LIKE SARDINES IN THE CAN
Charles Bartholomew called it a game preserve, but his operation seemed more like an open-air slaughterhouse. On Oct. 10, two dozen state and federal wildlife agents raided Bartholomew's 160-acre Texoma Hunting Wilderness, near Bennington in southeastern Oklahoma. There they found eight cougars and two black bears in cramped, smelly pens. "One of the cougars had had an eye torn out by another cougar," says state game ranger Sam Cottrell. In a walk-in freezer they found the skins of two more cougars and three more bears.
Bartholomew's files, many of which were confiscated in the raid, appeared to show that from 1985 to the time of the raid he made $450,000 by charging "sportsmen" from all over the country fees ranging from $1,000 to $4,000 to "hunt" a variety of animals, including black and grizzly bears, African lions, North American elk, buffalo and cougars. As many as 300 animals, most of which Bartholomew purchased from zoos and at auctions, were killed.
The authorities said that the animals were set loose in a fenced-in area the size of a football field and that clients of Bartholomew's blasted away at them from perches in a large oak tree. Officials found numerous shell casings on the ground under the tree, including casings from .450-caliber rounds. "Four-fifty, that's enough—more than enough—to kill an elephant," Cottrell said. "It's a wonder the shooters didn't get knocked out of the tree, firing those rounds. This is what we call a canned hunt. It's like opening a can of sardines and saying you went fishing."
October 29, 1990
Bartholomew was indicted last week on 10 felony and 35 misdemeanor counts, ranging from killing endangered species to cruelty to animals. He posted the $20,000 bond for the felony counts and is scheduled to go on trial in December, when he will plead not guilty.
Bartholomew may not be the only one in trouble. Thanks to what they say was his meticulous record keeping, agents have a rundown on most of his clients, including telephone numbers, addresses—even, in many cases, snapshots of clients posing with their pathetic trophies. If agents can prove that anyone hunted out of season or bagged an endangered animal, "then he has broken the law," says Cottrell, "and he can expect to be hearing from us."
According to legend, in 1476 a Swiss courier-soldier ran 17 kilometers from Morat to Fribourg bearing a linden branch and the news that the Swiss army had withstood an attack by the Burgundian invaders. He made it to the town square, gasped, "Victoire! Victoire! Victoire!" and dropped dead. From the soldier's sprig sprang a linden tree that still stands and, more recently, an annual Morat-to-Fribourg 17K road race that attracts 10,000 runners and more than 100,000 spectators each October. This year's 57th running seems destined to add to the race's mystique.
Fribourg is also the site of the Belle-chasse prison. Henri Nuoffer is the warden at Bellechasse, and he knows that prison gets to be a touch confining. So over the past 10 years Nuoffer has allowed 70 well-behaved inmates to run in the Morat-to-Fribourg race.
This year nine prisoners were among the 9,400 at the starting line in Morat, but only seven of them returned to the prison after the race. The other two, each of whom had only a few months left on his 30-month drug-trafficking sentence, reached the finish line and kept running. Their whereabouts are unknown, and while the same is true of their reactions as they crossed the finish line, it may be speculated that they cried, "Libertè! Libertè! Libertè!"
Brian Lee Tribble met Len Bias on a basketball court when they were both in high school. Six years later, he was with Bias when the Maryland All-America lost consciousness for the third and final time after snorting cocaine in a Maryland dorm room in the early hours of June 19, 1986. Tribble was later acquitted of charges that he supplied the cocaine that led to his friend's death, but he didn't seem to learn much from the tragedy or from the ordeal of his own trial. Last Thursday, in federal court in Baltimore, Tribble pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute more than 110 pounds of cocaine in the past two years, and he now faces a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison without parole.
Tribble owned a house in suburban Forestville, Md., and three cars, including a Mercedes-Benz, before he relinquished all of it to the government. The opulent life-styles of wealthy drug dealers hold great allure for some inner-city youths. A journalist named William Finnegan recently described in The New Yorker the time he spent in New Haven, Conn., with a teenage drug dealer he called Terry. Wrote Finnegan, "I sometimes ask Terry about his 'role models,' about who it is he wants to be when he grows up. When his answer is not Eddie Murphy, or a rap star with a gangster style, it is an older New Haven dealer who 'made it to the top.' This dealer is now in prison."
