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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Syria Troops Shot Down Turkish Warplanes; Representative Buchanan is Facing Four Federal Investigations; 68-yar-old Bus Monitor Bullied
Aired June 22, 2012 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Erin, thanks very much. Good evening.
We begin tonight with breaking news. Potentially the spark that ignites a powder keg. At a very least, a very tense moment in a very tense part of the world tonight. A Turkish warplane is down. Syria says it shot it down. Turkey lost track of the warplane reportedly an American-made F-4 phantom over the Mediterranean not far from the Syrian border. The Syrians state television claiming that the fighter was shot down after crossing into Syria at high speed and low altitude.
Warships from both countries now searching for the crew, which would be a two-man crew, if indeed the missing plane is an F-4. Turkey also flies Americans F-16s, most of which carry a single pilot.
The Turkish government now on emergency footing. The prime minister tonight meeting with cabinet members and his top military commanders. The prime minister's office say that Turkey would respond decisively once all the facts are established.
This is, as you'd imagine, a very fast-moving story. Ivan Watson is following it tonight for us from Istanbul. Barbara Starr at the Pentagon.
Also with us, Fouad Ajami, senior fellow at Stanford University Hoover Institution, national security analyst, Fran Townsend as well who presided over plenty of tense moments as homeland security adviser to president George W. Bush. A lot to cover.
Fouad Ajami, you say there's little doubt Syrians knew this was a Turkish plane?
FOUAD AJAMI, SENIOR FELLOW, STANFORD UNIVERSITY'S HOOVER INSTITUTION: Absolutely. And I think this is a message being sent by the Bashar regime to Turkey. Turkey's four times larger. Turkey's a NATO member. But Turkey has stepped into the Syria entanglement if you will. And weapons are being shipped given to the army T3 in army now through the mediation of the Turks. And I think Bashar knows what he's doing. And I think this would be done deliberately. It would be done to show that Syria's not afraid. And Bashar knows that no cover has come to the rescue of the Syrian opposition. And I think it shows you a sense of invulnerability on the part of the Syrian regime. COOPER: Fran, do you agree with this, this was a calculated act on the part of Bashar Al-Assad?
FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR (via phone): And I think not only do they have the sort of air be sent capability to be able to identify this, of course what we don't know, once you identify an incursion in your airspace, just assuming for the moment it's accurate there has such an incursion. What are the Syrians to do, given their capability to identify the threat, understand the intention, as opposed to just hitting the button and launching the missile and taking down this aircraft?
And their statement, Anderson, is also very calculated. When the Syrians say this was a low flying and very fast aircraft that were incurred, what they're telling you is that they're trying to defend themselves against what if this had been a civilian aircraft? Of course, a civilian aircraft wouldn't have been that low, wouldn't have been traveling that fast.
And so even their words and their statement are very calculated. Their defense is they want to be clear, but I think it is true to say, we have to assume they were sending a message not only to Turkey but to the alliance. Because we know of course Turkey has, earlier this spring, threatened to go to NATO and invoke article five. That is the defense of is the, you know, incursion against one required the action of all.
And so I think this was, in fact, a very calculated move on the fact of Bashar Al-Assad of Syria.
COOPER: Ivan, the Turks have not confirmed the plane was shot down till after midnight. They didn't confirm it till after midnight. Are they trying to bury the story? I mean clearly, it puts them in an awkward situation.
IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's the impression I'm getting because the plane had already been missing for more than 12 hours by the time the Turkish government finally announced it had, in fact, been shot down.
Another interesting point is the Turks have also said they're working together with the Syrians on the rescue operation. So despite the fact that it has been weeks, if not months, since the Turks pulled their diplomats out of Damascus, there does seem to be high-level coordination going on between the two militaries in this case.
I would interpret this as the Turks and Syrians not wanting this incident to escalate further. And there has been a pattern, a very provocative moves by the Syrians in the past. It's not too long before the last time you were here, Anderson, the Syrian troops in one border area fired across into Turkish territory, into a refugee camp, and wounded at least one Turkish police officer .
The Turkish prime minister, who is well known for his fiery temper, especially against Israel, did not explode in this case. And in this case of a Turkish warplane shot down and possibly two dead crewmen, he has deliberately calmed the situation down, buried the story after midnight on Friday, on the Turkish weekend, and seems not to want to let this to escalate out of control, Anderson.
