The Entrapment and Imprisonment of Todd Bertrang [The Publisher’s Ring]

The Entrapment and Imprisonment
of Todd Bertrang

“Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison.”

- Henry David Thoreau

At age forty, after single-handedly creating the “muscle car” trend in America, John Delorean was put in charge of Pontiac, making him the youngest division head in GM history. After four years of record profits he was promoted again to head of Chevrolet, which in two years he transformed from a financially troubled company to one with sales equal to every other GM brand combined. Then in 1973, at age 48 and the peak of his career, John Delorean quit to do charity work. Many were predicting that one day he would be President of the United States.

A few years after leaving, John Delorean started showing the car that would later become the DMC-12, the exotic gullwing-door stainless steel-skinned car which most people know best from the Back To The Future movies. The car was originally called the DSV — the Delorean Safety Vehicle — and was designed not as a sportscar, but as a safe daily driver which tried to address many of the problems John saw with modern car production. At the same time, Delorean co-authored a book called On a Clear Day You Can See General Motors, in which he accused GM of stagnation and caring more about profits than the customers or the cars.

John and the Delorean DMC-12

As the DMC-12 approached production, Delorean attempted to block the publication of his own book, fearing that the big car companies with their massive government lobbying power would do everything they could to sink his new venture at its most vulnerable point. Even with a huge grant from the Irish government, and a wonderful car (having owned a Delorean, I say that with some conviction) that was Europe’s only profitable car for the years it was made, the company was plagued with problems — said to source from many questionable payoffs to British government officials by GM — and it wasn’t long before it was in serious monetary difficulty.

Undercover FBI agents approached Delorean, offering to solve his financial woes. They proposed that cocaine be loaded into the door panels of his cars as they were shipped overseas, using them to transport the drug. John Delorean was arrested for conspiracy to traffic narcotics, and as he fought the charges, the DMC company went bankrupt, and the government — which received millions of dollars in “donations” from GM — moved in illegally and seized all of the tooling from the company, and, contrary to UK automobile law, dumped the tooling in the ocean insuring that not only could the company not be resurrected after the trial, but replacement parts couldn’t even be made.

The only reason that John Delorean avoided a long term prison sentence is that Hustler publisher Larry Flynt was able to obtain tapes showing not only that the drug trafficking idea was invented and proposed by the US government, but that both the cocaine and the money were provided FBI, and most importantly, that John Delorean told the undercover agents that he wasn’t interested and begged to be let go — the tapes show the agents actually threatening to kill John Delorean’s daughter if he didn’t proceed with the drug deal. It should also be noted that Larry Flynt was briefly imprisoned for contempt of court for revealing this information.

John Delorean with his daughter Christina, who US government agents
threatened to kill if John didn’t proceed with their proposed cocaine deal.

Delorean’s lawyer was later quoted in Time magazine saying, “This was a fictitious crime. Without the government, there would be no crime.”

John Delorean recently died destitute, having failed to bring his dream car back to market.

That brings us to piercer and cutter Todd Bertrang, a regular BME contributor that was first profiled in PFIQ magazine. In addition to his successful business dealing in and restoring classic Indian Motorcycles, he is best known for his advocation of heavy gauge piercing, alternative herbal aftercare, and his interest in female genital cutting — labial removal, hood splitting and removal, and even clitoral tip removal. At age forty, he was almost single-handedly responsible for the popularity of female genital modification, which, largely due to his promotion of it, had moved out of the fetish scene and become a lucrative business for cosmetic surgeons.

While many outsiders disapproved of Todd’s methods and highly sexual lifestyle, the vast majority of Todd’s clients — all consensual of course — spoke extremely highly of him and were very happy with the work he’d done on them.

Todd’s interest in body modification was almost exclusively sexual — as is the case for the vast majority of people who came into body modification before it became a fashion trend. It turned him on, plain and simple, and he never hid that fact or felt ashamed of it. An irrepressible flirt (that’s putting it kindly — others would say “dirtbag sleaze that kept hitting on my fifteen year-old kid sister and didn’t stop when she told him to get lost’ — well, welcome to the world of the Internet), Todd made more enemies than he knew in BME’s chat rooms and other online forums, mostly among sexually repressed individuals who felt body modification was best paired with a chic haircut and no needles — let alone scalpels — below the belt.

Todd Bertrang not long before his arrest.

A group of chatters who were offended by Todd’s comments and online advances conspired to get rid of Todd for good, and synchronized fraudulent reports to authorities in his area, the FBI, and other government agencies. “Todd Bertrang did a circumcision on a ten year old,” they told agents, claiming that he’d boasted about it online and showed them pictures. Even though even a cursory investigation of Todd would make it clear that the idea of cutting a ten year old would be reprehensible to him, as these fabrications continued to pour in, eventually the FBI had no choice but to start an investigation under California’s anti-FGM (female genital mutilation) laws, designed to stop immigrants from non-consensually mutilating their pre-pubescent daughters’ genitals for religious and cultural reasons.


