In Erdnase’s, Expert at the Card Table, the quintessential book for card sharping methods, has a magic section wherein there are many inclusions about mentalism . Noted are “Methods for Determining a Card Thought of” and then further on, “A Mind-Reading Trick”, and further on, he writes, ”
Or he may assume the power of mind-reading”, which is about a pre-arranged deck.
There is really a lot of information on mind reading etc. in this book of gambling sleights and legerdemain. If the collaborator, and if there was a collaborator, he or she must have had a good deal of knowledge about this subject.
Why would the main writer, who appears to be a hard core player, “because he needs the money”, dabble or include mind reading in this book about cheating at cards?
Erdnase was a player and pretty unlikely to have performed mental magic, but perhaps he did. If he did not have a knowledge of mental card magic a collaborator could have been hired to ad this inclusion to skirt around the Comstock laws. Thee collaborator of EACT may have had a good deal of knowledge about mind reading.
James Harto (Harte) could have been the collaborator as reported by many sources. He was a mentalist and was living not to distant from MFA. Here is Harto’s listing in Magicpedia:
James S. Harto was a professional magician that performed a mind-reading act as “Chandra, The Mystic”.
His first performance as at the Bristol Museum in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1886. Interesting because Worcester was not so far away from the Holyoke home of Milton Franklin Andrews (MFA).
The above are just notes and ideas that may have some interest to some of you. No dogma or proven points. Any thoughts?
Oct 10, 2010
In a post on the Genii Forum, Richard Hatch mentions Harto but does not elaborate on Harto’s road act and the fact that Harto lived very close to Milton Franklin Andrews. Read his post from Aug.,2008:
“Clearly Harto told several people of an association he claimed to have with Erdnase. Only Pratt claimed that Harto had contributed the Legerdemain section of the book, and Pratt’s testimony is questionable as noted in earlier postings. Charles Maly, one of the Harto associates who confirmed for Gardner that Harto spoke of an association with Erdnase, claimed to have seen a notebook of material that Harto was working on as a proposed sequel to Erdnase. If this notebook survived the destruction of many Harto documents by Audley Dunham, it has not yet surfaced, nor have any Erdnase references in Harto documents that have survived. But I take his claimed association with Erdnase as a serious possibility, and one that may lead to further information on the identity question.
I do not think that Harto had much, if anything, to do with the writing of THE EXPERT. If one assumes (as I do, though I recognize it is an assumption and not a proven fact) that the book was assembled shortly prior to publication, Harto’s schedule makes his collaboration with the author unlikely. Harto was touring with the Pawnee Bill Wild West Show as a ventriloquist and magician in the sideshow during several seasons prior to the book’s publication. They would set up in a new city nearly every day, arriving by train, parading through town, setting up the show, doing the shows, striking the show, loading on the train, and traveling overnight to the next stop on the tour. I traveled to Pawnee, Oklahoma to check the tour route books in the Pawnee Bill Museum for those seasons and the schedule does not much leave much free time to work on a book, unless the primary author was also working the same tour. There was a magician name Andrews from Philadelphia (Pratt’s later home) who did later join the Buffalo Bill Wild West show for their tour of Europe, and Harto was also at one time associated with the Buffalo Bill show, but this would have been after the book’s publication and I have been unable to develop much information on this particular “person of interest.” Another possibility I considered was Charles Andress (whose name reverses to S. S. Erdnase if you drop the rest of the first name reversal), a traveling magician with strong circus and Chicago connections, but I think him an extremely long shot for any number of reasons. I did track down Andress’ son and spoke with him by phone a few years back (his father sired him when he was 80 or so!), but he knew nothing about the book and I haven’t followed up on that line of inquiry.
Although Harto did get billing as a card magician early in his career (as a teenager) and was respected by his peers for his general knowledge of magic, mentalism and escapes, he does not seem to have been noted for originality in his card work. And the reference to the originality of his patter that is quoted in TMWWE is, in the original context, actually a reference to the originality of his ventriloqual dialogues, which I don’t think can be extrapolated to assign him credit for the patter in Erdnase’s LEGERDEMAIN section.
The Erdnase profile theory. The book, Expert at the Card Table by S.W. Erdnase, was self published by the author because the writer basically said, “because I needed the money”
This statement fits the profile of a gambler that needed money because they lost in a game of poker or they won in a game of poker and then blew off the winnings to some other form of degenerate gambling. Players and hustlers are in constant need of money because they have bad habits. The author SW Erdnase said that he “bucked the Tiger”, meaning that he played The Bank, or game commonly called Faro.
This seems to fit a profile of a gambler who is constantly playing and looking for new sources of easy money. He is always looking for the next sucker or mark, that doesn’t have the playing ability nor the skills of a card sharp.
Every serious gambler I have ever known had a bad habit. For instance, Stuie Unger first visited the Dunes Hotel on a junket arranged by the legendary Jules “Julie” Weintraub. Julie brought a plane load full of gamblers to the Dunes every other week. To be eligible for the complimentary flight, free room, food and beverages for the Thursday to Sunday junket the player had to 1) be alive, 2) bring cash front money (a minimum of $2500-$5000), and 3) gamble in the casino.
Stu Unger’s parents operated a “Slosh” joint near Manhattan and Stu was raised amongst the best gamblers, kibitzers and characters that frequented this semi secretive card room that offered every kind of short card game under the sun.
Stu could beat most other players in gin rummy and on his first trip to the Dunes he had the opportunity to play the Dunes’s big boss, that we the floorman and dealers referred to as Pacone Grande. If Sid Wyman was walking near the game we where supervising or dealing, the code word Paco was said aloud to another adjacent dealer, to alert the worker to be on his best behavior.
Pacone Grande meant the big boss Sidney Wyman was near and to be very careful. You never knew what kind of mood he might be in.
Wyman and his partners controlled the Dunes Hotel and made it the success that it enjoyed for many years before they sold out.
One of Wyman’s partners pushed the idea of “buying” business and the New York junket became one of the many successful junket operations that the Dunes was known to cater.
I don’t know who conceived the idea of Wyman playing Unger in a round of Gin, but I watched the massacre. In the adjacent poker room, I could see the action develop from my ladder chair in the Baccarat pit. A special table was cleared and Wyman and his kibitzers were on one side and little Stuie Unger was on the other side. Wyman has about 15 to 30 in his gallery while Unger had but one person. I think Stu was not yet 21 years old at the time, but had a reputation of a class A gin rummy player.
It is conceivable,but not provable , that a kibitzer in Wyman’s gallery may have tipped off Wyman’s hand to Unger, because I saw several cross roaders paying close attention to Sid’s play. It was easy enough to see what Wyman was holding. But even if Unger got some assistance, he really didn’t need it. Wyman lost $75,000 on the play.
Unger then followed suit of the profile of every generate gambler and went over to the crap table and lost it all.
This degeneracy profile of shooting craps, playing the horses or bucking the tiger is a sickness that seems to be in every serious gambler who is there to be in the action whether they win or lose.
It is like the guy who follows the elephants, cleaning up after them in a parade, when asked why don’t you get a better job? His answer is,”What, and give up show business?”
I hope you can join me on this night. Please excuse the promotional library write up,as I did not put myself into the “world class magician” position. That is a lot of puffery that I did not write.
I am going to talk about many of the things that the promo states, but also talk a great deal about Jimmy Grippo and his connection to the real Godfathers of the Mafia and what role he played in this fascinating period. It is a real story that I was never allowed to talk about. The event is free and if you are not pleased with the event I will offer a refund!
I have been holding this sensitive information from the public for a long time. The remaining JFK files that have been sealed for more than 50 years will be released this week by President Trump. This is the appropriate time to release this John F. Kennedy material to the public. I believe the meeting between Edward N. Becker and Carlos Marcello did not happen as indicated in 1962, but they were introduced by Tony Montana, a nephew of John Montana a former reported Mafia boss in Buffalo, in the early 1990s.
Unjust competition is just what it infers. It is often an illegal attempt to gain unfair competitive advantage false, fraudulent, or unethical commercial conduct. Examples include below-cost selling, through counterfeiting or imitation, dumping, misleading advertising, rumor mongering, trademark or trade secret infringement. This story is about a man that used a false story as unjust enrichment to promote his books, his name and his status to gain fame, money and good fortune.
This is the story of Edward N. Becker and his allegations of being present when Mafia boss Carlos Marcello threatened the life of John F. Kennedy. The point of my story, which I have chosen to write in first person, is that I don’t think Ed Becker heard Carlos Marcello say anything in regards to harming John F. Kennedy, or was Ed Becker even present on a day in September, 1962 at Marcello’s Churchill’s Farms.
Scores of books and articles have constantly used the alleged threat of powerful Mafia boss Carlos Marcello as a connecting point to implicate the mafia, mob, outfit or syndicate to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
I have chosen to write this story in first person because a close associate and employee of Carlos Marcello was a co-worker of mine in my first casino job in Las Vegas. Joe Segreto started off in Las Vegas at the Sahara Hotel in the beverage department and learned everything there is to know about the food and beverage business. My cousin, Frank Schivo, a part owner in the Sahara Hotel and protégé of founder Milton Prell, appreciated Joe’s work at the Sahara. Schivo left the Sahara after Prell sold his majority position to Del Webb in the early 1960s. Schivo and a few partners, including my uncle Al Munari, re-opened the California Club, and operated the Elwell Hotel and the Pioneer Club on Fremont Street, commonly called “downtown”.
I broke into the gambling business at the California Club, but had dealt on the tables at the Pioneer Club before I was 21 years old. I met many people and learned the ropes in gambling and life in a small casino. This opportunity allowed me to learn all facets of gambling including the business side that was a special secretly guarded set of operations shared only by the owners and licensees to persons they cared to share with. There were no schools or colleges that issued a degree in gaming business in 1966. There were a few dealing schools that would appear and disappear throughout the years and zero “casino operations” training centers. You had to learn by watching and pay close attention to what was offered you in the way of training. Asking too many questions was a no-no. It made many bosses suspicious of why you were asking.
I worked side by side with Joe Segreto on a daily basis and after years of studying the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, I suddenly remembered that Joe had worked for Carlos Marcello and after leaving the California Club he went back to work for him in New Orleans to manage a restaurant and handle some other business. At one point, joe was the Business Manager for legendary performer Louie Prima.
