FORENSIC DOCUMENT EXAMINER
Completed a two-year resident training program in the forensic science of Questioned Document Examination at the U.S. Army Crime Laboratory, Fort Gordon, Georgia from 1967-1969 and trained with the Post Office Identification Laboratory, Washington DC.
Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Nebraska and a Masters of Forensic Science degree from Antioch School of Law.
Served with the Army Crime Laboratory System as a Forensic Document Examiner from 1967 to retirement as Chief, Forensic Document Examiner in February 1978. Then served as a Senior Forensic Document Examiner with the National Laboratory Center, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Rockville, Maryland from 1978-1980. Established the Immigration and Naturalization Service Forensic Document Laboratory in 1980 and served as the Chief Forensic Document Examiner until his retirement in December of 2000. COURT
Testified as an expert witness more than 250 times in the last 32 years before Federal, State, Immigration and Military courts throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the U.S Virgin Islands, Thailand, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Guam, the Philippines and Israel as well as before the United States Congress.
Fellow of the Questioned Document Section of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and a member of the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners.
PROFESSIONAL OFFICES HELD
Past President of the American Society of Questioned Document Examiners, the oldest professional organization for the forensic document profession in North America
Diplomate of the American Board of Forensic Document Examiners. The only recognized certifying body for this profession in the United States.
Has been teaching Forensic Document Examination since 1969, first to United States Army Criminal Investigators and later at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, Glynco Georgia to both United States Treasury Agents and United States Immigration Special Agents. From 1986 to 1993. Taught Forensic Document Examination for The George Washington Graduate School of Forensic Sciences teaching 2 classes a year. In 1996-1997 Traveled to the Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland with the U.S. Department of State to train their National police in forensic document examination. In 1999 Traveled to the Philippines to advise that government in the establishment of a forensic document laboratory.
HIGH PROFILE CASES
From 1980-2000 conducted forensic document examinations for the Criminal Division of the United States Department of Justice, Office of Special Investigations. The office tasked with the investigation and prosecution of persons charged with WWII war crimes activities. Testified in dozens of cases throughout the United States where old World War II documents were used to positively link individuals, through their handwriting, to World War II war crimes activities.
Conducted handwriting examinations in the Josef Mengele War Crimes investigation as a member of an international forensic team sent to Sao Paulo, Brazil and later testified before the United States Congress on the results of this examination. Examined key documents in the John Demjanjuk case tried in Jerusalem Israel when requested by the Israeli government and testified in Jerusalem in that case. Conducted examination of the handwriting of Variel Trifa, Archbishop of Romania, which contributed to his identification in War Crimes activities in World War II and examined and testified in the Manuel Noriega drug Conspiracy case in Miami Florida.
Was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal in 1978 by the U.S. Army Crime Laboratory for outstanding achievements while serving as Chief Questioned Document Examiner with the Army Crime Laboratory.
In 1979 was awarded the Special Achievement Award by the U.S. Department of the Treasury for his Forensic Document Examination work.
In 1982 received the Meritorious Achievement Award from the Immigration and Naturalization Service for accomplishments in the forensic document examination area.
In 1985 was awarded the Commissioners Meritorious Achievement Award for forensic document examination support to the Office of Special Investigations and upon his retirement, was awarded the Commissioners Distinguished Service Award for more than 20 years of Forensic Document Examination work for the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
MY PERSONAL GUARANTEE OF SERVICE
After 34 years of providing forensic document examination services to three government agencies, I have opened a private laboratory for the forensic examination of documents specializing in the examination of handwriting and the examination of documents in medical malpractice cases. Forensic document examination in medical malpractice cases requires the use of state-of-the-art instrumentation to detect text and page substitutions, alterations and the decipherment of indented writing. These instruments are used on a routine basis in my laboratory and I guarantee that you will receive the careful attention and high quality service that your case deserves.
Forensic Examiner of Questioned Documents
" DEMJANJUK "
The evidence that John Demjanjuk was Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka — as charged by the U.S. Office of Special Investigations, and by the state of Israel — can be divided into two categories: eye-witness and documentary.
Mr. Epstein, when first placed on the stand, swore that the Soviet-source "Trawniki I.D. Card" evidence (Govt's Exh. 5 & 6) was unaltered. Two weeks into the trial, Mr. Epstein was recalled to the stand only to admit that this Russian-supplied evidence had been intentionally altered by Moscow and that he was aware of those alterations before the trial!
Gideon Epstein; T005698 - 5893; 1987/05/07 - 11; Vol. 10
[1987/05/07, Thu.; T005698, Vol. 10; Gideon Epstein]
[Top] [1987/05/07] [1987/05/11] [Bottom]
T005698 - Gideon Epstein, forensic document examiner with U.S. Crime Lab in 1967 - 1978, U.S. Treasury until 1980, U.S. INS Forensic Document Lab since 1980. Expert witness for 18 years on handwriting.
T005701 - Dec. 18, 1980, OSI brought photocopies of Trawniki ID document for analysis. Epstein examined both the photocopies and later the original. He testified at the Feb. 1981 Demjanjuk denaturalization trial in Cleveland. "It was on February 27th, I believe, 1981, that the document was made available at the Soviet Embassy in Washington, DC and I travelled to that location with a portable laboratory, and by that I mean that equipment that I needed in order to conduct my examinations."
T005702 - Verified findings reached on examination of photocopies concerning signatures of Streibel, Teufel and Demjanjuk; looked at possibility of alteration or substitution of text. - Testified at Demjanjuk Denaturalization trial on March 3, 1981 - Photographed Trawniki ID card in Soviet Embassy [color or black and white?]
T005703 - Shaked: "And the original document was submitted to the court, was identified by the court, and was replaced by these photographs which you had taken of the document at the Embassy in Washington."
T0005708 - tav/172a = Epstein enlarged photo of front of Trawniki ID document [color or b/w?] - tav/172b = Epstein enlarged photo of inside of Trawniki ID document [color or b/w?]
T005712 - Sheftel: "May it please the court, we are not prepared to agree that tav/149 is in fact the same document that the honorable witness examined at the Soviet Embassy." [Playing games.] - Overruled by Levin
T005714f - Epstein explains things on enlargement of tav/172a
T005717 - tav/173a = Epstein enlargement of tav/172a
T005719 - tav/173b = Epstein enlargement of tav/172b
T005723 - Epstein: Three stages of handwriting, (1) examination of disputed handwriting, (2) examination of known handwriting, (3) comparison between the two, were applied to the alleged signatures of Teufel, Streibel and Demjanjuk on tav/149.
T005725f - Epstein compared Streibel signature on tavs/90, 89, 111, 110, 109 = tav/145(3, 2, 8, 9, 7)
T005726 - Epstein: "I examined those documents [tav/145.2, tav/145.3] in their original condition on April 27th in Frankfurt, Germany." (At the American Consulate, then they were returned to the Berlin Document Center.)
T005728 - tav/149 - "rather coarse paper stock, which has rather large fibers in the paper." "So some spaces here ... are nothing more than the pen moving over very large fibres." [So why does this problem not appear on the other signatures and the rest of the handwriting on the card?]
T005737f - the signatures in tav/145(8, 9, 7) = tavs/111, 110, 109 were photographed and sent to Epstein from Israel specifically for this trial.
T005739f - Epstein compares Teufel signatures 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 = tavs/149, 94, 95, 97a, 97b = tav/145(17, 20, 19, 21, 26)
T005740 - Epstein examined tavs/94, 95 originals at Westmuthausen, Germany on April 28, 1987. - Certified copies of tavs/97a, 97b (signatures 4 and 5) from 1963-05-01 Teufel U.S. immigration(?) visa application were used by Epstein for the 1981 Cleveland denaturalization trial. Epstein has never seen the originals. [??? Then how can he testify about them?]
T005743 - Epstein explains that there is an evolution of a person's signature with time, such that there is a distinct difference between the 1934 signature (tav/95) and 1966 signature (tav/94). The signature on tav/149 is more similar to that of 1966, than to 1934. [Does that imply the Teufel signature on tav/149 could have been made in 1965?]
T005749 - Epstein concludes that Teufel signature on tav/149 is authentic.
T005751f - Epstein starts to testify on the Demjanjuk signature on tav/149. In U.S. Epstein testified only on the signatures of Teufel and Streibel and not on that of Demjanjuk - Levin: "Let's leave the United States apart. You [Shaked] submitted the contents of his opinion on the 30th of May 1986" - which presumably refers to Teufel and Streibel signatures only.
T005752 - Levin sustains Sheftel's objection and forbids Epstein to testify on the Demjanjuk signature, unless and until it comes up in cross-examination. [And it never does!]
T005753 - Epstein concludes that tav/149 "is a genuine document, that it does not bear any evidence of being authored [altered?], text substituted, or in any way fraudulently prepared."
T005755f - Gill cross-examination of Epstein - Epstein's general background and expertise
T005766f - Epstein worked on the Sokolov case for the OSI; over a dozen cases since 1980; majority of documents were German, such as dienstausweises, intercamp memos, etc.
T005768 - long discussion of standards vs exemplars
T005773 - Epstein: "If another Trawniki card was found and it could be determined that that Trawniki card was genuine, then of course it would be the best standard." - Epstein's first assignment on Demjanjuk case was Dec. 18, 1980; he presumably knows German.
T005776 - for the Demjanjuk Denaturalization trial in 1980-81, no one else was involved and he did everything himself.
T005777 - Since his involvement with the State of Israel [date?], Epstein had assistance of James Larner, a printing specialist.
T005778 - Epstein carried out tests on photostats of Trawniki ID card on Dec. 18-19, 1980; additional examinations on Jan. 27, 1981.
T005779 - Examination of original [Feb. 27, 1981] inside Soviet Embassy. T005781 - Gill tries to find out about triangular notch removed from top of card. Epstein claims ignorance.
T005784f - Epstein believes only one typewriter was used on tav/149; but did not establish make of typewriter; did not determine number of Russian or German writers or writings on card; did not determine if Teufel wrote other things besides signature.
T005786 - Epstein: "There is no way that you can take the name Teufel and compare it to numbers, or to the 'ruksak' underneath and come up with any type of conclusion." (Same with Streibel.)
T005788 - With respect to the 2's after Mantel, Unterhosen and Unterhemd, cannot determine whether the same person made them.
T005792 - Gill asks Epstein to look at tav/149 and relate all the colors thereon:
- yellow stains on front and back
- "aqua blue, the light blue of the Demjanjuk signature" [Green?]
- "little bit darker blue of the Teufel signature"
- "pencil blue writing" = Russian translation over top of German (Socken, etc.)
- "red pencil up in the right hand corner and a blue pencil" on RHS
- "purple ink which is the Russian translation" - both front and back
- "black stamped impressions"
- "lighter color perhaps of black or even a darker color of blue" - on stamped impression to left of Streibel signature.
- ["purple ink" in staple holes in photo near left ear.]
T005794 - During tests on Feb. 27, 1981 in Soviet Embassy, all the spots floresce under ultraviolet light which Epstein would attribute to glue.
- "... in my other examinations of documents where glue was used from the same period of time, I found that it did floresce, that is the common characteristic of glue from that period of time ..."
T005795 - Gill: card has no date of issue and no date of expiration T005797 - suggests the holes to right of left ear are staple holes; purple ink in the staple holes.
T005798 - Epstein did not notice abrasion, perhaps caused by paper clip near N1 on photo.
T005799 - Epstein: It is usual for passport or identity photos in the U.S. to have staple holes in them, because they are often attached to the application forms.
[1987/05/11, Mon.; T005802, Vol. 10; Gideon Epstein]
[Top] [1987/05/07] [1987/05/11] [Bottom]
T005802f - Gill questions Epstein on T's, A's and G's. Epstein attaches no significance to these discrepancies.
