This is part II is a series. ( read part I)
Things were looking very bad for Dr. Charles Thomas Sell in 1998 when he went to federal prison on charges of conspiracy to commit murder. FBI agents had also obtained enough evidence to charge him with 56 counts of Medicaid fraud. It didn?t help matters when Sell shouted racial epithets at a black FBI agent during his preliminary hearing.
But, since then, flaws in the four main witnesses against him have been uncovered. Three of the witnesses have been shown to have fabricated testimony in other cases. The fourth, his wife Mary, agreed to testify against him only after signing a lucrative plea agreement.
Later, the issue of witness credibility took a back seat to an important legal issue as the Supreme Court had to decide whether the government could forcibly medicate Sell in order to make him fit to stand trial. The Justices ruled that Sell could not be forcibly medicated unless there was no other avenue to ensure his competence to stand trial.
Questions about Sell?s mental state have been raised for quite some time. For example, some have expressed concern that Sell believed that the government intentionally brought about the deaths of the Davidians in 1993 in Waco. Sell, a Major in the U.S. Army Reserves, was brought in to Waco as a forensic dentist, but was sent home shortly after the death of 81 Davidians without having performed any forensic analysis. Since then, he has made various conspiratorial claims about the federal government?s handling of the Waco tragedy.
As evidence of mental instability, newspaper reports have also alluded to his ownership of about a dozen firearms and rumors that he claimed membership in a white supremacist group. More to the point, court records show that Sell has seen imaginary leopards and believes that the FBI is trying to kill him.
However, Sell insists that he is mentally competent and can point to a perfect score on a competency test, which he took in 2002 in a Missouri prison hospital. The Supreme Court has guaranteed that Sell cannot be forcibly medicated unless other, less intrusive means of treatment have been exhausted. But the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has reported that Sell has spent a total of 20 months in solitary confinement. The Dispatch also says that he has had no exposure to any forms of treatment.
A wired FBI office assistant produced much of the initial evidence underlying the case against Dr. Sell. That evidence asserted that Sell had altered X-rays to get Medicaid money for work that he never actually performed. Sell claims that the X-ray alterations were done in order to avoid using mercury fillings, which were required at the time by the government. His supporters also point out that the wired office assistant, Jane Alderman, ordered drugs under another doctor?s name for her own personal use. That included nearly 2000 doses of drugs such as codeine. She has since admitted to lying to a DEA agent about the doctor whose name she used to procure the drugs.
After Alderman implicated Dr. Sell in Medicaid fraud, Sell was released on bond on the condition of seeing a psychiatrist. Alderman claimed that while Sell was out on bond he stood outside Alderman?s new workplace and made threatening gestures. The gestures included pointing to his head while making his finger look like a handgun. Oddly, Sell was in the building because the judge had sent him there to see a psychiatrist who worked in the same building as the dentist that had hired Alderman.
As a result of Alderman?s accusations, Sell was then arrested for threatening a federal witness. At his bond revocation hearing, Sell then directed racial slurs at an FBI agent. He also spat on a magistrate who refused to allow Sell to have his lawyer present during the revocation hearing. At a second bond revocation hearing, it was revealed that Alderman claimed to have seen Sell?s threatening gestures through a glass door in her employer?s office. The defense, present in that second hearing, revealed that the doors of the office were wooden. Furthermore, there were no glass windows in front of the office.
Alderman was not there to testify at the second bond hearing. Nonetheless, the magistrate (the same one Sell spat upon) revoked his bond.
Just when you think that things couldn?t get any stranger, enter Rebecca Gamble and her brother Jonathan.
The Gambles contacted Dr. Sell?s wife, Mary, after the second bond revocation hearing saying that they could prove that Alderman was not even in the building when she said Sell threatened her. At the time, Mary Sell did not know that the Gambles were wired informants working for the FBI.
Transcripts of those conversations now seem to indicate that Mary was trying to purchase employment records. The records were supposed to be exculpatory, indicating that Alderman was not ?clocked in? when she said she was threatened by Dr. Sell. But the Gambles told the FBI that the recorded conversations were about something else. According to the Gambles, Mary Sell was trying to hire a hit man to kill Alderman and an FBI agent.
Later, Jonathan Gamble visited Dr. Sell in jail and recorded a conversation, which was somewhat ambiguous in terms of subject matter. Sell?s defenders say that he was talking about payment for a home or office break-in to obtain the records of Alderman?s work schedule. The FBI says that the discussion was about the hit man. Later, Sell was indeed charged with conspiring to kill Alderman as well as an FBI agent named Box. It is the government?s contention that Sell offered less than $300, not for a break-in, but for the murders of both Alderman and Box.
But there is more to know about Rebecca Gamble. Before her involvement in the Sell case, she maliciously prosecuted a union leader by giving false statements to the authorities. A judge even ordered her to pay $513,000 in damages to the union leader. But Rebecca Gamble never paid him the $513, 000.
And the case gets stranger still. To be continued?