Framed at the border 

An excerpt from 'Down and Dirty Down South.'

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The following is an excerpt from "Down and Dirty Down South" by Roger Glasgow. It's published Butler Center Books and available in paper ($29.95) and cloth ($34.95). The cover design is by H.K. Stewart.

On the morning of August 25, 1972, my wife and I were sitting in our car as the line of traffic moved slowly forward toward the Gateway International Bridge at Matamoros, Mexico. Like many Americans coming back into the United States through that southern border crossing, we were looking forward to our return.

A long drive across the flat plains of south Texas would bring us back to Little Rock. We were ready to put Mexico behind us, particularly after some disturbing events over the previous days at our Matamoros hotel.

The apprehension we felt was nothing I could specifically explain. But there was a gnawing discomfort in my neck and shoulders, as if I had been carrying a heavy backpack all day. I drummed my fingers on the Ford LTD's steering wheel as we inched forward, the traffic forming a single line as it approached the solo guard station in use that day. On the other side was Brownsville and the open road home.

As we drew closer, I could see a single U.S. customs official greeting every car with a series of questions. We were four or five cars back in the line, and I was impatiently estimating the time each car might need to get through the gate. I was really ready to get out of Mexico. The customs officer was a short, stocky woman whose brown uniform fit tightly on her barrel-shaped torso. She spoke the same words to each car, took their driver's identification, checked off a series of perfunctory questions, and sent each car through with an impersonal efficiency.

I rolled down my side window, ready to slide through.

"Welcome to the United States," she said, stepping up to my open window. "Your driver's license, please."

I handed it to her and she examined it carefully.

"Why were you in Mexico?"

"Vacation," I said, smiling.

"You are Mr. Glasgow?" she asked.

"Yes. I decided to take a vacation from shaving, too," I said, rubbing the scruffy new five-day beard I had grown. She didn't crack a smile, only looked at the license more intently, holding it in better light, adjusting her bifocals.

Finally, she said, "And this is Mrs. Glasgow?" pointing at Jeannie.

"Yes, it is," I said a little defensively.

"Where did you travel in Mexico?"

"We entered at Laredo, drove down to Monterrey, and back up to Matamoros," I said.

"Do you have anything to declare?" she asked.

"Some curios and souvenirs in the trunk, and two bottles of tequila, which we got in Matamoros," I answered.

"Have you been in contact with any animals, like out in a cow pasture or barn?"


"Any poultry, chickens, or the like?"

"Only to eat," I said, trying again to lighten the mood. She did not smile.

"Live poultry?" she emphasized with a stony look.

"No, sure haven't," I said.

"Do you have any fruits, vegetables, or other fresh produce?"

"No, we don't," I said, dropping all further attempts at humor.

"How long were you in Matamoros?" she asked.

"Two nights," I responded.

"What's in the ice chest?" she inquired, pointing toward the back seat.

"Ice," I said, then in response to her impassive glare, I added, "We're planning to get some sodas in Brownsville for the ride home."

"Pull over there," she said, pointing to a side ramp manned by another customs agent, a man with a no-nonsense expression.

I pulled over, and the agent asked me basically the same questions, leaving out the ones about animals and produce, but he also wanted to see my vehicle registration papers. I handed them to him, and he glanced at them briefly. Keeping the papers, he looked at me and said, "Would you both step out of the car, please?"

Unusual, I thought, but I knew it would not help matters to question his request. Jeannie and I got out of the car.

"Open your trunk," he commanded.

I complied, aware of the changed tone of his voice. The agent took a quick look around the inside of the trunk, which was crammed with our luggage and the numerous souvenirs we had bought, all wrapped in Mexican newspapers and taped up by the vendors who had sold them to us. Leaving the trunk open, the agent then walked over to a small building on the bridge that was part of the customs facility and summoned another male agent. They both came over to our car.

"Stand back, please," one of them said.

They opened the passenger-side door and pulled the seatback forward (our vehicle was a two-door hardtop). They removed the ice chest and began rummaging around the back seat.

In a moment, they had pulled the seat bottom loose from the floor attachments.

