Alabama screenplay writer sought in connection
with 10,000 recovered books
ASSOCIATED PRESS, March 21, 1988
    SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (AP) -- An Alabama-born author up for an Oscar for co-writing the screenplay Full Metal Jacket was being sought for questioning after thousands of books from libraries as far away as Australia were found in storage lockers, police said.
    An estimated 10,000 books were recovered from a pair of lockers rented in the name of Jerry Gustav Hasford, author of the novel The Short Timers, said Detective Ray Berrett of California Polytechnic State University campus police.
    The book was adapted into the 1987 Vietnam war drama Full Metal Jacket, directed by Stanley Kubrick from a screenplay written by Kubrick, Hasford and Michael Herr.  The three share an Academy Award nomination for the screenplay.
    The raid was staged Thursday by university police, who were seeking 87 overdue books that had been checked out from the Polytechnic university library in Hasford's name.  Fines totaled $3,000.
    "We found a lot more than we bargained for," said Wayne Carmack, another campus investigator.
    In addition to books and periodicals from the university, they found thousands of books marked as belonging to libraries as far away as England and Australia, including leather-bound works on Edgar Allan Poe and the American Civil War that were printed in the 1800s, he said.  Also in the lockers were books missing from libraries in Sacramento and St. Louis.
    Police said they had not yet contacted foreign library officials to confirm whether those books were stolen.
    Hasford grew up in the northwest Alabama town of Russellville, leaving Franklin County in 1966 when he was 18 to serve in the U.S. Marines.
    His tour of duty took him to Vietnam, where he served 10 months as a war correspondent.  He kept his notes from that time and seven years later wrote The Short Timers, based on those notes.
    It took another three years to find a publisher and another eight years before it was used as a basis for Full Metal Jacket.
    In a 1987 interview with The Birmingham News, Hasford described himself as a person who doesn't have any real roots anymore, living in Washington, California, London and Australia during recent years.
    Hasford, who most recently lived in Morro Bay, doesn't attend the university, but got a university library card under a procedure open to state residents, Carmack said.  However, the address and Social Security number listed on the card were false, he said.
    University investigators said they are seeking Hasford for questioning but did not immediately seek an arrest warrant, because they want to investigate the estimated 10,000 books in 396 cardboard boxes, Berrett said.
    Officers took a weekend break from the mammoth job of cataloging the pile of books, which measures 27 feet long, 5 feet wide and 5 feet tall, police dispatcher Suzi Goodwin said Sunday.
    The man who checked out the books was known to library workers and operators of the storage locker as Jerry Hasford, the author.
    "He told everybody where we've been that he is the author of the book, The Short Timers," Berrett said.  Copies of the book and the Full Metal Jacket screenplay were in the lockers, he added.
    Efforts to reach the author by telephone Saturday through directory assistance in the San Luis Obispo area failed, as did efforts to reach him through Bantam books, publisher of The Short Timers.
    He didn't appear Friday night at the Writer's Guild of America Awards ceremony, where he was considered for a similar award but didn't win.  The Oscar ceremony is set for April 11.
 

 Author Nominated for an Oscar Charged in Library Book Thefts
LOS ANGELES TIMES, March 31, 1988

    An author nominated for an Oscar and recently sought by police who found thousands of library books in his rented storage locker has eluded arrest on book-theft charges for more than three years, authorities revealed Wednesday.
    Jerry Gustav Hasford, author of the book that became the movie Full Metal Jacket, is charged with grand theft in the warrant issued in Sacramento in mid-1985, said Sacramento County Sheriff's Detective John Woodhouse.
    Hasford is charged with stealing 50 to 100 books worth more than $1,000.  Bail is set at $50,000.
9,816 Books Found
    The warrant, which lay dormant because Hasford could not be found, came to light after university police in San Luis Obispo discovered 9,816 books from libraries as far away as Australia and Great Britain, in a storage locker rented by Hasford.
    The officers, from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, have been unable to locate Hasford, a sometime area resident, since the raid on the locker March 17.
    "He's not going to show up at the Academy Awards, let's be realistic," Woodhouse said in a telephone interview.
Studio Has Lost Contact
    Hasford is not listed in area phone books and a spokesman for Warner Bros., which made the movie, said the studio has lost touch with him.
    Hasford, whose novel, The Short-Timers, became Full Metal Jacket, shares the screen writing nomination with director Stanley Kubrick and Michael Herr.  The awards ceremony will be April 11.
    Police from the university planned to take their evidence to the district attorney's office today.
 

