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[00:00:06]

Pushkin. Hey, listeners, this is Jake and I need your help. We'd like to do a season two of deep cover and we're looking for a great story. Our theme or focus is people who go undercover or in some way or another live double lives. This could be a story about law enforcement or spies or something else entirely, like someone infiltrating a cult or a family member who has a secret life. We want it to be big epic in scope so that it can hold listeners for a bunch of episodes.

[00:00:40]

If you have any ideas, please send your suggestions or leads to deep cover at Pushkin FM. That's deep cover. All one word at Pushkin P. usa k i. N as in Nancy Dot FM. OK, now for episode nine. Previously on Deep Cover, in the mid 1980s, the FBI took down a massive drug smuggling ring which was importing huge loads of marijuana from Colombia into the United States with the help of Agent Ned Timmons, the three ringleaders were caught and imprisoned.

[00:01:24]

Case closed. Or so it appeared, until one of the ringleaders, Stephen Kalish, revealed that there was a silent partner and he was none other than General Manuel Noriega, the ruler of Panama and a top CIA asset. This prompted congressional hearings and an indictment. Meanwhile, Ned was still busy at the FBI thanks to all of his undercover work. Ned still had all kinds of contacts in the drug world and they were still paying off. In fact, he was getting even deeper into the illegal drug trade.

[00:02:01]

These are the people that would have supplied the drugs to likely rich. They're the people that controlled everything on the north coast of Colombia.

[00:02:13]

At one point, Ned pose as a buyer, and he busted a smuggler who was bringing in cocaine and marijuana into the U.S.. So another win for Ned and it also opened yet another door for him. Afterwards, Ned got a call from the smugglers wife. A woman from Colombia will call her Simon.

[00:02:39]

Simon reached out to Ned because she wanted to help her husband. Basically, she wanted to get his sentence reduced or get him move to a better prison. Simon had information to trade, so she contacted Ned, hoping to make a deal.

[00:02:53]

She was connected with the biggest people in the cartels and talked a good game. She knew what she was talking about. She knew the right names.

[00:03:02]

Ned was eager to work Simon's connections, but he was also leery about messing with the Colombians.

[00:03:08]

They don't think twice of killing the Colombians. Anything can happen, you know. Remember, you don't know anybody but yourself.

[00:03:19]

So Ned had his concerns, but he still interested in working with Simon, seeing where her connections might take him, he decided to ask his wife, Cathy Timmons, for help. At the time, Kathy was busy with her own work at the FBI and she was pregnant with their second child.

[00:03:37]

So Ned said, I want you to come down and meet her so that, you know, she has someone that she can call as backup person to me, you know, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

[00:03:47]

As in here we go again. I mean, she'd been through this before, like when Ned came home with Toby Anderson, the violent country western singer, and now this.

[00:03:59]

I always was being introduced to his his informants or his collaborators, as it's like the back up person, you know, I wasn't listed as the cold case agent or anything like that.

[00:04:11]

I think it just gave Netta a feeling of, you know, and and maybe he did it to try and further show the the co-operator, you know, that here's someone else that you know has got your back.

[00:04:28]

So despite it all, Kathy agreed to meet Simon Neds latest source at a hotel in Detroit.

[00:04:35]

I went down to the hotel and then met her. And, you know, she spoke briefly and said, well, you know, if you need anything, give me a call. You know that you're going to be working with Ned.

[00:04:53]

But on the way home, Kathy had second thoughts about the whole arrangement.

[00:04:58]

I mean, she was strikingly beautiful woman. And now she's sitting here with no husband. She's got no other connections besides net. You know, Senada not a good situation to have your husband involved in. I mean, you can almost predict trouble. I'm Jake Halpern, and this is deep cover. Our final episode of 1989. Hey, this is this is Jake, how are you? OK, thank you. Can you hear me OK?

