THE MORMON DOCUMENT SCANDAL
HOFMANN CHARGED WITH MURDER AND SELLING FORGERIES
ULM's Investigation - Story Changed - Too Sensitive - Cover-Up Feared - Charges Available - Tales of Hoffmann - Lawsuit Over - Judge Threatens Us - Bombing Victim Could Not Testify - Deseret Foundation - Supporting 25 Children - Only One Life
In the last issue of the Messenger we reported that Mormon document dealer Mark Hofmann was not only a suspect in the October 15th Salt Lake City bombing's case but that police were also investigating the possibility that Mr. Hofmann had been selling forged documents to the Mormon Church. On February 4, 1986, a statement was released to the news media which contained this information: "The Salt Lake City Police Department, the Salt Lake County Sheriffs Department and the Salt Lake County Attorney's Office today announced the culmination of a three-and-a-half-month investigation into the bombing deaths of Steven F. Christensen and Kathleen W. Sheets.
"Mark W. Hofmann has been charged with two counts of first-degree homicide, a capital offense, and 26 other counts."
In the formal complaint (The State of Utah, Plaintiff, v. Mark W. Hofmann,...), Mark Hofmann was accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from Mormon church leaders and other unsuspecting individuals through the sale of forged or nonexistent documents.
Nineteen months before local and federal investigators began working on the Salt Lake bombing's case, Utah Lighthouse Ministry began its own investigation concerning the authenticity of the documents Mark Hofmann was selling the Mormon Church and other collectors. In this inquiry we obtained information from Washington, D.C. and ten different states. We even interviewed a convicted murderer at the Utah State Prison.
Our investigation began in March 1984 when we were first given extracts from the so-called Salamander lettera letter purportedly written by Book of Mormon witness Martin Harris to W.W. Phelps in 1830. We had just completed a book entitled, Mormonism, Magic and Masonry, in which we presented evidence linking early Mormonism to magic. We felt that the Salamander letter would provide additional evidence to support our case. As we read the extracts from the Salamander letter, however, we were shocked to find that there were important parallels to E.D. Howe's Mormonism Unvailed, which was first published in 1834some four years after the Salamander letter was supposed to have been penned. In the Messenger for March 1984 we wrote that we had "some reservations concerning the authenticity of the letter, and at the present time we are not prepared to say that it was actually penned by Martin Harris."
In the same issue of the Messenger, we pointed out the "disturbing" parallels to Howe's book and said that although "the average person would have a difficult time forging these things, there are probably a number of people who could do the job.... While we would really like to believe that the letter attributed to Harris is authentic, we do not feel that we can endorse it until further evidence comes forth."
On August 25, 1984, John Dart wrote the following in the Los Angeles Times: "...unusual caution...has been expressed by Jerald and Sandra Tanner,...The Tanners' suggestion of forgery has surprised some Mormons, who note that the parallels in wording could be taken as evidence for authenticity."
Robert Lindsey wrote the following for the Feb. 16, 1986 issue of the New York Times:
"Court documents indicate that some prosecutors in the Salt Lake County Attorney's office believe Mr. Hofmann's goal was not only to obtain money from the church through the sale of the documents but also to establish enough credibility that he could shape the world's perception of Mormonism.
"This view is shared by a man here who was the first to suggest that Mr. Hofmann was forging his documents. He is Jerald Tanner, a former Mormon who heads the Utah Lighthouse Ministry, which for decades has been challenging the truth of much of Mormon doctrine.
"In an interview, Mr. Tanner said he decided...that the Hofmann documents might be forgeries, even though some of them, many purporting to be in the handwriting of early Mormons not previously known to have left documents, supported his own iconoclastic views of Mormonism.
"In a newsletter that he publishes with his wife, Sandra, Mr. Tanner began raising questions about their authenticity, in some cases comparing the texts with known Mormon writings.
"But if senior Mormon officials were award of his warnings, they apparently paid little attention. Several of the church's highest officials have acknowledged negotiating to acquire documents from Mr. Hofmann until the day of the first two bombings.
"Mr. Tanner said it appeared that Mr. Hofmann's growing credibility as a source of documents was putting him in a position where the documents he presented were considered unassailable. If that continued, Mr. Tanner said, Mr. Hofmann 'could control the direction of Mormon history.' "
One of the documents that investigators list in the complaint as a forgery is the 1825 letter of Joseph Smith to Josiah Stowell. In the June 1985 issue of the Messenger, page 18, we reported that although we could not find any historical problems with the letter, the spelling seemed to be surprisingly good for the early date that is on the letter. Furthermore, we noticed that the letter did "not seem to have any words or parts of words crossed out and no words or parts of words are inserted above the lines." We felt this was probably not consistent with other letters written by Joseph Smith and suggested that the letter "should be carefully checked by experts who are qualified to make meaningful judgments with regard to spelling, grammar and style." In the same issue of the Messenger we reported that George D. Smith claimed that it was his understanding that "Gordon B. Hinckley, purchased the letter in 1983 in his own name from collector Mark Hofmann..." We pointed out that "If President Hinckley bought the document in his own name, this must have been an attempt to give the Church deniabilityi.e., the letter could be safely kept out of the hands of the public, and yet the Church could officially deny that it had it." The complaint makes it clear that Hinckley did, in fact, purchase the letter in his own name. It says that Hofmann "exercised control over the property of President Gordon B. Hinckley by deception" when he sold him the 1825 letter. As long as Hinckley possessed the letter, the church could deny it owned the document, and even after the donation was made, the church could continue to deny that it had purchased the letter. In any case, it is obvious that there was a deliberate cover-up with regard to the 1825 letter.
The complaint against Mark Hofmann states that eleven documents which he sold the Mormon church and other collectors are forgeries:
"All of the above documents were given to George Throckmorton an experienced questioned documents examiner formerly employed with the Utah State Crime Laboratory, presently employed by the Utah Attorney General Office.
