Monday, September 3, 2012

Gaeton Fonzi RIP





                                                               GAETON FONZI – RIP

“If it ever becomes known what specific individuals comprised the apparatus that killed Kennedy, the emergence of such individuals, dead or alive, will add but inconsequential detail to the truth about the assassination because we have long known who killed President Kennedy. Could any but the most powerful elite controlling the U.S. Government have been able to manipulate individuals and events before the assassination and then bring such a broad spectrum of internal forces to cover up the crime and control the institutions within our society to keep the assassination of President Kennedy a false mystery for 50 years?”  - Gaeton Fonzi

AS I REMEMBER GAETON – Bill Kelly

After reading of his investigative and journalistic exploits for years I finally got to meet Gaeton Fonzi on November 22nd, 1998 when I was sitting on Zapruder’s perch on the Grassy Knoll when he walked by. I recognized him and introduced myself, and we talked for quite a while.

Since he was from Philadelphia and I was from Camden, just across the river, we were from the same neck of the woods, and had a number of mutual friends, mainly in the media, but especially Alan Halpern, who was Fonzi’s chief mentor. Halpern had edited my article on the real James Bond, (the Philadelphia ornithologist from whom Ian Fleming had appropriated the name for 007), and served as a consultant to Atlantic City Magazine, where some of my articles were published.

Although we were from the same area and had a number of mutual acquaintances, it was odd and quite fitting that the one and only time our paths would cross was on the Grassy Knoll on the anniversary of the assassination.

I remember reading about Gaeton Fonzi in the newspapers in 1977, somewhat jealous of the reporter investigating the assassination of President Kennedy for the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), wishing I was in his shoes. The news reports however, weren’t so much about the assassination as they were about the committee’s chief counsel Richard Sprague, who would eventually get fired for doing a good job.

I knew of both Fonzi and Sprague from Philadelphia, where Fonzi was a writer for the Philadelphia Magazine in its heyday, and Sprague was a former district attorney who had successfully prosecuted Tony Boyle for the murder of his United Mine Workers Union rival Jock Yablonski. Sprague and Fonzi, I thought, were the best guys to be in their respective positions, and if left alone they would finally get to the truth behind the assassination of President Kennedy.

Others must have thought the same thing, as detailed in Fonzi’s Washingtonian Magazine article and his book The Last Investigation (Thunders Mouth Press, 1993), since after only six months Sprague was forced out as Chief Counsel and Fonzi had to work under the leadership of G. Robert Blakey, an organized crime expert who would redirect the committee’s investigation away from the CIA and towards the Mafia.

Fonzi went to school at the University of Pennsylvania but learned to be a journalist from Alan Halpern, the unflappable editor of Philadelphia Magazine, where Fonzi’s schoolmate Charles “Chuck” MacNamara also worked. Together, and with others, they helped create the prototype of a regional city magazine driven by creative and hard hitting feature articles.

One of the first articles Fonzi wrote for Philadelphia Magazine was to expose a reporter who extorted money from people for not writing about them. [JFKCountercoup2: Gaeton Fonzi's The Reporter ]

Over the years a lot of people would have paid Fonzi not to write about them except he had scruples.

Fonzi was driven to the Kennedy assassination by Philadelphia attorney Vince Salandria, and Fonzi would become one of Salandria’s committee of correspondence that discussed matters related to the assassination.

Fonzi’s contacts and investigative journalism background go him a job on the staff of Pennsylvania Senator Richard Schweiker, who was one half of the Schweiker-Hart subcommittee of the Church Committee – the Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities. An off-shoot of the Watergate scandal, the Church Committee limited its investigation into the Kennedy assassination to cover only certain areas that fell within its purview and assigned Colorado Democrat Gary Hart and Pennsylvania Republican Senator Richard Schweiker to cover these Kennedy angles.

