U.S. Surgical CEO is not exactly retiring, despite sale

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 1998:

NORWALK, Ct.– – U.S.
Surgical Corporation founder and
CEO Leon Hirsch, 70, on May 24
sold the firm to Tyco International
Ltd., in a deal expected to close in
September. Whether the sale will
reduce the role of U.S. Surgical in
anti-animal rights work is uncertain.
“We don’t really anticipate
any effect,” Americans for Medical
Progress director of public affairs
Jacquie Calnan told ANIMAL PEOPLE.
U.S. Surgical personnel founded
AMP, and in 1992 $980,000 of the
$985,000 AMP budget came from
U.S. Surgical, but Calnan said that
“Over the past few years, as AMP
grew and developed a broad base of
support among the research community,
U.S. Surgical gradually reduced its
financial backing. Today,” Calnan
said, “AMP has over 90 corporate and
institutional partners, including U.S.
Surgical. But as of this year,” she
added, “USSC is no longer the majority,
or even the largest, contributor
among AMP’s members.”


However, Calnan also said,
“Under the terms of the sale, Leon
Hirsch will continue in his role and we
look forward to continuing our partnership
with U.S. Surgical for many
years to come.”
A longtime target of animal
rights protest, for using dogs in sales
demonstrations of surgical products,
Hirsch via U.S. Surgical in 1987-1989
hired the now defunct private security
firm Perceptions International to spy
on Friends of Animals and other
activist groups. One undercover
Perceptions operative, Mary Lou
Sappone, was elected president of the
Connecticut Animal Rights Alliance,
nominated by former CARA president
Wayne Pacelle, who is now a senior
vice president for the Humane Society
of the U.S.––even though CARA
cofounder Kim Bartlett, now A N IMAL
PEOPLE publisher, had
already identified her as an informer.
In January 1988, Sappone
tried unsuccessfully to interest A N IMAL
PEOPLE editor Merritt Clifton
in a plot to “blow up” Hirsch, apparently
unaware that Clifton was not an
activist but a newspaper reporter, who
mistook her for a raving drunk, told
her the bombing plot was a “halfassed
idiotic idea,” and told others
present that she was talking crazy.
In April 1988, Sappone met
New York City dog rescuer Fran
Trutt, whom she encouraged and
financially assisted in placing a bomb
in Hirsch’s parking space at the U.S.
Surgical headquarters in Norwalk,
Connecticut. In November 1988,
Trutt was driven to the scene, with
the bomb, by another Perceptions
undercover operative, Marc Mead,
who had arranged for her to be arrested
in a police ambush.

Spy vs. spy
Trutt served a year in prison.
Sappone and Perceptions International
founding partner Jan Reber may still
be involved in surveillance and disruption
of animal rights activity,
under new aliases. Their whereabouts
as Sappone and Reber are not presently
known, but former associates have
tentatively identified their presence in
photographs and covert video taken of
marine mammal-related activism during
the past two years. Their possible
appearances have occurred in proximity
to an individual whom A N I M A L
P E O P L E believes may be Bill
Wewer, best known as legal counsel
for the anti-animal rights front Putting
People First, which in 1997 renamed
itself Putting Liberty First.
Responding in February
1997 to questions from A N I M A L
P E O P L E, Wewer said he had
“moled into a movement organization
using an identity which, although
assumed, does contain a humorous
clue to my real identity, if you know
how to look for it.”
In archaic Germanic languages
a “wewer” may be a weir, a
small stream or spillway, a pitcher or
basin––or a werewolf.
An individual of self-professedly
mysterious background in
military intelligence named Rick Spill,
with physical resemblance to Wewer,
was marine mammal consultant for
the Animal Welfare Institute from
1993 until May 1997, when he left
abruptly and was replaced by longtime
controversial marine mammal activist
Ben White. Spill denied being
Wewer, supported by affidavits from
Doris Day Animal League president
Holly Hazard, Animal Legal Defense
Fund attorney Valerie Stanley, and
several Washington D.C. housemates.
One housemate later told
EnviroWatch investigator Carroll Cox,
however, that contrary to the affidavit,
Spill could not be definitively
placed at that address at a time when
Wewer was making a public appearance
in Montana.
The Social Security number
Spill used at AWI traced to three different
individuals, in various parts of
the U.S.; public records indicate no
births of males within a week of his
stated date and place of birth; and he
departed AWI, he told associates, to
attend to matters associated with the
death of his 85-year-old mother in
Maine, but ANIMAL PEOPLE was
unable to locate any record of anyone
female dying in Maine during the right
several days who was in the right age
range to have been Spill’s mother.
As ANIMAL PEOPLE
pursued the investigation, Washington
state marine mammal activist
Athena McIntyre told Cox and
affirmed in writing that Spill in March
1997 solicited her help to arrange for
“police” he claimed to know to “rough
up” ANIMAL PEOPLE e d i t o r
Clifton. McIntyre did not cooperate,
and no such “roughing up” occurred.
Wewer in a December 1992
letter to Mark Berman of Earth Island
Institute identified himself as representing
Norwegian whalers who
belonged to PPF. Before joining his
wife Kathleen Marquardt at PPF in
March 1990, Wewer did legal work,
in association with Valerie Stanley,
for the 1990 March for the Animals;
incorporated the Doris Day Animal
League in 1987, remaining on the
payroll until March 1990; and––with
Marquardt and others––formed the
National Committee to Preserve
Social Security and Medicare, which
ran afoul of two Congressional investigations
and was reprimanded by the
U.S. Postal Service and the Justice
Department in the mid-1980s for
allegedly misleading fundraising.
Hirsch may also have an
indirect association with Norwegian
whalers and sealers, both through his
political and philosophical alignment
with the so-called wise use movement,
and via relatives of his wife,
Norwegian-born Turi Josefsen, whose
investments in U.S. Surgical have
reputedly made her the highest-paid
woman in history, with annual
income said to have exceeded $20
million several times. Josefsen has
long been rumored in animal rights
circles to have come from a whaling
and/or sealing family, but unlike the
flamboyant Hirsch, she has rarely if
ever discussed her background with
media, and ANIMAL PEOPLE h a s
not been able to ascertain the substance
of the rumors

Print Friendly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *