I was cleaning the garage today, and I found a CD with no label, no nothing. You know, the kind you use to make your own music mixes.
I popped it into my cd player, and there was not a single note of music – but there was Secret Service Special Agent Lyle Workman having a conversation with me, over twenty years ago, in which he tells me ANOTHER wild Harold Stegeman story.
I recognized Lyle’s voice right away, but it took me a few minutes to grasp what he was talking about…then it all came back to me! Lyle and I were sitting on the lovely deck of his home in Spokane, Washington. It was a bright, sunshiny day, and I had my little cassette recorder running while we engaged in conversation about Phil Champagne, alias Harold Stegeman. Rather than transcribe it, I’ll recall it from refreshed memory. You’ll get the gist of it.
“Well, I was about ready to go back east,” said Lyle, “to the prison where there is a Mafia big shot locked up, and show him a picture of Phil. I had visions of Phil Champagne and this big Mafia guy sitting around on a yacht in the Cayman Islands, and the Mafia guy telling Phil to call himself Harold Stegeman because that name has always worked before! OR ….maybe Phil was the OTHER guy -=- yes, another guy…who used the name: A British mercenary who was also suspected of illegal arms deals in Africa. When we first met Phil, he spoke with a slight British accent….I mean…you can understand that our minds were reeling with all this stuff. And then you had the New Jersey Senator who faked his death and used the name, too…and the drug dealer in Florida who used the name. Phil could have been any or all of them for all we knew, and Phil, who was still calling himself Harold, was just as charming and polite as could be, but was telling us absolutely nothing. There was one thing we knew for sure…this guy had no criminal record, his fingerprints were not on file with the FBI or Interpol or anyone, but Harold Stegeman had page after page of international allegations of criminal activity from drug running to arms smuggling.”
Sharing this with Phil Champagne, he cracked up laughing. “Well, that explains why the feds showed me a surveillance picture of some guy standing on top of a tank in Africa waving a machine gun, and they asked if that was me! Why the hell would I be in Africa? I mean if there were good restaurants, decent bars, and good sailing I might consider Africa as a vacation destination, and I’m sure there are plenty of good lookin’ women there. I never knew exactly why they thought that was me standing on top of a tank.”
“Because you called yourself Harold Stegeman,” I reminded him.
“Oh,” said Phil Champagne. “Well, I’ll never make that mistake again.”