As 1974 began, Hugh Hefner was living what was, even by his own extravagant standards, a most enjoyable life.
In the 1960s Hefner had pushed himself hard to build and expand his publishing empire. He had not then learned to delegate authority, to trust others, and for a time he had used amphetamines to drive himself through the round-the-clock sessions in which he wrote his "Playboy Philosophy" series and chaired the marathon editorial meetings that had helped make him the rich and powerful publisher he was. But by the 1970s Hefner's life had started to change. He was learning to delegate authority. He was spending less and less time in Chicago, where his magazine was located, and more time at his new mansion in Los Angeles, where he could bask in the California sun and let the world come to him when he had need of it. Hefner was, moreover, deeply involved in the most intense romance of his life, with a vivacious, bright-eyed young woman named Barbi Benton, who had captivated him as had few of the thousands of women who had passed through his life. Finally, most amazingly, Hefner had discovered something that had enriched, indeed revolutionized, his already prodigious sex life: marijuana.
Hefner had grown up accepting the reefer-madness mythology. He thought of marijuana as something jazz musicians used, a drug like heroin that drove men to crime and violence. When Hefner began to build his own private world in the mid-1950s, he felt no need for drugs in it. Sex was Hefner's obsessionsex and his magazine. Even his drinking was moderate. He would sip a Scotch but he never got drunk, for Hefner hated to lose control.
Although Hefner had helped create the sexual revolution of the sixties, he missed that decade's drug revolution entirely. If anything, he was disdainful of drugs and people who abused them. (He did not think of amphetamines as drugs; they were an energizer, like coffee, that had helped him do his work.) As the seventies began, Hefner took only an occasional hit of marijuana, and did not allow marijuana use in his mansions, except by his closest friends in semiprivate situations. Still, as the decade progressed, there was more marijuana around, more talk of it; more joints were being circulated, and in time Hefner made a quite startling discovery: Smoking marijuana greatly enhanced his sexual pleasure.
It was, for Hefner, a stunning turn of events, and not without its ironies. He had for fifteen years been both America's leading sexual philosopher and its leading sexual practitioner. He had slept with hundreds, even thousands of beautiful young women, in a sexual odyssey unequaled in the Western world. But now, as he began to combine marijuana with lovemaking, he learned how much he had been missing. "I didn't know what making love was all about for all those years," he said in a three-hour interview in his Los Angeles mansion in the spring of 1980. "Smoking helped put me in touch with the realm of the senses. I discovered a whole other dimension to sex. I discovered the difference between fucking and making love."
Hefner's discovery was, to be sure, one that millions of other people had already made; in this instance Hefner was a follower, not a leader, in the nation's sexual exploration. Smokers had found that at best marijuana produced a state of receptivity, even of childlike wonder, that enabled them to experience anew, often with stunning intensity, things that they had come to take for granted. The experiences that could be so dramatically enhanced might include a meal, a movie, a child, a song, a sunset, and in particular they included physical contact. Certainly, one reason for marijuana's popularity, despite official disapproval and repression, was the fact that millions of people thought it made their sex lives even more enjoyable. That was the case with Hugh Hefner.
Hefner had grown up, like most American men, thinking of sexual success in terms of performance: Success was how many women you took to bed, how long you kept your erection, how many orgasms you managed. Now he began to see that performance was virtually the opposite of what real lovemaking was all about. Erections were not the point, you could have wonderful sex with or without an erection. Real lovemaking was a sensual sharing of erotic pleasure with someone you cared about. Marijuana, he found, helped him tune out distractionsdeadlines, corporate disputesand focus all his energies and passions on his pleasure and his partner's. As Hefner had earlier overcome his repressions about the sexual act itself, he now began to overcome his resistance to sensitivity, to sharing, to giving of himself. It was, for him, a time of discovery, of opening up his life. Sometimes Hefner wondered what America would have been like if hundreds of years ago, in the Colonial days, we had adopted marijuana, not alcohol, as our drug of choice. It puzzled and saddened him to think that America's two favorite drugsalcohol and tobaccowere killers, and yet we put people in jail for using a drug that he found not only harmless but liberating.
