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Lewis McWillie worked as a professional gambler in Memphis, Tennessee (1932-36). Later he worked in Jackson, Mississippi, and Dallas, Texas (1940-58). Then he moved to the Deauville Casino in Cuba. A fellow worker at the casino was John Martino. McWillie was also a business associate of Santos Trafficante and Meyer Lansky and later ran the Tropicana Casino in Havana. In August 1959 Jack Ruby visited McWillie.
When Fidel Castro took control of of the island McWillie was arrested and then deported to the United States. After a period in Miami Meyer Lansky placed him inside of his Tropicana Casino in Las Vegas. In 1961 Sam Giancana and Johnny Roselli recruited McWillie to look after Frank Sinatra's Cal-Neva Lodge in Nevada.
On 17th November, 1963, McWillie was seen with Jack Ruby at the Thunderbird Casino Las Vegas. According to John William Tuohy: "Two days after meeting McWillie in Las Vegas, Ruby was back in Dallas, flush with nough cash to pay off his back taxes."
In Nomenclature of an Assassination Cabal William Torbitt claims that the assassination of John F. Kennedy was organized by Louis M. Bloomfield, the head of Permindex. According to the author Permindex was comprised of:
(1) Solidarists an Eastern European exile organization.
(2) American Council of Christian Churches led by Haroldson L. Hunt.
(3) Free Cuba Committee headed by Carlos Prio.
(4) The Syndicate headed by Clifford Jones, ex-lieutenant governor of Nevada. This group also included McWillie, Bobby Baker, George Smathers, Roy Cohn and Fred Black.
McWillie became a professional gambler in Dallas and Las Vagas.
In 1961 a Chicago hood named Joseph "Crackers" Mendino died of a heart attack. Over the years, he had worked under everyone from Torrio to Giancana in the juke box, pinball and gambling end of the business. Tony Accardo was one of his pallbearers, and anybody who was anyone in the Chicago outfit was there for the burial, probably the last big time mob funeral since the days of Al Capone.
At the funeral, Accardo and Sam Giancana held a meeting and directed Johnny Roselli to plant in Nevada somebody to watch over Frank Sinatra because the boys had decided that Sinatra was much to enamored with the Kennedys and wasn't thinking straight anymore.
When Roselli returned to the West Coast he called a hood named Lewis McWillie, whom he had first met back in 1938, when Roselli did a short stint as the Chicago representative to the Sans Souci Casino in Havana.
McWillie had worked in Cuba for years, mostly for New York racketeer Meyer Lansky, McWillie was never clear to anyone on exactly what it was he did for Lansky, telling the Warren Commission only that he was a "key man" at Lansky's Tropicana Casino in Cuba. When Castro booted Lansky out of Cuba, he brought McWillie with him and placed him inside of his Las Vegas Casino, the Tropicana in Las Vegas. Otherwise, there was very little known about McWillie, who also used the obvious alias of Lewis N. Martin. It is known that he had deep contacts within the New York and Chicago mobs, and, although never a member of any one specific outfit, the FBI kept him under surveillance and considered him to be a top mob hit man and enforcer for hire.
Roselli told McWillie that Chicago wanted him out at Sinatra's Cal-Neva Lodge to keep an eye on their investment in the place, and to watch over Sinatra and report his activities back to Roselli.
McWillie did as he was told, and created a job for himself at Sinatra's casino, working under the title of "pit boss," but McWillie, a trained card sharp, was no mere pit boss as he made himself out to be. Instead, he was a very rich, seasoned, major gambler who traveled in the highest circles of organized crime, always driven around in a sleek, new limousine and seldom went anywhere without a bodyguard. Whenever he worked in a mobbed up casino, it was always as a high level executive, several times removed from a lowly blackjack dealer on the floor that he purported to be.
At about that same time, McWillie was in frequent contact with Jack Ruby, the man who silenced Lee Harvey Oswald forever. In fact, one of the last persons Ruby spoke to before he leaped on to history's stage, was Lewis McWillie. The little that is known about their odd relationship is that, according to what McWillie told the Warren Commission, he and Ruby had known each other from their childhood days in Chicago, and McWillie was Ruby's host for an eight-day vacation in Cuba in August of 1959. That same year, the Dallas Police department's Office of Intelligence listed Jack Ruby and "Chicago-Las Vegas hood Lewis McWillie" as being among those connected with mob run gambling in Dallas.
Gray haired and stylish, McWillie impressed the easily impressible Ruby, who admired McWillie and called him "a very high (class) type person" who reminded Ruby of "Like a banker or a man who understood and enjoyed the finer things in this life, which we are given."
Yet, after Ruby gunned down Oswald, the FBI asked him to draw up a list entitled "people who may dislike me" and at the top of the list was Lewis McWillie.
On Sunday, November 17, 1963, five days before Kennedy was gunned down, Ruby showed up at the mob owned Stardust Casino in Las Vegas where he invoked McWillie's name to cash a check and was later seen at the equally mobbed up Thunderbird Casino with Lewis McWillie. Two days after meeting McWillie in Las Vegas, Ruby was back in Dallas, flush with nough cash to pay off his back taxes.
From 1960 to 1963, the ruling hierarchy of Lionel Corporation was General John B. Medaris, Roy Cohn and Joe Bonanno (Joe Bananas), a top Mafia man from New York, Las Vegas, Tucson and Montreal, Canada. Lionel Corporation during this period did over ninety percent of their business with the space agency and army ordnance furnishing such items as electronic equipment, rocket parts, chemical warfare agents and flame throwers. Also, during this period, General Medaris, though having retired in 1960, remained on active duty as special advisor to Army Intelligence in the Pentagon. The Lionel Corporation management was in direct contact with Louis Mortimer Bloomfield who, among other things, was a lawyer with offices in Tangiers, Morocco and Paris, France. Bloomfield was also the president of Heineken's Brewers, Ltd., Canada. General Medaris was a director of one of the land speculation companies of Bobby Baker and Senator George Smathers in Florida. Joe Bonanno (Joe Bananas) in his capacity as a Mafia leader, was associated in the Havana and Las Vegas gambling with L.J. McWillie, Clifford Jones and others.
In addition to J. Edgar Hoover's close association with Roy Cohn, he was also a long time friend of General Medaris. Joe Bonanno (Joe Bananas) had been a personal informer for J. Edgar Hoover for over a decade during 1963. Grant Stockdale, ex-United States Ambassador to Ireland and former George Smathers Administrative Assistant and a stock holder and officer in Bobby Baker's vending machine and Florida land transactions, knew and was closely associated with almost all of the top figures in the cabal. Shortly after President Kennedy's assassination on November 22, 1963, Grant Stockdale was pushed, shoved or fell from the fourteenth story of a Miami building and was killed immediately in the fall. As an officer in the Bobby Baker enterprises, Grant Stockdale had particular knowledge of a good part of the workings of the cabal and his death was one of a series made necessary to protect the group from public exposure...
Fred Black of Washington, D.C. was a lobbyist for North American Aircraft and business associate with Bobby Baker and Clifford Jones. Black has confirmed the connection between Jones, McWillie, Baker, Ruby and ex-Cuban President, Prio.
After November 22, l963, Black publicly told many people in Washington, D.C. he had informed J. Edgar Hoover that an income tax conviction against him must be reversed or he would blow the lid off Washington with revelations of the assassination conspirators. Lobbyist Black prevailed upon J. Edgar Hoover to admit error before the Supreme Court where his case was reversed in 1966. Hoover did well to rescue Black from the conviction. Fred Black, while socially drinking with acquaintances in Washington has, on numerous occasions, been reported to have told of J. Edgar Hoover's and Bobby Baker's involvement in the assassination through Las Vegas, Miami and Havana gamblers. He named some of these as the Fox Brothers of Miami, McLaney of Las Vegas, New Orleans, Havana and Bahamas, Cliff Jones of Las Vegas, Carlos Prio Socarras of Havana, Bobby Baker and others. He stated there was also a connection in that some of the gamblers were Russian emigres.
Don Reynolds, Washington, D.C. businessman and associate of Bobby Baker and who had a number of questionable business transactions with Walter Jenkins on behalf of Lyndon Johnson, also gave testimony concerning Bobby Baker's involvement with the principals and he has stated on numerous public occasions that this group was behind the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Black was a stockholder with Baker in the Waikiki Savings & Loan Association in Honolulu. The other members were Clifford Jones and his law partner, Louis Weiner. There was the Farmers and Merchants State Bank in Tulsa where Jones joined Baker and Black in a stock deal and brought in a Miami pal by the name of Benny Sigelbaum, a courier of funds and documents to the Swiss banks for Permindex and the Syndicate.
Of all the enterprises, none could compare with the controversial Serv-U Corp., a Baker-Black controlled vending- machine firm. Ed Levinson, president of the Fremont Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, was also a partner. Grant Stockdale, President of Serv-U and his money is covered later. Formed late in 1961, Serve-U Corporation provided vending machines for the automatic dispensing of food and drink in companies working on government contracts. In the next two years, Serv-U was awarded the lion-share of the vending business at three major aerospace firms - North American Aviation, Northrop Corporation and Thompson Ramo Wooldridge's Space Technology Laboratories. Baker and Black each bought stock in the company for $1 a share, while the others paid approximately $16 a share.
Donald Purdy: How would you characterize your relationship with Jack Ruby in the 1950's in Dallas?
Lewis McWillie: 1950's, I wasn't around him a real lot, you might say, he would come out to my apartment and swim in the pool and he was a kind of a leech, you might say.
Donald Purdy: Kind of a leech?
Lewis McWillie: Leech. And he was just a hard fellow to get rid of.
Donald Purdy: You say he came over uninvited?
Lewis McWillie: Yes, he came over uninvited after so long a time and he would hang around the pool everyday and swim and have dinner with me and different things.
Donald Purdy: Did you ever have to ask him to leave?
Lewis McWillie: I don't recall. I could have. I don't recall it, though.
Donald Purdy: Were you and Jack Ruby friends during the 1950's?
Lewis McWillie: Yes, we were friends.
Donald Purdy: Were you aware that Jack Ruby considered you one of his closest friends?
Lewis McWillie: I would have to say so, yes, on account of the favors I had done him.
Donald Purdy: What was the reason?
Lewis McWillie: The favors I have done him.
Donald Purdy: So he liked you because you had done favors for him?
Lewis McWillie: I helped him.
Donald Purdy: How had you helped him other than getting Mr. Julius Schepps to help him? Did you help him in any other way?
Lewis McWillie: I helped him with, he had a union problem, he called me in Las Vegas in the early part of 1963.
Donald Purdy: We will go into that in more detail in a little while.
Lewis McWillie: All right.
Donald Purdy: Were you aware that Jack Ruby included you on a list of people who might dislike him?
Lewis McWillie: He put me on a list of people that might dislike him?
Donald Purdy: Yes.
Lewis McWillie: No, I am not.
Donald Purdy: Was there any reason that you could think of that Jack Ruby might think that you disliked him?
Lewis McWillie: No way.
Donald Purdy: Did Jack Ruby idolize you?
Lewis McWillie: In a sort of way I would think so, yes.
Donald Purdy: Why did he idolize you?
Lewis McWillie: I guess because I had helped him keep his business open.
Donald Purdy: What contacts, if any, did you have with Jack Ruby's family, friends and business associates?
Lewis McWillie: I didn't even know his family or friends, I didn't know his family. He told me that he had a brother who was sick and his sister was ill, someway. He didn't elaborate.
Dino Vicente Cellini, is the son of an Italian barber who immigrated to the U.S. Cellini had two brothers, Edward and Goffredo, and a sister Julia. Cellini grew up in the steel mill town of Steubenville, Ohio during the Depression years. As a youngster, Cellini worked at Rex's Cigar Store as a dice/craps casino dealer and croupier with singer Dean Martin, then known as Dean (Dino) Crocetti.
During this era, many cigar stores in Steubenville were fronts for mob rackets bookmaking, numbers, pool, illegal drinking, and illegal gambling rackets. Steel mill workers from Steubenville and nearby Youngstown, Ohio would frequent these stores after their shifts, spending their meager paychecks for this entertainment. Craps and Barboot, a Greek dice game, were the games of choice at these places. The gambling halls would hire "mechanics", specialists in manipulating the dice and cheating, to police their craps games. The mechanic would ward off undesirable customers, break winning streaks of lucky customers, and hustle those with lots of money to lose. Cellini was known for his talent with dice and eventually became the youngest "bust out" man in Steubenville.
As a later associate of Santo Trafficante, Sr. and Meyer Lansky, Cellini ran the mob-backed Riviera Casino and Tropicana Club in Havana, Cuba. In 1959, the Cuban Revolution overthrew the Batista regime. The new Cuban president, Fidel Castro, closed all the casinos and forced the American mobsters, including Cellini, to leave the country.
Elmer "Bones" Renner was an old-time gangster from San Francisco who owned the Cal-Neva lodge and Casino at Crystal Bay on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe. He also owed the IRS $800,000.00 in back taxes, and so, on paper anyway, ownership of the Cal-Neva passed to another old time hood named Bert "Wingy" Grober, who also, as a result of his sudden and unexplainable ownership of a casino, ended up with his own set of tax problems. With the IRS after him, Grober placed the Cal-Neva up for sale.
On July 13, 1960, the day Kennedy won the democratic nomination in Los Angeles, it was announced to the newspapers that Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Hank Sincola, a Sinatra pal and business partner, and Skinny D'Amato, a convicted white slaver, had applied for permission from the state of Nevada to take over the lodge.
What didn't make the papers about the deal was that Sam Giancana and the Chicago outfit owned a secret percentage in the Cal-Neva and that it was Giancana's influence that persuaded Wingy Grober to sell the place off for the extremely reasonable price of $250,000.00.
What also didn't make the newspapers about the deal was the FBI assumption that Sinatra was nothing more then a front in the Cal-Neva for New York's mob boss Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno.
As for Giancana's interest in the money-losing casino, he was probably only in the deal to keep next to Sinatra, who was trying, desperately, to keep next to Kennedy, which everybody in the Chicago outfit wanted.
Before the deal was signed, Dean Martin saw the mob's interests in the casino and pulled out of the deal. Sinatra was convinced that the Cal-Neva, a seasonal place, could be turned around, that it could produce a hefty profit, even with the mob connected pit bosses stealing the place blind, and he told Giancana that with the right investment the place could become a year-round operation. To draw attention to the place, on opening night, Sinatra's personality guests included Marilyn Monroe, Joe Kennedy, and his son John. Also there that weekend was Johnny Roselli and Sam Giancana. Uninvited and hiding up in the hills around the casino lodge, was Hoover's FBI.