I could see through the opened door that they were pulling out an object from underneath the seat. The item was box-shaped and wrapped in newspapers. My attention was fixed on their actions and my mind was racing with silent questions. The wrapped item one of the agents now held in his hands was nothing I had ever seen before, a package I had neither bought nor placed under the car's rear seat.

The two agents looked grim, glanced at each other and nodded. A deep sense of dread came over me. I felt sure that something bad was about to happen.

The first agent walked over, gave me an icy stare, and said, "Mr. Glasgow, you are under arrest."

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Border agents ultimately searched the cavity of the car's back seat and confiscated 24 pounds of marijuana. Assistant U.S. Attorney Raul Gonzales charged the Glasgows with a felony — transporting a controlled substance, marijuana, with intent to distribute. Roger Glasgow, 30 years old at the time, was deputy attorney general. Weeks earlier, he had lost his bid for Pulaski County prosecuting attorney in a Democratic primary runoff against Lee Munson. The Glasgows posted bond and later hired Brownsville defense attorney Thomas Sharp.

One night in mid-September, Tom Sharp called. I could not recall him ever calling after work, so I took the phone with a fair amount of trepidation. The news, I thought, was either real good or real bad.

"Does the name John Patterson mean anything to you?" Sharp asked. "He is a cab driver in Little Rock."

"I don't know anybody who is a cab driver," I replied. "Why do you ask?"

"I just got a call from Raul. He said he had been contacted by the U.S. attorney in Little Rock, a guy named Sonny something," continued Sharp.

"Sonny Dillahunty. He's the U.S. attorney here," I said.

"Okay," Sharp went on. "It seems that Sonny got some information from a confidential informant up there, Patterson, this cab-driver guy, who is considered reliable. The word is you were set up, that the marijuana was planted."

I was stunned and unable to speak for a moment. Then, recovering somewhat, I shouted to Jeannie, who was standing nearby, "Tom says somebody planted the marijuana on us. I was framed!"

"Well, Raul didn't go quite that far," Sharp continued, having no trouble hearing my shouting. "But, he felt he should tell me. Raul shoots pretty straight. He said he would check into it further and let me know. If the whole set-up deal can be verified, he won't prosecute an innocent man."

"My God, Tom," I exulted. "That's the break we've been looking for!"

"Well, it's certainly something I thought you should know about right away," Sharp said. "But let's not get too excited just yet. Informant stories can be misleading. I should hear more tomorrow."

Sharp called the next day with more information. It seems that Patterson, who was a regular police informant in Little Rock, told of picking up a passenger named Jim Hunter at a house in North Little Rock. A party was under way, and Hunter, who had been drinking heavily, was in no position to drive himself home. In Patterson's cab, Hunter supposedly made some incriminating statements to the effect of, "How do you like the way we fixed up old Glasgow down on the border?"

Raul Gonzales had reported this to his superior, and they agreed to assign a couple of Customs Service special investigators to interview Patterson, and Hunter also, if he would consent. If the whole thing proved true, Gonzales would ask permission to nolle prosequi (voluntarily dismiss) the case, perhaps backed up with a polygraph from me.

"That would be a dandy way to dispose of it," I said.

"It may not be that simple," Sharp continued. "Patterson is an informant for the state prosecutor in Little Rock, not the feds, so we don't know how much credence he'll be given."

"Let me fill you in on the local politics," I said. "The prosecuting attorney here was Jim Guy Tucker, a friend of mine. When Tucker ran for state attorney general, I ran for his seat and lost to a guy named Lee Munson. Jim Hunter was one of Munson's biggest financial supporters. Munson was also supported by the Little Rock Police Department, particularly Police Chief Gale Weeks. They hate both Jim Guy and me. If the Customs Service investigators get hooked up with any of them, you can bet they'll do everything they can to discredit the informant and turn the tables."

"There's not much we can do about that at this point," Sharp said, "but wait and see."

We heard nothing for the next few weeks. The longer the silence lasted, the worse I felt. I knew that if Lee Munson's people found out, they would do everything possible to interfere. Unable to stand it any longer, I called Tom Sharp and learned that the investigators had completed their interviews with John Patterson and Jim Hunter. Patterson had vaguely implicated Munson, so the investigators were arranging to interview him as well.