[00:06:03]

That's Simon. There are a lot of details about her story that I can't share with you. I need to protect her identity. But here's what you need to know. After meeting Ned, she started brainstorming with him about what intel she could offer. She was still hoping to help her husband, who at this point was in federal prison in Michigan.

[00:06:26]

We got a lot of information, a lot of conversation, lot, as I said, a person that you could trust.

[00:06:34]

But she was scared about ratting on the cartels and ultimately she got cold feet.

[00:06:42]

So I didn't want to take out boy.

[00:06:45]

And this meant she couldn't help her husband, but she actually kept meeting with Ned, I think.

[00:06:52]

Why don't they do it in a week?

[00:06:59]

Simon says that she trusted Ned more than that, that he seemed like a hero to her.

[00:07:04]

That's the word she used word because the way the way he security self-confident, how immaculate you want. And those were in his personality that I was attracted.

[00:07:25]

Someone eventually told Ned that she was willing to connect him with other sources. She knew another Colombian who needed help and he was willing to talk. Simon even offered to meet Ned in Venezuela and make the necessary introductions. They spent a week down there together, Jake.

[00:07:46]

It's almost like the two of us were separated from the world. You just sat around, drank wine and and talked about other stuff. And, well, just his intelligence is beautiful, you know?

[00:08:00]

And you walk through the airport weather and people were running into pilings and walls and dust staring at her.

[00:08:07]

You know, I spoke with another FBI agent who was down in Venezuela with them. He told me that Simon was beguiling. He said, quote, She didn't walk. She glided. She was quite the beauty and she knew how to use it to. This agent suspected that Ned and Simon were getting a bit too close, but he didn't say anything, in part because Ned was such a veteran of this type of work.

[00:08:35]

Ned and Simon did have an affair. It actually started just a few months after they met. It was like an escape. An escape from what?

[00:08:45]

An escape from drug cases and FBI and and, you know, stress and and whatever.

[00:08:56]

It was a release. I mean, it was almost like I didn't care anymore. What do you mean you didn't care about what exactly I was totally burned out with the FBI and the stress of running big cases like this and dealing with other divisions and other agencies. And, you know, it's very complicated to work big cases and abide by the rules and and all the legal issues and FBI protocol and everything. It was just an escape.

[00:09:35]

I asked Simon if she ever felt pressured or coerced by Ned. She said no, never, that their feelings were mutual and her family adored Ned.

[00:09:45]

I was very upset with me. At the same time, it was like he was saying, you know, I you know you know, all of that being said, Ned's affair created some serious problems.

[00:10:05]

Obviously, it was not good for his marriage and professionally.

[00:10:09]

Well, Ned was a federal agent. Simon was providing information to the FBI and Ned was supposed to be assessing the value of her intel. Could she or her connections help the US government or not? Now, Ned couldn't really make that call objectively. There was a conflict of interest and a power imbalance, too. It's not too ethical and it wasn't too honorable and just happened after it started. Do you have a moment of like, oh, shit.

[00:10:45]

What have I done kind of thing? Yeah, I mean, you know, he's had thoughts that it's the wrong thing to do and it's not it's nothing you want to want to become public or whatever. You know, it would just kind of spiraling out of control that I didn't know where it was going to land. While all this was going on, Ned's biggest case, the one that helped spark congressional hearings and the indictment of Noriega.

[00:11:16]

That case was still simmering. The defendants in the case were all serving time.

[00:11:22]

Mr. Beach Club, the gentleman smuggler and the grocery guy, they're just counting the days and the weeks and the months until one day in mid-December of 1989 when something weird happens. On that day, Stephen Caliche, the gentleman smuggler, says he was thrown into solitary confinement.

[00:11:41]

What solitary? You have no access to television, radio. I mean, you get a blanket, pillow, food. He'll have contact with other prisoners. It's basically for protection.

[00:11:53]

Stephen had been watching the news for weeks and had an inkling that something big was about to go down in Panama.