I decided to call Joe and ask him in a very polite way if Marcello was in any way connected with the assassination of JFK. I thought about how I would approach Joe especially because I had not seen him in years and when I visited his restaurant in New Orleans in the early 1970s he was not in town to meet up.
I called Joe and told him about a book I was writing about a guy who claimed he was a close associate of Meyer Lansky. In this story were many names that had connections or some distant arm’s length relationship with Dallas, Texas, Jack Ruby, Johnny Rosselli, RD Matthews, Tony Giordano, Jonny Stone, TW Richardson, Richard Westbrook, Robert Maheu and others who I was seeking information about. I told Joe, “I did not want to smear my name by writing inaccurate information”, but wanted the low down on Carlos Marcello. I told him that if there was any connection that may have any connection with JFK’s death, to please tell me, because I don’t want to get it wrong and look like an idiot.
He started yelling, “Are you nuts? There is absolutely NO WAY he had anything to do with Kennedy’s death”. What could I say? I knew Joe would not lie to me but how could I prove Joe’s statement. I could not and let this alone for a long time until I discovered these facts I am about to reveal.
I knew many of these players and characters first hand and had some good insight to what their role in Las Vegas was. Maheu was a neighbor who purchased my cousin’s home. His son Billy was my paperboy and his secretary Ceil Nolan was the mother of my classmates from middle school in Burbank, Calif. I knew many of the so called wise guys from my roots in Burbank and the family-relationship with Richard Westbrook.
I grew up in Burbank, California, attending both public and private schools. I attended St. Robert Bellarmine beginning in 1st grade through the 8th grade. Bobby Westbrook was a fellow classmate that was the stepson of Richard Westbrook, proprietor of the Olive Manor Hotel that had connections with bank robbers that flew airplanes to escape the police, and had close associations with the highest ranking mob members in California, St. Louis, Texas and Nevada. Westbrook moved to Burbank in the 1950s after following out the St. Louis Browns, whom made Burbank’s famed Olive Memorial Stadium Baseball Field their winter training home. It was built in 1947 for $64,425, closed to the public in 1989.
The Browns called the city of Burbank home, for four spring seasons. The players lived across the street at the Olive Manor Motel. Despite their poor play throughout the years, the Browns were supported by the citizens of Burbank.
Local Burbank workers came by during their lunch hour to catch a glimpse of some of baseball’s finest players. Families descended in droves upon this popular park in hopes of seeing their heroes. The Chicago Cubs played in nearby Avalon on Catalina Island,(Dave Goldberg) the Pittsburgh Pirates in San Bernardino, the Chicago White Sox in Pasadena and the New York Giants in Phoenix, chances of seeing a favorite player or even a Hollywood celebrity was very good.
Regulars included Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Andy Devine, Eddie “Rochester” Anderson, Nat King Cole, Dinah Shore and Marilyn Monroe and others. Spring training in Burbank brought out a who’s who of baseball legends. Some of the star-studded cast included: St. Louis Cardinal legend and 1952 Browns Manager Rogers Hornsby, Browns pitcher and Negro League star Satchel Paige, Browns 1949 MLB Rookie of the Year Roy Sievers, New York/SF Giants Willie Mays, New York/SF Giants Bobby Thomson, Chicago White Sox Luke Appling, Cleveland Indians Bob Lemon, Cleveland Indians Bob Feller, Pittsburgh Pirates Ralph Kiner and the Chicago Cubs Hank Sauer.
Burbank had a lot of other infamous company besides the St. Louis Browns, according to many it was a gangsters’ haven. The citizens, led by many businessmen, awoke and took action, making the motions of looking like they were trying to correct the problems that faced the city.
Coronet Magazine painted an interesting picture of Burbank in 1956:
“Burbank, California, a pleasant city of 90,000 persons in the famed San Fernando Valley near Los Angeles, is a typical American community.
It has well-kept homes, good schools, a symphony orchestra, an art association and 43 churches. Among its 300 industrial firms are Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, Walt Disney Productions and Warner Brothers Pictures, Inc. It’s about the last place you’d look for lawlessness and civic corruption.
But, on April 21, 1952, the California Crime Commission jolted the city out of its complacency by arguing that “the people of Burbank are virtually without protection against the inroads of organized crime…”
Burbank was quickly turning into a “bedroom for hoodlums” because it housed some of America’s most notorious underworld characters.
Joe and Frank Sica, said to be members of the infamous Mafia, ran the Champ Cafe as a hangout for mobsters. Ted Jabour Lewis, reported to be associated with Detroit’s Purple Gang, swaggered around town with an honorary police badge and gun permit. Mickey Cohen, recently released from prison for evading income taxes, and Ralph Maddox, a big-time bookmaker with a criminal record, both operated wide-open gambling joints.
When two honest rookie policemen raided Cohen’s casino at the Dincara Stock Farm they were transferred to another beat and the case was dismissed on the ridiculous story that a “Rabbi Rosenberg” had been holding a meeting in order to raise some funds for Free Palestine.
Maddox’s horse-racing and football betting syndicate, also operated with the connivance of the police, reportedly grossed better than $2,500,000 annually.”
Richard Westbrook decided that Burbank would be his home, after getting into a shootout in St. Louis, and the “Hots” chasing him out of town. Richard settled in Burbank and built the Olive Manor Motel. He had many associates in St. Louis and Chicago and had some cash. He knew that the St. Louis Browns would be training there and that there was an opportunity to sell rooms for members of the team and the associates that followed them.
Westbrook’s stepson, Bobby, attended the same school I did and although a year or two apart, we became friends. Westbrook was also a friend of my cousin Frank Schivo, who came to Las Vegas with Milton Prell in the late 1940s and opened the Bingo Club and then the Sahara Hotel. Westbrook was a frequent guest at the Sahara and brought many good gamblers along with him. He definitely was an “A” customer. The Sahara opened in 1951 and had a variety of characters that were owners, bosses and associates.
Schivo catered to Westbrook because he brought some great gamblers to the Sahara Hotel that included bookmakers, mobsters, businessmen and anybody who had discretionary cash. The FBI was looking into Westbrook in 1965. His Olive Manor Motel was estimated to be worth over $500,000, which in 2016 dollars would be valued a little over $3,800,000.
After moving to Las Vegas, I would occasionally visit friends in Burbank and conveniently stay at the Olive Manor Motel in Burbank. Westbrook told me some great stories that, at the time, took with a grain of salt until I did some research to the veracity. He knew all the shakers and movers in Las Vegas. He introduced me to Benny Binion I the small chili parlor of the Horseshoe Casino. Binion and Westbrook were as tight six is to seven. He recalled all the names that I have previously heard about in the press and then brought up names that nobody ever heard of. These names where the real players that managed to avoid publicity and managed to never get in any trouble.
Westbrook was originally from Arkansas ? He was a rough character in his early days and upon me doing some research about him, I found a story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. A smiling picture of Richard popped up and I just chuckled. The picture was as I remembered him: laughing, good natured and full of life and fun, yet the story revealed a side of “Uncle Dick” I never heard.
Westbrook was side-swiped by another car and three shots were fired into his car about four miles south of Waterloo, Illinois. Both he and his lady companion were wounded and naturally he told police he knew of no reason why anyone would be shooting at him. Westbrook’s companion was Mary Blakely, 25 years old, was a dice dealer at the Regent Bar in Cairo operated by Roy Shaw.
Westbrook had a part interest in the drug store in the Jefferson Hotel in St. Louis, and was arrested there on the prior Christmas eve for possession of an unregistered machine gun. Westbrook announced to someone he planned: to take care of some people in Cairo.” Westbrook had permanent living quarters in the Jefferson Hotel. Westbrook was in the drug store and displayed a German make sub-machine gun and made the statement to someone about taking care of some people in Cairo. He then sauntered into the crowded hotel lobby, where a police captain saw the butt of the gun sticking out from under Westbrook’s topcoat, and arrested him.
Westbrook told the police captain he bought the weapon a short time before his arrest from a returned soldier for $30, and wanted a souvenir. Assistant United States District Attorney Herbert H. Freer said that no warrant would be issued in the case because Westbrook had not had time to register it.
It was common knowledge to the police that Westbrook was an operator of slot machines, juke boxes, and other catch-coin devices. He was known to the police as an old-time associate of the notorious Shelton brothers and also a friend and benefactor of “. Colbeck was the former leader of the Egan gang, who spent some time in federal prison and then after his stint there went into the coin-machine business. Colbeck later worked at the infamous Hyde Park Club, an East St. Louis gambling casino and later murdered in gangland fashion.
Previous to Westbrook’s arrest for having a Machine Gun he had been in conference in his hotel quarters with Frank “Buster” Wortman, an East Side gangster, and Elmer Dowling, who are reported to have gone into the “music business” with associates, including Gregory Moore, former chief deputy under Sheriff John F. Dougherty. Police determined that this group had hoped to revive the racket of placing “union labels” on most of the 6000 juke boxes in the St. Louis area, at $5 a label. The police however could not prove this allegation.
Westbrook insisted to police that he had turned over his Westbrook Amusement Company over to his nephew, Clyde Westbrook. The company had more than 60 juke boxes in operation that had a street value of about $800 to $900 each. This valuation however was of the machine itself and not of the potential earning power it had on a day to day basis.
Westbrook and others were trying to move in on the local juke box operators by offering the “union label”. Years later Teamster boss Bill Presser. Presser banded the Cleveland operators into the Phonograph Merchants Association, which cut up the routes among members, setting up a grid of illegal monopolies. The route owners agreed not to raid one another‘s lucrative jukebox stops. The route-owners association and the union recorded the locations of the jukeboxes on a courtesy list, which was more pernicious than its name suggests. The courtesy list indicated what bar belonged to which route operator and what brand of jukebox was allowed inside. A bar owner unhappy with the jukebox in his place couldn’t switch to a different route owner because the route owner, going by the association’s rules, would consult the courtesy list and learn that the bar already belonged to someone else. It didn’t matter that the barkeeper’s jukebox wasn’t promptly serviced, that its sound quality was poor or its records outdated. He couldn’t bring in a new jukebox unless he wanted trouble.
