While I had
always believed that "snipe hunting" was a tradition
unique to rural Appalachia, it appears to have been the more
recent pastime of choice in Michigan City, Indiana. It's been
almost three years since Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Priscilla
Jo Beckman, and her husband, Prosecuting Attorney Robert Beckman,
set out from the LaPorte County Prosecuting Attorney’s
Office with their whistles and gunny sacks, fully intending
to bag Snipes, but, like everyone who has ever thus played
the fool, they wound up with egg on their faces, and empty
It's normally an amusing hillbilly diversion.
Gullible young children stumble around in moonlit hollers,
blowing their snipe whistles, or mimicking the older boys'
rendition of the "snipe call," knowing, with absolute
conviction, that a big fat snipe is going to come running
to be scooped up in their sack- just like the big boys said
they would. It's tradition, a rite of passage, part of growing
up, and it's always a harmless prank - much like sitting up
with the little guys waiting for Santa Clause.
The Beckmans' version of the game was a little
different. Their widely publicized Snipes hunt wasn't harmless,
it was born of evil intent, it hurt people, and it had nothing
to do with the foolish innocence of youth.
The Beckman's were old enough to know better.
On March 14, 2004, the Law Firm of Robert
G. Bernhoft, 207 E Buffalo Street, Suite 600, Milwaukee, WI
53202, contacted me and explained that they represented the
movie celebrity, Wesley Snipes, with regard to the paternity
case that has been the source of significant tabloid press.
They advised me that the case had gotten to the point that
Wesley Snipes could be arrested for refusing to submit to
a paternity test.
Frankly, I couldn't rationalize that. The
fact that Wesley Snipes chose to incur enormous expense, and
subject himself to the possibility of arrest, along with the
further adverse publicity that would invariably be attendant
thereto, by refusing to take a simple paternity test, made
no sense at all to me, and I said so.
Although I acknowledge that every accused
person, and/or criminal defendant, is entitled to the best
possible defense, that is not the business that I choose to
be in. Further, having dealt with three preschoolers as a
single parent, I am not a person to be sympathetic towards
those who evade parental responsibilities.
I suggested that Atty. Bernhoft look elsewhere.
Atty. Bernhoft observed that all I knew was
what I had seen in the tabloids, reminded me that I have never
been a celebrity, or a member of any class challenged by ethnicity,
and assured me that there was more to this than I saw; he
persuaded me to accept the case.
What I found, I didn't like.
I talked to her family, her former boyfriend,
and I ultimately interviewed her. As it turns out, Lanise
Pettis wasn't lying.
Lanise Pettis (Born in 1971) wasn't lying
about Wesley Snipes being her cousin, and the father of Israel
Pettis. Although the prosecutors didn't see fit to bring it
up for obvious reasons, she didn't lie when she told me about
her belief that they actually have nine children together,
one of whom is the actor Brandon Hammond (Born 1984), and
another -- the super model, Tyra Banks (Born 1973).
When Ms. Pettis explains that Wesley Snipes
secretly married her many years ago when she was little more
than a child, she believes it, and when she talks about the
government agents who arrived in black helicopters, and demanded
that they never mention the marriage, she isn't lying about
Likewise with the others -- Wesley Snipes
does not define the limits of her celeb relationships. She
told us about Denzel Washington, Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey,
Prince . . . and she even talks about partying with President
Clinton. He's her cousin too!
Lanise Pettis isn't lying, she has no evil
motive, this isn't about money or stealing 15 minutes of fame
at someone else's expense - she is just profoundly delusional.
I found myself wondering, "How sloppy,
how inept - how remarkably gullible would the LaPorte Prosecutors
Office have to be to go forward with a case based on this?"
It gets worse.
According to her former boyfriend, Indiana
authorities knew all about it, and have known since the beginning.
Keith Cowans provided a sworn statement, and in his statement
he said that he told them everything, and even gave the Beckmans
a sworn statement revealing everything that he told us.
I have the discovery documents and there
is no copy of his statement, or reference to it.
Priscilla Jo Beckman, and her husband, Robert
Beckman, are attorneys, Officers of the Court, representatives
of the LaPorte County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office
- the public officials to whom one
is supposed to appeal for truth and justice. They didn't deliver.
Instead, they fed Wesley Snipes and Lanise
Pettis to the tabloids, alleging that he visited his cousin
Lanise, (who is actually a very likeable young woman) who
was portrayed as being a crack addicted prostitute, to counsel
her about throwing her life away. As their story goes, Wesley
Snipes paused on the way out the door for some unprotected
sex with his cousin, and fathered their child.
I do not need to be black, or a celebrity,
to understand why he declined to simply submit to a paternity
test and walk away - leaving the world to merely amend the
prior paragraph to read, "but didn't father
her child." Some empty vindication that
Even assuming, arguendo, that since
Wesley Snipes is a celebrity, he should expect this sort of
asinine abuse - how about Lanise Pettis? Are we to believe
that a Prosecutor, and his Deputy Prosecutor, went forward
with this circus without considering the consequences that
they were exposing Lanise Pettis to?
Didn't they realize that her family, and
the three children she actually does have, will be reading
about this mess, and see Lanise dragged thru the dirt for
nothing? A little limelight must have been awfully important
to the Beckmans; when they bought it, they had to know that
it would come at a terrible price.
Fortunately for Lanise Pettis, Wesley Snipes
is a more compassionate person than they were.
You'll notice that Wesley Snipes is not suing
Lanise Pettis. Whereas attorneys always tell you to sue everybody
(I happen to know how the Complaint was first drafted), Wesley
Snipes is a "hands on" kind of guy, and he makes
his own decisions.
On that issue, and others, he made his position
clear; suffice it to say that he's particular who he whacks
with a sword. In light of all the grief and expense that this
has cost him, that strikes me as a remarkable thing.