 Odd Chapter for Author
by Miles Corwin
LOS ANGELES TIMES, April 1, 1988

    SAN LUIS OBISPO -- All the book dealers in town knew Gustav (Gus) Hasford.  They knew he had written a well-received novel about his experiences in Vietnam.  They knew he had co-written the screenplay for the movie Full Metal Jacket, based on his book, and that he had been nominated for an Academy Award.  And they knew he was a fanatic book buyer.
    What they didn't know was that his collection included hundreds of books allegedly taken from libraries throughout the world and that he was being sought by police in connection with the missing books.
    "Gus has no house, no family, no furniture--these books represent his total state of being," said Bruce Miller, owner of Phoenix Books in San Luis Obispo.  "Book dealers sometimes see people who get totally passionate about books, who value the books more than the value of right and wrong."
Locker Searched
    Hasford's library collection was discovered when police at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo recently searched his rented storage locker near the campus and found about 10,000 books.  More than 800 were from libraries and most had either been checked out or simply taken from the shelves, said Ray Berrett, a campus police investigator.
    Berrett said campus police took their evidence to the district attorney's office Thursday and asked for a charge of felony grand theft against Hasford.  A spokesman for the district attorney said the evidence will be reviewed before a decision is made on whether to file charges.
    Hasford, 40, already has been charged with grand theft for checking out 98 books worth more than $1,000 from the Sacramento Public Library three years ago and never returning them.  A warrant for misdemeanor grand theft was issued for his arrest in 1985, and bail set at $50,000, but authorities were unable to find him, said Sacramento County Sheriff's Detective John Woodhouse.
    Dozens of other libraries have been searching for Hasford since he disappeared with their books, moved away and left no forwarding address, Berrett said.  In Hasford's locker were books from 62 libraries--including Santa Monica and Los Angeles public libraries--and a number of rare, 19th-Century books from England and Australia.  Most are history books, with a concentration on the Civil War.
    "After the case broke we sifted through the books and called the libraries where they were checked out," Berrett said.  "We got the same response over and over.  All the librarians said he had checked out books, didn't return them and then disappeared."
    But Hasford said in a telephone interview from his San Clemente home that he has not been dodging authorities.  He has simply traveled quite a bit during the last few years and has not had a permanent address.  On the advice of his attorney, Hasford refused to discuss the library books, but he talked freely about the rest of his book collection.  He denied that he is a "book fanatic."
    "I'm a writer, not a book collector," he said.  "To me books are tools, not art objects.  I use them for various projects that I'm researching.  I've accumulated my books over about 30 years; I buy books that I think will be useful to me.  When I travel I visit writers' graves and that type of thing, and I visit bookstores."
    About 10 years ago, Hasford said, while writing The Short-Timers, he moved from Los Angeles to San Luis Obispo.  A woman he was living with at the time was hired as a librarian at Cal Poly.
    "I got tired of hauling everything around, so I figured I'd put all my research materials and books in storage," he said.  "That way I could move around but my things would stay in the same place."
    He rented a storage facility near the Cal Poly campus.
Sorting It Out
    Campus police are still sorting through the books that were found there and trying to determine how many may have been stolen, Berrett said.  He said he recently received a telephone call from a man who said Hasford was a house guest in 1984 and left "unexpectedly with a number of books."  Berrett said about 30 of the man's books were found in Hasford's collection.
    University police are accustomed to investigating reports of such crimes as beer drinking on campus and backpack thefts.  The case of the missing library books is their biggest in years, Berrett said.
    The investigation began Dec. 14, when Hasford checked out from the Cal Poly library 87 books and five years' worth of issues of Civil War Times Illustrated magazine.
    "I used to talk to Hasford when he came in the library and he'd tell me:  'This library doesn't have anything I need....Your collection is too small,'" said Cal Poly reference librarian Wayne Montgomery.  "So I was somewhat shocked when I found out how many books he had taken."
    After a few months, when the books and magazines--worth about $2,000--still had not been returned, library officials asked campus police to investigate.  The address Hasford has listed on his library card was a motel near campus, Berrett said.  Hasford lived there for a few months, but had moved and not left a forwarding address.  And the Social Security number listed on his library card, Berrett said, was false.
    "We were running into a lot of dead-ends when someone remembered an article written about him in the local paper," Berrett said.  "I got the article and there was a picture of him standing in a storage shed surrounded by his books....When we got to the shed we found wall-to-wall books, stored in boxes, from floor to ceiling....We had a 2 1/2-ton truck and it took us two loads to get all the books out of there."
    The 10,000 books are being held at a county storage facility until their ownership is determined.  Hasford has packed the books neatly into boxes, lined with newspaper and plastic sheeting, and labeled each box by subject.  The labels indicate his eclectic tastes:  Mark Twain, Anarchy, The Alamo, Death Camps, Van Gogh, Screenwriting, and Abraham Lincoln, among many others.  The books were in good condition, but some pages that carried library identification stamps had been cut out, Berrett said.
Vietnam Experiences
    Hasford's book The Short-Timers is based on his experiences as a combat correspondent with the 1st Marine Division in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive of 1968.  He was discharged that same year and eventually moved to Kelso, Wash., where he married and worked as a night clerk in a loggers motel "and a number of other cheapo jobs nobody else wanted."
    In the early 1970s Hasford separated from his wife and moved to Los Angeles, he said, "to become a starving writer, which I did quite successfully."  He moved to San Luis Obispo in 1978 and the next year The Short-Timers, his first novel, was published.
    He eventually moved back to Los Angeles, but left his books in San Luis Obispo and traveled quite a bit, he said.  Stanley Kubrick purchased the rights to his book and Hasford shares screenwriting credits on Full Metal Jacket with Kubrick and Michael Herr.  He recently signed a contract for publication of his second novel, a sequel to The Short-Timers entitled The Phantom Blooper.
    "I didn't ask anybody to nominate me for an Oscar," Hasford said.  "I never really had any desire to be a celebrity; I'm just a guy who writes books.  But the limelight was thrust on me.  And along with it you become a target....I would really like to respond to some of these charges.  But right now I just can't talk about the case."
Warrant Possible
    The San Luis Obispo district attorney could issue a warrant for Hasford's arrest, Berrett said.  Campus police might send the warrant to the Los Angeles Police Department and ask them to post an officer at the Academy Awards ceremony, scheduled April 11 at the Shrine Auditorium.
    "If he gets the Oscar, someone could hand it to him and say:  'Here's the good news,'" Berrett said.  "Then an officer could hand him the warrant and say:  'Now here's the bad news...put your hands behind your back and away we go.'"
    But Hasford says he probably won't attend the ceremony.  "I can't see myself in a tuxedo," he said.
 

