Mark A. Lecuyer
The history of Wackenhut Corporation is best described from its own
literature. An outdated letter of introduction typed on Wackenhut
letterhead once sent to prospective clients provided me with the
following profile: (Excerpted)
"Wackenhut Corporation had its beginnings in 1954, when
George R. Wackenhut and three other former Special Agents of the Federal
Bureau of Investigation formed a company in Miami, Special Agent
Investigators, to provide investigative services to business and
"The approach was so well received that a second company was formed
in 1955 to apply the same philosophy to physical security problems.
In 1958 the companies were combined under the name of Wackenhut
Corporation, a Florida company. From the outset, George Wackenhut
was President and chief executive officer of the enterprise.
Wackenhut established its headquarters in Coral Gables, Florida in
1960, extending its physical security operations to the United
States government through formation of a wholly-owned subsidiary,
Wackenhut Services, Incorporated. This was done in order to comply
with federal statute prohibiting the government from contracting
with companies which furnish investigative or detective services.
"In 1962, Wackenhut operations extended from Florida to California
and Hawaii. On January 1, 1966, the company became international
with offices in Caracas, Venezuela, through half ownership of an
"The Wackenhut Corporation became public in 1966 with
over-the-counter stock sales and joined the American Stock Exchange
in 1967. Through acquisitions of subsidiaries and affiliates, now
totaling more than 20, and expansion of it contracts into numerous
territories and foreign countries, the Wackenhut Corporation has
grown into one of the world’s largest security and investigative
"In 1978 acquisition of NUSAC, a Virginia company providing
technical and consulting services to the nuclear industry, brought
Wackenhut into the fields of environment and energy management. In
1979, Wackenhut acquired Stellar Systems, Inc., a California company
specializing in outdoor electronic security.
"The executive makeup of the company reflects the stress
Mr. Wackenhut placed on professional leadership. The Wackenhut
Corporation is guided by executives and managers with extensive
backgrounds in the FBI and other military, governmental and private
security and investigative fields.
"The principle business of the company is furnishing security and
complete investigative services and systems to business, industry
and professional clients, and to various agencies of the U.S.
"Through a wholly-owned subsidiary, Wackenhut Electronic Systems
Corporation, the company develops and produces sophisticated
computerized security systems to complement its guard services.
"Major clients of Wackenhut’s investigative services are the
insurance industry and financial interests. These services include
insurance inspections, corporate acquisition surveys, personnel
background reports, preemployment screening, polygraph examinations
and general criminal, fraud and arson investigations.
"The wide variety of services offered by
Wackenhut Corporation also
includes guard and electronic security for banks, office buildings,
apartments, industrial complexes and other physical structures;
training programs in English and foreign languages to apply Wackenhut procedures to individual clients needs; fire, safety and
protective patrols; rescue and first aid services; emergency support
programs tailored to labor-management disputes, and pre-departure
screening programs widely used by airports and airlines.
"The company now has some 20,000 employees and maintains close to
100 offices and facilities with operations spread across the United
States and extending into Canada, the United Kingdom, Western
Europe, the Middle East, Indonesia, Central and South America and
the Caribbean. . . ."
ON THE SURFACE, Wackenhut Corporation seemed innocuous enough, but
through documents later obtained from Michael Riconosciuto, I
learned there was another, darker side to Wackenhut operations, at
the Cabazon Indian reservation near Indio, California.
Because Indian reservations are sovereign nations and do not come
under federal jurisdiction, Wackenhut International had formed a
partnership and entered into a business venture with the Cabazon
Indians to produce high-tech arms and explosives for export to
third-world countries. This maneuver was designed to evade
congressional prohibitions against U.S. weapons being shipped to the
Contras and middle eastern countries.
In the early 1980’s, Dr. John Nichols, the Cabazon tribal
administrator, obtained a department of Defense secret facility
clearance for the reservation to conduct various research projects.
