Monday, February 03, 2014

R.I.P. Beurt SerVaas

MemberThe man some described as the father of Indianapolis' UniGov and its longest serving City-County Council president, Dr. Beurt SerVaas, passed away last night at the age of 94. While most Indianapolis residents remember his long-time public service as council president for 27 years and his highly successful business career buying and selling businesses all over the world, including Curtis Publishing, which published many magazines including "The Saturday Evening Post,"  it is his clandestine agent role with U.S. intelligence agencies where his sphere of influence was greatest felt. During World War II, SerVaas served as a naval intelligence officer in China for the Secret Intelligence Division of the Office of Strategic Services ("OSS"), the forerunner agency to the Central Intelligence Agency ("CIA").

SerVaas was a long-time associate of William Casey, one of the best known spies in U.S. history who ran the CIA during the Iran-Contra scandal that rocked the Reagan administration. Casey and SerVaas were among an executive committee of veterans of the OSS who ran the CIA from the shadows according to author Barbara Honneger. SerVaas founded International Investigators, Inc. in Indianapolis in the early 1960s, a private investigate firm that boasted of employing former agents of the CIA and FBI. According to Honneger, SerVaas played a key behind-the-scenes role in the Iran-Contra affair, which included his first son-in-law married to his daughter Joan, a French immigrant by the name of Bernard Marie. In 1992, SerVaas was called to testify before Congress about his role in helping the military build-up of Iraq prior to the first Gulf War. SerVaas testified that he believed a $40 million smelting plant built in Iraq by a company he owned was to be used for non-military purposes, not for producing artillery shells and gun cartridges as turned out to be the case.

SerVaas and his daughter, Joan, came back into the public spotlight during the corruption trial of Ponzi schemer Tim Durham, who was Joan's second husband. SerVaas and his daughter agreed to post a $1 million bond for Durham after he was indicted by federal prosecutors for defrauding small investors in Ohio's Fair Finance Company out of more than $200 million. Durham's political influence in Indianapolis and statewide GOP circles began while he was still married to Joan and helped SerVaas manage businesses that he acquired, including the Carpenter Bus Company. Durham began an independent business career based on SerVaas' successful knack for buying struggling businesses, rebuilding them and then selling them for a profit.

SerVaas, an Eagle Scout, earned degrees from Indiana University in chemistry, Spanish and history. While in his 40s, he returned to school and earned a doctor's degree in medical science. SerVaas was a 1980 Horatio Alger Award winner.  "I believe you have to develop a curiosity about the environment in which you live in order to see the opportunities most people don’t see,"SerVaas is quoted by the Horatio Alger Association as saying.

UPDATE: Gov. Mike Pence released the following statement on SerVaas' passing:
“I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Beurt SerVaas, whom I consider a long-time friend. With decades of service to the people of Indiana as a civic, business and philanthropic leader, as well as military service to this great nation, Dr. Beurt SerVaas devoted his life to bettering his community and the lives of all those he served. His legacy will endure for generations to come. On behalf of the state of Indiana, I offer my deepest condolences to all those he held dear as they honor the life of this beloved Hoosier leader.”


guy77money said...

A smart guy who owes the citizens of Indianapolis about a billion dollars due to him pushing the ill fated United (Veolia) Water management deal.

A interesting fact a good friend of mine said about Beurt is he truly believed that European workers were better than American workers!

Gary R. Welsh said...

Beurt and Bart Peterson brokered the water company deal together, which cost Indianapolis taxpayers about a half billion dollars in unnecessary debt. Neither bothered to disclose a personal financial stake each had in the deal. Beurt owned a company that held the exclusive right to provide water to the water company via a pipeline from Lake Monroe to Indianapolis. Beurt claimed that he wanted the city to buy the water company from NiSource at a grossly inflated price because he didn't want it to be purchased by a foreign company. He knew full well when he said that the city was going to turn over operation of the water company to the French-owned Veolia under an arrangement that totally screwed over Indianapolis residents yet again. I suspect his former son-in-law, Bernard Marie, had ties to Veolia, if not one of his other friends in the spy community.

guy77money said...

Throw in two vacations by Bart Peterson to Paris,France when the deal was going down. Interesting fact was it was only reported in the Indianapolis Star once that he was going on a vacation to France. Every other vacation the Mayor Peterson went on was well publicized during his tenure as mayor. The citizens of Indianapolis got a major screw job and even the FBI sat on their hands and watched this fiasco go down!

Unknown said...

Sad that a progressive blog named Advance Indiana chose to rip my dad with wacky conspiracy theories the day after he died, a man who gave 40+ years of public service to advance his city and state. Involved in Iran-Contra?! Good grief.
Mr. Welsh - equally wrong and wacky water company intrigue. French son-in-law and spies! Wow. Eric Servaas

Gary R. Welsh said...

