[Thanks to Elaine Douglass, Peter Moon, Preston Nichols, Tim Edwards and Chris Lightner for assistance with this story, which ran in the December 1, 1997 edition of CNI News.]
John Ford, former head of the Long Island (New York) UFO Network who was arrested in June 1996 on suspicion of conspiring to murder several public officials, was declared incompetent to stand trial by a Suffolk County judge on Thursday, November 13, and sent to a psychiatric facility for treatment.
Ford had been in jail since his arrest 17 months ago, unable to post $350,000 bail.
People close to the case say this is just the latest in a bizarre series of injustices that began as long ago as 1992, when Ford began accusing public officials in Suffolk County, New York, of deliberately hiding and destroying evidence of a possible UFO crash near Brookhaven National Laboratory.
"John said the police helped recover a fiery object witnesses [said] came down in Long Island's Southhaven Park in 1992," says Elaine Douglass, co-founder of the John Ford Legal Defense Committee. "John made this claim at public meetings up and down Long Island, and he held a demonstration at Police Headquarters."
But then, Douglass says, "scary things started happening to John Ford. He repeatedly phoned friends and said someone was harassing him and maybe, he thought, trying to kill him."
At the time of Ford's arrest, District Attorney James Catterson told a news conference that Ford had planned to poison Suffolk County Republican Party leader John Powell by placing radium in Powell's car and in his toothpaste. An informant alerted the District Attorney's office to the plot, Catterson said, and Ford was then recorded on tape discussing his plan.
Catterson described Ford as "an individual obsessed with hatred for mainstream political figures."
John Ford's friends say he was obviously set up. Ford had small amounts of radium at his home which he used to calibrate several geiger counters used in his UFO investigations. But the idea that he would use this radium in a murder plot was totally ridiculous, they argue, first because John would never do such a thing, and second because it would never work.
But John Ford was arrested and jailed for 17 months. At $350,000, his bail was higher than that required of most murder suspects, even though there was no evidence even of attempted murder in this case.
Now, Ford has been ordered by the court to spend an indefinite amount of time -- friends say at least six months to a year or more -- in the Mid-Hudson Psychiatric Center in New Hampton, New York. This facility evidently specializes in court-ordered treatment. Reached by phone, an orderly at the facility told CNI News, "If they're here, it's by court order."
According to Preston Nichols, a close friend, John Ford was declared delusional and incompetent. Elaine Douglass told CNI News she is convinced Ford is neither mentally incompetent nor guilty of the charges against him.
Peter Moon, a Long Island journalist who has written extensively on this case, calls Ford's situation "one of the most bizarre miscarriages of jurisprudence imaginable."
Moon faults Ford's attorney, John Rouse, for never requesting a change of venue on the grounds that politician John Powell, ostensible target of Ford's murder plot, was the man who appointed the presiding judge and also the superior of DA Catterson. With such clear conflict of interest, Moon says, the judge should have excused himself voluntarily -- but regardless, any attorney could have won a change of venue.
Furthermore, attorney Rouse pushed for an insanity plea -- evidently because Ford believes in UFOs and government conspiracy -- even though Ford initially resisted that strategy. Rouse arranged for the psychiatric examinations which led to the judge's recent decision.
But Moon also says that John Ford may have set himself up on purpose. In a discussion in Ford's jail cell last summer, Ford told Moon that "pressure on his own life was so hot that he and Joseph Mazzuchelli, his confessed co-conspirator, set up a plot that would land them both in jail for their own protection." During that same conversation, Moon says, Ford stated that he had once worked for the CIA and Israeli Mossad.
Moon told CNI News that Ford did sound somewhat paranoid, but he -- along with Preston Nichols, Elaine Douglass and others -- remains convinced that John is a victim of extreme injustice.
"Was there a campaign to destabilize John Ford?" Elaine Douglass wonders. If so, it seems to have worked.
[For further background on the John Ford case, enter keyword John Ford at the "Search CNI News" page of the CNI News web site, http://www.cninews.com.]
Original file name: CNI - John Ford Unfit.final
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