Tomorrow, Brent Delzer, 36, will begin what he hopes is only a four-and-a-half year odyssey at the very bottom. At 2:00 p.m., he’s scheduled to turn himself in to federal marshals in Madison, WI, to begin serving a federal prison sentence. Last month, he pleaded guilty to an indictment alleging he was part of a marijuana trafficking conspiracy that lasted from 2000 to Nov. 8, 2004, the day his best friend and supplier, Amos Mortier, went missing.
Mortier’s disappearance sparked a massive federal drug investigation reaching across five states and into Canada. According to federal court documents – including grand jury transcripts – obtained exclusively by The Feral Scribe, Mortier, for four years, received regular shipments of marijuana from his New York connect, Reed Rogala. In October 2004, Rogala visited Mortier in Madison, WI, to settle $80,000s of outstanding debt. Mortier didn’t have the money and went missing less than 10 days later. Rogala, who was in Vermont when Mortier disappeared, was sentenced in 2009 to more than 12 years for his role in the conspiracy. Investigators have all but ruled him out as a suspect.
Delzer, being Mortier’s best friend and business associate, was an early suspect in the disappearance and presumed homicide. But unlike Rogala, investigators haven’t fully scratched Delzer from their list of suspects. They have over the past six years kept the pressure on him, culminating in his August 2008 indictment on federal drug conspiracy charges, arriving at last month’s guilty plea and concluding with his November sentencing. At his plea hearing, Delzer told the judge he believed the government had enough evidence to prove he sold marijuana for Mortier.
On Friday, a special agent from Miami flew to Madison to administer a polygraph, which Delzer consented to as part of his plea. He has steadfastly denied any involvement or knowledge of Mortier’s disappearance. Likewise, investigators have never produced any evidence to the contrary. At a special hearing in June 2009, several witnesses succumbed to emotions while being forced to testify against their friend during a special hearing regarding the drug charge. “I know that man loved Amos,” one cried out, according to court transcripts.
The Feral Scribe spoke with Delzer earlier today about the disappearance of his friend, what he’s done to prepare for prison and how he’s spending his final hours of freedom.
In twenty-four hours you’ll begin serving a four-and-a-half year federal prison sentence. How are you spending that time?
Well, I’m to going try and have as much fun as I can. I’m spending time with my girlfriend. I’ve already said good-bye to my mother. I’ve already said good-bye to my lawyer. It’s basically saying good-bye, and trying to tie up loose ends.
What goes through your head, knowing that this is the last time you’ll see a lot of these people for a while?
Quite frankly, I don’t know yet. It’s a ball of emotions. It’s very hard to deal with that, to come to grips with the fact that I won’t be able to see these people. I don’t know if I can comprehend what that is all about, because in my rational mind, I know that I’m not going to see these people again for a long time, but on the other token, I don’t know what it’ll be like. It’s hard to process that emotion, the fact that every person I love will be away from me and I’ll be in a completely new environment, a very scary environment, quite frankly.
Tell us about the crime you pleaded guilty to.
I pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute… marijuana. The reason I pleaded out… I was never caught with a single shred of marijuana, but I realized the federal government is a powerhouse. If they want you, they’re going to get you. I decided to hedge my bets, so to speak, and plead out, because if I pleaded out I might get a reduced sentence.
This is how it is: If I would live my life completely alone, with no one else, I would’ve told them to pound sand and go to trial. But I don’t live my life alone and I never will. I have people around me who love me. I have a new niece who is two-months-old. I have a fiancee. I want to get out in time so that my niece isn’t so old that she says, ‘Who the fuck are you?’ I want to be a part of her life, to be a part of the lady I love’s life. I want to get out while my mom is alive and vital and be a part of her life. These are the factors that led me to plea.
How did the feds learn of the operation?
The disappearance of Amos Mortier, my best friend. The last time that he was seen was November 8, 2004. The terms of how he disappeared or the way he disappeared, I can’t talk about that, because I have no clue. But I can tell you that I went to the ends of the earth and did everything I could to find him. I threw benefit shows to raise reward money, spent my own money to put up flyers, I gave money to his mother. But in terms of how he disappeared, I have no clue. He was just gone, like a ghost. One day he was there, and the next he was gone.
Now, investigators believe his disappearance was connected to the conspiracy, correct?
They believe that, yes.
Given your proximity to Amos, you were, for a while, considered a suspect in the disappearance.
Yes, I was. In fact, for a while, I was the main suspect, not only in his disappearance, but also in his suspected homicide.
You recently took a polygraph as part of your plea agreement. What was that like?
