Friday, October 17, 2008

Dick Russell's On the Trail of the JFK Assassins

On the Trail of the JFK Assassins – A Revealing Look at America’s Most Infamous Unsolved Crime, By Dick Russell (Herman Graf/Skyhorse, NY, 2008)

In his new book On the Trail of the JFK Assassins, Dick Russell recaps his experiences and republishes important articles he wrote over the course of decades on the JFK assassination trail. For most career journalists, writing about the political assassinations of the Sixties has also been the kiss of death, a subject matter that marks you, but one you just can’t touch and move on.

On the Trail of the JFK Assassins is one of two new books by Russell, the other being Don’t Start the Revolution Without Me (with Jesse Ventura), both published by Skyhorse, who also recently reissued Russell’s Black Genius as well as a new edition of John Newman’s Oswald & the CIA.

Russell also plays a role in the production of a new web based documentary film “The Warning,” all of which can be previewed and ordered at his web site
[] or via Skyhorse [

Russell is also the author of Striper Wars and Eye of the Whale, about which Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. said, “Dick Russell has done for the gray whale what he did for the striped bass – taught us to love both the fish and the fishermen. In a riveting tale that celebrates the history and culture of the whale fishery, Russell guides us gently to a consciousness of the critical importance of the gray whale's struggle and survival to modern civilization.”

Also important to our modern civilization is the legal resolution of the assassination of President Kennedy.

While Russell is known and respected for his environmental writings, his career has been indelibly stamped by his reporting on the Kennedy assassination and his book The Man Who Knew Too Much is a classic of its genre. And this book is not so much as an extension to that as it is filling in the gaps and potholes along the road.

Dick Russell begins On the Trail of the JFK Assassins with his first story on the subject, a 1975 Village Voice magazine assignment to report on Professor Richard Popkin’s then latest discoveries - new information on Richard Case Nagel and Luis Angel Castillo and how they fit into the assassination drama.

Nagel would become the primary subject of The Man Who Knew Too Much, a military intelligence officer and double-agent, while Russell’s research into Castillo would take him into the MKULTRA mind control realm of programmed assassins.

Popkin would later warn others that looking into Castillo was a quagmire, but Russell went into the rabbit’s hole and he comes out relatively unscathed, thanks to his well honed journalistic skills that also allow us to follow him down some pretty slippery trails, where few others dare to go.

The reprinted articles, most of which I still have from the original clips, stand out today as well as they did when first published, shining even more in the light of what we’ve learned since then and show how we’ve got to where we are today.

Although some complained that The Man Who Knew Too Much was the book that told too much, I kind of like the idea of the reporter on the scene providing as much information as possible, not knowing what will become significant later on. Whereas The Man Who Knew Too Much is required reading among JFK assassination buffs, On the Trail of the JFK Assassins is less esoteric, and gives you enough basic background that it isn’t a prerequisite to have to read the earlier book. And On the Trail is compact and compelling enough for ordinary people, who aren’t assassination buffs, to appreciate it, so it might even change some mainstream thinking.

There’s not much here for those who want to believe that the President was killed by a disturbed communist, but this book will be an adventure for those who have taken up the trail of the real assassins, and like Dick Russell, are intent on tracking them down where ever they are holed up.

Unlike most JFK assassination researchers, who sit back and read among books, documents and internet sites, Russell is an investigator who also goes out and finds witnesses and interviews them on the record. Russell is, along with Bill Turner, Anthony Summers, Gaeton Fonzi, and a few others, among the best JFK assassination investigators.

Entwining updated briefs between articles he wrote for the Village Voice, Argosy, Harper’s Weekly, New Times Magazine, Gallery, Boston Magazine, High Times between 1975 and 1996, Russell weaves together his earlier articles with the latest tidbits from the records released under the JFK Act.

Richard Case Nagel and Luis Angel Castillo are just two of the more complex and bizarre characters you would ever want to meet, Nagel being a US/USSR double-agent while Castillo is a programmed zombie with ties to Cuba who is still on the lose today.

In the course of developing the yet unfinished tales of Nagel and Castillo, Russell visits both the CIA headquarters at Langly and the KGB headquarters in Moscow, takes you into the home of CIA mind bender Dr. Gottleib and attends the USA-CUBA conferences in Rio and the Bahamas, between researchers and Cuban intelligence officers.

There’s also interesting interviews with the likes of Gerry Patrick Hemming, Loran Hall, Col. Phillip Corso, Arlen Specter, Richard Sprague and Marina Oswald. Harry Dean gets his own chapter, “Memories of an FBI Informant.” And of course, Russell revisits Sylvia Odio, and takes on Antonio Veciana, Maurice Bishop and the John Paisley, fitting them in as part of the Dealey Plaza puzzle.

Exploring whether Oswald was a Manchurian Candidate and programmed assassin, Russell lays down the basic background and how he most certainly could have been, though more likely was the programmed patsy.

Among the articles is Russell’s response to Posner, which only High Times Magazine had the courage to publish, and which seems so passé now and not worth bothering over, except how people like Posner can get published when undisputed experts like Doug Horne can’t.

Russell points out that those most impressed with Posner – David Wise, William Styron and Posner all share the same publisher (Random House) and editor (Bob Loomis) and notes how Posner’s previous books include those about Nazi leader’s children, bio-assassins and Josef Mengele, the “Angel of Death,” all prepping him with preframed governmental view. Russell reports that Posner testified before a Senate committee that it was “incontestable” that the U.S. military “mistakenly released Mengele from custody in mid-1945,” despite French government documents that indicate American officials had detained and then released Mengele again in 1947. Of course these previous assignments gave Posner, the hired-gun lawyer, the job of closing the case on the JFK assassination at a time when the JFK Act ordered millions of government records released.

“Could it be that Case Closed was an effort to defuse any new revelations that might occur as the thirtieth anniversary of the assassination approached?” Russell rightly questions. “There was, in fact, no similar wave of publicity accompanying the declassification of the House Assassinations Committee’s report on Oswald’s activities in Mexico City….But the corporate media are not rushing to send a team of reporters probing these thousands of pages of fresh files. They would prefer to let Posner spare them the time, the only casualty being the truth of what really happened on November 22, 1963. In reality, there may be no better case for reopening the JFK investigation than the sham called Case Closed.”

Significantly, other than Priscilla Johnson McMillan’s blatantly dishonest biography, few reporters have had access to the accused assassin’s wife, Marina Oswald Porter. Although she has learned to distrust so many others, she trusts Russell. Besides accurately reflecting Marina’s views on things, Russell invited her to his home and meet with a room full of lawyers who try to answer her single question, “Is there some way to re-open the investigation?”

She did have another question for Russell that concerned Oswald’s Uniform Service ID card, which she suspected was a clue to something important, and is a subject that deserves further attention. Russell tries to answer that question fairly, but as for the lawyers, they couldn’t come up with very much. Not published before, the chapter on The Reflections of Marina Oswald Porter (Ch.31) is the most important, because it asks the most significant question about the assassination - how do you find a way to (officially) re-open the investigation?

Russell describes the scene, “On a Sunday afternoon, in front of a crackling fireplace in my living room, we assembled. Jim Lesar and Dan Alcorn, attorneys from Washington, were on hand. Gaeton Fonzi, former investigator for Senator Schweiker and the House Assassinations Committee, had flown up from Florida. Harvey Silvergate, a prominent civil liberties lawyer in Cambridge was there with his wife, as was another attorney friend, Joan Stanley. Marina sat in a comfortable leather-backed chair…(and) began the conversation. ‘If there is no law on the books, create one, please,’ she implored the room.”

“Lesar, who also oversaw the Assassinations Archives Research Center in the nation’s capitol, responded that it was difficult to get a foot in the door on legal action because the statute of limitations had expired in most instances. Still, he felt we had a unique opportunity over the next several years to get a new investigation moving. The Assassinations Records Review Board appointed by President Clinton to examine and release most of the still-classified files also had the power to subpoena witnesses. There is a mechanism here to enable us to keep the issue upfront and demand more of Congress,’ Lesar said.”

“‘Is there a King Solomon nowhere in the lawyer community to come up with some clever thing?’ Marina asked.”

“Lesar then suggested a report compiled by distinguished private citizens could be presented to an official investigative body.”

“Marina turned to face Fonzi. ‘Forget me, this is not a personal vendetta,’ she said. ‘I’d like to figure out a more radical approach from the legal point of view.’”

“Marina wondered about holding a trial in Texas. Lesar said, ‘But you could only try someone if you have a suspect in a conspiracy.’ The prosecutor Alcorn added would be the Dallas District Attorney, but that office’s response had always been that ‘the FBI came and took all the evidence away.’ Alcorn had looked at all the federal statutes and seen no possibilities, so Texas was realistically the only place something could happen. ‘But we don’t have a suspect right now,’ and it was ineffective to bring a legal action that was not going to proceed.’…”

“Silverglate noted that an investigative grand jury might be possible. However, Lesar said, ‘the problem is that you’d need to convince Texas to do it.’ Silverglate went on that the federal government hides behinds its ‘supremacy clause.’ In other words, Congress can override a state constitutional provision…”

“ ‘There’s maybe another possibility,’ Stanley said. ‘The murder of [police officer J.D.] Tippitt has never been solved officially. This would keep things within the confines of Texas law.’…On what grounds could a grand jury be convened? Were there any suspects besides Oswald, who purportedly committed the Tippitt murder?”
“’The best evidence on a state prosecutorial level,’ said Lesar, ‘revolves around concealment and obstruction of justice….’”

“Elsa Dorfman, Silverglate’s wife, wondered whether Marina and Mrs. Tippitt might do a joint action to try to bring the case of the murdered policeman into court. Lesar, though, was ultimately forced to conclude that he did not see the legal route as feasible. A Texas grand jury was the best possibility, but its outcome was problematical at best. Joan Stanley added that there are many problems with a grand jury – all the publicity around this particular case, and the evidence being so hard to come by….”

“….And so, basically,” writes Russell, “after several hours our discussion ended not so much further along than when it began. Some of the finest legal minds in the country had come together, with the widow of the accused assassin, in hopes of finding some way – any way- to reopen the case. Thirty years after the fact, it seemed pretty hopeless, short of someone’s deathbed confession. That night, a violinist friend played for Marina. One composition he performed was called ‘Song of the Lark.’ More than one of us had tears in our eyes.”

Well, now, ten years later, we have a new District Attorney in Texas, and there are suspects other than Oswald, and the legal route that was closed for decades is now open, if only a crack.

