MYSTERY WIRE — He was a longtime lawman who found himself in the middle of one of the biggest UFO conspiracy tales of all time, the one that put Area 51 on the map.

George Knapp interviews Terry Tavernetti. (KLAS-TV)

His name is Terry Tavernetti, who spent years as a cop in Southern California, then worked in corporate security for a major Las Vegas hotel property. He conducted thousands of polygraph tests to screen casino employees and was considered one of the best in the business.

Then he tested a man named Bob Lazar, who told a strange story about working on flying saucers at a secret facility called S-4, adjacent to Area 51. Tavernetti still has the charts and the machine from that test 30 years later.

We asked him recently if he thinks Lazar was really telling the truth. Tavernetti’s answer was simple and said with conviction, “Yeah.”

Tavernetti doesn’t use his gleaming polygraph machine any more. He told us he had no idea he and his lie detector might be drawn into one of the most controversial UFO cases of all time. Bob Lazar first told his story publicly in 1989. Lazar’s claims about working on flying saucers at a hidden facility near Area 51 set off a UFO stampede that continues to this day.

Area 51 (Photo: Gabriel Zeifman)

At the request of KLAS TV,  Lazar agreed to a polygraph test. The first test proved  inconclusive. The examiner, (not Terry Tavernetti) thought Lazar was so nervous that it was difficult to get an accurate read on him. This is when Tavernetti was recommended. He questioned Lazar about the central allegations; that he had seen a flying disc at a base called S-4 and that the craft was powered by an antimatter reactor and generated its own gravity. To Tavernetti’s surprise, Lazar passed.

My personal thoughts, the pretest interview of three and a half hours, the test itself, the post-test interview, showed absolutely nothing to detour my thought that Bob was always truthful.

Terry Tavernetti – polygraph examiner (1990 interview)

Tavernetti wasn’t a UFO guy. Having never polygraphed anyone about UFOs he had no core beliefs either way. But 30 years later, he recalls what was going through his mind during the test as it appeared Lazar was being truthful. He told us what he was hearing was unbelievable, but in his opinion, his polygraph machine doesn’t lie.

Terry Tavernetti talks about the polygraph testing of Bob Lazar. (KLAS-TV)

After the first news story aired on KLAS-TV about Tavernetti’s test, two strange things happened. He says the first was being called on the carpet by his employer because of a phone call from an unnamed federal agency. “The corporate offices, where I’m employed, received a telephone call from a government agency, wanting to know why I was getting involved in something that I shouldn’t be.” Tavernetti said. “And I asked, ‘well, what agency what was it? Did they identify themselves?”

Tavernetti never did find out what agency called his employer. He said there was an internal investigation by his employer but he was never disciplined. The second thing happened two months after the story aired. There was a break in at his home.

Tavernetti believes whoever it was, was trying to steal the charts from Lazar’s test. But he had made copies of the charts. He had even shared them with colleagues to see if they agreed with his opinion. Two of them did, another suggested there should be more testing.

Tavernetti admits polygraphs are not foolproof, but they are widely used by police and employers as  useful tools. He doesn’t regret getting drawn into the Bob Lazar saga and says the experience caused a permanent change in how he views the UFO question. “Over the years my belief has swayed that way. It gets to the point now where, why not?”

Tavernetti has since retired and lives in Las Vegas, NV.

If you want to see more about Bob Lazar’s Area 51 polygraph, plus a massive investigative series that hasn’t been seen in 30 years you can check out Mystery Wire’s release of the 8 part 1990 series called, UFOs: The Best Evidence?” Thursday, April 30 is the 30 year anniversary of when this series was aired for the first and only time.