During this time frame Teamster boss Bill Presser tried to enforce coin machine monopolies. Presser used the members of Local 442, who delivered and serviced the machines. In 1951, he asked his members to vote to decertify their local from the Electrical Workers Union and switch over to the much more powerful and fast-growing International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), a catchall trade union that represented not only truck drivers but workers in oil fields, canneries, breweries, bakeries, dairies, and so on. They agreed, and he became president of Teamsters Vending Workers Local 410. Once a route owner joined the Phonograph Merchants Association, he paid dues of one dollar per jukebox per month. A Teamsters serviceman slapped a sticker on each jukebox to indicate union approval. A worker on a service call would look for the union label. Without it, he refused to make repairs or stock the machine. Also the other deliveries of food and supplies would not be delivered.
Los Angeles area bookmaker Hy Goldbaum, and a friend of Westbrook and R.D. Matthews, was also involved with the Teamsters and drew the ire of Robert Kennedy. Robert Kennedy Senate special Senate investigating committee brought forward a Portland, Oregon gambler, who said he once had the inside track with the Teamsters Union, testifying that a rival operator paid “$10,000 or more” to get back in the union’s good graces.
This payment, James B. Elkins told a special committee, spoiled his plan to get a $250,000-year monopoly in the pinball business in Oregon. Elkins testified that the money was paid by Stanley Terry, a Portland pinball operator, to Frank Brewster of Seattle, head of the eleven-state Western Conference of the Teamsters Union. Elkins testified that the arrangements for Terry to hook up with Brewster were made by Hy Goldbaum, identified by the Senate committee as a gambler and a friend of Brewster. Terry denied he had told William Capri a part owner of the Flamingo that he would “take care of Hy Goldbaum” if Goldbaum would arrange with Brewster for Terry to join the Teamsters Union.
Terry insisted he “never paid Brewster a cent.” He also denied that he paid or promised to pay Hy Goldbaum, Las Vegas gambler, $7,500 for getting him an appointment with Brewster.
This set the stage for the appearance of Goldbaum an authentic Damon Runyon character, who described himself as a “pit man” in the gaming rooms at Las Vegas’ flamboyant Flamingo Hotel. A “pit man” is a fellow who “stands around to watch that people don’t steal.” he explained. Goldbaum said he arranged an appointment with Brewster for Terry, but denied that the pinball man paid or promised to pay him $7,500 for the service.
This conflicted with an affidavit from William Capri, an associate of Goldbaum at the Flamingo. Capri said he introduced Terry to Goldbaum and got the impression that Terry would “take care” of Goldbaum, and later heard Goldbaum complain that Terry “never kept his promise.”
Goldbaum explained: “What I said was I did him a favor and he never once even called me to thank me. I pop off a lot. I might have said he could not bought this favor for $7,500. I could have made this remark.”
Also. Goldbaum testified he “found out later” that Terry didn‘t keep the appointment with Brewster. Goldbaum told the senators that he is an alumnus of the McNeil Island federal penitentiary where he did time for income tax violation.
He said his remark about the $7,500 favor might have been made to Lester Beckman, his old cell mate at McNeil Island. Goldhaum testified that he “put in a pitch” for Terry with Brewster when he encountered the Teamster official at the Santa Anita race track near Los Angeles in January. 1955.
(This author ate dinner with Goldbaum each evening at the Dunes Hotel circa 1973-74)
Westbrook had a lot of company on the west coast like Mickey Cohen. During Nixon’s Watergate investigation, Cohen decided to put some heat on Nixon. In Cohen’s own words:
“I am presently serving a sentence in the federal prison at
Alcatraz. At my request I asked for a meeting with a state law
enforcement officer and on Oct. 9, 1952, Richard R. Rogan met
me in the visitor’s room at Alcatraz.
“I informed Mr. Roger: that I wished to discuss with him.
I question concerning the influence of persons engaged in gambling and bookmaking on the early political career of Richard Nixon.
“I first met Richard Nixon at a luncheon in the Goodfellow’s
Fisherman’s grotto on South Main Street in 1946. The meeting
was arranged by Murray Choitner who asked me to meet Mr.
Nixon who was about to start his first campaign as a representative in Congress that year. I was asked by Nixon and Chotiner to raise some money for Nixon’s campaign.”
“In either 1948 during Nixon‘s second race for Congress or
1950 in his campaign for the Senate, I was again asked by Mur-
ray Chotiner to raise funds for Nixon’s campaign. During that
time I was running most of the gambling and bookmaking in
Los Angeles County. I reserved the banquet room in the Holly-
wood Knickerbocker hotel on Ivar Street in Hollywood for a
dinner meeting to which I invited approximately 250 persons
who were working with me in the gambling fraternity. Among
those who were present, whose names are well known to law
enforcement, officers, were Joe and Fred Sica, Jack Dragon and
George Capri. Also present was Hy Goldbaum, who is one of
the pit bosses at the Stardust hotel in Las Vegas who also served term of imprisonment at the federal prison at. McNeil Island. Capri was one of the comers of the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas.”
“Murray Chotiner told me I should have a quota of $25,000 to the campaign. During the course of the evening Nixon spoke
for approximately 10 minutes. Chotiner spoke about half an hour.
“At this meeting my group pledged between $17,000 and
$19,000 but this did not meet the quota set by Nixon. The group was informed they would have to stay until the
quota was met.”
NOTE: That sentence, “The group was informed by Nixon and Chotiner that they would have to stay until the quota was met.” is especially important. In brief, Nixon and Chotiner were putting the squeeze on the leading gamblers of Southern California and telling them to meet a quota. Obviously the gamblers had a right to expect something in return.
“I have been asked by several newspaper persons and television employees of NBC during the 1956 presidential campaign to make these facts known,” continued Mickey Cohen, “but until now I have refused to do so.”
In 1967 the New Frontier Hotel was opened by associates of Dick Westbrook with his old pal T.W. Richardson the acting Casino Manager and part owner of the operation along with a slew of regular investors and hidden owners from all parts of the spectrum. Johnny Rosselli was a part owner of the gift shop and was around all the time. I will get into this in the next chapter. I still was working at the California Club as a dealer/slot floorman for Frank Schivo and his partners that included Norm Jansen, my uncle Al Munari and a few other working point holders. There was some stealing and management issues at the California Club and the days there were numbered, so I started looking for some work that would be a good paying toke job.
Westbrook’s former wife Rosemary, was a cashier for my cousin Frank at the California Club, and a dear friend of his wife Shirlee Schivo, who once was courted by mobster Mickey Cohen. Rosemary Westbrook, Avis Jansen, wife of Norm Jansen, and Shirlee were definitely considered “top shelf lookers” to the gamblers and shakers in Las Vegas and could get any man they so desired. Rosemary was extremely kind and a pleasant person to work with, yet was known to take a drink on occasion. Her ex-husband Richard still loved her despite the fact that she probably gave the FBI a little too much information about his association with Johnny Stone, Dallas’s biggest bookmaker and associate of R.D. Matthews.
Rosemary asked me to pick up a TV from her apartment she was living in and drop it off for her at a local repairman for a minor issue. She gave me the keys to her apartment. She said she would not be home and described where the TV was and I did exactly as she asked. A few days later, she said all of her jewelry was missing and there was no signs of a break-in. I was a suspect. Another suspect, Bill Bickel, a gambler, hustler and golfing friend of Johnny Hicks, was also a suspect. I know I did not steal her jewelry, yet had to do a lot of explaining. Bickel was hanging with Rosemary quite a bit and I do believe he was the thief. A few years later, he was found dead floating in Lake Mead. His homicide is still unsolved.
I went to the Dunes in 1968 working in the blackjack pit and did not have much time to notice all the bosses hanging around the Dunes. I made the move to the Dunes on my own and did not ask anyone any favors to secure the job.
Dick Westbrook was having many problems with his son Bobby. A California judge gave Bobby an ultimatum: leave Burbank and his bad friends, or go to jail. So Westbrook made a deal with my dad about getting his son approved to live with my parents in Las Vegas, provided that both the local Burbank judge and a corresponding Las Vegas official approved of the residence change. Westbrook took care of the Burbank magistrate rather quickly and then got the approval of Las Vegas judge Moon Mullins. Judge Mullen was the Chief Probation Officer for Clark County. In 1973 Judge Mullen became the first African American elected to the Las Vegas Municipal Court (non-attorney judge). More than likely, Benny Binion took care of the matter with Moon Mullins.
It is amazing how many very significant historical incidents have connections to Las Vegas. “Following the money”, may be the reason there are so many inter-connections between the players and the shakers in the one American city that is a genuine mystery to the entire world. There are so many interesting branches that connect Hollywood, Congress, the CIA, the Kennedy assassination, Cuba, politics, the White House and many more. Browsing the newspaper morgues and connecting the dots via timelines and facts becomes a conspiracy theorist’s delight.
Johnny Rosselli has particular interest to this researcher for many reasons. Many years ago I had the privilege of meeting one of the driving authors of Rosselli’s story, Ed Becker. Little did I know then, I would eventually publish his book about Rosselli.
Enter: Ed Becker
Who is Ed Becker? Here is what the Washington Post said in a story WP: Rudy Maxa August 12, 1979)
“When the House Assassination Committee released its report last month, its most perplexing section concerned alleged organized crime involvement with the killing of John Kennedy. Santos Trafficante and Carlos Marcello were fingered as “the most likely family bosses” to have participated in any plot, but then the ambivalent report termed the notion “unlikely.”
Linking Marcello to JFK’s death was an obscure private eye named Edward N. Becker, a shadowy figure who has passed in and out of organized crime circles as a shamus and anonymous researcher of books. Who is Becker?
He’s a 57-year-old, soft-spoken man who today lives in Las Vegas with his second wife. He’s currently involved in business with a former assistant attorney general of the U.S., Washington-based attorney Jerris Leonard. And Becker is not delighted his name surfaced in the House report.
“I expect some kind of retribution,” Becker says today. “The committee said, “We’re doing everything in the world to protect you.” I didn’t believe it. Of course I’m worried.”