 Police seek Oscar nominee over library cache in locker
AMERICAN LIBRARIES JOURNAL, May 1988

    Author Jerry Gustav Hasford, 40, is the son of a librarian and was married to another, but apparently their message never got through: In recent years he allegedly checked out and failed to return nearly one thousand library books throughout the world.
 

 Oscar Nominee Pleads Innocent in Library Book Thefts
by Miles Corwin
LOS ANGELES TIMES, June 23, 1988

    SANTA BARBARA -- Gustav (Gus) Hasford, a novelist and screenwriter who was nominated for an Academy Award this year, pleaded innocnet Wednesday in San Luis Obispo to felony charges of grand theft and possession of about 1,000 stolen books from libraries throughout the United States and England.
    Hasford, co-writer of the screenplay for the movie Full Metal Jacket, was arraigned before San Luis Obispo County Municipal Judge James D. Ream and charged on two counts of grand theft and 10 counts of possession of stolen property.  A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 18.
    He was booked at the County Jail and released on $7,500 bail.
 

Novelist pleads 'No Contest' in library thefts
ASSOCIATED PRESS, December 3, 1988

    A novelist and one-time Oscar nominee who was charged with stealing thousands of books
from more than 70 libraries pleaded no contest Friday to possessing stolen property.
    Gustav Jerry Hasford, who co-wrote the screenplay for the 1987 movie Full Metal Jacket,
entered the plea as part of a negotiated agreement with prosecutors, who dropped two
criminal counts of grand theft.
    The plea was accepted by San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Harry Woolpert. Deputy District Attorney Terry Estrada-Mullaney has recommended that Hasford serve six months in jail.
    Aside from the monetary loss, Estrada-Mullaney said, "Hasford has deprived students and
researchers from this county and all over the United States and even in London, England, of research materials that they needed for examinations and research papers."
    ''He decided that his need outweighed the needs of others in the community," she added.
    As part of the plea bargain, Hasford also was ordered to pay restitution on all of the criminal
counts.
    ''The restitution that we expect to get is to get the books returned to all the libraries, and for Mr. Hasford to bear the expense of special handling for some of these very rare books," the prosecutor said.
    Hasford pleaded to possession of about 2,000 books, valued at about $20,000, taken from libraries in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Sacramento, St. Louis, Longview, Wash., London and San Luis Obispo.
 

Novelist Gets Six Months in Jail for Stealing Books
by Miles Corwin
LOS ANGELES TIMES, January 5, 1989