COOPER: So Barbara, what response has the Pentagon had so far about this?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well look, you know, Friday night here at the Pentagon, no official response. But behind the scenes, make no mistake. Growing concern, Anderson.
We've now seen two days of what you can think of as instability in Middle East airspace. Yesterday, the Syrian pilot defecting to Jordan across the boundaries of another country. Tonight, this situation with the Turkish warplane. Middle east airspace is very tight. Dangerous at the best of times. And now you have two incidents in two days.
You can bet behind the scenes Turkey, Israel, Jordan and the U.S. Navy in the eastern Mediterranean literally have their radars up tonight watching all of this.
The next question I think will be, what does the Turkish government ask the White House for. Will they ask for more radars, more surveillance, more help in monitoring that very tight airspace in the Mediterranean? And if the Turks ask for it, what about Jordan, what about Israel?
COOPER: Fouad, if Ivan is correct, and Turkey is trying to kind of ratchet this down and not escalate it, is that a positive message for Bashar Al-Assad? Did he, then, make the correct gamble on this? In fact, if he is the one behind shooting down of this plane, then basically it allows him to look tough without having repercussions from Turkey?
AJAMI: Well, I think that's absolutely right. But what's interesting about this, when you think -- you have to think about the position of Prime Minister Erdogan. Prime Minister Erdogan has blown hot and cold over Syria. Prime Minister Erdogan has threatened intervention in Syria and then pulled back. And I think this is almost reckoning time for him because of the time we went to Turkey, when I went with you, and we were in Turkey, and I stayed behind, and you hear discussions within Turkey, intellectual and political circles. They're very, very upset with Prime Minister Erdogan because he thinks he hasn't really clarified Turkey's position.
But willy-nilly now I think this is a larger crisis than ever before. And I think the Obama policy in itself in many ways involved here. Because there's always been assumption in Washington that this could burn out without any intervention by the United States, and I think once Turkey is involved, there is a wider involvement.
COOPER: Yes. Fouad, appreciate you being on. I should also point out, Fouad has written a remarkable new book, "the Syrian Rebellion," which I highly recommend. It's a great account of what has been going on, what we have been witnessing and broadcasting about for the last 16 or so months and also the history of Syria. It's again, "the Syrian Rebellion" just out now.
Ivan Watson, thank you. Barbara Starr, Fran Townsend as well. We are going to continue to follow the story throughout the hour and throughout the night.
Let us know what you think. We're on facebook. Follow me on twitter @Andersoncooper. I will be tweeting tonight as well.
Up next, why doesn't this powerful congressman want to answer our questions? Could it be the four congressional and federal investigators examining his business practices? We will tell you who he is and what he's being investigated about.
We are "Keeping Them Honest."
COOPER: "Keeping Them Honest" in Washington tonight with a "360" exclusive.
Republican congressman Vern Buchanan, this self-made Florida millionaire is only in his third term but he's already a powerful force in his party. He's in charge of fund-raising for the Republican congressional campaign committee and sits on the powerful house ways and means committee.
But CNN's Drew Griffin has learned representative Buchanan's career in Congress could be in jeopardy. The congressman didn't want to discuss any of this with us, more on our attempts to get answers later.
But first, some facts to tell you about. CNN has confirmed, no fewer than four congressional and federal investigation are looking to Buchanan's business practices, his campaign finances and his alleged attempts to try to stop a witness from talking. And now, that witness is stepping forward in an exclusive interview.
Here's Drew's report.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sam Kazran is a former business partner congressman Vern Buchanan. The partnership started here at a weed-filled lot. A former auto dealership in north Jacksonville, Florida. Eventually, the two would own four dealerships together.
What kind of guy was he?
SAM KAZRAN, FORMER BUSINESS PARTNER OF REPRESENTATIVE BUCHANAN: You know, Mr. Buchan -- I respected him. I believed him.
GRIFFIN: He admits he was naive. He says he soon found out the man he believed in was interested in just two things. Money and power.
I mean, can you make a judgment call here? Do you think this guy should be in congress?
KAZRAN: You know, let's put it this way. Mr. Buchanan is a very selfish person. And in my opinion, folks who go to Congress have got to do good for their people that they represent.
GRIFFIN: Kazran presented to CNN the same information, documents and testimony he's now given to federal investigators. The two men had a falling out over finances. They've been suing each other for years.
For his part, Buchanan says Kazran is a disgruntled partner and has lie about what happened. At the center of Kazran's allegations is a cash swap scheme used to finance some of Buchanan's campaigns. Employees forced to write checks. Then reimbursed with cash drawn from Buchanan's car dealerships.