"Mr. Throckmorton has done extensive scientific analysis on all of the documents described above and has concluded that none are authentic." (Tile State of Utah v. Mark W. Hofmann, page 6)
The Salamander letter is among the documents listed as forgeries. Originally, Mark Hofmann and Lyn Jacobs claimed that the Salamander letter was discovered and purchased by Jacobs. Writing in Utah Holiday, Jan. 1986, p. 54, Allen Roberts and Fred Esplin reported: "It was from a New England postmark collector that Jacobs said he obtained...the Salamander letter.... Without disclosing his interest in the content of the letter, Jacobs said he purchased it for about $25, the value of the postmark." After investigators began raising the question of forgery with regard to the letter, Lyn Jacobs claimed that it was actually Mark Hofmann who originally purchased the letter. In an interview published in Sunstone magazine, Jacobs stated:
"JACOBS: Unfortunately, my involvement in the discovery of the Martin Harris letter has been somewhat exaggerated ... it was Mark who actually acquired it....I found out that a dentist in Cortland, New York, had a little group of Palmyra letters dating from the 1830s that might be of historical interest. So I called Mark and gave him that tip. Soon afterwards Mark purchased the Martin Harris letter...
"It was about the middle of December 1983 and I was about to come home for Christmas vacation, so we waited until I got to Utah to discuss what to do with it. He turned the letter over to me and told me he did not wish to become involved with the publicity he felt the letter would probably generate." (Sunstone, vol. 10 no. 8, page 15)
When Jacobs was asked if it were true that he "did not see it [the Salamander letter] until Mark showed it to you," he replied, "Yes." (Ibid., p. 19)
The "dentist in Cortland, New York" has been identified as William Thoman. Unfortunately for those who would still believe in the authenticity of the Salamander letter, Dr. Thoman undercuts the entire story by claiming that he never had any dealings with Mark Hofmann after 1982 when Hofmann ran up a bill for $60 which he never paid. Mr. Hofmann, therefore, could not have obtained the letter from him in "December 1983" as Jacobs maintains. Even Kenneth Rendell, who originally authenticated the Salamander letter, now feels that there is a "high likelihood" that it is a forgery. In an interview on KUTV, Feb. 6, 1986, Mr. Rendell commented: "I could find no evidence of forgery. I could not prove it was authentic because there was no handwriting of Martin Harris to compare it to.... The FBI report has confirmed...there is no evidence to prove it's a forgery. However, given the circumstances now that the history of the letter apparently is changing this week and that the person [Lyn Jacobs] is saying that it originally came from Hofmann, not from him, and given the circumstances of all these other forgeries, I think whether there is ever any physical evidence to prove it is a forgery, there is a high likelihood that it could be a forgery." When Mr. Rendell was asked if he was "more suspicious now about the origin of the Salamander letter than you were when you first examined it," he replied: "Certainly I am. There's considerably more information now and considerably more evidence now."
It now appears that both Lyn Jacobs and Mark Hofmann conspired to hide the truth concerning the origin of the Salamander letter. If Jacobs had knowledge that the letter was forged, he would be as guilty as Hofmann of "THEFT BY DECEPTION." Mr. Jacobs claims that Hofmann was willing to "share any profits" that came from the sale of the document and that he was involved in its sale to Steven Christensen: "...I met Steve for the first time at Coordinated Financial Services. By that time, the sale contract had already been written and Mark and I signed it along with a few witnesses. It obligated Steve to pay $40,000..." (Sunstone, page 15) Since Jacobs was deeply involved with Hofmann and was a party to an erroneous story concerning the origin of the Salamander letter, some have suggested that he may be a co-conspirator with Mark Hofmann in forgery. We find the following in the interview with Jacobs in Sunstone (page 19):
"SUNSTONE: So as far as you know, no one living can claim to have read it [the Salamander letter] before it came from Mark Hofmann's hands. You don't have any first hand knowledge of its actual origins.
"JACOBS: If you're suggesting Mark forged it, it is not possible. Mark Hofmann is not a forger....
"SUNSTONE: Some have suggested that you might be a forger.
"JACOBS: That's ridiculous....To my knowledge, such a thing has never been perpetrated either by Mark or myself....
"SUNSTONE: How do you suppose these questions of forgery arose?
"JACOBS: The reasons for that are difficult for me to ascertain except that people just simply don't like certain documents....It seems to me it's only when a document becomes particularly offensive to people or in any way controversial that people decide it's a forgery. What's the matter with everyone?...
"SUNSTONE: One of the most outspoken proponents of the forgery theory has been the Utah Lighthouse Ministry. One would think that with their anti-Mormon mission, they would not question the Martin Harris letter's authenticity without good reason, especially since it supposedly supports their case against the Church. What do they have to gain?
"JACOBS: I've always wondered that....So often such documents get stashed away; nobody talks about them anymore, and they just sort of fizzle out of public attention. That's really what started happening to the Martin Harris [letter].... Well the anti-Mormons may have wanted to keep the thing going by claiming it to be a forgery.
"The other possibility is that because certain individuals were crying forgery from the beginning, the anti-Mormons may have become apprehensive about using a document in their ministry which might not be authentic. If it were a forgery, it would make them look like fools."
Lyn Jacobs seems to imply that because "certain individuals were crying forgery," we were extremely cautious about endorsing the Harris letter. Actually, the truth of the matter is that we were the first to raise the question. Furthermore, Mr. Jacob's assertion that we wanted to keep the "thing going by claiming it to be a forgery" is absolutely ridiculous. In any case, Sunstone has done a real service for researchers in providing this revealing interview with Jacobs. If any of our readers have additional material or information concerning Jacobs we would be happy to receive it.
As we indicated in the last issue of the Messenger, just before the bombings Mark Hofmann claimed he found a Book of Common Prayer which has a Martin Harris inscription in it. We suggested that this inscription may be a forgery created for the purpose of validating the Salamander letter. It is interesting to note that investigators now say that it is not authentic. It is included in the list of charges as one of the forged documents which were sold to the Mormon church. The list of forgeries also includes the "E.B. Grandin Contract." This is very interesting because this contract purports to contain one of the earliest and best signatures of Martin Harris. This signature was probably used to validate the Salamander letter.
Investigators indicate that the forgeries began as early as 1980 when Hofmann "discovered" the Anthon transcript. This was a sheet of paper believed to contain copies of the characters which appeared on the gold plates of the Book of Mormon. After we became suspicious of the Salamander letter we reasoned that the Anthon transcript could also be a forgery. In The Money-Digging Letters, Part 1, page 9, published on August 22, 1984, we commented: "...a number of important documents have come to light during the 1989s. The questions raised by the Salamander letter have forced us to take a closer look at some of these documents."