As 1974 began, the forty-six-year-old Hefner believed himself truly a man who had everything. Indeed, if there was any small irritation in Hefner's life, it was that so many people refused to believe how happy he was. People who wrote about him, Hefner had discovered, almost always wanted to believe there was a dark side to his life, that he was lonely or unhappy or frustrated, that there had to be trouble in his paradise. Time after time, to Hefner's growing annoyance, interviewers demanded of him, "But are you really happy?" To some extent, Hefner thought, the question was rooted in the envy of men who needed to rationalize the frustrations of their own mundane, monogamous lives. But he thought that in a larger sense the question reflected America's lingering puritanism, which would have it that all his wealth and fame and sexual indulgence could not give him happiness, which indeed insisted that pleasure was sin and sin must inevitably be punished. People thought that if you danced, you had to pay the piper, but Hefner knew better. He lived precisely as he wanted to live, and he considered himself a truly happy man. He thought the only enemy he had was time, mortality, and sometimes he half believed that somehow even time might stand still for him.
He was wrong, of course. Hefner had enemies he didn't even know about, political enemies, powerful men who hated him and what he stood for and who wanted nothing more than to drag him from his flowered paradise and lock him in prison. Before 1974 was ended, Hefner would know fear, would spend sleepless nights, would face the possibility that his world could come crashing down around him. Ironically, the instrument his enemies would use to try to destroy him was a woman who would have died for him, Bobbie Arnstein.
In 1971 Keith Stroup and Bobbie Arnstein had become lovers; by 1974 they were friends. Stroup had in time realized that Bobbie was far less interested in sex than in friendship, in finding people who would flatter her, laugh with her, argue with her, be kind to her, and above all who would not use her, as so many people tried to, because of her status with Hefner. She had gone to work as a receptionist at Playboy soon after she graduated from a Chicago high school. She became one of Hefner's secretaries, and in time became his executive assistant, which meant she was one of two people who could grant access to the reclusive publisher. Hefner relied on her professionally, to screen out people and problems he did not wish to be bothered with, and he enjoyed her personally. She had a tough, challenging mind, and they had long dialogues on every possible subject. When Hefner was depressed, it was often Bobbie he would tell his troubles to. Hefner's girl friends came and went, but Bobbie had remained important in his life for a decade.
To Stroup, Bobbie's friendship was crucial as he struggled to get more money for NORML from the Playboy Foundation. With Bobbie's help he was able to establish a personal relationship with Hefner that enabled him, when there were problems, to bypass the foundation and take his case directly to the top. As Stroup saw it, Hefner was a very busy man who needed to be reminded from time to time just who Keith Stroup was and just what NORML was. But you didn't make appointments with Hefner. You hung out at the mansion and you talked to Hefner when Hefner felt like talking. Thanks to Bobbie, Stroup had access to the mansionhe could simply stay with her when he was in Chicagoand, moreover, she could tell him when to approach Hef and when to leave him alone.
She gave him help, and she needed help, too. He was also coming to understand what her friends at Playboy had long known, that she was a woman with serious psychological problems. Her friends thought her problems came in part from the death of her father when she was a child, and in part from the fact that she was a twin, who like many twins had identity problems and somehow never got all the attention and affection she craved. One of her close women friends says, "Bobbie was one of the funniest, brightest people I ever knew. There was a robustness and a tenderness about her. But she was a desperate person, too. She had no sense of herself, no ego strength. She needed constant approval. She tried to act tough but she wasn't. There was something of a chameleon about her, something essentially parasitic. And in time it all focused on Hefner. He was daddy, the authority figure, the person she had to please."
For his part, Hefner was pained by the great gap between the talented, attractive person Bobbie was and the person she thought she wasfor she was torn by insecurity, by a sense of inadequacy. She worried constantly about her looks, although most men found her highly attractive. She would spend hours getting ready for a party, and then leave it after ten minutes. She devoted herself to Hefner she wanted to be available to him around the clockand was never able to achieve a satisfactory personal life of her own. One way or another, her romances always seemed to end badly.
In 1963 Bobbie had fallen in love with a young man named Tom Lownes, the younger brother of a senior Playboy executive. While they were driving to Florida, with her at the wheel, there was an accident. She suffered a broken arm; he was killed instantly. She returned to the mansion to recuperate, and she was deeply depressed. She felt guilty about Lownes's death, she began to drink heavily, and she gained a great deal of weight. Eventually she went to a health resort, lost the weight, and stopped the excessive drinking, but by the time Stroup met her, in 1971, she was well into the uppers-downers cycleamphetamines to get up in the morning and get through the day, barbiturates to come down at night. The uppers didn't interfere with her workthey helped her do her workbut Stroup thought they were starting to take a toll on her. She was often depressed, insecure, erratic. Stroup came to see her in two quite different lights, almost as two people. On the one hand, she was one of the most exciting people he'd ever known. They liked to do drugs togethermarijuana, sometimes cocaine or MDAbut he thought of her as someone who was high not on drugs but on ideas, laughter, life. She had a quick, bizarre sense of humorshe was a great fan of Lenny Bruceand she loved to debate politics, philosophy, morality, anything. She was challenging and invigorating; he almost always left her feeling happy.