One can only wish that kids in the Washington-Baltimore area would choose role models like Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson, Redskins wide receiver Art Monk or Oriole shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. All are well respected as sportsmen and as generous contributors to their communities, unlike Brian Tribble.
WRETCHED EXCESS DEPT.
Among the items available in the Jack Nicklaus Collection gift catalogue are a nine-inch-high desktop "golf den" (a dollhouse of sorts, complete with easy chair, trophy case, framed golf photo and miniature putting green) for $295, a golfer's weather station (a thermometer-hygrometer with golf-related graphics) for $125 and a solid-oak personal clubhouse locker (with space for clubs and shoes, and boasting an "extra-deep sweater drawer") for $675. Budget shoppers might prefer the "golf couple" chocolate bar (with images of a male and a female golfer embossed on the candy) at a mere $18.50.
Dreams can die fast in the volatile athletic-shoe business. Witness L.A. Gear, which in the six years after its founding in 1983 became the industry's third-largest company, after Nike and Reebok. Sales at L.A. Gear hit $617 million last year, and the company at one point boasted a 185% annual return to investors, the highest of any New York Stock Exchange firm. But this past June, even as it reported record second-quarter sales, L.A. Gear announced that profits had declined by 36%. The stock price, which reached 50‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬µ a share last May, plummeted by 22% in one day and was at 12¼ as of the close of trading last Friday. Shareholders have filed 24 class-action complaints against L.A. Gear, most alleging that it misled investors.
L.A. Gear was stung by the fickle breezes of athletic-shoe fashion. Its marketing strategy had targeted teenage girls, among whom L.A. Gear shoes are suddenly no longer the chic sneak. The company is trying to compensate by aiming for a bigger piece of the less mercurial men's market. L.A. Gear is spending many millions for endorsement tie-ins with show-biz celebrities like Michael Jackson, athletes like Joe Montana, Karl Malone and Akeem Olajuwon, and coaches like NC State's Les Robinson and USC's George Raveling. "We are spending eight or nine million dollars just to open a basketball division," says Sandy Saemann, L.A. Gear's executive vice-president.
But the Jackson shoes are not selling well, and complaints have arisen concerning possible conflicts of interest involving Leonard Armato, the Los Angeles-based sports agent whose company, Management Plus, serves as a consultant to the basketball division. Critics note that Armato became Olajuwon's agent after signing the Houston Rocket star to a shoe deal last year, and wonder whether Armato is using L.A. Gear to increase his client list. They question the propriety of Armato's lavishing L.A. Gear money on college coaches, who, after all, are in a position to recommend him as an agent to their players. Armato terms such criticisms "absurd."
Saemann says, "I'm happy with Leonard Armato, and I am in awe of how well the basketball program is working." But Armato's free-spending ways are raising eyebrows. For example, Raveling, whose Trojan basketball team has been less than a rousing success, having gone 38-78 during his four seasons at the helm, was receiving less than $50,000 a year from Nike before, sources say, Armato's company lured him away for $175,000 a year, a fee that prompted an executive in a rival sneaker company to sniff: "L.A. Gear is bidding against no one but themselves." L.A. Gear often stipulates that college coaches must donate 25% of their L.A. Gear earnings to charity, but critics in the financial community think that L.A. Gear's charity should begin at home, with Armato's being forced to tighten the purse strings.
MINING THE NUGGETS
"I'm not about traditional basketball. My approach is an entirely new way of playing the game," said Paul Westhead, the new coach of the Nuggets, last Friday after the Celtics humiliated Denver 173-155 in an exhibition game.
New way, indeed. Had it come in a regular-season game, Boston's colossal point total would have tied the NBA record, but for the run-till-you-drop Nuggets, who dropped to 0-4 for the preseason, it actually represented something of a defensive improvement. In the Nuggets' previous exhibition outing, they lost to the Hawks 194-166, and in their two games before that, they were embarrassed by the Suns 186-123 and the Rockets 156-126. After watching Boston shred Denver's full-court press to score 116 of its points on dunks or layups, Bob Cousy, the Celtics' Hall of Fame guard and now one of their broadcasters, called Denver's system "the worst thing I've seen in 45 years."
