|Political Figures||Famous Criminal Cases||Business Leaders|
John Roselli (Filippo Sacco) first became involved in crime when he worked for Al Capone in the 1920s. By the end of the Second World War Roselli had emerged as a senior crime boss in Las Vegas with close links to Meyer Lansky. In 1947 the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) identified him as a leading figure in the Mafia and a close associate of Santos Trafficante.
In March I960, President Dwight Eisenhower of the United States approved a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) plan to overthrow Fidel Castro. The plan involved a budget of $13 million to train "a paramilitary force outside Cuba for guerrilla action." The strategy was organised by Richard Bissell and Richard Helms.
Sidney Gottlieb of the CIA Technical Services Division was asked to come up with proposals that would undermine Castro's popularity with the Cuban people. Plans included a scheme to spray a television studio in which he was about to appear with an hallucinogenic drug and contaminating his shoes with thallium which they believed would cause the hair in his beard to fall out.
These schemes were rejected and instead Bissell decided to arrange the assassination of Fidel Castro. In September 1960, Richard Bissell and Allen W. Dulles, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), initiated talks with two leading figures of the Mafia, Roselli (using the name John Rawlston) and Sam Giancana.
On 12th March, 1961, William Harvey arranged for CIA operative, Jim O'Connell, to meet Sam Giancana, Santo Trafficante, Johnny Roselli and Robert Maheu at the Fontainebleau Hotel. During the meeting O'Connell gave poison pills and $10,000 to Rosselli to be used against Fidel Castro. As Richard D. Mahoney points out in his book Sons and Brothers, The days of Jack and Bobby Kennedy (1999): "Late one evening, probably March 13, Rosselli passed the poison pills and the money to a small, reddish-haired Afro-Cuban by the name of Rafael "Macho" Gener in the Boom Boom Room, a location Giancana thought "stupid." Rosselli's purpose, however, was not just to assassinate Castro but to set up the Mafia's partner in crime, the United States government. Accordingly, he was laying a long, bright trail of evidence that unmistakably implicated the CIA in the Castro plot. This evidence, whose purpose was blackmail, would prove critical in the CIA's cover-up of the Kennedy assassination."
In 1961 Roselli persuaded Meyer Lansky, to join the conspiracy and was reportedly offering a million-dollar reward for the Cuban leader's murder. Richard Cain, a specialist in electronics and wire taps, was also recruited by Roselli. Cain took part in a failed attempt in March 1961 to poison Castro.
The nearest Rosselli came to killing Fidel Castro was in September 1961. Several Cubans were arrested at the intersection of Rancho Boyeros Avenue and Santa Catalina Avenue in Havana. The men were in two Jeeps armed with bazookas, grenade launchers, and machine guns. Two of those arrested, Guillermo Caula Ferrer and Higinio Menendez, made a full confession during their interrogation and admitted they had been working with CIA agents in Miami and had been trained on Guantanamo, the American naval base in Cuba. All the men involved in the plot were executed.
In April 1962, William Harvey took control of the ZR/RIFLE project. He told Johnny Roselli that Santos Trafficante and Sam Giancana had to cease involvement in the project to kill Castro. Ted Shackley, the new head of JM WAVE, also began to play a more important role in planning the assassination.
Eventually Rosselli and his friends became convinced that the Cuban revolution could not be reversed by simply removing its leader. However, they continued to play along with this CIA plot in order to prevent them being prosecuted for criminal offences committed in the United States.
In February, 1963, William Harvey was removed as head of the ZR/RIFLE project. Harvey was now sent to Italy where he became Chief of Station in Rome. Harvey was convinced that Robert Kennedy had been responsible for his demotion. A friend of Harvey's said that he "hated Bobby Kennedy's guts with a purple passion".
Harvey continued to keep in contact with Johnny Roselli. According to Richard D. Mahoney: "On April 8, Rosselli flew to New York to meet with Bill Harvey. A week later, the two men met again in Miami to discuss the plot in greater detail... On April 21 he (Harvey) flew from Washington to deliver four poison pills directly to Rosselli, who got them to Tony Varona and hence to Havana. That same evening, Harvey and Ted Shackley, the chief of the CIA's south Florida base, drove a U-Haul truck filled with the requested arms through the rain to a deserted parking lot in Miami. They got out and handed the keys to Rosselli."
