By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
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Though the two never lived together, Allen says she and Ling spent many nights together. She noticed he often slept fitfully, grinding his teeth.
Allen's recollection: "Andy told me, 'Do you know what it's like to have to send men off to their deaths? That's why I have these nightmares.' I tried to console him."
In September 1993, Ling gave Allen the birthday present he'd been touting for weeks. It was the tape "My Soul," which he told her he'd made with some of the world's finest jazz musicians.
The names of the musicians--Metheny, Brecker, Omar Hakim--meant little to her. But when she told friends about the tape, many expressed doubts about its bona fides.
Months passed. In 1994, Allen still was dating Ling, but the relationship was fading.
"I just got tired of him and his nonstop stories," she says. "I realized how pathetic he is."
One night in mid-1994, she says, she introduced her roommate to Andy's brother, Tim, at a concert.
"I introduced Tim as having toured with [reed musician] Branford Marsalis," Allen says, "because that's what Andy had told me. Tim told me he didn't even know Branford Marsalis. That led us to Andy's tape. Tim--who's very honest, very nice--said he didn't know anything about a recording in Oslo. I told him Andy's liner notes said he was on it."
Then, last July, Allen was stunned to receive a phone call from Agent David Moore of the Secret Service, who asked if she would mind answering a few questions about Andrew Ling. Confused and a bit frightened, she phoned Ling after Moore questioned her.
"I did not buy Andy's explanation," she says. "I finally knew for sure that I'd been had."
Soon after the Secret Service interview, Allen continues, she confronted him about everything--the impersonation, the Brecker/Metheny tape--at a kind of last supper.
"I told him, 'Andy, tell me the truth about everything, please,'" Allen says. "He looked me in the eye and said he'd made up the Secret Service stuff because he's insecure and he's afraid people won't like him. About the tape, he said, 'Okay, I lied about Tim playing guitar on it. But I'm on it. Really.'" David Moore says his investigation into whether Andy Ling was impersonating a Secret Service agent led him down intriguing paths.
"I spoke with a lot of people about this gentleman, and found the situation very interesting," says Moore. "But to prove criminal intent--to show, quote, a 'thing of value'--can be a fine line. A person can legally wear Secret Service shirts or cuff links or whatever. [Such items are available at government gift shops.] If someone chooses to believe they're an agent, that's their problem. I get lied to as a profession, so I just don't believe anybody."
One of those Moore interviewed was Phoenix businessman Craig Rock, a longtime friend of the Ling family. Rock says he knew nothing about Andy Ling's oft-stated Secret Service connection.
"I've known Andy for years," says Rock, "and I never heard him say anything about being an agent. I think he's a great guy. He's not shy about talking about himself, but there are a ton of people in this town who shoot out a load of crap. I'd like to think he's not one of them."
Another Secret Service interviewee, Esther Slater, was the woman who'd done her own sleuthing about Ling's claim of being an Olympic athlete.
"I told Andy after the Secret Service interviewed me," Slater says, "`Get a grip, guy. Everything you tell me is lies.' He said, 'You guys stick with me and I'll get help.' 'Yeah, sure, Andy.'"
Agent Moore also contacted Jean O'Hara, who had dated Ling briefly a few years earlier.
"Andy told me almost from the time I met him that he was in the Secret Service," recalls O'Hara, a saleswoman from Tucson. "He came across like an American James Bond. He told me he'd rescued Bush after that vomiting thing in Japan. He also talked a lot about his music. He gave me a tape one time, said he was on it with Pat Metheny and a guy named Brecker."
O'Hara says she stopped dating Ling after a few months: "I stopped because he was a liar, he was pompous and he was cheap as the day is long. Is that enough? And I told the Secret Service all that."
After her Secret Service interview, O'Hara says, she left a phone message for Ling asking for an explanation.
"I got this return message from Andy thanking me for my concern," she says. "He said, sounding very official, that he was in D.C. and he'd debrief me when he returned. He didn't, but then I bumped into him at the club about a week later. I said, 'Andy, you're so full of it.' He came back with, 'Jean, this is confidential, top-secret stuff. Some of my people are in trouble with some of their people. That's what this is all about.'" Under federal law, impersonating a Secret Service agent may bring up to three years in prison and a fine. Moore says his investigation led him to seek guidance from assistant U.S. attorney John Stevens.