In 1955 Becker signed on as public relations director for the Riviera Hotel in Vegas. His milieu was gambling and men whose occupations were vague, he says, and he eventually helped piece together an NBC “White Paper” on organized crime in 1966. He also helped gather information for the books Green Felt Jungle and the Grim Reapers, both billed as exposes of organized crime.
Becker says he was in Louisiana in September of 1962 working undercover for a finance company investigating Billie Sol Estes when he struck up a friendship with Carl Ropolo, a Shreveport oil geologist well-liked by Marcello according to the House report. The two men visited Marcello at his estate near New Orleans. In the course of a long evening of drinking scotch, Becker remembers Marcello cursing the Kennedy brothers and talking vaguely of trying to kill the president.
Marcello denies that.
That scene (without Becker’s name) made its way into Ed Reid’s book, The Grim Reapders, which led the House committee to Becker, who talked with a committee staffer by phone but refused to testify because he feared the arm of organized crime as well as the wrath of the FBI. The Bureau, according to the House report, worked hard to discredit Becker instead of investigating the validity of his information.”
Back to the main point: Browsing through the newspaper files I found one of the mysterious conundrums. Enter the Robert Kennedy assassination, Sirhan Sirhan and his lawyer, Grant Cooper. A story published in 1969 told of the trial of Sirhan that might have to have one more postponement because Cooper had to appear in District Court to face a Grand Jury on charges of contempt of court. The Grand Jury wanted to know how he obtained secret transcripts in the infamous Friars Club cheating case, wherein another client, Johnny Rosselli, was one of five convicted in the cheating of club members.
Rosselli was a partner with Maury Friedman, TW Richardson, Anthony Zerilli, Michael Polizzi and Tony Giordano (St. Louis) in the Frontier Hotel. All but Richardson served time in jail. Zerilli, Polizzi and Giordano were identified as members of the mafia by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Roselli was recruited, along with Sam Giancana and Santos Trafficante, to assassinate Fidel Castro, by Robert Maheu, representing the CIA. Maheu was a former FBI Agent and special operative for the CIA, and later became the number one man in running Howard Hughes hotels in Las Vegas.
Rosselli was a powerful behind-the-scenes influence in Hollywood. According to Gaeton Fonzi: “The story goes that Rosselli . . . ‘suggested’ to Harry Cohn, then head of Columbia Pictures, that Frank Sinatra get the Maggio role in From Here to Eternity, the part that subsequently saved the crooner’s sinking career. Mario Puzo dramatized the incident in The Godfather’s horse’s-head-in-the-bed scene.
Several authors wrote entire books on the subject of the Mob and the killing of JFK and one of the key suspects was Carlos Marcello. Over the years I had acquired printing equipment for various business needs and developed a small publishing company which re-printed a second edition of the Edward Beckker’s tome, All American Mafioso: The Johnny Rosselli Story by Ed Becker and Charles Rappleye. The opportunity to print this book was made possible by Tony Montana, who claimed an interest in the book with Ed Becker’s widow. The book is an amazing tale in the life of Rosselli who lived in Las Vegas and was a very controversial individual and was considered the Chicago Outfit’s mouthpiece in Las Vegas in the Late 1950s and early 1960s.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s Café Michele on Flamingo road was the lunch and drink hangout. I frequented the establishment on a daily basis to catch up with friends and share and hear stories about the happenings in the world of gaming, deals and the mob. Ed Becker held court at Micheles a few times a week with his business companion and book advisor, Tony Montana. In fact Ed Becker introduced Tony Montana to me. Montana is not light weight wanna-be, he is a be. His uncle John Montana was a guest at the famed Appalachian Mafia convene in November of 1957, and Tony was an employee of the late Chicago boss, Tony Spilotro. Tony is an expert food and beverage manager who had the skills to turn profits in bars and restaurants. He was a sought after person and recognized to be loyal, efficient and a good problem solver.
Tony assisted Ed Becker in getting some interviews with top mafia bosses which Ed was unable to arrange. Ed’s claim to the mob was his association and work experience with Gus Greenbaum at the Riviera and Flamingo hotels. My former boss, Sidney Wyman from the Dunes Hotel, was the second biggest shareholder in the Riviera Hotel with Greenbaum. Becker was not on the inside position in management and therefore not connected so to speak, only by association. Becker wanted to interview Marcello in New Orleans but could never contact Marcello or his associates to arrange a meeting. Tony arranged this interview through Joe Pignatello owner of the once famous Villa d’Este Italian restaurant.
I read Becker’s book and read Ed’s recant of a meeting in 1962 with Carlos Marcello. It went as follows:
The same month, Carlos Marcello described a more detailed plan in the privacy of a farmhouse on his sprawling country estate outside New Orleans. Ed Becker, a private investigator and free-lance businessman, was meeting with Marcello and his longtime associates Carlo Roppolo and Jack Liberto when their boss pulled out a bottle and poured a generous round of Scotch. The conversation wandered until Becker made an offhand remark about Bobby Kennedy and Marcello’s deportation. The reference struck a nerve, and Carlos jumped to his feet, exclaiming the Sicilian oath, “Livarsi na pietra di la scarpa! (Take the stone out of my shoe!)”
Reverting to English, Marcello shouted, “Don’t worry about that Bobby son-of-a-bitch. He’s going to be taken care of.” Emboldened by the Scotch, Becker interrupted. “You can’t go after Bobby Kennedy. You’ll get into a hell of a lot of trouble.” In answer, Marcello invoked an old Italian proverb: “If you want to kill a dog, you don’t cut off the tail, you cut off the head.” Bobby was the tail, an adjunct, an appendage. If the President were killed then Bobby would lose his bite. Marcello added that he had a plan, to use “a nut” to take the fall for the murder, “like they do in Sicily.” Seated again, Marcello abruptly changed the subject, and the Kennedys were not mentioned again.
One afternoon I was recording some “Mob Moment” spots for the radio station KIYQ-LP (www.KiYQ.org) and interviewing Tony Montana. I was interested in the meeting Tony had arranged with Marcello, Becker and himself prior to the book, All American Mafioso, released. Tony told me that they stayed in a small hotel in the French Quarter and to be ready the next morning to be picked up by a driver. The pair waited in the outside dining area and soon after breakfast a car arrived with a driver approaching them and introducing himself as a representative of Carlos Marcello. After the pleasantries, Tony got in the front seat next to the driver and Ed sat in the rear seat. Ed was demonstrably very nervous sitting in the back seat after the driver said they were going out to the Farm in Metairie. Becker thought that the meeting would be in a nearby office. The trip to the Farm was more than 30 minutes. The driver with an obvious method to his madness remarked to Ed, “Don’t worry. If something was going to happen to you it would have already”, and grinned in a joking manner. Tony realized the driver was just being humorous and they continued to the Farm.
Tony continued the story, “They were brought into Marcello’s office and we met Carlos Marcello.”
That is when a light went on in my head. In Ed’s book he writes that they met in 1962. If that was the case and true, why would they have to be re-introduced? Something is wrong here. I asked Tony, did it appear to you that Ed was meeting Marcello for the first time. He said absolutely. That is consistent because if he had met Marcello through another friend in 1962, why would he need Tony to make the new introduction? Why would Marcello also appear to meet Becker for the first time and greet him like he was meeting him for the first time?
The answer is that Becker never was at a meeting with Marcello in 1962. It was fabricated. So there is also a good chance that the other evidence against Marcello is fabricated.
Here is the findings of the committee:
ALLEGED ASSASSINATION THREAT BY MARCELLO
As part of its investigation, the committee examined a published account of what was alleged to have been a threat made by Carlos Marcello in late 1962 against the life of President Kennedy and his brother, Robert, the Attorney General. The information was first set forth publicly in a book on organized crime published in 1969, “The Grim Reapers,” by Ed Reid. (160) Reid, a former editor of the Las Vegas Sun, was a writer on organized crime and the coauthor, with Ovid Demaris, of “The Green Felt Jungle,” published in 1963.
In a lengthy chapter on the New Orleans Mafia and Carlos Marcello, Reid wrote of an alleged private meeting between Marcello and two or more men sometime in September 1962. His account was based on interviews he had conducted with a man who alleged he had attended the meeting.
According to Reid’s informant, the Marcello meeting was held in a farmhouse at Churchill Farms, the 3,000-acre swampland plantation owned by Marcello outside of New Orleans. Reid wrote that Marcello and three other men had gone to the farmhouse in a car driven by Marcello himself. Marcello and the other men gathered inside the farmhouse, had drinks and engaged in casual conversation that included the general subjects of business and sex. After further drinks “brought more familiarity and relaxation, the dialog turned to serious matters, including the pressure law enforcement agencies were bringing to bear on the Mafia brotherhood” as a result of the Kennedy administration .
Reid’s book contained the following account of the discussion : It was then that Carlos’ voice lost its softness, and his words were bitten off and spit out when mention was made of U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who was still on the trail of Marcello.
“Livarsi na petra di la scarpa !” Carlos shrilled the Mafia cry of revenge: “Take the stone out of my shoe!” “Don’t worry about that little Bobby son of a bitch,” he shouted. “He’s going to be taken care of!”
Ever since Robert Kennedy had arranged for his deportation to Guatemala, Carlos had wanted revenge. But as the subsequent conversation, which was reported to two top Government investigators by one of the participants and later to this author, showed, he knew that to rid himself of Robert Kennedy lie would first have to remove the President. Any killer of the Attorney General would be hunted down by his brother; the death of the President would seal the fate of his Attorney General.
No one at the meeting had any doubt about Marcello’s intentions when he abruptly arose from the table. Marcello (lid not joke about such things. In any case, the matter had gone beyond mere “business”; it had become an affair of honor, a Sicilian vendetta. Moreover, the conversation at Churchill Farms also made clear that Marcello had begun to plan a move. He had, for example, already thought of using a “nut” to do the job. Roughly one year later President Kennedy was shot in Dallas-? Months after Attorney General Robert Kennedy had announced to the McClellan committee that he was going to expand his war on organized crime. And it is perhaps significant that privately Robert Kennedy had singled out James Hoffa, Sam Giancana, and Carlos Marcello as being among his chief targets. In an interview with the committee, Reid said that his informant stated that Marcello seemed to be “very serious” as he spoke of planning to assassinate President Kennedy. (169) He further told the committee- that while his informant had had great doubts at the time as to whether Marcello could or would have the President assassinated, immediately after the assassination occurred, he came to believe that Marcello was in fact the perpetrator.