In November, 1963, Roselli travelled to Arizona with a male friend and two women. He was being followed by the FBI but on the way to Los Vegas they lost contact with him. According to Tosh Plumlee, a pilot working for the CIA, he picked up Roselli from Tampa, Florida, early on the 21st November. Plumlee then took Roselli to New Orleans. After picking up several more men, Plumlee took Roselli and his friends to Garland where Roselli and some others got off. Plumlee then went to Redbird Airport in Dallas. In an interview in April, 1992, Plumlee claimed that he was told that the objective was "to abort the assassination" of John F. Kennedy.
Roselli discovered in 1966 that the FBI had been collecting information on his activities. Attempts were made to deport him as an illegal alien. Roselli moved to Los Angeles where he went into early retirement. It was at this time he told attorney, Edward Morgan: "The last of the sniper teams dispatched by Robert Kennedy in 1963 to assassinate Fidel Castro were captured in Havana. Under torture they broke and confessed to being sponsored by the CIA and the US government. At that point, Castro remarked that, 'If that was the way President Kennedy wanted it, Cuba could engage in the same tactics'. The result was that Castro infiltrated teams of snipers into the US to kill Kennedy".
Morgan took the story to Jack Anderson and Drew Pearson. The story was then passed on to Earl Warren. He did not want anything to do with it and so the information was then passed to the FBI. When they failed to investigate the story Anderson wrote an article entitled "President Johnson is sitting on a political H-bomb" about Roselli's story. It has been suggested that Roselli started this story at the request of his friends in the Central Intelligence Agency in order to divert attention from the investigation being carried out by Jim Garrison.
Roselli was eventually charged with being involved in illegal gambling in Las Vegas. In an attempt to obtain a lenient sentence, Roselli provided information in court about his role in helping the CIA with Operation Mongoose and ZR/RIFLE. The judge was not impressed and he was sent to McNeal Island prison. His good friend Fred Black intervened and used his powerful political connections to get transferred to a less harsh prison. Roselli was eventually released in 1973.
In 1975 Frank Church and his Select Committee on Intelligence Activities interviewed Roselli about his relationship with the secret services. It emerged from this interview that Roselli and fellow crime boss, Sam Giancana had taken part in talks with the CIA about the possibility of murdering Fidel Castro. Roselli also claimed that a CIA hit team that had been dispatched to Cuba had been "turned" and used to kill Kennedy.
The following year the Select Committee on Intelligence Activities decided to recall Roselli. Soon afterwards Fred Black called him and warned him that Santos Trafficante had taken out a contract on his life and that the "Cubans were after him".
In July 1976, Roselli left home in Florida to play golf. He never arrived at the golf course and ten days later his body was found floating in an oil drum in Miami's Dumfoundling Bay. He had been garroted. Roselli's legs had been sawed off and squashed into the drum with the rest of his body.
Jack Anderson, of the Washington Post, interviewed Roselli just before he was murdered. On 7th September, 1976, the newspaper reported Roselli as saying : "When Oswald was picked up, the underworld conspirators feared he would crack and disclose information that might lead to them. This almost certainly would have brought a massive US crackdown on the Mafia. So Jack Ruby was ordered to eliminate Oswald."
The House Select Committee on Assassinations managed to obtain the records of an FBI wire tap on Santos Trafficante. On the tape Trafficante was heard to say "now only two people know who killed Kennedy and they aren't talking."
(1) Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK (1993)
In 1958 Carlos Marcello was thought, rightly or wrongly, to be a major criminal presence in Guatemala. In the same year a regional conference of an anti-communist confederation, organized by E. Howard Hunt and the CIA in connection with the 1954 coup, was chaired by a right-winger, Antonio Valladares, who doubled as Marcello's lawyer. Attending the same conference, which eventually became part of the World Anti-Communist League, was Maurice B. Gatlin, one of Banister's associates at the 544 Camp Street address.