Previous BME coverage of Todd Bertrang:

(note that links and addresses in these older articles are no longer active)

Posing as an Egyptian couple with (non-existent) eight and twelve year old daughters, FBI agents approached Todd seeking his services as a cutter. They told him they didn’t want to have to travel back to the Middle East and offered him $8,000 to do the procedure. Todd wasn’t interested, and told them so, although he was willing to talk to them about the pros and cons of the procedure. He told his friends about this couple and expressed his dismay that they would do this to children.

The FBI agents kept calling back, and even visited, pushing Todd to do the procedure. Eventually they told Todd that “one hand washes the other”, and let him know that they were interested in moving their assets from Egypt to the United States. If he’d be willing to help them out with their problem with their daughters, they’d be willing to invest $20 million in his motorcycle business.

I’ll think about it,” he told them.

Ask yourselves: how far would you compromise your ethics for $20 million? That’s an amount of money so high that you’d be able to fulfill all your dreams and live in luxury for the rest of your life. At how many million dollars does your cracking point lie?

And then, before letting him decide whether or not he’d actually make such an ethical compromise, in late 2002 the FBI raided his house, and Todd Bertrang and his girlfriend Robyn have been in prison ever since. No real evidence was ever presented against them, and no trial was ever held. Virtually no one stood up to defend Todd, and even those who supported of him cowered cautiously, fearing that they would be next. Robyn was threatened with the loss of her daughter, and eventually the two of them, being told they would be spending the rest of their lives in prison should they plead not guilty, chose to make a false confession on a variety of charges in exchange for reduced time. Todd received five years, and Robyn two.

* * *

I’d like to take give you an overview of what they were actually “convicted” of.

Child Porn
The “child porn” in question is a photo of Robyn’s daughter running around their house. It is a casual family snapshot that they had posted on their websites (currently offline) and was certainly not sexual in any way, and no different than the photos that surely exist in a vast number of family photo albums around the world. However, child porn laws are written so broadly that virtually any photo of a child can be prosecuted in this way.

Robyn was convicted of obscenity for posting healed photos of her genital modification. The photos were documentary in nature and barely in a sexual context (one of the photos she was convicted on is shown below — will I be next?). Outside of all the other free speech, general hypocrisy, and selective prosecution issues in this case, the fact is that photos exactly like this are all over the Internet, including on the websites of the many cosmetic surgeons offering this very procedure.

Is this really all it takes to violate obscenity laws?

Conspiracy to Violate FGM Laws
During the trial, copies of the email Todd exchanged with the agents were released. These emails show Todd urging the “parents” to reconsider the operation, advising them that doing this procedure on children will scar them sexually and emotionally and that they will not benefit from it — not until they start floating $20 million in front of him does he start to waver. The fact is that Todd has no record of working on children and is only motivated in working on sexually mature individuals because that’s where his interest lies. Suggesting that Todd is part of a shadowy Islamic network of pseudo doctors cutting children’s genitals is fraudulent.

Felon in Possession of a Firearm
Alright, that one is probably legitimate, although Todd claims that it’s more a matter of confusion and not being told that it was an issue — thanks to America’s lax laws on gun purchases, no red flags showed up when he bought a handgun for home protection and he never considered at the time it was a problem.

* * *

In conclusion, as John Delorean’s lawyer said about him, about Todd Bertrang I repeat: “This was a fictitious crime. Without the government, there would be no crime.”

Todd Bertrang was falsely accused, falsely prosecuted, and now sits falsely imprisoned due to being sexually different than the average person, and uncontrollably vocal about it. Five years of his life are gone, his family has been ripped apart, his business has been destroyed and his assets stolen, and dangerous precedents have been set. Those of you who conspired to make this happen should be ashamed of yourselves, and the government shows once again its incompetence and inherent prejudicial nature by again jailing the victim rather than the real criminals.

As I write this, parts of the United States are considering criminalizing even nostril piercings — how far will this go? Cutters, and all people who are different from the mainstream — gays, fetishists, atheists, piercers, unionists, and the rest — I warn you: keep an anonymous and low profile, or get out of America before the same happens to you.

Shannon Larratt

I received the following letter from a close friend of Todd’s that has been helping him keep his affairs in order while he’s behind bars. I’d like to share it here if anyone would like to help out or even just send Todd a note letting him know he has support. I’ll post again on this subject when the address is updated, but as of now the San Bernadino one is still good.

Todd got a five year sentence, but it is more like a death sentence. All the newspapers portrait him as a child genital mutilator. He might never come out a live, even though he never agree to do any genital mutilations on children. His life has already been threatened several times since he’s been in custody. Todd had no choice but to plea bargain to a lot of these charges. For the charge of conspiracy he was facing five years to life.

