DOCUMENT: Celebrity, Investigation

A Million Little Lies

Exposing James Frey's Fiction Addiction

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James Frey Mug Shot Berrien County

James Frey Granville Police Report

James Frey Granville Mug Shot

James Frey Legal Threat Letter

Granville Police Denison Drug Investigation (Frey)

James Frey St. Joseph Reckless Driving

St. Joseph Accident Report (James Frey)

James Frey Letter To Readers

The grand criminal probe of which Frey writes he was the main target, Baer said, was actually a very small-scale affair: "It was college kids doing dope." Baer, now a lieutenant with Florida's Marco Island Police Department, said the Granville investigation, which he ran, had no federal agencies involved. "I never, ever, ever worked with the FBI on a drug case" in Granville, said Baer. "Never did it once."

Baer's investigation began with the cooperation of a Denison student who got ratted out by a frat boy who himself was popped on a minor drug charge. The Denison student, eager to save his own ass, acknowledged using cocaine, acid, and pot. The student's main concern was that he would have to continue his senior year "being known as an informant," according to a January 1992 police report.

When the young snitch sat down with investigators, he helped them draw up a list of 11 Denison students--many of them fraternity members--suspected of dealing. Frey was one of eight students described in an investigative report as allegedly selling small amounts of cocaine. Frey's name does not appear anywhere else in a detailed 13-page report prepared by Baer and other officers. Three other students allegedly sold marijuana, one dealt LSD, and five were described as suspected customers of one campus coke dealer.

The cooperating student would go on to make an undercover buy of a half-a-hit of acid from an SAE brother of Frey's. That student, Alexander Speyer, pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor drug charge and was fined $150. When Granville police closed down their investigation that April, they interviewed seven students about their suspected drug sales. Frey, police reports show, was not one of the students Granville cops set out to interview, nor was he questioned.

Though armed with no warrants during the early-morning Q&A sessions, most students granted permission for cops to search their dorm or frat rooms. In a few instances, police recovered pot, for which the students were charged and later fined small amounts in Granville Mayor's Court.

A second frat brother of Frey's, Andrew Delano, was popped that morning when he nervously (and voluntarily) handed over three wooden boxes containing a small amount of marijuana. While it was Delano's second arrest in three months (he had been nabbed in January for disorderly conduct/public intoxication and fined $150), he again walked out of Mayor's Court with a small fine and no jail time.

The second misdemeanor slap on Delano's wrist makes Frey's contention that he was made to serve three months county time (on equally minor charges) all the more ridiculous.

Frey, who first told us about the arrests of frat brothers Delano and Speyer, said that cops tried to get both students to flip on him, a claim not reflected in police records. Neither Delano nor Speyer responded to TSG efforts to contact them about Frey's assertions.

Calling Frey's account of the drug probe (and his supposed chief role in it) "bullshit," Baer told TSG that that Granville police were simply trying to make "nickel bag drug cases." While he wished the case had an exotic, South American angle to it--as Frey tried to make it seem in "A Million Little Pieces"--Baer said the probe was small potatoes. "We were trying to buy baggies of pot."

[Frey's claim of being grilled by the FBI over his trips to Brazil apparently is an oblique reference to visiting his parents, who were living there while his father headed up Whirlpool's Latin American division.]

The university, Baer said, was not filled with roughnecks and drug toughs. A Denison gang would be "wearing khakis and blue sport blazers. We're not talking Detroit here," he added. "It's like Biffy and Buffy saying, 'I think we should steal a stop sign.'"

On a final note, Baer denied being the overweight Asshole Cop who purportedly threw his coffee at Frey after the wiseass frat boy bolted police headquarters following an interview session that never actually took place. "I was skinny then and didn't drink coffee," he claimed.


The two other criminal activities that TSG tried to confirm supposedly resulted in Frey being wanted on drug possession charges in Michigan and North Carolina (as well as in Ohio). He has repeated this since the 2003 publication of "A Million Little Pieces."

The only proof, as it were, offered in the book is the claim that after landing in North Carolina (in late 1993, shortly after pummeling that pervy Parisian priest), "I was so fucked up all the time, but I know I got arrested again." He then tacked up another wanted poster: "I also know I got arrested in Michigan, though I have no idea what I was doing in Michigan. I skipped Bail in both places, so I guess I'm wanted there as well."

The "I've been an Alcoholic for a decade and a drug Addict and a Criminal for almost as long and I'm wanted in three states" refrain has appeared, in some form, in hundreds of stories about Frey, in promotional material for the book, and was one of the first things Winfrey said about him when introducing Frey to her audience.

We'll start with Michigan. As previously mentioned, TSG conducted extensive searches in the state and came up with the single case Frey himself provides scant details about in "A Million Little Pieces." That arrest occurred on June 8, 1988 and was settled with a plea before the month was over. The court docket makes no mention of any outstanding warrant that needed to be addressed by the defendant. Less than three months later, Frey moved to Ohio to begin studies at Denison.

