Skinner surrender's to court authorities

Gordon Todd Skinner, the Tulsa, Okla. native. who started Gardner Spring Factory at the decommissioned Atlas-E missile base northwest of Wamego where, in November of 2000, federal agents busted an alleged LSD lab, turned himself in to court authorities last Wednesday, August 28, to face a charge of felony theft.

Skinner turned himself in to Pottawatomie County District Court at 8 a.m. Wednesday and was released on $10,000 bond, according to Pottawatomie County Attorney Barry Wilkerson. Skinner is to return in two weeks when the court will set a preliminary hearing on the charge, Wilkerson said.

Skinner was arrested Friday, July 19, at Seattle, Wash. on a Pott County warrant issued July 17, in connection With the alleged theft of an audio speaker system valued at $120,000 and belonging to Audio FX, a Sacramento, Calif. company owned by Chris Malone. The speaker system was confiscated following Skinner's arrest at Seattle, and has since been returned to Malone.

FOLLOWING HIS arrest at Seattle, Skinner was released on $10,000 bond and Wilkerson said he would begin extradition procedures to have him returned to Pott County to face the felony theft charge.

Skinner turned himself in to Pott County authorities one day after the former missile base property was sold at sheriff's auction on the front steps of the Pottawatomie County Courthouse. Ironically, it was Malone who purchased the property for $140,000.

Immediately following the sale, Malone said fie wasn't sure what his plans were for the property, but he expressed disappointment the sale price wasn't high enough to satisfy thousands of dollars in claims against the property by local and area businesses.

The charge of felony theft against Skinner stemmed from an incident prior to the LSD bust by agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration nearly two years ago when Skinner had allegedly spent hundreds of thousands of dollars refurbishing the underground missile base facility.

ACCORDING TO Malone, Skinner had visited Audio FX at Sacramento and had purchased about $80,000 worth of equipment. When Skinner called and said he was interested in the $120,000 speaker system for the missile base, Malone sent two technicians to Wamego to set up the system on a demonstration basis.

"The guys set them up on a Saturday night," Malone said, adding the system was for demonstration purposes only and not for sale. However, Skinner told the technicians he'd keep them and he phoned Malone for approval.

"I was kind of nervous about it because I didn't have any money,"' Malone said. "I told him, 'Okay, but' you've got to send me the money right away."' Malone never received his money and Skinner and the speakers disappeared following the drug bust.

In an attempt to locate his speakers, Malone traveled to Kansas several times and became acquainted with William Leonard Pickard of the San Francisco Bay area, the alleged LSD chemist arrested as a result of the drug raid at the missile base and who remains in Leavenworth Penitentiary awaiting trial. On a recent visit, Pickard revealed to Malone that Skinner prior to the drug bust had assigned to him (Pickard) power of attorney over the missile base property. Pickard signed a quit claim deed, transferring ownership of the missile base to Malone, who filed the deed April 16, with the Pottawatomie County Register of Deeds.

THE FELONY theft charge is the second charge brought against Skinner by Pott County Attorney Wilkerson. In May of 2001, Wilkerson charged Skinner with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the 1999 death of 41-year old Paul Hulebak of Tulsa. from a drug overdose at the missile base.

Pott County Magistrate Judge Steven Roth, however, later suppressed the evidence obtained from Skinner and other witnesses in the manslaughter case, ruling that the investigation violated Skinner's agreement of immunity with the U. S. Department of Justice for providing information and testimony in the LSD drug bust. The charge of involuntary manslaughter against Skinner was dismissed.