(Editor’s Note: A large portion of the content reviewed for the writing of this article comes from online correspondence and e-mail. In the instances where quotes are derived from written sources, these quotes are reproduced without regard to case, spelling or grammar.
An attempt was made to contact Jerry Ray Hall and allow him to present his side of this story. To date, he has not done so.)
Jerry Ray (TEA) Hall is making his second run at unseating Ralph Hall as the U.S. Representative of House District 4. The first time around, in 1996, Jerry Ray Hall easily won the Republican nomination for the office, but lost to then-Democrat Ralph Hall in the general election.
Associating himself with the popular TEA Party movement, Jerry Ray is on the campaign trail again. Representing himself as a staunch Republican and devout Christian, Jerry Ray Hall touts himself as having been "TEA when TEA wasn't cool."
His campaign press releases state, "Jerry acquired his name because in his 1996 campaign he was saying stop the spending then and cut taxes so much his friends started calling him Texas Tea Hall jokingly and the name stuck as Tea Hall."
But in the past week, a group of individuals claiming to know Hall from their dealings with him in the Central American nation of Panama say that this is the least bothersome discrepancy they can think of regarding Jerry Ray.
Charges of character assassination
Chief among Jerry Ray's critics is Clyde Jenkins. An American expatriate now living in Colombia pulls no punches when it comes to discussing the aspiring politician.
Jenkins said that Jerry Ray launched a personal smear campaign of the worst kind against him while he was living in Panama.
"He accused me of being a pedophile," Jenkins said. "I would rather be accused of murder. There isn't anything worse you can accuse a man of."
According to Jenkins, the attack came as a result of being one of the individuals that "unmasked" the real Jerry Ray Hall, whom he states was falsely representing himself in the Panamanian community. The story dates back a few years, but at least one editor of an online newspaper in Panama corroborates Jenkins' story.
Don Winner is the owner and editor of “panama-guide.com” and claims that it is the No.1 source of news for the American expatriate community in Panama. He has met Jerry Ray Hall in person, and is 100 percent sure that it is the same Jerry Ray Hall that is running for congress. Winner stated that the scandal began for him in early 2006 when Jerry Ray approached him with "inside information" on three individuals.
"He first called my office and tried to convince me to publish unsubstantiated lies he had created about them," Winner related. "He told me Susan Guberman-Garcia had been disbarred in California (false), that her husband was a wanted criminal in the State of California (false), the Jay Lewis was basically a mob lawyer who primarily represents Mafia killers and drug traffickers, and he also alluded to the possibility of money laundering (false).
“And finally he said Clyde Jenkins was wanted in Washington State as a pedophile (false).
“He said he was getting the information from a 'secret' government law enforcement database.
“He said that due to his work as a government contractor and mediator, he still had a login and password to this computer system. When I asked him to send me copies of the information he supposedly had, he said he could not because 'if the people who gave me access to this system found out that I was providing information to a journalist, they would throw me in prison.'"
Winner said he then asked Jerry Ray to simply provide the information regarding which counties in California and Washington the individuals were wanted in so he could look up the information himself. He states at that point Jerry Ray backed off and wouldn't provide any information at all.
But according to Winner, Jerry Ray did not let that stop him. He said that articles touting the allegations against Clyde Jenkins then popped up on a rival English-language Panamanian newspaper called "Noriegaville."
According to Jenkins, the article in which he was painted as a suspected pedophile appeared in Noriegaville in January 2007. Substantiation of that fact is impossible, because the Noriegaville website has been taken down as of Sept. 28, 2007. Jenkins says that it is because of a criminal complaint he filed against its owner, Okke Ornstein. Jenkins did provide the Herald-Banner with a version of the article which Jenkins said he printed out from the website.
One might doubt that such a retaliatory matter taken out in the local expatriate press would actually happen, but a post on the Yahoo "Panama Forum" contributed by a writer identifying himself as "Jerry Hall" made on Jan. 2, 2007 seems to corroborate such a tale.
"I have decided to use my Political connections to find out just who these people are that are continuing to try to trash everyone that is new to this site. I worked for the US Department of Justice Immigration division. NOW IT IS TIME TO FIND OUT THE SCOOP ON THE PEOPLE ON HERE THAT ARE SLAMMING EVERYONE ELSE. I am not a real estate scammer I came down here with more money that I need to retire in Peace, I have donated over $1,000,000 for education to the Schools in Panama and continue to try to make Panama a better place."
Build-up to the explosion
Susan Guberman-Garcia is a retired attorney living in Panama. She operates a legal website forum for expatriates because she says that Americans moving to Panama need to be aware of the differences in the legal systems between the two countries. She admits that she has never met Jerry Ray Hall in person, but said her experiences began when commercial messages began showing up on her website.
The first appearance of a "Dr. Jerry Hall" on Guberman-Garcia’s site appears to be on Dec. 5, 2006. The simple post states, "If anyone needs anything notorized for the USA I am a Notary and have my stamp from the USA if I can help feel free to contact me."
A post appears on Dec. 11, 2006 entitled "ONE MORE SPAM AND YOU'RE OUT." The original posting to which she refers has been deleted, but in the post Guberman-Garcia accuses "Dr. Jerry Hall" of posting as a satisfied customer of a phone service for which he is actually the owner of the business.
Less than three hours later, a visitor identifying himself as Richard Kongable posted a link to a "VoIP Provider's List" identifying VoiceNetLink of Panama as having a President by the name of "Dr. Jerry Hall." That link was still active as of the writing of this article.
In her post, Guberman-Garcia first asks the question that all say got a nasty ball rolling: "Doctor of what?"
A doctorate in psychology?