What the agents couldn't see is what went on inside the Cal-Neva secluded bungalows after the opening night party had ended. Sam Giancana reportedly told his brother that he had been present at a Kennedy brothers slumber party that night at the Cal-Neva Casino. "The men," he said, "had sex with prostitutes -- sometimes two or more at a time -- in bathtubs, hallways, closets, on floors, almost everywhere but the bed."
In 1961 a Chicago hood named Joseph "Crackers" Mendino died of a heart attack. Over the years, he had worked under everyone from Torrio to Giancana in the juke box, pinball and gambling end of the business. Tony Accardo was one of his pallbearers, and anybody who was anyone in the Chicago outfit was there for the burial, probably the last big-time mob funeral since the days of Al Capone.
At the funeral, Accardo and Sam Giancana held a meeting and directed Johnny Roselli to plant in Nevada somebody to watch over Frank Sinatra because the boys had decided that Sinatra was much too enamored with the Kennedys and wasn't thinking straight anymore.
When Roselli returned to the West Coast he called a hood named Lewis McWille, whom he had first met back in 1938, when Roselli did a short stint as the Chicago representative to the Sans Souci Casino in Havana.
McWillie had worked in Cuba for years, mostly for New York racketeer Meyer Lansky. McWillie was never clear to anyone on exactly what it was he did for Lansky, telling the Warren Commission only that he was a "key man" at Lansky's Tropicana Casino in Cuba. When Castro booted Lansky out of Cuba, he brought McWillie with him and placed him inside of his Las Vegas Casino, the Tropicana in Las Vegas. Otherwise, there was very little known about McWillie, who was also used the obvious alias of Lewis N. Martin. It is known that he had deep contacts within the New York and Chicago mobs, and although never a member of any one specific outfit, the FBI kept him under surveillance and considered him to be a top mob hitman and enforcer for hire.
Roselli told McWillie that Chicago wanted him out at Sinatra's Cal-Neva lodge to keep an eye on their investment in the place, and to watch over Sinatra and report his activities back to Roselli.
McWillie did as he was told, and created a job for himself at Sinatra's casino, working under the title of "pit boss," but McWillie, a trained card sharp, was no mere pit boss as he made himself out to be. Instead, he was a very rich, seasoned, major gambler who traveled in the highest circles of organized crime, always driven around in a sleek, new limousine and seldom went anywhere without a bodyguard. Whenever he worked in a mobbed up casino, it was always as a high level executive, several times removed from a lowly blackjack dealer on the floor that he purported to be.
At about that same time, McWillie was in frequent contact with Jack Ruby, the man who silenced Lee Harvey Oswald forever. In fact, one of the last persons Ruby spoke to before he leaped on to history's stage was Lewis McWillie. The little that is known about their odd relationship is that, according to what McWillie told the Warren Commission, he and Ruby had known each other from their childhood days in Chicago, and McWillie was Ruby's host for an eight-day vacation in Cuba in August of 1959. That same year, the Dallas Police department's Office of Intelligence listed Jack Ruby and "Chicago-Las Vegas hood Lewis McWillie" as being among those connected with mob run gambling in Dallas.
Gray haired and stylish, McWillie impressed the easily impressible Ruby, who admired McWillie and called him "a very high (class) type person" who reminded Ruby of "Like a banker or a man who understood and enjoyed the finer things in this life, which we are given."
Yet, after Ruby gunned down Oswald, the FBI asked him to draw up a list entitled "people who may dislike me" and at the top of the list was Lewis McWillie.
On Sunday, November 17, 1963, five days before Kennedy was gunned down, Ruby showed up at the mob owned Stardust Casino in Las Vegas where he invoked McWillie's name to cash a check and was later seen at the equally mobbed up Thunderbird Casino with Lewis McWillie. Two days after meeting McWillie in Las Vegas, Ruby was back in Dallas, flush with enough cash to pay off his back taxes.
The party didn't last long. After only two years, the Cal-Neva was starting to sour on Sinatra and overall only added to the miseries he was having in the summer of 1963. On June 30, 1962, an intoxicated Chuckie English, a Giancana hood, staggered out of the Armory lounge and bumped into one of the FBI agents tagging Giancana. English told the agents that if "Bobby Kennedy wants to know anything about Momo all he had to do was to ask Sinatra."
The agent reported the conversation back to Hoover who brought the comment to Robert Kennedy's attention, who told Hoover to increase the FBI's surveillance on Sinatra and the Cal-Neva. The casino was already being investigated because the Feds suspected that the casino's manager, Skinny D'Amato, was running a statewide prostitution ring out of the place. The agents suspected that the women were being flown in from San Francisco with the operation being run openly from the hotel front desk.
Then, a few days after the Chuckie English fiasco, there was the attempted murder of a Cal-Neva employee who was shot on the front steps of the lodge. No one knows if it was mob-related or not, since the incident was hushed up.
Then, on June 30, 1962, Deputy Sheriff Richard Anderson came to pick up his beautiful brunette wife at the lodge where she worked as a waitress because she had been one of Sinatra's girlfriends for a while before she married Anderson, three months before.
Anderson had noticed the way Sinatra stared at his wife and heard about the rude and off color remarks he made to her and the Deputy, who was twice Sinatra's tiny size, warned the singer to stay away from her. Sinatra backed down and apologized and promised to leave the woman alone.
But Sinatra was a man who brooded and let things build up inside him and on the night Anderson came to pick up his wife, as he stopped by the kitchen to talk with some of the help there, Sinatra came in, saw Anderson and ran up to him and screamed at him, "What the fuck are you doing, here?"
Anderson remained calm and said he was waiting for his wife, then, suddenly, while the cop was still in mid-sentence, Sinatra grabbed him and tried to throw him out, and after a brief wrestling match, Anderson ended up punching Sinatra so hard in the face that he couldn't perform on stage for a week.
Several weeks later, on July 17, 1962, Anderson and his wife were driving down Highway 28, not far from the Cal-Neva, when they were driven off the road by a late model maroon convertible with California plates, driving at high speeds. Anderson lost control of his car, skidded off the road and smashed into a tree, and was killed instantly. His wife was thrown from the car, and suffered severe broken bones and fractures.
Anderson's parents said, "We still think to this day that Sinatra had something to do with our son's death."
The Andersons left behind four children.
But Sinatra's troubles with the Cal-Neva weren't over yet. A few days after Anderson was murdered, and one week before her own death, Marilyn Monroe, flew to the Cal-Neva at Frank Sinatra's invitation. Sinatra told Monroe that he wanted to discuss their upcoming film together, What a Way to Go. Monroe didn't want to go, but someone told Marilyn that Bobby Kennedy would be there. It sounded logical to Monroe, since it had been in the papers that the Attorney General was in Los Angeles on business.
Sinatra flew Monroe out on his own plane along with Peter Lawford, although the crooner was no longer speaking to Lawford after the Kennedys dumped him, and Lawford's wife, Patricia Kennedy Lawford.
Exactly what happened that weekend, at the Cal-Neva, isn't known and may never be known. Louis McWillie, an outfit related gambler who worked for Sinatra at the Cal-Neva said "There was more to what happened up there than anybody has ever told. It would have been a big fall for Bobby Kennedy."
What is known is that there was dinner with Sam Giancana, Peter and Pat Lawford, Sinatra and Monroe. Giancana, of course, had no business being in the Cal-Neva since he was listed in the state's Black Book of persons forbidden to enter a casino, in fact, he was at the top of the list of restricted persons, but, as San Francisco new columnist Herb Caen said, "I saw Sinatra at the Cal-Neva when Sam Giancana was there. In fact I met Giancana through Frank. He was a typical hood, didn't say much. He wore a hat at the lake, and sat in his little bungalow, receiving people."
During the dinner, Monroe got uncontrollably drunk and was led by to the cabin where, while she was passed out, several hookers, male and female, molested her while Sinatra and Giancana watched, with Giancana taking his turn with the actress as well.
While the female prostitutes had their way with Monroe, someone snapped photographs of the entire thing and before the night was over, Sinatra then brought the film to Hollywood photographer Billy Woodfield, and gave him a role of film to develop in his darkroom.
The next morning, Peter Lawford told Monroe that Robert Kennedy was in Los Angeles and that he didn't want to see her, speak to her or have any contact with her in the future. When she protested, someone showed her the photographs from the night before. That afternoon, she tried to commit suicide with an overdose of pills and had to have her stomach pumped.
Later on, when Giancana told the story to Johnny Roselli, Roselli said to Giancana, referring to either Monroe or Campbell, "You sure get your rocks off fucking the same broad as the (Kennedy) brothers, don't you?"
Exactly a year later, Sinatra's involvement with the Cal-Neva came to an end when the McGuire sisters were scheduled to perform there, mostly due to the fact that Giancana was dating Phyllis McGuire, with whom he shared a chalet with during her performance there.
Unfortunately for Giancana, McGuire, Sinatra and the Cal-Neva, the FBI photographed the hood playing golf with Sinatra and having drinks and dinner together in the Cal-Neva dinning room. The FBI was also watching that same evening when, during a small party in McGuire's room, Victor LaCroix Collins, the sisters' road manager, became irritated when Phyllis McGuire kept walking by his seat and punching him on the arm. "So I told her," Collins said, "You do that again and I'm going to knock you right on your butt. A half an hour later she punches me again and so I grabbed her by both arms and meant to sit her in the chair I got out of, but I swung around and missed the chair, she hit the floor. She didn't hurt herself . . . but Sam came charging across the room and threw a punch at me wearing a huge big diamond ring that gouged me in the left eye.
"I just saw red then and grabbed him, lifted him clean off the floor and I was going to throw him through the plate glass door, but thought, why wreck the place? So, I decided to take him outside and break his back on the hard metal railing on the patio. I got as far as the door and then got hit on the back of the head. I don't know who hit me from behind but the back of my head was split open. It didn't knock me out but I went down with Sam underneath me, he had on a pearl gray silk suit and blood from my eye was running all over his suit. I had a hold of him by the testicles and the collar and he couldn't move that's when Sinatra came in with his valet George, the colored boy, they were coming to join the party, the girls were screaming and running around like a bunch of chickens in every direction because nobody knew what was going to happen. George just stood there with the whites of his eyes rolling around and around in his black face because he knew who Sam was and nobody ever fought with Sam. . . . Sinatra and George pulled me off of Sam, who ran out the door."
The next morning, the FBI, which had a fairly clear idea of what had happened the night before, as a well as several roles of film of Sinatra with Giancana, filed its report, with photographs, with the State of Nevada gambling control board.
After reading the report, the control board's chairman, Ed Olson, called Sinatra at the Sands Casino in Las Vegas and asked about Giancana being on the property and Sinatra said that he saw a man who looked like Giancana and that they just waved and nodded to each other and that was all.
But the FBI also had wind of the fight and told the investigators and flew to Nebraska to interview Collins, who filled them in, and then back to Sinatra who denied knowing anything about it. Olson thanked Sinatra for his time and hung up. There was little else he could do. Sinatra was a casino owner, with substantial investments in the state, and he was also a major celebrity who was singularly responsible for drawing tens of thousands of tourists into Nevada.
Then the newspapers got hold of the story and backed Olson into a corner, forcing him to remark that his investigation would not conclude until "certain discrepancies in the information provided by various people at Cal Neva could be resolved."
Sinatra read that and called Olson and asked him to come to the Cal-Neva for dinner "to talk about this, your statements."
Olson said that he felt it was inappropriate to be seen at the Cal-Neva having dinner with Sinatra, since the singer was, technically, under investigation by Olson's office, and even if Sinatra weren't under investigation, Olson said, it would still be unacceptable for the Gaming Commissioner to be seen fraternizing with a casino owner.
"But Frank kept insisting," Olson said, "and I kept refusing the more I refused the madder he got until he seemed almost hysterical. He used the foulest language I ever heard in my life."
To calm Sinatra down Olson agreed to meet Sinatra in Olson's office but Sinatra didn't show up. An hour later Sinatra called Olson in a rage "You listen to me Ed . . . your acting like a fucking cop, I just want to talk to you off the record."
Olson, in an attempt to take back the high ground that his position required said: "Who I am speaking to?"
"This is Frank Sinatra! You fucking Asshole! F-R-A-N-K, Sinatra."
Olson avoided the insults and said that any meeting between them would have to be on record in the presence of witnesses.
Sinatra cut him short and screamed, "Now, you listen Ed! I don't have to take this kind of shit from anybody in the country and I'm not going to take it from you people . . . I'm Frank Sinatra!"
Sinatra went on and on, until, at one point, Olson warned Sinatra that if he didn't show up for an interview that Olson would have him subpoenaed. "You just try and find me," the singer threatened, "and if you do, you can look for a big fat surprise . . . a big fat fucking surprise. You remember that, now listen to me Ed, don't fuck with me. Don't fuck with me, just don't fuck with me!"
"No . . . just don't fuck with me and you can tell that to your fucking board of directors and that fucking commission too."
The next day two investigators came to watch the count at the Cal-Neva and Sinatra yelled across the casino to Skinny D'Amato, "Throw the dirty sons of bitches out of the house."
But since the count had already started, the agents left before an incident could be started but came back the next day, only to have D'Amato offer them $100 each "to cooperate." The agents reported the bribe to Olson, who took moves to revoke Sinatra's license.
When the news was announced that Sinatra was under investigation and would probably lose his casino license, very few people in Nevada rushed to his aid. There were a lot of people in Nevada who resented Sinatra, others despised him and very few people felt that he should have gotten a state gaming license in the first place, and the word around the capitol building in Reno was that Sinatra needed to be taught a lesson.
The lesson they taught him was to take away his license to operate a casino or hotel in Nevada, thus forcing him to sell not only his 50% in the Cal-Neva, but also his 9% interest in the Sands, about 3.5 million dollars worth of holdings in 1963.
"I talked to Sam (Giancana) the next day," said Joe Shimon, a Washington, D.C. Police officer assigned to the Central Intelligence Agency, "and he told me that Sinatra had cost him over $465,000 on Cal-Neva. He said, "That bastard and his big mouth. All he had to do was to keep quiet let, the attorneys handle it, apologize and get a thirty to sixty day suspension . . . but no, Frank has to get on the phone with that damn big mouth of his and now we've lost the whole damn place. He never forgave him. He washed Frank right out of his books."