And yet Bobbie was clearly someone living at the edge. He saw, behind her exuberance, a hopelessness, a sense of despair, that her dark humor and her drug use only partly concealed. She had been in and out of analysis for years (she made bitter jokes about what fools psychiatrists were). She rarely left the mansion anymore, and some of her friends feared that she was losing touch with reality, that the sweet, pampered madness of the mansion had become her reality. Outside, in the real world, her jangled nerves could barely survive a rude cabdriver or an indifferent shopgirl. She had moved out of the mansion once, after the accident that killed Tom Lownes, and lived a few months in an apartment she never bothered to furnish; then she returned to her real home, the mansion, the womb.
She increasingly spoke of suicide. She would call her women friends in the middle of the night and say she was going to kill herself. At least one of her friends took these calls as self-pity, a cry for attention, and told her to stop calling, that she wouldn't play the game. This, then, was Bobbie Arnstein in 1972bright, hardworking, insecure, isolated, often depressed, potentially suicidalwhen the outside world, the real world, began to intrude on her fantasy life in ways more terrible than she could have imagined.
Her troubles started, inevitably, with a man. As she entered her thirties, Bobbie had begun to date younger men. One of them was a handsome twenty-four-year-old drug dealer named Ron Scharf, and in September of 1971 she had flown to Coral Gables, Florida, with Scharf and a friend of his named Ira Sapstein. They visited a thirty-five-year-old drug dealer named George Matthews, and Scharf bought a half-pound of cocaine from Matthews. Later the three of them flew back to Chicago together. Whether or not Bobbie knew about the cocaine purchase, and whether she or Sapstein carried the cocaine back from Florida, were questions that were later bitterly disputed.
It developed that Scharf's telephone was being tapped as part of a federal drug investigation. Some of the taped calls were between him and Bobbie, and often they talked about drugs.
Early in 1972 there were rumors that Scharf was about to be indicted and that Bobbie might be indicted along with him. She called Stroup in panic, and he flew to Chicago to see if he could help her. It turned out that she was not indicted, although Scharf, Sapstein, and Matthews were, for conspiracy, in the cocaine sale. But for some reason the case was not prosecuted.
Instead, the investigation continued. Bobbie was repeatedly called in for questioning. Sometimes the prosecutors played her the taped conversations in which she and Scharf discussed drugs. The implication was clear: She still faced possible prosecution. She and her lawyers began to hear reports that the prosecutors were divided, with some wanting to indict her and others insisting they had no case against her.
In the fall of 1973, amid this pressure and uncertainty, Bobbie tried to kill herself with an overdose of sleeping pills. A friend found her unconscious in her apartment in the Chicago mansion, and she was rushed to a hospital and her life saved. She later told Stroup, with bitter amusement, that there was no experience quite like waking up, thinking you were dead, only to find yourself strapped to a bed and surrounded by people who thought you were crazy.
After her suicide attempt, Bobbie was sent to a private psychiatric hospital. She called Stroup in hysterics. She was locked up with crazy people, she said. There was one man who kept pissing on the floor right next to her. He had to get her out of there, before she did go crazy. Stroup flew to Chicago and found that she had not been legally committed to the hospital. He therefore told Bobbie's doctor he wanted her freed.
"She shouldn't leave yet," the doctor protested. "You'll have to take the responsibility for what might happen."
"Wait a minute," Stroup replied. "You're the doctor. If you don't think she should leave, you have her committed. That's your responsibility. I'm her lawyer, and if she's not committed, then I want her out of here."
He took her back to the mansion, where he sensed that many people would have preferred that she stay in confinement longer.
"Listen, Bobbie," he told her, "if you kill yourself now, I'm really fucked."
She laughed and told him not to worry, that she wouldn't do a thing like that to him.
Then she was indicted.
