FRESNO, Calif. -- Scott Barnes, the shadowy man Ross Perot said informed him of Republican Party "dirty tricks," is a schemer and a con man, according to his brother.
Brian Barnes, who owns Inland Seafood Co. in the mountain community of Kernville, said yesterday it was inevitable that "a guy as greedy as Scott and a guy who's a billionaire like Ross Perot would connect."
In a "60 Minutes" segment Sunday night, Mr. Perot said he dropped out of the presidential race last July partly because of information provided him by Scott Barnes.
"I wasn't surprised when I heard Scott's name come up on '60 Minutes' last night," Brian Barnes said. "In his life the only thing that's important is publicity, and it makes no difference whether it's good publicity or bad publicity."
In the "60 Minutes" interview, Mr. Perot acknowledged that Scott Barnes was one of the sources of information that backers of President Bush planned to release a "doctored" photograph of his daughter before her wedding.
He also said he had information that his personal telephones were being tapped and added that two "highly placed Republicans" substantiated Scott Barnes' information. He declined to identify the other sources and refused to discuss the matter yesterday in TV interviews.
Mr. Perot denied ever meeting Scott Barnes but said he had talked with him on the telephone "a couple of times" and later in the interview admitted that Scott Barnes wasn't a credible source.
Kern County District Attorney Ed Jagels said one of his investigators heard a similar response from Mr. Perot in 1987, when Scott Barnes listed the Texas billionaire as a reference on a probation report.
"Perot spoke very highly of Mr. Barnes and told my investigator he was a real patriot who was being harassed by the CIA," Mr. Jagels said yesterday.
"However, after vouching for him, Mr. Perot admitted he had never met Scott Barnes; that he had just talked to him on the telephone two times."
Mr. Jagels, who successfully prosecuted Scott Barnes for illegally taping telephone conversations -- for which he was placed on probation -- admitted a grudging respect for Scott Barnes' ability to con people.
"I think it's ironic that one of the world's richest men has been bamboozled by a low-grade sociopathic liar from Kern County."
According to friends, family and those who know him in Kern County, Scott Barnes is a loner who has created a shadow world of intrigue, claiming to be an operative of the Central Intelligence Agency and various law enforcement agencies.
"He has a conspiratorial mind but he's out on the lunatic fringe," says Roberta Piazza, owner of the Pine Cone Inn in Kernville.
Ms. Piazza says she's known Scott Barnes for years.
"You can't believe anything he says," she says, "but you have to watch out for him, too."
Scott Barnes, 37, was raised in Redondo Beach and earned an A.A. degree from El Camino Community College. He went to work for the El Cajon Police Department in 1977 and was fired for lying, according to Mr. Jagels, who said the district attorney refused to file any case in which Scott Barnes was a witness.
The next year, Scott Barnes became a patrol officer for the city of Ridgecrest, but was terminated a short time later. He was in the Army military police a short time, but was given a general discharge, reportedly for using marijuana.
In 1981, Scott Barnes was in a movie, "Hells Angels Forever," and said he was undercover in the motorcycle gang for a law enforcement agency he declined to identify.
In 1983, Scott Barnes managed to land a job with the Hawaii Department of Corrections as a prison guard. He disappeared from his job and then showed up on an ABC television program claiming he'd been hired by the CIA to kill Ronald Rewald -- an inmate at the prison -- to keep him from revealing inside information on the agency.
"There's never been one instance where any of his accusations proved true," Mr. Jagels said. "The guy takes a little shred of truth and weaves a plausible story around it and people believe him."
Scott Barnes says he's made several trips to Southeast Asia to track down captured American servicemen and has even written a book on his exploits in Thailand and Cambodia titled "Bohica."
Experts familiar with the area described in the book call his story a fabrication, however, and insist Scott Barnes was never there.