One of the more sensational, and perhaps sinister, elements of Lazar’s story has to do with the disappearance of his birth, employment and academic records. He maintains that vital records of his existence were wiped out, ostensibly by some secret government manipulation. In other installments of “The Lazar Flaws” we’ll take a look at employment and academic records. For now, we’ll just consider his birth record.
In “Alien Contact”, by Timothy Good, it states: “…When George Knapp contacted the hospital where Lazar says he was born, in Coral Gables, Florida, no records could be found.” In a radio interview on November 17, 1989, George Knapp told Chuck Harder: “We called for his birth records and they had disappeared…as if someone was trying to make him a non-person.”
In a interview on the “Billy Goodman Happening” radio show on December 20, 1989, the following statements were made:
Why are you going public? There’s obviously a lot of other staff on the project that senses a great degree of loyalty.
The straw that broke the camel’s back was, after I left the program I became concerned about what happens now. I made a routine request for my birth certificate, which I needed just for I.D. purposes, and I was told that it doesn’t exist, I wasn’t even born at that hospital. I sat on that for about a week and just wondered, and then I began to inquire at previous jobs and also at other schools, and that information was also gone. And I got the idea that soon someone was going to disappear, so that’s when I contacted the TV station and essentially let everything out.
[Skip in transcript]
It was interesting when you asked for your birth certificate, and you could not locate it. And they told you that literally you did not exist? They TOLD you this in so many words?
They said we just have no records here.
And YOU felt that you didn’t exist?
I felt that that’s what they were trying to make happen.
Are you familiar with that type of thing being done?
No, I never heard of it before. I guess other people have.
Did you ever get your birth certificate?
On December 9, 1989, Lazar appeared on KLAS-TV’s “On The Record” program, hosted by George Knapp. The following exchange took place:
The reason you came forward with the information to begin with? Is it related to the fact that they were bothering you?
Yeah, it was essentially to stop that. What had happened was, I sent in a request for my birth certificate, and as it turned out it wasn’t there anymore, that I wasn’t born at the hospital! And that kind of got me wondering what’s going on. I put in a request for some other information, previous jobs, and that was also gone, and I thought something had to be done before I disappeared.
Lazar makes it quite clear that he believed his birth records had “disappeared”. It would seem that George Knapp, on the basis of his checking, agreed with that position. But is there a more plausible explanation than a sinister government organization attempting wipe someone’s existence away? It may be as simple as not looking in the right place.
In the State of Florida, legal birth records may only be found in two locations. The official and primary repository of birth records is the Office of Vital Statistics of the Department of Health and Rehabilitation Services in Jacksonville. This facility serves the entire state and has complete records going back to 1917. Some counties, but not all, maintain duplicate records for births within their county. Coral Gables is located in Dade County, which is one of the counties that maintains their own copies of birth records.
The least reliable place to search for birth records in Florida is at hospitals. Records from hospitals there are not considered legal documents and as a result may not be kept with a high level of care. It would not be surprising at all not to be able to find medical records that are over 30 years old.
So, can anyone just contact the State of Florida and see if there actually is a record of Lazar’s birth? Well, it’s not that simple. In 1987, in an effort to cut down on welfare fraud, Florida enacted a law that made all birth records confidential documents. It is illegal for the State or the counties to give out copies of certificates, or to even verify the existence of a certificate, to anyone other than the birth registrant, the registrant’s parents or legal guardians, or the birth registrant’s legal representative. So it would seem that Knapp, even if armed with a letter of authorization from Lazar, was looking in the wrong place.
But there is another interesting piece of information that is not common knowledge. After Lazar plead guilty to the pandering charge on June 18, 1990 in Las Vegas, the State of Nevada Department of Parole and Probation prepared a “Pre-Sentence Report”. This report provides the court with quite a bit of background data on the defendant to assist in sentencing.
The report was prepared by Joy Mundy-Neal and dated July 27, 1990. Under the heading “Social History”, the report states:
“A certified copy of the defendant’s birth certificate indicates he was born on January 26, 1959 to the union of Albert Lazar and Phyllis Berliner (natural mother); however the defendant reports he was born on January 26, 1959 in Coral Gables, Florida, to unknown parents and was subsequently adopted by Albert Lazar and the former Phyllis Berliner within the first few months of his life“.
When I first posted this installment of the Lazar Flaws on Usenet, I withheld the information on Lazar’s adoption out of respect for his privacy. However in Gene Huff’s response, (which I currently lack) he posted the information that Lazar was adopted and that this was the cause of the difficulties in obtaining a certificate. Indeed, he stated it was Lazar himself that gave the probation officer the certified birth certificate.
So in this case at least, there is a routine explanation for something that was initially portrayed as having very sinister overtones. There is nothing at all wrong with that, however this “disappearing records” scenario has become a firm part of the Lazar story. Although Lazar no longer claims his birth records have vanished, the story is still out there in the early books and interviews. It’s never really been corrected, and seems to live on.
1. Lazar, and later Knapp, failed to look in the proper location for the birth certificate, due to Lazar’s adoptive status, and jumped to conclusions as to its absence.
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