Opiate for the Mrs.

When laws are broken, somebody's got to be punished. In the case of Cindy McCain, that somebody is Tom Gosinski

The journal entries don't tell the whole story. But certainly they add depth, providing glimpses of life with a drug-addled boss, and identifying previously unmentioned doctors who were associated with AVMT and who were drawn in--unwittingly or otherwise--to Cindy McCain's illicit activities.

Until now, Gosinski has not spoken on the record to the press. It has taken months of cajoling, Cindy McCain's public admission and the release of documents relating to the extortion investigation to convince him to open up.

Even now, he is nervous. He shows up at New Times over the weekend with an old friend at his side as a "comfort blanket." He won't sit for a portrait, although he had agreed to do so just days before. He's looking for a better job, he says, so he doesn't want his face on the cover.

And the county attorney's extortion investigation is ongoing. Although Gosinski is certain he has done nothing wrong--in fact, he may be one of the few in this story who hasn't--he also knows that might not mean much.

At 36, Gosinski is of medium build and below-average height. He's clean-shaven, with brown eyes, bristly brown hair. He knits his brow constantly, making deep grooves between the eyes. He laughs a lot, mostly from nerves, and wears a baseball cap with the hapless Wile E. Coyote embroidered on it. The cap matches his outfit: long-sleeved, hunter-green button-down and faded Pepe jeans. He's a hip, polished, well-spoken, conservative Republican.

His roots are in small-town Nebraska. Although he'd originally planned to study music, Gosinski majored in organizational communications at Concordia College in Minnesota, because he thought he'd earn a better living.

He moved to Phoenix "on a lark" 12 years ago and got a job with America West Airlines as a customer service representative. He worked his way up to middle management and a position in the airline's governmental and international affairs office. It was while he was in that post that he met Cindy McCain.

That was in 1991, and Desert Storm had just rumbled through Kuwait. McCain had asked America West for a government charter to take AVMT to aid war victims. As a reward for his assistance, she invited Gosinski along. He jumped at the chance.

When the plane touched down at noon in Kuwait City, the smoke was so thick the streetlights were on. The heat was searing. The AVMT crew slept on hospital floors and cots. Cindy McCain was a hard worker, Gosinski recalls. She slept in the hallway, lugged boxes and tended children with the rest of the volunteers.

Close friendships were formed, particularly because of the danger, Gosinski says. "People were still stepping on land mines. People were still being shot."

After Kuwait, McCain invited Gosinski on another trip--this time to Washington, D.C., to receive thanks from Vice President Dan Quayle and dine at the McCains' Alexandria home.

The day Gosinski met Quayle, America West Airlines filed for bankruptcy, and Gosinski fretted about his future. He stayed in touch with Cindy McCain and AVMT.

That September 1991, he quit America West and began working full-time as AVMT's first director of government and international affairs. Annual salary: $48,000.

Over the next two years, Gosinski's job would take him on missions to Bangladesh, Vietnam, El Salvador and, in the wake of Hurricane Andrew, to Florida.

Most of his time was spent at AVMT's headquarters in Phoenix. He also grew close to Cindy McCain and her family. He took her and the children on outings, to the state fair. He gave one of her sons swimming lessons.

Things went swimmingly, indeed, until the summer of 1992. That's when things started getting weird at AVMT. It's also when he began documenting events at the workplace in his journal.

In addition to people already mentioned, the journal's cast of characters includes Cindy McCain's parents, Jim and Smitty Hensley; Cindy's aunt and former AVMT receptionist, Jeri Johnson; AVMT employees Kathy Walker and Tracy Orrick; Cari Clark McCain, Jeri Johnson's granddaughter and Cindy's adopted daughter; John Bircumshaw, a contract fund raiser for AVMT; and doctors John Max Johnson, Tom Moffo, Francis Fote, Dennis Everton and Daniel De La Pava.

(All the people mentioned in the passages New Times is publishing have been contacted by phone, and given the opportunity to respond to comments in the journal. Only one, Everton, chose to comment.)

July 20, 1992: Well, this morning I received a call from Francis Fote, a doctor who traveled to El Salvador with AVMT. Fote called to inform me that he had visited with Cindy on Friday regarding the use of his DEA number. He asked that I tell Cindy his number could only be used in the state of New York as that is where he is licensed. I do not know what Cindy is up to but it appears as though she is trying to use several doctors' DEA #'s so that she can acquire drugs for personal use. Kathy Walker has stated several times in the past that this has been going on for quite some time and that the DEA has questioned large acquisitions of drugs such as percocet. We know that 300 percocet have been missing from AVMT's inventory and that Cindy says they are locked up at her home. I really don't know what is going on but I certainly hope that Cindy does not get herself or AVMT in trouble. I also hope that if it is necessary, Cindy is able to get help before she does herself harm. . . . July 22, 1992: We haven't heard from Cindy today. Who knows what she might be up to. Kathy did find a DEA number from Doctor Everton on Cindy's desk this morning. . . . To date, Tracy, Kathy and I know that on Friday of last week she requested or received DEA numbers from Drs. Tom Moffo, Francis Fote . . . Max Johnson, De La Pava and Everton. I certainly hope that she does not get all of these guys in a lot of trouble. (Everton says New Times' inquiry marked the first time anyone had asked him about his DEA number--a federally assigned code that allows doctors to dispense drugs internationally--despite his being interviewed by two DEA agents about a year ago. Everton says he doesn't recall giving AVMT his DEA number, although the organization might have had it. Everton adds that he found it odd that months after he went on his one and only AVMT mission, a staff member tracked him down on vacation and asked him to prescribe Tylenol 3--a drug similar to Vicodin--for an upcoming AVMT trip. Everton says he prescribed the drug anyway. He doesn't recall that the prescription was in any individual's name.)

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