According to the website "e-iama.com," Jerry Hall, Ph.D. is one of the advisors for the "International Association of Mediators and Advisors." Under the bio on the advisors page it states, "Dr. Hall holds a Doctorate degree is Psychology from Columbia State University and is a graduate of the Harvard School of Law negotiations"
The administrative contact for the site is "Jerry Hall."
Another page sent to the Herald-Banner from the website "retire2panama.com," states, "Dr. Jerry Hall, retired US mediator, and Psychologist, trained at Harvard University and Columbia University, he can help you cut through all the red tape and show you how great Panama is."
This website is also registered to a "Jerry Hall."
Whether Columbia State University or Columbia University, the assertion of a doctorate has come under scrutiny. Columbia State University is the name of an organization that was closed down by court order after being deemed a "diploma mill."
As to whether or not a doctorate from Columbia University is possible, a query was made by Jenkins to the school, from which he says he received this response from one Aileen English, executive assistant to Eric J. Furda in the Office of the Vice President for Public Relations:
"I've reviewed our records for any evidence of a Jerry Hall with Jerry, David, or Ray appearing as the first, or middle name, or in any combination of those names. There is no one in our database fitting this description."
There is at least one other reference available online stating an academic background for the "Jerry Hall" who lived in Panama. "El Visitante" bills itself as the "Tourist Newspaper of Panama." It's online edition dated June 2, 2005 has a feature titled, "Dr. Hall and his "Panamanian Dream.'" It features what appears to be a photo of Jerry Ray with his son on the beach, and opens with the question, "What is a bubbly, talkative, yet politically conservative Harvard-educated attorney and psychologist doing in Panama?"
A lawyer educated at Harvard?
This was the second affirmation that the individuals living in Central America say they began to doubt. They have produced numerous e-mails from a "Dr. Jerry Hall" in which the writer emphatically insists he is in fact an attorney. E-mails forwarded to the Herald-Banner from a "Dr. Jerry Hall" also state in no uncertain terms that he has "graduated" from Harvard.
In an e-mail obtained by the Herald-Banner originating from the address of "email@example.com," the writer, identifying himself as “Dr. Jerry Hall” states clearly that he attended law school at Harvard, graduated in 1980, but adds that he has had to keep his records secure because of his work in a "high security area for the U.S. Department of Justice."
What exactly was his profession prior to Panama?
The Herald-Banner has been able to obtain documentation from Houston of two temporary employment agencies being operated by a "Jerry Hall;" A-Temps, Inc. and PSA Temporaries. According to state records, PSA Temporaries is "Not in Good Standing" with the Texas Comptrollers Office.
There was no record found on the comptroller’s site for “A-Temps,Inc.”
Jerry Ray's other business venture, Alternative Dispute Resolution Solutions International (ADRSI), is a firm that is touted as "the only known international panel of mediators offering a diverse selection of areas of practice, education, and experience" on the company website. This company too, is listed as "Not in Good Standing" with the state comptroller's office.
This would be ironic in the fact that it was listed among the Top 5000 fastest-growing companies in the nation in Inc. magazine in 2008.
This was a point that Winner decided to investigate as well. In contacting the magazine, Winner got a response that the decision was based on a form of stated revenues given to the magazine which had to be signed off by the company's CFO. The statement for ADRSI was signed off by a "Herbert Hendrix." The document stated that the company had 2,800 employees and a revenue of more than $34 million in 2007.
Convinced that he had uncovered a "scammer," Winner decided to confront Jerry Ray and ask for an explanation.
"At that point he went nuts on the phone, started screaming and yelling, and threatened to have me killed if I published his name even once," Winner recalls, adding that Jerry Ray assured him he had contacts high enough in the Panamanian government to carry out such a threat.
"I decided to drop the whole thing and simply wrote him off as just another fruitcake – which Panama tends to attract for some reason – and I fully intended to leave this whole issue completely alone. That changed last Friday (Feb. 5) when I learned he was running for congress."
Winner went online with his story and recollection of the whole debacle. It was through this online publication that the Herald-Banner became aware of the story.
A Valentines Day gift of child pornography allegations
But the story continued to evolve through this week in fact. At the "retire2panam.com" website that originally seemed to be geared toward serving as a resource for Americans considering the move to Central America, the front page of the site came down and was replaced with a notice that stated the actual intent of the site was "Removing Criminals from Panama," which was proclaimed "A Success!"
The site stated that its administrators had been "Providing Protection for over 7 years in Panama under the direction of the Bush Administration agencies." The home page went on to say that "Any references to this site or the people associated with this site must be verified with the US Department of Justice."
The Herald-Banner has contacted the U.S. Department of Justice to seek such verification. The response from the inquiry came back stating that the request was "confusing."
But on Sunday, Valentines Day, the site's homepage changed yet again, stating "PANAMA-GUIDE.COM POSSIBLE LINK TO CRIMINAL ACTIVITY." The homepage went on to say that "FBI sources are investigating reports on international crimes to child pornography."
On Tuesday, the homepage changed yet again, stating "Gambling Affiliates Can be Prosecuted Due to New Law."
While the homepage has seen many changes in the past week, the subdirectory information (as of the time of this writing) will still get the online visitor to the site's interior pages, where Jennifer Hall is still listed as the best tour guide in Panama, best overall source of information on Panama and best chauffeur service in Panama. "Dr. Jerry Hall's" VoiceNetLink is still listed as the best VoIP phone service in Panama as well.
And on another web page, it still carries a paragraph describing Clyde Jenkins as a "suspected pedophyle," right beneath a scrolling banner that proclaims Jenkins is the "Most hated person in Panama!"
And on the “Whois” domain name search, the site is still registered to a “Jerry Hall.”