T005805 - Epstein: "Your Honor, actually it lent to the authenticity of the document because my alignment measurements ... [on pages C, D = photo side] ... what we call the horizontal alignment was exact which showed that they were printed at the same time."
[ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE! The horizontal lines do not align with each other, are not parallel and often appear curved on my photostat.]
T005808 - Gill tries to get the point across that prosecution failed to get an exemplar from Karl Streibel while he was still alive.
T005811f - Gill questions Epstein about failure to measure size of letters, their ratios, slant of letters in Streibel's signature, etc.
T005848f - Gill cross-examines Epstein on Teufel signature. - tav/145(18) is a 1932 Teufel signature, which is most different from tav/149 and all the later signatures.
- Epstein rejects all of Gill's points re downstroke on "l", slant, etc.
T005868f - Gill refers to Epstein testimony in 1981 trial, where he indicated he worked mostly from (xerox) photocopies.
T005873 - Epstein: In 1981, the Trawniki ID "photograph was loose enough to move with your hand, so you could get some sort of play into the photograph." Could exactly align the two stamps on photo and paper.
T005874 - "In my 1987 examination [Date?] ... Israel ..., I found that the photograph was very firmly affixed so that it could not be moved." There is now a slight overlap on upper right hand corner.
T005876 - Epstein says the discoloration behind photograph was present in 1981. Gill suggests that this discoloration was caused by solvent used to remove photograph.
T005877 - Epstein states that a chemical test would be required to reveal if discoloration substance on back of photo is glue or solvent, but does not know if such a test was requested or done.
T005878f - Epstein gave a lecture on the Demjanjuk case with the approval of the OSI a couple of months after the verdict, even though there was an appeal pending challenging Epstein's findings.
T005880 - O'Connor asks who in OSI gave him advice to give lecture, but Levin disallows question.
T005881 - O'Connor asks Epstein questions on the Walus case to which he made reference in his lecture. Levin disallows the question.
- Levin disallows all of O'Connor's questions.
T005888f - O'Connor refers to Soviet fraud "right in a book in front of" Shaked, which he would like to submit. "... I am sure this witness [Epstein] will remember very well from 1981 when he testified in a fraudulent manner in a court in the United States." Shaked claims that O'Connor wishes to submit the "photocopy which came from the Soviet Union, the one upon which the witness conducted examinations."
[Is this the photocopy from which the Russian handwriting has been removed?]
T005891 - O'Connor places exhibit on easle and starts asking questions. Levin explodes and tells O'Connor to sit down.
Levin: "What? Did he say the fraud would not see the light of day?"
[W.Z. Summary: (1) I am surprised that Epstein did not testify on the Demjanjuk signature on tav/149 either in Cleveland in 1981 or in Jerusalem in 1987. How can he conclude that the card is authentic unless he examines the Demjanjuk signature and concludes it is authentic?
(2) U.S. exhibits 5 and 6 were made from photocopies of Trawniki ID card sent by Soviet Union. U.S. exhibits 5a and 6a were made from photographs taken by Epstein in the Soviet Embassy. (It is not clear whether these were color or black and white photographs.) O'Connor wanted to introduce the original exhibits 5 and 6, presumably because the Russian handwriting had been whited out from them. [??]
(3) I was under the impression that forensic testing on photocopies or photographs of documents was not acceptable in courts of law. Most of Epstein's testimony in the 1981 Cleveland Denaturalization trial is based on photocopies or photographs.
(4) I do not completely understand the games being played by the prosecution, defense and the judges.
**** END of Epstein testimony in trial and in Vol. 10 ****
State and local documents are also vulnerable, according to Gideon Epstein, chief forensic document analyst with the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Underlying the problem is a lack of standards. For example, more than 7,000 types of U.S. birth certificates are issued in this country by authorized governments and hospitals, he says. ``If everybody could agree to use the same security paper, forgers would be less able to pass off documents on different types of papers.''