[00:12:00]

You know, they've ratcheted up this whole this whole thing about Noriega in Panama. It's in the news almost daily. Noriega's waving a fucking machete around, I mean, and watching them just fall to pieces, you know? But I mean, the guy is off his rocker. For over a year, Noriega had been thumbing his nose at the U.S., basically saying, you guys want me gone, but you can't do anything about it, remember? Thanks in large part to this investigation.

[00:12:31]

And Stephen kolaches his account.

[00:12:32]

Noriega had been indicted as a drug trafficker, and it seemed like this indictment was now fueling something bigger, like the U.S. might actually take action. In his novel, Ned writes about how big a deal it would be if the US could take down Noriega. Ned knew that very little of what he was doing made any real difference in the drug war. It was the cynicism that came with the territory. As long as there was demand, there would be people willing to run the risks of supply.

[00:13:02]

As long as 20 million Americans were smoking dope, there would be dope in America. There would be cocaine and heroin. And for the pill poppers, there would be crooked doctors and false prescriptions. He knew that. But getting to a guy like Noriega would make a difference. Down in Panama, Noriega was presenting himself as the great defender of his country and its canal. He delivered impassioned speeches, hyping his role as the hero, almost like PR stunts, the way a promoter might hype an upcoming fight between two heavyweights.

[00:13:36]

And this is when Noriega appeared wielding a machete as he spoke to a crowd of.

[00:13:55]

And eventually, all of his taunts, they hit home with President George Bush, senior part of the problem was optics to the public. Bush sometimes came across as mild mannered and even meek when he was running for president. Newsweek even ran a cover story about Bush that would become infamous, called Fighting the WIMP Factor. And now here is Noriega, the uber alpha male waving his machete. Gradually, tension mounted. The U.S. issued sanctions against Panama and tried pressuring Noriega to step down.

[00:14:30]

Noriega just dug in his heels. So the stage was set and then a group of Panamanian soldiers opened fire on four off duty U.S. servicemen.

[00:14:42]

Good evening. Ever since an American military man was killed by a Panamanian troop Saturday night, President Bush and Panama's military dictator, General Manuel Noriega, have been circling each other from a distance.

[00:14:54]

Bush addressed the nation and laid out the case for war. Many attempts have been made to resolve this crisis through diplomacy and negotiations. All were rejected by the dictator of Panama, General Manuel Noriega, an indicted drug trafficker.

[00:15:19]

They called the invasion operation just cause it was a big undertaking involving nearly 26000 U.S. troops and three hundred aircraft. During the fighting, twenty three U.S. servicemen died, hundreds of Panamanians were killed, maybe more.

[00:15:38]

The exact death toll remains in dispute. Some estimates are in the thousands. It's a little stomach churning to think about the number of people who died to capture a single man. And for a while, Nareg himself was nowhere to be found, which back in D.C. was rather awkward.

[00:15:59]

I've been frustrated that he's been in power this long. Extraordinarily frustrated. The good news, he's out of power. The bad news, he has not yet been brought to justice.

[00:16:10]

U.S. forces eventually tracked down Noriega hiding in the Vatican embassy. They tried to smoke Noriega out by blasting rock music, deafening volumes.

[00:16:26]

I actually remember watching this all unfold as a kid on TV, the soldiers played songs like We're Not Going to Take It by Twisted Sister. U.S. generals eventually called off the tactic after Vatican officials complained. Anyway, Noriega eventually turned himself in. And that was it, the last member of the smuggling syndicate was in custody. After his capture, Noriega was flown to Miami, where he went on trial. He was found guilty and sentenced to 40 years in prison and eight counts of drug trafficking, money laundering and racketeering.

[00:17:15]

Officially, that was the end of the story, neatly packaged with a bow operation just cause a righteous effort to take down a drug trafficker.

[00:17:25]

But I got to tell you, like so many people, I never really believe that this is why the U.S. invaded. So I talked with John Dingess, a former NPR journalist who covered Noriega at the time. He also wrote an excellent book on Noriega called Our Man in Panama.