Reid informed the committee that he believed his informant, a man with underworld associations, was credible and trustworthy and had in fact provided “unusually reliable” information about organized crime on past occasions, including during the writing of “The Green Felt Jungle .” Based on past association and contacts with the informant, Reid was “strongly inclined to believe his account of the Marcello meeting,” although he was “not sure what it all means in the final analysis.”
FBI investigation of the allegations
In early May 1967, over a year and a half before the book was published, senior officials of the FBI learned of the account of the alleged meeting.) According to an FBI memorandum of May, 1967, from Assistant Director Ales Rosen to Assistant Director Cartha DeLoach, the Bureau’s Los Angeles office had been contacted on May 6 by Reid. The memorandum stated that Reid, “who has written several books concerning the hoodlum element,” had contacted the Los Angeles office and had “indicated he had information concerning John Roselli.” The memorandum further stated that when Reid was interviewed, he showed his manuscript to the Bureau’s Los Angeles agents. The memorandum gave the following account of Reid’s information:
Reid refers to Carlos Marcello and indicated there was a meeting on September 11, 1963 at Churchill Farms, outside New Orleans, La., attended by several people including Marcello and Reid’s informant. Marcello was alleged to have said that in order to get Bobby Kennedy they would have to get the President, and they could not kill Bobby because the President would use the Army and the Marines to get them.
The result of killing the President would cause Bobby to lose his power as Attorney General because of the New President.
While the Bureau memorandum indicates that the agents who read that section of Reid’s manuscript believed it placed the meeting in September 1963, the actual account published by Reid in 1969 stated that the meeting had occurred in September 1962. In his committee interview, Reid said that he had “always stated that the meeting was in September 1962″because his informant had “clearly recalled” the time of the meeting and had been “traveling in Louisiana” that month.
The Bureau memorandum went on to state that Reid had informed the Los Angeles agents that “a person who attended this alleged meeting was interviewed by agents of our Los Angeles office and furnished them the information.” Further, Reid believed that “several days” after the informant had attended the meeting with Marcello, he “was interviewed concerning the Billie Sol Estes case, at which time he allegedly related to our agents what he heard at Churchill Farms.”
The memorandum goes on to note that a review of FBI files on Reid’s informant., whose name was Edward Becker, showed he had in fact been interviewed by Bureau agents on November 26, 1962, in connection with the Billie Sol Estes investigation. While “in this interview, Marcello was mentioned * * * in connection with a business proposition * * * no mention was made of” Attorney General Kennedy or President Kennedy, or any threat against them.
The memorandum said that the agents who read the part of Reid’s manuscript on the meeting told the author that Becker had not informed the Bureau of the alleged Marcello discussion of assassination. (187) In fact, “It is noted Edward Nicholas Becker is a private investigator in Los Angeles who in the past has had a reputation of being unreliable and known to misrepresent facts.”
The memorandum concluded by stating that Reid’s offer to provide the Bureau with information about Mafia figure John Roselli had been declined. In connection with John Roselli, Reid wanted to trade information concerning him, which offer was refused. He mentioned lie was concerned with Roselli’s association with attorney Edward -Morgan of Washington, D.C . As you recall, Morgan was previously interviewed at the request of the White House concerning alleged information in his possession regarding the assassination. Also, Roselli was the connecting link between CIA and Robert Maheu who was hired by the CIA to approach Sam Giancana to have Castro assassinated.
The memorandum went to Assistant Directors Rosen and DeLoach, and to the most senior officials in the Bureau, including Assistant Director William Sullivan and several of his deputies, and Assistant Director James Gales of the Inspection Division, all of whom had direct responsibility for the FBI’s investigation of President Kennedy’s murder. (190) No instructions of any kind to follow up on the information regarding Marcello, the alleged assassination discussion, and the informant, were issued subsequently.
(383) The only directive regarding the matter was a handwritten notation made on the memorandum by DeLoach : “We should discreetly identify the publisher” of the Reid book.
Two days later, in an FBI memorandum of May 17, 1967, the Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the Los Angeles office reported some additional information to Hoover. In the memorandum, the Los Angeles office set forth some alleged information it had learned regarding Becker, who, the memo noted, claimed to have heard “statements supposedly made by Carlos Marcello on September 11, 1963, concerning the pending assassination of President Kennedy.”
The FBI memo stated that 1 day after the Bureau first learned of the Reid information, its Los Angeles office received information regarding Edward Becker which was allegedly damaging to his reputation. (196) According to the information, Sidney Korshak had been discussing Becker and Sidney Korshak inquired as to who Ed Becker was and advised that Becker was trying to shake down some of Korshak’s friends for money by claiming he is the collaborator with Reid and that for money he could keep the names of these people out of the book.
The memorandum also stated that Sidney Korshak had further stated that “Becker was a no-good shakedown artist,” information which in turn became known to the Bureau. The memorandum did not mention the background of the person who was supplying the negative information and allegations about Becker-Sidney Korshak. He was a Los Angeles labor lawyer, who has been alleged to have underworld associations in Chicago, California, Las Vegas, and New York. The Bureau’s own files identified him as a continuing subject of numerous organized crime investigations, an associate of reputed Chicago Mafia executioners Gus Alex and Murray “The Camel” Humphreys, and a business associate of James R. Hoffa and Paul Dorfman. In an extensive four-part investigative series in 1976, the New York Times noted that a 1968 Justice Department report had described Korshak as perhaps “the most significant link in the relationship between the crime syndicate, politics, labor, and management.” The Times further reported that at a meeting in April 1976, senior officials of the Justice Department’s Organized Crime Division had “reached a consensus that Mr. Korshak was one of the five most powerful members of the underworld .”
On June 5, 1967, in another memorandum to Director Hoover, the Los Angeles FBI office reported that the person who had provided the derogatory information on Becker had contacted Reid on May 26 in an effort to “discredit” Becker’s information about Marcello. This person had provided Reid with the information about Becker which had derived from Korshak. The memorandum went on to state that “The purpose [of this person] was to discredit Becker to Reid in order that the Carlos Marcello incident would be deleted from the book by Reid.
On May 31, 1967, according to the same memorandum, a special agent of the Los Angeles office was involved in a visit to Reid’s home(108) in a further effort to persuade him of Becker’s alleged untrustworthiness. During this visit, it was again pointed out to Reid that Becker had been interviewed by Bureau agents in November 1962 concerning the Billie Sol Estes case, but had not mentioned the reputed conversation or statements allegedly made ‘by Marcello on September 11, 1963 (almost a year later), at Churchill Farms, New Orleans.
The Bureau’s possible confusion over the time periods involved in the matter was further evidenced in the memorandum, which said that “in November 1962” Becker had “not mentioned the reputed * * * statements allegedly made by Marcello on September 11, 1963.” Again, both Reid and Becker have maintained consistently that they made clear that the meeting was in September 1962, rather than September 1963,(111) and that the specific reference in the Reid book stated “September 1962.” Additionally, the Bureau’s own files on Becker (while not containing any references to assassination) clearly indicated that Becker had been interviewed by agents in November 1962, following a trip through Louisiana that September.
Committee investigation of the allegation
The committee carefully examined the FBI’s files relating to Becker and the Bureau’s contact with him in late 1962. The first Bureau reference to Becker appeared in a report of November 20, 1962, regarding a private investigator working on the Billie Sol Estes case, the famous multimillion-dollar fraud investigation of the early 1960’s. The report noted that Becker, then 42, was associated with an investigator being employed by one of the oil service companies that had allegedly been swindled by Estes. (216) Becker was said to have had first met with the investigator in Brownswood, Texas., on September 18, 1962, and that they had traveled to Shreveport, La., on business on September 21. Becker was associated with an oil geologist in Shreveport, Carl Roppolo, who was alleged to be a close acquaintance of Carlos Marcello .
The report noted that one person had told the Bureau that “Roppolo had said that his mother is Carlos Marcello’s sister, and that Roppollo is the favorite nephew.” As is discussed later, Becker informed the committee that Roppolo, a close friend of his, was the man who allegedly set up the September 1962 meeting with Marcello and attended the meeting along with Becker for the purpose of seeking Marcello’s support for a proposed business venture of theirs.
Becker was referred to in a second FBI report of November 21, 1962, which dealt with an alleged counterfeiting ring and a Dallas lawyer who reportedly had knowledge of it. This report noted that Becker was being used as an “informant” by a private investigator in the investigation and was assisting to the extent that he began receiving expense money. The Los Angeles FBI office noted that the investigator working with Becker had “admitted that he could be supporting a con game for living expenses on the part of Becker * * * but that he doubted it,” as he had only provided Becker with limited expenses.
The November 21, 1962, Bureau report noted further that Becker had once been associated with Max Field, a criminal associate of Mafia leader Joseph Sica of Los Angeles. According to the report “It appears that Becker * * * has been feeding all rumors he has heard plus whatever stories lie can fit into the picture.”
On November 26, 1962, Becker was interviewed by the FBI in connection with its investigation of the Billie Sol Estes case on which Becker was then also working as a private investigator. Becker told the Bureau of his recent trips to Dallas, Tex., and Louisiana, and informed them of the information he had heard about counterfeiting in Dallas. At that point, Becker also briefly discussed Carlos Marcello.
He [Becker] advised that on two occasions he has accompanied Roppolo to New Orleans, where they met with one Carlos Marcello, who is a longtime friend of Roppolo. He advised that Roppolo was to obtain the financing for their promotional business from Marcello. He advised that he knew nothing further about Marcello.
Becker was briefly mentioned in another Bureau report, of November 27, 1962, which again stated that he allegedly made up “stories” and invented rumors to derive “possible gain” from such false information.
Three days later, on November 30, 1962, another Bureau report on the Billie Sol Estes case made reference to Becker’s trip to Dallas in September and his work on the case. The report noted that Becker was apparently associated with various show business personalities in Las Vegas. Further, a man who had been acquainted with Becker had referred to him as a “small-time con man.”