And in the end, the last chapter is about Doug Horne, the former Chief Analyst for Military Records of the Assassinations Records Review Board, whose new book on the JFK assassination medical records will be dynamite, and should spark a new and proper forensic autopsy that a murdered President should have.

Russell devotes his last chapter to a conversation he had with Doug Horne, which clearly speaks for itself, as it is a verbatim interview, and shows why none of the existing medical records can be considered genuine. “Summarizing, the photographs of President Kennedy’s brain, exposed by John Stringer on November 25, were never introduced into the official records because they showed a pattern of damage – missing tissue from the rear of the brain – consistent with a fatal shot from the front, and that evidence had to be suppressed. The photographs of a second brain,…by an unknown Navy photographer, were introduced into the official record because the brain employed in that exercise…exhibited damage – to the to-right-side of the brain – generally consistent with a shot from above and behind. So where did that come from?”

“An accomplished forensic pathologist who viewed the brain photos in the archives at the request of the ARRB told is in 1996 that the brain in these photographs…had been in a formalin solution for at least 2 weeks before being photographed….ensures it cannot possibly be the President’s brain, which was examined only 3 days after his death.”

“‘Shots from multiple directions’ is how I would put it….I am not convinced that Oswald shot anyone in Dealey Plaza. He was certainly involved in something – up to his neck – and was probably being ‘run’ by intelligence operatives, and perhaps even engaging in a charade by posing as a leftist Castro sympathizer, but I am not convinced that he shot anyone himself…”

Answering Russell’s question “What does this indicate to you about the forces behind the assassination?” Horne says, “Well, you can go two ways. If you accept a government cover-up as a given, then it’s either a benign or a sinister one. If it’s benign, then the people engineering the cover-up weren’t part of the murder plot, but they think for one reason or another, they can’t tell the truth – the truth might endanger the country because it might trigger World War Three if it appears, rightly or wrongly, that there was foreign involvement in the assassination. Or, there might be a real fear that the public would lose faith in our institutions, if we have to admit to our citizenry that ‘multiple people shot the president and we don’t know who they are and we can’t catch them.’ The other alternative, the sinister one, posits that the people performing the cover-up actions – let’s say the actors on the ground, Humes and Boswell and the photographers involved – believe that they are doing a benign cover-up for national security reasons. But the people giving them their orders know better, and are part of the assassination plot…I believe that the latter scenario detailed above is the most likely one…”

Horne told Russell that what he is working on, “…is my magnum opus, a book that will be so massive, and so detailed, that for me to get my message out unfiltered and in an unabridged fashion, it will have to be made available as a ‘publish on demand’ specialty type item sold on the internet, and printed one copy at time….My goal is to tell the truth as I know it, without anyone watering it down – not to make money. My manuscript is a labor of love, and will be the sharing of an intellectual journey with those who are captivated by the medical evidence, and who have a love of detail…I won’t be pulling any punches, and the final section of my book will be a treatise on the political context, and meaning, of the assassination.”

While we look forward to Horne’s book, we also hope that this book isn’t the end of the trail of the assassins for Russell, as we haven’t yet arrived at the final destination, where the full truth is known and justice is achieved.

On the Trail of the JFK Assassins is a remarkable, honest and perservering attempt to get to that elusive destination.

[William Kelly is the co-founder of the Committee for an Open Archives (COA) and the Coalition on Political Assassinations (COPA). He can be reached at ]

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Is home to Billy Eckstine, I. Irving Davidson, Tom Wilson, Cyril Wecht and my old college roomate, who I know I always have a couch to sleep on in Pittsburgh.

What a great town, full of unique little neighborhoods and nice people who are proud of their sports teams.

Cyril even noted that he was glas the Steelers football team played Sunday night so he didn't have to compete with them.

I had been to Pittsburgh many times over the years, as it was a convenient pit stop between college at Dayton, Ohio and home in Jersey. I had even visited with Cyril at his coronor's office in the late 80s, and discussed forming what would become COPA.

After being indicted by the feds for what I understand to be misuse of public funds, and getting a hung jury at trial, Wecht's court case is not yet over. There was little discusison about it at the conference, at least in my presence, but from what people said around town, he shouldn't be retried, especially without new evidence, though it still might happen.

Cyril was in attendance the entire weekend and proved a gracious host.

Wecht Conference Synopsis:

The Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law National Symposium – Making Sense of the Sixties – A National Symposium on the Assassinations and Political Legacies of Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert F. Kennedy and John F. Kennedy (Pittsburgh, Pa., October 3-5, 2008)

This was a symposium mind you, not your typically dreary conference on some esoteric subject.

Symposium means to "drink together," (1) and that is something that makes the situation more casual, but not belittle the magnitude, importance and immediate significance of the subject matter, the historical essence of the era – the political assassinations that remain unresolved today.

As for 'forensic," there are two definitions of the word, one being "public discussion and debate" while the other " belonging to, used in, or suitable to courts of judicature" or "relating to or dealing with the application of scientific knowledge to legal problems."

Forensic science involves the application of the sciences to answer questions of interest to the legal system, and that's what this symposium was all about, although there was a lot of the debatable use of the term going on as well.

It's a shame that some of those who were invited who could have provided some of the debateable forensic fireworks, declined invitations to attend, despite being offered airfare, meals and accomidations. It's a shame that Vincent Bugliosi, G. Robert Blakey and Gerald Posner didn't have the same balls that Arlen Specter had when he made a presentation at a Wecht conference here five years ago. This symposium was a follow up on that one, and they appear to be planning another one in five years to follow up on this one.

As the program sets the stage:

"Forty years after the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., and presidential hopefull Robert F. Kennedy, and 45 years following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, questions still abound about both the circumstances and impact of their murders."

"Were these shootings really just the acts of lone gunman, as the history books have so long advocated? Or are there clues in these crimes thatmight yet prove what so many have come to believe bvased on decades of research, analysis nad publicaiton – that James Earl Ray, Sirhan Bishara Siran and Lee Harvey Oswald did not act alone?"

"Following up on the historic 2003 conference on the 40 anniversary of the JFK assassination, The Cyril H. Wecht Insitute of Forensic Science and Law is proud to have convenend many of the top experets and authors on the JFK, RFK and MLK assassinations and the times in which they occurred for three days of presentations, and panal discussions and film screenings."

"From matters of ballistics and acoustics to questions of conspiracy and cover-up, these three cases present fascinating and important topics for students of all ages and disciplines."

Missed more so than the opposition were Bill Turner, Jimmy D and Thompson, the acoustics guy, who would have rounded out this symposium on both fronts.

While I am less interested in the assassinations of MLK and RFK, preferring to concentrate on solving one murder at a time, and the belief that if JFK's murder was correctly investigated and prosecuted, the other two wouln't have happened at all, the first two days were dedicated for the most part to MLK and RFK.

Try as I might to get there, I missed most of the first day's program, which included Peter Dale Scott's opening talk on "The Assassinations of the Sixties as 'Deep Events'," but I later ran into him and read his prepared remarkes and got the jist of it.

All of the programs were audio recorded and videotaped, and some will be made available via the symposium's web site, as well as other web sites, including Mary Ferrell and COPA, and some may be put on YouTube, although Ben Wecht said he didn't get permissions from all the presenters to do so.

Isaac Farris, Jr., Jim Lesar, Esq., Judge Joe Brown, William Pepper, Esq. and David Wrone all made presentations on MLK in the morning of the first day before Shane O'Sullivan, David Talbot and Ted Charach began discussing the murder of RFK and a screening of Charach's film The Second Gun.

Although I got there late, it doesn't seem that there's much going on with the MLK case, other than John Judge trying to get the HSCA MLK records released. Brown wants to test the alleged murder rifle some more and William Pepper and Joe Brown argued over where the shots came from, and I later had an interesting discussion with the good Memphis Judge who I knew from previous occassions in Dallas. But for the most part, I think MLK, other than the dispositon of the records, has faded into history. That's not the case with RFK and JFK, which are still developing hot trails worth pursuing.

Godfrey Isaac, Esq. opened the proceedings on Saturday morning with a talk on "The Signifance and Effects of the Assassinstions," followed by Robert Blair Kaiser, whose presentation was titled "I Found the Fingerprints of Others All Over This Assassin," and whose book on the RFK assassination was generally regarded as the best on the topic.

Pepper's talk was on "Sirhan Sirhan: A Case for the Defense," while Lisa Pease focused on "The CIA and the RFK Assassination," the text of which she said would be posted on the internet asap and may be up somewhere already.

It seems a lot of JFK assassination researchers and writers went on to examine and write about the murder of RFK, like Lisa, Phil Melanson, Dan Moldea and Larry Hancock, to name a few, but I tried to avoid that urge, though I now believe there are a number of connections between both cases, and ultimately they may have been victims of the same pepetrators.

While JFK and MLK were both killed by snipers, the RFK case is simlilar to the assassinaiton of President Kennedy in the dispute over the number of shots, the probability of a second gunman, and the legal validity of the acoustical evidence of the actual crimes.

One of the more interesting presentaions of the day was "An Open and Shut Case: How A Rush to Judgement Failed in the Investigation of the Death of Robert F. Kennedy," by Philip Van Praag, Paul Schrade and the Honorable Robert Joling.

Joling is a retired municipal judge, Paul Schrade is a former RFK aide and one of the shooting victims, while Van Praag is an audio specialist who helped locate a previously unknown audio cassette recording of the assassination.

These guys are sharp, seem to know what they've got, and are shopping around for a place to go with it, but their impressive slide show also claims copyright, they are the primary ones who won't permit a tape of their lecture put on the internet, and have a book under the same title "An Open and Shut Case: How A Rush to Judgement….," which they were selling for fifty bucks, so I won't be reviewing it.

Van Praag wrote a book called "The Evolution of the Audio Recorder," so he knows his acoustics, which come into serious play because they somehow discovered an audio tape recording of the assassinsiton (in FBI files), obtained a copy of it and then tracked down the original in Europe.

This young European reporter (Pruszynski) had placed his cassette recorder and microphone at the podium RFK used to give his speech, and can be seen in filimed news footage retreving it, and then following RFK into the pantry, leaving the recorder on, and picking up a lot of background sounds, including the gunshots.

With some kind of oscilloscope they could identify thirteen distinct gunshots on the tape, though they suspect there were fourteen shots because the last shot was drowned out by sceams.