"I can't see anything good coming out of Munson getting involved," I said.

"I'll be getting copies of the statements from Patterson and Hunter," Sharp said, "plus the Munson statement and any others they take. We'll know more then."

A few days later, I received copies of the recorded statements of John Patterson and Jim T. Hunter. I read each one a couple of times to be sure of what they said. I found myself shaking my head, dumfounded at my own naivete. I recalled a comment Mamie Ruth [Williams, the media consultant and strategist in the Arkansas Attorney General's office] had once made about my being "a babe in the woods" about local politics. I had been clueless about the real nature of my political opponents. Now I was angry, but I was also embarrassed.

click to enlarge Roger Glasgow in a campaign photo from 1972.
  • Roger Glasgow in a campaign photo from 1972.

The details of what Hunter had told the cabdriver and the casual brazenness with which it had all happened were startling. Patterson's story began on Sept. 15, 1972, some three weeks after my arrest at the Mexican border. He had been called to a home in an exclusive area of North Little Rock to pick up a fare. He found three men in the driveway beside two automobiles, a Cadillac and a Lincoln Continental with a license plate reading "JTH." One of the men was Munson. Another was Hunter, who was drunk. Munson and the third man, whom Patterson did not know, were holding Hunter by the arm to keep him from getting in the Lincoln and driving home in his impaired condition. Patterson had driven Hunter in his cab before, and they recognized each other. On the way to Hunter's home, they got to talking about the prosecuting attorney race. Patterson's interview contained the following exchange:

And we got to talking about several different things, just common talk, and he asked me how I liked the way they fixed up Roger Glasgow down in Mexico. So I asked him at the time, "What do you mean, the way you fixed him up?" He said, "You didn't read that in the paper?" And I said, "Yes, I read it in the paper. Are you trying to tell me something about this?" And he said, "Well ..." I said, "Everybody in town here thinks he is guilty." And he said, "Aw, bullshit. You know that man is not guilty of that." And I said, "Well, I don't know it for sure. Everybody I talked to thinks he's guilty." And he responded, "Well, he's not, believe me, he's not."

So we got to talking a little bit more about different things and then I finally asked him. I said, "You mean you got enough power down there to do that?" And he said, "Well, let me tell you something, I'm not a millionaire, but I do have a little money." He said, "I do have influence across the border. I race horses down there in Mexico. I own a racing stable ... and I go down there every year and race horses and I know a lot of people down there. I can get anything done in Mexico that I want.

From this and other statements made by Patterson, it was clear to me that Hunter and others had framed me. And it had been done with Munson's knowledge and approval. Before this, I had never even imagined such a thing. But thinking back, plenty of clues were available if I had paid attention. I was aware of the widespread rumors that the bond business was heavily infiltrated by a group known as the Dixie Mafia, and I knew Hunter was the owner of a bond house, Delta Securities, and was one of Munson's chief supporters. I had seen him several times at campaign events in the company of Little Rock Police Department detectives, whom I also knew to be strong Munson supporters.

Patterson's transcript also revealed that Hunter's intent was more than punishment for my campaign activities. The plan was to permanently remove me from the political arena.

The transcript showed the following:

[Patterson:] When we rode on out and I finally asked him, "What does Lee Munson think about it?" And he said, "Aw, he knows all about it, he knows all about. ... It was done with his approval." And I said, "What was your purpose of doing this? He won the election." And he said, "Yes, but that no good rotten son of a bitch," he said.

Q. Referring to Glasgow?

A. Right. He said, "Did you see the dirt that he brought up during the campaign? He brought out more damn dirt. He really put it on us bad, and we figured that's the only way."

Q. What was he referring to when he said "dirt"? Was he referring to the racetrack business and the bookie business?

A. No, he was talking about the dirt that Roger Glasgow put on Mr. Lee Munson.

Q. Yes, but what type of dirt?

A. I don't know. He came out with some pretty bad stuff during the campaign on Lee Munson. He said, "We figure that he is the only one that can be able to run against Lee in the next election and we just fixed his wagon where he couldn't run at all."

Q. And this would be the day before he came back into the United States.

A. Yes, the night before.

Q. The night before. Was there any mention of how this was done physically? I mean did someone remove the back seat or did he make any indication how it was done physically?