In the course of his work for the Senate Committee Fonzi interviewed a number of anti-Castro Cubans, including Antonio Veciana, who acknowledged that from the time he worked for a bank in Havana in 1960 until the mid-1970s, he had an intelligence case officer who directed many of his anti-Castro activities, including a number of failed plots to kill Castro.

While describing his case officer, who went by the name of “Maurice Bishop,” Veciana told Fonzi of his many meetings with “Mr. Bishop,” including one in Dallas in the summer of 1963 during which “Bishop” also met with another agent – Lee Harvey Oswald.

Based on Veciana’s description, a sketch artist drew a facial portrait of “Maurice Bishop,” which looked familiar to Senator Schweiker, who was driving down the highway when he remembered exactly who – the former CIA officer who had recently testified before his Senate committee – David Atlee Phillips.

From the detailed description of “Maurice Bishop” provided by Veciana and a comparison of the background and career of David A. Phillips, it is clear, and without a doubt, “Maurice Bishop” and David Atlee Phillips are one and the same person. [See: JFKCountercoup.blogspot.com "Maurice Bishop" & David Atlee Phillips / JFKcountercoup: "Maurice Bishop" & David Atlee Phillips ]

At the time Veciana saw Oswald and Phillips together – in the lobby of the Southland Building in Dallas, Texas, in the summer of 1963, Veciana was the director of the anti-Castro Cuban group Alpha 66, Oswald was the nominal leader of a Fair Play for Cuba Committee (FPCC) chapter and Phillips was the head of the CIA’s Cuban operations in the Western Hemisphere, which included overseeing the FPFC.

Shortly after meeting in Dallas, Oswald went to the Cuban and Soviet embassies in Mexico City, where Phillips was stationed, and was responsible for the surveillance of those embassies.

When questioned under oath by the Congressional committee, Phillips denied knowing Veciana or ever meeting with Oswald, even though others have confirmed that Phillips did use the name “Bishop” and Phillips lied to the Congressional investigators about other points.

After a few years, Fonzi wrote a lengthily article about the whole affair, edited by Alan Halpern and published in Washingtonian Magazine, an article that was also used as the basis for his book The Last Investigation.

Others have written about the Bishop-Phillips connection, including Anthony Summers (Conspiracy, Not In Your Lifetime) and David Leigh, a British exchange student who Ben Bradlee had commissioned Leigh to write an article for the Washington Post, but was never published.

The Last Investigation is not Fonzi’s only book, as he also wrote a biography of Walter Annenberg, the Philadelphia publisher of the Racing Form and TV Guide and served as Nixon’s ambassador to the Court of St. James.

A few years after meeting Fonzi on the Grassy Knoll, I talked with him on the phone a few times over some research items and knew he was keeping up with the case via the South Florida Research Group. We also exchanged emails over the news of the death of Alan Halpern, the former editor of Philadelphia Magazine. [Alan Halpern RIP JFKCountercoup2: Alan Halpern RIP ]

At the Education Forum John Simpkin has posted Fonzi’s speech accepting the 1998 Mary Ferrell Award at a Dallas Conference, [http://www.spartacus...uk/JFKfonzi.htm]    which is tantalizing inconclusive and leads you on to ask more questions and continue the pursuit of the truth.

Mary Ferrell – JFKLancer Pioneer Award, Dallas, 21st November 21, 1998.

Like most other Americans, after the initial shock of President Kennedy's assassination had dimmed, we fell into the comfortable assumption that the government was handling the matter judiciously, that the prestigious panel of respected individuals, headed by the most prestigious member of the American judicial system, would provide us with a thorough and valid appraisal of exactly what had happened when President Kennedy was killed. What led me to clip the article by Vincent Salandria is that it ran counter to that assumption.

It dealt with only one aspect of the report - the sequence of events surrounding the number and direction of the shots. But that just happened to be the area assigned to another Philadelphia lawyer, a young assistant district attorney whose quick intelligence and impressive record had landed him a staff job on the Warren Commission. His name, of course, was Arlen Specter.

I didn't initially understand some of the technical and complex points Salandria made in his article, but I did grasp the fact that what Salandria was implying was that the Warren Commission Report was wrong...