Nevada's Governor, Grant Sawyer, stood behind the Gambling control board's decision to yank Sinatra's license. However, while the case was still pending, President Kennedy came to the state and was given a caravan parade through the streets of Las Vegas, and found himself sitting in the same car with Governor Sawyer. Kennedy turned to Sawyer, and said, "Aren't you people being a little hard on Frank out here?"
The Governor didn't reply, but later repeated what Kennedy had said to Ed Olson, who was startled by the remark. "That's about the highest degree of political pressure you could ever put into the thing," Olson said.
But the Cal-Neva incident was, for the Kennedys, as Peter Lawford said, "The end of old Frankie boy as far as the family was concerned."
Dumping Sinatra from the White House list of favored persons was long overdue. For years, scores of Kennedy's advisors had been after the President to end his highly public relationship with Sinatra. Not that Sinatra was ever really a White House insider to begin with.
Just how far out of the Washington loop Sinatra really was, was underscored by Peter Lawford when he said that "During one of our private dinners, the President brought up Sinatra and said, "I really should do something for Frank." Jack was always so grateful to him for all the work he'd done in the campaign raising money. "Maybe," Jack used to say, "I'll ask him to the White house for dinner or lunch. There's only one problem. Jackie hates him and won't have him in the house, so I really don't know what to do."
Sinatra was eventually invited for lunch, but only when Jackie Kennedy was out of the White House and even then, Sinatra was asked to use a side door to the White House, since Kennedy didn't want the press seeing the crooner on the grounds of the Executive Mansion. In fact, according to Lawford, Sinatra was only allowed into the White House twice during the three years of the Kennedy administration, and then only for brief visits.
"I don't think he wanted," said Lawford, "reporters to see Frank Sinatra going into the White House, that's why Frank never flew on Air Force One, and was never invited to any of the Kennedy state dinners or taken to Camp David for any of the parties there."
Kennedy, or "Our Mister Prez" as Sinatra called the new Chief Executive, did call Sinatra on an irregular basis, but this was mostly to cover the President's favorite topic, Hollywood gossip.
"When Kennedy would call," said Ole Blue Eyes' English Secretary, "he would smile at everybody, pick up the phone and say "Hiya Prez." After each one of those calls, Frank pranced around so proud of the fact that the President was ringing him up."
But Sinatra was an astute man and sensed he wasn't wanted around the White House and asked why he was being pushed to the side, only to be told by the President's staff that the Kennedy brothers' wives said that they were attending too many "Sinatra summit meetings" and their wives were not happy about it.
Also, aside from being widely disliked by the White House staff, the Kennedys had been cooling off to Sinatra for some time before they gave him the axe, in part due to the singers often erratic public, and private, life.
The first signs of trouble came back during the election, when Sinatra hired blacklisted writer Albert Maltz to write the screenplay for a film called "The Execution of Private Slovik" from the book by William Bradford Huie, the story was about the only American serviceman executed by the army for desertion since the civil war. Sinatra planned to direct and produce the film himself.
The media, the public and virtually every civic group in the country attacked Sinatra for hiring Maltz, but the ever feisty Sinatra refused to back down, in large part because he was doing the right thing, and in some part, because he was, simply, a man who wouldn't be told how to live his personal life.
Boston's Cardinal Cushing, a close friend of the family, told Joe Kennedy that his son could be hurt in the conservative Catholic vote by Sinatra's hiring a communist and Governor Wesley Powell of New Hampshire had already accused Kennedy of being soft on communists.
The Ambassador called Sinatra and said, "It's either us or Maltz, make up your mind, Frank."
Sinatra fired Maltz, but it didn't matter. The American Legion got hold of it and went on the attack. The New York Times wrote a long piece about it and John Wayne, then the country's leading box office producer, attacked Sinatra and Kennedy for being soft on Reds.
"God what a mess!" Lawford said. "The Ambassador took care of it in the end, but it was almost the end of old Frankie boy as far as the family was concerned."
Sinatra had tempted his fate with highly publicity sensitive Kennedys, once to often. Especially after word leaked out to the press that he was partners with the mob in a New England racetrack.
Like everyone else on the inside, the Kennedys knew about Sinatra's overwhelming desire to be around the rough-edged set. Even while Sinatra was helping JFK into the White House he maintained his ownership in the Villa Capri, LA's most mobbed up restaurant, that was a home away from home for every displaced wiseguy who traveled west to make a name for himself. But, owning a piece of a restaurant where small-time hoods ate was a different thing from buying into a major Rhode Island racetrack with crime bosses Raymond Patriarca, Tommy Luchese, and New Jersey's gangster Angelo "Gyp" De Carlo.
When word of the racetrack investment reached the White House, combined with Frankie's mysterious role in introducing Judy Campbell to the President, it was decided to drop Sinatra once and for all.
The catalyst behind giving Sinatra the axe, was, of course, Robert Kennedy. As far as the Attorney General was concerned, Sinatra's loyalties really lay with the mob, and, when and if, a push came to a shove, Kennedy was sure, true or not, that Sinatra would go along with the mob in blackmailing the President to get what it wanted.
Dropping Sinatra wasn't a tremendous loss for the White House, they had gotten what they wanted out of Frank, and, if they ever needed him again, they knew that all they would have to do woulb be to snap their fingers and he'd come running.
To neutralize Sinatra, and always aware of their place on the historical record, the Kennedys justified dropping Sinatra, by having one of Robert Kennedy's employees at the Justice department suddenly "discover" that Sinatra had ties to organized crime, by reading a Department of Justice report about extortion in the movie business which mentioned Sinatra.
To be absolutely certain that Sinatra, and everyone else, understood that he had been axed, the Kennedy boys decided to humiliate him publicly.
Towards the end of January 1962, Peter Lawford, at John Kennedy's request, asked Sinatra if Kennedy could stay at his Palm Springs home in March while Kennedy was out west for a fund raiser.
Sinatra was honored and rushed into a massive renovations program on his estate, including building separate cottages for the secret service and installing communications with twenty-five extra phone lines and a huge helipad with a pole for the President's flag.
When everything was set, and Sinatra had bragged and boasted to all of Hollywood that he would host the President, the President called Peter Lawford into the Oval office and said: "I can't stay at Frank's place while Bobby's handling the investigation of Giancana. See if you can't find me someplace else. You can handle it Peter. We'll handle the Frank situation when we get to it."
Lawford was terrified of the thought of calling Sinatra with the bad news, and when he did, Lawford, who probably didn't know why the President had changed his plans, blamed the secret service and security reasons for the change in Kennedy's plans.
"Frank was livid," Lawford said. "He called Bobby every name in the book and then he rang me up and reamed me out again. He was quite unreasonable, irrational really. [His valet] George Jacobs told me later that when he got off the phone he went outside with a sledgehammer and started chopping up the concrete landing pad of his heliport. He was in a frenzy."
Things went from bad to worse when Sinatra learned that Kennedy was staying at the home of Republican Crooner, Bing Crosby. Sinatra, according to Lawford, "telephoned Bobby Kennedy and called him every name and a few that weren't in the book. He told RFK what a hypocrite, that the mafia had helped Jack get elected but weren't allowed to sit with him in the front of the bus."
A few months afterwards the truth hit the Mafia as well. All bets were off, the Kennedys had not only double-crossed the outfit, they had secretly declared war against it.
As far as allowing Joe Adonis back into the country, as was agreed before the West Virginia primary, the mob was informed by Joe Kennedy, through Skinny D'Amato, that the Kennedys not only intended to renege on the deal, they were going to start deporting and locking up hoods on a nationwide basis.
The national crime commission called Giancana on the carpet for an answer and in turn Giancana called Sinatra on the carpet right after he got back from the commission meeting. One of his underlings heard Giancana screaming into a phone, "Eat'n out of my hand! That's what Frank told me! Jack's eat'n out of the palm of my hand! Bullshit! That's what that is!" and then watched as the mobster threw the telephone across the room.
Biographical Sketches of Georgia's Colonial Families from Europe
These sketches trace the family history and genealogy of General Oglethorpe's first passengers to the Colony of Georgia to as far as possible. In many instances, the place of origin is known and also whether or not certain individuals remained in the colony or quit it. This colony's history is perhaps the most interesting of all settlements because Oglethorpe colonized with poor persons and fLeeing persecuted protestants from all over Europe. These same persons soon found themself embroiled in the land war which England declared against Spain in 1739.
Because of religious persecution from all over Europe protestants from Scotland England Austria and Germany migrated to the Georgia Colony at the invitation of James Oglethorpe who also sought colonists from FLeet and Newgate Prisons in London. These individual who came onboard the ships "The Ann" "The Purisburg" and "The Prince of Wales" settled in the towns of Savannah Ebenezer Darien (New Inverness) and Frederica. Many of the early settlers were traced by professional genealogist Jeannette Holland Austin and are included as part of this private collection of Georgia Pioneers
Lewis McWillie - History
Born Kansas City, MO, May 4, 1908.
Died Las Vegas, NV, Jan. 16, 1986.
Lewis McWillie's name will be forever linked with Dallas nighclub owner Jack Ruby. McWillie was a casino gambling operator who worked for notorious crime bosses and was idolized by Ruby. A 1958 Jack Ruby visit to McWillie in Havana, Cuba, and Ruby's 1963 murder of accused Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald connected McWillie to various Kennedy Assassination conspiracy theories.
McWillie was born in Missouri and grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, where he first became involved in gambling in the early 1930s. About 1936, he moved to Jackson and Osyka, Mississippi, and then, in 1940, to Dallas. He was known to be employed as a dealer in the Blue Bonnet Hotel in the early 1940s. He then became involved in casino-style gambling at the Top of the Hill Terrace in Arlington, Texas, and the Four Duces in Fort Worth. His administration of gambling enterprises brought him in contact with Dallas crime boss Joseph Civello. McWillie was seldom in trouble with the law. He was arrested in connection with a Dallas gambling investigation in 1949 but was quickly released.
Jack Ruby and Lewis McWillie met in the late 1940s. Local officials were forcing Ruby's night club to close early, and he needed a "connection" to set things right. McWillie put Ruby in touch with Julius Schepps, and the problem was resolved. McWillie later recalled, "From then on, I could never get rid of Jack Ruby."
In 1958, as American mobsters began injecting enormous amounts of cash into casino gambling in Havana, Cuba, McWillie relocated to the island nation. In Cuba, he worked at casinos backed by Tampa crime boss Santo Trafficante, underworld financier Meyer Lansky, Meyer's brother Jake Lansky, Norman Rothman, Sam and David Yaras and Dino Cellini.
McWillie first served as manager of the Lansky and Rothman-controlled Tropicana nightclub casino. He held that position until May 1960. He then became pit boss at the Salon Rojo casino of the Capri hotel controlled by Trafficante. While in the casino positions, he was an employee of Cuban brothers Martin and Pedro Fox and made frequent trips to the U.S., often making Florida bank deposits for the Foxes.
A number of McWillie trips from Cuba to the U.S. are documented in immigration records. Providing Dallas home addresses on Raleigh Street, Maple Terrace and Homer Street, he entered the U.S. from Cuba in October 1958 April, July and August, 1959 January, February, March, August, September (twice), October and November, 1960 and January 1961.
Ruby went to visit McWillie in Havana in the summer of 1959 - McWillie sent him airline tickets and arranged hotel accommodations, reportedly hoping that Ruby would bring Dallas newspaper columnist Tony Zoppi with him. Zoppi did not make the trip. Records indicate that Ruby was in Cuba more than a month. McWillie, however, insisted that the visit was no longer than six days. "Jack Ruby was that kind of fellow that six days would be long enough to be around him," McWillie once stated. "I am sure he wasn't there a month."
Ruby's Cuba stay occurred as Fidel Castro built his government, following the successful revolution against Fulgencio Batista. Santo Trafficante had been arrested and was being held at the Triscornia detention camp. McWillie reportedly visited the camp twice that summer but did not recall if Ruby went with him. McWillie recalled going to the camp to see Giuseppe DiGiorgio but also noted the presence of Trafficante, Jake Lansky and Dino Cellini. Trafficante later insisted that he never met Ruby. During Ruby's time in Cuba, Trafficante was released, and that coincidence has led some to insist that Ruby arranged the release.
After returning to the U.S. in 1961, McWillie traveled by car from Miami to Lake Tahoe, Nevada, stopping in Dallas to stay overnight at Ruby's apartment. According to McWillie, that was the last in-person encounter between the two men.
McWillie worked briefly as a pit boss at the Cal-Neva Lodge in Nevada in 1961 and then served as casino supervisor at the Reno, Nevada, Riverside Hotel between October 1961 and late spring or early summer of 1962. In May 1962, he married at Carson City. He later relocated to Las Vegas and took a casino supervisor post with the Thunderbird Hotel on the Strip. He worked there until the summer of 1964.
In the spring of 1963, Jack Ruby reportedly purchased a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson Centennial revolver and had it shipped to McWillie in Nevada. McWillie did not accept delivery of the package. Believed to have left the U.S. after that, possibly working in a foreign gambling operation.
Six months later, McWillie became a person of interest for federal law enforcement agents following Ruby's murder of Oswald. The FBI interviewed him in late November 1963 and again in June 1964. The Warren Commission, investigating the Kennedy Assassination, did not call McWillie to testify.
After 1964, McWillie held positions at the Carousel Club, Binion's Horseshoe Club and the Holiday Inn Casino at Las Vegas.
In the late 1970s, McWillie was interviewed by the House Select Committee on Assassinations.
The HSCA learned that McWillie had indeed made his own trips to the Triscornia camp while Trafficante was confined there. At the time of his testimony, McWillie said he was not certain whether Ruby had accompanied him on the trips. “I don’t recall it, but he could have,” McWillie said. “I don’t know for sure.”
McWillie said he went to Triscornia primarily to visit with his friend Giuseppe DiGiorgio but also saw Dino Cellini, Jake Lansky and Trafficante: “I didn’t talk to Trafficante because I didn’t know him that well to speak to him.”
McWillie died in Las Vegas on Jan. 16, 1986. He was 77 years old. His Nevada death record made him appear four years younger, by moving his birthdate from May 4, 1908, to May 4, 1912.
- Air Passenger List, Immigration and Naturalization Service, departed Havana, arrived Miami, Florida, Oct. 26, 1958.