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- Gustav "Gus" Hasford, a novelist and screenwriter who was nominated for an Academy Award last year, was sentenced to six months in jail and five years' probation Wednesday for stealing almost 800 books from nine libraries.
    Hasford, co-writer of the screenplay for the movie Full Metal Jacket, was taken into custody immediately and was led from the San Luis Obispo County Superior courtroom in handcuffs.
    He had been charged with grand theft but in December negotiated a plea with the prosecutor to possession of stolen property.  Hasford orginally had been charged with stealing more than 1,000 books -- worth about $20,000 -- from 63 libraries.  Among the books taken were several rare 19th century volumes from a library in London.
   In addition to the jail time, Judge Warren Conklin of the San Luis Obispo County Superior Court also fined Hasford $1,100 and ordered him to pay shipping costs for the return of the 748 books to the nine libraries throughout the country and to one individual.
    Conklin agreed with the prosecutor's recommendation of a six-month jail term for Hasford.
    "If Hasford had stolen hundreds of wheelbarrows, he would get a stiff sentence," Conklin said, "and he should get a stiff sentence for stealing the books."
    But Hasford's attorney, Orlan Donley, said that the six-month sentence was unfair.
    "Hasford has been an outstanding citizen all his life and this one crime was an aberration," Donley said in a telephone interview after the sentencing.  "It's very unusal for somebody like this to get so much jail time.  I thought it was uncalled for."
    Teresa Estrada-Mullaney, the San Luis Obispo County deputy district attorney who prosecuted the case, said that Hasford's sentence would serve as a lesson that stealing library books is a serious offense.
    Hasford's library collection was discovered in March 1988, when police at California Polytechnic Institute in San Luis Obispo, looking for library books that Hasford had checked out at the campus, searched his rented storage locker and found about 10,000 books.
    Hasford, who lives in San Clemente, won critical acclaim for his first novel, The Short-Timers, based on his experience as a combat correspondent with the 1st Marine Division in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive of 1968.  Stanley Kubrick purchased the rights to the book and Hasford shares screenwriting credit on Full Metal Jacket with Kubrick and Michael Herr.  The writers were nominated, but did not win, an Academy Award for the screenplay.  Hasford recently completed a sequel to The Short-Timers titled The Phantom Blooper that will be released in the spring.
    During the first few court hearings, Hasford did not appear to be disturbed by the charges and frequently joked with reporters.  After one court hearing, he claimed that he was innocnet and added:  "In the immortal words of Richard Nixon:  'I am not a crook.'"  After another court hearing he quipped to reporters:  "I've got a quote for you.  I've seen Elvis.  I've talked to Elvis.  Elvis is alive."
    But Wednesday, after the sentencing, Hasford was in a grim mood, according to his attorney.
    "Gus was shocked," Donley said.  "He's an easy-going guy, but the sentence shook him up pretty bad."
 

A sampling of headlines from around the country:
WRITER'S BLOCK: HE FAILS TO RETURN LIBRARY BOOKS

OVERDUE FOR QUESTIONING?

BOOK 'EM, DANO!

FULL METAL LOCKERS
WILL THEY THROW THE BOOK AT AUTHOR?

WRITER TO BE IN FULL METAL CELL


Book thief screenwriter released from jail early to work
ASSOCIATED PRESS, April 8, 1989

    A novelist and former Oscar nominee jailed for stealing thousands of books from more than
70 libraries in two countries was released 88 days early so he could get back to work.
    Jerry Gustav Hasford, 41, who co-wrote the screenplay for the 1987 film "Full Metal Jacket,"
had also become a "high profile prisoner and the subject of verbal abuse from other
prisoners," said Orlan Donley, Hasford's attorney.
    Hasford was released Tuesday, 28 days before he would have been eligible for parole and 88 days before he would have finished his six-month sentence.
    Donley told San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Warren Conklin that Hasford had a
chance to go to France to work on a movie based on a book Hasford recently had published. He's
also working on a deal with a publisher for three more books, Donley said.
    Hasford's income depends on his writing, and he can't write in jail, the attorney argued.
    Conklin said he released Hasford because the writer had a job, had agreed to pay restitution and agreed to let authorities determine which books belonged to the writer and which should be
returned.
 
 

The following is a form letter that Gus sent to various friends and family in January of 1990:

Dear Friend:

Yes, this is a form letter. But it's either send a form letter or nothing, for the time being.

I'm writing to say that you have won a free, affectionately inscribed copy of my new book, THE PHANTOM BLOOPER...

For the past two years I have not read a book, have not had a spare moment to myself, have not written any personal correspondence at all. For the past two years I've been forced to devote absolutely all of my energy to resisting a vicious attack launched against me by moral majority fanatics backed up by the full power of the Fascist State. I have survived, and intend to do more than survive, but it has been a strain.

So I'm not a lazy slob--I've been taking care of business. I have not gone Hollywood. I am not eating cocaine with a table spoon. Publicity has not made me arrogant and snotty--I've always been arrogant and snotty, as you all know.

I have written a book about my incredible experiences during the past two years. You will have a free, affectionately inscribed copy of that book in your hands before you even know it. Then you will understand why my silence was unavoidable and then perhaps you may choose to forgive me for being a pig-face and postal non-hacker.

Meanwhile, I'm throwing this letter into the uncharted sea of your last known address, like a message in a bottle, and I will be down at the beach every day, watching the surf for your reply.

Take care.