Eric, Do you deny the fact that Joan was married to Bernard Marie, who worked for your father, or that your father worked for the CIA? I thought he was very proud of his work as an intelligence asset.

Barbara Honneger, October Surprise (1989)

Wheaton claims that the "French Connection" to the U.S. "Irangate" includes then Senator Dan Quayle, President George Bush's choice for vice-president in 1988. According to Wheaton, a major source of Quayle's political power in Indiana, his home state, is a longtime associate of former CIA director William Casey, Beurt SerVaas. SerVaas, Wheaton says, was on the Executive Board of the Veterans of the O.S.S. (the predecessor organization to the CIA), which "runs the CIA from behind the scenes. " SerVaas's daughter, Joan, according to Wheaton, is married to an "off-the-books" French intelligence asset and Indiana resident, Bernard Marie. In 1982, Wheaton claims to have introduced Marie to Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) officials who then played a key role in the Reagan-Bush Administration's secret deliveries of U.S. arms to Iran in the 1980's. DIA was one of the military intelligence agencies that was uninterested in prosecuting Colonel Ralph Broman for his arms dealings with the Khomeini regime out of Paris in the early to mid 1980's.

Oliver North's courier in the Iran/Contra operation, Robert Owen, was introduced to another Indianan, John Hull, and to Contra commander Luis Rivas in Senator Dan Quayle's office on July 21, 1983, when Owen was Quayle's legislative aide. Senator Quayle reportedly stayed for the beginning of the meeting. That summer, Quayle authorized Owen to travel to Hull's ranch in Costa Rica at Hull's expense. The ranch was being used by the CIA as a military supply site for the Nicaraguan Contra rebels, a relationship that continued throughout the period during which "profits" from the administration's secret arms sales to Iran were illegally diverted to the Contras. In November 1983, Robert Owen left the staff of Senator Dan Quayle and went to work for Oliver North's "Project Democracy," which oversaw secret U.S. arms shipments to both the Contras and to Iran.

Considering Senator Quayle's reported link to French intelligence through Beurt SerVaas and Bernard Marie, and his link to Oliver North's "Project Democracy" through their mutual aide Robert Owen, it is more than likely that Mr. Quayle had also been made aware of secret U.S. arms shipments to Iran in the first years of the Reagan-Bush Administration. If so, it is probable that he was also privy to the genesis of those early arms deliveries to the Khomeini regime in alleged pre-1980-election meetings among future CIA director William Casey, Iranian representatives, and French intelligence agents. According to Gene Wheaton, "SerVaas brought Quayle into the Casey network early in the game."

Gary R. Welsh said...

On the water company intrigue, from the IBJ:

Seven years ago, former Indianapolis City-County Council President Beurt SerVaas proposed a pipeline from Indianapolis to Lake Monroe through his company Aquavisions.

The proposed $200 million project that would have drawn up to 90 million gallons a day drew critics in Bloomington. Griffin remembers one legislator from that area comparing the plan with theft, akin to, “When you pry my cold, dead hands off my pump handle—then you can have my water.”

Anonymous said...

Beurt didn't work for CIA. CIA worked for him.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Good point, anon. It's a great gig if you get the opportunity to run front companies for the CIA. Money flows into your bank accounts without lifting a finger. It matters not whether your businesses make or lose money; you're always taken care of by The Company as long as you play your respective role in whatever it is they're doing at the time.

Unknown said...

Mr. Welsh - what, not even condolences before you continue your baseless attacks against my father? "I suspect his former son-in-law, Bernard Marie, had ties to Veolia, if not one of his other friends in the spy community." What because he's French and it's a French company?! Why are ripping my dad with this BS? Are you really an attorney? If so, let's see some evidence beyond quotes from other conspiracy nuts. For anyone sane reading this, my father served as a naval officer in intelligence during and briefly after WWII. That's it. Sixty plus years ago. So, Mr. Welsh, I'd really be interested in your list of CIA front companies you claim my dad's been running all these years where the money "flows into your bank accounts without lifting a finger." I know I shouldn't engage someone like you but as we prepare for his funeral, I can't let you defame a good man unchallenged.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Barbara Honneger's book has been out since 1989. Why don't you begin by addressing her claims and by telling us how much money your father made off that "smeltering" plant he supplied Saddam Hussein with?

Unknown said...

My parting suggestion is that you, Barbara and your six readers put on the tin foil hats and crawl back into your holes before my dad's spy friends come looking for you.

Unknown said...

Anecdote: In the 1970s Beurt SerVaas, president of the Indianapolis city council personally hired me to do some programming work. He then paid me 75% of what our contract called for. He said "I won't turn this in to the IRS so you don't have to pay tax on it. We should be square." SerVaas and the mayor colluded for him to buy the Indianapolis Water Co. for a song. He then sold it back to the city for over $500 million. I won't even mention here his CIA ties. He was a true crook.

Oh, and Eric: Stop threatening people. That's not nice.