Local reporters had, of course, asked Specter about the Warren Report when it was released. He was vigorous in defense of its conclusions. He called the Commission's investigation the most exhaustive and complete in history. The single bullet theory, he insisted, was the only possible way to explain how Lee Harvey Oswald had shot President Kennedy. The reporters dutifully reported what he said.

Amazingly enough, even after all those months had gone by since the release of the Warren Report, I was the first journalist to ask Specter about specific details and about the Report's inconsistencies. I apparently caught Specter off guard.

I was shocked by his confusions, his hemming and hawing, his hesitations and evasions. This from someone who was the epitome of the always cool, collected and verbally masterful lawyer, the former star of the Yale Law debating team. I was even more shocked by his inability to provide valid explanations for some of the most blatant inconsistencies in the Report.

I believe the most crucial was the discrepancy between the levels of the so-called "exit" wound in Kennedy's throat and the holes in the back of Kennedy's jacket and shirt. Why were the holes in his back lower than the hole in Kennedy's throat? I still remember Specter hesitating, stuttering, making a few false starts in attempting to answer that question. Finally, he got up from his desk and came around to stand behind me. Well, he said, it was because the President was waving his arm, and then, trying to illustrate why the jacket would ride up, Specter pulled my arm high over my head - far higher than the Zapruder film showed Kennedy waving his hand. "Wave your arm a few times," Specter said, "wave at the crowd." And then jabbing a finger at the base of my neck - not six inches below my collar, where the holes in Kennedy's jacket and shirt were - Specter said, "Well, see, if the bullet goes in here, the jacket gets hunched up. If you take this point right here and then you strip the coat down, it comes out at a lower point."

"A lower point?" I repeated, wondering if Specter were trying to confuse me or was confused himself.

If the entrance holes were at a lower point than the exit hole, how could Oswald have shot Kennedy from the sixth floor window of the Book Depository?

In the end, Specter admitted they had what he described as - quote - "some problems with that."

My interviews also revealed that the Commission had "some problems" with other troublesome evidence, including the so-called "pristine" bullet, the angle of Governor Connally's wounds, the timing of the shots. "Some problems," indeed. I'll never forget the numbing disbelief I came away with after my interviews with Specter. Vince Salandria was right, the Warren Report was wrong, there had to have been a conspiracy.

We were young once and not so brave. We wanted to cling to the myth of a mystery. We wanted to hang onto the questions of motivation and parade the usual suspects and the illusion of a dilemma before the American people. Could the Mob have killed President Kennedy? Could the KGB have killed President Kennedy? Could Castro have killed President Kennedy? Could anti-Castro Cubans have killed President Kennedy? Could the CIA have killed President Kennedy?

I suggest to you that if it ever becomes known what specific individuals comprised the apparatus that killed Kennedy, those individuals will have some association with any or all of the above. And still the emergence of such individuals, dead or alive, will add but inconsequential detail to the truth about the assassination. Because we have known -- and have long known - who killed President Kennedy.

Could any but a totally controlling force - a power elite within the United States Government itself - call it what you will, the military-intelligence complex, the national security state, the corporate-warfare establishment - could any but the most powerful elite controlling the U.S. Government have been able to manipulate individuals and events before the assassination and then bring such a broad spectrum of internal forces to first cover up the crime and then control the institutions within our society to keep the assassination of President Kennedy a false mystery for 35 years?

Is there any doubt that the Warren Commission deliberately set out not to tell the American people the truth?

There is a brief glimpse, an illustration of the level at which that deceit was carried out, in an incident that occurred during the Warren Commission's investigation. Commission chairman Earl Warren himself, with then Representative Gerald Ford at his side, was interviewing a barman, Curtis LaVerne Crafard. Crafard had worked at Jack Ruby's Carousel Club before he was seized by FBI men as he was hightailing it out of town the day after the assassination, having told someone, "They are not going to pin this on me!"