At noon on March 23, 1974, two years after the first indictments in Scharf's case, Bobbie stepped briefly outside the mansion, on her way from one of its wings to the other. She was wearing a pantsuit and sunglasses and carrying some papers. A man stepped into her path and asked if she was Roberta Arnstein. When she said she was, he said he was a federal agent and she was under arrest. He produced handcuffs and snapped them onto her wrists. "But I haven't had lunch yet," she protesteda choice example of her deadpan humor, her friends thought. Newspaper photographers, alerted by the prosecutors, snapped pictures of her arrest; it was the first indication of the media extravaganza the government would make of her case.
Earlier that morning, before her arrest, new indictments had been handed down in the cocaine-conspiracy case, indictments that reflected a major change in the government's case. At the time of his arrest, Matthews had given a long statement to the authorities. It implicated Scharf and Sapstein in the cocaine deal and mentioned Arnstein only in passing. But now, after he had been convicted and sentenced to fifteen years in prison, Matthews changed his story to say he had seen Bobbie put the cocaine in her purse.
The new indictments were brought by a Justice Department anti-crime strike force, working in cooperation with the Drug Enforcement Agency and the U.S. attorney for the Chicago district, James Thompson, a Republican who had made his name prosecuting Democratic politicians and who would in time be elected governor of Illinois and be talked about as a future presidential candidate.
It was clear, throughout the case, that the government saw the prosecution of Arnstein as a first step toward making a major drug case against Hugh Hefner. The Nixon administration's law-and-order crusade was at its peak then. Narcotics agents were kicking down doors, often the wrong doors, on their no-knock raids, and undercover agents were sending hundreds of people to prison with testimony that would later be proved to be perjury. There seemed to be no restraints on what the government could do in its anti-drug crusade, and there cannot have been many more inviting targets for ambitious prosecutors or publicity-hungry politicians than the publisher of Playboy. Hefner was a champion of the "new morality," and as such he was hated and feared by millions of Americans who still clung to the verities of the old morality. To make it worse, he was a middle-aged man who flaunted his sexual adventures with an endless stream of young women. Small wonder, then, that the zealots of the Nixon administration would put Hefner on their enemies list and would try to make a drug case against the publisher that at the least would make him sweat and at best might bring down his empire. It was Bobbie Arnstein's misfortune to become an unwitting actor in this high-stakes political drama.
That first afternoon, after her arrest, she was freed on bond, and she called Stroup for help. He hurried to Chicago to advise her and to help her select her lawyer. They eventually settled on a first-rate criminal-defense lawyer named Tom Sullivan. Stroup agreed to serve as unpaid co-counsel, primarily to mediate between Bobbie and Sullivan, who was an excellent lawyer but also a very straight middle-aged Catholic who did not relate with ease to his very hip, nervous, demanding client.
From the first, the prosecutors made it clear to Bobbie and to her lawyers that it was really Hefner they wanted, not her. Their questions to her were invariably directed at alleged drug use by Hefner and by others at his mansion. They were obsessed with the idea that he passed around bowls of cocaine at his parties. Tell us about Hefner, they said again and again, and you have nothing to worry about. Perhaps the prosecutors did believe Hefner used and dispensed cocaine, but the fact was that, so far as Hefner's closest friends knew, he used no drugs except occasional alcohol and marijuana. He disapproved of cocaine and hallucinogenic drugs, and people who used them in his mansions did so behind his back.
As the trial drew near, Bobbie's lawyers had one great problem: how to rebut George Matthews' testimony that he saw Bobbie put the cocaine in her purse.
Ron Scharf, her codefendant, was not going to testify, lest he be cross-examined about the drug deals he had discussed in the taped phone calls. He told Bobbie's lawyers that if Bobbie could get a separate trial, he would swear that she knew nothing about the drug deal, but the judge denied Sullivan's motion for a separate trial.
Ira Sapstein, who had been named in the first indictments but not indicted the second time, was nowhere to be found.
There remained the possibility of Bobbie's testifying in her own behalf. She wanted to. Matthews was lying, she said, and she wanted to say so. But Stroup and Sullivan were agreed that she must not take the stand. For one thing, she would not be a witness with whom a working-class Chicago jury was likely to feel much sympathy. An even bigger problem was the tapes on which she and Scharf had discussed drugs. If she took the stand, she could be cross-examined about everything on the tapes. Stroup's fear was that under cross-examination she would either perjure herself or be forced to admit criminal acts, and that she might suffer a breakdown in the process.