A. The only thing he told me was that the night before while they were in the motel that they put it under their seat.

Q. Did he mention the motel?

A. No sir, he did not mention the name of the motel. He did mention the motel, but he didn't mention the name of the motel, but he did mention the motel.

Q. He said they put it under the seat?

A. Yes sir.

Patterson's statement also described an offer by Hunter to buy a list of other paid informants supplying confidential information to then-prosecuting attorney Jim Guy Tucker. At the time, Tucker's office was deep into an investigation into suspected corruption and racketeering by elements of the Little Rock Police Department, where Munson had strong support. As the newly elected prosecuting attorney, Munson would clearly be interested in a list of informants who might compromise his friends at the LRPD. Patterson stated that he was willing to obtain the list and supply it to Hunter, all the while realizing that he intended to turn it over to Munson.

The transcript continued:

Q. Now, okay, you arrived at the residence of Jim T. Hunter, now what took place there?

A. We sat and talked for about 15 minutes I guess, and he was talking to me about different things and then he asked me if I thought I could do him a favor and I said, "Yeah, I probably could if everything ..." He said, "Well I tell you what. I'll give you $100 now and I'll give you $100 when you get it." And I said, "Well what is it you want?" And he said, "Well, do you think you could get me a list of the paid informers from the prosecuting attorney's office?" I told him, "I don't know, that would be pretty hard to do, because you just don't get into Jim Guy Tucker's office like that, because he's got a tight office." And he said, "Well, do you know anybody up there?" And I responded, "I know some people up there." And he said, "Well if you can get me the list, I'll give you $100." And I said, "Well I'll try like hell to get it, but it's going to cost me something too." And he said, "At least whatever it is, I'll fix you up on it." And I said, "Okay."

Q. Did he indicate what he wanted the list for?

A. Yes, he said that Jim Guy Tucker wouldn't ... leave them anything in the prosecuting attorney's office to work on after they took office the first of the year. And he said they needed the list in order so they could get work sooner. I agreed to get the list for them, if I could.

Q. At this point he gave you $10 for the cab and $100?

A. $100, yes.

Q. So he gave you a pretty good tip and put $100 on you?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay, then what happened? He gave you a phone number?

A. Yes sir, he gave me his home phone number.

Q. Now, after the conversation you had that night. Has he ever brought it up again?

A. Yes sir.

Q. He has brought it up again, and when was this?

A. It was on Sunday morning about 10 o'clock in the morning.

Q. This was last Sunday?

A. Yes. And we sat there and we had a long conversation. We talked for about an hour, I guess, and I asked him how this deal turned out down there in Mexico, because I had called his wife the day before trying to get in touch with him and she told me that he was in Texas.

Q. That would have been Saturday, right?

A. Yes sir, when I called her she told me that he would be back the next day; for me to call him then. I called him Sunday. It would have been Friday he was in Texas. He told me he had just got back from Juarez, Mexico, when I saw him that Sunday morning. I asked him, "Well, how did that deal turn out down there?" And he said, "Well, I bullshit a lot. You can't believe everything I say, because I am a liar." So then I asked him what type of business that he was in and he told me that he owned Delta Securities in the Worthen Bank building. I asked him what type of business that was and he said well, he said, he sells some securities. But, he said most of his money is made through the racetrack and his racehorses. The conversation got back on him and he was kinda reluctant to talk about it, he didn't want to talk about it too much.

Q. About the Glasgow affair?

A. Right. So then he kept asking me questions about myself and he kept turning a little switch on and off in the car, you could hear it clicking. When I asked him what the sound was, he told me it was the air conditioner, but the air conditioner wasn't blowing. So evidently he had a tape recorder in his car. That is what I believe it was, and so at the time I did sort of incriminate myself talking to him and the thing that I talked to him about, I was guilty of and so ...