[00:17:41]

I don't buy the theories that are put forward of of why the invasion was done other than a raw exercise of U.S. power.

[00:17:51]

For John, the war wasn't about drug trafficking charges or our desire to restore democracy in Panama.

[00:17:58]

I think it was a power decision by George Bush. The fact that Noriega had defied him personally, you don't fool around with the U.S. government in the way that Noriega was doing it.

[00:18:12]

That's it, the old rules of the playground, a little guy asks out, the big guy puts him in his place. It's a classic gangster move. In the end, seems like what Ned Timmins and Stephen Caliche helped provide wasn't a motivation for war, wasn't a cause, they just provided a convenient excuse. When we come back, a moment of reckoning for Ned, both for his marriage and his career. Hey there, I'm Ashleigh Ford, host of the Chronicles of Now podcast Chronicles of Now commissions, amazing authors like Roxane Gay, Colum McCann, Carmen Maria Machado and Curtis Sittenfeld to write short fiction inspired by the headlines.

[00:19:19]

Each episode features a new work of fiction inspired by the biggest stories of our time, like what does covid-19 do to our relationships? How do we make sense of climate change and extinction? And perhaps most mysteriously, what is going on with Trump's tweets?

[00:19:36]

Because in such uncertain times, sometimes art fiction is the only way to make sense of it all.

[00:19:43]

The show is great for fans of short speculative fiction, historical novels, podcasts that go behind the news and narrative shows like Radiolab and The Moth. The Chronicles of Narnia is imaginative storytelling at its most compelling author's helping us understand our world. Subscribe and Apple podcast or wherever you listen brought to you by Pushkin Industries.

[00:20:11]

Months before the invasion, as the whole conflict between Bush and Noriega was still heating up, neighbors facing problems of his own, he'd been having an affair with his source, Simmen, and he was still working with her now down in Miami. At some point, he started to worry that his colleagues were spying on him like he remembers one day when he was driving around. I was starving, so I whipped around a few times and pulled into like a Burger King or something, and all of a sudden here's what I believe was an agent comes running, running through the alley and a prep radio fell out of his waistband.

[00:20:51]

And I look and I see him jump in a car and pretty obvious FBI surveillance.

[00:20:57]

Suddenly, the paranoia that Ned felt down in the Caymans kicked back in.

[00:21:03]

There was a supervisor in Miami. I strongly believe that he when I'd come into Miami for the meetings that he'd have me surveilled, I would meet with someone, but never you know, there was never any overnight stuff or anything. I mean, whether usually had somebody else with me or whatever. And I think he kind of felt something was going on.

[00:21:26]

Meanwhile, back in Detroit, Kathy gets a call from Ned's boss, he'd been in touch with the supervisor down in Miami, apparently the guy had been watching Ned and the supervisor in Miami said that Ned was in trouble and that they were pulling him in.

[00:21:44]

And that that Ned was having an inappropriate relationship, a sexual relationship with them, with the female operative, and that that Ned 100 percent denied it, but that they were going to be sending him home.

[00:22:08]

Kathy says she'd actually suspected what Ned had been up to for some time. Kathy was an investigator and a good one. She'd found hotel matches in Ned's coat one night and pieced together that he'd been visiting a hotel where Simon was staying.

[00:22:22]

You know, you can imagine it's a typical married fight at that point. It's got nothing really much to do with the FBI or his undercover work. And I couldn't have cared less about his undercover work at that point. I just said, you know, I don't want to I don't want to talk to you about it. I don't you know, I don't want you near me. Then there is the issue of what would happen to Ned professionally, what the consequences might be for having an affair with Simon.

[00:22:54]

Typically, what you would do next in the FBI is you start an investigation to find out what may or may not have also been compromised on that case. I don't believe that they opened one up on him because he basically came home and said that he was going to resign.

[00:23:11]

Ned says there was no investigation. He says he came back from Miami and resigned on his own accord at the office in Detroit. No one knew why Ned suddenly disappeared. Even his partner lineis than a lavishness was mystified. I think everybody was kind of scratching their heads.

