Honey was practically dripping from Patrick Graham's lips when he told his "friends" he wanted to let them in on the grand floor of the medical discovery of a lifetime.
At his little office on the Lamar square, Graham's company Conquest Labs had perfected a cure for AIDS.
And Graham told them, as an upright,moral man, he wasn't going to let just anyone buy into this gold mine. He had already said no to Michael Jackson, Magic Johnson, Elizabeth Taylor, and Arsenio Hall.
"We have turned down money from all sorts of people," Graham said. Graham indicated he wanted only Christian people to invest in his company. "My name is Graham," he said, introducing himself, "like the old brown crackers. I'd be less than honest if I didn't tell you that everything that I hope to have, I owe to the good Lord. Period. There's nothing else that I can add to that."
The Good Lord claimed Patrick Graham for his own recently, Graham's death freeing him from the 15-year prison sentence he received for defrauding a who's who of the Branson A-list, including the Herschend family of Silver Dollar City fame, the Presleys, and singer Pat Boone, out of $5.5 million.
Branson's upper crust ate up the smooth-talking Graham's patented spiel. Graham talked about the history of Conquest Labs and said he had been teaching his grandchildren about the Bible, that the Christian life was the most important thing of all. "If you don't feel like you're serving number one, you better. I hope nobody noticed how polished my knees are. I've been on my knees a lot lately." He said his wife and his daughter had both had cancer scares. The AIDS vaccine was brought to him by a university professor in 1991, he said.
The professor, who was in his 80s, said he had come to Graham to ask him to take over the vaccine. "He said, 'Every time I've gone with a big company to do something, I've been done wrong.' " Graham said he agreed to help the professor. "I don't want anybody to sit here and get the idea that Pat Graham is a genius or something like that. I'm an old south Iowa cow milker."
The old south Iowa cow milker then told his Bible belt audience how he had prayed about the product, since many of those who suffered from AIDS had lifestyles that were contrary to what he believed in.
"At one time in my life," he said, "I didn't love those people enough and I don't condone one iota of anything they do, but I know God loves them and I know that He put me in charge of this product."
An added benefit of his vaccine, Graham said, is that it wouldn't work on a homosexual unless he changed his lifestyle. "It doesn't matter if it's a horse or a human, if they are too far gone, you got to let them go. If they continued in their sinful ways, it didn't work at all." Graham said the vaccine would only work on homosexuals if they quit being homosexual. "God isn't going to let homosexuals continue their sinful lifestyle without punishment," he said.
Knowing that it wouldn't work on homosexuals convinced many of those investors and they put their names on the dotted line, concluding that meeting...which was held in a Branson church.
While Conquest Labs was working on the AIDS vaccine...according to Graham...it was also working on cures for Alzheimer's Disease and cancer, whatever might bring in an extra buck. The millions that came through Conquest's accounts were not plowed back into the company, but into the bank accounts of Graham and his family, paying for cars, houses, whatever they wanted.
Graham's house of cards finally came tumbling down around him in 1995 and he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 15 years in prison two years later, but even at his sentencing hearing he attempted to convince Judge David Darnold he would pay back every cent he owed his investors.
Graham told Darnold he could make money through the marketing of a serum made out of elk blood. Darnold noted that Graham made a D in chemistry in college, but the judge was fair and noted Graham's top educational accomplishment. "I see you had a B in volleyball," he said.
Judge Darnold was also skeptical of Graham's other idea for paying back his investors, which was selling one of his books to a Hollywood producer to make a movie. Until that time, no one knew Graham had written any books.
Graham kept busy during his time in prison, filing one appeal after another, all to no avail, but always with the hope that at least one more time someone would buy what he was selling. He had an appeal pending in Cole County Circuit Court at the time he died.