- Air Passenger List, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Flight 358, departed Havana, arrived Miami, Florida, April 30, 1959.
- Air Passenger List, Immigration and Naturalization Service, departed Havana, arrived Miami, Florida, July 7, 1959.
- Air Passenger List, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Flight 358, departed Havana, arrived Miami, Florida, Aug. 24, 1959.
- Air Passenger List, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Flight CCA-800, departed Havana, arrived Miami, Florida, Jan. 12, 1960.
- Air Passenger List, Immigration and Naturalization Service, departed Havana, arrived Miami, Florida, Feb. 1, 1960.
- Air Passenger List, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Flight CCA-998, departed Havana, arrived New York City, March 16, 1960.
- Air Passenger List, Immigration and Naturalization Service, departed Havana, Flight CCA-800, arrived Miami, Florida, Aug. 10, 1960.
- Air Passenger List, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Flight CCA-800, departed Havana, arrived Miami, Florida, Sept. 2, 1960.
- Air Passenger List, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Flight CCA-800, departed Havana, arrived Miami, Florida, Sept. 13, 1960.
- Air Passenger List, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Flight CCA-810, departed Havana, arrived Miami, Florida, Oct. 5, 1960.
- Air Passenger List, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Flight PA-412, departed Havana, arrived Miami, Florida, Nov. 7, 1960.
- Air Passenger List, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Flight CCA-804, departed Havana, arrived Miami, Florida, Jan. 2, 1961.
- Carson City, Nevada, Marriage Index.
- House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA Hearings), Appendix to Hearings Before the Select Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, Volume IX, Staff and Consultant's Reports, U.S. House of Representatives, Ninety-Fifth Congress, Second Session, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1979. Report may be accessed online through the History Matters website (https://history-matters.com/archive/jfk/hsca/reportvols/vol9/contents.htm ).
- McAdams, John, "Testimony of Lewis McWillie," Kennedy Assassination Home Page, http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/russ/jfkinfo2/jfk5/mcwill.htm .
- McAdams, John, "Testimony of Santos Trafficante," Kennedy Assassination Home Page, http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/russ/jfkinfo2/jfk5/traff.htm .
- Nevada Death Index.
- Social Security Death Index.
- United States Census of 1920, Tennessee, Shelby County, Ward 31, Enumeration District 219.
- "Lewis Joseph McWillie," Find A Grave, findagrave.com, March 31, 2010.
- "One-paragraph link to Nevada included in Warren report," Nevada State Journal, Oct. 9, 1964, p. 2.
Trafficante, Santo Jr. (1914-1987)
Born Tampa, FL, Nov. 15, 1914.
Died Houston, TX, March 17, 1987.
Santo Trafficante, Jr., the son of an early Tampa, Florida, Mafia boss, was raised in local organized crime and became boss upon the death of his father. He is known for his close ties to New York underworld bosses and for his management of Cuban casinos, and is frequently mentioned in Kennedy assassination conspiracy theories.
Born in Tampa, to Santo Sr. and Maria Giuseppa (Josephine) Cacciatore Trafficante, Santo Jr. grew up in a large Italian family on North Boulevard in Tampa, just outside the traditional boundaries of the immigrant neighborhood known as Ybor City. The 1930 U.S. Census shows him at age 14 as the second of five sons. His brothers were Frank, Sam, Fano and Henry. Santo Jr. attended Hillsborough County public schools but left school in the tenth grade.
By the next U.S. Census, twenty-five-year-old Santo had started his own family. He, wife Josephine Marchese Trafficante and their five-month-old daughter Mary Jo resided at 3105 Eighteenth Street in Tampa. Santo and Josephine married in April 1938. For the census, Santo reported his occupation as clerk for a retail grocery, but he was likely working with his father in underworld rackets by then. A major income source for the Tampa Mafia was a lottery-style gambling racket, known as bolita. A few years later, another daughter, Sarah, was born into the family.
Following World War II, Trafficante began making trips to Havana, Cuba. He was well established with authorities there when U.S. underworld figures began funneling money into gambling facilities and narcotics smuggling rackets on the island of Cuba.
The passing of underworld authority from the late Santo Sr. to Santo Jr. was not acceptable to a local Mafia faction supportive of the Italiano family. At attempt was made on Santo Jr.'s life in 1953 - a shotgun blast fired at his car succeeded only in wounding his arm.
When Santo Sr. died the next year, Antonio Italiano and Dominic Ferrara reportedly went to New York Mafia bosses to complain about the succession. Trafficante business connections with New York were already strong and lucrative, however. The new Tampa boss reportedly had solid support from the Luciano-Costello (later Genovese), Lucchese and Bonanno organizations, as well as Meyer Lansky. The Italiano faction's complaint was ignored and Antonio Italiano and Dominic Ferrara were never seen again.
In that year, Santo Jr. and his brother Henry were convicted of bribing a St. Petersburg detective and sentenced to five years in prison. The trial judge called the Trafficantes, "a couple of rats [who] crept out of the sewer." The conviction was later overturned, but Henry was eventually imprisoned on bribery and gambling convictions.
As the Mafia invested heavily in Cuban casinos under the regime of dictator Fulgencio Batista, Santo Jr. spent much of his time in an apartment in the affluent Vedado neighborhood of Havana. He reportedly managed investments of the U.S. underworld in gambling ventures and is widely believed to have organized international narcotics trafficking through the island nation.
Trafficante was visiting New York City at the time of the 1957 murder of crime boss Albert Anastasia. Anastasia was believed to be trying to create a separate gambling empire for his Mafia family in Cuba. Trafficante was also noted at the Mafia convention in Apalachin, New York, later in that year.
American authorities linked Trafficante with gambling at Cuba's Sans Souci nightclub, the Hotel Comodoro Casino and the Hotel Deauville Casino. He is known to have worked closely with Jake Lansky, brother of underworld financier Meyer Lansky, and with Dino Cellini.
Mafia investments and the trust of underworld allies in Trafficante's management were imperiled when the Batista government was toppled. Trafficante was unable to make arrangements with the regime of Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro after 1959.
Trafficante and associates Jake Lansky and Dino Cellini were arrested by Cuban authorities in the late spring of 1959. Lansky and Cellini were quickly released, but Trafficante, perceived as being especially close to Batista brother-in-law Roberto Fernandez Miranda, was held at Triscornia detention facility until August. Compelled by Cuban officials to sell his interests in gambling facilities, Trafficante attempted for months to retain secret control of them. He returned to Florida in January 1960.
Trafficante and other Mafia leaders worked with American intelligence agencies to plot the overthrow or assassination of Castro. Castro survived that conspiracy, and some believe he succeeded in turning it to his own advantage. Trafficante is among the underworld bosses regularly named by conspiracy theorists as an organizer of the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy.
Trafficante vehemently denied any involvement in the Kennedy assassination. However, statements made by Trafficante during 1962-63 seemed to predict that killing.
In 1966, during a trip to New York, Trafficante was arrested along with a dozen other suspected Mafiosi at an Italian restaurant in Queens. Police dubbed the gathering, "a little Apalachin."
When Tampa detective Richard Cloud was shot to death at the front door of his north Tampa home, Trafficante was suspected of involvement. Authorities hoped that imprisoned underworld figure Victor Acosta would help link the murder to Trafficante, but Acosta suddenly died in his prison cell of an overdose of tranquilizers. The death was said to be a suicide.
Trafficante was called to testify before Kennedy assassination investigators in the late 1970s. At that time, he acknowledged that the CIA had approached him about deposing or killing Fidel Castro. Chicago Outfit leaders Sam Giancana and John Rosselli also had discussions with the CIA. Giancana and Rosselli were both killed in 1975.
In 1986, Trafficante was unsuccessfully tried by federal prosecutors for racketeering and conspiracy. The following year, he was to be tried on a 1981 indictment charging him with taking kickbacks from the International Laborers Union dental and eye health care plans. He died, following a triple-bypass operation at the Texas Heart Institute in Houston, before he could stand trial.
- Air Passenger Manifest, Pan American World Airways, NC-34948, departed Havana, Cuba, arrived Miami, Florida, July 25, 1946.
- Air Passenger Manifest, Pan American Airways, NC-45375, departed Havana, Cuba, arrived Miami, Florida, June 17, 1948.
- Arrival-Departure Record, Immigration and Naturalization Service, Miami, Florida, Jan. 27, 1960.
- Florida State Census of 1935, Hillsborough County, Precinct 17.
- Florida State Census of 1945, Hillsborough County, Precinct 22.
- SAC Miami, "Santo Trafficante, Jr.," FBI airtel, file no. 92-2781-104, June 17, 1959.
- Santo Trafficante, Jr., World War II draft registration card, 1942.
- "Santo Trafficante, Jr.," Find A Grave, findagrave.com, June 11, 2010.
- Social Security Death Index.
- United States Census of 1930, Florida, Hillsborough County, Ward 6, Election Precinct 17, Enumeration District 29-48.
- United States Census of 1940, Florida, Hillsborough County, Ward 9, Precinct 17, Enumeration District 70-73.
- "Trafficante gets order," New York Times, April 15, 1967, p. 16.
- "Underworld figure refuses to talk before a House assassination panel," New York Times, March 17, 1977, p. 23.
- Harris, Kathryn, "Santo Trafficante Jr." A Tampa son who made the bigtime with the bad guys," St. Petersburg Times, April 27, 1977, p. 53.
- "16 indicted over union fund use," New York Times, June 5, 1981.
- "15 deny racketeering charges," New York Times, June 20, 1981.
- "Judge declares mistrial in Florida crime case," New York Times, July 10, 1986.
- Leusner, Jim, and Tom Scherberger, "Florida's reputed don, Santo Trafficante, dies," Orlando Sentinel, March 19, 1987, p. 1.
- Roy, Roger, "He never spent a night in U.S. jail," Orlando Sentinel, March 19, 1987, p. 4.
- "Santo Trafficante, reputed Mafia chief, dies at 72," New York Times, March 19, 1987.
Bilotti, Thomas (1940-1985)
Born Staten Island, NY, March 23, 1940.
Killed Manhattan, NY, Dec. 16, 1985.
An intensely loyal lieutenant of Gambino Crime Family boss Paul "Big Paul" Castellano, Thomas Bilotti was murdered Dec. 16, 1985, along with Castellano in front of Sparks Steak House in Manhattan.
Bilotti was born to Anthony and Lillian Rosso Bilotti in Staten Island in 1940. He was raised in Staten Island and was a resident there early in 1970, when he received his first serious notice from the police and the press.
Thirty-year-old Bilotti, resident of 33 Kensington Avenue, Staten Island, was arrested with Thomas Papanier, 25, of Villa Avenue, Staten Island, after a shooting in Jamesburg, New Jersey. African-American teenager Emory Parks of Sheridan Street suffered superficial injuries when he was struck in the back of his head by bird-shot pellets. Bilotti and Papanier were arrested as they ran from the scene of the shooting and were observed discarding firearms.
It was a time of significant racial tension in the Jamesburg area, after riots at the local high school. Police from Spotswood and Monroe Township were on alert, permitting the quick arrest of Bilotti and Papanier. While police believed the two men were responsible for the injuries to Emory Parks, they were initially charged with carrying a concealed weapon, carrying a pistol without a permit and failing to secure a permit to purchase a pistol. A Middlesex County grand jury indicted the duo only for illegal possession of concealed weapons.
Bilotti became a fierce enforcer for Paul Castellano and the Gambino-Castellano faction of the crime family. He was understandably unpopular with a lingering faction that had been forced from power with Albert Anastasia's 1957 assassination. It appears that the Anastasia wing supported boss Carlo Gambino with the understanding that one of their own would succeed Gambino. Their hopes were dashed when Paul Castellano took over the crime family following the 1976 death of his brother-in-law Gambino. Peace within the family was preserved as Aniello Dellacroce, leader of the opposition and an underworld powerhouse in Manhattan, was selected as Castellano's underboss. Dellacroce kept his followers loyal to the Castellano regime for nine years.
During that time, Bilotti served as Castellano's primary driver, bodyguard and most trusted lieutenant. In 1980, Castellano build a palatial mansion for himself at 177 Benedict Road atop Todt Hill in Staten Island. Bilotti moved into a less ostentatious home just a few minutes away. Bilotti worked closely with Salvatore Barbato in providing security for Castellano and his estate. Bilotti and Castellano both regularly vacationed at Pompano Beach, Florida.
Dellacroce's death on Dec. 2, 1985, was followed by two major Castellano missteps. The crime family boss did not attend Dellacroce's funeral, a decision viewed as profoundly disrespectful. And he quickly and unilaterally elevated his aide Bilotti to the position of underboss. Castellano was getting on in years and faced a number of serious federal charges. Dellacroce followers, then led by John J. Gotti, understood that either death or prison would soon remove the boss. But Bilotti's presence as heir apparent would shut their faction out of the crime family leadership for yet another generation.
Castellano had lost much of his underworld prestige as the long-term bugging of his home office by the FBI had recently been revealed. Bilotti was still widely feared but many saw him as lacking in leadership qualities. Gotti found extensive support for his plan to remove both men from administration of the crime family. He appears to have arranged with Salvatore Gravano and Frank DeCicco for the Dec. 16 hit outside of Sparks.
|Bilotti's life ended Dec. 16, 1985,|
on New York's 46th Street
At about 5:30 p.m., Castellano's black Lincoln, with Bilotti driving, stopped in a no parking zone on 46th Street in front of the restaurant. As Bilotti and Castellano emerged from opposite sides of the car, three men in trenchcoats quickly approached on foot and opened fire at close range with semiautomatic pistols. Both targets were hit repeatedly in their heads and torsos. Castellano collapsed on the sidewalk behind the open passenger-side car door. Bilotti sprawled into the street. The gunmen jogged away on 46th Street, climbing into a waiting getaway car at Second Avenue.
With boss and underboss eliminated, John Gotti seized for himself the top spot in the Gambino Crime Family and selected Frank DeCicco as his second in command. Bilotti and Castellano were buried in Moravian Cemetery at New Dorp, Staten Island.
- Dileva, Anthony V., "La Cosa Nostra: The Historical Sicilian Mafia's Influence on American Organized Crime," Project Report in partial fulfillment of requirements for Master of Science degree, California State University, Long Beach, CA, 2006, p. 81-85.
- Michael DiLeonardo testimony, United States of America v. John A. Gotti, Jr., U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Feb. 22, 2006.