Of course this would preclude SBS from being a lone gunman since his revolver only carried eight bullets. The medical examiner's report, which says the fatal head shot was from less than an inch away from behind the ear, while SBS was three to four feet in front of RFK, makes it unlikely SBS fired the fatal shots.

It seems they obtained a gun and tape recorder of the same makes and models and duplicated shots, and also tested and recorded firecrackers and popped ballons, sounds they also ran through their oscilliscope and could easily differenciate the difference because the gunshot created echos that were picked up by the recorder and illiustrated on the meter while the firecrackers and poped ballon were simply sharp spiles with no aftershocks.

Thanks to Shane O'Sullivan for pointing out that you can find more details on their work at-

Also seen new epilogue to SOS's RFK assassination film.

Ted Churah has been saying for years, decades, that the second gun belonged to the other primary suspect, private security guard Thane Eugsne Cesar, who carried a simliar weapon of the same .22 caliber, and was seen by witnesses to have fired his gun. Cesar also claimed to have sold his .22 before the assassination, but a sales receipt was presented that is dated two months after the murder. "Operation Tinker Toy is Mr. Charach's search for and secret testing and authentication of the second gun after it had lain for almost three decades in an Arkansas swamp."

Although I wasn't interested when he told me, I now find it interesting that Dan Moldea is godfather to Thane Eugene Cesar's son, and Dan insists, and has written a book about how SBS killed RFK by himself because of RFK's policies towards Israel.

Of course this is the official version of events, which is also questioned by attorney Godfrey Isaac, Esq., who has represented SBS, LA coroner Dr. Thomas T. Noguchi, Judy Garland, Anthony Quinn, Charles Colson and Phil Spector. Isaac, during the panel discussion, noted that when SBS asked him to represent him, Isaac said, "Well, you know that I am Jewish," to which SBS replied, "What's that got to do with it?" So much for the alleged motive.

Cyril Wecht was quick to point out that Isaac wasn't the first Jewish lawyer SBS asked to represent him, as Cyril says he got a phone call from SBS too.

The panel discusion on "Legal and Scientific Issues in the Assassination of RFK" was very enlightening, and moderated by David Talbot, who I had a chance to sit down and discuss a few issues.

Although he didn't stick around for the second day's events, William Pepper is now representing SBS and is preparing for a civil trial, similar to the one he did in Memphis on the King case, and with the support of the King family.

One of the most important points Cyril Wecht made was that in viewing the successes of the MLK civil trial, of paramount importance was the role of the family of the victim, which has a lot more sway with the legal system than petitions from ordinary citizens.

Paul Schrade, a shooting victim of RFK's killers, is also a close friend of the Kennedy family, and he says they continue to repeat the mantra that RFK began in the aftermath of Dallas. "Let's leave what's behind us and go on." While he has made some inroads in discussions with some of the family, Schrade is not optomistic, though he promised to bring up the issues again and that some of the RFK family are more open to persuasion than others.

Certainly as a victim himself, Schrade doesn't need the Kennedy's permission to pursue a new legal avenue in this case, and it seems they are serously looking for a legal venue to present the new acoustical evidence they've developed, which together with new witness testimony, and Charach's gun, might have enough to pry open the case.

When I got the opportunity, I asked this "legal and scientific" panel why they didn't take their case to a grand jury, and Charach sighed and went into a spiel about the LA DA and how he won't ever do anything.

Judge Joling however, after railing against "conspiracy theories," said that they were going to meet with the LA DA and discuss the idea of trying to get a grand jury going, but he too was pesamistic about the possibility. Joling did say, that the US legal system "isn't about truth and justice, it's about due process," which says a lot in a few words. The key is to get the due process going and keeping it on track.

There was also a screening of the film RFK and a discussion led by William Law. Shane O'Sullvan made some interesting contributions, though he is a little contrite over his misidentificaiton of the CIA officers at the Ambassador, but he had a "live and learn" attitude about it all. Although he intends to keep up with the RFK assassinaition developments, he said he is moving on to another subject, the radicals of the Sixties, or maybe it was the children of the radicals of the Sixties. I asked him to check in here and fill us in and he said he would, especially so since the emergence of Sixties radicals in the presidential race.

They began early Sunday morning, the final day, with Dr. Gary Aguilar, whose talk "From Posner to Bugliosi, A Rogues Gallery of Lone Nut Theorists," was a fine rebuttle to the pronounced absence of both the Poz and the Bug, and I might add, Dr. Ken Rahn and Max Holland, who would have added some additonal forensick zing to the proceedings.

Dr. Aguilar's talk was of the forensic debate variety and was quite fitting, thank you Gary, who was appropriately followed by Joan Mellen, who tried to answer the question "Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?.

[See: Joan Mellen on Oswald]

Without rehashing all of her Garrison and New Orleans material, Joan gave a fairly accurate portrayal of Oswald, and included a lot of little but fascinating tidbits, defining him as a covert intelligence operative, but then concluding that he was CIA all the way, which I disagree with - I think Oswald was ONI all the way from pre-USMC days overlooked by Dr. Herzog and Big Brothers. The CIA are the intelligence community fall guys for ONI and ohters.

The facilities at Duquesne are really wonderful, and they had the featured speaker on closed circuit TV in the foyer and lounge area, where I watched Joan give her talk while sitting back drinking coffee with Erik Randich, Ph.D., a forensic materials scientist, who was up next.

I noticed in the program that Roger Feinman was going to give a talk on "Problems and Materials I Case Management, Crime Scene and Firearms Investigation: The Murder of J.D. Tippit" after Erik Randich gave his talk on "A Reassessment of the Bullet Lead Evidence in the Asssassination of John F. Kennedy."

So I asked Randich if he has ever evalauted the bullets and ballistics in the Tippit murder.

"Whose Tippit?" he asked.

"You see, I'm a scientist," he said, explaining that he's not a historian or researcher so he doesn't know much about these cases, other than the science of metals, about which he knows a lot.

I remember Stu Wexler arguing with Ken Rahn at a DC confernce a few years ago, with Rahn basing much of his case on the analysis of lead fragments and bullets conducted by V. P. Guinn for the Warren Commission.

Guinn's Neurton Activation Analysis (NAA) is often cited as evidence to support the lone gunman scenario, and the same science has been used in some two hundred or so court cases over the years, all of which had to be thrown out recenlty because Erik Randich suddenly put an end to this "proof" by exposing the science as flawed.

While Guinn never consulted a metallurgist or materials scientist, Randich was asked to review the numbers referenced by Guinn and discovered that many footnotes didn't support what he was saying, and that Guinn only used three samples when Randich used the same procedure six times and found discrepencies.

Randich's review and experiments led him to conclude that the "1-50 mg sample size is not adequate to reliably sample a WCC M-C soft lead bullet for composition, and microsegregation readly explains the small variations in antimony content among the samples – both the JFK fragments and WCC comparison bullets.

Randich also concluded that, "Variability in Guinn's copper data was real and is expected with poor sampling methodology, and silver sand antimony data show Oswald's rifle and Walker bullets probably came from a different source (s?) than car fragments and bullets."

"The composition analysis of the bullet fragments is inconclusive; Pertinent uncertainties were ignored, and considering Guinn's data by itself, there could have been from one to five bullets. Two bullets is certainly one of choice. There are no compositional data to indicate two and only two bullets."

Randich said that "Peer review and doing your homework is essential to good forensics," and Gunn's data had neither.

As for Guinn's work, Randich thinks that the holes in his research were probably deliberate and not accidental, as Guinn had financial stakes in the company that did the testing, and benefited from its use, and a motive not to do his homework or have peer review.

Randich's research was published as A Metallurgical Review of the Interpretation of Bullet Lead Compositional Analysis, E. Randich, W. Duerfeldt, W. McLendon and W. Tobin, Forensic Sci. Intl., vol. 127, 2002, led to a NAS/NRC study of the FBI's use of CBLA (Comparative Bullet Lead Analysis) in the courtroom, and as a result, the FBI ended 30 years of CBLA on September 1, 2005.

Also see: Proper Assessment of the JFK Assassination Bullet Lead Evidence from Metallurgical and Statistical Perspecives, E. Randlich and P. M. Grant, J. Forensic Sci., vol. 51, No. 4, July 2006.

Randich said to me privately that he believes that his pro bono work on this led to his loss of his job at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Of coruse the FBI and the Justice Department were not too happy to have one of their basic scientific tools shown to be wrong, and based on bad science, and have two hundred cases thrown out. The FBI visited the lab and intimidated Randich, but since he did the work on his own and not as part of his official work, there was nothing they could do about it.

Having read some newspaper reports about it, that Stu Wexler and some Texas A&M researchers did some similar work worth noting.[ and]

Randich also volunteered to have a look at the Tippit murder bullets if that case is ever officially reopened, and Roger Feinman's presentation certainly showed there is a lot that can be done with the Tippit case.

The best presentation by far was that of Dr. Henry C. Lee, Ph.D., the criminologist ("I'm not a pathologist or medical examiner!"), whose "A Criminalist Examines Three Crime Scenes" was laced with good humor yet hit the points he wanted to make.

Lee looked at all three – MLK, RFK and JFK crime scenes and focused on evidence that can still be reviewed and might shed new light on each case. In the JFK case, one thing that he said could still be done was to look for trace DNA on the bullets and fragments and trace fingerprints on the shell casings. If these presentations ever make it to YouTube, Dr. Lee's should certainly get some hits and hoots.

While Lee got some laughs, things tightened up considerbably when Jim Lesar, Esq. gave his straight and sober assessment on JFK Act Oversight Hearings, describing the law, its successes and shortcomings, the need for oversight hearings and the chances of them happening (none till next year). Jim read parts of his open letter to Rep. Waxman and Sen. Leiberman, chairman of the relevant committees, and said he got a phone call from each of their staff, and even had a meeting set up with one of them before it was suddenly postponed and then cancelled, with no real explaniation.
At sometime during the proceedings, Bob Groden showed a film of the assassination of President Kennedy, though I'm not sure which one, that shows a missed bullet hitting a curb, and I don't think it's the Tague bullet/fragment, but a different one. Though I didn't get a chance to talk with Groden, I will check in with him and see what else he has to say about this and clear things up, as I didn't get it all.

The final panel discussion, "Where do we go from here?" included more talk of possible Congressional Oversight Hearings on the JFK Act, the idea of a grand jury investigation, and the mobilizaiton of a response to the forthcoming HBO miniseries based on Bugliosi's book.