KAZRAN: It was to a point where I said, chief, I -- we can't give you this kind of money. And that's when he said to run it through the corporation. And so --
GRIFFIN: And what did that mean to you, run it through the corporation?
KAZRAN: That -- what he said to me is he said, get people to write a check to the campaign and then pay them back through the corporation. And that's what I did.
GRIFFIN: That's what he said?
KAZRAN: Correct, yes. He said, run it through the corporation, absolutely, yes.
GRIFFIN: Kazran did and was soon calling in managers, salesman, even assistants, people who never gave money to campaigns were suddenly writing big checks to Buchanan for congress. And according to Kazran, getting reimbursed from the dealership.
KAZRAN: -- and said "I need more money."
GRIFFIN: It added up to almost $70,000 in Kazran's dealerships alone.
KAZRAN: In fact, I remember one of the partners that were jokingly say boss, you have all the money in the world, why do you want us to pay you the money? And he said, well, it doesn't look like -- it doesn't look good if it comes from me.
GRIFFIN: Kazran took his detailed allegations to the federal election commission or FEC, which was already looking into Buchanan's campaign finances. Investigators there now wanted to know not only about how the cash swap scheme worked but if the congressman knew about it.
This was absolutely his idea?
KAZRAN: Correct. Yes. GRIFFIN: The FEC's initial report found reason to believe that congressman Buchanan knowingly and willfully violated the election laws.
But then in a later report they pulled back. Saying it found credibility problems with both Kazran and Buchanan and not enough corroborating evidence to back up Kazran's testimony. The FEC eventually dropped the investigation into Buchanan, but fined Kazran $5,000. Why? Because he admitted reimbursing employees for campaign contributions.
While the congressman has said that proves he's innocent, the findings at the FEC were more convoluted, stating it came close to supporting a finding that it is more likely than not that Buchanan violated the law.
And that's where this gets much more serious for the congressman. During the FEC probe, congressman Buchanan pushed to settle a lawsuit Kazran had brought against him. And at the last minute, with a $2.9 million settlement offer from Buchanan dangling in front of him, Kazran said he was given this.
KAZRAN: They wanted me to sign this affidavit.
GRIFFIN: According to Kazran, the congressman and his attorneys were asking him to sign a statement that was a lie. That Buchanan knew nothing about the campaign cash swap. And the affidavit said?
KAZRAN: In short, it was "this thing did happen but Mr. Buchan had nothing to do with this."
GRIFFIN: Kazran refused to sign and took the affidavit to federal investigators. Now CNN has learned congressman Vern Buchanan is being investigated for attempting to tamper with a witness in a federal investigation.
After repeated requests for interviews from the congressman were ignored, we decided to find Vern Buchanan as he emerged from a hearing.
I want to ask you about this deal with Sam Kazran. Did you make him sign this affidavit or try to get him to sign this affidavit with this campaign cash scheme?
REP. VERN BUCHANAN (R), FLORIDA: No.
GRIFFIN: You didn't do that?
BUCHANAN: I got to get to another meeting. You can call my office.
GRIFFIN: You know, I tried calling your office but they wouldn't - they said you were unavailable. You didn't hold this over his head for that $3 million settlement?
In a recent report released quietly several weeks ago, the office of congressional ethics wrote, there is substantial reason to believe that representative Buchanan attempted to influence the testimony of a witness in a proceeding before the FEC in violation of federal law and house ethics codes. Now a full house ethics committee is looking into it.
CNN is also learning the FBI and the IRS are conducting their own investigations.
Are you concerned at all about the IRS and the FBI now investigating this FEC and OCE complaints?
BUCHANAN: Just call my office.
GRIFFIN: His office did respond to our interview request. With a statement. Saying the charges are politically motivated. That congressman did nothing wrong. And we are confident that the justice department and house ethics committee will reach the same conclusion.
COOPER: Drew joins us now. Drew, do you know how many employees were involved in giving money to Buchanan's campaign?
GRIFFIN: Kazran, himself, says there were dozens of employees of the dealership he managed to have pressured to give. We also have these canceled checks and signed affidavits from other dealerships where people claim they were involved. And even allegations this dated back to 2003 when Buchanan was allegedly now, Anderson, pressuring employees to give to then President Bush's campaign only to be reimbursed through the company.
COOPER: So, what happens next?