- O'Brien, Joseph F., and Andris Kurins, Boss of Bosses, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991.
- Social Security Applications and Claims Index, Oct. 1958.
- Social Security Death Index.
- "Thomas Bilotti," Find A Grave, findagrave.com, July 17, 1999.
- McCarthy, George, "Jamesburg youth shot, two held," Asbury Park (NJ) Press, April 29, 1970, p. 1.
- "Jamesburg quiet after outbreaks," Asbury Park (NJ) Press, April 30, 1970, p. 1.
- "Jury to get case of duo in shooting," Asbury Park (NJ) Press, May 20, 1970, p. 18.
- "Two indicted as result of shooting," Asbury Park (NJ) Press, June 1, 1970, p. 10.
- Blumenthal, Ralph, "Aniello Dellacroce dies at 71 reputed crime-group figure," New York Times, Dec. 4, 1985.
- McFadden, Robert D., "Organized crime chief shot dead stepping from car on E. 46th St.," New York Times, Dec. 17, 1985.
- Raab, Selwyn, "Authorities now say a slain Mafia aide was a major target," New York Times, Dec. 27, 1985.
- "Charges stick to 'Teflon Don,'" Columbus (IN) Republic, April 3, 1992, p. 2.
- Magnuson, Ed, "Hitting the Mafia," TIME, June 24, 2001.
Conti, Gregorio (1874-1919)
Born Comitini, Sicily, March 17, 1874.
Killed Pittsburgh, PA, Sept. 24, 1919.
Downtown Pittsburgh's earliest documented Mafia boss, Gregorio Conti was a duplicitous underworld leader and an unscrupulous businessman. His treachery appears to have been repaid through his assassination at the dawn of the U.S. Prohibition Era.
Conti's native town of Comitini was engaged in sulfur mining and in the farming of grapes, olives and citrus at the time of his birth to Giacomo and Gesua Terrana Conti. Gregorio Conti may have learned about wines and distilled spirits as a young man in Sicily. He appears to have run his own business before deciding to follow his brother - Dr. Gaetano Conti - across the Atlantic.
Gregorio Conti sailed from Palermo on Sept. 17, 1907, and arrived in New York harbor on Oct. 3. He left behind in Sicily his wife and their two young children. He was accompanied on the voyage by fellow Comitinesi Giuseppe Cusumano and Vincenzo Terrana. Cusumano was a nephew of Conti and a trained chemist. Terrana, a surgeon, appears to have been a relative of Conti's mother. All three continued on from New York to Pittsburgh, meeting up with Dr. Gaetano Conti at 29 Chatham Street in the heart of the city's central Hill District. (Dr. Conti maintained the same office until his death in 1927.)
Gaetano already was a man of some importance in the community, serving as physician for the Italian consulate at Pittsburgh. In 1909, Dr. Conti was involved in a criminal investigation of the consulate after his signature was found on phony papers documenting the physical incapacitation of Italian immigrants seeking to avoid military service in their native country. Dr. Conti and Vice Consul Natali reported that seals, stamps and other materials of the consul's office had been stolen by a short-term office worker and used to generate the fraudulent documents, which were then sold. One of several suspects in the case accused Dr. Conti of being behind the racket, saying he paid the doctor $70 for a certificate of incapacitation.
Gregorio Conti was naturalized a citizen of the U.S. early in 1913. Later in the year, his wife and their children sailed from Sicily to join him in Pittsburgh. Conti had opened a business, Pittsburgh Wine & Liquors, at 801 Wylie Avenue, a couple doors down from his brother's offices. The Conti family resided in an apartment above the business. Giuseppe Cusumano worked for his uncle.
Conti seems to have attained a leadership position in downtown Pittsburgh's Sicilian underworld organization at about the time that the city's most successful produce merchant, Salvatore "Banana King" Catanzaro was seriously hurt in a stabbing incident. Conti may have assumed leadership of an organization formerly run by Catanzaro. (As Catanzaro recovered in spring 1914, Pittsburgh produce merchants threw him a large party. The guests included a number of names linked with Sicilian organized crime in the region.)
Western Pennsylvania of that period was home to a large number of small Neapolitan, Calabrian and Sicilian criminal organizations. The Sicilian Mafia units were linked through a loose regional network.
Nick Gentile, whose memoirs recounted many events in early U.S. Mafia history, joined Conti in Pittsburgh in 1915. By then, Conti was well established as boss of the Hill District Mafia and was already rubbing many the wrong way. Gentile noted that Conti frequently picked fights with Cusumano (a problem Gentile resolved by sponsoring Cusumano as a Mafioso, entitled to respect), increased his profits by selling fraudulently labeled liquor and secretly cooperated in Neapolitan Camorra extortion of Sicilian residents.
Gentile claims that he initiated a personal war against the once-dominant Camorra that resulted in its complete capitulation to the Sicilian Mafia. By about 1917, Neapolitan and Calabrian gangs had been incorporated into a regional Mafia-dominated network.
In the spring of 1918, Gentile and grocery business partners Samuel DiBella and Orazio Leone (Leone and DiBella were likely related) were convicted of conspiring to defraud their suppliers out of $22,000 in produce. The men filed a legal appeal. Conti pressured successful fruit merchant J.C. Catalano to provide $4,000 bail for Gentile's release. Once out of prison, Gentile left the country to return to Sicily, and Catalano's bail was forfeited. The merchant demanded that Conti personally compensate him for the loss or acquire repayment through Gentile. Conti stalled for time.
|J.C. Catalano (left) is photographed with other Pittsburgh|
produce merchants in 1916. (Pittsburgh Gazette Times).
The following year, the Wartime Prohibition Act (too late to provide any Great War benefit but intended to remain in effect through demobilization) made the sale, manufacture and transport of alcoholic beverages illegal. That closed Conti's legitimate business. Any continued sale of alcohol would have exposed Conti to enforcement by Justice Department and its Bureau of Investigation.
In September, Conti suddenly decided that he, his family and his fortune would return to Sicily. This decision coincided with rumors that he recently had earned $5,500 by convincing some Italian purchasers from New Castle, PA, that 110 cases of bottled river water was actually 110 cases of whiskey.
Conti and his wife obtained passports on Sept. 12, 1919, stating that they needed to return to Italy immediately to settle Giovanna's family estate. They prepared to travel by train to New York City on Sept. 25 and then take a steamer to Italy in early October.
On the eve of their departure from Pittsburgh, Gregorio Conti was shot four times through the back while sitting in his automobile, at Twenty-first and Smallman Streets, with J.C. Catalano, J.C.'s cousin Philip Catalano and Orazio Leone. Conti was alive but unconscious when police arrived. He was dead upon arrival at St. Francis Hospital. The official cause of death was "shock and hemorrhage due to gunshot wounds through heart (murder)."
|Pittsburgh Press, Sept. 24, 1919.|
Conti's immediate successor as underworld boss of downtown Pittsburgh is unknown. Salvatore Calderone, an Apollo-based Mafia elder statesman and head man of the regional Mafia network, probably played a role in managing the organization. The next documented Mafia boss in Pittsburgh was Stefano Monastero.
William McWillie: Twenty-second Governor of Mississippi: 1857-1859
William McWillie migrated to Mississippi from South Carolina, but, unlike most other antebellum Mississippians who migrated to the state, he did not come during his early childhood. McWillie moved to Mississippi during his middle years after a successful banking career in Camden, South Carolina. McWillie, who was born in the Kershaw District of South Carolina on November 17, 1795, had also served four years in the South Carolina Legislature.
In 1845, McWillie and his family moved to Madison County where he had purchased a plantation. He built a colonial style mansion called Kirkwood, where he lavishly entertained most of Mississippi’s prominent citizens of that era.
Although most other wealthy planters were Whigs who generally opposed secession, McWillie was an ardent advocate of states’ rights and aligned himself with that wing of the Mississippi Democratic Party. He began his political career in Mississippi in 1849 when he was elected to the United States Congress as a Democrat in a Whig district. But in 1851 he was defeated by a combination of Whigs and Democrats who formed the Union Party under Henry Foote.
At the Democratic Party Convention in 1857, McWillie was given the party’s nomination for governor on the fourteenth ballot by a majority of only three votes. He easily defeated the Whig candidate in the general election. Under the provisions of the 1855 constitutional amendment, Governor McWillie was inaugurated November 16, 1857.
In his inaugural address Governor McWillie alluded to the country’s great sectional issues of slavery and states’ rights and predicted that secession of the slave states would become inevitable if those divisive issues were not resolved. And he called on the nation's leaders both in the North and South to seek an early solution to those issues.
During Governor McWillie’s administration the levee system was greatly improved and railroad construction increased substantially. The growth of the railroads was encouraged largely because the state purchased stock in newly organized companies. Governor McWillie recommended a statewide public school system and the creation of a state superintendent of education to supervise Mississippi’s free schools. He commended the legislature for supporting higher education for the young men of the state and urged them to do the same for Mississippi’s college-age women. The legislature did not enact any of the educational legislation he recommended.
Just before Governor McWillie’s term expired, the John Brown raid at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, occurred. That raid created great alarm in Mississippi, and Governor McWillie, fearing a large-scale slave revolt, urged the legislature to enlarge the state militia. The legislature did authorize an increase in the militia, but the fear of revolt proved to be unfounded.
After Governor McWillie left office in 1859, he retired from public life and spent his remaining years at Kirkwood. He was an active supporter of the Confederacy and his eldest son, Adam, was killed in the first Battle of Bull Run. Governor McWillie died at Kirkwood on March 3, 1869.
David Sansing, Ph.D., is history professor emeritus, University of Mississippi.
Warren Commission [ edit | edit source ]
The Warren Commission found no evidence linking Ruby's killing of Oswald with any broader conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy. ⎴] In 1964, the Warren Commission provided a detailed biography of Ruby's life and activities to help ascertain whether he was involved in a conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy. ⎵] The Commission indicated that there was not a "significant link between Ruby and organized crime" ⎶] and said he acted independently in killing Oswald. ⎴]
Warren Commission investigator David Belin said that postal inspector Harry Holmes arrived unannounced at the Dallas police station and, upon invitation by the investigators, questioned Oswald, thus delaying his transfer by half an hour. ⎷] Belin concluded that had Ruby been part of a conspiracy, he would have been downtown 30 minutes earlier. ⎷]
In Gerald Posner's book Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK, Ruby's friends, relatives and associates claimed that he was upset over President Kennedy's death, even crying on occasions and closing his clubs for three days as a mark of respect. ⎸] They also disputed the conspiracy claims, saying that Ruby's connection with gangsters was minimal at most and that he was not the sort to be entrusted with such an act within a high-level conspiracy. ⎹]
Dallas reporter Tony Zoppi, who knew Ruby well, claimed that one "would have to be crazy" to entrust Ruby with anything as important as a high-level plot to kill Kennedy since he "couldn't keep a secret for five minutes… Jack was one of the most talkative guys you would ever meet. He'd be the worst fellow in the world to be part of a conspiracy, because he just plain talked too much." ⎺] He and others described Ruby as the sort who enjoyed being at "the center of attention", trying to make friends with people and being more of a nuisance. ⎸]
Some writers, including former Los Angeles District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi, dismiss Ruby's connections to organized crime as being minimal at best: "It is very noteworthy that without exception, not one of these conspiracy theorists knew or had ever met Jack Ruby. Without our even resorting to his family and roommate, all of whom think the suggestion of Ruby being connected to the mob is ridiculous, those who knew him, unanimously and without exception, think the notion of his being connected to the Mafia, and then killing Oswald for them, is nothing short of laughable. ⎻]
Bill Alexander, who prosecuted Ruby for Oswald's murder, equally rejected any suggestions that Ruby was part-and-parcel of organized crime, claiming that conspiracy theorists based it on the claim that "A knew B, and Ruby knew B back in 1950, so he must have known A, and that must be the link to the conspiracy." ⎹]
Ruby's brother Earl denied allegations that Jack was involved in racketeering Chicago nightclubs, and author Gerald Posner suggested that witnesses may have confused Ruby with Harry Rubenstein, a convicted Chicago felon. ⎹] Entertainment reporter Tony Zoppi was also dismissive of mob ties. He knew Ruby and described him as a "born loser." ⎹]
Author Norman Mailer and others have questioned why Ruby would have left his two beloved dogs in his car if he had planned on killing Oswald at police headquarters. ⎼]
Lewis McWillie - History
Associates of Ruby, such as Lawrence Meyers, Alexander Gruber, and Lewis J. McWillie
Individuals called by Ruby in 1963, such as Barney Baker and Frank Goldstein
The companies which in 1963 employed Baker (Chicago Loop Auto
Refinishing Co.) and Myers (Ero Manufacturing Co.)
J.D. Tippit, the Dallas policeman slain by Lee Harvey Oswald after the President's assassination
Bruce and Karen Carlin (Mrs. Carlin worked for Jack Ruby under the stage name of Little Lynn)
Carlos Marcello, an important organized crime figure
David Ferrie, an individual linked with both Marcello and Lee Harvey Oswald
Robert Maheu, Sam Giancana and John Roselli, individuals involved in CIA plots to assassinate Fidel Castro in the early 1960's and "Dutz" Murret, the uncle of Lee Harvey Oswald.
This list is only partial, and in many instances the records obtained included phone calls for only a portion of the 1963 period. In some instances, the committee's requests for telephone records could not be accommodated. The committee also had access to and used fragmented telephone numbers and numbers whose subscribers were unknown.
It was not possible to explain adequately all of Ruby's telephone contacts. Although explanations have been given, questions and speculation about his associates and contacts remain. For example, there was a 3-minute call to Clarence Rector of Sulphur Springs, Tex.,
on April 10, 1963. Rector told the FBI he had known Ruby since 1950, and that in 1960 Ruby had mentioned that he had been to Cuba in an attempt to obtain some gambling concessions with some associates.
Rector had also made a visit to Cuba in late 1959.(835) The FBI did not question Rector about the April telephone call, and the committee was unable to locate him.
Another unexplained call was to Elizabeth Anne Matthews of Shreveport, La., on October 3, 1963, at 11:03 p.m. It lasted 13 minutes. Matthews was the former wife of Russell D. Matthews, an acquaintance of Jack Ruby and an individual known to be connected with gambling and other criminal enterprises in Dallas. In his deposition to the committee, R.D. Matthews said he had no knowledge of this call or of any connection between Ruby and Matthews' ex-wife. Elizabeth Anne Matthews was not located by the committee, but she had told the FBI on December 1, 1962, that she had no recollection of any calls
from Dallas on or about October 3, 1965.
