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The Angst of Carl Shoffler, the Celebrity

Douglas Caddy

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His arrests of the burglars at Watergate on June 17, 1972, brought instant fame to Detective Carl Shoffler. About a month after the case broke Robert Merritt asked Shoffler how he was enjoying his new celebrity status.

Shoffler’s reply revealed his frustration, “I’m not. I have to be careful. I am involved in so many things that I cannot afford to get more attention focused on me.” Shoffler found himself trapped in a tar pit of his own making once he succeeded as being known as ‘the world’s greatest detective.”

Merritt knew among the numerous illegal things was Shoffler’s use of wiretap triangulation to set-up the burglars for arrests. Shoffler had described to Merritt how the triangulation worked but used a simple example. The actual triangulation, according to Shoffler, was “more detailed and sophisticated." Merritt, based on his work and experience as a Confidential Informant for the Washington police and FBI, estimated that perhaps 30 persons were involved, but with only 3 or 4 of these actually knowing its true purpose. The others naively carried out the tasks to which they were assigned, believing it to be a legitimate law enforcement/national security operation. Such an operation had to employ agents of a Government Intelligence organization.

A few weeks ago as Merritt was completing his new book, “Watergate Exposed,” he received a phone call from the New York Police Department. The NYPD inquired whether he wanted to become an active CI again. NYPD was aware that he had files that could “make” 88 major felony arrests. After a period of brief contemplation Merritt agreed and was assigned a CI number. He informed the NYPD that he did not want monetary payment for his work but instead requested as part of the deal that the remaining eight month probation of a 22 year-old small-time Black drug dealer be canceled. The young man in Merritt’s opinion had saved his life when he fell from a serious heart condition on the street near his residence. Other passers-by offered no assistance as he lay prone on the sidewalk.

In the last few days Merritt has discovered that NYPD is reneging on its agreement with him and instead wants to squeeze as much CI work out of him as it can while doing nothing to end the eight month probation of the young man. This has caused Merritt to cease his active CI work.

Also something strange arose from the matter. The narcotics detective to whom he was assigned two weeks ago informed him this week that no one in NYPD could access his U.S. Government files. His files containing all the information about him-- date of birth, social security, CI history and everything else – are now marked “Access Restricted.” When Merritt learned this, he asked another acquaintance high in NYPD to double-check and he got the same result – “Access Restricted.” No one in NYPD has ever seen such files marked so that entry is denied.

Merritt does not know what this means. My guess is that because of the dissemination of the new Watergate information that he has disclosed on the Education Forum, Government authorities at the highest level have imposed the “Access Restricted" while they gather records on Shoffler and Merritt from sundry places. Only a few days ago a U.S. Secret Service Agent casually informed Merritt that the Agency is following closely all postings on the Education Forum about him and Shoffler.

There may yet be a major investigation of what really happened in Watergate.

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