Not discussed is why someone does't produce a real documentary film on the real issues of the JFK assassination and tell the story of what really happened.

Although there was not much agreement on where we should go from here, there was a lot of new information brought out during this symposium, and there seems to be some major new developments in both the RFK and JFK cases, with some new people getting involved and some new ideas on how to officially reopen them.

As Peter Dale Scott said, this was one of the best conferences ever held, and much of that can be attributed to Cyril and his son Ben Wecht, the fine people the Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law, and the great facilites at Duquesne.

1. [sym·po·sium or sym·po·siums. Etymology: Latin, from Greek symposion, from sympinein to drink together, from syn- + pinein to drink. 1 a: a convivial party (as after a banquet in ancient Greece) with music and conversation b: a social gathering at which there is free interchange of ideas. 2 a: a formal meeting at which several specialists deliver short addresses on a topic or on related topics…]

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylva

– By Bill Kelly

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA, after Dallas and New Orleans, is the one city, if not where more JFK assassination intrigues actually took place, Philadelphia is where many of the primary players spent more of their quality time than anywhere else. Philly is the Crossroads of the JFK Assassination Conspiracy.

Home of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Constitution Center, the Liberty Bell, the Stars & Stripes, the U.S.S. Olympia of Spanish American War fame, and the 2000 Republican National Convention, Philadelphia was founded by First Quaker William Penn and is the hometown of Tom Paine, Ben Franklin, Arthur Young, Cummings Catherwood, James Bond, Arthur Cowan, Frank Forini Sturgis, Angelo Bruno, Dr. De De Wynne DeMohrenschildt Sharples, Igor Vaganov, Robert Lipka, Amil Jamal, Ira Einhorn and the Man on the Motorcycle in Mexico City.

Philadelphia is where you get a good cheesesteak, cream cheese, scrapple, Tastycake, water ice and a lawyer, when you really need one. Among the Philadelphia lawyers who became players in the JFK assassination drama are John J. McCloy, Arlen Specter, William Coleman, Vincent Salandria, Richard Schweiker and Richard Sprague.

Philadelphia’s Main Line is where Michael Paine and Priscilla Johnson (McMillan) matriculated at Quaker colleges, Swarthmore and Bryn Mawr, where Michael Paine met Ruth Hyde when she was teaching at a Quaker school, and where Michael’s stepfather Arthur Young invented the original Bell 47A Helicopter. It’s also where Joshia Tink Thompson taught Philosophy.

Philadelphia is also the home of Warren Commission critic Vincent Salandria [See: “False Mystery” an Anthology of Salandria’s work] and the dateline of such journalists as Joe Goulden, the reporter who “made up” Oswald’s FBI number, Gaeton Fonzi and Mike Mallow, both of whom wrote numerous articles on the Kennedy assassination for Philadelphia Magazine.

Philadelphia is where Lee Harvey Oswald told Ruth Paine he was going to relocate to and work shortly before he went to Mexico City, and there are four Philadelphia addresses in Oswald’s notebook, each an interesting lead worth pursuing.

Philadelphia is where President Kennedy visited on a political campaign stop on October 31, 1963, Halloween, at the time Diem was killed in Vietnam during a coup d’etat and when Castro was supposed to be shot by assassins in Cuba from the CIA ship the “Rex.” If Diem, Castro and JFK were all killed by assassins on the same day, would anyone consider it a coincidence?

Kennedy rode through Philadelphia in an open limo in a short motorcade witnessed by my cousin Steven “Skip” Haynes, who then worked for the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin. After seeing JFK drive past him, on his way to a Democratic fundraiser at Convention Hall, Skip walked into the newsroom and said that he didn’t think the President was going to live much longer. He expressed this thought, not because of any foreknowledge of a plot, but because of the total lack of security. After becoming a Catholic priest, Father Skip wrote a sermon about the effort to free the government files and the need for open records in an open society, using the story of the blind men and the elephant as an example of our attempts to describe the assassination from censored government documents.

The significance of Kennedy’s visit to Philadelphia on that day has yet to be adequately explored.

A suspect in the Tippit murder, Igor Vaganov, was a East European who moved from Philadelphia to Oak Cliff with his girlfriend on the week before the assassination. He drove a red Ford, had a rifle, and was driving around Oak Cliff when Tippitt was murdered. The evening before, Vaganov’s girlfriend called home to Philadelphia to say that she thought Vaganov was going to do something radical and was scared.

Tippet’s killer discarded a jacket that could have also originated in Philadelphia, at a department store that was one of the few outlets that sold that line of jackets at the time.

The Warren Commission investigation, led by such Philadelphians lawyers like Arlen Spector and William Coleman, never got to the department store, the four addresses in Oswald’s notebook or to Arthur Young, whose name appears, as far as I can tell, only once in the primary assassination literature. Gerald Ford, in his book on the assassination, notes quite innocently that Marina Oswald was asked by Ruth Hyde Paine to respond to her offer to move to Irving by writing in care of ARTHUR YOUNG, PAOLI, PENNSYLVANIA.

Ruth Hyde Paine, on her summer vacation, drove her kids to the Paine family retreat off the coast of Massachusetts, then stopped to spend some time with Michael’s mother and stepfather, Ruth Forbes Paine Young and Arthur, the inventor of the Bell Helicopter. Both espoused Quaker beliefs, and assisted Michael in obtaining the job at Bell Hell in Texas, to where they relocated after leaving Philadelphia.

Marina wrote to Ruth c/o Arthur Young, Paoli, Pa., and the letter got through, since Ruth stopped in New Orleans on her way home and picked up Marina, the kids and the alleged assassination rifle and drove them to Texas while Oswald went to Mexico City. Arthur and Ruth Young and Michael and Ruth Paine professed Quaker beliefs, Ruth Paine taught at a Quaker school and they supported Cord Meyer’s World Federalists movement for a world government and a strong United Nations.

Another wealthy Main Line Quaker philanthropist, Dr. Dee Dee Sharples, now a Temple University Trustee, was married to George DeMohrenschildt, one of the accused assassin’s best friends.

The last person President Kennedy talked with on the telephone from his Ft. Worth hotel suite was the patron of the arts who decorated the hotel room walls with fine works of art, who happened to be from Philadelphia and friends with Ruth and Michael Paine.

Besides home to the Paines, Youngs and Sharples, Paoli is also the small town home of Cuban exile, Enrique Menocal, Castro’s childhood friend, who helped found the Cuban Aid Relief, which was sponsored by the CIA’s Catherwood Fund. One stop down the Main Line train track from Paoli is the home of Cummins Catherwood, whose Catherwood Foundation served as a conduit for the funds earmarked for covert CIA operations, some of which included Latin American Spanish language news organizations, the international division of the Columbia University School of Journalism, the Cuban Aid Relief, Catholic Welfare and a multitude of operations in the Philippines, Cuba and Central America. [See articles: The Catherwood Foundation; The Cuban Aid Relief; and Julio Fernandez.].

The CIA’s Catherwood Fund reportedly funded such things as the White Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, to which Marina Oswald baptized her children, and the Cuban Catholic Relief, which provided medical services to anti-Castro Cubans in Dallas and Miami.

The Catherwood Fund also bankrolled a conference of exiled Cuban journalists at the University of Miami (aka JMWAVE) in the summer of 1963.

Philadelphia was the primary dateline for such reporters as Joe Goulden, who “made up” Oswald’s FBI undercover agent number, and investigative journalists Gaeton Fonzi and Mike Mallowe, who wrote numerous articles on the JFK assassination for Philadelphia Magazine.

It was Fonzi’s magazine articles that caught the attention of Sen. Richard Schweiker (R. Pa.) when he was named to the Schweiker-(Gary) Hart (JFK Assassination) subcommittee of the Church Intelligence Committee investigation into illegal intelligence agency activities. It was during his leg work for that sub-committee that Fonzi first interviewed Alpha 66 leader Antonio Vechina and his association with CIA case officer “Maurice Bishop.”

Both Hart and Schweiker were taken care of, Hart exposed for his “Monkey Business” with Donna Rice, while Ronald Regan prematurely named Schweiker his VP running mate, effectively taking him out of the game.

The Church Committee Report however, did help spark the creation of the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), which was given the task of investigating the assassinations of President Kennedy and Martin Luther King. The first chief counsel to the HSCA was Philadelphia attorney Richard Sprague, who had previously investigated the assassination of United Mine Workers Union President Tony Boyle and successfully prosecuted his rival Jock Yablonski for the murder.

When asked about Oswald’s motives, Sprague, the son of two psychologists, replied that he wasn’t interested in whether Oswald was nursed at his mother’s breast, “my approach to motive is more direct.” Sprague began to conduct two simultaneous homicide investigations, with the intention of solving the crimes, and was directly removed from his office and replaced by G. Robert Blakey, a Cornell organized crime expert who redirected the investigation away from the intelligence connections towards the mob.

When Sprague was the chief counsel, I hand delivered him a package that contained a copy of Jim Braden’s 1948 Camden, N.J. arrest report, but Sprague never passed his files on to Blakey when he took over, and as far as I can tell, the Assassinations Records Review Board never obtained Sprague’s files either.

More recently, two active Philadelphia cases have a bearing on the JFK assassination, Ira Einhorn and Robert Steven Lipka.

Hippie Guru Ira Einhorn was indicted, and later convicted in abstensia of killing his girlfriend, former Texas cheerleader Holly Maddux. Einhorn was a protégé of Arthur Young, the inventor, and blames the CIA and KGB for killing Holly. Einhorn took off when his attorney, Arlen Spector, got him out on bail, but he was recently recaptured in France, where he had been fighting extradition back to Philly to be retried. Eventually returned, he was convicted again.

Robert Steven Lipka was a NSA clerk at Fort Meade, Md. whose job was to shred highly classified documents, but instead, beginning in September 1965, he began selling them to the KGB. Lipka sold enough docs to the Ruskies to retire and go back to school, earn a degree and teach school in Millersville, Pennsylvania.

It appeared he got away with it until sometime after March, 1992, when KGB archivist Vasile Mitrokhin defected to the British MI5 and exposed Lipka as a means of establishing his bonafides. When the British passed on the information to the FBI, an undercover FBI agent slipped up to Lipka at a bar and began to rope him in before he was officially arrested in March, 1996.

Although Mitrokhin was not mentioned as the source for the arrest, Lipka admitted his betrayal at a court hearing, during which he also said that from NSA records he learned the name of President Kennedy’s assassin.