Other ostensibly explained but still suspicious calls included number of possibilities. A brief account of these calls and individuals, in chronological order, follows.
LEWIS J. McWillie.--Between June and August 1963, Ruby placed seven long distance calls to McWillie, one of his closest friends. He spoke at length of this friendship during his Warren Commission testimony, stating at one point that he idolized McWillie.) In 1959, Ruby had visited him in Havana, Cuba, where McWillie was working in a syndicate-controlled casino. FBI records established that McWillie at least knew Santos Trafficante, the powerful Florida Mafia leader who played a role in the assassination conspiracies against Fidel Castro. McWillie denied anything more than passing acquaintance
Ruby's phone calls to McWillie occurred on June 27, September 2 (two calls), September 4, September 19, September 20, and September 22. The first two were placed to McWillie's home number, the remainder to McWillie's place of business, the Thunderbird Casino in Las Vegas.
McWillie stated that the purpose of these calls was Ruby's desire for assistance in solving his labor dispute with AGVA.
Irwin S. Weiner.--On October 26, 1963, Jack Ruby place long distance call to Weiner in Chicago he spoke with him for 12 minutes. Though the Warren Commission had been aware of this telephone call, it had never sought to have Weiner questioned, nor did it explore his background and associations.
Built in 1955, McWillie Elementary enrolled students from north Jackson neighborhoods, such as Broadmoor, Northmeadow, and Broadmeadow. In 1980, as the surrounding neighborhoods experienced a population shift, students transferred to nearby Boyd Elementary and the Jackson Public School District converted the former school facility to administrative offices and a teacher resource center.
An upturn in the school-aged population attending Boyd Elementary necessitated the "resurrection" of McWillie Elementary. Construction began in 2001 on an unconventional facility purposely designed to support hands-on, activity-based learning and to facilitate the transition from the home environment to the school. The new McWillie School was designed to be a welcoming, home-like environment with a high priority on natural light and aesthetic accents.
This home-school concept was accomplished through the design of Learning Houses. When a student enters their "house", they are in the Family Room designed as a gathering space for group activities or for an individual student whose project may need more work space outside the classroom. Adjacent to the family rooms are the Project Kitchens, which students may use for food preparation or science experiments. Also adjacent to the family rooms are the Team Meeting Rooms, a conference/lounge space shared by the five teachers of each learning house to conduct conferences with co-workers or parents and to store team materials.
From the family room and kitchen, the students move into their Classrooms designed to be large, unencumbered spaces filled with natural light, individual restrooms and sink facilities, a storage room, and several network outlets for computers. From each classroom the students and teachers may freely move outside onto the Learning Porch and Garden. The building design supports the importance of learning opportunities outdoors as well as, and as easily as indoors.
R. D. Matthews- a man of mystery and friend of Jack Ruby and Benny Binion.
R.D. MATTHEWS, a man of mystery and friend of Jack Ruby and Benny Binion
This writer was introduced to R.D. Matthews by Hy Goldbaum, a casino executive at the Dunes Hotel in the 1970s. R.D. Matthews was a good sized man that could handle himself in just about any situation. R.D. would pick up the diminutive Hy Goldbaum and hold him in the air like a baby, when Hy would grab R.D.’s throat in the mock act of trying to strangle him. This action was a humorous jab at R.D. Matthews, which really was to point out that R.D. was a “bad dude.” (1)
Goldbaum empathically said, No one ever messed with R.D. Matthews.”
At the Frontier Hotel. He was a regular pal of Johnny Stone and Dick Westbrook and no doubt did a little business with T.W. Richardson when they both frequented Cuba. In fact, R.D. had a small piece of a club in Havana.
Former FBI Agent Walt Brown writes, “In a subsequent visit to Dallas, with Jay having driven up from Austin, we took a couple of hours as a detour and visited a gun dealer somewhere a couple dozen miles north of Dallas.”
“It could have been Oklahoma for all I knew, as I was just taking in the scenery. We went inside, and Jay asked about a custom-made gun he wanted to buy.”
“The proprietor asked if he was in a position, legally and financially, I presume, to make such a purchase. Jay took out his .380 for demonstration purposes. Satisfied, the dealer asked what he wanted, and Jay told him, point blank, scaring the living sh** out of me, “I want a collection of guns. I want to own an operating replica of all the custom guns you’ve made for R.D. Matthews in his career of using special weapons to kill people.”
“We were asked to leave.”
“Don’t’ look for further references to Mr. Matthews, except in the noted testimonies—at least not while he is still alive.” (2)
Russell Douglas Matthews came to Las Vegas and worked for the legendary Benny Binion, at the Horseshoe Club. The House Assassinations Committee investigators showed a keen interest in the relationship between Jack Ruby and ex-convict Russell Douglas Matthews, a former Dallas resident with numerous arrests on his record.(3) Investigators told Matthews they intended to subpoena him for questioning about a report that Ruby had his telephone number with him when he gunned down accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald in the basement of the Dallas Police Department on Nov. 24, 1963. Matthews, 57, told committee investigators he doesn’t “know anything about” the assassination, according to Matthews’ Dallas attorney, Frank Wright. However, the Committee also is interested in any contacts Matthews may have had with Ruby in Cuba in 1959 when Matthews was working in the gambling casinos of the Hotel Deauville in Havana. Federal declassified documents recently indicate Ruby was active in attempts to free organized crime figure Santos Trafficante from a Havana prison that year.
(1) Munari notes
(2) Walt Brown Chronology
(3) Earl Goltz, 1978
The Warren Commission, which investigated the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, made no mention of a Matthews’ phone number on Ruby or in any of the notebooks he had. However, toll call records showed a 13-minute long distance call from Ruby’s Carousel Club in Dallas to Matthews’ ex-wife in Shreveport, Louisiana on October 3, 1963. The call to Elizabeth Ann Matthews was made on the night of the same day Oswald arrived in Dallas from a 10-day trip to Mexico City. In Mexico City, Oswald had tried unsuccessfully to get a visa for travel to Cuba. After the assassination, Mrs. Matthews said she “could not recall having received a long distance telephone call from Dallas on or about Oct. 3, 1963,” according to an FBI report, but R.D. Matthews himself might have received the call. Matthews said he was only a “passing acquaintance” of Ruby and had known him for about twelve years. However, a longtime friend of Ruby’s, Charles Duarte, told the FBI several days later in December 1963 that Matthews was “well acquainted with Ruby.”
Warren Commission staffer, Burt W. Griffin placed long distance calls inquiring of a Ruby-Matthews link just two days before the Commission’s final report was submitted to President Lyndon Johnson. Griffin called Ruby’s sister, Eva Grant his roommate George Senator business partner Ralph Paul and Carousel Club bartender Andy Armstrong. None knew of any connection between Ruby and Matthews or Matthews’s ex-wife in Shreveport.
Oswald was not known to have been suspected of ever being in Cuba until an FBI document was declassified. In one memo, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover said Oswald “made several trips to Cuba upon his return each time we questioned him about what he went to Cuba for and he answered that it was none of our business.” Hoover could have mistaken Oswald for Ruby except that the Dallas nightclub owner was found by the FBI to have visited Cuba only once—in 1959.
Marina Oswald was questioned by the House Committee on Assasinations and asked about R.D. Matthews:
Q. I am now going to ask you a series of names again to see if you know these people or if Lee knew these people when either of you were living in Dallas at either time. The first name is Russell Matthews, also known as R. D. Matthews.
Q. The next one is Irwin Weiner.
Q. If you have heard of these names even subsequently, please tell us.
A. Oh. sure.
Q. Louis McWillie.
Q. Joe Campisi or Sam Campisi.
Q. Lawrence Meyers.
Q. James Henry Dolan.
Q. Barney Baker.
Texas hitman, Charles Harrelson, father of Woody Harrelson, should be deposed and asked to take a polygraph examination. Harrelson was identified as the tall man in the famous photos of three so-called “tramps” who were arrested in the rail yard behind Dealey Plaza shortly after the assassination. Harrelson was convicted of murdering federal judge John Wood in the early 1980s and is currently serving his sentence in a Texas prison. Harrelson was high on cocaine when he was arrested for the murder of Judge Wood.
Judge Wood was the presiding official in the case Jamiel (“Jimmy”) Chagra, the alleged mastermind of the 1979 assassination of U.S. District Judge John Wood, Jr. Chagra, 59, was accused of leading a 1979 conspiracy to assassinate Wood, who was scheduled to preside over Chagra’s trial on drug charges. Wood was gunned down outside his home in San Antonio.
Chagra was acquitted of most charges in Wood’s death, but was found guilty of obstructing the investigation into the slaying and sentenced to ten years in prison. He also pleaded guilty in a failed 1978 assassination attempt on Assistant U.S. Attorney James Kerr of San Antonio and was sentenced to life in prison. Chagra was a very high-rolling gambler who frequented the Horseshoe Club in Las Vegas. Matthews was employed there at the time. (4)
(4) Robert Moore and Diana Washington Valdez, El Paso Times
One of the arresting officers reported that not only did Harrelson confess to killing the judge, but that he also admitted to participating in the assassination of President Kennedy. Harrelson later retracted his statement about taking part in the assassination, claiming that he fabricated it under the influence of the cocaine. When arrested, Harrelson was found to be carrying the business card of R. D. Matthews, who, according to the HSCA, was acquainted with Jack Ruby and with other Dallas crime figures. Indicted along with Harrelson in the plot to kill Judge Wood was the brother of New Orleans crime boss, Carlos Marcello, who was one of the Mafia figures named by the HSCA as possibly having been involved in the assassination of President Kennedy. Researcher J. Gary Shaw asked an anthropologist to compare photos of the tall tramp with pictures of Harrelson and the anthropologist concluded it was likely they were the same person. Similarly, police officers trained in photo identification have advised Harrison Livingstone that Harrelson definitely appears to be the tall tramp. Why hasn’t the FBI or the State of Texas followed up on any of this evidence? (5)
Former FBI Special Agent Walt Brown, author of Walt Brown Chronology recalled R.D. Mathhews, “I cannot help but suspect that your “slant” on JFK witnesses is tied in some manner to RD, as his was a name that people only whispered until his recent passing. I never met him, but I was in proximity in Prago’s Restaurant, where he held forth for many years. I also visited the weapons dealer in Oklahoma where RD had the tools of his trade specially made.” (6)
(5) Mike Griffith, researcher
(6) Walt Brown correspondence Nov. 2013
R.D. Matthews must have been an important character to many individuals as he was called before the Select Committee on Assassinations, U.S. House of Representatives, in Washington. D.C. His lawyer was Harry E. Claiborne, who went on to become a Federal Judge in Nevada and was later impeached. Benny Binion, the employer of R.D. Matthews at a later time, also testified in Claiborne’s defense.
Some of the questions posed to R.D. Matthews:
Q. Do you know if Jack Ruby was ever a police informant?
A. I have no way of knowing that.
Q. Do you know Mr. Sam Campisi?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. How do you know Mr. Campisi?
A. I went to school with Campisi, Sam Campisi, when we were kids. I have known him all my life.
Q. Have you ever had any business dealings with Campisi?
A. Business dealings, no. I don’t remember that we ever had any business dealings. He was a friend of mine. I knew him until the time he died. I went to his funeral.
Q. Do you know if Jack Ruby knew Mr. Campisi?
A. I don’t know. They could have. They were both in the kind of business that they’re in the public eye. They could have known each other. One of them had clubs. The other had a restaurant. I don’t know anything about their relationship.
Q. Do you know Mr. Joe Campisi?
A. Yes, sir, he is Sam’s brother. I know him well.
Q. Was your relationship with Joe Campisi the same as your relationship with Sam?
A. Joe was a little older, but yes, sir, I’ve known him for years.
Q. Do you know if Mr. Ruby knew Mr. Joe Campisi?
A. They could have, sir. I don’t how anything about their relationship.
Q. Do you know Mr. Joseph Civello?
A. No, sir. I’ve heard his name.
Q. You have never met him?
A. I might have met him at some time. I can’t say that I haven’t met him, but I wasn’t a friend of his or close associate.
Q. Do you know if Mr. Ruby knew Mr. Civello?
A. No, sir, I don’t know that.
Q. Do you know Mr. Dusty Miller?
A. No, sir.
Q. Have you ever heard that name?
A. I don’t remember that I did. I don’t remember.
Q. You do know and currently work for, in fact, Mr. Benny Binion, is that correct?
A. Yes, sir, I know Mr. Benny Binion. I work for him now.
Q. When did you first meet Mr. Binion?
A. It was out here, I guess. I don’t remember what year. It was 20, 25 years ago, I guess, 20 or 25. I don’t remember.
Q. When you say “out here,” do you mean Las Vegas?
A. Las Vegas, yes, sir.
Q. At that time you were living in the City of Dallas?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. How did you first meet Mr. Binion in Las Vegas?
A. I don’t remember. He is in business. I guess I maybe visited, someone introduced us, I guess. I don’t know.
Q. Was he living in Las Vegas at that time?
A. Benny Binion yes, sir, he had a place of business.
Q. And you were here on—
A. (interrupting) Visiting.
Q. Did you maintain contact with Mr. Binion after you returned to Dallas?
A. No, sir.
Q. When did you next see Mr. Binion?
A. I don’t know. I came out here quite often.
Q. When you first moved to Las Vegas, did you immediately go to work for Mr. Binion?
A. No, sir.
Q. Who did you first work for in Las Vegas?
A. Johnie Lane in a racing sports club. The name of it was the paddock Racing Sports Club, on First Street.
Q. How long did you work there?
A. Three and a half years.
Q. Who did you work for after that time?
A. Benny Binion.
Q. Have you maintained contact with Mr. Lewis McWillie in Las Vegas?
A. No, sir.
Q. When was the last time you spoke to Mr. McWillie?
A. Well, he worked at the Horseshoe for a while. I believe that is the last time that I’ve seen him.
Q. What time period was that that he worked there?
A. Let’s see, I guess he has been gone away from there over a year ago, I suppose. He was working there when—we were working the same place together. I saw him then. I don’t recall seeing him any since then.
Q. While you were in Cuba did you ever have any business dealings with Mr. McWillie?
A. No, sir.
Q. Subsequent to your return from Cuba and his return from Cuba, did you ever have any business dealings with him?
A. No, sir.
Q. Did Mr. McWillie ever discuss Jack Ruby with you?
A. No, sir.
Matthews simply answered the questions and withheld obvious true answers from the investigators.