In an April 11, 1963, FBI report, Becker and his friend Roppolo were referred to once again. The report had been written by agent Regis Kennedy of the New Orleans office in response to a directive issued shortly after Becker informed the Bureau that Roppolo had accompanied him to two business meetings with Marcello.
The New Orleans office had been instructed to determine if Roppolo was in fact acquainted with Marcello, as advised by Becker. The April 11, 1963, report concluded that Roppolo did in all likelihood know the New Orleans Mafia leader. A source had informed the New Orleans office that the Marcello and Roppolo “families were quite close at one time as they came from the `old country’ at approximately the same time and lived as neighbors in New Orleans.”
This report further stated that the same source doubted whether Roppolo himself could secure financial backing from Marcello for a business venture, due to Roppolo’s alleged reputation as someone “rather shiftless.” Roppolo was regarded as “a problem,” a person who “is always trying to promote something.”
(398) While the committee was unable to develop more specific information regarding the relationship between Becker’s associate, Roppolo, and Marcello, the committee did receive information indicating a closer relationship than was indicated in the April 1963 FBI report . The New Orleans Crime Commission, in various analyses andcharts of the Marcello organization, had for years been identifying Lillian Roppolo as an associate of Carlos Marcello . (242) Aaron Kohn, notc.d the reported relationship between the two families and stated that Lillian Roppolo “was considered to be something of a courier for Marcello .” A Crime Commission file on the Roppolos indicates that she had an even closer personal relationship with Marcello, in addition to the alleged courier and business activities. (244) During his appearance before the committee on January 11, 1978, Marcello himself brought up his apparent familiarity with the Roppolos when he was questioned about his knowledge of a person having a similar sounding surname.
Becker’s statement to the committee. During its examination of Reid’s published account of the alleged Marcello discussion about assassinating President Kennedy, the committee received a more detailed account from Becker of the allegations and information he originally provided in Reid. Becker, 1979, told the committee that his account of the meeting and discussion with Marcello in 1962 “is truthful. It was then and it is now. I was there.” He maintained that “the FBI-their agents in Los Angeles-have tried to discredit me. They’ve done everything except investigate the information I gave Reid. They apparently have always said it was not the truth, but they’ve never investigated it to arrive at that judgment.” Becker indicated a willingness to support his truthfulness in other ways.
Becker stated that lie was born in California and raised in New Haven, Conn. His early years of employment had included publicity work for several San Francisco nightclubs and, subsequently, writing a column for two California newspapers . During later years he had done further work in the entertainment field, managing a singer, as well as writing and producing programs for television in Los Angeles during the early 1950’s .
Becker said he became a public relations man for the Riviera Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas in 1955, working closely with Gus Greenbaum, the Riviera manager and well-known gambling figure who was the victim of a much publicized underworld killing in 1957. (253) Becker stated that he “was then traveling in some pretty fast circles. I was certainly not the cleanest person around.” (254) He further maintained that while he “was always out to make a buck,” he was never engaged in any significant criminal activity . (255) Becker noted that he had twice become the subject of criminal investigations, (256) the first resulting in his conviction on misdemeanor charges for having stolen “around $200” from a nightclub photographer with whom he was acquainted. He was in his twenties at the time and served 60 days in jail.)
Becker stated that in 1959 he had also become involved with two men who were “running a con deal involving laundromats and stolen credit cards” and that one of the two men was an associate of Los Angeles Mafia leader Joseph Sica. He was the subject of an SEC desist order in conjunction with the 1959 investigation.
Becker told the committee that he had worked as a private investigator during the years since, coordinating undercover investigative work for corporate clients, as well as working on various organized crime cases. During the early 1960’s, he was doing investigative work for Julian Blodgett, a private investigator and former FBI agent.
Becker told the committee that he and Roppolo had met with Marcello in late 1962 to seek his financial backing for an oil additive product they were planning to market. Due to Roppolo’s close relationship with Marcello, the meeting was arranged without difficulty.
Becker stated that he and Roppolo met with Marcello on three or four occasions in connection with the proposed business deal and that Marcello made his comments about President Kennedy during the first or second meeting. The meetings transpired between sometime in September 1962 and roughly January 1963. Only the three of them had been present during two or three of the meetings, but a Marcello aide named “Liverde,” a barber, had also been present once.
Becker stated that Marcello had made his remarks about the Kennedy brothers after Becker said something to the effect that “Bobby Kennedy is really giving you a rough time.” He could not recall the exact words Marcello used in threatening President Kennedy, but believed the account in Reid’s book “is basically correct.” Marcello was very angry and had “clearly stated that he was going to arrange. to have President Kennedy murdered in some way.” Marcello’s statement had been made in a serious tone and sounded as if he had discussed it previously to some extent .
Becker commented that Marcello had made some kind of reference to President Kennedy’s being a dog and Attorney General Robert Kennedy the dog’s tail, and had said “the dog will keep biting you if you only cut off its tail,” but that if the dog’s head were cut off, the dog would die.
Becker stated that Marcello also made some kind of reference to the way in which he allegedly wanted to arrange the President’s murder. Marcello “clearly indicated” that his own lieutenants must not be identified as the assassins, and that there would thus be a necessity to have them use or manipulate someone else to carry out the actual crime.
Becker said that Marcello’s alleged remarks about assassinating the President lasted only a few minutes during the course of the meeting, which went 1 to 2 hours. Marcello had spoken in Sicilian phrases during parts of the meeting and had grown angry at one point in the discussion of their proposed business deal.
Becker said that although he and Roppollo met with Marcello on two or three occasions following this meeting, they never again discussed President Kennedy. (Becker added that the oil additive business deal never came to fruition.
Becker told the committee that while he believed Marcello had been serious when he spoke of wanting to have the President assassinated, he did not believe the Mafia leader was capable of carrying it out or had the opportunity to do so. He emphasized that while he was disturbed by Marcello’s remarks at the time, he had grown accustomed to hearing criminal figures make threats against adversaries.
Becker stated that the only error in Reid’s published account of the meeting related to the statement that Becker had informed two Government investigators of it. Becker said that he never told any Government investigator of Marcello’s remarks about President Kennedy ; he “would have been afraid” to repeat Marcello’s remarks to anyone during that period, out of concern that Marcello or his associates might learn he had done so. Becker suggested that Reid may have incorrectly inferred that he told the FBI of the alleged Marcello threat when he was interviewed by agents regarding the Billie Sol Estes case in November 1962. Becker also stated that he was never interviewed by the FBI about the alleged Marcello meeting in the years since Reid first reported it, a fact borne out by the committee’s examination of Bureau files on Becker.
Becker further stated that the only person other than Reid whom he might have informed of Marcello’s remarks was his close associate Julian Blodgett, who employed him during that period as an investigator.
Blodgett, a former FBI agent and chief investigator for the district attorney of Los Angeles County, informed the committee that he can “vaguely remember something” about Becker’s having met with Marcello. Blodgett stated that he “can verify” that Becker traveled to New Orleans in September 1962, but could not recall any specific account of Becker’s meeting with Marcello . Blodgett told the committee he regarded Becker as an honest person who was one of “the most knowledgeable detail men” in the private investigation business. While noting that Becker “has been a controversial guy,” Blodgett stated that he personally would believe Becker’s account of the alleged Marcello meeting.
Becker further told the committee that following President Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas, he quickly came to believe that Carlos Marcello had in fact probably been behind it. He reached this opinion because of factors such as Lee Oswald having been from New Orleans, as well as Jack Ruby’s alleged underworld associations.
Becker stated that “it was generally thought in mob circles that Ruby was a tool of some mob group.” Becker further stated that he had learned after the assassination that “Oswald’s uncle, who used to run some bar, had been a part of the gambling network overseen by Marcello . He worked for the mob in New Orleans.”
During his appearance before the committee on January 11, 1978, Marcello was questioned about Reid’s account of the meeting at which he allegedly spoke of assassinating President Kennedy. Marcello firmly denied that the meeting and discussion ever took place and stated that he was familiar with the Reid book : “The way the paper puts it and the books put it in there, it makes it like you had some kind of secret meetings, because I have heard the book about what you are telling me.”
Marcello testified that while he had heard that Robert Kennedy was a strong advocate of intensifying the investigation of organized crime figures, and had been so even before becoming Attorney General, “I didn’t pay no attention to it at that time.” Asked when he did begin to pay attention to Robert Kennedy’s intentions, Marcello testified, “When he got to be Attorney General.” While recalling that Attorney General Kennedy “said he was going to get organize crime and all that kind of stuff,” Marcello stated that “the only time I really knew about it” was when he was arrested and deported from the Country.” Asked if he placed any particular blame on the Attorney General for his deportation, Marcello testified, “No, I don’t, he just done what he thought was right, I guess.”
Marcello further testified that he could not recall having any discussion at his Churchill Farms estate about the Kennedy administration’s intensification of Federal efforts against organized crime. Marcello stated that Churchill Farms was not a place where he would conduct a meeting ; that the estate was only used for hunting and was the location of various duck blinds.
Marcello further testified that he did not have to discuss his deportation with associates because “Everybody in the United States knowed I was kidnaped. I didn’t have to discuss it . . . I told the whole world that it was unfair. Anybody who talked to me said it was unfair.”
When asked if he had ever made any threat against Attorney General Kennedy or had spoken of taking any physical action against him, Marcello stated, “No sir; I never said anything like that.” When asked if he had ever spoken of taking such action against President Kennedy or had threatened him in any way, Marcello stated, “Positively not, never said anything like that.”
ANALYSIS OF THE EVIDENCE
The account of the alleged Marcello discussion set forth by Becker and Reid presented a number of serious issues, some of which had highly disturbing implications regarding the performance of the FBI in investigating the possibility of Mafia complicity . The evidence indicates that the FBI’s handling of the allegations and information about Marcello was characterized by a less than vigorous effort to investigate its reliability, as well as a strong desire to “discredit” the information without having actually to investigate it.