Q. So actually he's got a hammer of sorts on you at this stage of the game?

A. No sir, he don't have a hammer on me.

Q. Well he's got some information on you.

A. The prosecuting attorney already knows about it.

Q. Ok.

A. And there's no charges filed on it.

Q. Did you turn over a list?

A. Yes sir, I did.

In his statement, Jim Hunter admitted that he had been at the house in North Little Rock on the night in question, that John Patterson's cab had been hailed to drive him home because he had been drinking, and that a conversation occurred touching on the Mexico marijuana case. But Hunter claimed he was too drunk to remember exact detail. Interestingly, the content of Hunter's interview reveals that he had been told by the Customs Service investigators about the interview they had done with Patterson, including some of the statements Patterson had attributed to Hunter.

Q. Mr. Hunter, the allegation has been made concerning a statement made by you the night of September 15, 1972. Now we have previously discussed this allegation, have we not?

A. We have.

Q. Now, where were you the night of September 15, 1972?

A. The first part of the evening I was at the home of Ted Johnson in North Little Rock, Arkansas.

Q. How did you get home?

A. As the night wore on, I make a policy of not drinking and driving, and I rode home in a taxi.

Q. Did you know the cabdriver?

A. I recognized him ... he recognized me too.

Q. After getting into the cab with this driver did you have a conversation with him? ...

A. Yes, we did have a conversation.

Q. Did the name of Roger Glasgow come up?

A. Yes it did. ...

Q. Did you at any time make the statement, to your recollection, to the effect that, we planted the marijuana or had it planted on Glasgow the night before he came back to the United States?

A. That's preposterous. I can't, no, I don't think so.

Q. Could you have?

A. I could've said anything but it's beyond my belief that I could have ever said those particular words.

Q. Did you discuss Lee Munson in any context during the cab drive?

A. I am sure Munson was discussed because he seemed to be impressed that I knew Lee Munson, and he already knew that I supported Munson. ... The Glasgow affair (he was asking me questions) I say "affair," it was brought up. Was Glasgow guilty? Did I think he was guilty, you know. I of course, don't particularly care. I wasn't too much of a conversationalist; I actually don't remember all the details of the conversation.

Hunter also admitted later that he received the list of informants from Patterson, but he tried to make light of it. Finally, he conceded that Patterson had inquired again about the previous conversation of Hunter's role in the planting of the marijuana, but he passed that off as well, saying that the cabdriver must have "misconstrued something."

The transcript continued:

Q. Did you subsequently have any contact with this cab driver?

A. Yes, I did.

Q. What was that occasion?

A. ... I got a phone call that woke me up from my sleep. I had been on the road, out of town, had gotten in late and was really tired; I asked him what he wanted and he said he would rather not talk about it on the phone. I didn't have any idea what he was talking about so I asked him to call me back in an hour so I could sleep just a bit longer. In an hour or so the phone rang again, it was this taxi driver.

Q. Did he give you anything at this meeting?

A. I did want to know what the big secret was that he didn't want to talk about over the phone. I was under the impression that he wanted to talk about me helping him in a business that was brought up, but he had a calling card with several names on it.

Q. Whose calling card? Do you recall?

A. I honestly do not; it was just a small card that had some names on it and he asked me if I wanted this list of names. I said what is it? He said, these are some of the informers in the prosecuting attorney's office. I said, not really, I don't like to get involved in things like that, but I did take the card and put it in my pocket.

Q. Did you have any other discussion with him at this time?

A. Yes, he brought up that Glasgow matter.

Q. Did he bring up the previous conversation concerning your having something to do with the plant in Mexico?

A. Yes he did.

Q. What did you say?

A. I said I didn't even know what he was talking about.

Q. Did he make any comment about your drinking?

A. I told him I was inebriated, but hell, he knew that. I looked at him like he was crazy. I told him he must have misconstrued something, but that conversation didn't last long at all.

After I had calmed down some from the shock of reading the transcripts, I called Tom Sharp. I was convinced that the details of the interviews would prove beyond any doubt what happened and why.

"I can't believe Gonzales would actually take this case to trial," I declared. "We'll make him look like a fool."

"It's not quite that simple, Roger," Sharp said. "Gonzales says there are discrepancies in what the cab driver said and the actual facts. For example, the driver claimed that the car was in a garage when the plant occurred, and there is no garage at the Holiday Inn."