When the Anthon transcript first came forth historians were very excited about what it might reveal. Some people felt it might contain magic characters. We tried very hard to find evidence to support this idea, but we were finally forced to conclude that the "similarities" were not "sufficient to prove the case." (Mormonism, Magic and Masonry, page 42) We compared the Anthon transcript with many documents and samples of ancient writing, but in the end we found ourselves feeling frustrated and disillusioned with the transcript. Instead of containing anything related to any language, the Anthon transcript appeared to be composed of meaningless doodlings. In the beginning, Mormon scholars were rejoicing over the new find. Dr. Richard L. Anderson, of Brigham Young University, claimed " 'This new discovery is sort of a Dead Sea School [sic] Equivalent of the Book of Mormon,'..." (The Herald, Provo Utah, May 1, 1980) The noted Mormon scholar Hugh Nibley was quoted as saying: "This offers as good a test as we'll ever get as to the authenticity of the Book of Mormon,'..." (Ibid.) In the same paper, Dr. Hugh Nibley triumphantly announced: "Of course it's translatable." According to The Herald, "Nibley also said he counted at least two dozen out of 47 characters in the Demotic alphabet that could be given phonetic value.
"This offers as good a test as we'll ever get. Nobody could have faked those characters. It would take 10 minutes to see that this is fake.' "
On May 12, 1980, the Provo Herald reported: "The Herald called Hugh Nibley to see if he was still confident about his earlier assessments.
" 'I still say just what I said before. It can be translated.' "
In the last issue of the Messenger we related that the story which Mark Hofmann told concerning how he acquired the Joseph Smith III Blessing document did not check out. We first publicly questioned the source of this document on August 22, 1984, when we printed The Morney-Digging Letters. Prosecutors now claim that this document is also a forgery.
Allen Roberts and Fred Esplin reveal that "Police sources indicate that Steve Christensen's personal journal records that Elder Hugh Pinnock asked Hofmann to find for him two important items: the lost 116 pages of the Book of Mormon and something 'too sensitive to mention,' that the late 'Elders Mark E. Petersen and G. Homer Durham were most involved in prior to their deaths.' " (Utah Holiday, January 1986, page 58) It has been suggested that the item that is "too sensitive to mention" may be the gold plates of the Book of Mormon or a "seer stone." Both of these suggestions appear unlikely. One thing that might qualify, however, is evidence that Solomon Spalding or Sidney Rigdon wrote material which Joseph Smith used for his Book of Mormon. Although we have never put a great deal of stock in the theory, many critics of the Mormon church have maintained that Sidney Rigdon stole a manuscript written by Spalding and that this was used to create the Book of Mormon. If this idea could be proven, it would destroy the claim that the Book of Mormon was divinely inspired. Any hard evidence on this subject would certainly be "too sensitive to mention." Like the 116 lost pages of the Book of Mormon, such "evidence" might be sold to the Mormon church for millions of dollars. This, combined with the secrecy that would surround its transfer to the church, could very easily lead to disagreements and perhaps even to murder.
We have recently learned that investigators have been looking into a document which was in the possession of Hofmann or Jacobs which has the signatures of both Solomon Spalding and Sidney Rigdon on it. The document apparently bears clear evidence of falsification. It has been reasoned, however, that this document could have been used to promote a swindle. In this scenario, the forger would show the buyer the document and point out the evidence of falsification. After establishing his reputation as a good detective with regard to old documents and a seeker after truth, the forger could then say that he had acquired a legitimate document relating to Spalding and/or Rigdon.
However this may be, the fact that Hofmann and Jacobs had an interest in Spalding-Rigdon documents reminded us of a series of events that occurred in 1983. A reporter from one of the largest newspapers in the United States asked us if it was true that the Mormon church had bought the long-lost Spalding manuscript for $6,000,000. We replied that we had no information to support such an accusation. Some time after this, we received a phone call which seemed to explain the source of the rumor. The woman on the phone told us that if we would call a Mr. D____ in St. James, N.Y., within half an hour, he could give us the details concerning the discovery of the Spalding manuscript. The number we were given was 516-862-6448. At first Mr. D. seemed rather indignant about the intrusion and was reluctant to talk about the matter, but with some prompting, he finally told us that he had discovered the lost manuscript. In this and other phone conversations he revealed that he had found the 339-page manuscript in an old piano. He not only claimed he found the manuscript, but he maintained that he also had a sixteen-page document written by Sidney Rigdon in which he confessed the part he played in the whole deception. This was not all, however; he also found an 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon which was marked to reveal the portions which were plagiarized from the Spalding manuscript!
We, of course, concluded that these fantastic claims were ridiculous and published an article concerning this in the Salt Lake City Messenger in November 1983. Later we discussed the matter with Mark Hofmann. He told us that Mr. D. was a "kook" and no credence should be given to his story. Hofmann said that the noted document dealer Charles Hamilton could tell us all about Mr. D.'s bad reputation. Some time later we heard that Mark Hofmann had found the 116 lost pages of the Book of Mormoni.e., the book of Lehi. We were told that the contents of the book of Lehi were "dynamite." The manuscript was supposed to contain information about money-digging interwoven with material that reads like the book of Nephione of the books appearing in the published Book of Mormon. When we discussed the matter with Mark Hofmann, he admitted that a manuscript purporting to be the 116 missing pages had been found in Bakersfield, California. He claimed, however, that it was a forgery. In telling about this manuscript, Mr. Hofmann said that a Book of Mormon was found with the manuscript which was marked to reveal which parts of the printed Book of Mormon were the same as those appearing in the unpublished book of Lehi. Mr. Hofmann's story concerning the marked Book of Mormon sounded strangely similar to Mr. D.'s claim that he found a Book of Mormon which was marked to show the portions which were plagiarized from the Spalding manuscript. We felt that the two stories were so similar that we were almost forced to the conclusion that one was borrowed from the other. This, of course, also raised the question of whether there was some connection between Hofmann and Mr. D. We later wondered if it were possible that Mr. D. was trying to get us to print an article on the matter so that the Mormon church would become concerned and try to buy up the purported Spalding manuscript.