When asked by a reporter what was the name of the assassin in the NSA reports, Lipka replied: “Luis Angel Castillo.”

Lipka was sentenced to prison, the Castillo file remained withheld at the Ford Library until earlier this year, while the NSA continues to insist that it has no records of evidentiary value concerning the assassination of President Kennedy.

Then there’s Steve Keenan, the man on the motorcycle, a college student from Philadelphia who frequented the Quaker Casa de Amegos hostel in Mexico City who reportedly gave Oswald a ride to the Cuban embassy on the back of his motorcycle.

In the summer of 1963, at the same time Lee Harvey Oswald was handing out Fair Play for Cuba leaflets in New Orleans and getting arrested with members of the anti-Castro Cuban DRE, someone later identified as Oswald was seen handing out pro-Castro leaflets at Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia

Philadelphia PA, the Crossroads of Conspiracy, and home of the Quakers, journalists, lawyers and spies and keys to the assassination of President Kennedy.


Jimmy’s Steaks on South Street – Best cheesesteak around.

Downey’s – Delaware Riverside bar, glass and brass place owned by Sinatra’s pal.

Rittenhouse Square – Hip park where FPCC and pro-Castro Cuban demonstrations held, including one where LHO or impersonator/lookalike was reported.

Guitar Workshop – Originally opened in North Philly by EK, the brother of the Man on the Motorcycle in Mexico City, moved to Sanson Street.

Sansom Street – Hip street near Electric Factory and Rittenhouse Square. .

Philadelphia Bulletin – Across from 30th Street Station, where the Bulletin newspaper clip archives were located until the Bulletin bought and folded by the Charter Company, which was implicated in Watergate. The Bulletin clipping files are now at Urban Archives, in the basement of the Paley Library at Temple University.

Russian Addresses from Oswald’s notebook - a, b, c, d.

Mrs. Paine’s – Quaker friends.

Swarthmore College – Main Line – Where Michael went to college.

Bryn Marr – Main Line – Where Priscilla Johnson went to college.

Catherwood Offices in Paoli – CIA bagman, off Main Line.

Arthur Young farmhouse – Brandywine.

Old Convention Hall at Penn where JFK visited in 1963 –

Judge’s House in Mt. Airy – Dayton alumni live near Germantown Avenue.

Sprague & Sprague – Law offices of the first chief counsel to HSCA, former Philadelphia DA.

Specter – Law offices of Arlen Spector, former Philadelphia DA.

Hanneheman Hospital – Where Army Intel contracts awarded, headed by E. Wharton Shober, CIA associate and co-founder of the anti-Castro Cuban Aid Relief (CAR)

Temple – Where MMMC attended school. Now home to the Philadelphia Bulletin newspaper archives.

30th Street Station – Magnificent huge marble and granite building, where center city subway ends, local train links (ie. Main Line) connect, and AMTRACK trains running the Northeast Corridor – put in, with east-west line running to Pittsburgh and west and north-south line running to Boston/New York to the north and Wilmington, Delaware, Baltimore and Washington D.C. to the south.

There’s a good news stand and book store in the southeast corner near the east doors, where the Atlantic City NJ Transit trains put in, as well as a McDonalds, a bar, and a food court with a wide variety of oriental and local take outs, with shared tables.

There’s also a good Irish bar across the street on the south side, if you have the time and inclination.

From 30th Street Station, the trip to New York is about an hour and fifteen minutes, with stops in Trenton, [See: Trenton Tour ] and one or two other stops in New Jersey, and putting into New York at Grand Central Station [See: New York Tour ]

The New Jersey Transit (NJT) trains also run to New York from Trenton, and are much less expensive than AMTRACK, and put into Manhattan’s Union Station at Madison Square Garden.

The trip to Washington D.C. is about two and a half hours, and includes a snack car that offers coffee, tea, soda, beer, soup and sandwiches, but I usually wait until I get to DC because there’s a lot more to offer there, especially at Washington’s Union Station.
[See: DC Tour ]. nia

Camden, New Jersey

Camden, New Jersey

Camden, N.J. My hometown, the place where I was born and raized, the son of Camden police officer, World War II combat hero and detective in on the capture of Howard Unruh, one of the first, if not the first contemporary, post-war spree killer.

Besides being my hometown Camden NJ was also the home of Walt Whitman, Jersey Joe Walcott, Angelo Erracatti and Marco Reginelli, the Philadelphia mob boss before Angelo Bruno.

Camden is also where Jim Braden was taken into custody as a material witness in a gambling case in 1948, an arrest report that was withheld from TV journalist Peter Noyes when he requested it while working on a book on the assassination of JFK.

Braden it seems, was also taken into custody as a suspicious person at the scene of President Kennedy's murder in Dallas in 1963, and his 1948 arrest in Camden came to the attention of Noyes and is mentioned in his book, A Legacy of Doubt (1976). Because they didn't respond to his request, Noyes claimed that the Camden police department were controlled by the mob.

Through the efforts of my father I obtained Braden's 1948 Camden arrest report and shared it with other researchers, including Noyes, who mentioned it to G. Robert Blakey, the second chief counsel to the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA).

"Legacy of Doubt" by Peter Noyes was published in 1973 (Pinnacle Books, Oct. 1973) in a pulp paperback with a cover that screamed “A JOURNALISTIC BOMBSHELL! – Startling new evidence about the JFK and RFK deaths!”

Noyes, a veteran CBS TV producer and journalist wrote, “The assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, left a legacy of doubt in the minds of every American who lived through those horrifying moments in Dealey Plaza. For a time, the very structure of the Republic seemed threatened…”

Noyes book reads like an old fashioned Sam Spade detective novel, complete with gangsters, dames and cops on the take, as he describes meeting former FBI agent Bill Turner, who unsuccessfully tries to get Noyes and CBS to air his bootleg copy of the Zapruder film. On his way out the door, Turner throws Noyes a bone – check out this guy – Jim Braden, who reportedly lived in Beverly Hills and was taken into custody at Dealey Plaza.

Noyes went to the official records and discovered that on September 10, 1963, Eugene Hale Brading notified the motor vehicle department that he changed his name to Jim Braden and requested new identification under that name.

When Noyes asked then LAPD Chief of Detectives Bob Houghton about Eugene Hale Brading, and he asked the FBI (File #799431), they learned that EH Brading was a member of the La Costa Country Club and was in the vicinity of the Ambassador Hotel when RFK was murdered, besides being at Dealey Plaza.

As Noyes reports in his book, “Houghton,…eventually satisfied himself after several thousand man-hours of investigation that Eugene Hale Brading was not connected with the assassination of Senator Robert Kennedy. Shortly after Houghton began working on the RFK case, he signed a contract with Random House to write a book about the assassination called ‘Special Unit Senator.’ That was the name Houghton had given the investigating task force looking into Robert Kennedy’s murder. In the police department, the task force was better known as the SUS detail…”

“The SUS task force compiled a comprehensive report on Gene Brading,” wrote Noyes, “then turned it over to the FBI. The investigators who made the report stressed to me that they regarded it as a matter of great importance and fully anticipated it would be turned over to U.S. Attorney Matt Byrne. Their paramount interest, or so they told me, was in the possible role organized crime might have played in the JFK assassination. By coincidence, at that time Matt Byrne’s office was conducting an extensive investigation of the Mafia. And I was quite interested in Byrne’s decision to subpoena one of the most powerful figures in the Cosa Nostra, the tough and vicious Carlos Marcello, of New Orleans, who had made no secret of his contempt and hatred for both John and Robert Kennedy.”

“But Byrne always insisted to me that he was never given the SUS report on Brading by the FBI…..” note Noyes. “Despite the official roadblocks set up by the FBI there was a great body of information available.”

From various sources, Noyes pieced together some basic background: “Eugene Hale Brading was one of three sons born to Charles and Millie Brading, a relatively poor but hard-working couple from the plains of Kansas. It was a closely knit family, and many years later, when Brading acquired a degree of affluence, he purchased a retirement home for his parents in the coastal cit of Santa Barbara, California.”

“Brading was only nineteen when hew as first sentenced to prison in Kansas for burglary in 1934…paroled…in 1938, (he) proceeded to moved to a much faster paced environment in Miami, Florida, where he quickly became associated with the hoodlum element. On February 24, 1941 he was arrested in Miami for running a gambling house. He was fined $200 after being convicted of bookmaking, and was given a suspended six-month jail sentence. On three different occasions he was arrested in Florida for selling World War II gasoline-ration coupons on the black market. The third time he was sentenced to one year in jail.”

“Intelligence information indicted that Brading was slowly weaving his way into the mob’s hierarchy and that he was a man who was going places. In 1948 while using the alias of Harry Eugene Bradley, he was arrested in Camden, New Jersey, as a material witness in a criminal case. (Camden police have since refused to divulge any details concerning that arrest, but it must be noted that there was considerable organized crime in the Camden area at the time, and Brading’s sudden appearance there came as no surprise to investigators who have studied his background.)…” [Legacy of Doubt, p. 40]

On reading that last passage, I gave Noyes’ book to my father, then a Lieutenant in the Camden, N.J. Police Department. While today Camden is recognized as America’s “most dangerous” city, it was not so then – in 1948, though organized crime and the Syndicate were getting organized. The Philadelphia “family,” later to be led by Angelo Bruno, was in 1948 headed by Marco Riginelli, who lived in the Walt Whitman Hotel in Camden. Then a close-knit operation, gambling, booze, prostitution and drugs were the main interests in a geographic area that encompassed Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, from Trenton to Atlantic City.

The next day my father handed me the 1948 Camden PD arrest file on “Harry Eugene Bradley” also known as Eugene Hale Brading, including a front and side mug shot, details of the arrest and a three page rap sheet of previous arrests, and an attachment from the FBI requesting they be notified of any information about this individual.

Like he would be at Dealey Plaza as Jim Braden, Brading was taken into custody as a material witness, though in the Camden incident, he wouldn’t be asked to just make a statement and be released on his own recognizance, but would be mug shot, fingerprinted and held as a witness in a gambling operation of Dominic Mattia. I recognized the name of the arresting officer – Mr. Bobiac, who also ran a TV repair shop, but he had since past away.