In the interview, Warren asks Craford what he did before he was a bartender.

"I was a Master sniper in the Marine Corps," Craford answered.*

The next question that Warren immediately asked was: "What kind of entertainment did they have at the club?"

http://www.spartacus...uk/JFKfonzi.htm 

Gaeton Fonzi, 76, reporter who wrote of JFK's killing
Sat, Sep. 1, 2012
By Walter F. Naedele
Inquirer Staff Writer


Gaeton Fonzi, 76, an investigative reporter for Philadelphia Magazine from 1959 to 1972 who later published his own conspiracy theory of the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, died Thursday, Aug. 30, of Parkinson's disease at his home in Satellite Beach, Fla.

"He was relentless," D. Herbert Lipson, chairman of Metrocorp, owner of Philadelphia and Boston Magazines, recalled.

That intensity carried on after Mr. Fonzi left Philadelphia.

"His whole obsession was the Kennedy assassination," Marie, his wife of 55 years, said.
"He was in constant contact with everybody about that" for years, she said. "He went and spoke in Dallas almost every year" at gatherings where the assassination there was discussed.

Mr. Fonzi was an investigator for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence from 1975 to 1977 and for the House Select Committee on Assassinations for two years after that, his wife said.

His book on the matter, The Last Investigation, was published in 1993 by Thunder's Mouth Press.

Born in Philadelphia, Mr. Fonzi graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1957, where he wrote for the campus newspaper, the Daily Pennsylvanian.

Mr. Fonzi was briefly a reporter at the Delaware County Daily Times before serving Stateside as an Army infantry officer.

He joined what was then Greater Philadelphia magazine, a publication for business executives, in 1959 and helped turn it into a trendsetting publication.

"My father was one of the owners," Lipson said. After the elder Lipson left in 1960, he said, "I was a brash, precocious kid who made the changes that really began around '60."
Mr. Fonzi, Lipson said, "was there in the beginning with me."

Working closely with editor Alan Halpern, "he did a lot of great stuff" that wasn't being covered by the region's newspapers.

"In those days, we wanted to cure all the ills of the world," Lipson said, and "it could take him years" to gather enough to finally publish an investigation.

For instance, in the years before The Inquirer was bought by what became the Knight-Ridder chain of newspapers and made into a nationally acclaimed newspaper, Mr. Fonzi discovered that one of its reporters, Harry Karafin, had a questionable sideline.

Mr. Fonzi and fellow magazine reporter Greg Walter "authored a lengthy piece accusing Harry J. Karafin of having extorted money from his subjects in exchange for not publishing stories about their misdeeds," The Inquirer reported in Mr. Walter's 1989 obituary.

"It was a piece that led to Mr. Karafin's indictment and imprisonment."

Gil Spencer, the late top editor at the Philadelphia Daily News, said in that 1989 story that Mr. Walter and Mr. Fonzi "were the first to turn regional magazines into investigative instruments.

"And it certainly hit Philadelphia for a real lick, as far as investigative reporting went at that time."

Bernard McCormick, a fellow reporter at Philadelphia Magazine, wrote in a recent appreciation that Mr. Fonzi's "gentle, slow talking, sometimes inaudible manner belied his aggressive journalistic style.

"He joked that his mumbling, halting interview technique worked to his advantage when subjects couldn't stand his pace and blurted out information."

After Philadelphia, Mr. Fonzi joined McCormick as editor and part-owner of Miami magazine before going on to the congressional committees.

Mr. Fonzi then contributed to Gold Coast magazine, part of the Gulfstream Media Group, where McCormick is publisher.

Mr. Fonzi's wife said Sigma Delta Chi, the Society of Professional Journalists, gave him two local awards and a national award.

He ran three marathons, the last when he was in his 50s, said his wife, also a marathoner, whom he met at Penn.