GRIFFIN: Well, if you're waiting on the house ethics committee to act, you could be waiting a long time. That group has a track record of doing almost nothing when it comes to this kind of stuff.
But more troubling for the congressman, Anderson, are these federal probes, including that grand jury in Tampa. But we don't know exactly what the investigation is about. But we can tell you it likely has to do with finances and tax records for the man now heading the Republican's fund-raising activities in the house.
COOPER: Wow. Drew, keep on it. Drew, thank you.
Well, a couple more notes on this story. Just this afternoon, lawyers who represented Buchanan filed a legal motion in Sarasota to seal all documents in the Kazran case and to stop Kazran and his lawyers from speaking publicly about the case.
Buchanan's lawyers say news stories about the congressman are, quote, "publicly disparaging his character." Just a short time ago, we spoke to Sam Kazran's attorney Robert Stock. He gave as a statement that said in part, quote, "as an American citizen, both congressman Buchanan and I have the fundamental right of free speech. Mr. Buchanan's motion is yet another in a series of frivolous efforts to attempt to shut down the case and to conceal his wrongdoing behind a shroud of secrecy. We're going to continue to follow this story very closely.
Coming up, that viral video of a group of seventh grade boys tormenting a bus monitor in New York state have a lot of people asking how could they say such vile things to a 68-year-old grandmother, Karen Klein? I'm going to speak to the father of one of the boys and to Karen next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was as angry as anybody else, even more, because it was my child, and I did bring him up, and that's not something that I would condone or expect to see, and I don't think people realize how angry I was about that, and still am.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: It's the disturbing video that caught the attention of people all over the world. You have seen it by now, a 68-year-old bus monitor in Greece, New York, just outside in Rochester been bullied and harassed for about 10 minutes by four middle school boys.
One of the boys posted the video on his facebook page, quickly went far when it was put on you tube and people have been shocked and outraged by the way these kids relentlessly tormented the bus monitor, Karen Klein.
We are going to hear from her I just a little bit. But first, this was just part of the video.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE KID: You are fat!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE KID: Dude, you are so fat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE KID: You take up like the whole entire seat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE KID: No. Put those back on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE KID: Oh, my God, your glasses are foggy from your (bleep) sweat, you (bleep).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE KID: Dude, put those glasses back on. I can't stand looking at your face.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE KID: Karen, Karen, put those sunglasses back on. (bleep) you looking like a troll.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE KID: What size are your shirts?
KAREN KLEIN, BUS MONITOR BULLIED: Unless you have something nice to say, don't say anything nice at all. UNIDENTIFIED MALE KID: How about you shut the (bleep) up?
COOPER: Well, the video of that verbal abuse goes on for, as I said, some ten minutes. It's really very, very difficult to watch. I haven't been able to even watch the entire thing.
The seventh grade boys are now getting death threats, their families say, from all over the world. And there's a public outcry for them to be charged with some sort of crime or at least punished by the school.
I spoke with Robert Helm, the father of one of the boys today. The boy, his son's name is Wesley, who was doing the tormenting. And with the local police captain Steve Chatterton.
COOPER: So Robert, when you saw that video for the first time, what went through your mind?
ROBERT HELM, FATHER OF ONE OF THE BUS BULLIES: Anger, sadness.
COOPER: Did you know your son was involved? I mean, could you see or hear your son?
HELM: I could hear him in the background. One of the other parents called me and told me he was in the video so that's when I looked it up and I could hear his voice in the background.
COOPER: What did you say to Wesley after watching it?
HELM: I asked him did he realize what he's done. You know?
COOPER: Has he been punished in any way by you?
HELM: No. As far as punishment, I mean, he's in the house. He can't go anywhere anyway due to the death threats and the harassment. I mean, we're waiting for this whole thing to cool down before we can proceed and, you know, those types of things.
COOPER: What kind of a punishment do you -- I mean, as a parent, do you think is appropriate?
HELM: I'm not sure. I never had to deal with this type of situation before. I mean, obviously, all his privileges and, you know, sports, anything that he -- his hobbies, any of that type of stuff, he won't be doing for quite a while. And also, he's going to be seeing some therapy and that type of thing to find out exactly what caused this.
COOPER: Did he explain? Did he have any kind of explanation for what he was thinking or why he took part in this?
HELM: His explanation was I don't know why I did it. He could not explain. Other than too, it was they were feeding off each other. And, you know, one would say something. He thought he had to say something funnier. And then, it just kept going back and forth.