"Oh hell," I said, "that's just a minor detail, and it's all hearsay. Hunter was telling the story and the driver was simply trying to recall it several weeks later. It's impossible to remember every detail perfectly. Besides I'm sure Hunter himself didn't personally do the dirty deed. He was probably some distance away and had his hired Mexican minions to do the actual plant. He likely didn't even know what kind of car it was or whether the car was outside or in a garage."

Sharp agreed but added, "There's still more to it than that. Gonzalez thinks Hunter was only guilty of drunk talk, and he says the cab driver has a lot of credibility problems, plus a fairly long rap sheet."

During the campaign I had an inside source at the Little Rock Police Department — for his protection, I'll just call him "Officer Jones" — who occasionally fed me information he regarded as important.

He had been a sergeant in the detective division for several years but had been demoted back down to patrol by LRPD chief Gale Weeks. He was quite bitter at Weeks about that, but he had maintained a couple of good friends in the detective division who kept him abreast of various goings-on in the upper-officer ranks.

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Officer Jones worked part-time as a security guard at Pfeifer-Blass, a downtown department store on Main Street. Jeannie also worked there in the cosmetics department at the time. Officer Jones learned that she was my wife and struck up a friendly relationship with her. At times, he would write her notes and provide other materials to deliver to me concerning the illegal happenings involving the upper echelon of the police department.

After I lost the election to Munson and took the ill-fated Mexico vacation trip, Officer Jones continued to pass information. One nugget of particular interest was a report, allegedly from a participant, of a big party at Buice Drugstore celebrating my arrest.

The drugstore, owned by Little Rock mayor George Wimberly, was frequently used by police officers and city officials for back-room meetings. Once I heard about this, I arranged to meet with Jones at the Pfeifer-Blass store the next night. I wanted him to tell me the names of all who were there and as many details about the affair as he knew.

When we met, Jones told me that the party occurred two or three days after my arrest and was attended by many of the people who were involved in setting me up. Jones said [Forrest] Parkman [head of the LRPD intelligence unit] had once laughingly told him that he and [Fred] Hensley [an LRPD detective] had been in Matamoros, Mexico, the same night the marijuana had been planted in my car.

Hunter and some unidentified "federal agents" were also there, and several of them took advantage of the locale to consort with local prostitutes, no doubt while the dirty drugs deed was being done.

Jones told me how Parkman extravagantly related the setting at "boys town" on the south side of Matamoros where the prostitutes were. It was a kind of Old West replica, he said, with saloons lining both sides of a dirt street. The one they were in had a long bar along a back wall where the customers could order drinks, and a dance floor, complete with Mexican musicians. An array of couches surrounded the dance floor where the girls lounged, displayed their wares, and hustled. They all got roaring drunk and had a great time making their selections, dancing and lounging with the girls, groping and squeezing them.

Jones further identified the individuals in attendance at the late-night party at Buice Drugstore. In addition to the host Wimberly, the attendees included Munson, [Kenneth] Pearson [head of the LRPD vice squad], Parkman, and Hensley. Jones did not know if Hunter was there, but he said he heard they all drank a lot of whiskey and vociferously celebrated a job well done.

Most of this information was of no particular surprise. From the Patterson and Hunter interviews, I already knew or strongly suspected that the individuals named were involved in my setup. But it was stunning nevertheless.

Later, I shared this information with Sharp, and I said that I wondered if we should subpoena Officer Jones, Wimberly, or Munson for trial.

"No," he said. "First off, what the source told you is all hearsay and therefore inadmissible in court. Secondly, you can be sure neither Munson nor Wimberly would admit anything. We would just muddy up the water and offer up free enemy witnesses. God only knows what they would say about you at trial."

"Yes," I agreed. "That's a can of worms we don't want to open up."

That ended the matter, but the image of that party, no doubt around the infamous table in the back of Wimberly's drugstore, stuck vividly in my mind. There was little left to do other than wait for the trial to begin.

At a trial in October 1972 in Brownsville, a jury found Glasgow not guilty on drug charges. He has worked as a lawyer for Wright, Lindsey & Jennings for more than 40 years. Munson went on to serve as municipal and chancery/circuit judge in Pulaski County. He retired in 2008. As Glasgow writes in his memoir, Munson was "never directly associated with any wrongdoings, except by innuendo."


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