It is also interesting to note that about that same time Church Archivist Donald Schmidt called us on the telephone. He seemed very concerned that we had the lost 116 pages of the Book of Mormon and were preparing to print them. He claimed that he had been told that one of the editors of this newsletter (Jerald Tanner) had boasted in the library of the Utah State Historical Society that he had the missing pages. We, of course, assured Mr. Schmidt that there was no truth in the statement. In retrospect, we wonder if someone told Schmidt this story to stir the church leaders up so that they would pay a higher price to buy a forged copy of the manuscript.
In his interview in Sunstone, page 13, Lyn Jacobs tells of the report of the discovery of the book of Lehi manuscript in "southern California": "Mark decided not to attempt to go after the stuff when he found out exactly what it is. It may have something to do with a fictional account supposedly written in the nineteenth century by Sidney Rigdon called The Book of Lehi." I suspect that's what it is. It is certainly not the 116 pages, or Mark would have gone after it."
It is possible that someone could have been making plans to forge as many as three important manuscripts relating to the Book of Mormon. The first is the long-lost Spalding manuscript. The second might be Sidney Rigdon's rewritten version of the Spalding manuscript, which Jacobs refers to as "The Book of Lehi." The third, of course, would be the lost 116 pages of the Book of Mormon in the handwriting of Martin Harris and Emma Smith. Any one of these manuscripts would be worth millions of dollars. While at first glance it would seem unlikely that the Mormon church leaders would be gullible enough to buy more than one of these manuscripts, if a common thread ran through all three manuscripts, such a swindle might be rather convincing. For instance, the Spalding manuscript could be more of a secular history of the Nephites. The Rigdon version of the "Book of Lehi" might contain a great deal of the same material with some religious information interspersed. The final product (the lost 116 pages in the handwriting of Martin Harris) could contain essentially the same material as Rigdon's manuscript with changes made to fit the vocabulary and style of Joseph Smith. While this all may be just a matter of speculation, an individual who talked privately with one of Mark Hofmann's close associates just before the bombings informed us that he was told that a manuscript "like" the 116 missing pages of the Book of Mormon had been discovered. Moreover, the fact that police have been investigating a Spalding-Rigdon document makes us even more suspicious.
Many people are concerned that when Mark Hofmann comes to trial there will be some kind of a cover-up to protect the Mormon church. One fear that has been expressed is that prosecutors might give preferential treatment to the Mormon leaders. Our greatest concern, however, is how Mr. Hofmann's lawyers will handle their side of the case. From all indications Hofmann is deeply in debt and would have no way of paying for his defense. Since the case is so complicated, his legal fees could mount to a million dollars. While his lawyers were originally talking about setting up a public defense fund, they have now indicated that funds have become available to them. Our fear is that the church could either directly or indirectly provide funds for Hofmann's defense. While there would be nothing illegal about this, the church certainly has its own vested interest in how the trial is conducted. If Hofmann's lawyers were to receive money from the church or its leaders, they might feel somewhat obligated not to cause the church any embarrassment with regard to Hofmann's document dealings with them. Such a move could possibly influence what witnesses Hofmann's lawyers called and how Church leaders would be questioned. Furthermore, it might make it hard to subpoena documents the church has in its possession. For instance, if the Oliver Cowdery history really talks about salamanders appearing to Joseph Smith, it could be subpoenaed in an attempt to support the claims for the authenticity of the Salamander letter. If the church were paying the legal bills, however, it is unlikely that the lawyers would want to embarrass church leaders by demanding that it become a part of the public record. (It would, of course, be of no help if the prosecution could show that Hofmann had access to it.)
At this point we have no evidence that the church is paying any of Mr. Hofmann's legal bills. We do know, however, that the church was willing to pay a great deal of money to get rid of embarrassing documents. It is also reasonable to conclude that church leaders would like to keep their secret dealings with the documents from coming to light. The General Authorities, therefore, will probably do their best to keep on the good side of Hofmann. He knows too much with regard to their secret document deals. Although church leaders could not resist the temptation to suppress embarrassing documents, we hope they have learned their lesson and will not try to influence the course of the trial with their money or power. In any case, the cancellation of Hofmann's public defense fund is certainly another mystery in this bizarre case. Even if some persons or organizations were willing to give a large amount of money for Hofmann's defense, we would think that they would let the defense fund be set up first and then pay only the amount which was over that raised through the publicly supported fund.
The Salt Lake County Attorney's charges against Mark Hofmann are now available in a pamphlet we have published entitled, THE STATE OF UTAH v. MARK W. HOFMANN. This 24-page booklet also contains the "probable cause" statements which were deleted when the information was first released by the County Attorney's Office. This very revealing and controversial document sells for only, $1.00 a copy.
Besides the accusation that documents have been forged, the charges filed against Mark Hofmann contain other important information. For instance, in the last issue of the Messenger we demonstrated that Hofmann obtained a piece of papyrus from Kenneth Rendell and later claimed that it was part of the so-called McLellin collectioni.e., papyrus which Joseph Smith had in his possession and claimed were written by Abraham and Joseph in Egypt. The charges show that Hofmann misrepresented this papyrus to different individuals and tried to sell it to Curt Bench "for $40,000." Pages 23-24 of The State of Utah v. Mark W. Hofmann, contain some very revealing information concerning Hofmann's document dealings:
"On May 9, 1985, Mark Hofmann completed an agreement with Thomas Wilding wherein Thomas Wilding agreed to put up $160,000.00 in order to have Mark Hofmann purchase a Charles Dickens 'Haunted Man" manuscript .... Later, Mark Hofmann assured Mr. Wilding that the manuscript described above had been purchased by Mr. Hofmann and re-sold to an investor in Japan. Your affiant has learned from Justin Schiller, that Mr. Schiller has possession of the above described manuscript due to the fact that Mr. Schiller invested $170,000.00 of his own funds to purchase the manuscript. Mark Hofmann never gave the monies given to him by Mr. Wilding to Mr. Schiller for the acquisition of the manuscript....Thomas Wilding...gave the following information: On September 12, 1985, Mark Hofmann completed an agreement to purchase the 'Oath of a Freeman' from Lynn Jacobs in New York State. This is the first time Mr. Wilding had heard the name, Lynn Jacobs. Mr. Wilding gave Mark Hofmann $170,000.00 in order to purchase the 'Oath of a Freeman' from Lynn Jacobs. The next day, Thomas Wilding tried to verify if Mark Hofmann had traveled to New York and found that he had not. It has been determined by your affiant that the monies received by Mark Hofmann in this above described transaction did not go to Lynn Jacobs and that when this transaction was orchestrated by Mark Hofmann, he already had the 'Oath' since he purchased it for $25.00 in a rare book shop.
