LSD Trafficking Suspect Has Intriguing Backers D.A. Terence Hallinan and British aristocrats <http://www.sfgate.com:80/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2000/12/19/MN150948.DTL> Seth Rosenfeld, Chronicle Staff Writer Tuesday, December 19, 2000 The Bay Area man accused of running a huge LSD lab at a decommissioned nuclear weapons silo in Kansas is a nonsmoking, marathon-running vegetarian, a Harvard graduate and deputy director of a University of California program that tracked illegal drugs. And he won support from San Francisco's district attorney.After William Leonard Pickard Jr.'s arrest in what the Drug Enforcement Administration calls one of the nation's biggest LSD cases, Pickard produced letters backing his release on bail from District Attorney Terence Hallinan on official letterhead and from a British lord and lady known for trepanation, having holes drilled in their skulls to expand consciousness. Pickard, 55, of Mill Valley and his alleged accomplice, Clyde Apperson, 45, a Mountain View computer consultant, are charged with conspiracy to distribute LSD. A DEA affidavit says the two had enough raw material to produce 10 million or more doses monthly. Pickard evaded hounds, helicopters with infrared searchlights and more than 50 law enforcement officials for 18 hours after he sprinted into the thick Kansas woods when police stopped his rented van Nov. 7, said Pottawatomie County Sheriff Anthony Metcalf. Officers went door to door to check some 250 homes, said Metcalf, but a farmer found Pickard resting in a truck and turned him in. D.A. BACKS PICKARD Hallinan's letter was one of several recommending Pickard's release on bail. The entire letter said: "When I was in private practice I represented Leonard Pickard on some legal matters. I always found him to be an honorable person who kept his word." In one of those matters, Pickard admitted that in 1985 he applied for a passport under a false name. In another, he admitted that in 1988 he was involved with an LSD lab in Mountain View. Hallinan's use of office stationery for a private matter apparently conflicts with ethics rules recommended by the California District Attorney's Association, which say: "Using official stationery for personal objectives is improper." Rod Leonard, a deputy district attorney in Los Angeles who specializes in professional responsibility, declined to comment on any specific case but said his office policy states: "Letterhead should not be used for matters not related to office business." Governmental stationery implies an official message, he said. Hallinan said he saw no conflict between his role as San Francisco's top prosecutor and using office stationery to vouch for Pickard. His office has no rule on the use of letterhead, he said. "There's no way you could imply that letter was the official position of the D.A.'s office. It was like a personal reference by me," Hallinan said. "I am confident that if he (Pickard) is released on bail he will show up. He was a conscientious guy and made his court appearances on time." HOLES IN THEIR HEADS Lord James and Lady Amanda Neidpath of Beckley Park, Oxford, also vowed Pickard was trustworthy. They are renowned for having undergone trepanation, a centuries-old practice of drilling holes in the head that gained a small following in the 1960s. Proponents say it decreases depression and boosts creativity; the medical establishment calls it nonsense. Lord Neidpath, the second son of the Earl of Wemyss, was an Oxford professor who taught international relations to Bill Clinton. Lord Neidpath told the Washington Post in 1998 that the hole in his head "seemed to be very beneficial." Lady Neidpath ran for Parliament in the 1970s on a platform of "Trepanation for the National Health." She told London's Express that the bloody procedure - - which she administered herself and recorded on film, left her feeling permanently "drunk on sherry." The Neidpaths' letter to the court said Pickard had helped them plan conferences on "Drugs and Society" at Queen Elizabeth's Windsor Castle. "We find it difficult to believe . . . he can be involved in anything criminal," it said. "He has always been kindly, reliable and extremely helpful. He is also well known in the academic community." For the past two years, Pickard has been deputy director of the Drug Policy Analysis Program at the University of California at Los Angeles, where he helped track the emergence of new street drugs in Russia, said director Mark Kleiman. Pickard's salary came from a private grant that ran out this summer, said Kleiman, and he was not on UCLA's payroll when arrested. "He had contacts in the (Russian) health ministry and the security agency and with some of the bad guys," said Kleiman. "He'd hang out in the nightclubs. He also had social contacts with some of the elite users. He knew what drugs the millionaires were doing in St. Petersburg." Despite the credentials, U.S. District Judge Richard D. Rogers ordered Pickard held without bail, ruling that he might flee or endanger the community. Rogers released Apperson after he posted $200,000 bond. Pickard and Apperson have pleaded not guilty. A hearing on pretrial motions is set for tomorrow. The alleged clandestine chemists set up an LSD lab inside an old Atlas missile silo, the DEA affidavit says. The silo had been sold as government surplus to a Tulsa man who was arrested in another