But apart from his investigative work and his family, she said, "his sailboat was his greatest love," a 37-footer that he moored on Biscayne Bay from 1977 to 2002.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Fonzi is survived by sons Guy and Christopher; daughters Irene Fonzi and Maria Fonzi-Gonzales; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
A Funeral Mass was set for 11 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 4, at Holy Name of Jesus Church, 3050 N. Highway A1a, Indialantic, Fla., with a 1 p.m. luncheon reception at City Tropics Bistro, 249 Fifth Ave., Indialantic.

BY MARIA CAMILA BERNAL
Friday, 08.31.12
DEATHS
Gaeton Fonzi, journalist and JFK assassination investigator, dies



Gaeton Fonzi spent months away from his family conducting interviews in Washington D.C., worked countless hours retrieving documents and files, and dedicated years to writing what would be one of the most recognized publications concluding a conspiracy in the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

“He was writer in his soul,” said his wife, Marie Fonzi. “He never stopped thinking about the stories, about the assassination.”

He wrote more than 100 feature articles as senior editor of Philadelphia Magazine, wrote countless stories for publications nationwide, was the editor of Miami Magazine and the senior editor at Gold Coast Magazine. He won numerous awards for his writing, including two local Sigma Delta Chi Awards and a National Sigma Delta Chi Award.
Recognized as a successful investigative journalist, Gaeton Fonzi was selected to join the U.S. Senate and House Committees that investigated the JFK assassination.

Fonzi died Thursday in the arms of his wife of 56 years after having battled Parkinson’s disease for years. He was 76.

He was born in West New York, N.J. and grew up playing baseball and listening to country music. His love for the New York Yankee’s and admiration of Joe DiMaggio accompanied him all his life.

He met Marie at the University of Pennsylvania where they both studied journalism. He was the editor of the school newspaper and spent the afternoons hanging out with Marie and doing homework with her.

After college, he took a job at the Delaware County Daily, where he filled in for writers who went out on vacation. During the draft for the Korean War, Fonzi became an infantry officer in the U.S. Army but hated the mud, discomfort and dusty roads, his wife recalled.

In 1959 Fonzi joined Philadelphia Magazine where his writings exposed Harry Karafin, a corrupt Philadelphia Inquirer reporter.
In 1972, Fonzi left Philadelphia to work with his colleague, Bernard McCormick, at Miami Magazine and later Gold Coast Magazine.

“It was his reputation that got us to strive,” said McCormick. “His success in investigative reporting was because everyone trusted him and would take risks to give him information.”

When the magazine was sold in 1975, Fonzi went to work for Pennsylvania Senator Richard Schweiker, who headed a committee reopening the investigation of JFK’s murder. Fonzi became the investigator in Florida who explored CIA connections to anti-Castro Cuban groups and possibly to Lee Harvey Oswald.

Schweiker’s committee was dissolved but after Fonzi found a connection between the groups, he continued working for a house sub-committee for the next two years. In 1993, after a decade of research on the assassination, his book “The Last Investigation’’ was published.

In Florida, Fonzi was recognized for teaming up with Fort Lauderdale police organized crime specialist Douglas Haas to expose Michael Raymond, a notorious con man suspected of defrauding and then murdering several Floridians.

“He had tremendous instincts for wrongdoings,” said McCormick. “He got a lot of publicity but he was modest about his work and was never a bragger.”

Fonzi was quiet but known for being the master of the one-liner, said Marie. In his spare time, he liked to run with his wife and go out on his boat. He never missed the Columbus Day Regatta on Biscayne Bay, where they shared beer and had balloon fights. He cooked dinner every night, wrote letters to friends and discussed the beauty of written work with his wife.

He retired and moved to Satellite Beach with his wife in 2003. That same year, Fonzi was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

In addition to his wife, Fonzi is survived by his four children, Rene, Guy, Maria and Christopher Fonzi. A funeral Mass will be sung at 11a.m. Tuesday at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church, 3050 N. A1A, Indialantic, Fla. A luncheon reception will follow at 1 p.m. at City Tropics Bistro, 249 Fifth Avenue, Indialantic, Fla.

