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
Metal Jacket was being sought for questioning after thousands of books
from libraries as far away as Australia were found in storage lockers,
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
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.
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
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
Author Nominated for
an Oscar Charged in Library Book Thefts
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.
LOS ANGELES TIMES, March 31, 1988
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
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
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,
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
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.
by Miles Corwin
LOS ANGELES TIMES, April 1, 1988
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."
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
"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
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.
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
"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."
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
But Hasford says he
probably won't attend the ceremony. "I can't see myself in a tuxedo,"
Police seek Oscar nominee
over library cache in locker
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.
AMERICAN LIBRARIES JOURNAL, May 1988
Oscar Nominee Pleads
Innocent in Library Book Thefts
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.
by Miles Corwin
LOS ANGELES TIMES, June 23, 1988
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
A novelist and one-time
Oscar nominee who was charged with stealing thousands of books
ASSOCIATED PRESS, December 3, 1988
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
''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
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.
by Miles Corwin
LOS ANGELES TIMES, January 5, 1989
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 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
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."
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
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
WRITER'S BLOCK: HE FAILS
TO RETURN LIBRARY BOOKS
OVERDUE FOR QUESTIONING?
BOOK 'EM, DANO!
FULL METAL LOCKERS
WILL THEY THROW THE BOOK
WRITER TO BE IN FULL METAL
Book thief screenwriter released
from jail early to work
A novelist and former Oscar
nominee jailed for stealing thousands of books from more than
ASSOCIATED PRESS, April 8, 1989
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
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
The following is a form letter
that Gus sent to various friends and family in January of 1990:
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.