Writer Penn Jones made the comment, “Other recent disclosures suggest that in seeking to recruit operatives to participate in killing foreign leaders (particularly Castro), the CIA’s contacts may have reached the Dallas underworld—including close associates of Jack Ruby and, possibly, right-wing oil baron H.L. Hunt.” (7)
Jones further reports, “Alonzo (Lonnie) Hudkins, was a name long familiar to students of the John Kennedy assassination. A reporter for the Houston Post in 1963, Hudkins has been the subject of much controversy, particularly in regard to rumors and allegations that accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald might have been an informer for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
In an article by Mr. O’Toole: he writes about an interview he and writer Ron Rosenbaum had with Hudkins two years ago, in which Hudkins disclosed that in addition to his reportorial duties, he has in the past also dabbled in two other fields: petroleum engineering and assassination plots. (He also admitted to being involved in trying to smuggle a large shipment of arms into Cuba shortly before the ill-fated 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion). Hudkins told O’Toole and Rosenbaum that he sometimes worked in engineering positions for oil companies and that while in the employ of the Dallas-based H.L. Hunt Oil Company, he was recruited as a member of a CIA contract assassination team assigned to kill Castro and Cheddi Jagan of Guiana. However, like his various explanations for the origin of the Oswald/FBI rumor, Hudkins has told several contradictory versions of his purported involvement in the assassination plots. For example, Hudkins indicated to O’Toole and Rosenbaum that the CIA recruited him while he was employed as an engineer for Hunt Oil but in 1967 he told Warren Report critic Shirley Martin of Oklahoma that while he was employed as a public relations man for the oil company, Hunt himself personally approached him about going to Mexico to help kill either Castro or Jagan. Then, last month in a lengthy telephone interview with Larry Harris, Hudkins said the plots originated in 1961, before he worked for Hunt—as the eccentric billionaire’s personal assistant flunky.” We have not been able to verify that Hudkins has worked—in whatever capacity—for Hunt or the Hunt Oil Company.(8)
In discussing the Castro/Jagan plots, Hudkins told Harris there was much he could not disclose. He did say that he was approached about the operation by “one of the hot-shot people from Washington.” When asked why the CIA would want his assistance in such an operation, Hudkins replied that he had had friends in the Agency since the 1950s and had “had dealings with Chem on other things and hadn’t blown any whistles.”
(7)The Continuing Inquiry 1978
(8)Following the interview with Hudkins, Barrie went to the Hunt Oil Company office and talked with James C. Oberwetter, spokesman for the Estate of H.L. Hunt. As Harris outlined Hudkins’ story, Oberwecter questioned him carefully and made notes. He said he did not recall ever hearing Hudkins’ name, but promised he would check personnel files if Harris would prepare a letter containing a summary of Hudkins’ allegations. Harris complied, but in a letter of reply, Oberwerter denied that he had ever spoken with Harris about such allegations. Pointing out that in his letter, Harris had questioned Hudkins’ credibility, the spokesman skirted the issue of Hudkins’ story and purported employment by Hunt. “Any comments we would make,” he wrote, “could be totally misunderstood” and “we will have nothing to say on the matter.” Oberwetcer closed his letter by adding, “We are growing very weary of responding to these allegations. Lately we have noticed that most of them are coming from writers and publishers who are crying to sell books and magazines and so we’ll have to leave it at that.”
But he said plans to assassinate the two leaders never progressed beyond the discussion stage. He and two other individuals recruited for the operation agreed that trying to hit Castro would be too dangerous. They felt it extremely unlikely that they could take Castro’s life and escape with their own. As for the attempt against Jagan, Hudkins told O’Toole and Rosenbaum that the White House got cold feet and called off the plans but he told Harris that the three men simply decided there was no discernible reason or purpose for killing Jagan. He admitted that they certainly would have killed Castro had they been able to devise a safe way to do it and that killing the bearded premier would not have bothered Hudkins “one iota.”
Hudkins got a story to Attorney General Waggoner Carr that Oswald was linked to the FBI and the CIA. Hudkins claimed that Oswald had been paid $200 a month and that he had an identification number of 179. Carr passed this information to Warren Commission investigator Rankin. Rankin then ordered a secret meeting of the Warren Commission to look into these allegations. They finally turned to J. Edgar Hoover to settle the end to the rumor with Hoover responding, “[t]here was nothing to it.” (9) The statement by Dulles is incredible. He is trying to cover up information about Oswald that could help prove that he was directly working with the government and collaborate the statement from Oswald himself that he was a “patsy.”
(9) Robert Anson, They’ve Killed the President, 1975
Hudkins is an outspoken proponent of the “Castro-did-it” theory in the Kennedy assassination. He has frankly admitted promoting the idea of Castro’s involvement in order to tinder recent U.S. diplomatic overtures toward Cuba. Along with Hudkins, two other men supposedly were asked to take part in the plots. In 1967, Hudkins revealed the identity of one of them to Ms. Martin. That man’s name is Russell Douglas Matthews, 56, formerly of Dallas and now residing in Las Vegas. Who is R.D. Matthews? In a December 1963 FBI report he was named as a close associate of Jack Ruby and is referred to as a “strong-arm man.” Hudkins calls him a “small-time gambler, sort of a soldier of fortune.” In 1961, Dallas Police Chief Jesse Curry termed him “an undesirable citizen.” His Dallas attorney says that at one time Matthews was “a local godfather” and “probably the closest thing to the Mafia that we’ve ever seen in this town.” Matthews had known Ruby for 12 years prior to the Kennedy assassination. Warren Commission Exhibit 2303 shows that Ruby placed a 13-minute phone call to Matthews’ wife three weeks before JFK visited Dallas. (10) A reliable source who knew Matthews well told Gary Shaw that another Matthew’s crony and gambling companion was Hudkins’ purported one-time employer, the late Mr. Hunt. (It will be recalled that Jack Ruby visited the Hunt offices on November 21, 1963).
 Matthews has said that he was in Acapulco on November 22, 1963. There is an uncorroborated report from a source of perhaps questionable credibility who claims to have been present with both Matthews and Ruby when the President was shot. The source told Gary Shaw and Penn Jones that he and Matthews were playing cards in a downtown Dallas office when Ruby entered and said, “Come on, let’s go watch the fireworks.” The three men supposedly walked several blocks to Dealey Plaza and observed the motorcade and assassination from the southwest corner of Houston and Commerce streets. After the shots, the source said Ruby silently walked away south on Houston Street toward the Dallas Morning News Building, when the Warren Commission (Report, p. 334) placed him at the time of the assassination.
Hudkins explained to Harris why the CIA approached Matthews with the idea of killing Castro: “The reason they wanted him was that he knew Castro. He had fought with Castro down in Cuba and apparently under the belief that Castro would set him up with a casino or two there in Havana. And then as soon as Castro got power, Castro closed down all the casinos. So R.D., bitter, folded up his tent and left.” Hudkins maintains that Matthews is “an innocent party” in the plots because he adamantly refused to participate. Matthews, according to Hudkins, is “too nice a person to get caught up in that crap.”
Our files on Matthews suggest otherwise. A glance at Matthews’ rap sheet shows why Jesse Curry considered the one-time member of the notorious Lois Green Gang “an undesirable citizen.” His career in crime dates from at least 1949 and includes arrests for just about everything—including burglary, possession of cocaine, illegal bookmaking and aggravated assault with a motor vehicle. He served two years in Leavenworth for possession of marijuana and has been questioned frequently by police in robbery, burglary, and murder investigations.
In 1970, Matthews filed a suit seeking to declare Texas and Dallas vagrancy laws unconstitutional and to enjoin local law authorities from arresting him. According to the Dallas Morning News (2-26-70), he was jailed 57 times for vagrancy in 1968 and 1969. The suit was dismissed in 1972 and Matthews moved to Nevada. Harris conferred with Matthews’ attorney, a very prominent Dallas criminal lawyer, to see if Matthews would confirm the Hudkins story. The attorney indicated that his client is a very reticent man who is zealous about his privacy and is “allergic” to reporters or publicity of any kind. Pointing out that Matthews is both impatient and short-tempered, the attorney went on to suggest that it would be wise not to disturb him. However, after being told of the nature of Hudkins’ allegations, the lawyer agreed to contact Matthews and get his reaction.
Subsequently, Matthews said he does not remember or recognize Hudkins’ name and “very emphatically” (the attorney’s terminology) denies that anyone ever approached him about assassinating Castro. Perhaps seeking to dissuade Harris from trying to personally contact Matthews, the attorney related an incident in which his client once snarled at a television cameraman and threatened to kick his teeth in if he filmed Matthews leaving a federal court. That Matthews is not a man to be trifled with is apparent in a story told to Cary Shaw by a one-time Matthews associate. According to the account, Matthews and some friends were in a Dallas lounge listening to a female vocalist. While she was singing Matthews’ favorite song, a male patron at a nearby table annoyed Matthews by talking too loud. He told the man to be quiet. When the man continued to converse in a loud voice, Matthews produced a pistol and fired a shot only inches above the offending patron’s head.
The Committee also concentrated its attention on Santos Trafficante, the La Cosa Nostra leader in Florida. The Committee found that Trafficante, like Carlos Marcello, had the motive, means, and opportunity to assassinate President Kennedy. Trafficante was a key subject of the Justice Department crackdown on organized crime during the Kennedy administration with his name being added to a list of the top ten Syndicate leaders targeted for investigation. Ironically, Attorney General Kennedy’s strong interest in having Trafficante prosecuted occurred during the same period in which CIA officials, unbeknownst to the Attorney General, were using Trafficante’s services in assassination plots against the Cuban chief of state, Fidel Castro. (1)
The Committee found that Santos Trafficante’s stature in the national Syndicate of organized crime, notably the violent narcotics trade and his role as the Mob’s chief liaison to criminal figures within the Cuban exile community, provided him with the capability of formulating an assassination conspiracy against President Kennedy. Trafficante had recruited Cuban nationals to help plan and execute the CIA’s assignment to assassinate Castro. (The CIA gave the assignment to former FBI Agent Robert Maheu, who passed the contract along to Mafia figures, Sam Giancana and John Rosselli. They, in turn, enlisted Trafficante to have the intended assassination carried out.)
 House Assassination Committee
In his testimony before the Committee, Trafficante admitted participating in the unsuccessful CIA conspiracy to assassinate Castro—an admission indicating his willingness to participate in political murder. Trafficante testified that he worked with the CIA out of a patriotic feeling for his country, an explanation the Committee did not accept— at least not as his sole motivation.
As noted, the Committee established a possible connection between Trafficante and Jack Ruby in Cuba in 1959. It determined there had been a close friendship between Ruby and Lewis McWillie who, as a Havana gambler, worked in an area subject to the control of the Trafficante Mafia family. Further, it assembled documentary evidence that Ruby made at least two, if not three or more trips to Havana in 1959 when McWillie was involved in underworld gambling operations there. In fact, Ruby may have been serving as a courier for underworld gambling interests in Havana, probably for the purpose of transporting funds to a bank in Miami. The Committee also found that Ruby had been connected with other Trafficante associates— R.D. Matthews, Jack Todd, and James Dolan, all of Dallas. (1)The C.I.A. could have easily provided the disinformation to the Committee that Trafficante had the “capability of formulating an assassination conspiracy against President Kennedy.”
As the different concepts and theories are examined, it is important to realize that in its deceptive methods, the CIA could have easily put out a false story to put the blame on the Mafia and the Cubans however, the CIA could have easily recruited the Dallas Mob to handle the job of eliminating witnesses in the Kennedy investigation. (2)
Cui Bono? (Who benefits?)
 5. Cover: planning should include provision for blaming Sovs or Czechs in case of blow … organization criminals, those with record of arrests, those who have engaged in several types of crime. Corsicans recommended. Sicilians could lead to Mafia. Stockton, Bayard (2006-11-30). Flawed Patriot: The Rise and Fall of CIA Legend Bill Harvey (pp. 156-157). Potomac Books. Kindle Edition.
Russell Douglas Matthews
The Understatment of the Year:
http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/dallasmorningnews/obituary.aspx?n=rd-russell-d-matthews&pid=165942208 – fbLoggedOut
Matthews, RD (Russell D.) 92, A WWII, 2nd Marine Division, veteran, who was awarded The Navy Cross and The Purple Heart. RD will be missed by his wife of 40 years, Linda, daughter, Peggy and grandsons.
(1054) Russell Douglas Matthews was born on July 26, 1920, inAspermont, Tex. When he was 7, he moved to Dallas. (1522) He served in the Marine Corps from December 1941 to October 1945. (1523)
After leaving the Marines, Matthews returned to Dallas, where he remained until 1958. From July 1958 to January 1959, he resided in Havana, Cuba he was also there from the middle of 1959 to November 1959. (1524) Ile returned to Dallas and remained there until January 1971. In the early 1960’x, Matthews resided inIrving, Tex. (1525)
According to FBI reports, Mrs. Donna Sue Helton, a known prostitute, also resided at his Irving address. (1526) FBI reports in 1967 and 1968 list Matthews’ address as 4509 Southern Avenue, Dallas. (1527)
In 1971, Matthews moved to Las Vegas and, as of 1978, was residing there. (1528)
(1055) There is very little information regarding Matthews’ employment prior to 1958 when he traveled to Cuba. In his deposition, he stated he could not remember the jobs lie had had in Dallas . (1529) Matthews said, “I have been in business by myself most of my life.”