[00:23:28]

It was kind of a shocker saying, gee, what happened? The question was, you know, I was literally thinking back at it. Nobody really knew. Was he terminated or to leave on his own? There was no real explanation as to why he was there one day. When the next days that. Officially, the FBI said it wouldn't talk to me about Ned, but I did speak with one of Ned's former supervisors from the early 80s. He wasn't there when Ned resigned.

[00:23:57]

But the way that it all played out for Ned, it didn't really surprise him. The supervisor told me that back then, in certain situations, agents did sometimes just resign to avoid a big, messy investigation. He also told me that six years was a very long time to do undercover work. At one point I asked Ned, why didn't you just walk away before things got out of control, like back when your first son was born?

[00:24:23]

I don't know if if you want to call it an addiction to adrenaline addiction or, you know, whatever it was.

[00:24:33]

That's all I lived for, was timing, you know, I love my kids, I talk to them every day, yet, you know, they're on separate sides of the U.S. But I can't I can't spend a lot of time with them.

[00:24:47]

But, you know, we we talk every day. I don't know what would have happened. You know, maybe if I could have pulled the throttle back and all things would have been a lot different, but it didn't happen, so. Kathy says she respects what Ned accomplished as an agent, but it's all overshadowed by the cost that it exacted on both of them personally. And she still wonders how and if it might have all played out differently, if somehow Ned had been able to walk away from the undercover work, if he had just been working cases, you know, you don't have those opportunities.

[00:25:26]

You can't go sit at a bar all day if you're working cases. You know, you can't go off on these.

[00:25:32]

You can't create a whole new persona of yourself. You are who you are. You're just an FBI agent. You're not God. You're not some movie star, you know, having dinners with fancy people in fancy places.

[00:25:45]

And, you know, you're just an average person. If you remove the undercover work from the equation. Might our marriage have failed over time because of alcohol and fooling around with stuff? Maybe, but we will never know. In any case, after he stepped down, Ned's colleagues at the FBI did throw him a little goodbye party. It was at this restaurant in Oakland County. Some people from the other law enforcement agencies from our old police department came.

[00:26:15]

So it wasn't hugely attended. But, you know, there were enough people there and, you know, they gave them the plaque and wished him well. And, you know, we all had lunch. And, you know, he gave the little talk about how he'll miss the FBI and, you know, but this is what he wants to do now.

[00:26:33]

And he worked so hard. And that's all he ever wanted to be, was an FBI agent. And he just threw it all away, literally threw it all away. Looking back, Ned says that the undercover work is kind of slowly wore him down and that's why he resigned. I just had it just was out of gas. I wanted to do something different on. You know, I was just exhausted with the FBI. And I'm sure he was, but the way he talks about it, it's clear to me that these were his glory days.

[00:27:19]

And honestly, I think part of Ned is still stuck in 1989. He talks about everything that happened like it was yesterday, boasting about the role that he played in history. And there is a certain logic to his conviction, Ned Flip Toby, which led him to shine, which perhaps more than anything else, led to the downfall of the rich and in a way, Stephen Caliche to without them, there's no star witness to testify against Noriega. And without that, well, there's much less of a pretext for invading Panama.

[00:27:49]

A bit of a stretch maybe, but it's not crazy. When I was done reporting the story, I went back and reread Ned's novel. What struck me most was how and where it ended. The image that we're left with is of Ned. At the very top of his game, Ned was back to the less glamorous, if more direct work of hitting the dealers where they lived.

[00:28:28]

He'd gotten so used to undercover work, he would literally walk from a courthouse where he had been testifying and make a buy in a suit and tie.

[00:28:37]

He didn't give a fuck anymore and it only made him even better at the work. In the novel, Ned doesn't resign from the FBI. He just goes right back to work chasing bad guys. And in the very last scene of the book, Ned is down in Louisiana, he's just finished visiting Lee Rich in jail and he's at some hotel sitting at the bar. The lighting is very dim and mysterious. And he meets this woman who's clearly Simmone. It's their first encounter.