Curious, I looked up Dominic Mattia in the phone book and found he lived in a new development in nearby Cherry Hill. Unabashed, I drover over and knocked on his door. When Mattia answered, and I asked him if he recalled the 1948 arrest in Camden, he did. Mattia explained that there was a card game going, a high stakes card game that was raided, and Mattia and Brading were just two of the guys in the room at the time. “It was a coincidence we were together,” Mattia said.

I was in my early 20s at the time and it was one of my first forays into the investigation of the assassination of President Kennedy.

Making copies of Jim Braden’s Camden arrest file, I sent one to Peter Noyes, another to the Assassination Archives and Research Center in DC and others to a few independent researchers who I knew were interested. Later, in 1977, I hand delivered a copy to the Philadelphia law office of Richard Sprague, when he was appointed the first chief counsel to the HSCA, and I learned that he had his staff read Noyes’ book.

I knew Jim Braden’s testimony before the HSCA would be important, mainly because of his movements, residency at the Cabana Hotel and sharing an office in New Orleans on the same floor in the same building (Pere Marquette) as G. Ray Gill. Since Jim Garrison obtained the phone records of Gill’s office, and knew about some phone calls that established a pattern of evidence, I mistakenly believed that it would be properly investigated.

After Richard Sprague was forced out of the HSCA and G. Robert Blakely was appointed chief counsel, I thought Blakely’s academic background in the study of organized crime at Cornell, and his development of the RICO Act as a prosecution tool, that the Braden angle would be investigated.

When Braden was finally called to testify before the HSCA, he did so in executive session, for two days, even though, as a reading of his testimony shows, he wanted his story to be told so he could be publicly exonerated. Instead, when the HSCA concluded its business, it published a series of reports and exhibits, like the Warren Commission, but then sealed the rest of its records for 50 years as Congressional Records.

According to House Rule 36, all Congressional Records are sealed for 50 years, and Congress, unlike the CIA and every other branch of government, exempted itself from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

After the HSCA folded up its tent and sealed its records, I got a phone call from Michael Ewing, who worked with Blakely at the HSCA and was co-authoring a book with Blakely on how JFK was killed by the mob. I respected Ewing from his previous book, “Coincidence Or Conspiracy,” profiles of the major players in the JFK assassination, including one on Jim Braden, a book that he co-authored with Bernie Festerwald, Esq., founder of the Assassination Archives and Research Center.

Ewing had been talking with Peter Noyes and learned that I had obtained Jim Braden’s 1948 arrest report from the Camden, NJ PD, and wanted a copy.

I explained I had given a copy to Sprague and the HSCA, but Ewing said that Sprague didn’t turn over all his files to Blakely when he left, and I said I was glad he didn’t because they would now be locked away for 50 years. I did send him a copy, but made him aware of my anger at the records being sealed.

Although Blakley said that he was content to “Rest on the judgment of historians in 50 years,” others were not, and the JFK Act was passed in 1992 that ordered the release to the public of all government records related to the assassination of President Kennedy. The HSCA records of their investigation of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., which included evidence of conspiracy, continues to be withheld from the public.

In his testimony before the HSCA, Braden made it quite clear that he wanted his story to be told in public, but his DC attorney at the time does not know what became of him.

When I was in California, I checked in at La Costa Country Club, which was open to the public, and the golf pro recalled Braden but didn’t know where he went after being booted from the club. The address in Atlanta where he was living when he testified before the HSCA was no longer valid. The “Jim Braden” whose name and phone number are listed in the LA phone book, is a black guy who is not the Jim Braden from Dealey Plaza.

If Jim Braden is still alive, he would be in his upper 80s, probably living near a golf course, possibly near Atlanta, or close to Santa Barbara, California, where his mother was last known to be living.

It would be greatly appreciated if anyone could put me in contact with Jim Braden, aka Edgar Eugene Brading, aka Harry Eugene, as I believe he is still alive today.

JFKresearch Photo Gallery 4 / Jim_Braden_Mug_Shot

Atlantic City, New Jersey

Atlantic City, New Jersey



Atlantic City, the “Playground of the World” is not typically associated with the assassination of President Kennedy, but it has many historic connections and is where I started out on most of my trips on the train of the assassins.

It also is a good place to introduce my BioChronological approach to history, and focusing on individual biographies and their roles in special events that took place somewhere at a particular point in time.

Atlantic City is the home to a number of characters who became somehow implicated in the assassination of President Kennedy, including – John Martino, Candy Jones, Skinny D'Amato, Carrol Rossenbloom and Charles Ford to name the most interesting.

John Martino is named as a primary suspect in a number of books, like Tony Summer's "Not In Your Lifetime," David Kaiser’s The Road to Dallas, Lamar Waldron and Thom Hartman's Ultimate Sacrifice, and Larry Hancock's Someone Would Have Talked. Martino, who knew the Bay of Pigs date and location while in a Cuban prison, also expressed foreknowledge of the assassination, how it would unfold, and knew others who have been implicated, and was on the Bayo-Pawley mission to Cuba in June, 1963. Martino was born and raised in Atlantic City, and is named in early police reports as one of Angelo Bruno's bookies in Atlantic City.

Jessica “Candy Jones” Wilcox was a CIA programmed model and messenger, a Miss Atlantic City in the Miss America Padgent, she married a New York modeling agency heavyweight, got mixed up with World Heavyweight champion Gene Tunney, and was recruited into the CIA MKULTRA mind control program. She later married Long John Nebel, whose radio show call ins included Lee Harvey Oswald, and who assisted in her de-programming and exposure as a mind controled agent. It's probably a coincidence she grew up in the same Atlantic City neighborhood as John Martino, Charles Ford and Skinny D'Amato.

Ah, yes, then there's 500 Club owner and Sinatra pal Skinny D’Amato, who would help JFK win the West Virginia primary and become manager of the Cal/Neva Lodge with Frank and Sam Giancana, who was in on the Mafia/CIA plots to kill Castro.

They helped get JFK elected and part of the reward was the 1964 Democratic National Convention, when the President would be renominated for a second term and everyone would party with Frank and Jack at Skinny's. But it wouldn't work out that way.

John Martino would become Santo Traficante's casino security expert in Havana, Cuba, Skinny D'Amato would become manager of Frank and Sam's Cal/Neva Lodge, which Joe Kennedy reportedly had a piece of, while Carroll Rosenbloom would be suckered into buying Meyer Lansky's half of the Hotel Nacional in Havana shortly before Castro took over.

Carroll Rosenbloom, the owner of the Baltimore Colts, lived in the Jersey Shore barrier island just south of Atlantic City. Gambler and golfer Mike McLaney had convinced him to buy a substantial interest in the Hotel Nacional just before Castro took over, and he lost a bundle. When LBJ came to Atlantic City for the 1964 Democratic National Convention, he officially stayed at a boardwalk hotel, but he actually took up residence at Rosenbloom's Downbeach home.

Recently released FBI undercover agent reports on Mike McLaney includes a 1964 report on local mob boss Herman "Stumpy" Orman, who the report notes, was fretting over who to replace as chief of police, showing emphatically who was running who at the time of the Democratic National Convention.

Besides John Martino, Candy Jones, Skinny D'Amato, Carroll Rosenbloom, Mike McLaney and Stumpy Orman, there' CIA officer Charles D. Ford, who went into China in the OSS with G. Walton Moore, become a career CIA training officer, RFK's liason to JMWAVE at a critical time, and they say, RFK's Mafia connection.

Charles D. Ford's role in the whole affair needs further exploration and should be detailed.

More recently, former FBI agent and 9/11 casualty John O’Neill, killed at the World Trade Center, was a hard core Atlantic City guy from this same neighborhood, and helps bridge the gap between the Deep Politics of 11/22/63 and 9/11.

I find it pretty amazing that all of these people grew up in a small Atlantic City neighborhood they call Ducktown, really within a few city blocks of each other.

Atlantic City is a good place to start historically because of the history of organized crime in the resort, specifically the 1929 meeting of organized crime racketeers. This is especially significant since the mob are the primary whipping boys, along with the CIA, for being the false sponsors and allegedly responsible for the assassination of President Kennedy.

It was in 1929 in Atlantic City when the mobsters formally organized the natioanl syndicate of organized crime. While they didn’t formally incorporate as a commercial company, it was actually more of a conglamorate, as they divided the country into territories, approved or appointed bosses to govern each area, and set up the Commission to settle disputes between racketeers in different cities. [See: Atlantic City Organized Crime Convention 1929].

The Commission was the Board of Directors of the National Crime Syndicat and included the heads of the five New York families, plus Philadelphia (Bruno), Upstate Pennsylvania (DeCalvancate), New Orleans (Marcello), Florida (Traficante)and Chicago (Giancana). Chicago controlled Cleveland, Detroit, Texas, the Southwest, Vegas and California.

Atlantic City, from its earliest days, was an open town, where racketeers from all over the country could visit, and do business, but it was always under the nominal control of the Philadelphia family.

“Commodore” Louis Kehune was the first political and mob boss of Atlantic City, holding reign from the 1880s until 1908, when New Jersey Governor John First decided to clamp down on the gambling, prostitution and drugs in by enforcing the state law forbidding the sale of alcohol on Sunday. Kehune had to threaten to send in the National Guard to Atlantic City before the police, county sheriff and prosecutor decided to enforce the law, effectively ending Kehune’s rule.

In his place Enoch “Knucky” Johnson was elected sheriff and the Republican Party boss ruled the town for decades.

“Nucky” Johnson was the boss of Atlantic City and the host of the 1929 meeting, though he had nothing to do with the prearrangements. The shakeout of the Atlantic City shindig was that after the St. Valantine’s Day debacle, Capone had to thrown to the wolves to take the heat off of everybody, and the old school Mustache Petes had to be forceably retired in order to make room for the new, young Turks led by Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky and Bugsy Siegel. The Young Turks would redirect the Syndicate’s main source of income from Prohibition booze to gambling, and their national network of bookies would be the basis of their conspiracy and cooperation.

The bosses change over the years but there’s always a boss, just like there’s always a heavyweight champion of the world, and the mob boss today can trace his lineage back to the mobsters who attended the 1929 meeting in Atlantic City.

Marco Reginelli was the head of the Philadelphia/South Jersey mob for many years, and is said to have sold the 500 Club in Atlantic City to Skinny D’Amato. Eventually Reginelli would be succeeded by Angelo Bruno, the “Gentle Don,” who ran the Philadelphia/South Jersey mob for many years and served on the Commission.

According to FBI reports from the era, Bruno met a number of times in 1963 with Santo Traficante, the Flordia mob boss who also included Havana in his territory.

