transparency Conklin emitted was transparent nonsense.
In our first conversation, Conklin described young Greenberg to me as a juvenile of 12 or 13. I have no idea why Conklin didn’t at least realize that I already knew Greenberg was a young adult of 19.
Conklin also went off on an irrelevant tangent about the Greenberg family’s “modest house.” The captain didn’t get around to mentioning, however, that Matthew’s father Steven worked for the City of Stamford, in the finance department.
It gets worse. As noted in the previous post in this series, the report on the Benoit case by the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia either erred or lied in suggesting that it was based on a viewing of the video of the Greenberg interrogation conducted by Stamford Detective Tim Dolan (as well as on what turned out to be a slapdash examination of the kid’s computer by a Darien detective, Chester Perkowski).
After some bureaucratic bobbing and weaving, Fayette County admitted to me that the only video in its possession was a snippet, which abruptly cut off after three minutes. Evidently, the Stamford cops had exhumed Rose Mary Woods – the secretary for President Nixon who “accidentally” erased incriminating Watergate tapes audio – to work on that task.
“Our original is OK,” Captain Conklin assured me. “I think they’ve requested [another] copy [in Georgia].”
Well, the Fayette County authorities artfully refused to confirm that. So I applied directly to the Stamford police for the video.
And the department said no. In a ludicrous argument nowhere supported in administrative or judicial case law, Captain Tom Wuennemann asserted that “voluntary statements” to police were exempt from Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Act, even in closed cases.
I appealed to the state Freedom of Information Commission – which, I am delighted to say, proved highly competent and helpful. A hearing was scheduled for November 2007. On the virtual eve of my trip to Hartford, Stamford gave up and released the vide. The case was dismissed.
The rest is YouTube history.
All this is explained in Chapter 9 of CHRIS & NANCY: The True Story of the Benoit Murder-Suicide and Pro Wrestling’s Cocktail of Death. On March 25, I will be reading from the book, answering questions, and autographing copies at Borders in Stamford.
I hope former Mayor Dan Malloy drops by. Malloy, as you know, endorsed Governor Jodi Rell’s nomination of Linda McMahon to the state Board of Education, and now is running for governor himself. If Hizzoner comes, I hope he brings along Captains Conklin and Wuennemann.
But after jerking me around for months before making me waste a $50 cancellation fee for my airplane ticket, these distinguished public servants had better not be looking for comps.
NEXT (series conclusion): Key to Stamford Police/Wikipedia Story Is What WWE’s Hedged Timeline Reveals About Its Corporate Culture of Death