At this point Todd is a dead man walking. All the newspaper and news media should be so very proud of themselves, they just gave Todd a dead sentence for a crime he never committed. He is in absolute terror not knowing where his going. The prosecutor hates Todd so much that even when the judge gave Todd the five year sentence, he insisted that the judge should had given Todd a longer sentence. They also made sure the media was present for his sentencing.

Robyn will be out in about two months. She has requested not to have any contact with Todd. She also requested not to be transported with him to court, or be next to each him in the holding cells during the court proceedings. That’s what I call loyalty!!!

We still owe [Todd’s Lawyer] $52,000. By the grace of God I’ve been able to sell a lot of our furniture and parts, but there is very little left. I have sold everything for pennies on the dollar. If there are any supporters out there, please ask if they could help us out with any small donations sent directly to him. Todd spends about $80.00 a month for food and personal hygiene. I’m pretty sure that you’re aware of what a great business is to put people behind bars.

They can only send a money order or cashiers checks, payable to “Todd Bertrang”.

Todd Bertrang
BKG# 0407301101 AS-3
630 E. Rialto Ave
San Bernardino, Ca. 92415

Kind regards,
[Name removed]

You can send letters and cards to that address, as well as any financial support you can offer if you’d like, but nothing else can be sent there. Books and magazines can be sent, but they have to come straight from the source (ie. you can have Amazon send them there, but you can’t mail a book there).

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About Shannon Larratt

Shannon Larratt is the founder of BME (1994) and its former editor and publisher. After a four year hiatus between 2008 and 2012, Shannon is back adding his commentary to ModBlog. It should be noted that any comments in these entries are the opinion of Shannon Larratt and may or may not be shared by LLC or the other staff or members of BME. Entry text Copyright © Shannon Larratt. Reproduced under license by LLC. Pictures may be copyright to their respective owners. You can also find Shannon at Zentastic or on Facebook.

8 thoughts on “The Entrapment and Imprisonment of Todd Bertrang [The Publisher’s Ring]

  1. Pingback: BME: Tattoo, Piercing and Body Modification News » ModBlog » Answers to the trivia…

  2. This happened long before I got into body modification of any kind. Lately, I’ve been thinking about some new mods, so I’ve been googling it, (Ahh teendom). I stumbled across one article which made Todd seem like a very nice, very outspoken body modifier and another that made him look like a monster. This article is very well written and informative, especially for someone coming into the events this late. While there are opinions, they are all backed and it gives a good insight into the events in question. Kudos.

  3. Honestly, I’ve been trying to find out about Todd for a long time. And to Beckie Ann. A friend of mine and his brother both went to Todd for their Reverse PA’s. That friend introduced me to Todd by giving me his number because I wanted to get 4 gauge nipple piercings, and Todd’s specialty was large gauge piercing, and cutting. he did most all of his work with a scalpel. But was always professional. I spoke with Todd very often over the phone and through online chat, and can tell you he is a VERY nice person. It is a shame what happened to him. I only hope that after his time was served he got out and continued with his art. if anyone knows what has become of Todd, could you post it up somewhere? articles, anything… i google him often.

  4. This is insane! Poor Todd must’ve pissed off the World Criminal Banker Cartel in some way? I find it funny how they allow infant genital mutilation of young helpless boys in hospitals across the nation, & it’s somehow “OK” with them because it generates alot of $ for BIG PHARMA, but Todd didn’t even do anything, and the banker criminals want to destroy his life?!

    So much for “Land Of The Free, And Home Of The Brave”…

  5. I was not aware people were still leaving comments on this until today. Except for my few hours at Shannon’s memorial, which was really great to meet old friends and make new ones, I have been totally out of the bod mod world since these events. Anyone who wishes, can reach me at [email protected]

  6. False accusation, false prosecution and false imprisonment are common practice of US justice.

  7. Sadly I personally know a few people who have been falsely imprisoned.
    The UK is getting as bad as the US.
    We have lots of private prisons, and we are looking for people to put in them, and they are almost at capacity permanently.
    A friend who worked for child protection said most of the people that are being prosecuted are parents who are disliked by their neighbours.
    The immigration officers are also very good at selecting homoseuals to go to prison without ever seeing a judge.

    The world makes me feel sad.
    I know good men have to fight these people but it is so very hard on your own.

  8. I had Todd (back then it was “Todd’s Garage”) scalpel in 4ga barbells in both my nipples and needle pierce both my ear lobes for 4ga captured bead hoops on one visit.
    Everything was very sterile and professional. I cant see him doing anything non consensual or “legally” immoral like under age nonconsensual modifications.
    I wish i could have him do my transscrotal tunnel and urethral reroute.
    Hey snowflakes, just like Latuda… it’s NOT FOR EVERYONE but for folks like me we should have the choice and WE respect your choice to be as dull and ordinary as you wish.
    I hope Todd is doing well after this.
    Thank you for what you did for me sir!
    Hit me up on Twitter.

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