16. Silas Newton was a confidence man who may have been the informant in the Hottel Memo
As early on as September 1938, the FBI had information on Silas Newton. Newton had an extensive arrest record at that time, in multiple states, which included stock fraud, wire fraud, grand larceny, bail jumping, and other crimes. Yet Newton portrayed himself as a wealthy oil man and investor. By 1950, Newton was a self-described expert on the popular subject of UFOs and was cited as a source in one of the early books on the subject, Behind the Flying Saucers, by Frank Scully. He claimed multiple personal UFO sightings, including the crashed UFOs held by the government. Newton’s claimed knowledge of UFOs and the aliens which flew in them led him to numerous speaking engagements, but could not surpass his taste for out and out swindling. Along with a partner, Leonard GeBauer (known as Dr. Gee, but in reality an electronics salesman) he announced the development of a mineral seeking device based on alien technology.
Denver industrialist Herman Flader agreed to invest in their device, called the doodlebug, believing the minerals it found would easily recoup his investment of $50,000. Flader thought his investment sound since he received one-third of the company which would produce doodlebugs for an estimated $800,000 each. Other investors were taken in as well. Some doodlebugs were actually produced, using cheaply obtained Army surplus radio parts. They did not detect much of anything, and the actual cost was less than four dollars. As it became evident that Newton’s doodlebug was a scam, he and his partner Dr. Gee simply made off with the money. Some experts believe Newton may have been the informant who told the unnamed FBI agent of the three downed flying saucers in New Mexico, though that may have been mere speculation. Both Newton and Gebauer were convicted of fraud in 1953.