"Your affiant was told by Thomas Wilding that on or about the first week in August, 1985, Mark Hofmann completed a sale of what he maintained were Brigham Young Papers and received from Thomas Wilding over $10,000.00 in cash....
"On the evening of September 13, 1985...Syd Jensen, Tom Wilding and Mark Hofmann met in Tom Wilding's office. Mark Hofmann admitted to Mr. Wilding and Jensen that the 'Oath of a Freeman', had not been purchased by Mark Hofmann nor sold by him. Mr. Hofmann further confessed that the money purported to be obtained by Mr. Hofmann to purchase the Charles Dicken's manuscript as described above had not gone for the purpose intended.
"Lastly, that there were no 'Brigham Young Papers' and the money obtained to purchase the nonexistent documents had gone elsewhere."
As far as the charges of murder are concerned, the legal papers do not reveal any "smoking gun." They do, however, have some circumstantial evidence which could place Mark Hofmann in the vicinity of both Christensen's office and the Sheets' residence prior to the bombings. Lorie Loftin, one of the witnesses to the explosion of the bomb in Hofmann's car who is spoken of in the complaint, has charged investigators with distorting her statements concerning what happened prior to the blast (see Salt Lake Tribune, Feb. 8, 1986). While it appears that she will not be able to provide any meaningful evidence for the prosecution, the complaint indicates that the bomb was on the seat of the car when it exploded. This would appear to support the charge that Hofmann was transporting the bomb when it exploded. On page 14, the complaint states:
"The defendant stated to detective J.F.G. Bell that when he opened his vehicle door, a package fell on to the vehicle floor and he went to grab for it, then there was an explosion....
"Investigation by agent Jerry Taylor, an explosives technology expert and reconstruction expert for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms reviewed all the physical evidence and laboratory reports and concluded that the position of the bomb at the time of detonation in defendant's car was on the drivers seat, against the console in contrast to defendant's statement that it was on the floor."
In the last issue of the Messenger we reported that the relationship between Steven Christensen and Mark Hofmann was strained by Hofmann's failure to repay a bank loan and that Hofmann may have strongly resented Christensen's "parental-like intrusion into his affairs." The complaint against Mark Hofmann alleges that Christensen was threatening Hofmann with legal action and criminal charges before the bombings:
"...Curt Bench knew that Mark W. Hofmann's personal debts exceeded the hundreds of thousands of dollars owed to several groups of people as a result of document dealings. Around the middle of September, 1985, Mr. Bench saw Mr. Hofmann and observed that Mr. Hofmann was [in a] highly agitated and distraught condition. When Mr. Bench inquired of Mr. Hofmann the reason for this condition, Mark W. Hofmann told Curt Bench that he owed a great deal of money and could be facing serious consequences, including criminal charges, if he could not get his financial problems solved.
"Curt Bench was also an acquaintance of Steven Christensen and had been informed by Steven Christensen that he needed Mr. Bench's assistance in contacting Mark W. Hofmann over a very serious matter which could result in 'legal action,' possibly 'criminal charges,' and Hofmann would lose his membership in the L.D.S. Church as well as lose his ability to do business with anyone in the L.D.S. Church forever. Steve Christensen told Curt Bench that he wanted Mr. Bench to relay this information to Mark Hofmann even though Steven Christensen had already told Mark Hofmann this as well....
"Your affiant has been informed by police investigators and reports that Mr. Robert Pitts, a business associate of Steven Christensen,...overheard Steven Christensen say to Mark Hofmann in a loud and agitated voice 'You can't hide that!' This is the only part of the conversation that was overheard due to its loud nature. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Pitts saw Mark Hofmann leave the office in a 'solemn mood.' " (The State of Utah v. Mark W. Hofmann, pages 16-17)
If Steven Christensen had uncovered illegal activities on the part of Mark Hofmann and was threatening criminal charges against him, this could give a motive for murder. Although investigators claim they have a very good case against Mr. Hofmann, they are not revealing what else they know. The preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 14, and more information will undoubtedly become available at that time. One of the prosecutors has said that it will take two weeks just to present the evidence against Hofmann at the preliminary hearing. It is claimed that 20,000 pages of material have been prepared by the prosecution and turned over to Hofmann's lawyers.
Mark Hofmann's lawyers still refuse to allow police to question their client. While Hofmann's silence does tend to make us suspicious, we will try to keep an open mind. There is always a possibility that he is being framed.
Mark Hofmann's trial for possession of an unregistered machine gun has been delayed because of the murder charges against him. His friend, Shannon Flynn, has changed his plea from innocent to guilty but has not been sentenced.
TALES OF HOFFMANN
In the last three issues of the Messenger we have discussed the possibility that the Oliver Cowdery history (which has been suppressed in the First Presidency's vault) may have been the source for the reference to a salamander in the Martin Harris letter. A historian who has talked to Lyn Jacobs claims that Jacobs told him that Mark Hofmann had read the entire Oliver Cowdery history.
Another possible explanation for the appearance of a white salamander in the letter, might be that the forger read E.T.A. Hoffmann's story "The Golden Flower Pot," which was reprinted by Dover Publications in 1967 in the book, THE BEST TALES OF HOFFMANN. This is a story about "the Student Anselmus" who worked for "Archivarius Lindhorst" In this story a rope magically turns into a "white serpent" and attacks Anselmus (page 12). This is similar to the portion of the Salamander letter which tells of a "white salamander" that transforms itself into a spirit and strikes Joseph Smith three times. The Salamander letter speaks of "the old spirit." The tale of Hoffmann refers to the "old earth-spirit" (page 29). Archivarus Lindhorst is also referred to as "the Old One" (Ibid.). As it turns out, the Archivarus was originally "a Salamander" in the "Fairyland Atlantis" (page 45). As punishment for his folly in Atlantis, the Salamander was turned into a man. Anselmus fell in love with the Archivarus' daughter who was a "green snake." On page 57 of The Best Tales of Hoffman, Anselmus commented: "But of course you do not believe in the Salamander, or the green snake.' " The whole story is filled with magic, and at one point Anselmus tells a witch that "the Salamander will catch you, you vile beet!" (Ibid., p. 58)
Since E.T.A. Hoffmann originally wrote this tale in German in the early 19th century, some people have suggested that Joseph Smith may have heard about it. If there is a connection between the Salamander letter and the tale of Hoffmann, it would seem more likely that it came through the paperback edition of The Best Tales of Hoffmann, which was printed in 1967.