LSD case and became a government informant, according to the affidavit. The silo had its own wells, a filtered air system and was remodeled with a Jacuzzi, Italian marble tile and $85,000 audio speakers, said the sheriff and another man who had been inside. William Rork, Pickard's Topeka lawyer, said that his client was framed and "the evidence will show there was never an LSD lab in operation there." Mark L. Bennett Jr., Apperson's lawyer, did not return a phone call seeking comment. LSD is the most powerful hallucinogen known. Northern California has long been a center of LSD production and distribution, the DEA says, mostly by small groups that have evaded police for years. To be sure, Pickard researched the international underworld of drug trafficking. But whether he crossed the line in Kansas from observer to participantand whether he participated as cop or criminalwill be decided in court. In interviews with past and present associates, Pickard emerges as a kind of flashback to San Francisco's 1960s hippie scene. Tall and thin, he has long gray hair. He doesn't smoke, drink or eat meat. Pickard runs marathons, meditates and practices yoga, and several years ago lived at the San Francisco Zen Center on Page Street. "He was polite and somewhat reserved," said center director Jeffrey Schneider. "He always had an air of mystery," said Kleiman. "He was a character out of a Pynchon novel." Pickard has played several roles in the world of mind-altering molecules, according to his resume, associates and court records. In the early 1970s, he studied social drugs at San Francisco State University, according to his professor, the well-known psychedelic researcher Alexander Shulgin. PREVIOUS LSD ARREST In 1976, Pickard was busted by the San Mateo County Sheriff's Department for making LSD. A few months later, while a San Jose State University chemistry student, he was convicted of setting up a drug lab and served 18 months in custody. And in 1980, he was arrested in Florida for selling MDA, a hallucinogenic like Ecstasy. In the 1985 false passport case, a federal judge in San Francisco sentenced him to six months in jail and five years' probation. In 1988, Pickard was picked up as he left a Mountain View warehouse used as an LSD lab. He faced 20 years in prison if convicted, but the drug charge was dropped because he had been an informant, the affidavit says. By 1993, Pickard was at University of California at Berkeley, studying advanced neurobiology under professor David E. Presti, who also teaches on the treatment of drug addiction. Pickard helped identify "new drugs of abuse," said Presti in a letter to the Kansas court. "This work is profoundly useful to society and to the development of government policy in this area." Presti and Pickard were co-authors of a poster summarizing their research on the rise of a new street drug. The poster was presented at the College on Problems of Drug Dependence, a professional group of scientists from government, industry and academia, Presti said. In 1994, Pickard began work as a research associate in Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School's Division on Addictions. In 1997, he got a master's in public policy at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government. Pickard's paper was on emerging drug problems in Russia, said Kleiman. Pickard saw Russia as ripe for trafficking in new psychotropics because of its impoverished chemists. Kleiman gave the paper to Robert S. Gelbard, then assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs. Gelbard was impressed, Kleiman said, which helped Pickard win a 1994 Harvard fellowship to study drug policy and addiction. "The guy is obviously a superbrilliant chemist," Kleiman said. "People at Harvard were pretty impressed." Pickard told the Kansas judge that his research at the Kennedy School was "sponsored by the State Department." Harvard representatives confirmed that Pickard was a research associate and got a master's degree, but they said they found no information on such sponsorship of his work. Neither Gelbard, now U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia, nor State Department officials returned calls asking for comment. Last year, Pickard's academic career peaked when he became deputy director of the Drug Policy Analysis Program, at UCLA's School of Public Policy and Social Research. He continued his research on drugs in Russia, said program director Kleiman, and took several trips there. Pickard himself told the Kansas court he had been a DEA informant since 1973 and had had periodic contact with senior DEA officials on "international cases" since 1992. If released on bail, Pickard promised, "I would immediately proceed to report to the federal building, (and) cooperate even aggressively with DEA in any matters that they wish." DEA officials declined to comment on Pickard. But Lord and Lady Neidpath said he had been key to arranging conferences on drug policy that featured British Home Secretary Jack Straw and British Drug Czar Keith Hellawell. "He could not have been more helpful, putting us in contact with the top experts in the field in the United States," their letter said. "He has always shown himself to be reliable . . . and we have all grown very fond of him." ---- E-mail Seth Rosenfeld at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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