According to Scott Deitche in The Silent Don – The Criminal Underworld of Santo trafficante Jr. (Barricade Books, Fort Lee, NJ, 2007, p. 44), “At the Hotel President conference in May 1929, one of the main orders of business was to deal with Al Capone’s increasing profile in Chicago and with the resulting violence from a major gang war that had been raging for years. The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre earlier that year had been the icing on the proverbial cake, bringing together racketeers from across the country to the Jersey Shore.”

“According to Florida law enforcement, it was at this meeting that the Tampa family was formally recognized by the New York heavy contingent. It could be argued that the Hotel Statler meeting the previous year served as the formal recognition of the powers in the Tampa underworld, but since no secretary took minutes, the discussions at the meetings can only be surmised.”

John Martino was at one time an Atlantic City bookie [See: Angelo Bruno FBI reports at Mary Ferrell Archives] who became a casino electronics expert and worked at Santo Trafficante’s Havana casino before Castro took over.

Martino was later arrested in Cuba as a spy, served time in prison, and wrote a book (with Nate Weil) “I Was Castro’s Prisoner.” As the Florida roommate of Johnny Roselli who was working out of the CIA’s JMWAVE station, Martino had mob connections. He also visited Dallas shortly before the assassination, met with Syliva Odio and Father MacChann, and expressed foreknowledge of the assassination.

In The Road To Dallas, David Kaiser names Martino as one of the prime suspects in the assassination of President Kennedy. When Tony Summers was in Florida interviewing Martino's widow and son, I was in Atlantic City talking to Martino's sister and brother, who still lived in the old Chelsea section of Atlantic City, neare the boardwalk, where Skinny D'Amato also lived.

Then there is Charles D. Ford, who attended the same local Catholic high school as "Crazy Phil" Leonetti, John O'Neil and local basketball legend Chris Ford.

Charles D. Ford, an Atlantic City native, attended Princeton before joining the CIA and was assigned to JMWAVE before becoming the CIA’s liason with Bobby Kennedy when the CIA plots to kill Castro were hatched with the mob connections.

C.D. Ford it turns out, denies it all in a report to his CIA bosses, but he becomes even more tantalizing when his OSS records reveal that he was sent to China with G. Walton Moore, who later became George DeMohrenschildt's CIA case officer at the Dallas Domestic Contacts Division. It was Moore who gave DeMohrenschildt the "Okay" to befriend Oswald, and Moore's reports to the CIA on Oswald's activities should include DeMohrenschildt's suspicions of Oswald's involvement in the Walker shooting shortly after it happened. The idea that the CIA official receiving reports on Oswald in Dallas had previously served in OSS in China with the CIA officer said to be the liason between RFK and the mob, certainly requires closer scrunity.

And did John Martino and C.D. Ford know each other from the same old Ducktown Atlantic City neigbhorhood, where they both grew up within city blocks of each other?

Then there's Candy Jones.

Candy Jones was Miss Atlantic City 1940, her first husband, big time New York Model Agency director Harry Conover, introduced her to the society from where she was recruited into the CIA by a military officer and associate of former World Heavyweight boxing champion Gene Tunney. Tunney's name seems to keep coming up in the early history of the OSS/CIA in New York, and there must be a great story of how the heavyweight champion of the world became a spy. But Tunney introduced Candy Jones to the military people who recruited her as a CIA courier and MKULTRA subject.

Used as "a courier," a Quantico trained agent and MKULTRA test model, Candy Jones later married New York City radio talk show host John Nebel, who reportedly had a live on air telephone conversation with Lee Harvey Oswald.

After Nebel married Wilcox, he began to tape record her conversations when she would go into a trance, and assumed her CIA courier identity, the subject of a book by Donald Bain, The Control of Candy Jones (Playboy Press), which uses an alias for her CIA psychologist and mind bender “Dr. Jensen,” whose identity should now be known.

Jessica Wilcox grew up in the same Atlantic City neighborhood as John Martino and C. D. Ford, both characters in the CIA and mob plots to kill Castro.

Atlantic City is also where Adele Edisen met Dr. Jose Rivera, who also served as a Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves and expressed foreknowledge of the assassination.

Then there’s John O’Neill, the former FBI agent who died at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

O’Neill, the son of Atlantic City cab drivers and a graduate of Holy Spirit High School, worked his way up in the FBI from a tour guide to top agent in charge of the anti-terrorism unit in New York City. Ushered out of the FBI by others inside the agency, O’Neill was on the first day of his job as head of security of the World Trade Center, when he was murdered by his arch-nemesis Osama Bin Laden.

O’Neill, after stopping home to visit his parents, would stop by the White House Sub Shop to buy a dozen hoagies for his friends in the office or guys on steak out. An Atlantic City staple for decades, there’s pictures of the Beatles holding a White House sub in their Lafayette Hotel room in 1964.

In Atlantic City, one manditory stop on the Assassin's Tour is the JFK Memorial.

Kennedy Memorial – Kennedy Plaza – On the boardwalk in front of Boardwalk Hall – is a very likeable Kennedy bust designed by Texas sculpture, and much more eloquent than the Dallas Kennedy Memorial. [See Photos]

Another is 500 Club Lane - Missouri Avenue near Ceaser's Casino on Pacific Ave.

One of the most notorious Atlantic City characters is Skinny D'Amato.

Skinny D’Amato owned the 500 Club in Atlantic City, which featured Frank Sinatra, Joey Bishop, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Sammy Davis, Jr. and the rest of the Rat Pack, and managed the Cal/Neva Lodge for Sinatra and Sam Giancanna, the Chicago mob boss.

Most significantly, Skinny D’Amato is said to have played a big role in getting JFK victory in the West Virginia primary, a crucial election that gave JFK the momentum to win the Democratic nomination, which is detailed in Sy Hersh's The Dark Side of Camelot.

Anthony Summers also interviewed Skinny shortly before he died.

Here's Archie Black's three part series on the Five.

I also have an interview with Deano that I'll post later.

Skinny D'Amato
Atlantic City Newsletter, March 2000
by Archie Black

The 500 Club - Part 1

Well, Brenda and I spent an enjoyable hour or so at the Atlantic City Library on Saturday morning and came up with a lot of interesting stuff with respect to the infamous 500 Club Chips that Bob Eisentstadt discovered, and Mason's records that Gene Trimble uncovered.

We plan to visit the Atlantic County Historical Society next Saturday where additional info may be forthcoming. However, what we have documented leaves no doubt in our minds that the 500 club chips that Rober Eisenstadt has provided scans for are the ones that were in use in the 1930's and 1940's, at the least. The floral mold design may have come about at a later date... but that's speculation.
The 1949 telephone directory lists a 500 Club Tavern at 6 South Missouri Avenue, which would indicate the shipping address on Mason's card file to a Mr. Pill Barr at 4 South Missouri Ave. as the same place.... or at least connected to the 500 Club property. While we could find nothing about Mr. Barr, to whom the chips were shipped, perhaps our search next weekend may shed some light on who he was. Possibly the manager or owner of the 500 Club at that time in the mid-30's?
This is a scanned photo of the 500 club that appears on page 149 of "Atlantic City America's Playground" by Bill Kent with Robert Ruffolo and Lauralee Dobbins that was published in 1998.

A superbly illustrated reference work on the history of Atlantic City. Beneath the photo of the actual 500 Club building, is an image of a dinner plate with "the 500" embossed.

Since February was Black History Month I have added some background to A.C.'s nightclubs which might prove relevant and interesting too.......
"An attempt by the black community to deal fairly with racial tensions that created Atlantic City's vibrant Kentucky Avenue nightclub district, (some of the clubs date back as far as the 1920's, Atlantic City's Kentucky Avenue reached its peak during the 1950's when six nightclubs on or near Kentucky Avenue between Arctic and Atlantic Avenues featured nearly every African American entertainer in the country. Sammy Davis Jr., Sarah Vaughn, Nat "King" Cole, Moms Mably, Slappy White, Billy Daniels, Billy Eckstine were only a few of the entertainers who perforemd at Graces, Little Belmont, the Wintergarden, the Paradise Club and Club Harlem."
"Like New York's Harlem nightclub district, Kentucky Avenue began as a group of night clubs and carpet joints that, due to the necessity of procuring alcohol during prohibition, were linked to organized crime. Kentucky Avenue clubs, along with those in the mostly Jewish South Inlet and the predominantly Italian Ducktown section west of Convention Hall, "all offered some form of gambling."

But what made the Kentucky Avenue clubs different were their hours of operation. Musicians performed at the Jockey Club or the 500 Club "WHERE SINGER DEAN MARTIN & COMEDIAN JERRY LEWIS FIRST TEAMED UP", could put their instruments down at 11 pm (occasionally they played as late as 1 am) and feel safe under the protection of the Atlantic City Musicians Union, one of the most powerful labor organizations in the city. Because African American musicians were not permitted to join the largely white musicians union, they formed their own, with the intention of beating the white union at its own game.

When other nightclubs in other parts of the city concluded their entertainment at 11 p.m., the Kentucky Ave clubs were just warming up. During the summer months from the late 1940's to the early 1960's, "the corner" of KY and the "Curb" between Arctic and Atlantic Avenues was so jammed with early morning revelers that cab drivers would pick up and discharge fares a block away, because it was often impossible to drive a car through the crowds.

The city's police made a career of raiding the nightclub gambling operations - as was the case during prohibition; a club could measure its prestige by how much of an advance warning the police gave before they arrived. This, and a series of highly publicized investigations into municipal corruption, contributed to Atlantic City's increasingly negative reputation as a city on the make.

The city had as many as 300 restaurants and bars open during the summer season, many of them taking advantage of the city's law allowing 24-hour liquor service. The city had 40 movie theaters, most of them on Atlantic Avenue.

A gradual change in the nature of entertainment doomed some of the clubs to a slow death. The dominance of the nightclub style of show that had thrilled pre-WWII generations was being challenged by movies and television, though Club Harlem and the 500 Club managed to survive into the 1960's.

A fire that burned everything but a picture of Frank Sinatra, destroyed the 500 Club on June 10th, 1973, while a shoot-out that killed a pregnant woman shut down the Club Harlem in 1968. The Club reopened infrequently and was eventually torn down. Today, 500 Club Lane, a portion of Mississippi Ave between Pacific and Atlantic Avenues, marks the "Five's" location. (the actual club stood where casino limousines now park).

"When the chips are down, you can bet "Mr. Chips" will be there to pick them up."