The polygraph was horrible. It was about five-and-a-half hours, and they asked the same seven or eight questions. I was connected to this machine, which looked like something out of The Matrix, by the way. I was wondering if shit was going to be plugged into the back of my head.
So people know what a polygraph is like, they use what looks like an old, industrial strength telephone cord wrapped real tight around your chest. Then there’s another one wrapped around your abdomen. There are two velcro strips with metal sensors wrapped around your ring and index finger on your left hand that you have to keep totally still and flat. There’s a blood pressure sleeve that wraps around the calf, that doesn’t measure pressure, but blood flow. And, for lack of a better term, there’s a butt sensor, like a pad that you sit on, to measure your fidgeting. Then there’s a webcam on your face that doesn’t record anything, but, because the polygrapher sits behind you, it allows him to watch to see if you’re cheating the test.
It’s a horrible process. You get asked a series of questions, then they tell you to take a break, to relax, but you can’t, because you’re in the most uncomfortable chair in the history of chairs. Then they ask you the same questions again, and again, and again, and again. It just isn’t fun. It’s pretty much one of the worst experiences I’ve been through. Not to mention that they would never say my best friend’s name. They just referred to him as this man. As in: Were you involved in this man’s disappearance?
So this has been going on for six years. Was it a relief to plead guilty and know there’s an end date for you?
That’s a really interesting question. I would have to say yes, there was relief that there’s closure, that finally I could do something actively to end this, to serve this time, whatever time it will be, and then continue my life once all of it is over. Now I have a finite amount of time this will go on. It is a relief to know that tomorrow I’ll begin serving my time. But I’d like to do the Marty McFly, 88-miles-an-hour in a Delorean thing. If I could go back and know how all of this was going to go, I’d go back to the start of it and just plead guilty, because I’d be out right now.
If I could go back to the last time I saw my best friend, on November 5, 2004, I’d have shoved his little ass in a basement with a lot of food and kept him safe.
What will be the hardest part of losing your freedom?
Being away from my loved ones, my family. My family is large; they’re the people around me that love me.
Do the feds prep you for what to expect once inside?
I have several friends who’ve been not only to state prison, but also federal prison. They’ve given me information to assuage my fears. I’m sorry, to a layman, to someone who hasn’t even been in jail, what I know about prisons comes from the movies. I think shanking in the lunch line and rape in the shower, but my friends have assuaged my fears that that is not going to happen. However, I’m not going to say it’s not scary as fuck. It’s scary as hell and I’m just trying to get my head around it all.
It was weird. Last Tuesday, I wake up in my bed, my bed, in my room, in my house. It’s about 6:30 in the morning, I’m looking around, and it’s a weird feeling to realize that this is the last Tuesday you’re going to wake up in this situation. My kitten was sleeping at my head. My girlfriend had her arm around me. I woke up and then they woke up, and I looked at both of them and said, ‘If next Tuesday something is sleeping on my head and some person is rubbing me from behind, we’re gonna have a bad day.’ That’s hard to wrap your head around. It’s the unknown. You don’t know how to fucking deal with it. There is no way to deal with it.
How do you respond to when people chalk you up to being a low-life drug dealer?
I’m happy you asked that, sir. I answered this very question the other day. I realize that just because they chalk us up as some dirty, low-life drug dealers, it was a job. There are people who will see Amos and I in this category, but it was a vocational choice. It was a minor thing in our life, it didn’t define us. I wasn’t defined by marijuana. We had pursuits, dreams, and endeavors that transcended all of that.
Do you think they’ll ever find Amos?
No. They fucked up, bungled and botched the whole goddamn thing. I’m one-hundred percent sure they’ll never find out what happened to Amos, which pisses me off. From the get go, they were like the Keystone cops from the old-school movies. They will never figure out what happened to him because of their own ineptitude. Based on what I’ve seen, I don’t think at any point in time they were interested in finding him. I believe they never even tried to find him. Time, time and time again they fucked up everything. Even someone who just watches Law & Order would understand that this is ridiculous.
Now that they have their eyes on a guy who they believe is responsible, do you feel the murder investigation is heading in the right direction?
Not at all. No. I do not. Based on what I’ve read from my own discovery papers, let me say I think there is a very loose circumstantial case against this guy. However, everything about this tells me he did not do this. There is another person I do think did do this.
Personally, I think they’re so fixed on him because they just want somebody. If they go for him, no jury at all will convict for a murder with no evidence. They’ll go for him, he’ll get acquitted and then it’ll be closed. Then we’ll never know what happened to my best friend. We’ll never find out.