Nichols then approached Wackenhut with an elaborate "joint venture"
proposal to manufacture 120mm combustible cartridge cases, 9mm
machine pistols, laser-sighted assault weapons, sniper rifles and
portable rocket systems on the Cabazon reservation and in Latin
America. At one point, he even sought to develop biological weapons.
Again, through Michael Riconosciuto’s files, I later obtained
interoffice memorandums and correspondence relating to biological
technology.... Meanwhile, in 1980, Dr. John Nichols obtained the
blueprints to Crown Prince Fahd’s palace in Tiaf, Saudi Arabia, and
drafted a plan to provide security for the palace.
The Saudis were interested enough to conduct a background check on
the Cabazons. Mohammad Jameel Hashem, consul of the Royal Embassy of
Saudi Arabia in Washington, D.C., wrote former South Dakota Senator
James Abourezk at his offices in Washington D.C. and noted,
"According to our black list for companies, the Cabazon Band of
Mission Indians/Cabazon Trading Company and Wackenhut International
are not included."
Translated, that meant that neither the Cabazons or Wackenhut were
Danny Casolaro’s body was found at 12:30 p.m. in a blood-filled bath
tub by a hotel maid who called the Martinsburg police.
The body contained three deep cuts on the right wrist and seven on
the left wrist, made by a single edge razor blade, the kind used to
scrape windows or open packages. At the bottom of the bath-water was
an empty Milwaukee beer can, a paper glass coaster, the razor blade
and two white plastic trash bags, the kind used in wastepaper
On the desk in the hotel room was an empty mead composition notebook
with one page torn out and a suicide note which read:
"To those who
I love the most, please forgive me for the worst possible thing I
could have done. Most of all, I’m sorry to my son. I know deep down
inside that God will let me in."
There were no other papers, folders, documents of any sort, nor any
briefcase found in the room. Danny’s wallet was intact, stuffed with
credit cards. The body was removed from the tub by Lieutenant Dave
Brining from the Martinsburg fire department, and his wife, Sandra,
a nurse who works in the hospital emergency room. The couple, who
often moonlighted as coroners, took the body to the Brown Funeral
Home where they conducted an examination. Charles Brown then decided
to embalm the body that night and go home, rather than come back to
work the next day, Sunday.
No one in Danny Casolaro’s family had been notified of his death at
that time, nor had they requested the body be embalmed. When
Casolaro’s family learned of the death, they insisted it was not a
suicide and called for an autopsy and an investigation. Though the
body had already been embalmed, an autopsy was performed at the West
Virginia University Hospital by a Dr. Frost. The findings indicated
that no struggle had taken place because there were no recent
bruises on the body. The drugs found in Casolaro’s urine, blood and
tissue samples were in minute amounts but they were also
unexplainable by his brother, Tony, who is a medical doctor.
According to Tony Casolaro, Danny did not take drugs or have any
prescriptions for the drug traces of Hydrocodone and Tricyclic
antidepressant that were found in the body. No pill boxes or written
prescriptions were found. Dr. Casolaro searched through his
brother’s Blue Cross records and found no record of the
prescriptions or doctor visits. . . .
On August 6, 1991, Casolaro’s housekeeper, Olga, helped Danny pack a
black leather tote bag. She remembered he also packed a thick sheaf
of papers into a dark brown or black briefcase. She asked him what
he had put into the briefcase and he replied, "I have all my papers
He had been typing for two days, and as he left the house, he said,
"Wish me luck. I’ll see you in a couple of days."
By August 9th, Casolaro’s friends were alarmed. None had heard from
him and Olga was receiving threatening phone calls at Danny’s home.
On Saturday, August 10th, Olga received another call, a man’s voice
said, "You son of a bitch. You’re dead."
After learning of Danny’s death, Olga recalled seeing Danny sitting
in the kitchen on August 5th with a,
"heavy man ... wearing a dark
suit. He was a dark man with black hair he turned towards the door,
I saw he was dark-skinned. I told police maybe he could be from
At 3:00 p.m. on Friday, the day before Danny’s death,
Bill Turner, a
friend and confidante, met Danny in the parking lot of the Sheraton
Hotel to deliver some papers to him. The papers allegedly consisted
of two sealed packages which Turner had been keeping in his safe at
home for Danny, and a packet of Hughes Aircraft papers which
belonged to Turner.