Although we do not know whether Mark Hofmann traces his roots from E.T.A. Hoffmann (Mark Hofmann only has one f in his name), the name Hoffmann on the cover probably would have caught his attention.
UNFAIR VERDICT IS OVERTURNED
On April 28, 1983, the Mormon scholar Andrew Ehat filed a lawsuit against us (Jerald and Sandra Tanner) in an attempt to stop publication of some extracts from the diaries of Joseph Smith's private secretary, William Clayton. Because these diaries contain embarrassing material on the origin of polygamy and other matters, they have been suppressed in the vault of the First Presidency of the Mormon Church. In 1979-80 Mr. Ehat gained access to a copy of the diaries and made the revealing extracts. Ehat tried very hard to keep the material from falling into the hands of the critics of the Mormon church, but a member of a bishopric surreptitiously duplicated a copy which Ehat had given to Lyndon Cook and it was widely circulated by Mormon scholars at Brigham Young University. These extracts subsequently found their way into our hands, and we printed them in the book Clayton's Secret Writings Uncovered.
We felt the law did not support Ehat's charge of copyright violation and cited the following from Section 103(b) of Title 17, United States Code: "The copyright in a compilation or derivative work extends only to the material contributed by the author of such work, as distinguished from the preexisting material employed in the work, and does not imply any exclusive right in the preexisting material." Since Mr. Ehat's notes are composed of extracts from "preexisting" material (i.e., the diaries of William Clayton), we felt that he could not claim copyright protection.
On March 21, 1984, Judge A. Sherman Christensen commenced a trial which ended in a very unexpected way. On March 25 the Judge announced that we were correct in saying that Mr. Ehat had no copyright in the Clayton material: "2. That the plaintiff has no copyrightable interest in the so-called Ehat notes nor their ideas nor content, and that plaintiffs claim against the defendants for copyright infringement should be dismissed with prejudice." (Court Ruling, page 17) Instead of dismissing the case, however, Judge Christensen apparently felt that we should be punished in some way for printing the sensitive material. He, therefore, awarded $16,000 for what he said was "unfair competition" and damage to Ehat's reputation. We felt that Judge Christensen's decision was completely unjust and contrary to the law. Since Christensen was a Mormon, Andrew Ehat's lawyer, Gordon A. Madsen, apparently felt that he could capitalize on the religious issue. In the depositions he took from us, he asked questions to make it clear that we had left the church and were publishing sensitive church documents. This, of course, could create a great deal of prejudice towards us in the mind of a believing Mormon.
JUDGE THREATENS US
In addition to the $16,000 judgment against us, Judge Christensen said he was going to stop our publication of the Clayton material: "...Clayton['s] Secret Writings Uncovered...cannot lawfully be continued to be sold and distributed by the defendant..." (Court Ruling, p. 16) Just four days after making this statement, Judge Christensen began to have doubts about the wisdom of his decision to enjoin the publication, and on April 10, he held a hearing and completely reversed his decision with regard to the injunction. Since Christensen reversed the decision, we concluded that we could continue to sell the publication. On April 29, 1984, we published a full-page advertisement in the Salt Lake City newspapers in which we publicly criticized Judge Christensen's decision on "unfair competition" and indicated that we would continue selling the publication. We felt that we were well within our rights of freedom of the press guaranteed to us in the Constitution. Incredible as it may seem, however, Judge Christensen granted Ehat's lawyer a hearing concerning the newspaper article. It is our belief that he only granted the hearing so that he could rebuke us for criticizing his judgment in the newspapers and to try and intimidate us so that we would not continue selling the publication. At this hearing Judge Christensen made some remarkable statements which clearly showed his prejudice against us:
"THE COURT: At the time this matter was before me for final decision with respect to injunctive relief, I was persuaded that an injunction would involve too many problems of enforcement and First Ammendment rights...
"The other thing that persuaded me was my assumption that Mr. Tanner was acting in good faith, was a law abiding citizen...I really didn't expect that Mr. Tanner would insist upon continuing to commit what was ajudged to be an unlawful act,...not only did he do that, but as I read the article,...he really misrepresented the decision of the Court and flaunted his defiance of it....damages of a nature far beyond what were awarded heretobefore could well flow from the crafted, misrepresentation of the Court's judgment...
"The Tanners...had to advertise through misrepresentation their violation and invite the public to contribute to that violation. I guess I'm a little naive. I'm not used to dealing with the kind of people when I accord consideration on balance in faith that there would be at least an attempt to comply with the Court's ruling. I'm not used to people advertising their noncompliance...The Tanners have done about as much as they can to flaunt the judgment of the Court...I don't see that they can do very much else unless they want to publish another advertisement to try and market the matter. But if they do there is relief here....In my judgment, the amount of damages as a result of this additional publication under the circumstances I have mentioned may well be immeasurably more than the damage that was suffered by the plaintiff up to the time of the judgment....the Tanners have done about as well as they could do to justify punitive damages....if the plaintiff suffered in the magnitude of $15,000 for the unlawful misappropriation and publication, the damages could well exceed that by many times because of the emphasis that hadn't applied before through this public announcement and the Tanners' flaunting and misrepresentation of the judgment of the Court...if and when the case is affirmed, I assume the Tanners can be brought in and a full accounting made as to what other sales they have made which were unlawful....The Tanners will be liable as a matter of law for such damages including punitive damages as may have been additionally caused by their unlawful act." ("Partial Transcript of Proceedings," May 8, 1984)
It was plain from this hearing that Judge Christensen was trying to intimidate us through threats of awarding vast sums of money to Mr. Ehat so that we would not publicly question his decision. On page 10 of the transcript, he stated that he might award "many times" the "15,000" (actually $16,000) because of our "public announcement and...flaunting and misrepresentation of the judgment of the Court..." This statement is certainly difficult to interpret, but one could get the impression that he intended to award hundreds of thousands of dollars. In any case, we viewed these threats as nothing less than an attempt to keep us from exercising our freedom of speech, and felt that it was deplorable that a judge representing the United States Government would stoop to such methods to keep us from questioning his decisions. We felt that this was not the American way and did not intend to be intimidated by his threats. We believed, in fact, that the Judge's decision against us and his subsequent threats were a serious miscarriage of justice. The case was appealed to the 10th circuit court to be reviewed by a panel of three judges.