Upon learning in 1967 of the Becker account of the alleged Marcello remarks about assassinating President Kennedy, the Bureau did not make any effort to interview Becker about the information, nor did it institute any actions to seek elaboration, clarification, or corroboration of the information. Instead, the allegation was merely circulated to the Bureau’s most senior officials, including Director J. Edgar Hoover, while the Bureau’s own files on Becker contained several pieces of information that should have been the subject of careful review. The Bureau’s files from November 1962 noted that Becker had in fact traveled through Louisiana during that period and had also traveled to Dallas. The Bureau’s own November 26, 1962, interview report on Becker noted that he had informed the Bureau of two business meetings with Marcello that he had attended with Carl Roppolo in recent weeks. A subsequent report, dated April 11, 1963, concluded that Roppolo may well have known Marcello and that the Roppolo and Marcello families had long been associated.
In 1967, in noting that Becker had not told the Bureau of the alleged Marcello threat during his 1962 interview with agents, the Bureau seemed to reach the conclusion that the significance of the alleged Becker information was greatly undermined as a result. Likewise, the Bureau’s apparent view that Becker’s background ofcriminal associations undermined the possibility that he had in fact met with Marcello-rather than strengthened that possibility-was indicative of the Bureau’s deficient approach to the matter. In its handling of the allegations about Marcello, the Bureau did not carry out any substantive examination and evaluation of the source who had set forth the information; only the standard examination of various criminal informants and underworld sources was made to determine the specific nature of their motivations, credibility and activities.
Similarly, there was no evidence that the FBI made any effort to investigate the allegations from the other direction-from the specific travels and activities of Marcello during the period or periods in question. Patrick Collins, the agent covering Marcello’s activities at the time, informed the committee that he “was never asked to investigate it in any way.” While he later read of the alleged Marcello threat in the press, he “never saw any directive on it” or heard of any Bureau interest in the matter. He stated that he would in all likelihood have been aware of any such Bureau directives or interest had there been any.
The evidence shows another aspect of the Bureau’s performance. FBI files clearly indicate a high level awareness that the Bureau was involved in trying to “discredit” (the term used in a Bureau memorandum the source of the information, Edward Becker.
As noted earlier, the ales show that a Los Angeles FBI agent participated in the effort, and without having ever investigated the Marcello allegations. Further, the June 5, 1967, FBI memorandum on the matter (which went to Director Hoover himself, as well as to his closest aides clearly indicated that the “purpose” of the visit to Reid was “to discredit Becker to Reid in order that the Carlos Marcello incident would be deleted from the book by Reid.”
The FBI files also contain repeated references to the Bureau’s use of allegations about Becker received from Sidney Korshak, an alleged associate of various organized crime leaders. The files indicate a high level awareness at Bureau headquarters that the Los Angeles FBI office was using the information received from Korshak in an effort to persuade Reid not to publish the Marcello allegations. There was, however, no reference in the files to Korshak’s own possible background and activities, nor to his possible motives in supplying the information at that time.
The evidence shows that the FBI’s failure to investigate the allegation that Marcello had discussed assassinating President Kennedy constituted a violation of the Director’s promise to investigate all circumstances surrounding the President’s murder even after the official Warren Commission investigation had ended in 1964. In his appearance before the Commission on May 6, 1964, FBI DirectorJ. Edgar Hoover had personally affirmed that promise, stating I can assure you so far as the FBI is concerned the case will be continued in an open classification for all time. That is, any information coming to us or any report coming to us from any source will be thoroughly investigated, so that we will be able to either prove or disprove the allegation.
The FBI’s failure to take seriously the alleged Marcello threat was all the more disturbing given the time at which the Bureau learned of and discarded the allegation-less than two months after the leadership of the Bureau had been faulted by President Johnson himself for not pursuing another allegation by an underworld informant that Mafia figures and Cuban agents might secretly have been involved in President Kennedy’s assassination. In that instance, as detailed by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 1976, FBI Director Hoover and his top deputies had learned of the information from Los Angeles Mafia figure John Roselli’s lawyer, Edward P. Morgan, only to decide on February 15, 1967, that “no investigation will be conducted regarding the allegations.”
On March 17, 1967, upon learning of the Roselli allegation and of the Bureau’s failure to investigate it, Persident Johnson personally intervened and ordered the Bureau to interview Morgan, pursue the information and report its findings to him.
Chief Counsel and Staff Director.
GARY T. CORNWELL
Deputy Chief Counsel.
Becker’s words about Marcello became a seeding point of growth for other authors that liked a conspiracy twist. This vicious rumor was spread like wildfire and mentioned in the final report of the Select Committee on Assassinations in 1979.
The findings of the committee, among others are: A. Lee Harvey Oswald fired three shots at President John F. Kennedy. The second and third shots fired struck the President. The third shot he fired killed the President.
President Kennedy was struck by two rifle shots fired from behind him.
The shots that struck President Kennedy from behind him were fired from the sixth fioor window of the southeast corner of the Texas School Book Depository building.
Lee Harvey Oswald owned the rifle that was used to fire the shots from the sixth fioor window of the southeast corner of the Texas School Book Depository building.
Lee Harvey Oswald, shortly before the assassination, had excess to and was present on the sixth floor of the Texas School Book Depository building.
Lee Harvey Oswald’s other actions tend to support the conclusion that he assassinated President Kennedy.
Scientific acoustical evidence establishes a high probability that two gunmen fired at President John F. Kennedy. Other scientific evidence does not preclude the possibility of two gunmen firing at the President. Scientific evidence negates some specific conspiracy allegations.
The committee believes, on the basis of the evidence available to it, that President John F. Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy. The committee is unable to identify the other
gunman or the extent of the conspiracy.
The committee believes, on the basis of the evidence available to it, that the Soviet Government was not involved in the assassination of President Kennedy.
The committee believes, on the basis of the evidence available to it, that the Cuban Government was not involved in the assassination of President Kennedy.
The committee believes, on the basis of the evidence available to it, that anti-Castro Cuban groups, as groups, were not involved in the assassination of President Kennedy, but that the available evidence does not preclude the possibility that individual members may have been involved.
The committee believes, on the basis of the evidence available to it, that the national syndicate of organized crime, as a group, was not involved in the assassination of President Kennedy, but that the available evidence does not preclude the possibility that individual members may have been involved.
The Secret Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Central Intelligence Agency, were not involved in the assassination of President Kennedy.
Agencies and departments of the U.S. Government performed with varying degrees of competency in the fulfillment of their duties. President John F. Kennedy did not receive adequate protection. A thorough and reliable investigation into the responsibility of Lee Harvey Oswald for the assassination of President, John F. Kennedy was conducted. The investigation into the possibility of conspiracy in the assassination was inadequate. The conclusions of the investigations were arrived at in good faith, but presented in a fashion that was too definitive.
The Secret Service was deficient in the performance of its duties.
(a) The Secret Service possessed information that was not properly analyzed, investigated or used by the Secret Service in connection with the President’s trip to Dallas; in addition, Secret Service agents in the motorcade were inadequately prepared to protect the President from a sniper.
(b) The responsibility of the Secret Service to investigate the assassination was terminated when the Federal Bureau of Investigation assumed primary investigative responsibility.
The Department of Justice failed to exercise initiative in supervising and directing the investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the assassination.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation performed with varying degrees of competency in the fulfillment of its duties.
(a) The Federal Bureau of Investigation adequately investigated Lee Harvey Oswald prior to the assassination and properly evaluated the evidence it possessed to assess his potential
to endanger the public safety in a national emergency.
(b) The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted a thorough and professional investigation into the responsibility of Lee Harvey Oswald for the assassination.
(c) The Federal Bureau of Investigation failed to investigate adequately the possibility of a conspiracy to assassinate the President.
(d) The Federal Bureau of Investigation was deficient in its sharing of information ·with other agencies and departments.
The Central Intelligence Agency was deficient in its collection and sharing of information both prior to and subsequent to the assassination.
The Warren Commission performed with varying degrees of competency in the fulfillment of its duties.
(a) The Warren Commission conducted a thorough and professional investigation into the responsibility of Lee Harvey Oswald for the assassination.
(b) The Warren Commission failed to investigate adequately the possibility of a conspiracy to assassinate the President. This deficiency was attributable in part to the failure of the Commission to receive all the relevant information that was in the possession of other-r agencies and departments of the Government.
(c) The Warren Commission arrived at its conclusions, based on the evidence available to it, in good faith.
(d) The Warren Commission presented the conclusions in its report in a fashion that was too definitive.
The committee wrote about their findings on Carlos Marcello:
The committee found that the quality and scope of the investigation into the possibility of an organized crime conspiracy in the President’s assassination by the Warren Commission and the FBI was not sufficient to uncover one had it existed. The committee also found that it was possible, based on an analysis of motive, means and opportunity, that an individual organized crime leader, or a small combination of leaders, might have participated in a conspiracy to assassinate President Kennedy. The committee’s extensive investigation led it to conclude that the most likely family bosses of organized crime to have participated in such a unilateral assassination plan were Carlos Marcello and Santos Trafficante.
While other family bosses on the commission were subjected to considerable coverage in the electronic surveillance program, such coverage was never applied to Marcello and almost never to Trafficante.
Carlos Marcello.-The committee found that Marcello had the motive, means and opportunity to have President John F. Kennedy assassinated, though it was unable to establish direct evidence of Marcello’s complicity.
I find that they created a motive for Marcello because as they say in the preamble to the Congressional Report, “The zeal of the Kennedy brothers signified the roughest period for organized crime in Department of .Justice history. Historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., wrote in “Robert Kennedy and His Times” that, as a result of the Attorney General’s presence, “the national Government took on organized crime as it had never done before.”
Schlesinger observed: “In New York, Robert Morganthau, the Federal attorney, successfully prosecuted one syndicate leader after another. The Patriarca gang in Rhode Island and the De Cavalcante gang in New Jersey were smashed. Convictions of racketeers by the Organized Crime Section and the Tax Division steadily increased, in 1961, 101 in 1962, 373 in 1963. So long as John Kennedy sat in the White House, giving his Attorney General absolute backing, the underworld knew that the heat was on.”
“The Attorney General focused on targets he had become acquainted with as counsel for the Rackets Committee. He was particularly concerned about the alliance of the top labor leaders and racketeers as personified by Teamster President .James R. Hoffa. Schlesinger wrote that. “The pursuit of Hoffa was an aspect of the war against organized crime.”