Gaeton Fonzi, 76, reporter who wrote of JFK's killing
By Walter F. Naedele
Inquirer Staff Writer

Gaeton Fonzi, 76, an investigative reporter for Philadelphia Magazine from 1959 to 1972 who later published his own conspiracy theory of the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, died Thursday, Aug. 30, of Parkinson's disease at his home in Satellite Beach, Fla.

"He was relentless," D. Herbert Lipson, chairman of Metrocorp, owner of Philadelphia and Boston Magazines, recalled.

That intensity carried on after Mr. Fonzi left Philadelphia.

"His whole obsession was the Kennedy assassination," Marie, his wife of 55 years, said.

"He was in constant contact with everybody about that" for years, she said. "He went and spoke in Dallas almost every year" at gatherings where the assassination there was discussed.

Mr. Fonzi was an investigator for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence from 1975 to 1977 and for the House Select Committee on Assassinations for two years after that, his wife said.

His book on the matter, The Last Investigation, was published in 1993 by Thunder's Mouth Press.

Born in Philadelphia, Mr. Fonzi graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1957, where he wrote for the campus newspaper, the Daily Pennsylvanian.

Mr. Fonzi was briefly a reporter at the Delaware County Daily Times before serving Stateside as an Army infantry officer.

He joined what was then Greater Philadelphia magazine, a publication for business executives, in 1959 and helped turn it into a trendsetting publication.

"My father was one of the owners," Lipson said. After the elder Lipson left in 1960, he said, "I was a brash, precocious kid who made the changes that really began around '60."
Mr. Fonzi, Lipson said, "was there in the beginning with me."

Working closely with editor Alan Halpern, "he did a lot of great stuff" that wasn't being covered by the region's newspapers.

"In those days, we wanted to cure all the ills of the world," Lipson said, and "it could take him years" to gather enough to finally publish an investigation.

For instance, in the years before The Inquirer was bought by what became the Knight-Ridder chain of newspapers and made into a nationally acclaimed newspaper, Mr. Fonzi discovered that one of its reporters, Harry Karafin, had a questionable sideline.

Mr. Fonzi and fellow magazine reporter Greg Walter "authored a lengthy piece accusing Harry J. Karafin of having extorted money from his subjects in exchange for not publishing stories about their misdeeds," The Inquirer reported in Mr. Walter's 1989 obituary.

"It was a piece that led to Mr. Karafin's indictment and imprisonment."

Gil Spencer, the late top editor at the Philadelphia Daily News, said in that 1989 story that Mr. Walter and Mr. Fonzi "were the first to turn regional magazines into investigative instruments.

"And it certainly hit Philadelphia for a real lick, as far as investigative reporting went at that time."

Bernard McCormick, a fellow reporter at Philadelphia Magazine, wrote in a recent appreciation that Mr. Fonzi's "gentle, slow talking, sometimes inaudible manner belied his aggressive journalistic style.

"He joked that his mumbling, halting interview technique worked to his advantage when subjects couldn't stand his pace and blurted out information."

After Philadelphia, Mr. Fonzi joined McCormick as editor and part-owner of Miami magazine before going on to the congressional committees.

Mr. Fonzi then contributed to Gold Coast magazine, part of the Gulfstream Media Group, where McCormick is publisher.

Mr. Fonzi's wife said Sigma Delta Chi, the Society of Professional Journalists, gave him two local awards and a national award.

He ran three marathons, the last when he was in his 50s, said his wife, also a marathoner, whom he met at Penn.

But apart from his investigative work and his family, she said, "his sailboat was his greatest love," a 37-footer that he moored on Biscayne Bay from 1977 to 2002.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Fonzi is survived by sons Guy and Christopher; daughters Irene Fonzi and Maria Fonzi-Gonzales; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
A Funeral Mass was set for 11 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 4, at Holy Name of Jesus Church, 3050 N. Highway A1a, Indialantic, Fla., with a 1 p.m. luncheon reception at City Tropics Bistro, 249 Fifth Ave., Indialantic.

