Mary Lou Sapone

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Mary Lou Sapone (who sometimes goes by her maiden name, "Mary McFate") is a corporate spy with a long history of infiltrating activist groups. In the 1980s, she worked with "Perceptions International, a private Wackenhut-styled security firm" [1]. In the 1990s, she worked with the Maryland-based security firm Beckett Brown International (BBI). [2] In the late 1990s and early 2000s, she ran her own intelligence-gathering business, which she called Strategic Solutions Group LLC. [1]

1990s - 2000s: Infiltrating gun control groups

As Mary McFate (her maiden name), Sapone began volunteered with numerous local and regional gun control groups in the late 1990s. In 2005, she even ran (unsuccessfully) in 2005 for a board position with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. [1]

Sapone was apparently gathering intelligence for the National Rifle Association. "In a 2003 deposition, Tim Ward, who had been president of the Maryland-based security firm Beckett Brown International, said that the NRA had been 'a client' of Sapone's," reported Mother Jones magazine. "Recent emails indicate that in 2007 and 2008 Sapone was working" with Patrick O'Malley, a former NRA staffer then lobbying on behalf of his old employer. Sapone was "well-positioned for many years to provide the NRA -- or any other gun rights groups -- the plans, secrets, and inside gossip of practically the entire gun violence prevention movement." For example, Sapone pushed U.S. groups to take part in a United Nations meeting on gun control in Spring 2008. They did, and "McFate ended up being able to learn what the anti-gun forces were planning for the UN session -- including the delegates they intended to lobby, and the arguments they would highlight." [1]

1990s: Infiltrating environmental groups

In 2008, Mother Jones magazine reported, "In the late 1990s, Greenpeace was working with environmental groups in the stretch of Louisiana dubbed "Cancer Alley," organizing against various forms of industry pollution. Its work there and that of its Louisiana partners became another target for BBI. In 1998, according to BBI emails, correspondence, and records, BBI retained Mary Lou Sapone, a self-described 'research consultant,' who recruited a paid operative in Louisiana to infiltrate an environmental group called CLEAN. Sapone had something of a talent for infiltrating activist groups. In the late 1980s, working for a security firm called Perceptions International, which was, in turn, working for the U.S. Surgical Corporation, she penetrated a Connecticut-based animal-rights group, gathering evidence on an activist who would later serve jail time for planting a pipe bomb near the parking space of the company's CEO. The activist would eventually accused Sapone of coaxing her into the plot." [3]

1980s: Infiltrating animal rights groups

Mary Lou Sapone appears at length in the chapter "Spies for Hire" in the 1995 book Toxic Sludge Is Good For You! [4] by John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton, in subsection titled "Bombing the Boss," pages 61-64. Here is a very brief excerpt:

"Animal rights activists began to have suspicions about Sapone. Unlike most activists, she seemed to have unlimited time and money. She seemed unusually inquisitive, making a point of getting to know all of the key people in the movement. ... Betsy Swart, chairwoman of a San Francisco-based animal rights group, became so suspicious of Sapone's questions that 'I made up a date and told her there would be a demonstration.' Within days, Swart said, she received a call from a government official asking about the demonstration. Sapone frequently urged others to commit violent or illegal disruptions." (P. 61-62, TSIGFY) [5]

SourceWatch resources

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 James Ridgeway, Daniel Schulman and David Corn, "There's Something About Mary: Unmasking a Gun Lobby Mole," Mother Jones, July 30, 2008.


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