COOPER: Captain Chatterton, how are you treating this case? I mean, is this a crime? Is this harassment? How do you see this?
CAPTAIN STEVE CHATTERTON, GREECE, NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT: Right now, we see it as harassment. But you can't charge harassment to a juvenile or we can't charge any of these juveniles with harassment. That and the combination with the victim doesn't desire prosecution, you know, kind of takes the ball out of our hand a little bit.
But we still -- we continue with our criminal case today even though our victim told us we -- that she didn't want us to press charges. We looked at other options. But we're not seeing a whole lot of options right now.
COOPER: Robert, you apologized to Karen in person yesterday. Our cameras were actually there. We have some of the video of it. What did you say to her?
HELM: I just expressed how sorry I was that it ever happened. And, you know, there's really no excuse. You know they say, well, they're 13. And it's true, they are children, but there's really no excuse for that. It went on for ten minutes. It wasn't a slip of the tongue. And I just wanted her to realize that I was behind her 100 percent with whatever she was going to do. And that, you know, at some point I'd like Wesley to be able to apologize in person to her. But she said that it's a little early at this time and that she'd like to wait before that happens.
COOPER: Robert, as you know, I mean, this has gotten, you know, reaction, really, around the world. And a lot of people are pointing fingers at the parents in this, as well as at the kids saying, you know, this starts in the home. So when you hear that, do you feel like you have any responsibility here?
HELM: Well, obviously, I do have responsibility. He is my child and he's underage. But, to blame the parents, I don't know any parents that would teach their kids to do something like this or to teach their kids to disrespect other people. It's ridiculous to blame the parents. And I was as angry as anybody else, even more because it was my child and I did bring him up and that's not something that I would condone or expect to see. And I don't think people realize how angry I was about that. And still am.
COOPER: You said that you received threats. What sort of -- have you actually received direct threats?
HELM: On the internet, there have been threats, YouTube, Facebook, phone calls to the house. Many phone calls actually death threats on the phone that they're going to come to the house. So yes, they have been direct also.
COOPER: What do you think can ensure this kind of thing doesn't happen again with your son, with the other kids?
HELM: I think the lessons learned, this whole thing we've been through, is going to scar our family for life. This is life changing. They'll never forget it. I don't think it will ever -- you know, to the best of my knowledge, I don't see this ever happening again.
COOPER: Captain, do you think these kids have learned a lesson?
CAPTAIN STEVE CHATTERTON, GREECE, NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT: I would hope so. You know, it's gotten a lot of publicity. I don't think anything's gone this viral that I know of this quick.
I think it's -- it's going to be good in the long run just for the fact that there's going to be a lot of discussion. My son viewed it. He's 14. He viewed it.
He had a reaction like "who would do that?" But it's going to open some eyes to young teenagers, the young kids. I hope, in fact, it has.
COOPER: I certainly hope it makes all of us kinder to one another. Captain Steve Chatterton, I appreciate all your efforts. Robert Helm, thank you for being with us.
HELM: Thank you.
CHATTERTON: Thank you.
COOPER: As we said, there's been outpouring of support for Karen Klein. An online fundraising effort to raise $5,000 to send her on a vacation, that so far has brought in over $500,000 from strangers donating $10 and $20 at a time.
Karen Klein joins me now. So, Karen, you just heard what the father of Wesley, one of the kids that tormented you on the bus, had to say. What's your reaction?
KAREN KLEIN, BUS MONITOR BULLIED BY STUDENTS: I think he was sincere. I don't know about his son's apology. But the boy's apology -- I didn't think that's what I was going to get. I thought it was a little better, you know, wishful thinking probably.
COOPER: Do you think the kids really are sorry or sorry they got caught?
KLEIN: I don't really think they're sorry. Sorry they got caught, yes, yes. That would be more like it. I would like to think that they would never do it again, like they said, but maybe who knows. I don't know.
COOPER: The police captain said that the kids had received death threats from all around the world, calls at their home. What do you want to say to the people who might be wishing ill against these children?
KLEIN: No, I don't want them to be harassed either, you know. Two wrongs don't make a right. Poor police, they had double duty on yesterday because of this. I thought, boy, there go my taxes. No, I'm just kidding. My God, if I don't laugh, then I would cry. But I haven't done that yet so --
COOPER: It seems like this is now no longer going to be a police matter and the kids are going to be punished through the schools. Do you think that's appropriate?