Gambling in Guatemala City was in the hands of Ted Lewin, a Lansky representative already active in the Philippines, in collaboration with the CIA and with such up-and-coming politicians as future president Ferdinand Marcos. More interesting to students of the JFK assassination were the occasional visits to Guatemala of two major figures in accounts of ClA-Mafia assassination plots, John Rosselli and John Martino...
In 1963, after the Bay of Pigs debacle and Martino's release from a Havana prison, Rosselli and Martino set up shop together in Key Biscayne, to mobilize a new Cuban-exile resistance to Fidel Castro.
(2) Robert Maheu, Next to Hughes (1992)
In the winter of 1959-60, however, the CIA still thought it could pull off the invasion (of Cuba). But it thought the odds might be better if the plan went one step further - the murder of Fidel Castro. All the Company needed was someone to do the dirty work for it. Professional killers. A gangland-style hit.
It was then that the CIA conceived the notion to let the mobsters do it themselves. They'd had a grudge against Castro ever since he'd forced them out of the Havana casinos. It was even rumored that Meyer Lansky had put a million-dollar bounty on Castro's head. CIA Director Alien Dulles passed the ball to his deputy director, Richard Bissell. Bissell handed off to the CIA security chief. Colonel Sheffield Edwards. And then I received the call...
Though I'm no saint, I am a religious man, and I knew that the CIA was talking about murder. O'Connell and Edwards contended that it was a war - a just war. They said it was necessary to protect the country. They used the analogy of World War II: if we had known the exact bunker that Hitler was in during the war, we wouldn't have hesitated to kill the bastard. The CIA felt exactly the same way about Castro. If Fidel, his brother Raul, and Che Guevara were assassinated, thousands of lives might be saved.
But in my mind, justified or not, I would still have blood on my hands. I had to think about it. The deal carried a pretty big price tag. I kept thinking about my family. What kind of danger would it put them in? If anything went wrong, I was the fall guy, caught between protecting the government and protecting the mob, two armed camps that could crush me like a bug....
Rosselli's first response was laughter. "Me? You want me to get involved with Uncle Sam? The Feds are tailing me wherever I go. They go to my shirtmaker to see if I'm buying things with cash. They go to my tailor to see if I'm using cash there. They're always trying to get something on me. Bob, are you sure you're talking to the right guy?"
When I finally convinced Rosselli that I was serious, very serious, he sat staring at me, tapping his fingers nervously on the table. I didn't want to pull any punches with the man, so I was totally up-front about the conditions of the deal.
"It's up to you to pick whom you want, but it's got to be set up so that Uncle Sam isn't involved - ever. If anyone connects you with the U.S. government, I will deny it," I told him. "If you say Bob Maheu brought you into this, that I was your contact man, I'll say you're off your rocker, you're lying, you're trying to save your hide. I'll swear by everything holy that I don't know what in hell you're talking about."
Rosselli hesitated at first, but then agreed. Many people have speculated that Johnny was looking for an eventual deal with the government, or some sort of big payoff. The truth, as corny as it may sound, is that down deep he thought it was his "patriotic" duty.
Understand that the world was quite different then. The Cold War was raging. Only months before, Francis Gary Powers had been shot down while flying his U-2 reconnaissance plane over the Soviet Union. The relationship between Washington and Moscow was at an all-time low, with Soviet Premier Khrushchev going so far as to openly call President Eisenhower a liar on several occasions.
Once the decision was made, it didn't take Rosselli long to put his plan into motion. On October 11, 1960, we took off for what would be the first of many trips to Miami. We booked ourselves into the Kenilworth Hotel, selected because Arthur Godfrey did his TV show from there. In Miami, Johnny introduced me to two men who would help us - "Sam Gold" and "Joe." Sam was Johnny's backup man; Joe would be our direct contact in Cuba. These weren't ordinary mob lackeys. Johnny didn't bother to tell me that "Sam" was Sam Giancana, his boss within the Mafia and the chief of its gigantic Chicago operation. Or that "Joe" was Santos Trafficante, former syndicate chief in Havana, and the most powerful Mafia man in the South.