[00:29:09]

He's just having a drink and she walks in using the mirror behind the bottles of booze on display on the top shelf. He watched the figure of a woman move through the dim light. He turned as she got close enough and found himself looking into the face of one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen. She put a newspaper in front and said it was an article. He had read an article about the case and ultimately about him. Are you this agent?

[00:29:39]

Ned turned to face her fully. The fuzzy edges of perception given to him by the whiskey started to straighten themselves as he scanned the room to be sure she was alone. Colombians were known to use women as assassins, or maybe she was just marking him for another. But apart from a few of the drunks in the room giving her the once over, no one was paying any attention to him. Who's asking? The woman goes on to tell Ned she knows someone down in Colombia who is in deep trouble.

[00:30:10]

And then took her by the elbow and guided her to a seat next to him. What is it you need? He asked. She looked back at him with tears, glossing the surface of her eyes. We need your help. And that's how it ends kind of suddenly, I guess you could call it a cliffhanger or a teaser for a sequel, but you get the basic idea. Nedd is about to go off on another adventure to help this damsel in distress.

[00:30:45]

While he never directly admitted it to me, I think Ned spends a fair amount of time thinking about how this all might have played out differently, in addition to his novel, he teamed up with different writers and cranked out two screenplays, one called Dope, and the other called the Came In Connection. Like the novel they read, kind of like alternate versions of history, parallel universes with the same characters, but different outcomes.

[00:31:14]

Had some guy that was writing some screenplay or something out in L.A. and and and I said not the whole story doesn't make any sense unless you tell the end.

[00:31:28]

It's really not a success story at all.

[00:31:30]

I mean, sure, his cases might have worked out great. But, you know, it is not a success story at all.

[00:31:37]

And no one knows them better than Ned. Later on, I told Ned what Cathy said, that that could be looked at that way, you know what I mean?

[00:31:52]

It took a toll that you take a psychological and a physical beating. For all this stuff, you know, so. Everything you pay a big price for. It's almost like I was on a rocket and it's no matter how high is that rocket going to go before it turns around, falls back to earth?

[00:32:12]

I don't know what you know, that rocket was going to run out of gas one day, so maybe it did, you know. It's been about 35 years since Ned Timmins made his big bust, sending a whole host of criminals away to prison.

[00:32:38]

Mike Vogel, the distributor, the grocery guy, he stayed in the Detroit area in that quaint little town right out of a Norman Rockwell painting, kind of the last place you might expect to find a former crime boss.

[00:32:50]

Mike also served 10 years in prison. His old life on the outside gradually fell apart.

[00:32:56]

When you get out or actually when you go in, there's a realization you don't control a fucking thing. You don't control anything in your life, except maybe when you breathe in, when you don't breathe. And I was aware that gone that long, no marriage could survive it, none whatsoever.

[00:33:20]

By the time he got out, Mike's ex-wife had remarried. And when Mike went to pick up some of his old furniture from her house, he saw that his kids had posted some of their artwork in the kitchen on the fridge.

[00:33:31]

When he took a closer look, Mike saw that his kids had changed their last names. They taken on the stepdads last name. Mike confronted his ex-wife. I said, What the fuck are you doing? This is, oh, well, the way it was.

[00:33:49]

You can't hold blame for people that believe they're doing the best for other people. Mike told me that he later reconnected with his kids, that he developed a relationship with them, but it took time. Sadly, just before this podcast was released, Mike passed away at the age of 69.

[00:34:11]

As for Stephen Kalish, he told me that he had to come to terms with the past, over the years, a lot of stories have surfaced about Noriega and how brutal he was that he'd had a rival executed. Stephen claims that this wasn't the Noriega that he knew back in the early 80s. Still, it was a moment of reckoning for him. I wish I were shamed. It's probably the best description, a shame that I would have done so much and tie myself so closely to a man that was capable of such atrocities.

