How A Phony Fed Fooled A Small Town

Fraudulent Law Enforcer Tells Katie Couric Illegal Arrests He Made Gave Him Adrenaline Rush, Sense Of Purpose

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This story was first published on Nov. 2, 2008. It was updated on May 21, 2009.

Like many small towns across the country, Gerald, Mo. was struggling with a tiny police force and a big drug problem. Then a man, known as "Sgt. Bill," showed up.

Bill Jakob flashed a badge and announced his credentials: an undercover federal agent sent to clean up the town in a county with one of the highest number of methamphetamine labs in the country.

He quickly helped police round up dozens of suspects and was welcomed like a conquering hero. As Katie Couric first reported last November, it all seemed just a little too good to be true.

"I didn't just wake up one morning and decide I was Batman or Superman. I found myself in Gerald," Jakob says.

Jakob, driving his own undercover police car, arrived early last year in Gerald, a rural town so small there's only one traffic light for its 1,200 residents.

"I woke up everyday with the intention of, 'Hey, I'm really doin' some great things here.' And I fed off of it and I enjoyed it. And you know, I slept good at night. I really did. I thought, man, 'I'm putting drug dealers out of business,'" he tells Couric.

Jakob says making these arrests gave him an adrenaline rush. "But that isn't really the thing that I focused on, the most, was just every bust it was, it was a good bust."

No one shared that sentiment more than Ryan McCrary, the new police chief who was struggling to control a growing drug problem with only four cops. Now he had a big time agent with the "Multi-Jurisdictional Narcotics Task Force," doing surveillance around the town and rounding up suspects.

"Once everything started unfolding, he was the drug expert, pretty much, from the task force," McCrary recalls.

The police chief says it felt "pretty good" to actually have some back up from what appeared to be the federal government.

In two months, Jakob and Gerald police arrested about 20 people and, more often than not, Jakob says he got them to confess.

Mayor Otis Schulte told 60 Minutes the town was grateful. "A lot o' people in town were. They thought that things are getting done. We got some help. I mean, a small town, we have one police officer on at a shift and that's it," the mayor explains.

"So, in a way, for a period of time, Bill Jakob was like a guy on a white horse comin' in to save the day a bit?" Couric asks.

"To help out, yes," Schulte says.

"I was very effective," Jakob says. "I think part of it was the fact that they were out of their comfort zone. If you're used to dealing with a three-man or four-man police department out in the middle of nowhere in Gerald, Missouri, and all of a sudden you find yourself across the desk from a federal officer, that's intimidating."

But Jakob wasn't a fed, had never been a fed, and wasn't even a certified cop.

Bankrupt and unemployed, the closest he'd ever come to the feds was when he had worked as a security guard in the parking lot of the Federal Reserve Bank in St. Louis. But he was creative, and concocted an elaborate scheme to con the entire town of Gerald into believing he was an agent working with a federal task force.

Jakob says he told the police chief he worked for the "Multi-Jurisdictional Narcotics Task Force."

Asked how he came up with that, Jakob told Couric, "You know, actually it sounded good. I've heard that it was used in a movie."

That movie was "Beverly Hills Cop 2."

"I've seen that movie. Maybe I had it subconsciously in the back of my head," Jakob says.

He also got an official looking six-point star badge with the task force name on it from the Internet, as well as business cards with the Justice Department logo on them.

Jakob says it isn't hard to make a business card. "I had to have these things. I mean, I was becoming this person."

And soon he'd convinced the police chief to formally request his help from the Department of Justice: Jakob gave him a phony fax number and arranged for a female friend to answer the phone.

Why did he do it, considering he wasn't getting paid?

"I wanted to fit what they wanted me to be. They wanted my help and I wanted to help them. And so I thought, you know, 'Hey, if I can become this other person, and I can help these people, who am I hurting?'" Jakob asks.

"Even if it was against the law?" Couric asks.

"I was more concerned with the fact that it's against the law to be a drug dealer than it was to be against the law to pretend to be a cop," Jakob says.

"Everything just fell together perfectly for his little scheme to work," says Police Chief Ryan McCrary, who says he trusted Jakob.