I later learned that Johnny didn't just need a little help from these men, he needed their okay. Trafficante was necessary to get Castro because he had the connections inside Cuba, and Giancana was necessary to get Trafficante, because Trafficante had the stature of a "Godfather," and only a man of equal stature - like Giancana - could approach him for help. Johnny couldn't do it on his own. Both were among the ten most powerful Mafia members - a fact I learned only after seeing their pictures in a magazine soon after meeting them.
(3) Jack Anderson, Peace, War and Politics: An Eyewitness Account (1999)
The CIA's Sheffield Edwards was supposed to make the contact with the underworld. He approached a former FBI agent and CIA operative, Robert Maheu, who moved at the subterranean level of politics. Maheu knew his way around the shady side of Las Vegas; he had been recruited by billionaire Howard Hughes to oversee his Las Vegas casinos. Happily, Hughes was a friend who owed me a favor. Intermediaries persuaded Maheu to confide in me. He confirmed that the CIA had asked him to sound out the Mafia, strictly off the record, about a contract to hit Fidel Castro. Maheu had taken the request straight to Johnny Rosselli.
Rosselli had a reputation inside the mob as a patriot; he was quite willing to kill for his country. But as he told me, there was an etiquette to be followed in these matters. Santo Trafficante was the godfather-in-exile of Cuba after Castro chased out the mob. Rosselli couldn't even tiptoe through Trafficante's territory without permission, and he couldn't approach Trafficante without a proper introduction. So Rosselli prevailed upon his boss in Chicago, Sam "Momo" Giancana, to attend to the protocol. Since Giancana had godfather status, he could solicit Trafficante's help to eliminate Castro. The project appealed to Giancana who had commiserated with other dons over the loss of casino revenues in Havana. Killing Castro for the government would settle some old scores for the mob, and it would put Uncle Sam in the debt of the Mafia.
Maheu had been ordered to keep a tight lid on the involvement of the US government. The CIA was ready with a cover story that the Castro hit had been arranged by disgruntled American businessmen who had been bounced out of their Cuban enterprises by Castro.
On September 25, I960, Maheu brought two CIA agents to a suite at the Fountainebleau Hotel on Miami Beach. Rosselli delivered two sinister mystery men whom he introduced only as Sicilians named "Sam" and "Joe." In fact, they were two of the Mafia's most notorious godfathers, Sam Giancana and Santo Trafficante, both on the FBI's ten-most-wanted list. They discussed the terms of Castro's demise, with Giancana suggesting that the usual mob method of a quick bullet to the head be eschewed in favor of something more delicate, like poison.
The wily Giancana was less interested in bumping off Castro than in scoring points with the federal government, and he intended to call in as many chips as he could before the game was over.
(4) Richard D. Mahoney, Sons and Brothers: The Days of Jack and Bobby Kennedy (1999)
Late one evening, probably March 13, Rosselli passed the poison pills and the money to a small, reddish-haired Afro-Cuban by the name of Rafael "Macho" Gener in the Boom Boom Room, a location Giancana thought "stupid."
Rosselli's purpose, however, was not just to assassinate Castro but to set up the Mafia's partner in crime, the United States government. Accordingly, he was laying a long, bright trail of evidence that unmistakably implicated the CIA in the Castro plot. This evidence, whose purpose was blackmail, would prove critical in the CIA's cover-up of the Kennedy assassination.
(5) Charles Rappleye, All-American Mafioso: The Johnny Roselli Story (1991)
Two sources who said they worked with Roselli on frequent occasions in Guatemala.... The first source... an underworld operator... said he joined Roselli in Guatemala City and Mexico City on half a dozen separate trips beginning in 1956. Mexico City served at the time as a nerve center for plots in Guatemala, which borders on Mexico... and as the base for all CIA operations in Central America.... The second source was a longtime government field worker assigned to Guatemala with the International Cooperation Administration (ICA).... The ICA source was extremely reluctant to talk, but confirmed that he had become acquainted with the underworld source in Guatemala, and Roselli had been "a major force" beneath the surface of events in Guatemala City and in other states in Central America. "John had access to everyone and everything that was going on there," the government source asserted. That included the fruit companies, the Guatemalan Army, and the American delegation... According to both sources, Roselli's primary concern in Guatemala was to protect and advance the interests of Standard Fruit and Steamship Company.
