Jim Braden and the Mob at Dealey Plaza
One day in the early 1970s I picked up a pulp paperback book off a rack at a local drug store - Peter Noyes' Legacy of Doubt.
Noyes' was a TV news producer in California for some major networks, ABC - CBS, and is still alive and a Facebook friend.
It's the story of Eugene Hale Brading, a California oil man, money courier, swindler and con artist who changed his name to Jim Braden a month before being taken into custody as a suspicious person at Dealey Plaza.
Braden was reported suspicious by the elevator operator at the Dal-Tex building as he didn't work there. Dallas deputy Loomie Lewis, escorted Braden to the Sheriff's office across the street where he dictated a statement to a stenographer and was released.
Braden claimed he visited the parole office and then went to Dealey Plaza, and after the assassination went into the Dal-Tex building where he was told there was a public phone on the second floor, where he phoned his mother in California to tell her about the assassination.
Some conspiracy theorists suggest Braden was a shooter from the second floor of the Dal-Tex building, but there is nothing to suggest he ever carried a weapon or engaged in any violence whatsoever.
Noyes' book ties Braden to the mob, not the Italian Mafia probably as a cash courrier for the Myer Lansky syndicate. He gambled, played golf as a hustler, and bilked rich widows, including the widow of a founder of Magnolia Oil Company, that figures into other aspects of the assassination story, as it was at a Magnolia Oil house party where Marina Oswald met Ruth Paine, and Oswald talked with Volkmar Schmidt.
In his book Noyes says Braden was arrested for gambling in 1948 in Camden, N.J., but the Camden police refused to respond for his records, Noyes' speculated because the Camden police are controlled by the mob.
Well, since my father William E. Kelly, Sr was a lieutenant in the Camden police department at the time, I showed him Noyes' book and referred to the 1948 Camden arrest. The very next day my dad handed me the original arrest report from 1948 and said the reason they didn't respond to Noyes' request was because the secretaries refused to go down in the dirty, dusty basement to get it.
I made photo copies of the mug shot and record, and distributed them to Noyes' and among interested researchers.
When I read in a Philadelphia newspaper that Richard Sprague, the then recently appointed chief counsel of the House Select Committee on Assassination ( HSCA) had required his staff to read Noyes' book. So I took a copy of Braden's 1948 Camden arrest report and personally delivered it to Sprague's Philadelphia law office, just across the river from where I lived in Camden.
I then watched, from a distance, the HSCA soap opera, how Sprague was fired, replaced by G. Robert Blakey, an organized crime specialist from Cornell, who redirected the committee's investigation from the CIA, to the mob.
Jim Braden testified before the HSCA in secret sessions for two days, then when the committee disbanded, Blakey declared the committee files to be Congressional records, not subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, as Congress exempted itself.
Then one day I received a phone call from Blakey who asked for a copy of Braden's 1948 Camden arrest report as he was writing a book blaming the mob for killing the president.
I told Blakey I gave a copy to Sprague, and Blakey said Sprague took his personal HSCA files with him. And I said I was glad he did since the HSCA records were locked away for 50 years.
So I sent Blakey a copy, and years later, after the passage of the JFK Act in 1992, I requested Sprague's HSCA records from the Archives.
They referred me to the records of Richard Sprague, the photo and computer consultant, and said they had no records whatsoever for Richard Sprague,Esq., the former chief counsel to the HSCA, though there were hundreds in Blakey's file.
When I told the NARA that Sprague was then still alive and working in Philadelphia, they sent a formal request to him for the HSCA records but received no reply.
The JFK Act did free up the HSCA records and the NARA sent me a transcript of Braden's secret and closed testimony, which named his attorney as a Mr. Twombly, of Washington DC, who told me he is not related to the Twombly who ran a North California bank and was affiliated with a university, and Chauncey Holt said did favors for the CIA.
Twombly also told me he no longer knew where Braden, was though he lived in Atlanta at the time.
In his testimony, Braden exclaimed his innocence and rallied against the conspiracy theorists who clam he was involved in the assassination
But he also acknowledged that he stayed at the Cabana Hotel, his associates visited Hunt, the Dallas oil man H. L. Hunt, and they all left for Houston immediately after the assassination, despite having registered for a few more days.
Dallas reporter and later editor Earl Golz obtained the Cabana Hotel records of Braden and his associates, that reflected the fact they had registered for a few days, but left suddenly after the assassination. Golz also obtained their credit card receipts that indicated they had a meal and drinks at the Cabana's Bon Vivant Room, where Ruby and Meyers were at the same time.
Since Meyers sold sporting goods equipment Ruby demonstrated an exercise device he was promoting, much to the amusement of Meyers and his family.
Since Meyers was married, his companion Jean Aase went shopping with one of Ruby's girls, Joyce McDonald.
Braden says after being released he flew to New Orleans, where he had previously lived during the summer of 1963, and worked out of the offices of oil man Vernon Main, on the 17th floor of the Pierre Marquette office building, just down the hall from Carlos Marchello's lawyer G. Ray Gill.
As a former law school associate of DA Jim Harrison, Gill gave Garrison a list of phone records that he believed were made by David Ferrie when he worked on the Marchello case at the time of the assassination.
Among those records, Garrison noted, was one Chicago phone number that is also listed among the Warren Commission records as a phone number also called by Jack Ruby associate Lawrence Meyers.
Meyers made the call to a women, Jean Aase, aka West, who lived and worked at a downtown Chicago hotel owned by White Russians and operated by a friend and business associate of Myers.
Meyers asked Aase, who he described in his WC testimony as a "dumb but accommodating broad," to accompany him to Dallas over the assassination weekend. They registered at the Cabana Hotel, where Jim Braden and his pals also stayed.
Dallas reporter and editor Earl Golz supplied me with the Cabana Hotel receipts for Braden and his associates that confirmed they were there at the time, and included credit card records that reflect their drinking and dining costs at the Cabana's Bon Vivant room.
At the same time Braden and his pals were there, Jack Ruby met his Chicago friend Larry Meyers, who Ruby tried to get Meyers, a sporting goods salesman, interested in a "Twist" device.
Ruby was with a young girl 17 year old Beverly Oliver, a singer at a competing club down the street.
Meyers was with his brother, a New York Coca Cola bottling company owner who was in town for a convention. His son Ralph was a former NSA technician at a U2 base in Turkey, who they had visited in Mexico City, where Ralph was working as a journalist after a sheep dipped stint as a bus driver in Chicago.
Oliver says she accompanied Ruby and Myers to The Egyptian Lounge for steak dinner, a club owned by Ruby's friends the Campisi brothers. They said Ruby was accompanied by his business partner Ralph Paul, but I believe it was Larry Myers.
I wrote about that evening in an article some years ago, Thursday night at the Cabana Lounge, and the odd events that occured.
Now an intrepid writer Mark Valante has compiled everything he could on Jim Braden, and is writing a book and possible film about him.
While I don't believe Braden was directly involved in the assassination operation, he was caught up in the dragnet and is certainly a suspicious person. I did everything I could to locate him and try to get him to talk but couldn't.
Now we will have to see what Mark Valenti has on him. In the meantime Mark sent me a short synopsis of what he's learned that I will post at http://JFKCountercoup2.blogspot.com.
Joel Gruhn writes:
Bill, In case you don't know where Jim B wound up, he is interred at the Oak Hill Cemetery, in Atchison, Kansas, his birthplace. His last address was in Lee, FL a town of some 300+ residents. There is also a record matching the dates in the Florida index of deaths.
There is a fairly extensive tree for the Braden Family at Ancestry and also a timeline that shows life details and possibly living descendants who could shed some light as to his later years.