Lee Shargel a Hoax!
Date: Tuesday, March 11, 1997
Source: By MICHAEL CABBAGE Staff Writer
UFONEY? CONTROVERSY ISN'T ALIEN TO AUTHOR
Even in the fantastic world of alien abductions, UFO crashes and massive
government conspiracies, Lauderhill author Lee Shargel works close to the
Armed with items he identifies as secret photos taken by the Hubble Space
Telescope, debris from a flying saucer and a mark on his chest left by
dolphin-like aliens, the science-fiction writer has been touring the country
since November, publicizing his new novel, Voice in the Mirror. The story was
inspired, Shargel says, by his real-life meeting with beings from another
solar system in 1993.
Buoyed by Shargel's promotional talents and positive reviews, the book has
been selling well. So well, in fact, that Oughten House Publications is
gearing up for a second printing.
But Shargel's insider accounts of extraterrestrials at an international
UFO conference in January have embroiled him in a cosmic-size controversy.
The squabble is expected to heat up next week when Shargel is scheduled to
address a meeting of the Mutual UFO Network in Los Angeles.
A group of outraged UFO researchers charges that Shargel has done the
unthinkable: namely, fabricate evidence of alien encounters. A few claim he's
a government agent spreading disinformation. Others say he's a flake.
"The fruit salad factor in the UFO community is a problem for everyone,"
said Shelle Thomson, a California UFO researcher who addressed the conference
on alien contact. "It's hard enough to figure out what's really going on
without the disinformation. That's what makes Shargel so annoying."
Shargel laughs off charges he's a fraud or a flake. He says all he wants
to do is become the Stephen King of science fiction.
"Controversy sells books a lot faster, and I'll be remembered a lot
longer," he said. "Don't you just love it?'' Shargel claims he and six other
unidentified researchers met and photographed dolphin beings from a
water-covered planet called Chulos while working on a government project in
the California desert. The project's name, Shargel says, isn't important.
"While I was there with several scientists, we encountered, for a very
brief period of time, three aliens," he said. "They were inside a very large
bubble filled with water. I was the closest one to the bubble and I walked
right over to it. "One of them lifted its hand toward me. They changed colors
for about 10 seconds and then they were gone."
According to Shargel, when the dolphin creature reached toward him, it
left a heart-shaped mark on his chest. The mark, a small, discolored V-shaped
patch of skin above his stomach, signifies a special energy that protects him
from evil, Shargel says. He senses that 20 other people in the world,
including a Washington radio talk show host, have the mark.
At the sixth annual International UFO Conference in Laughlin, Nev.,
Shargel discussed the dolphin episode, along with other titillating
revelations. During his presentation, he displayed an item he said was a
piece of a crashed UFO given to him by an unidentified Coral Springs woman,
whose father supposedly worked at Roswell Army Air Field in New Mexico.
Skeptics pointed out that Shargel's alien artifact looked remarkably like
a toilet valve. Another critic charged that in one of Shargel's photos, a UFO
appeared to be just pasted onto the background of another photo.
"In all of my years of following this stuff, we've never had anyone so
blatantly attempt to pull the wool over people's eyes," said Bob Brown,
president of the Denver-based International UFO Congress. "If you're going to
make these kinds of claims, you've got to be prepared to back them up."
Shargel has yet to offer much in the way of supporting evidence that would
rebut his critics. He simply says his interpretations of the items are just
as valid as those of anyone else..
"These people got together and decided to appoint themselves the
authorities on UFOs for the world," Shargel said. "They don't want people to
make up their own minds."
Since the conference, Shargel has been the object of scorn and ridicule
from many UFO buffs. One Internet site displays his mug shot on its "Galaxy's
Most Wanted" list.
Questions about Shargel's credentials, as listed on his novel's book
jacket, have heightened the controversy. A short biography claims he has a
Ph.D., graduated from Northeastern University and worked for NASA on several
projects, including the Hubble Space Telescope. The claims have all been
Shargel insists a mixup led to the erroneous Ph.D. reference. He actually
earned a bachelor's degree from a northeastern university in New York, he
said, not Northeastern University.
Furthermore, Shargel explained, he was never employed by NASA but worked
on projects for several contractors at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in
Maryland. Goddard's public affairs and security offices have been unable to
confirm that Shargel ever was there.
Although Shargel's standing as a UFO expert is under attack, his fortunes
as an author have never looked better.
Oughten House has agreed to publish two more novels in the Chulosian
Chronicles series, and a company spokesman says several Hollywood studios
want to discuss movie rights. After a two-week West Coast book tour this
month, Shargel plans to return to South Florida for a series of appearances
in April and May.
As far as the criticism is concerned, Shargel says bad publicity still is
"As long as they get the spelling right, S-H-A-R-G-E-L, that's all I care
about," he said. "Maybe I'll prove Andy Warhol wrong and keep that fame for a
little longer than 15 minutes."
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