By his own admission, most recently on "Oprah" when he returned to St. Joseph with a camera crew in tow, Frey had not been in Michigan in the intervening 18 years. So when and where he racked up that supposed drug arrest is a mystery. The only other mention of it in the book comes when Randall, the Hazelden attorney, reports that the "Authorities" in Michigan and North Carolina were each seeking "Misdemeanor Possession" pleas because "Courts in both places are overloaded and want this to go away." In return for the pleas, Randall tells him, "Your time in here will be time served." In addition, Randall explains, he'll face "a couple thousand dollar" fines in each jurisdiction, though Frey's "Record will be cleared in three years."

Our search of North Carolina records also turned up no cases or warrants for Frey, who has said the bust there came in either Wilmington or the neighboring Wrightsville Beach. Checks with the police departments in both places turned up no records for a James Frey. At the New Hanover county level, the sheriff's office, the Superior Court, which handles felony matters, and the District Court, which handles misdemeanors and lower-level infractions, all had no record of him in their respective files, all of which date back prior to the 1990s.

Wrightsville Police Department Officer Sean Appler also searched North Carolina driver's history records, conducted a criminal history check, and performed an Administrative Offices of the Court case query. All three returned no hits for Frey's name. To aid in searches, TSG often provided law enforcement officials with identifying details like Frey's date of birth, middle name, or social security number. And sometimes all three.

When we told Frey that records checks in both states came up empty, he acknowledged that neither case involved narcotics possession, as claimed in "A Million Little Pieces." He said the North Carolina matter--which would have come in the weeks before his Hazelden admission--was "alcohol-related" and "some bullshit nothing." It involved "like walking down a street with open containers and getting in a confrontation with other people walking down the street with open containers," added Frey. Asked if this would have been an offense for which he was issued something akin to a citation, Frey answered, "Yes."

He could offer even fewer details of the supposed Michigan incident besides, "It was probably something dumb like a traffic citation or a dumb bullshit warrant like that."

In both states, it remains entirely unclear where these supposed arrest warrants were purportedly lodged against Frey, who could offer us no guidance in locating them.


While Frey's fabrications and embellishments of his criminal "career" and jail time are patently dishonest, the section of "A Million Little Pieces" that deals with a tragedy that took place while he was a high school student is downright creepy and detestable.

On November 15, 1986 at 9:17 PM, a northbound C&O locomotive pulling a caboose and headed for nearby Benton Harbor slammed broadside into a 1976 Oldsmobile Toronado at the Maiden Lane railroad crossing in Michigan's St. Joseph Township.

The two-door car was driven by 17-year-old Dean Sperlik. Sharing the front seat with him was Jane Hall and Melissa Sanders, both also 17. Hall and Sanders were best friends and classmates at St. Joseph High School. Sperlik, who had moved from St. Joseph to Grand Rapids only months earlier, had previously attended the school with the girls.

According to a St. Joseph Township Police Department report, on the night of the accident, Sperlik hosted a party at a residence where he was house sitting. About a dozen teenage partygoers played Ping Pong and some, including Sperlik, were seen drinking. Sometime after 8:30 PM, Sperlik, Hall, and Sanders left the party in the boy's auto. Witnesses differed on whether the trio was going to another party or planned to return after purchasing wine coolers.

Less than an hour later, Hall and Sanders were dead, and Sperlik was seriously injured. Despite flashing railroad warning signals, Sperlik, driving at about 50 mph, tried to beat the train through an intersection. Instead, the Olds was hit flush on its right side, where Sanders was seated next to the door. A subsequent investigation determined the car was dragged 626 feet down the tracks.

Sanders, a member of her school's varsity tennis, volleyball, and softball teams, died at the scene from massive head and internal injuries. An autopsy determined that she had no trace of alcohol in her system. Hall, a varsity tennis player and a member of the French club, died of multiple fractures and internal injuries. While seriously injured, Sperlik survived the crash and subsequently pleaded no contest to a negligent homicide charge. He was sentenced to six months in jail and two years probation.

When recreating the train accident in "A Million Little Pieces," Frey manipulates the time frame, claiming it occurred halfway through the eighth grade, just six months after he relocated (at age 12) to St. Joseph from the Cleveland area. In fact, Sanders and Hall were high school seniors and Frey, also 17, was a junior at the time of the train crash. He also refers to Melissa Sanders as just "Michelle" in the book.

Frey identified "Michelle" as Melissa Sanders in a December 14 TSG interview. While prepared to ask him questions about his supposed role in the train crash, Frey ended an interview Friday before we could explore the subject with him.

Frey introduces Michelle to readers by carrying on a conversation with the dead girl while showering one day at Hazelden. "I say you have been on my mind lately. I say I may see you soon. I say please be there when I arrive, I'm looking forward to spending some time together."

