Jakob also told fellow churchgoers he was a military chaplain at a hospital in St. Louis and that he flew organs for transplant patients around the nation.

(Records from the 2008 FBI investigation into Jakob's antics in Gerald note that Jakob told Potter he owned the lock company, and that in early 2008 he "complained to Potter that he was tired of 'babysitting' everyone...and sold [Total Lock] to a large company.")

In February 2008, when Total Lock's owner called the Department of Defense to report Jakob's fraud, the agency thought it might have a serious national-security issue on its hands, recalls DOD special agent Steve Manley.


Video: Take a windshield tour of Gerald, Missouri.

In His Own Words:

In the course of reporting this story, RFT obtained a transcription of a sworn deposition that Jakob gave earlier this year as part of a $7.25 million civil rights lawsuit pending in U.S. District Court. Read deposition.

Manley soon learned that Jakob had concocted many of his bogus e-mails at the Washington Public Library and that while Fogerty thought he was out on sales calls he was actually hanging around Franklin County and conducting Internet searches for law-enforcement jobs around the nation.

By the time Manley and an assistant figured out their quarry was a bankrupt high-school dropout with bogus military credentials, Jakob was deep into his next charade.

By the spring of 2007, Bill Jakob had risen to the rank of Worshipful Master (a.k.a. president) of Hope Lodge No. 251, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, in Washington. Among the fraternity — a club whose members have included numerous U.S. presidents — Jakob was an active member with a seemingly special connection.

"He had a Masonic ring, a very old ring, which he said was his father's," recalls longtime lodge member Charlie Coy. "He said that he'd been in the German army [during World War II]. Hitler would kill any Freemasons he found out about, so his father carried the ring in his boot."

Scoffs Jakob's step-uncle, Otto Jakob: "That's a pure fabrication."

Billy, as he was called growing up in Fairview Heights, Illinois, was born Billy Reuss. "Susie, his mother, was kind of like a wild child," recalls Otto Jakob, a retired St. Clair County Sheriff's Office lieutenant. "Wayne, his father, was a really nice guy."

The couple separated when Billy was five and abandoned him and his three half-siblings (whom Susie had conceived with another man). "I always heard that Susie was either in jail or dead. I never knew what happened to Wayne," Otto Jakob says.

Otto's step-mother and father, Debbie and John Jakob, were Billy's maternal grandmother and step-grandfather, and they adopted the children and changed their last names. Though John Jakob was indeed German, Otto confirms, he never served in the Nazi army.

According to neighbor Harter Dermody, Billy Jakob was an outgoing, intelligent teenager who was meant to be the quarterback at Belleville East High School but "didn't hit the books" and "seemed to be in trouble a lot."

Jakob never graduated; he obtained a GED and bounced around as a young adult, joining the Illinois Army National Guard and taking one semester's worth of law-enforcement courses at Southwestern Illinois College (called Belleville Area College at the time). During the '90s he worked stints with several municipal police departments in the St. Louis area, among them Brooklyn and Caseyville, Illinois, and Kinloch.

Jakob wasn't certified as a cop in either Missouri or Illinois, however, according to DOD special agent Manley. "He had 40 hours of handgun training; that's all we know of," Manley reports. "And he was fired from Kinloch, Brooklyn and Caseyville for use of improper force."

In 1990 police in O'Fallon, Illinois, had arrested Jakob for criminal sexual abuse (having sex with a minor). Prosecutors dismissed the case. In 1994 O'Fallon police again arrested Jakob on the same charge. Jakob pled guilty to a lesser offense. By then he was married, and a father.

Otto Jakob says he had virtually no contact with Bill when the latter was a boy. But he remembers getting a call one day in the early '90s alerting him that his "brother" was locked up.

"I had a real brother, so I went to the jail to see about it, and they pointed to this guy. And I'm looking at him, going, Who the hell is he? He says, 'I'm your brother.' I didn't realize my father had even adopted him. I got pretty hot. I said, 'Don't you ever use my [name] to try to get out of trouble again.'"

Bill's name didn't arise again until 2000, when Otto heard that his step-relative was a candidate for chief of police in New Baden, Illinois. "A friend of mine's brother was on the village board there, so I told him, 'You better clue everybody into the fact that this guy's been investigated for abuse,'" Otto Jakob recounts, adding, "They never did anything with him."

Department of Defense investigative records show that Bill Jakob fraudulently enlisted in the U.S. Air Force Reserve in the fall of 2000, shortly before deserting his wife, son and six-week-old daughter for a paramour.

Three days after finalizing his divorce in June 2001, he married Amanda Hatcher. The Jakobs moved to Amanda's parents' home just outside Washington, where Jakob soon took on the identity that would help propel him to the top ranks of the local Masonic Temple.

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