KLEIN: Well, I told them -- I didn't want to press charges. I mean, I can't see kids in the seventh grade having to do that. It's not like they killed somebody, you know?
I mean, it's serious. They didn't rob a bank. They just harassed a monitor. So I don't know. Yes they need to be punished, but maybe not with the courts.
COOPER: Yesterday, you told us the money raised sounded too good to be true. You didn't actually think you would get it. A spokeswoman for the online fundraising site says they guarantee you're going to get the money, which is now well over half a million dollars. Do you believe it now?
KLEIN: It's hard -- it's still hard for me to fathom, you know. I need to talk to somebody about how much tax I have to pay. That's a lot of money. That's a lot of money, more than -- even half of it would be more than I've ever seen.
I've gotten some gift cards in the mail and a check. And, I mean, people -- I just got a whole bunch of mail today with nice notes inside and letters from kids. You know, like 14-year-olds, 15-year- olds.
COOPER: That makes you feel good?
KLEIN: Yes. It helps. I mean, one time I think it's too bad that this happened. But then I think well, why not, this might help other people. You know what, I mean? It's going to be -- it's going to be on everybody's minds for a long time. And I'm hoping that good will come of it.
COOPER: Do you want to continue working as a bus monitor? Do you want to retire?
KLEIN: Well, I think -- well, everybody writes and says now that you've got this money, we want you to retire and enjoy your life. And the more they say it, the more I think "good idea."
COOPER: Yesterday, we told you that Southwest Airlines had contacted us and wanted us to inform you. They wanted to send you to Disneyland with nine other people.
Today, we heard from the Hilton Sandustin Beach Resort and Spa in Florida. They also were touched by your story. They say they want to fly you and a guest first class down to their resort for a week's stay in the presidential suite. They say all your meals and spa treatments will be paid for. What do you think of that? KLEIN: It's really hard to believe all this. It really is. It's like a miracle.
COOPER: I hope you enjoy it. I hope you feel good moving forward. And I hope you get all the things that people have promised you, Karen, thank you.
KLEIN: Thank you.
COOPER: Got $570,000 so far online donated toward her.
Tonight, an exclusive report on a doctor many are calling the new "Jack Kevorkian." He says he's helped a hundred patients to die by showing them how to kill themselves in a variety of ways.
He told chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta he watched them take their last breaths. He's also facing criminal charges. Sanjay's report is just ahead.
COOPER: Coming up, why Jerry Sandusky's attorney says he'd, quote, "die of a heart attack if his client is acquitted on all the child sex abuse charges against him." Details ahead.
COOPER: Well, when Jack Kevorkian also known as "Dr. Death" first helped a patient die, the internet was still in its infancy. Today, physician-assisted suicide has moved online. Another controversial doctor is testing the limits of the law.
Chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been investigating the group called "The Final Exit Network." It's basically a virtual version of "Dr. Death," the web site that offers help to people who want to commit suicide no matter where in the United States they live.
Now keep in mind, physician-assisted suicide is only legal in two states. So even though half of all Americans support the right for people to kill themselves with the help of a doctor in certain cases, they can only do so legally in Oregon and Washington.
And that's not the only troubling piece of this story. Here's Sanjay's exclusive report.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Jana Van Voorhis passed away, she didn't leave much behind.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is pretty much Jana's life, a notebook of her medical histories, doctors, hospitals, lab, prescriptions.
GUPTA: This is Jana's older sister, Viki. She and her husband, Tom live in the same Phoenix neighborhood as Jana did. They saw her suffer. While Jana had trouble most of her life, it had become progressively worse.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She just -- it was just very tough for her daily. She took lots of different medicines to make her feel better.
GUPTA (on camera): Did she ever complain of physical pain?
VIKI THOMAS, JANA VAN VOORHIS' SISTER: All the time. She thought she was seriously ill.
GUPTA (voice-over): And then Viki got a troubling call one day. A woman who said she was a friend of Jana's from church.
THOMAS: She said to me, you know how Jana's always sick, and we're very worried about her because we can't get a hold of her. And so I called her and didn't get an answer. And then I waited till the next day and called and didn't get an answer. And then we decided, well, maybe we should go check and see what's happening.
GUPTA (on camera): It was here at Jana's house that Tom and Viki discovered the worst. They got a spare key, entered the home, and then found Jana lying in her bed. It was shortly thereafter that they suspected foul play.