NEW YORK TIMES -

Gaeton Fonzi, 76, Investigated Kennedy Assassination - NYTimes.com


Gaeton Fonzi, Investigator of Kennedy Assassination, Dies at 76


Gaeton Fonzi was one of the most relentless investigators on the House Select Committee on Assassinations in the late 1970s, remembered by former colleagues with both awe and echoes of the impatience he inspired with his pursuit of the full story behind the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

They called him Ahab.

Mr. Fonzi was also the staff member most publicly dismayed by the committee’s final report, which concluded in 1979 that the president “was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy.”

Of course it was a conspiracy, said Mr. Fonzi, a journalist recruited mainly on the strength of scathing magazine critiques he had written about the Warren Commission and its conclusion that Lee Harvey Oswald had acted alone in killing the president in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. But who were the conspirators? What was their motive? How could the committee close its doors without the answers?

Mr. Fonzi, who died in Florida on Aug. 30 at 76, nailed those questions to the committee’s locked doors, figuratively, in a long article he wrote the next year for Washingtonian magazine and in a 1993 book, “The Last Investigation.” In both, he chronicled the near-blanket refusal of government intelligence agencies, especially the C.I.A., to provide the committee with documents it requested. And he accused committee leaders of folding under pressure — from Congressional budget hawks, political advisers and the intelligence agencies themselves — just as promising new leads were emerging.
“Is it unrealistic to desire, for something as important as the assassination of a president, an investigation unbound by political, financial or time restrictions?” he asked in Washingtonian.

He never got the answer he had hoped for. Congress never authorized a follow-up to the work of the committee, which, from 1977 to 1979, also re-examined the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., concluding that it, too, “likely” resulted from an unspecified conspiracy.

But historians and researchers consider Mr. Fonzi’s book among the best of the roughly 600 published on the Kennedy assassination, and credit him with raising doubts about the government’s willingness to share everything it knew. The author Jefferson Morley, a former reporter for The Washington Post, said “The Last Investigation” had refocused attention on a handful of reported contacts between C.I.A. operatives and Oswald — tantalizing leads that had long been fascinating to conspiracy buffs but that had never been fully scrutinized by a veteran investigative reporter.

The Central Intelligence Agency has denied that any such contacts occurred, and Mr. Fonzi spent most of his two years with the committee crisscrossing the world trying to prove otherwise. He considered it impossible that the C.I.A. had never made contact with Oswald, a former Marine who defected to the Soviet Union in 1959, repatriated with his Russian wife and baby in 1962, and settled in Dallas, where he openly espoused Communist views.

“We called him Ahab, because he was so single-minded about that white whale,” said G. Robert Blakey, the chief counsel and staff director of the House committee, now a professor at the University of Notre Dame Law School. The white whale for Mr. Fonzi was the meaning of those supposed contacts.

Mr. Blakey was criticized by Mr. Fonzi as overly deferential to the C.I.A., and he now concedes that Mr. Fonzi was probably right on that score. Mr. Blakey said he was shocked in 2003 when declassified C.I.A. documents revealed the full identity of the retired agent who had acted as the committee’s liaison to the C.I.A. The agency never told Mr. Blakey that the agent, George Joannides, had overseen a group of anti-Castro Cuban exiles in Dallas in the months before the assassination, when Oswald had two well-publicized clashes with them.

At the time of the revelation, the C.I.A. said Mr. Joannides had withheld nothing relevant from the committee. Mr. Joannides died in 1990.

“Mr. Joannides obstructed our investigation,” Mr. Blakey said. Asked how that had affected the committee’s work, he added: “We’ll never know. But I can say that for a guy like Gaeton, a guy who really wanted to know what happened to Kennedy, it kind of tortured him.”

Gaetano Fonzi was born in Philadelphia on Oct. 10, 1935, to Leonora and Gaetano Fonzi, a barber. (He later shortened his first name.) After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, he was a reporter and editor at Philadelphia Magazine. In one article, he and a co-author revealed that a former star reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, Harry J. Karafin, had extorted money from local businessmen with threats of unflattering coverage.