He added: “The relations between the Teamsters and the syndicates continued to grow. The FBI electronic microphone, planted from 1961 to 1964 in the office of Anthony Giacalone, a Detroit hood, revealed Hoffa’s deep if wary involvement with the local mob. For national purposes a meeting place was the Rancho La Costa Country Club near San Clemente, Calif., built with $27 million in loans from the Teamsters’ pension fund; its proprietor, Morris B. Dalitz, had emerged from the Detroit-Cleveland underworld to become a Las Vegas and Havana gambling figure. Here the Teamsters and the mob golfed and drank together. Here they no doubt reflected that, as long as John Kennedy was President, Robert Kennedy would be unassailable.”
The statement: “Here they no doubt reflected that, as long as John Kennedy was President, Robert Kennedy would be unassailable”, is a big assumption that sets up any mob guy that has any connection to Ruby, Ferrie or Oswald. This is a big assumption. It is like putting your last name and Oswald in a Google search, it is almost 100% you will find some connection or combination of the words to be found.
In its investigation of Marcello, the committee identified the presence of one critical evidentiary element that was lacking with the other organized crime figures examined by the committee: credible associations relating both Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby to figures having a relationship, albeit tenuous, with Marcello’s crime family or organization.
At the same time, the committee explicitly cautioned: association is the first step in conspiracy; it is not identical to it, and while associations may legitimately give rise to suspicions, a careful distinction must always be drawn between suspicions suspected and facts found. It is interesting that District Attorney Jim Garrison who resided in New Orleans never found one connection with Marcello and the assassination, yet Edward Becker claims to be an eye witness to Marcello threatening President Kennedy. There is something wrong with this picture.
As the long-time La Cosa Nostra leader in an area that is based in New Orleans but extends throughout Louisiana and Texas, Marcello was one of the prime targets of Justice Department efforts during the Kennedy administration. He had, in fact, been temporarily removed from the country for a time in 1961 through deportation proceedings personally expedited by Attorney General Kennedy.
In his appearance before the committee in executive session, Marcello exhibited an intense dislike for Robert Kennedy because of these actions, claiming that he had been illegally “kidnaped” by Government agents during the deportation, of which this is true.
While the Warren Commission devoted extensive attention to Oswald’s background and activities, the committee uncovered significant details of his exposure to and contacts with figures associated with the underworld of New Orleans that apparently had escaped the Commission. One such relationship actually extended into Oswald’s own family through his uncle, Charles “Dutz” Murret, a minor underworld gambling figure. The committee discovered that Murret, who served as a surrogate father of sorts throughout much of Oswald’s life in New Orleans, was in the 1940’s and 1950’s and possibly until his death in 1964 an associate of significant organized crime figures affiliated with the Marcello organization. As they said “associate” is just what that implies. In the Warren Commission Murret was portrayed as a steamship clerk. However, the House Select Committee on Assassinations discovered that Murret was an illegal bookmaker. Murret was also an associate of Sam Saia, one of the leaders of organized crime in New Orleans. Saia was also a close friend of Carlos Marcello. Another of Murret’s associates, Nofio Pecora, was linked to Jack Ruby. According to a FBI informant in 1979 Marcello admitted having known both Murret and Lee Harvey Oswald. Being a bookmaker it is his normal course of business to associate with other bookmakers and lines makers, as well as bettors who may be mobsters as well as ordinary citizens.
The committee established that Oswald was familiar with his uncle’s underworld activities and had discussed them with his wife, Marina, in 1963. Additionally, the committee found that Oswald’s mother, Marguerite Oswald, was acquainted with several men associated with lieutenants in the Marcello organization. One such acquaintance, who was also an associate of Dutz Murret, reportedly served as a personal aide or driver to Marcello at one time.
In another instance, the committee found that an individual connected to Dutz Murret, the person who arranged bail for Oswald following his arrest in August 1963 for a street disturbance, was an associate of two of Marcello’s syndicate deputies. One of the two, Nofio Pecora, as noted, also received a telephone call from Ruby on October 30, 1963, according to the committee’s computer analysis of Ruby’s phone records. However this is a ridiculous connection to think that if Marcello had some doing in the assassination. There are also eyewitness accounts that are not covered in the Warren Commission about the sightings of Ruby and Oswald together.
During the course of its investigation, the committee developed several areas of credible evidence and testimony indicating a possible association in New Orleans and elsewhere between Lee Harvey Oswald and David W. Ferrie, a private investigator and even, perhaps, a pilot for Marcello before and during 1963. From the evidence available to the committee, the nature of the Oswald-Ferrie association remained largely a mystery. The committee established that Oswald and Ferrie apparently first came into contact with each other during Oswald’s participation as a teenager in a Civil Air Patrol unit for which Ferrie served as an instructor: although Ferrie, when he was interviewed by the FBI after his detainment as a suspect in the assassination, denied any past association with Oswald. This denial still has not relevance to Marcello. Ferrie and Oswald could very well have been involved in the assassination as Jim garrison believed however that does not connect the dots to Marcello.
In interviews following the assassination, Ferrie stated that he may have spoken in an offhand manner of the desirability of having President Kennedy shot, but he denied wanting such a deed actually to be done.
Ferrie also admitted his association with Marcello and stated that he had been in personal contact with the syndicate leader in the fall of 1963. He noted that on the morning of the day of the President’s death he was present with Marcello at a courthouse in New Orleans. In his executive session testimony before the committee, Marcello acknowledged that Ferrie did work for his lawyer, G. Wray Gill, on his case, but Marcello denied that Ferrie worked for him or that their relationship was close. And in all due respects for Ferrie and his homosexual lifestyle, it makes sense that Marcello would not really “hangout” with Ferrie or consider him a close trusted friend.
Ferrie died in 1967 of a ruptured blood vessel at the base of the brain, shortly after he was named in the assassination investigation of New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison.
The committee also confirmed that the address. 5114 Camp Street that Oswald had printed on some Fair Play for Cuba Committee handouts in New Orleans was the address of a small office building where Ferrie was working on at least a part-time basis in 1963. The Warren Commission stated in its report that despite the Commission’s probe into why Oswald used this return address on his literature, “investigation has indicated that neither the Fair Play for Cuba Committee nor Lee Oswald ever maintained an office at that address.”
The committee also established associations between Jack Ruby and several individuals affiliated with the underworld activities of Carlos Marcello. Ruby was a personal acquaintance of Joseph Civello, the Marcello associate who allegedly headed organized crime activities in Dallas; he also knew other individuals who have been linked with organized crime, including a New Orleans nightclub figure, Harold Tannenbaum, with whom Ruby was considering going into partnership in the fall of 1963. This is also ludicrous as Dave Goldberg, a big time bookie I worked with at the Dunes Hotel also new Ruby. Does that make Goldberg a suspect as well? Ruby tried to be a half-ass bookie according to Goldberg who said Ruby was a little “Mishuug”, meaning a little crazy in Yiddish.
The committee examined a widely circulated published account that Marcello made some kind of threat on the life of President Kennedy in September 1962 at a meeting at his Churchill Farms estate outside New Orleans. Ed Becker furnished information to the FBI that Marcello shouted an old Sicilian threat, “Livarsi na petra di la scarpa !” “Take the stone out of my shoe!” against the Kennedy brothers, stating that the President was going to be assassinated. He spoke of using a “nut” to carry out the murder.
The committee established the origin of the story and identified the informant who claimed to have been present at the meeting during which Marcello made the threat. The committee also learned that even though the FBI was aware of the informant’s allegations over a year and half before they were published in 1969, and possessed additional information indicating that the informant may in fact have met with Marcello in the fall of 1962, a substantive investigation of the information was never conducted.
Director Hoover and other senior FBI officials were aware that FBI agents were initiating action to “discredit” the informant, without having conducted a significant investigation of his allegations. (288) Further, the committee discovered that the originating office relied on derogatory information from a prominent underworld figure in the ongoing effort to discredit the informant.
An internal memorandum to Hoover noted that another FBI source was taking action to discredit the informant, “in order that the Carlos Marcello incident would be deleted from the book” that first recounted the information.
The committee determined that the informant who gave the account of the Marcello threat was in fact associated with various underworld figures, including at least one person well-acquainted with the Marcello organization. The committee noted, however, that as consequence of his underworld involvement, the informant had a questionable reputation for honesty and may not be a credible source of information.
Edgar Hoover would have been delighted to learn of this writer’s discovery and it is a delight for this writer to know the Hoover pegged Becker as a liar.
More than that, I wish my friend Joe Segreto was alive to read about what I asked him about a few years back. The truth will always come to the surface.
 Hy Goldbaum was a bookmaker that once ran the “commission house” inside the Flamingo Hotel for Bugsy Siegel and an associate of Westbrook and Johnny Stone.
 Drew Pearson, Jack Anderson, Washington Merry Go Round
 Department of Justice FBI file #162-1066, 1964
 ALL AMERICAN MAFIOSO The Johnny Rosselli Story, 1991
 Geno Munari NOTE: This seems to be a subjective theory as to Marcello suggesting using a “nut”. There is no account or eyewitness statement to verify this.
 ibid: Informant in this instance is Edward N. Becker, as informant to Reid the writer of the book. Becker may have used this method to start the rumors and garner interest in himself.
 Ibid: Becker claimed to Reid that he had “underworld associations”. What could those associations be other than working in a mob operated hotel in which his boss was murdered? The remaining partners did not recruit him to work in their future operations and it would be logical if he was a trusted and loyal associate the would have employed him elsewhere. This did not happen.
 Ibid: This is an interesting point that Reid contacted the FBI in the appearance he has an independent secret source. Reid and Becker where friends at this time and had worked on other projects. It is very possible that Reid and Becker planned the meeting with the FBI to make it appear that Reid was coming forward with the information secretly without the permission of Becker. It very well could been the part of a plan to promote the book they were working on.
 Ibid: Why wouldn’t Becker mention this to the FBI on this Nov. 26, 1963 interview, just after the President was killed? This information would have been very relevant and useful to the FBI. This is consistent behavior if in fact the meeting in 1962 between Becker and Marcello did not occur.
 Geno Munari Note: Marcello stated that the meeting with Becker never took place which is consistent with the first meeting and introduction in the 190s by Tony Montana.