TOM THOMAS, JANA VAN VOORHIS' BROTHER-IN-LAW: I think when we're going through her belongings, there were a couple things that we found. One was a brochure of "The Final Exit Network."
GUPTA: And in Jana's checkbook, another important clue. On February 13th, 2007, "Final Exit Network" membership fees, $50. But what was "Final Exit?"
Online, they found this web site. It says, "The Final Exit Network" serves members in all 50 states who are suffering from intolerable medical circumstances, are mentally competent, want to end their lives, and meet our official written criteria.
And suddenly it all made sense. That's when Tom and Viki realized that Jana had gotten help to kill herself. I went to meet Dr. Lawrence Egbert. He's the man who approved Jana's request to die.
He's a retired anesthesiologist. He was "Final Exit's" medical director at the time of Jana's death. He's 84 years old, he's friendly, charming, disarming. He doesn't own a cell phone or a car. And he is passionate about this cause.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of people think of this as -- it's such a good idea.
GUPTA: According to "Final Exit's" own records, these saints, as he calls them, help hundreds of people to, quote, "hasten death." By his own account, when he was director, Egbert approved about 300 "Final Exit" applicants.
(on camera): Do people apply to "The Final Exit Network?"
DR. LAWRENCE EGBERT, FORMER MEDICAL DIRECTOR, "FINAL EXIT NETWORK": I can give you a telephone number if you want. I got the telephone number.
GUPTA: What will they say to me if I called them?
EGBERT: They would say, I'll get your name and your telephone number and somebody will call you back in a few days. And that person would then call you back and ask you why.
GUPTA: Could you approve somebody without having met them?
EGBERT: Yes. I could. And say, this is reasonable to proceed.
GUPTA (voice-over): If that all sounds unnerving, then also consider this. According to police reports, Jana told "Final Exit" she had lesions on the liver, possible breast cancer, head injuries, removal of the gallbladder, over exposure to radiation and ingestion of rat poison.
(on camera): Did she have liver lesions?
GUPTA: Did she have breast cancer?
GUPTA: Did she have toxic pesticimia, toxins from rats?
GUPTA: Did she have arsenic poisoning?
GUPTA: Did you know all of this when looking at her application?
EGBERT: I have the same record they had.
GUPTA (voice-over): The problem is Dr. Egbert took Jana at her word. No doctor ever confirmed any of those physical ailments. Jana certainly wasn't terminal. Not even physically ill.
And there was something else. In one of Jana's last psychiatric evaluations, her psychiatrist noted, this patient has become increasingly psychotic, on the last page, Jana's diagnosis, psychosis.
(on camera): Her brother-in-law and sister said she had lifelong issues of mental illness, which was relevant. Did you question, given the mental instability?
GUPTA: Wouldn't that be a big red flag?
EGBERT: It's a red flag all right. The question is how big.
(END VIDEOTAPE) COOPER: I find it amazing, Sanjay, that this doctor never saw any medical records on this person and yet was giving end of life advice. What did they actually do to commit people help suicide?
GUPTA: Well, you know, it's sort of an interesting thing. They say that they're not necessarily assisting. They're not necessarily instructing. They just sort of facilitating in various things.
They tell people what to buy in terms of certain supplies. Show them how to use these things. It's very chilling. You know, you're looking at an old demonstration there.
Dr. Egbert sort of showed me and it was sort of horrifying to watch actually. But it's a gray area because they say we're not assisting necessarily. We're just sort of allowing it to happen.
COOPER: So they're basically giving people advice about things they can use to kill themselves?
GUPTA: Right. So, for example, you know, helium is one of the things they tell them to buy. I'm being careful here on purpose because I don't want to tell too much. But helium, you just saw a little image of that. That's something that's part of this whole process.
There's other supplies the person is told to purchase as well. Exit guide actually comes to the home and sort of instructs them, but not necessarily doing anything in terms of assisting in particular.
COOPER: Wow, so they actually send somebody to the home. So, is this even legal?
GUPTA: You know, it's interesting again. This is a very gray area of the law. You know, obviously, Dr. Egbert, who you just met there, he was charged with manslaughter in this particular case, but eventually acquitted.
There are two states, Oregon and Washington, that allow assisted suicide, but here in this case, again, part of the reason they're acquitted is they're saying, look, we're not assisting anybody in doing this.
We're simply facilitating this in a way helping people who want to end their lives as in the case of Jana Van Voorhis. Part of the reason I wanted to illustrate this particular case, Anderson, is because when people talk about slippery slope, this is the example that they're talking about.
