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Chamber to host black tie charity ball
Former Ceres police officer George Piro became a special FBI Agent who in December 2003 became the FBI team leader responsible for interrogating Saddam Hussein, the former president of Iraq. Piro was with Ceres Police from 1989 to 1997. He will appear at March's black tie affair in Ceres. - photo by Contributed to the Courier

The Ceres Chamber of Commerce is organizing a first annual Black Tie Charity Ball to take place in less than five months.

The event, set for March 7, will raise funds for the explorer programs of police and fire services.

Three speakers - all who had roles with the Ceres Department of Public Safety over the years - are scheduled to speak. They include former Ceres Police officer George Piro who later went to work for the FBI and became the team leader and lead interrogator of the Saddam Hussein Interrogation Team after his capture.
Piro was featured on the 60 Minutes TV show and revealed that he had secretly gained the confidence of Saddam Hussein while interrogating Hussein while he was imprisoned after the second war in Iraq. During his conversations with Hussein, Piro reported that Hussein had not expected a U.S. invasion of Iraq. Piro also confirmed through their discussions that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction at the time of the U.S. invasion in 2003, but that Hussein would not give up attempts to obtain them in order to secure his country from the perceived threat posed by Iran and its weapons program. Further, any links to Bin Laden and Al-Qaedawere denied, as Hussein held himself as a secular ruler and did not believe in the creation of an Islamic state.

Other speakers will include Sheriff Adam Christiansen, who was formerly a Ceres police officer; and state Assemblyman Anthony Cannella, who was a volunteer firefighter.

The dinner, billed as a tribute to "Public Safety: Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow," will take place at the Ceres Community Center. One of the rooms will feature displays of photos and memorabilia from police and fire divisions.

Tickets are $50 per person or $375 for a table of eight. Sales started Friday and are available through the Chamber website, Tickets go up $25 after Jan. 15 if they are available.

"We are expecting that this event will sell out very quickly," said Chamber president Renee Ledbetter.