Werbell Attorneys Drafting Defense

By Rick Beene
Staff Writer

As written in the Marietta Daily Journal


Four weeks of unwanted—and what he calls undeserving—publicity surrounding federal drug charges has made a social recluse out of the usually boisterous, feisty, monocled weapons specialist from Powder Springs named Mitchell Livingston WerBell III.

Following the advise of his attorneys, WerBell III adopted a monk like existence after he was indicted by a federal grand jury last month, spending most of his days resting and waiting at his sprawling, 60 acre South Cobb estate that doubles as his private munitions factory.

"I'm telling you, those (expletive deleted) in Washington don't know what the hell they're talking about. It'll all come out, you'll see," crackles the voice over the telephone.

WerBell III is waiting for what he considers the inevitable-that somehow, some "higher ups" in the federal government will take care of Mitch - that the drug smuggling conspiracy charges against him will be dropped.

WerBell III has good reason to believe this. After all, wasn't the 1967 indictment against him linking him with the assassination of Haitian Dictator Francois Duvalier mysteriously dropped?

And just recently didn't his attorneys make a mockery out of a federal case against his son, Mitch IV, who was acquitted on a charge of illegally trying to sell 2,000 submachine guns to an undercover agent?

The allegation that he and seven other men conspired to smuggle 20,000 pounds of top quality Columbian marijuana into the United States is just another in a long series of attacks on the WerBell clan, says the family elder.

As WerBell III waits, his attorneys are mapping out a courtroom strategy they say will not only prove their client's innocence but also make a mockery out of the government's case against him.

It is a strategy aimed at getting the indictment squashed before the case ever goes to court. But if he does stand trial March 2 in Miami, the list of defense witnesses will be composed of officials from virtually all of this nation's clandestine and secret operations agencies - the CIA, FBI, Defense Department, Treasury department, Drug Enforcement Administration, to name a few.

The masterminds behind his defense are Atlanta Attorneys Ed Marger and Col. (Ret.) Reid Kennedy, two nationally known attorneys known for their courtroom expertise and irrefutable knowledge of the law.

Indeed WerBell III cuts no corner when it comes to legal representation for his family and family owned company, Defense Systems International.

Col Kennedy gained notoriety as the presiding judge in the military court-martial trial of Lt. William Calley prior to his retirement several years ago.

The defense strategy is simply this: That whatever WerBell III has been involved in during the past year regarding illicit drug traffic, it was done with the prior knowledge and possible consent of "higher ups" in at least one governmental security agency.

In summary, the defense will argue that WerBell's activities this year have been the same - his journeys around the world in previous years have been affiliated in one way or another with the United States government.

Col. Kennedy already is seeking classified information on WerBell III that is hidden in the files of the FBI, CIA, DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration), Department of Defense, Treasury Department, National Security Agency and Council, and the Secretary of State.

Somewhere in these files, they argue, is proof that WerBell's involvement with drug traffic was done with the government's approval, possibly even part of an attempt to track down illicit drug rings.

"Mitch just isn't a loner. He doesn't work like that and never has," says Ed Marger, an unflappable defense lawyer with a keen understanding of the inner workings of the federal bureaucracy.

WerBell III is a dedicated member, and staunch believer, of the "old boys club." This group of "old boys", as Marger calls it, is composed of both former and present members if this country's highly secret intelligence community.

Through his 587 years Mitch's association with the CIA and other clandestine governmental agencies has taken him to such world hot spots as Vietnam, Red China, Bangkok, Buenos Aires, Santo Domingo, Costa Rica... the list goes on.

During and after World War II he served with distinction in the OSS, (Office of Strategic Services), the forerunner of the CIA.

It was through this that Mitch developed life-long friendships with the super-patriots of the intelligence community.

One of these long-time associates and closest friends is Col. Lucien Conein, who heads the Clandestine Operations division of the DEA.

Ironically, the DEA is the agency which brought the current charges against WerBell, and it is a save bet that if he goes to trial Col. Conein will be called to testify.

Conein is also a member of the "old boys club". He knew WerBell III when he directed the United State's dreaded "Phoenix" program in South Vietnam, a systematic elimination of antigovernment and Communist elements in the country.

WerBell III was in South Vietnam working on his specialty, developing what is considered the world's most effective sniper rifles equipped with silencers.

Col. Kennedy confirmed that Conein will be subpoenaed to testify if the case makes it to court. Conein could turn out to be a key to the defense strategy since he is affiliated with the agency that brought the charges and feasibly could have knowledge why WerBell III was talking with drug conspirators.

Perhaps WerBell's best defense is his long and devoted association with the United State's government. Although he has never been a paid employee of the government, his travels across the globe on a secret operation assignments have nevertheless been in conjunction with a governmental operation.

"Our defense would have to be that whatever Mitch did was for the good of the country," said Marger. "He's always worked like that. Whatever he did was for people he believes are in authoritative position."

"It was no mistake," Marger points out, "that Mitch was on one of the lead tanks in the Marine invasion of the Dominican Republic in the early 1960's.

And it was also no mistake when WerBell III and his son were sent to Costa Rica last year to talk with fugitive financier Robert Vesco about setting up an arms factory, which Mitch said fell through because Vesco is "one of the biggest (expletive deleted) I've ever met."

Marger uses these two incidents to emphasize WerBell's long devotion to the government.

A recent article in a nationally distributed magazine referred to WerBell III as a "CIA weapons specialist," and yet another magazine account of his past activities linked him as the supplier of James Bond type assassination devices for this country's clandestine operations.

But for now the short, mustachioed son of a Russian Cossack colonel keeps a low profile, respectfully and warmly declining interviews, hoping that his latest troubles will take the same course his others have, with Mitch WerBell III winding up on top.