(6) Tosh Plumlee, interviewed on 6th April, 1992.
Q: Where were you on November 22, 1963?
A: I was observing the attempt on Kennedy's life. I was at Dealey Plaza on the South Knoll.
Q: Did you have occasion on that day to see John Roselli?
A: Yes, I did. I saw John Roselli. John Roselli was on board the flight coming out of Houston. We had taken a flight out of Tampa, Florida and went through New Orleans, New Orleans to Houston and Roselli had boarded the flight at Tampa, Florida, and he was staying at the Congress Inn the night before he boarded the flight. Our team flew out of West Palm Beach, a place called Lantana, and to Tampa and then Roselli and a couple of other people got on board in Tampa. We flew to New Orleans where two people got off, three other people got on, Roselli stayed on board. We flew to Houston and then the next morning, we had some weather, and we left for Dallas, and we had to... we were heading for Thunderbird, I mean for Redbird Airport, and we had to make a stop a Dallas/Garland because of weather. We did not have an IFR flight plan filed at that point. We did not want to file a flight plan. The impression I was under at that time is we were flying a team into Dallas to abort the assassination and John Roselli was on board that flight as well as a couple of other Cubans and people that were connected with organized crime in New Orleans...
Q: Did you ever have an occasion after that to provide any information to the FBI about John Roselli?
A: Yes, through the Farentello Brothers and through a person by the name of Nick Nicholas. I was told that a hit was going, this was in 1976 a few months, that a friend of mine was gonna be... that a hit was made out on him because of his testimony. I immediately, because the FBI had asked me to do this, I immediately informed the FBI of the information that I had about a pending "hit" being made on John Roselli. Two weeks later John Roselli was found in Biscayne Bay and I immediately contacted the FBI and said "hey this is the individual that we were talking about" and "why wasn't something done"?
Q: Who was the one to make the "hit" on John Roselli?
A: I have no idea who "hit" Roselli?
Q: Do you have any idea about any organization that might have been behind it?
A: Well, there's no doubt in my mind that the organized crime... let me put it this way... elements within the organized crimes, I think was responsible for the "hit" on Roselli. The organized crime, quote, quote, per se, I don't think had anything to do at all with killing Roselli.
Q: What kind of elements?
A: Well, as we say in CIA. "There's many, many rouges out there". You have just as many rouges in Mafia. In fact, Roselli himself was very, very keen on Kennedy, he loved that man. That's why I find it difficult to say Roselli was an actual hitter or a shooter. Roselli's liaison... contacts was with CIA, but mostly with military people, some here in the Dallas area... 4th Army Reserve out of Love Field, 49th Armored Division, Capt. Edward G. Siwells outfit at 4th Army Reserve. He had known these people. As far as Roselli being connected with the CIA, he had a lot of friends in CIA, military intelligence, and also within the government. Mainly, when they had the party at the Fountainbleu Hotel, the opening of the Fountainbleu Hotel, Sam Giancana, John Roselli, and many, many military intelligence personnel was at that opening so that's the reason that I say these things. Roselli was connected with military intelligence.
Q: Why do think he was killed?
A: Mainly, because he was getting ready to testify and we have to understand that the Kennedy assassination was one of many, many black-op operations that was going on at that particular time and Roselli was up to his neck in making liaison with the members of organized crime for, not necessarily, well for elements within CIA and military Intelligence. The whole Castro assassination plot, from the JM Wave, and Mongoose, and all that, Roselli was aware of what was going on on those particular things because in some cases the shooters and people that were involved in those things, particularly Truillio, came out of organized crime. I don't say that families of organized crime conspired and sent these people in. These people had tremendous contacts with military intelligence even to the point to where, in some cases, that operatives would be referring to some people as "Colonels" and things like that, that were actually organized crime. Charlie, "the blade", had good liaison, in the early days of Cuba, of setting up a gun operation, the LaBarr training camp, the Morgan City operation, the West Coast Thunderbird Inn operation, the Farentello Brothers. All these people were not military intelligence but they had tremendous contact with CIA personnel and military intelligence people. It would be, at that point and time, to our benefit to have these people feeding us information about what organized crime members were doing. In the early stages of the Kennedy assassination, there were many, many, many reports that Kennedy was going to be "hit" and many, many reports that Kennedy was going to be "hit" by organized crime so this was all investigated. That's why I don't feel that any direct involvement on a high level from our government was involved in the Kennedy assassination but I certainly believe that there were certainly rouges within CIA, rouges within military intelligence, rouges within Mafia, and rouges within high-ups in the National Security Council that was certainly aware that an attempt was gonna be made. The mechanics of the attempt, I don't think that they were aware and I think that they launched an extensive intelligence gathering investigation to find out if the rumors that were circulating around Southern Florida were true, that Kennedy was going to be "hit", first in Austin, Texas, later in some other area, no, West Palm Beach and then Austin, Texas then it turned out to be Dallas...