[00:34:52]

After getting out of prison, Stephen started a telecom business that made gift cards, you know, the ones you swipe. He says that his business did very well and he ended up moving into that big mansion out in Hawaii where I visited him together. He and his wife, baby, on a horse ranch that offers equine therapy, you know, peace of mind through horses. The reality is, is in the years that I've been here with Fabi, I've learned a great deal about myself and a great deal about many things I was not aware of.

[00:35:27]

And, you know, quite frankly, I never expected to be in a place where I'm at peace, where I feel safe. Truly safe. As for Noriega, he served 17 years in federal prison in the United States. He was eventually extradited to France, where he spent about a year incarcerated on money laundering charges. Then he was extradited again, this time to Panama, where he spent roughly another five years in prison. He died at the age of 83.

[00:36:13]

Lee Rich, you know, Mr. Beach Club, he was supposed to do 30 years in prison. In the end, he served 10. His sentence was reduced after he cooperated with the congressional hearings when I caught up with him in Florida.

[00:36:26]

He broke out a photo album that included pictures of him in jail. Lee showed it to me the way you might crack open an old high school yearbook.

[00:36:35]

This is prison, this one. This is all of us in Lafayette, Louisiana, in prison.

[00:36:44]

That's the main players in all those trials with Voegele CAYLUS and myself.

[00:36:51]

At one point, he actually came very close to trying to break out of prison each week, if you can believe it, Lee left prison to get dental work done.

[00:37:00]

He was escorted by a transportation officer named Gene Minigun Advance to give me the key. And there my handcuffs in the bag and always brought me food. And then I got to know Gene. All right. And we would have our little thing on the side going to the dentist. I actually spoke to Gene. She told me that little thing on the side was just friendship. Anyway, that's when Lee hatched his plan. He had a pilot was going to land a plane not far from the dentist's office, just swoop down and pick him up.

[00:37:36]

But first he'd have to get away from Gene, steal our car, basically just time. You got to get out of the car now and take the key from the van and just leave her standing in the parking lot.

[00:37:48]

So the big day comes. He's sitting in the car with Gene. He's about to make his big move. When he realizes there's no gas in the car, it's almost empty. Okay. I would have gone down the road maybe three miles I of the road. No gas out of gas, no money would have been busted escape. So I left it alone. I went back to the jail that night and cried my sorrows.

[00:38:14]

And he also says he couldn't do that to Gene because he really cared about her deeply. In fact, he and Gene, they ended up getting married. Kathy Timmons, she and Ned got divorced, Kathy raised her kids, two sons, almost entirely on her own, and she went on to have a really distinguished career in the FBI. After 9/11, she worked under Director Robert Mueller to help set up an office that shared intelligence and worked with state and local law enforcement.

[00:38:44]

She's retired now, never remarried. She still stays in touch with Ned.

[00:38:50]

You know, people were always surprised at, you know, how much we always still talked over the many years because I think he you know, we had so much that we knew about one another. And, you know, at the core what that's like being a police officer, being an FBI agent, working these things.

[00:39:07]

Our families back in 2008, Ned and Kathy actually worked a case together. Ned had been hired as a private eye to solve a particularly vexing murder down in Georgia. Ned knew he need help from a really good investigator, so he asked Kathy to help him review the case. And briefly, once again, they were a team. He still never been able to actually leave that undercover role. He's never really replaced the people that he knew, the people that he was close to.

[00:39:40]

It's like he never moved on. He never moved on from it. It stayed with him. And it's like he's still trying to find the end of it. It is. It's like he's still trying to find the end of the story.

[00:39:59]

Ned Timmons still lives in the Detroit area. He's a successful private eye, runs a company called Legal and Security Strategies. He's handled security for local media outlets. And right now he's trying to chase down the guys in China who are counterfeiting American tobacco products.