Finally, on December 30, 1985, the U.S. Court of Appeals For The Tenth Circuit ruled in our favor and completely overturned Judge Christensen's decision:
"Andrew Ehat brought this action against Gerald and Sandra Tanner...Judgment was entered against the Tanners, and they appeal. We reverse....
"Ehat's complaint asserted claims under the federal copyright statutes, on which the judge granted summary judgment for the Tanners. In addition, the complaint alleged state common law claims for unfair competition and unjust enrichment. Following a bench trial on these claims, the Court entered judgment for Ehat. On appeal, the Tanners assert that the district court erred in awarding damages on Ehat's common law claims because those claims are preempted by the federal copyright statutes. We agree....State law forbidding others to copy an article 'unprotected by a patent or a copyright...would interfere with the federal policy, found in...the Constitution and in the implementing federal statutes, of allowing free access to copy whatever the federal patent and copyright laws leave in the public domain.'... We cannot agree with the district court that Ehat's state claim was not within the scope of copyright because it was based on his right in the notes 'as a physical matter and property.'...the court awarded Ehat $12,000 for general damage to his reputation as a scholar-that claim is preempted as well....
"Ehat 'cannot achieve by an unfair competition claim what [he] failed to achieve under [his] copyright claim.'... Ehat's state law claim is preempted. The case is reversed and remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion." ("Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Utah" [D. C. No. 83-0593C], pages 2-4, 6-8)
Andrew Ehat's lawyer had originally argued before Judge Christensen that if he could not prove that there had been a copyright violation his entire case would fail:
"THE COURT: Do you concede that if the law is that the quotations of your quotation from the journal doesn't violate any proprietary interest of your client that your case fails?
"MR. MADSEN: I think it does. I think if they can say this is not copyright material and they therefore are at liberty to print it." ("Hearing to Quash Subpoena Duces Tecum and Objections," Sept 6, 1983, pages 10-11)
Mr. Madsen now argues that "uncopyrightable material" is also protected by law. After the U.S. Court of Appeals issued their decision against his client, Madsen submitted a "PETITION FOR REHEARING AND SUGGESTION FOR REHEARING EN BANC." He asked the Court to "rehear the appeal and reconsider the opinion heretofore rendered in this case..." He claimed that if the decision was allowed to stand, the result would be "intolerable" and "immoral." On February 10, 1986, the Court of Appeals responded that "the petition for rehearing is denied by the panel that rendered the decision sought to be reheard.
"The petition for rehearing having been denied by the panel to whom the case was argued and submitted, and no member of the panel nor judge in regular active sercice [sic] on the Court having requested that the Court be polled on rehearing en banc, Rule 35, the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, the suggestion for rehearing en banc is denied."
This, of course, means that our long nightmare has finally ended. Back in November, 1983, we printed the following in the Salt Lake City Messenger:
"Fighting this lawsuit will cost thousands of dollars and a great deal of time, but we feel that it will all work out for our good. The publicity surrounding it has already helped our work a great deal. Some of those who oppose our work have been hoping that the suit will drive us into bankruptcy, but we feel that it will have just the opposite effect. As Joseph told his brothers who had sold him into Egypt, '...ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.' (Genesis 50:20) In Romans 8:28 we read: 'And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.'
"Although Andrew F. Ehat is attempting to destroy our work with a suit which asks damages of up to 'the sum of $50,000,' and the costs of the action to the plaintiff, we do not hold any bad feelings toward him. He apparently feels that he is doing the right thing and that he is working to save the Mormon Church."
Now that it is all over, we really want to thank the people who stood with us through this terrible ordeal. The prayers and financial help we received have been a great help and we are rejoicing that the funds came to meet the expenses involved in this whole affair.
BOMBING VICTIM COULD NOT TESTIFY
As strange as it may seem, the "white salamander" question even found its way into our court trial. In the "Pre-Trial Order," Gordon A. Madsen indicated that he was thinking of calling "Steven Christensen," the man who bought the Salamander letter and was later killed by a bomb, as a witness against us. In the "Trial Brief" Mr. Madsen wrote: "The deliberateness of defendants is further emphasized by the testimony of Christensen and the defendants that the printing of stolen and unpermissive material has been, and is, a habit with these defendants and is highlighted by the most recent issue of defendants' publication, The Salt Lake Messenger, in which they both advertise the continued sale of the Clayton publication and print excerpts from Mr. Christensen's [Salamander] letter without permission, knowing full well who owned the document, that the same has not been previously published, and completely disregarding the rights of Mr. Christensen."
At the trial itself the following exchange occurred between Gordon A. Madsen and Jerald Tanner.
"Q. Indeed the forepart of that same Messenger has some quotes in it from a letter that hasn't yet been printed that you acknowledge is owned by Mr. Steven Christensen, doesn't it?
"A. It has quotations from a letter, but that has not been stolen.
"Q. But your quotations from it were without any permission from Mr. Christensen, were they?
"A. I did not need permission from Mr. Christensen because the owner[ship] of the document is in the family, and it's the family rights would be the descendant[s] of Martin Harris.
"Q. You say in your own article that Christensen is the owner of that document, do you not?
"A. Yes, but if you would read the copyright law there is a difference between ownership of the document and ownership of the manuscript rights.
"Q. What effort did you make to determine who owned the copyrights in that Christensen letter?