Q: Even though you believe that Roselli might not have been involved, is it possible that he could have been involved in the assassination?
A: Oh, it's possible. My feelings are I just don't believe that he was. But, the documents that are being accumulated in the last few years are starting to point in that direction, that he was more involved in the actual attempt then what's been reported. But documents are only as good as what someone... what you want someone to believe and there have been a tremendous amount of planted documents over the years.
(7) Frank Ragano, Mob Lawyer (1994)
Of the Mafia trio, only Roselli testified before the State committee. On July 19, 1975, the night before he was going to be questioned by committee members, Sam Giancana was preparing a supper... when a person he evidently trusted and had invited to share the meal ended his life by firing a.22 caliber handgun equipped with silencer into the back of his head. The killer followed up by discharging six more rounds into Giancana's neck and mouth.
Some organized-crime experts theorized that Giancana's murder was unrelated to the Senate inquiry, and that he was killed by rivals to stop him from regaining supremacy of Chicago's Mafia clan. From what I had picked up over the years about mob executions, the nature of Giancana's death contradicts that theory. In a traditional Mafia hit, a bullet in the throat signifies that the victim had been 'talking,' and a bullet in the mouth means he will never 'rat' again. Undoubtedly, Giancana was murdered to prevent him from talking about the CIA-Castro plot or any other Mafia secret.
Almost exactly on the first anniversary of Giancana's death, another layer of mystery was added to the coincidence of his slaying and the Senate's CIA investigation. After years of seemingly cooperating with congressional committees and talking rather freely with newspaper columnists about Mafia affairs, Johnny Roselli became extremely cautious, almost reclusive...
In late July 1976, Roselli made a dinner date. He was seen with his old friend Santo Trafficante at The Landings, a restaurant in Fort Lauderdale. Two days after dining with Santo, Roselli disappeared.
Twelve days later, on August 7, 1976, a fifty gallon drum containing the legless body of a silver-haired man... The corpse was Johnny Roselli.
The manner of Roselli's death also fit a Mafia pattern. He was beguiled to his death by someone he trusted. The dumping of his body in the bay was another message: The killers either wanted to give the impression that he had deliberately vanished or they wanted to punish his relatives for his misdeeds, perhaps his violation of omerta...
One fact, however, was indisputable: Santo Trafficante was the only survivor of the three mobsters recruited by the CIA to kill Fidel Castro.
(8) Larry Hancock, Someone Would Have Talked (2003)
There is no doubt that John Roselli was one of the brightest and best-connected individuals within the national gambling syndicate. His connections and ability led him to be chosen by the CIA for the executive action project targeting Fidel Castro. Roselli had access to the assets of the syndicate, assets in Miami, Cuba, Chicago, the Midwest, Los Angeles and as we will see in future chapters, in Dallas, Texas, as well.
Roselli was the man who could help make things happen - a call here, an introduction there, get a name, find out who could be used, blackmailed or coerced into getting the desired results. John Roselli was a strategist, an influence peddler, a self declared patriot - an asset.
(1) Roselli not only worked on the Castro assassination project but was a close personal friend of William Harvey.
(2) Roselli was established within the JM WAVE operational structure which supported the Castro assassination project.
(3) Roselli was reportedly closely acquainted with David Morales.
(4) Roselli had worked in Havana, was well acquainted with Santo Trafficante and may have personally known some of the individuals on our exile suspect list included Diaz Garcia.