The trial began on October 27 and lasted three days. Stroup and Bobbie would ride to the trial each day in a chauffeured Mercedes, listening to Beatles tapes and perhaps sharing a joint on the way. They always got out of the Mercedes a block away from the courthouse, however, lest the jury see Bobbie in her limousine. It was her only concession to convention. She rejected Stroup's suggestion that she "dress down" for the jury's benefit; instead she arrived at court each day in some expensive new outfit, perhaps featuring a flashy leather vest or knee-length boots. Worse, Bobbie and Ron Scharf would sometimes pass notes back and forth at the defense table, and one day Stroup noticed that one of the folded-up notes contained some drugs. Stroup was furious at Bobbie, but she only laughed.
The prosecution's star witness was George Matthews, the Florida drug dealer who now swore he had seen Bobbie put the cocaine in her purse. He was brought to the stand in handcuffs, for he was then serving the fifteen-year sentence on his own drug conviction.
With Bobbie not testifying, Sullivan had little defense to offer except to try to discredit Matthews and to call character witnesses, including Playboy's editor, Arthur Kretchmer. It wasn't enough. The jury found both Bobbie and Scharf guilty. On November 26 the judge sentenced Scharf to a six-year prison term and Bobbie to a provisional fifteen-year term. She was to undergo ninety days of psychiatric testing and then be resentenced.
It seemed unlikely that the judge would let stand the fifteen-year sentence. But Bobbie could not be sure of that. It was as if the judge were helping the prosecutors put one more form of pressure on her.
Within days of her sentencing, subpoenas had gone out to past and present Playboy employees in a federal-grand-jury investigation of drug use in Hefner's mansion. A federal prosecutor told reporters, "Hefner's in a hell of a lot of trouble." Hefner agreed. He was in more trouble than he had ever dreamed possible. He had seen Bobbie convicted with what he believed to be perjured testimony, and he had to face the possibility that he, too, could be convicted. He had already seen how much harm the government could do to him even prior to any charges. They were brilliant at playing the media, at leaking stories about the investigation even before they had proved anything. The Playboy world was kept unsettled by rumors that there would be raids on the mansion, or that narcotics agents would try to plant drugs there. Two outside members of his board of directors resigned over the controversy, a major bank threatened to cut off Playboy's credit, and advertisers quit his magazine. The government could wear you down, make you suspect your friends, make you question everyone's motives. The government's best shot at Hefner still seemed to be Bobbie, if she, desperate to save herself from prison, would testify that she had supplied him with cocaine or other hard drugs. That seemed wildly improbable, but, in this situation, nothing was impossible.
Bobbie was, in fact, in a terrible condition as she awaited the outcome of her legal appeals. Her uncertainty and despair left her barely coherent at times. She was torn by guilt, by a sense that she, by her association with Scharf, had made it possible for the government to threaten Hefner and his empire. Stroup, who spoke with her daily, thought the government was putting truly inhuman pressure on her to turn against Hefner. He thought the prosecutors knew she was a fragile, disturbed woman who would do almost anything to escape prison. And they were right about that. Bobbie was desperately afraid of prison. She wasn't going there for fifteen minutes, much less fifteen years.
What the prosecutors did not seem to understand was that Bobbie would never harm Hefner. It was simply inconceivable, a nonalternative.
For Bobbie, there was another alternative: suicide. All Bobbie's friends understood that. Stroup thought the prosecutors understood it, too, and that they coldly gambled that Bobbie would turn against Hefner before she would kill herself.
She had, after all, tried to kill herself even before the trial. She had read The Bell Jar and The Savage God and other books about suicide. She liked to debate the subject, and as her trial neared, the discussions became more frequent and less academic. She asked Stroup whether, if she were convicted, he could guarantee her thirty days before she was imprisoned. He said he could.
After her conviction they continued to discuss suicide. For a while he made all the standard arguments against it, but she was unpersuaded. "Keith doesn't accept suicide as a legitimate alternative," she would say. In the end she persuaded him that her life was her own, to terminate when she wished.
Still, given the many legal appeals open to them, Stroup thought Bobbie was a long way from killing herself. He believed, as he stressed to her, that they had a good chance of overturning her conviction, perhaps because the judge had refused to sever her trial from Scharf's.
Then, in early December, the government played an unexpected card.
U.S. Attorney James Thompson called Bobbie to his office and told her he had information from two sources that there was a contract out on her life, that someone was offering to pay to have her killed. He refused to give names or specifics, but warned that if he were in her position, he'd trust neither friend nor foe.
The implication seemed clear enough to her: Hefner, or people close to him, would have her killed rather than face the possibility that she might testify against him.