She was subsequently found to be mentally incompetent, which, you know, was that big red flag.
COOPER: Wow. It's fascinating. Sanjay, I appreciate it. We'll continue to follow it, thanks.
GUPTA: You got it, Anderson, thank you. COOPER: Let me know what you think about this. We're on Twitter right now @andersoncooper. You can catch Sanjay's full investigation, "The Final Exit Network," Saturday at 4:30 p.m. Eastern and also, Sunday at 7:30 a.m. on "Sanjay Gupta M.D."
Coming up also in this hour, the jury deliberates in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse trial. Interesting comments from Sandusky's own defense attorney. He says he'd, quote, "Die of a heart attack" if his client is acquitted on all the charges. Details on that.
COOPER: Let's get the latest on some other stories we're following. Gary Tuchman is here with the "360 Bulletin" -- Gary.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, hello. Jurors in Jerry Sandusky's child sex abuse trial are deliberating for a second day.
Meanwhile, Sandusky's attorney said just a short time ago, he expects his client will be convicted of at least some of the counts against him.
Joe Amendola told reports he'd, quote, "die of a heart attack" if Sandusky was acquitted of all the charges. That it's just statistically unlikely.
And a first of its kind trial in the Catholic sex abuse scandal, Philadelphia Monsignor William Lynn is in custody after being found guilty of one count of child endangerment for covering up sexual abuse by priests. He could face up to seven years in prison when he's sentenced in August. Lynn was found not guilty of conspiracy.
The Justice Department is suing two polygamous towns along the Utah/Arizona border for alleged religious discrimination. Most residents are members of the FLDS sect led by Warren Jeffs who was in prison on child sex and bigamy convictions. The towns are accused of discriminating against people who aren't members of the sect.
And George Washington's personal copy of the constitution and Bill of Rights has sold for nearly $10 million at auction. That's a world record for an American book or historical document.
I wonder, Anderson, just how you know for sure, though, that the father of our country actually had those documents.
COOPER: Yes, well, it would be pretty cool. Gary, thanks very much.
Time for the shot, a little boy named Noah caught our attention when his first sip of root beer was caught on camera by his dad. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is Noah enjoying the taste of root beer. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it good?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Noah's first root beer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUCHMAN: I don't know if Noah's fallen asleep yet, Anderson, from all that sugar.
COOPER: Probably not. I make that face every time I have full strength Coca-Cola. Gary, thanks very much.
Coming up, a thief caught on surveillance camera. It's not money he's after though, something much sweeter. "The Ridiculist" ahead.
COOPER: Time now for "The Riduculist." Tonight, we're adding the "candy swiper." It's a guy in Ohio who has sticky fingers and apparently specific sweet tooth. For months now, the guy has allegedly been stealing from the same gas station over and over again.
Employees say he usually comes in after midnight and he always takes the same thing, Reese's peanut buttercups. The police haven't been able to catch him yet, but store has caught him on surveillance video.
Now during the most recent incident a few days ago, the guy came in, went for the peanut buttercups and the store clerk jumps over the counter and tries to catch him.
But you got to remember, this guy is running on sugar so he's pretty fast. He Skittled right past the clerk and out the door. The sheer volume of candy that this guy has allegedly swiped is nothing to snicker at.
Police say he's stolen $400 to $600 worth of peanut buttercups over the past several months, about $600 worth of peanut buttercups. What are they, about $1 a pack? There are two in a pack.
This guy has presumably eaten up to 1,200 peanut buttercups in the past few months? They need to get questioning. The main question I have, how does somebody eat that much candy and stay in shape? He looks totally slim.
As we all know, the surveillance camera adds at least ten pounds. There's no way he's burning off 1,200 peanut buttercups just by running away from that gas station every once in a while.
Maybe he's not eating them all himself. Let's give him the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps he's stocking up for Halloween. He just happens to be doing it the most round protracted way ever.
Not that I'm in any way condoning handing out hot chocolate to trick or treaters, but that, you know, could be an explanation. Anyway, with that security video, there are mounds of evidence against the guy.
It's only a matter of time until they catch him, give him the old York peppermint patdown and justice will once again be served on "The Ridiculist."
We'll be back in an hour from now with the latest on this breaking news on the situation in Syria, the downing of Turkish jet by Syrian forces. That's at one hour from now at 10:00 Eastern Time. "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" starts now.