The 500 Club - Part 2

The following is taken from "The Boardwalk Jungle" by Ovid Demaris, (1986).

"With Nucky Johnson behind bars, Hap Farley lost little time in establishing himself as the boss of Atlantic County. Besides being a Senator, Chairman of Atlantic County's Republican Committee, and a practicing attorney, Farley appointed himself county treasurer. This not only gave him control of the purse string, but made it clear to county employees who was signing their paychecks and to welfare recipients who was responsible for their checks.... and he let the judges know who was boss. Once a month, he had his nephew deliver their paychecks."

"If anything, vice operations became more rampant under Farley's reign. He made sure the police were underpaid so that vice payoffs would be more palatable. And to make sure the police understood their role, Farley demanded that they sign "loyalty oaths" to the Organization, as his Republican Club was called. So when Farley or one of his flunkiies told a cop to lay off a vice operator, he laid off, or else."

By 1951 the stench of vice in Atlantic City was so ripe that U.S. Senator Estes Kefauver decided to bring his Crime Committee to Atlantic City. Kefauver would later write in his report: "When this committee moved into Atlantic Ctiy at the height of its tourist season, numbers runners and bookies ran for cover and a storm of protests arose from the politicians and racketeers".

Among the conclusions reached by the committee was that Farley was head of the city's rackets, that the Republican party assessed members of the police force $30 a year, that the police department showed "signs of deliberate laxity" and could never find any gamblers to prosecute, despite the fact that about 200 bookmakers were operating there.

Like all political bosses, Farley had a lot of pals. One of them was Public Safety Commissioner Mario Floriani, head of the Fourth Ward Italian American Club. A strong supporter of Floriani was Paul "Skinny" D'Amato, who never had any problem running prostitution and gambling in the 500 Club which he fronted for a succession of Mafia bosses. The 500 was a hangout for Mafiosi and politicians. That is where many of the deals were cut while Skinny acted as genial impresario.

Not all entertainment in Atlantic City was on the Boardwalk. What kept the city going in the fifties and early sixties was the side avenue nightclubs that offered top entertainment.

The Club Harlem, with Larry Steele's high-kicking chorus line, featured black stars (that were mentioned in Part 1). Graces' Little Belmont featured organist Wild Bill Davis and his jazz trio, and Le Bistro booked Jack Jones, Belle Barth, Vic Damone, Jackie Mason, and a young comic named Lenny Bruce.

But the 500 Club, only 50 yards from Le Bistro, became the "Big Daddy" of them all after Sknny took over in the early forties. Its showroom was gradually expanded until it seated a thousand people, and his backroom house a plush casino. At one time or another the lineup included all the top headliners on the nightclub circuit from Sophie Tucker to Patti Page, from Jimmy Durante to Joe E. Lewis and Jackie Leonard. Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin teamed up for the very first time at the 500 Club back in 1946. But the biggest draw ever at the 500 was Frank Sinatra, whose five engagements over a period of a half-dozen years literally became historical events."

The photos are of "Paul "Skinny" D'Amato and his pals who played his 500 club helped make Atlantic City the swingingest spot south of Manhattan in the 40's and 50's". "Skinny" is pictured with Jimmy Durante and Donald O'Connor in top photo and with Sammy Davis, Jr. in the bottom scan.

"When the chips are down, you can bet "Mr. Chips" will be there to pick them up."

The 500 Club - Part 3

"What is amazing about Sinatra's appearances at the 500 is that he performed free of charge, doing as many as four shows a night. Skinny D'Amato says that it was because Frank loved him "like a brother," but then Skinny seemed to feel that way about everybody he knew. And he acknowledged with pride that he knew all the important politicians in New Jersey, and every Mafia boss in the country.

The 500 was built by Marco Reginelli, underboss of the Philadelphia family, who lived and operated out of Camden, NJ. His successor, Angelo Bruno, also loved "Skinny" like a brother. "Skinny" was so proud of his new boss and partner that he named his only son Angelo. Through the years, Skinny turned the Five, as the club was known to its devotees, into a local institution and had himself crowned, "Mr. Atlantic City".

In the late 1930's Skinny had done a stretch in Lewisburg after being convicted as a "white slaver", and was still there, in fact, when another brotherly friend, Nucky Johnson, arrived at the federal pen to serve his time.

It was after Skinny's release from prison that Reginelli picked him to front the Five. Skinny put the club on the map and made millions for his friends.

According to Skinny, his managerial abilities so impressed another close friend, Chicago Mafia boss Sam Giancana, that was when Giancana and Sinatra bought into the Cal-Neva Lodge at Lake Tahoe they picked Skinny to manage the place. But that was short-lived. Sinatra who was blacklisted in Nevada, came to visit his sweetheart, singer Phyllis McGuire, who with her two sisters was headlining the Cal-Neva showroom.

"In recalling that event, Skinny told me that he and Sinatra had advised Giancana not to come. We died when we saw him drive up. But he was in love, what are you going to do?"

"During the 1960 presidential campaign, Giancana sent Skinny D'Amato to West Virginia to get votes for Jack Kennedy. He was to use his influence with the sheriffs who controlled the political machine of that state. Most of them had been customers at his 500 Club, and according to Skinny, "loved him like a brother." Whether he helped turn the tide for Kennedy in that crucial primary state is not as important as the fact that Giancana sent him there on Kennedy's behalf."

"Sinatra made only one more appearance at the 500 after his Nevada debacle. That was the one in August 1964. As Altantic City Press columnist Sonny Schwartz would note in later years, "Sans Sinatra, summer business in '65 and the following years took a decided downhill turn."

"The flames shot throught the roof and smoke belched skyward. The 500 Club was giving its final performance. Watching from across the street on this Sunday afternoon, June 10, 1973, Skinny D'Amato was being consoled by his two daughters, Paulajane and Cathy, and his son, Angelo. Reporters surrounded them."

"Fighting back tears, Skinny pointed to the second-floor living quarters above the nightclub. "That's where my kids were born... where they grew up." The tears started running down his sunken cheeks. He lowered his head, wiped at his face, and looked up. "I'll rebuild," he said. "I don't know how, but I'll try. I'm going to keep going. I was born on this street." Then he shook his head. "People can't afford it anymore." What he meant was that the 500 had been in the bankruptcy courts."

"A moment later, Skinny was entertaining the reporters with stories about Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. "They each called on Christmas and spoke to the whole family... to the kids." he said, now ignoring the flames that were ravaging the club. "Sinatra appeared here five times and never charged me a penny."

"After the fire was brought under control, Skinny toured the smoking ruins. The roof had caved in, the rear wall had collapsed. He moved throught the muddy debris, shaking his head in disbelief at the skeletal remains. Then he stopped and stared in astonishment at a charred wall where he had hung a lifesize photograph of Sinatra. There it was, untouched by the flames. He took faltering steps toward it to make certain. How was it possible? The heat had been so intense that steel girders lay twisted in the ruins. He reached up and touched the photograph. Yes, it was true. It had survived. This had to be a good omen. God's way of assuring him that the future was secure. It was miracle......"

At the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, after a 24 minute standing ovation, Bobby Kennedy brought them to tears with his eulogy to JFK, which was put off until the last night because LBJ feared Bobby would be spontaneously drafted to lead the party.

You should be able to ride by the Downbeach home of Carroll Rosenbloom – where LBJ actually stayed that week, using his hotel room for business. Rosenbloom was the owner of the Baltimore Colts NFL football team, and partners with Mike McLaney in the Hotel National Casino in Havana, which they purchased from Meyer Lansky just before Castro took over Cuba on New Year’s Day, 1959.



Only a few of the most popular restaurants have survived the influx of the casinos, but when you're in the town, there's a few places that you really have to experience or else you really haven't been to Atlantic City.

First off there's Angelo's.

Angelo’s Fairmount Tavern – One of the last of the old Italian joints in Ducktown.

Baltimore Grill – Open all night, 7 days, Tony’s Baltimore Grill has inexpensive meals, spaghetti, pizza, sandwiches, and they seem to get better as the night, or morning wears on.

White House Sub Shop – Using fresh rolls from the bakery next door, the White House hoagies and cheesteaks are the best anywhere, as all the celebrities – including Sinatra and the Beatles, could attest.

Dock’s Oyster House – Now over a century old, Dock’s is just Jersey Shore seafood.

Los Amegos. – An old German bar now Mexican, is a steady standby.

Knife & Fork - Only classic Five Star restaurant outside of casinos.

Tun Tavern – Near the train station, the Tun Tavern is brewpub named after the Philadelphia tavern where the U.S. Marine Corp was founded in 1776. For me, it’s the last stop before boarding the train, and first place where I head when I get back in town, have a beer, hit the head and make a few phone calls while awaiting my ride.


Boardwalk Hall opened in 1929, the same year that the organized crime syndicates met in Atlantic City.

Kennedy Plaza – the area in front of the Boardwalk Hall, where JFK was eulogized by RFK. Lifelike bust of JFK stands at the front of the plaza.

President Hotel – An original meeting place for the April, 1929 conclave, promoted the fact in later years. Mentioned in Scott Deutch’s bio of Santo Trafficante, as the where his power was solidified by the mob bosses, the President was demolished with the advent of the new casino era. Now a vacant lot. Visit the Knife & Fork period restaurant across street.

Chalfonte-Haddon Hall – Resorts International – Atlantic City’s first legal casino after New Jersey adopted the Havana model in only permitting casinos in Atlantic City in hotels with over 500 rooms or more, thus ensuring the control of the development of casinos in the hands of a select few.

Bally/Caesars – The second and third casinos in Atlantic City, both controlled by the syndicate that began in Atlantic City in 1929. Near 500 Club Lane.

Atlantic City Country Club – Where Al Capone is said to have hid out while the Atlantic City police were looking for him during the 1929 meetings. Later purchased by with money from Carroll Rossenbloom.

Hutton Estate – Lake’s Bayside Spanish Revival style mansion of Barbara Hutton, the Woolworth heiress whose estate became a local icon.

Studebaker Building – Up the Pike and across the street. Still has the Studebaker engraving in front of the building.

Kentucky Ave. – The old jazz clubs.

500 Club – Missouri Avenue, now 500 Club Way.

Steel Pier – A shell of its former self, but still there across boardwalk from Resorts.

Masonic Lodge – Once used as police station.

Tunn Tavern – at AMTRACK and NJTRANSIT train station and new Convention Hall.