Bobbie called Stroup in hysterics. He flew to Chicago, demanded a second meeting with the prosecutors, and furiously accused them of making up the contract story to put further pressure on Bobbie. Although she did not take seriously the idea that Hefner would harm her, Bobbie was further unsettled by the prosecutor's death-threat story. She began to have nightmares in which killers broke down her door. On December 16 she had Stroup draw up her will.
Throughout the trial Bobbie had remained on salary, and Hefner had paid her legal fees. He had also called her from time to time from Los Angeles to encourage her. He was in fact under pressure from his corporate advisers to put some distance between himself and Bobbie, and eventually he did take one step in that direction. It had been agreed that Bobbie would move to Los Angeles. She could work for Hefner in the mansion there, and her friends hoped the move would improve her state of mind. The compromise was that she wouldn't live in the mansion. Instead she would share a house with her friend Shirley Hillman and commute to work. Thus, the Playboy empire would be spared the embarrassment of constant newspaper stories saying that a convicted cocaine conspirator was living in Hefner's mansion, as well as the risk that she would again bring drugs into the mansion.
She was to fly to Los Angeles on Saturday, January 11. Instead she stayed in Chicago, called Stroup for a chat in the afternoon, had dinner with Shirley Hillman, went to a late movie, returned to the mansion at 1:30 A.M., then walked five blocks to the Hotel Maryland, where Lenny Bruce used to stay when he was in Chicago. She checked into a room on the seventeenth floor, then took enough sleeping pills and tranquilizers to kill herself several times. While she waited to die, she wrote a letter that she addressed to Stroup and Hillman.
It was important to her that her suicide cause minimal embarrassment to Hefner. That was why she had left the mansion to die. And in her letter, in addition to protesting her innocence on the cocaine charge, she insisted that Hefner was "a staunchly upright, rigorously moral manI know him well and he had never been involved in the criminal activity which is being attributed to him now."
A cleaning woman found her body the next day, and the news of her death caused a great sensation. Hefner flew to Chicago for her funeral, and then he called a news conference at which he said, among other things, "It is difficult to describe the inquisitional atmosphere of the Bobbie Arnstein trial and related Playboy probe. In the infamous witchcraft trials of the Middle Ages, the inquisitors tortured the victims until they not only confessed to being witches but accused their own families and friends of sorcery as well. In similar fashion, narcotics agents frequently use our severe drug laws in an arbitrary and capricious manner to elicit the desired testimony for a trial.
"Testimony thus acquired is at best highly suspect, since the witness has good reason to provide whatever the prosecutor wants of him. This is the sort of testimony that was used to convict Bobbie Arnstein; this is the technique that was used in an attempt to force Bobbie Arnstein to falsely incriminate me."
William Safire, the Nixon speechwriter and then New York Times columnist, picked up Hefner's "inquisition" charge in his column: "If she had told the prosecutors what they wanted to hearobviously by involving a prime publicity targetshe would have been treated leniently.... Bobbie Arnstein committed suicide under the new torture."
Tom Fitzpatrick wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times about how Bobbie would be remembered in the Playboy mansion: "They'll remember that it was Bobbie who worried whether the butlers got overtime pay in their checks. They'll remember it was Bobbie who fought to get raises for secretaries whom everyone else overlooked.
"Yes, and they'll remember Bobbie in a new outfit with her hair freshly done. They'll remember her laughing both at herself and with everyone around her.
"She was a classy lady who never hurt anybody but herself, and who was crushed by a system that wasn't really out to get her, just her boss."
To Stroup, to Hefner and others in his world, and to many informed outsiders, like William Safire, the Arnstein case was a classic example of the government's power to use the drug laws selectively for political purposes. The prosecutors of course insisted that theirs was a solid case, and in fact they did obtain a jury conviction against Arnstein, but Stroup and others were absolutely convinced that the government's key witness, a convicted felon, had perjured himself in the hope of receiving favorable treatment, and in fact he did serve less than a year of his original fifteen-year sentence. Had Arnstein been stronger, she might in time have won her case on appeal. As it was, many people will remember her as the victim of a classic Nixon-era witch hunt.
In a way, Stroup thought Bobbie had had the last laugh. The prosecutors had set out to use her to get Hefner, and they had failed. She had quit the game at a time and in a manner of her own choosing. And they hadn't got Hefner, either. Some months later the Justice Department announced it had closed the investigation into his world, for lack of evidence.