The Nuggets were also notorious for playing high-scoring games under Doug Moe, who was fired in September after 10 seasons as their coach, but Moe was positively Hank Iba-ish compared with Westhead. The former coach of the Lakers and the Bulls in the NBA, Westhead came to Denver from Loyola Marymount, where he taught Shakespeare while gaining a reputation as the bard of schoolyard ball with a frantic run-and-shoot style that produced some astounding point totals for both the Lions and their opponents. Westhead's style is designed to wear opponents down, but to less-than-exhausted Celtics forward Kevin McHale, the strategy seemed intended "to let you score so they can run." Westhead's approach has thus far also eluded Denver guard T.R. Dunn, a 13-year veteran and three-time member of the NBA's all-defense team, who complained, "Instinctively, in this system I find myself doing something I'm not supposed to be doing."
Westhead said he "could care less" about his critics, and contended that "the very thing we're trying to do is what can give this team an incredible sense of dignity." So far, he's more likely to soon be handing them a line from Othello: "Reputation, reputation, reputation! O! I have lost my reputation."
ALL IN THE GENES
In 1980, when Chris Warlick was a 10-year-old in Buffalo, he visited his father, Ernie, in the hospital. Ernie had been a tight end for the Buffalo Bills for four years in the early '60s, and now he was recovering from a knee replacement operation, part of his battle against football-related arthritis, which was wracking other parts of his body as well. Chris considered his father's plight and made two resolutions. One, from then on he would play soccer instead of football. Two, he would become a doctor.
The younger Warlick has since amended both of those goals. He did eschew football in favor of soccer through high school, but he eventually took up his dad's old sport. Now a senior at Washington University in St. Louis, he has excelled on the field this fall by scoring three touchdowns and making 14 catches as a whisper-thin (6'4", 175-pound) flanker for the 5-3 Battlin' Bears. This is Washington's centennial football season and Warlick's second. Because he hadn't played a down of organized football since he was 10, his decision to begin again at 20 surprised some people, including his father. "I told him, 'don't neglect your studies,' " says Ernie, today a reasonably healthy regional sales manager for a Buffalo industrial-hardware company, who likes playing catch with his son when he comes home for vacations.
"Chris has outstanding athletic ability," says Bears coach Larry Kindbom. "At our level he really stands out." That level is Division III, which makes it highly unlikely that on draft day any NFL team will be dialing Warlick's number. Then again, if one did, it probably wouldn't reach him, because he spends his spare moments in professor Helen Donis-Keller's genetics laboratory, where he is showing so much big league potential as a researcher that he has put off medical school for at least a year to continue working in the lab.
For the past 15 months, Warlick has been participating in a national project to map all the genes of the human body with markers. The goal is to identify independent DNA strands in order to help doctors treat such genetic diseases as cystic fibrosis. Last May, Warlick initiated his own study within the project, seeking to locate new markers that would assist in understanding inherited diseases on chromosome 14. His efforts were successful, and his discovery may lead to the creation of a presymptomatic test for a genetic heart ailment. Geneticists now call the markers CW1 and CW2 in Warlick's honor, a degree of recognition in the scientific community that Donis-Keller terms "absolutely unheard-of" for an undergraduate.
Last Saturday, Kindbom's team had to do without Warlick in a 7-3 win over Colorado College. Warlick was in Cincinnati, presenting a paper to an audience of 5,000 scientists at the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Geneticists. He had 15 minutes to give his paper, barely enough time to get through the title: Isolation of a Yeast Artificial Chromosome Clone from D14S26 Near a Gene for Familial Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy and Identification of Two New Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism Probes at This Locus.
"I was feeling self-conscious at first," says Warlick, "but after I got going, I felt more confident. Afterward, people came up to me and talked, and I felt like, well, I was accepted. Now it's over, except that I have an anthropology test tomorrow."
THEY SAID IT
•Derek Harper, Dallas Maverick guard, on the clothing boutique opened in that city by his wife, Sheila: "It's her thing. Unless it takes off and makes a lot of money. Then it's our thing."
•George Steinbrenner, former Yankee owner, beginning his monologue as host of Saturday Night Live minutes after the Reds won the World Series: "I just bought the Cincinnati Reds."