Mr. Fonzi died of complications of Parkinson’s disease at his home in Manalapan, Fla., his wife, Marie, said. He is also survived by four children, Irene, Guy and Christopher Fonzi and Maria Fonzi-Gonzalez; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
In Florida, Mr. Fonzi worked for Miami and Gold Coast magazines, writing investigative articles. He also wrote several other books, including a biography of the media mogul and philanthropist Walter Annenberg. But the Kennedy assassination remained the story that consumed him.

“He thought the murder of President Kennedy was a turning point in history,” his wife said. “He said it was the point when the American people stopped trusting their government.” 



2 comments:

Bill Kelly said...

On Tue, Sep 11, 2012 at 5:01 PM, Bob Sirkin [scooptv2@gmail.com] wrote:

In the spring of 1976, at WFAA-TV Dallas, my boss, the legendary Marty Haag, dispatched Bill O'Reilly and me to Palm Beach, Florida on a midnight Braniff Airlines flight.

Our mission: to find a missing Bishop College professor, a former Russian petroleum engineer and CIA operative, a white Russian Baron named George deMorenschieldt, a man who befriended Lee Harvey Oswald and wife Marina upon their return to Dallas from Russia.

O’Reilly and I, along with WFAA-TV Reporter Doug Fox, had been on the trail of deMorenchieldt for weeks, since his suspicious disappearance from the campus of Bishop College, where deMorenschieldt taught and lived. It was Doug Fox who dug up the fact that Bishop College, a small, black liberal arts school, had received funding from the CIA.

Bill O'Reilly had been tipped by his friend Gaeton Fonzi, investigator for the House Committee on Assassinations (JFK and MLK), that deMohrenschildt was at the famous Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach being interviewed by author Edward Jay Epstein. Epstein was writing a book on the JFK Assassination.

Just hours after landing, O'Reilly and I, along with our cameraman, arrived at The Breakers. We paid a bell hop $25 to get the number of Epstein's suite. With camera rolling, I knocked on the door. Epstein came to the door and went ballistic! You could see deMohrenschildt, in the background, sitting at a dining room table. Eptstein called hotel security. Within moments, we were all bodily removed from the premises. Just the beginning of our caper!

The next day, Gaeton Fonzi shows up in nearby Manalapan, Florida carrying a subpoena for deMohrenschildt to appear before the House Committee on Assassinations. The Committee wanted to grill deMohrenschildt on his and Oswald's clandestine meeting with a CIA operative in Mexico City, about a month before the assassination. But deMohrenschildt never appeared before the committee.

Shortly after receiving his subpoena, deMohrenschildt retreated to a bedroom inside a mansion owned by a Mafia connected family from Arizona. He was found dead from a massive shotgun wound to his head. The coroner, to my recollection, couldn't say for sure that deMohrenschildt took his own life because of the length of the shotgun barrel placed in deMohrenschildt's mouth. Some story...to say the least!

Before leaving Florida, O'Reilly and I made one more stop. We drove to North Miami Beach, the Hallandale area. About 10pm, we paid a visit to former convicted Watergate figure, E. Howard Hunt. He too was the focus of the House Committee's investigation into the JFK Assassination.

When we rang Hunt's doorbell, he opened a small peephole. In total darkness, I remember Hunt's eerie voice saying: "I strongly suggest that you gentlemen leave RIGHT NOW!" We did and flew back to Dallas continuing to pursue the alleged cover-up to the assassination.

Bill O'Reilly's contact; the late Gaeton Fonzi, made our award winning story.

Marie said...

Gaet's book, The Last Investigation, is being reissued on September 3, available on Amazon.com. Skyhorse Publishing has produced a beautiful book, with new photos of Gaet and a new preface by me, his wife, filled with excerpts from Gaet's speeches and letters. Marie Fonzi