He goes on to explain how he met Michelle when he moved to their "small Town." He was an outsider hated by the local kids. Michelle, of course, was "popular, beautiful and smart." She played sports, was a cheerleader, and got straight A's. And, for some reason, she wanted to be Frey's friend. One day in English class, she passed him a note saying that he did not seem "as awful as I hear you are." He wrote back, "I am as awful as people say and worse." Soon, the pair was talking on the phone, passing notes in class, eating lunch together, and "riding in the same seat on the Bus." When Michelle's friends wondered why she befriended that pariah Frey, she just ignored them since Michelle "had too much going for her for anyone to make her suffer for our friendship."

Halfway through eighth grade, Michelle got asked out on a date by a high school boy, Frey writes. Knowing that her parents would not let her go, Michelle told them she was actually heading to the movies with Frey, her beard for the night. "I had never done anything to them and I had always been pleasant and polite in their presence, so they agreed and they drove us to the Theater." Frey adds that he went inside and watched the movie, pint of whiskey in hand, while Michelle got picked up there by her high school suitor (the couple, he said, then went and parked somewhere and drank beer). But as Michelle and the high school boy, a "football Hero," were driving back to the theater--presumably so that Michelle's parents could pick her up--he tried to beat a train across some tracks. "His car got hit and Michelle was killed...She was my only friend...She got hit by a fucking Train and killed."

Comments (12)

Being in recovery, I'm always looking for material on the subject. I found this book @ a yardsale @ 2 years ago & began reading it. I thought at 1st it was fascinating to read such detail of his exploits, yet something bothered me. How did he recall, w/ such detail, all these events? I recall SOME things I've done while under the influence. But not to the degree he did. It was as if he kept a journal. Believe me, NO drunk/dope fiend keeps a journal! It just seemed too implausible. Then a fellow recovery friend pointed out to me that the book HAD been exposed as fraudulant, along w/ it being on the Oprah list, then off. I ended up reselling the book, at a loss of @ .50! Nice failure. That's what addicts do.
This is a very blatant example of someone else, "O", leading the masses blindly. Instead of allowing our own common sense to persevere, which she did not either, there is now a massive pile of lemmings at the bottom of the cliff. The emperor has no clothes.
I would ask that the book was published in the Hungarian language? I've been to several shops in the area, but still could not find it anywhere. Online stores also have looked at but could not find it there either. Planned to prepare the Hungarian-language translation? If so, then what is the timetable?
besides, why is everyone so worked up over this NOW??? The book was exposed for a work of fiction shortly after it came out. All he had to do was put a disclaimer in the front saying that the book was loosely based on a true story, names & dates have been changed, etc. Oh well, it made for good publicity -I didn't buy the book, but I did borrow it so I coud read it myself - c'mon, who goes through a root canal with no anesthesia???
julimonster's comment is a shining example of the reactionary mindset that continues to afford Frey a writing career. Small details, like the original publishing date of the article and the fact that Frey is a lying sack of shiat, don't bother the likes of julimonster because, hey, it is old news after all. And in unrelated news, I had to shake my head in disbelief at what came up through one of the older links to Oprah's website that appears in this story: Instead of a typical gushing Oprah article about James Frey I was treated to a typical gushing Oprah article about Jennifer Hudson accompanied by comments from heartbroken and/or furious Oprah viewers who didn't get to see the entire show because of the Egyptians and their damn political strife. If I remember correctly, Julimonster was one of the commenters voicing her anguish that a silly little war, that may change the face of the Middle East and global relations as we know them, interrupted the time that is usually reserved for her and Oprah to share their girlfriend confidences about how, "...that's what junkies do...". Disclaimer: I, like James Frey, took artistic license with that last paragraph but the GIST of it is true and I will have my lawyers write the equivalent of a Cease and Desist letter to back up my claim, if need be.
Allow me to explain. The article you just read IS the exposure of this book as a work of fiction. Note how it is dated January 2006 and was published on The Smoking Gun, a web site known for exposing things. BTW the whole POINT of this article is that he MISREPRESENTED the book as factual. Your comment "all he had to do" is put a disclaimer on the book is tantamount to saying, all he had to do is not commit fraud and then people wouldn't have made such a big deal out of the fact that he committed fraud. Gee, really?
well, yeah, that's what junkies do.....
Honestly I blame the readers for making his trite piece o' crap famous. Read better novels people!
My favorite is the LEGAL THREAT letter where Singer BEGS for TSG not to publish it on this website. Of course, TSG does it anyway, LMAO.
After reading "A Million Little Pieces", I thought that Frey's writing was, though sometimes implausible, very raw and powerful. After finishing the book, I not only wanted to meet the man who survived these mind blowing experiences, but I would have loved to get a chance to chat with him. After reading this incredible article, I will never be able to look at James Frey's work in the same way again. TSG brings to my attention the fact that his book has no real sources except his own words; whereas this article has proof to back up every criticism. Though this doesn't detract from Frey's writing ability, it blurs the line between fact and fiction in his writing, and brings readers back to reality. I was considering reading the sequel - "My Friend Leonard" - but now, I realize that I have no reason to waste my time on more fiction that calls itself fact. To the brilliant writers at TSG, kudos!
wow, this is beyond terrible. get some respect and let james frey write. either way, he is an amazing writer.