(5) Roselli was very supportive of the exile crusade against Castro and may have been a key influence in connecting the "Nevada Group" and obtaining financing from the "Jewish Mafia" to support the independent Sierra initiative in 1963.
(6) Roselli reportedly met with Jack Ruby in the fall of 1963 and as we will see in a later chapter, he very likely initiated the process that brought Melvin Belli in to defend Jack Ruby (in what was to become one of the very few significant failures in Belli's career - a defense still puzzling to experienced trial lawyers).
(7) Roselli used his influential Washington D.C. connections and his media contacts to help plant the infamous disinformation line that Castro orchestrated the killing of President Kennedy in self defense from Kennedy/CIA assassination attempts.
(9) Christopher Barger, memorandum to Jeremy Gunn (18th May, 1995)
I interviewed former US Army captain and CIA employee Bradley Ayers on May 12, 1995, at Ayers' home in Woodbury, Minnesota. The interview lasted from 10.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. The following is a summary and report of the interview...
Q. Did Morales ever try and pass himself off as Cuban?
A. Not to Ayers' knowledge, but "he could easily pass for Cuban." Morales was allegedly a very good actor, and "could pull off lots of roles." Here the conversation drifted into a discussion of David Morales and his emotional makeup. Ayers charged that Morales was a "mean" man who "paraded around the station like a tyrant." Everyone was apparently afraid of him. Morales hung with what Ayers called the "circle" - Morales, Roselli, Tony Sforza, Manuel Artime and Rip Robertson. The four were drinking buddies and of like mind on politics. Ayers said they were vicious, too. "If anyone put together a sniper team to hit the President, Morales, Rip, Rosselli and Sforza would have done it." Ayers noted that Artime, Robertson, Rosselli and Sforza all died just as the HSCA began investigating. He suggests checking for Morales' whereabouts during the late seventies, especially on the times these men were killed.
(10) James DiEugenio, review of Larry Hancock's Someone Would Have Talked (March, 2008)
The other book relied upon here is All American Mafioso: The Johnny Roselli Story. This is by Charles Rappleye and Ed Becker. This book, like Ultimate Sacrifice, makes extravagant claims about Roselli that I find rather strained and poorly sourced, e.g. his alleged involvement in the death of Castillo-Armas in Guatemala. One of the sources for the Roselli book is Jimmy Fratianno, a noted Mafia informant. If one walks around Los Angeles (where I live) often enough, one will eventually meet someone who knew a friend of Fratianno's. And that person will tell you a tale Fratianno had not revealed in public before about Roselli's involvement in President Kennedy's assassination. I know this for a fact since it just happened to me about eight months ago. Unlike Rappleye and Becker I will not be writing about it. As Michael Beschloss has stated, there is no library with the declassified papers of Sam Giancana. Or in this case, John Roselli. So, in large part, one must rely on the word of people like Jimmy "the Weasel" Fratianno. And if you wish to aggrandize and sensationalize Roselli, then you will use a character like him. I would place the Becker/Rappleye effort somewhere on a par with John Davis' tome on Carlos Marcello. So it was not surprising to me that the authors of the gaseous Ultimate Sacrifice were eager to use both of these works. It did surprise me that Hancock used the Roselli book as much as he did. In fact, about half his chapter on Roselli is sourced to it. He even mentions an alleged meeting between Roselli and Ruby in the fall of 1963. Yet he then adds that this is based on FBI reports that no one can produce.
(11) Larry Hancock, Education Forum (26th March, 2008)
My source for the Ruby meeting with Roselli is not all “American Mafioso” nor is that book the source for the fact that Roselli confessed his involvement in a conspiracy against JFK to his lawyer (that comes from “Sons and Brothers” by a reputable Kennedy historian, Richard Mahoney). Obviously I try to pick and choose the information I consider consistent or reasonable but certainly”American Mafioso” contains a great deal of research which it would be unreasonable to totally disregard. To be specific, I view Roselli and various criminal elements, including Ruby, in a strictly support role – not as organizers or instigators but rather as advisors and accessories available because of Roselli’s connections to key CIA officers.