On February 6th, Adam Benjamin Winters appeared in an episode of “The Millionaire Matchmaker”, where he called himself the ‘hillbilly millionaire’, claimed to be a CEO who lived in Beverly Hills, and boasted a net worth over $1 million. This month, Winters is back in the headlines, but for a much more sinister reason.
Adam Winters is accused of attempting to extort millions from Babcock & Wilcox, the company which manages and operates the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee where nuclear weapons components are produced and refurbished.
In exchange for the money, Winters said he would hand over 1,200 slides which are supposed to contain evidence from testing nuclear bombs, images of workers constructing the bombs, and documentation of radiation experiments on plants and animals.
Winters felt that the slides would be damaging to the reputation of Babcock & Wilcox if released publicly.
According to an affidavit, on May 8th Winters sent an email about the slides to Babcock and Wilcox, the Knoxville FBI Office, and even attempted to email Vice President Joe Biden. In the email, Winters threatened that if no response was given within 48 hours he would send the items to auction.
The next day, DOE investigators working undercover called the telephone number that Winters provided in the e-mail and left a voicemail for the defendant pretending to be representing the Babcock & Wilcox public affairs office.
Winters called back and said that he wanted more than $8 million for the slides and he wanted the deal done within two weeks.
On May 10th, another undercover agent pretended to be the Procurement Director for Babcock & Wilcox when calling Winters and set up a meeting at the Y-12 Visitor Services Center where Winters was to bring samples of the slides.
Winters met with an undercover agent on May 20th and demanded $5 million for the slides. The undercover agent informed him that it was not feasible, to which Winters countered with a $2.5 million demand.
The day after meeting with the undercover agent, Winters called again on the phone. The undercover agent asked who Winters thought he could sell the slides to if Babcock & Wilcox did not provide the money. Winters said that he would sell slides to companies to aid them with lawsuits. Winters claimed that he could release two slides a week for “years and years” if he was not given the money.
Winters met with who he thought were company officials of Babcock & Wilcox on May 23rd at the Y-12 facility, but who were actually undercover law enforcement officers who informed him that the money would not be transferred and arrested him. Winters had brought a number of slides to the meeting when he was arrested.
Despite proclaiming himself a millionaire on television, the defendant gave a federal magistrate a sworn financial affidavit which revealed he “does not have the funds to retain an attorney.”
On July 10th, Winters pled guilty to transmitting threats meant to injure the reputation of Babcock & Wilcox with the intent of extorting money, and as a result of his plea bargain will face up to six in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
This is not the first time that the Winters family has reportedly attempted to make a financial profit off of these slides. In the 1990s, some of Adam Winters relatives attempted to sell a set of 1,200 slides produced between the 1940s and 1980s, which had been sold at a surplus auction. Many of the slides were claimed to depict exposing animals to radiation.