"A. I'm sure that it's been so long that no one would." (Trial Transcript, pages 391-92)
Steven Christensen was present at our trial, but because the Judge felt that Mr. Ehat's lawyer was wasting so much time on irrelevant material, he was unable to call him as a witness. It was lucky for Mr. Madsen that Christensen could not testify. Madsen had tried to play down the idea of a "Mormon underground" which was secretly circulating sensitive church documents. In our attempt to find material that would nullify Steven Christensen's testimony, we learned that he was deeply involved in this underground. He had even been dealing with some of the church's worst enemiesi.e. the Mormon fundamentalists, who teach polygamy and the Adam-God doctrine. We had a list of over 2,000 books and manuscripts which Christensen had in his possession at that time and were prepared to question him concerning how he obtained copies of some of the restricted Mormon documents.
We do not believe that Steven Christensen had any manuscript rights to the Salamander letter, but even if he had, we quoted only a few sentences from it in the March 1984 issue of the Messenger. This would fall well within the limits of "fair use," and therefore would not be considered a copyright violation. Furthermore, if Ehat's lawyer had pressed the matter further, he would have learned that the extracts we published were obtained even before Steven Christensen purchased the letter. They certainly were not stolen. If Christensen had been called to the stand to give testimony, it would have had a disastrous affect on Mr. Madsen's attempt to minimize the role of the "Mormon underground." The whole thing, in fact, would have been very embarrassing for Mr. Christensen.
Steven Christensen seems to have been thoroughly converted to the Salamander letter. Instead of listening to the message of caution which we printed in the March 1984 issue of the Messenger, he wanted to fight us in court. He continued to believe in Mark Hofmann and his stories concerning the discovery of important Mormon documents for more than a year. Although he seems to have eventually come to the conclusion that Hofmann was involved in illegal activities, by this time it was too late. If investigators are correct in their theory, it was Christensen's continued involvement with Hofmann which led to his untimely death.
Another interesting fact that has come out of the investigation of the bombings is that Andrew Ehat, the man who sued us, was employed by Steven Christiansen as a researcher. The Deseret News, for Nov. 17, 1985, reported: "During the time Christensen was Sheets' right-hand man at Coordinated Financial Services, he employed Ehat as a researcher through the Deseret Foundation,...Christensen left CFS hurting financially himself, and Ehat got another job." When the trial took place Mr. Ehat said that he earned money as "a researcher," but he did not mention that he was working for the Deseret Foundation. In the Trial Transcript, pages 54-55, he listed some of his expenses. One of them was the "Loss of work, November of 1983 approximately $560,..." We were a little puzzled by this statement because when we took his deposition on Nov. 23, 1983, he said he was not employed:
"Q. Are you currently employed?
"A. No, I'm not employed.
"Q. What's your current source of income?
"A. I'm a graduate student. I've had a fellowship and G I Bill." (Deposition of Andrew Ehat, page 5)
We wondered why Mr. Ehat didn't answer yes to the question of whether he was employed. The reason could be that he did not want to reveal to us his connection with Steven Christensen and the Deseret Foundation. At the time we found it hard to believe that a man with a family who was struggling to go through school would have the money to press this lawsuit against us. We wonder now if the Deseret Foundation could have been helping Mr. Ehat finance the suit.
So far we have not been able to learn much about the Deseret Foundation. According to the Articles of Incorporation, it is a "non-profit corporation" set up for "charitable, educational and scientific purposes." It was founded Jan. 18, 1974, by Gary Sheets [whose wife was later killed in the bombings], Robert Raybould and C. Dean Larsen. Although we do not know when Steven Christensen became involved in the organization, a report dated Jan. 14, 1983, shows that "Steve Christensen" was a trustee in the organization at that time. While we do not know if it means anything, reports submitted to the State of Utah for 1984-85 show that three members of the Board of Trustees (Steven A. Apple, C. Dean Larsen and Wayne A. Jenson) had offices at "200 North Main" in Salt Lake City. This is the address for the McCune Mansion. The Deseret News for Oct. 17, 1985, reported that just before Hofmann was injured by the bomb, he had come out of "the McCune Center." The article also states: "Detectives learned upon questioning witnesses...that Hofmann was seen carrying a briefcase or package into the building. Another witness said he returned to his car with the item. Police now speculate that the package he carried may have been a bomb, and that when he placed the bomb into his car, it detonated,..." If it could be established that Hofmann really did carry a bomb into the McCune Mansion, it would make us very suspicious that the target might have been a member of the Deseret Foundation. This, of course, would raise the question of whether Hofmann had some secret dealings with the Deseret Foundation. If anyone has any additional information on this foundation we would certainly appreciate it if they would contact us.
Supporting 25 Children
In June 1985 we wrote the following: "If the Lord is willing, we hope to expand our outreach to the needy. In the Jan. 1985 issue of the Messenger we stated that we had stepped out in faith to provide support for five needy children through World Vision. We are happy to report that we have had the funds to meet this need and that we are now adding two more children to the list....Psalm 82:3 tells us that we should 'Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.' Because God has been so gracious in supplying all our needs, we have decided to take another step in faith. In the future we will be supporting 25 children. We really want to thank all of you who have made this move possible. All donations to UTAH LIGHTHOUSE MINISTRY are TAX DEDUCTIBLE. [Web-editor: You can now place a donation over the internet.]
ONLY ONE LIFE
In the book of James we read these startling words: "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit'; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away." (New King James Version, 4:13-14) In our home we have the following poem mounted on the wall:
Only one Life,
Twill soon be past.
Only what's done
For Christ will last.
This sign reminds us of the importance of letting the Lord have his way in our lives. All other things should be secondary. Jesus Himself said, "But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you." (Matthew 6:33) On another occasion Jesus told of the futility of living one's life with only selfish goals in mind: "Then Jesus said to His disciples, if anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:24-26)
Although the things of this world seem so very important to us now, some day they will turn to ashes. The Apostle John expressed it very well: "Do not love the world, neither the things in the world If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it, but he who does the will of God remains forever." (1 John 2:1517)
The Lord has promised that if we receive Him as our personal Saviour and allow him to control our lives, we will have great peace here and unspeakable joy in the Kingdom of Heaven: "Do not labor for the food which perishes but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him has God the Father set His seal." (John 6.27) In God's perspective it is certainly true that ONLY WHAT'S DONE FOR CHRIST WILL LAST.
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