Unfortunately, that's all the class and moral
integrity that I saw here. It saddens me to report that Officers
of the Court, and members of the Bar who should have known
better, have behaved in this fashion, and I am sickened by
the nagging suspicion that neither Brad Pitt, nor Leonardo
DiCaprio, would have been treated this way.
of Law in Support of TRO
Warrant; Wesley Snipes
We did some good work here, and we got this put together
as effectively as we did because I had some first rate support
from William “Bill” Wagner, an Illinois Private
Investigator who retired from the Chicago Police Department;
Dennis Hyten, an Indiana Private Investigator who retired
from the FBI; and Gary Somerville, an Illinois process server
with some really good contacts on Chicago’s West Side.
Late Breaking Developments:
On September 14, 2005, Orchid GeneScreen completed
a Genetic Test Report, a copy of which is available
below, notifying Ms. Tracy Tillman, LaPorte County
Child Support, Michigan City, Indiana, that there
was a 99.98% probability that Billy Lee Johnson
is the father of Lanise Pettis' child, thereby establishing
that Wesley Snipes is not.
As previously reported above, and
documented in the statements provided, this has always
been common knowledge. Lanise Pettis Grandmother (Anna
Roberts, with whom she has lived since she was a child)
knew who the father was, Billy Lee Johnson openly
acknowledged that he was the father, and everyone,
including her former boyfriend, knew that the only
reason Wesley Snipes name has been mentioned is because
Lanise Pettis is completely delusional.
In fact, Keith Cowans, the former
boyfriend, testified that he provided Laporte Indiana
authorities with a sworn statement explaining all
of this years ago - a statement that seems to have
In spite of the sinister implications
associated with this case, the news media is reporting
far and wide that Wesley Snipes has been vindicated.
Pardon me, but is nobody from the Fourth Estate paying
attention? If Wesley Snipes is somehow vindicated,
or exonerated, by this recent development, color me
dense, but I reckon I missed it.
Wesley Snipes and his attorney,
Robert G. Bernhoft
The problem I have with this "vindication"
nonsense is this.
I can imagine waking up tomorrow
morning to see every newspaper and rag tabloid in
the Country proclaiming that someone I had never heard
of was my drug addicted prostitute cousin, and accusing
me of; meeting with her in some Chicago crackhouse,
taking advantage of my own cousin's pitiful circumstances
to have unprotected sex with her, getting her pregnant,
and then denying paternity in a shameless effort to
evade my responsibility to our child. . . . it's frightfully
Kafkaesque, but I can imagine it.
From there, it's a short step to imagine
trying to explain the inexplicable to my family and
friends - and you'd see my point if you
could imagine trying to explain something like that
to my wife!
Perhaps I'm petty and small minded,
but news reports that I wasn't actually the father,
several years and a fortune in legal fees later, wouldn't
exactly leave me dancing in the streets, overcome
with glee. Especially, under the circumstances as
they exist in this case.
If, during the course of this ordeal,
I discovered that Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Priscilla
Jo Beckman, and her husband, Prosecuting Attorney
Robert Beckman, knew all along that the allegations
were the fruit of a delusional mind, and had a sworn
statement explaining the history of this particular
fantasy, I wuld feel outraged. If I knew that they
deliberately chose to hand me up to an unmerciful
press so they could bask in the limelight of my crucifixion,
and get their names in the papers at my expense, .
. . no indeedy, "Hey, looks like
your not the father after all,"
wouldn't leave me feeling all warm and fuzzy.
I may be as delusional as Ms. Pettis,
but in the world I try to share with my children,
the word "vindication"
implies truth and justice.
Simply acknowledging the undeniable in a self-serving
bid at damage control is not the same thing.
To anyone inclined to give Deputy
Prosecuting Attorney Priscilla Jo Beckman, and her
husband, Prosecuting Attorney Robert Beckman the benefit
of the doubt - if you just cannot stand to believe
that the Beckmans initiated the case against Wesley
Snipes, and obtained a warrant for his arrest knowing
about the eight other children, Lanise Pettis' prior
involuntary commitment, the secret marriage followed
by the intervention of government agents who arrived
in black helicopters, the involvement of Michael Jordan,
Denzel Washington, and even President Clinton . .
. and all the other information that you have seen
on this web site - I can understand that.
I have a lot of faith in our system
of justice, I truly believe that it is the finest,
fairest system in the world and I don't want to believe
it either - but tell me, if we are going to give the
Beckmans the far reaching benefit of completely inconceivable
doubt, how do we explain the undeniable fact that
they have been in possession of all this information
for nearly a year, as evidenced by the filing date
on my Declaration, yet they are only just now getting
around to dropping the charges, and vacating the outstanding
warrant for his arrest? How is it that they have yet
to acknowledge that he has been unjustly vitimized,
or express an iota of concern over the terrible consequences
of their "mistake?"
No, the fact is, this waddles and
quacks like a particularly ugly duck; it is every
bit the sordid little mess that it appears to be.
For whatever reason, Indiana authorities
took their best shot, and now that that nonsense is
over, Wesley Snipes is seeking his "day in Court."
Although it has been widely reported that Wesley Snipes
is suing Lanise Pettis, as I reported last year, such
is not the case. There would be no justice in further
tormenting a delusional woman who never meant him
in any harm and it is tragedy all its own that Lanise
Pettis has been portrayed as a crack addicted prostitute
- she is not named in the suit he has filed against
In my personal opinion, Wesley Snipes
will be "vindicated"
when they rename Michigan City, "Snipesville,"
and give him an opportunity to fire some of the "help."
Perhaps he could use his cinematic contacts and connections
to find them nice, fluffy jobs to which they would
be better suited.
questions and suggestions.