[00:40:15]

He also specializes in jet ski fatalities, investigating how and why people died while zipping around on their jet skis.

[00:40:25]

After leaving the FBI, Ned and Simon were together for about two years, ultimately it didn't work out. They still stay in touch. In fact, Ned says that he periodically sends her a few hundred dollars to help with the bills.

[00:40:40]

Over the years, Ned, he's also stayed in touch with Lea Rich. In the late 1990s, Ned built a house down in the Caymans. Two of them actually got a big boat and he started hanging out with Lee again. At that point, Lee was out of prison and the Caymans were still his home, even though he was no longer the island's Robinhood. Lee Rich and I were friends undercover, and we were friends when he got arrested and we still talk once a week because our personalities congealed or whatever you want to call it.

[00:41:16]

I love that he used the word congealed. The two of them remain close friends to this day. Recently, Ned planned a trip down to the Caymans. Lee was supposed to come to, but he had some health issues and he couldn't make it. Ned went anyway and I tagged along down in the Caymans. Ned, he seemed to be someone his element. Sure, he was now in his 70s and walking with a limp, but he seemed to love reprising his role as a man of mystery.

[00:41:47]

At the time, he was working on a bounty hunting deal to locate a highly sought after a U.S. fugitive who had a driver taking him around big almost looked like a bodyguard. At one point, we headed over to the house of Lee's old butler, Lee. You may remember him. This is the guy who took Ned fishing for conc back when Ned was undercover. And at the time, Ned thought Berkeley was actually going to kill him. Later on, when Ned lived in the Caymans, they actually became friends.

[00:42:16]

Bertalan He passed away a few years back and now Ned was visiting his widow. Hey, he was there. You remember me nephew from S.A.C. Olcay.

[00:42:31]

They sat down and reminisced about old times back when Bertolli was still alive. Ned seemed genuinely happy, caught up in all the memories.

[00:42:42]

And as we were getting ready to leave, Ned very discreetly took out his wallet and slipped the widow some money to help out, make sure that she was all right.

[00:42:53]

OK, we've got to run.

[00:42:55]

We got no problem. Thank you. All right. Thank you.

[00:43:02]

OK, then he shuffled back to the van. All right. And for a moment, I had this strange sensation that I was watching a play and in it the role of the island's Robin Hood was being played not by Lee Rich, who was out sick, but by his understudy, a man who knew the role and memorized it, in fact, and played it well. Deep cover is produced by Jacob Smith and edited by Karen Shakuhachi, our story editor is Jack Hitt.

[00:43:52]

Original music and our theme was composed by Louis Scarer and Flon Williams is our engineer. Fact Checking by Amy Gaines. Mia Lobell is Pushkin's executive producer. Ned's novel is read by Walton Goggins. John Custer is Pushkin's art director and our show, Art and Character Illustrations were drawn by Victor Kolo. You can see them at our website, Deep Cover Pod Dotcom. The site was created by Tyler Adams special thanks to Julia Barton, Heather Fain, Carly Migliore, Lytell Mallott, Maya Kaney, Eric Sandler, Peggy Taylor, Kadija Holland, Zoe Quinn and Jacob Weisberg at Pushkin Industries.

[00:44:32]

The first version of Ned's unpublished novel was written by James Coyne and edited by Andrea McGlaughlin. Lyric is just published a memoir. It's called In Too Deep. It has the full story of his life. Stephen Caliche also has a memoir On the Way The Last Gentleman Smuggler. So please check them both out. Additional thanks to Sofia Colorfulness, Twyla Gor, Scott Vieira, Nathan Saunders, Elizabeth Ossman and James Baxter. Tape sinks this season whereby Elizabeth Edes, Barbara Sprunt, Robert Jimmerson, Audrey McGlinchey, Greta Webber and Sean Cullen.

[00:45:10]

And a very special thanks to Jeff Singer at Stairway Entertainment who uncovered the story and thought I should tell it. I'm Jake Halpern.