(1530) He did not elaborate on this statement except to note that he had never been employed in a club in Dallas. (1531) Later in the deposition, Matthews stated he was in the bail bond business inDallas before moving to Cuba. (1532)
(1056) Matthews said that he owned two bars in Cuba. One was in the lobby- of the Plaza Hotel, the other on Henio Street it was called the Sportsman’s Club. (1533) He had purchased the Sportsman’s Club from a Cuban in 1958.(1534) He acquired the other bar after Castro came to power, in the early part of 1959.(1535) Matthews stated that while in Cuba, he resided “for a while” in the Deauville Hotel. (1536)
In two separate FBI interviews, he stated he worked in the gambling casinos at the Hotel Deauville. (1537)
(1057) After his return from Cuba, the record again is vague regarding his employment. A 1960 11’B1 report states that Matthews was operating a bail bond and loan company on Record Street in Dallas. (1538) On September 22, 1961, the FBI was advised that Matthews was residing in an apartment at 3918 Travis Street . Clayton Fowler owned the apartment house. Matthews was allegedly employed as a bondsman for Fowler . (1539)
(1058) A 1962 FBI report states that during 1960, Matthews was employed as a “bouncer” at the New Orleans Room, owned by Joe Slatin. (1540) The informant believed, however, that Matthews would not actually work in the Orleans Room but had arranged an agreement with Slatin so he could be downtown without being arrested for
vagrancy. (1541) In his deposition, Matthews admitted knowing Slatin. (1542)
(1059) Two 1963 FBI reports state that Matthews was thought to be part owner or manager of the Redman Club in Dallas. (1543)
Another FBI report indicates that Matthews frequented the Redman Club. (1544) The club was reportedly being used by its members and proprietor for gambling activities, specifically high stake poker games. (1545) In his deposition, Matthews indicated he had heard of the Redman Club and described it as a “social club for members only.” (1546) He stated, “They might have had some friendly poker games occasionally between the members. It was not a gambling club.” (1547) Matthews did not state that he had any interest in this establishment.
(1060) A 1967 FBI report notes that by all indications, Matthews was manager of the Skynight Club in Dallas. (1548) The report states that in 1966, for a short period, Matthews operated the Skynight Club.
In his deposition, Matthews admitted having heard of it . (1549) (1061) After Matthews moved to Las Vegas, he obtained a work permit from the Las Vegas police department on January 26, 1971, to work at the Paddock Racing Sports Club for Johnnie Lane. (1550)
He worked at this club for 31/2 years. (15.51) In 1978, Matthews was employed by Benny Binion at the Horseshoe Club in Las Vegas. (1552)
Treatment by the Warren Commission
(1062) The FBI interviewed both Matthews and his ex-wife, Elizabeth Ann Matthews, nee Elizabeth Ann Hedlund, a Dallasprostitute.
(1553) The Warren Commission conducted no further investigation of Matthews.
(1069) Matthews’ only apparent legitimate vocation and source of income was the management of bars, clubs and restaurants. He also was allegedly involved in the bail bond business. (1570) Based on his numerous arrests, (1571) financial ventures in Cubaand relatively recent move to Las Vegas, Matthews with her ex-husband or of his involvement in criminal activity.
Matthews stated in his deposition that he could not remember exactly when he was divorced, but it was right about the time of the assassination or in the late 1950’s (1569) Elizabeth Ann Matthews presumably may have had additional information regarding Matthews’ activities in Dallas and Cuba during the 1950’s.
(1071) Matthews had been actively engaged in criminal activity since the 1940’s. He was described in one FBI report as a burglar, armed robber, narcotics pusher and murderer. (1574) Another described him as armed and dangerous, stating that he had been known to carry firearms and to use explosives in the past. (1575) Among other violations,
Matthews was arrested in 1949 in Cleburne, Tex., for burglary he was arrested and convicted in 1950 for violating the Federal Narcotics Act in 1966 he was arrested in Oklahoma City for possession of a concealed weapon and he was arrested in 1967 in Garland, Tex., for bookmaking in 1976, he pled guilty in Las Vegas to a violation of the
Wagering Act. (1576)
(1072) Hollis de Lois Green gang.-An FBI report stated that subsequent to World War II in 1948, Matthews joined up with surviving members of the Hollis de Lois Green gang. This gang specialized in burglaries of pharmaceutical houses and large drugstores for narcotics and cash. (1577)
(1073) In 1959, Sheriff Decker reported that past associates of Matthews are “underworld characters” Hollis de Lois Green, Jettie Bass, Nick Cascio, James Robert Todd and Angelo Thomas Casten.
(1578) In his deposition, Matthews admitted knowing James Robert Todd. (1579) He described Todd as an acquaintance from 25 years ago who, to his knowledge, was not involved in gambling activities or safecracking. (1580)
(1074) There is also evidence that Matthews was associated with
Angelo Thomas Casten. (1581) (1075) In a 1963 FBI report, Matthews is included among a group of people considered the higher echelon in Dallas bookmaking.
(1582) A 1964 report states that Matthews was known to have been involved in bookmaking activities in the Dallas area following his management of a private club which catered to small-stake poker games. (1583) Matthews was described by three informants as “a strongarm man for the collection of gambling debts, hired by Dallas bookmakers John Eli Stone and Isadore Max Miller.”(1584) The same report(1585) lists three separate groups of bookmakers who could be considered the major operations in the Dallas area. (1586)
One was composed of John Eli Stone, Isadore Max Miller and James Woodrow Stone.(1587) It was reported that on March 9, 1964, John Eli Stone and Matthews left Dallas together, via Delta Airlines, for Las Vegas. (1588) This report also states that Matthews was considered as one of the less significant Dallasbookmakers. (1589) A 1967 FBI report states that Matthews was currently operating a booking operation in Garland, Tex. (1590) Matthews also was arrested several tunes for bookmaking activities. (1591)
(1476) In his deposition, Matthews admitted knowing John Eli Stone for 30 years, but said he had no business dealings with him. (1592) He did not recall taking a trip with Stone from Dallas to Las Vegas. (1593) Matthews did admit knowing Max Miller and
described him as an “old acquaintance .”(1594) Matthews stated he never saw Miller involved in any gambling activities . (1595) A 1973 application for a wiretap listed Isadore Dlax Miller and John Eii Stone, along with R. D. Matthews, as allegedly being involved in illegal gambling activities. (1596)
(1077) A 1964 FBI report states that James Henry Dolan and R. D. Matthews were “notorious hoodlums.”(1597) Dolan was described an informant as a strong-arm man who had been employed by Santos Trafficante, Jr., a leading Florida organized crime leader .
(1598) Dolan was also described as a strong-arm man employed by John Eli Stone and Isadore Max Miller to collect gambling debts. 1599) A 1962 FBI report states that Matthews was a Dallashoodlum who visited Dolan regularly. In his deposition, Matthews admitted knowing Dolan, but said it was only a casual relationship. (1800)
(1078) The FBI files indicate that Matthews had been the subject of investigation by the Dallas FBI office over a period of years, going back to 1963 for possible violation of the antiracketeering statutes and more recently the Federal gambling statutes. (1801)
The record does not make clear whether these investigations led to an arrest or conviction. They probably at least contributed to Matthews’ arrest in 1966 for failure to pay for a gambling tax stamp and his guilty plea in 1976 for violation of title 18, U.S .C. section 1084
(1079) In 1973, an FBI airtel from Dallas reported that an application had been made for an order authorizing a wiretap of Matthews, along with several others. (1803) This application stated that there was probable cause to believe Matthews was involved in illegal gambling business . Again, it was not clear whether the wiretap led to an arrest or conviction, although Matthews was arrested in 1975 and 1976 on gambling charges. (1804)
(1080) On December 13, 1960, Matthews was observed by theDallas criminal intelligence section. He was seen at the New Orleans Room, 1513 Commerce Street, Dallas, in conversation with its owner and operator, Joe Slatin. This report also states that Matthews was then employed at the New Orleans Room as a “bouncer.”
(1081) On January 29, 1961, Matthews was arrested on a vagrancy charge at the Parkering Motel in Dallas. The police ascertained that James Robert Todd had been at the motel with Matthews just prior to the arrest. (1806) In March 1960, Matthews was seen in the company of Jack Todd at Fitzgerald’s Bar in Dallas. (1807)
Organized Crime Connections
(1082) A 1976 Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) report states that in 1946 cr 1947, Joe and Sam Campisi bought the Idle Hour Bar in Dallas and were known to be associated with Joe Civello and Russell Matthews. (1808) This report also states that
Mendosa and Gonzales in Havana. The informant stated that it was apparent Matthews and Lewis were partners or affiliated in theDallas rackets, and that Matthews had worked a big-time gambling house in Havana. (1625)
(1089) In his deposition, Matthews admitted knowing Sam Paxton and described him as an acquaintance. (1626) He did not know if Paxton was associated with Trafficante.
(1090) In 1978, Matthews was employed by Benny Binion, who operated the Benny Binion Horseshoe Club in Las Vegas. During the late 1930’s and the 1940’s, Binion had been involved in illegal gambling activities in the Dallas area . He had admitted killing two individuals during this period. (1627) Matthews stated that he had known Binion
for 20 or 25 years, (1628) but that he had never had any business dealings with hire aside from his current employment. (1629)
(1091) Matthews admitted knowing Lewis J. McWillie prior to his trip to Cuba. McWillie had been associated with a club in Dallasprior to going there. In Cuba, McWillie was employed as a pit boss at the Tropicana Casino. In 1978, McWillie was living in Las Vegas.
Matthews originally stated he had never met McWillie in Cuba, but later indicated he might have “just run into him.”(1630) He claimed he had not maintained contact with McWillie and had lead no business dealings with him. (1631) (1092) When asked if there had been a crackdown on gambling activities in 1947 in Dallas, Matthews responded I suppose there mig’it have been. I wasn’t involved in it so I don’t know, but I have heard this, yes, that they had an election and there might have been something going on before that that was no longer allowed. I have heard this, yes. (1632)
(1093) When Matthews was questioned about gambling in Dallas from 1960 to 1963, lie responded that he was not aware of any gambling or drug trafficking in Dallas in that period. (1633) He also stated he was not aware of any gun smuggling or narcotics trade with Cuba or Mexico. (1634)
(1094) In interviews of Ruby associates after the Oswald shooting, Matthews was cited as a friend and associate of Ruby. (1635) In an FBI interview, dated December 15, 1963, Matthews stated he had known Ruby for about 12 years and probably met him through Ruby’s operation of the Vegas Club. (1636) He characterized Ruby as a “passing acquaintance.” (1637) On October 3, 1963, a long-distance telephone call of 13 minutes was made from the Carousel Club to Matthews’ ex-wife . (1638) Elizabeth Ann Matthews could not recall receiving the call. (16.19)
(1095) When asked when he first met Ruby, Matthews replied I can’t really tell you that. I don’t know him that well. I don’t really know how to answer that. I can’t answer that. I
don’t know. How I really met him, I don’t know. (1640)
Matthews later guessed that he met Ruby in the late 1950’s. (1641) He did not recall ever meeting with Ruby. (1642) He stated, “I knew him to speak to him on the street but. I don’t remember ever hating any meetings with him.”(1613) When asked what was the nature of his interaction with Ruby, Matthews responded Nothing. He was a man that was well-known around on the streets of Dallas . If you pass by him on the street he’s liable
to introduce himself to you, so if I’d pass him I’d say hello. I don’t know what else to tell you. (1611)
(1096) Matthews did not recall the names of Ruby’s clubs and stated lie could not remember ever being in any club owned by Ruby. (1615) Matthews could not state when he had last seen Ruby. (1616) He maintained he did not see Ruby in Cuba. (16117)
Associates Known by Both, (1097) Matthews admitted being acquainted with James Robert Todd for 25 years. (1618) Todd’s phone number was found in Ruby’s
automobile. Todd had admitted knowing Ruby for about 10 or 12 years. (16,0) Todd was also associated with the de Lois Green Gang.
(1098) A 1958 DEA report suggests that R. D. Matthews and Juanita Phillips (aka Candy Barr) were involved in drug traffickiug.(1650) The report states that Matthews served 2 years for possession of cocaine. (1651) In 1957, Phillips was sentenced to 15 years for
possession of marijuana, and at the time of the report was out on an appeal bond.(1662) Ruby was also associated with Phillips. OnNovember 13, 1963, a call was made from the Carousel Club to Phillips it lasted 14 minutes.(1653) One FBI report states that in 1956 Ruby had had a girl friend named Candy Barr. (1651.) Another FBI report states that Ruby approached a pilot for the Texas Department of Corrections regarding assistance in obtaining an early parole for Candy Barr. (1655) Matthews admitted knowing Joe Campisi. (1656) Ruby also knew Campisi. On Friday, November 29, 1963, Campisi was advised that Ruby wanted to see him. (1657) Campisi visited Ruby in jail on November 30, 1963.(1658) He stated that his last contact with Ruby had been the Thursday before Thanksgiving, when Ruby came into the Egyptian Lounge. (1650) Matthews also allegedly frequented the Egyptian Lounge. (1660)
(1099) Matthews also admitted knowing McWillie. Ruby, too, was associated with McWillie. In 1959, McWillie had invited Ruby to visit him in Cuba. (1661) Ruby did subsequently visit McWillie inCuba. (1662)
(1100) Matthews admitted knowing Joe Slatin but did not know if Ruby knew Slatin .(1663) One FBI report states that Slatin may have employed Aatthews as a bouncer in his club .(1661) Ruby had also been associated with Slatin in the formation of the Sovereign Club.( 1665) They, were, in fact, partners in the S & R Corp. during the early part of 1960. (1666)
(1101) On June 6, 1964, Earl Manchester, an employee in the Service Department for Braniff Airways, Newark Airport, discovered a letter in a Braniff plane. It was typewritten, datedMay 22, 1964, to “Don Jansen” from “S. Martin.” Within the letter, the following passage, attributed solely to a “Texas reporter,” appeared in quotations:
For God’s sake, don’t tell the FBI, but back about February (1963) when I was working for H. L. Hunt, some very prominent Texas men, R. D. Matthews, and I discussed the
possibility of doing away with Cheddie [sic] Jagan or Castro or both. Not by the U.S. Government, you understand, but on a private basis. Hunt said we could have all the cash we needed, the others were in it, too, on a cash basis. We were going to get Castro sometime when he (Castro) went to Mexico. Understand now, we dropped it. R. D. didn’t go for it.
Meanwhile, we understood there was a group in Florida with the same idea. Also, the Govermnent knew all about it. (1667)
(1102) Lonnie Hudkins, a reporter for the Houston Post in 1963, allegedly told Shirley Martin, a Warren Report critic, that while he was employed as a public relations man for Hunt Oil Co., Hunt personally approached him about going to Mexico to help kill either Castro or Cheddi Jagan, former Prime Minister of Guyana. (1665) According to Hudkins, the project never went forward because he and two other individuals believed the operation was dangerous. (1669) In 1967, Hudkins revealed the identity of one of the other participants to be R. D. Matthews. (1670)
(1103) In his deposition, Matthews denied being present at any meeting where the possibility of killing Castro was discussed. (1671) He stated he had never heard people discussing the assassination of Castro. (1672) Matthews did admit hearing the name of H. L. Hunt. (1673)