Danny had appeared exuberant to most of his friends before his
death, noting that he was about to "wrap up" his investigation of
The Octopus. Casolaro was trying to prove that the alleged theft of
the Inslaw computer program, PROMIS, was related to the
Surprise scandal, the Iran-Contra affair and the collapse of BCCI
(Bank of Credit and Commerce International).
Turner later admitted to police that he had indeed met with Danny on
August 9th, but at that time he refused to specify what time and
would not describe what was in the papers he delivered to Danny. I
later learned that Turner had been investigating discrepancies
involving his former employer, Hughes Aircraft Company.
The documents he had delivered from his safe to Danny had been
sealed, with Casolaro’s name written across the seal, and he claimed
not to have known what they contained. Nevertheless, it is feasible
to assume that Turner may have known who Danny was preparing to meet
that evening at the Martinsburg Hotel because, for reasons of his
own, Turner apparently wanted Danny to show the Hughes Aircraft
documents to whoever he was meeting with.
Turner later noted to reporters that he was "scared shitless" about
information he had seen connecting Ollie North and BCCI.
"I saw papers from Danny that connected back through the Keating
Five and Silverado [the failed Denver S & L where Neil Bush had been
an officer]," he said.
To his friend, Ben Mason, Danny showed a 22-point outline for his
book. Included in the information he shared with Mason were papers
referring to Iran-Contra arms deals. Photocopies of checks made out
for $1 million and $4 million drawn on BCCI accounts held for
Khashoggi, an international arms merchant and factotum for the
of Saud, and by Manucher Ghorbanifar, an arms dealer and Iran-Contra
middleman, were presented.
"The last sheet," noted Mason, "was a passport of some guy named Ibrahim."
Casolaro had emphasized that Ibrahim had made a big deal of showing
him (Casolaro) his "Egyptian" passport. "Ibrahim" was obviously the
informant whom Olga, Casolaro’s housekeeper, had seen sitting in the
kitchen with Danny on August 5th. Hassan Ali Ibrahim Ali, born in
1928, was later identified as the manager of Sitico, an alleged
Iraqi front company for arms purchases. Casolaro had obtained these
papers from Bob Bickel, who in turn obtained them from October
Surprise source Richard Brenneke.
Ari BenMenasche, a self proclaimed Israeli military intelligence
officer, was responsible for the tipoff to an obscure Lebanese
magazine about what later became known as the Iran-Contra scandal.
After Casolaro’s death, Menasche called Bill Hamilton, the president
of Inslaw Company and creator of the PROMISE software. (Hamilton had
been in daily contact with Casolaro until about a week prior to his
Menasche claimed that two FBI agents from Lexington, Kentucky, had
embarked on a trip to Martinsburg to meet Casolaroas part of their
investigation of the sale of the PROMISE software to Israel and
other intelligence agencies. Ben Menasche told Hamilton that one of
the FBI agents, E.B. Cartinhour, was disaffected because his
superiors had refused to indict high Reagan officials for their role
in the October Surprise. Ben Menasche claimed the agents were
prepared to give Casolaro proof that the FBI was illegally using
Casolaro was also investigating Colonel Bo Gritz’s expose of
drug trafficking, and had requested to meet with a former police
officer who had information on Laotian warlord Kuhn Sa’s Golden
Triangle drug trade proposal to the U.S. He had learned through a
Sacramento Bee newspaper article, dated June 2, 1990 that Patrick
Moriarty, the Red Devil fireworks magnate convicted of laundering
political contributions and bribing city officials in Sacramento,
had been subpoenaed to testify on behalf of Gritz at his trial in
Las Vegas where he was tried for using a false passport. Gritz was
acquitted of the charges....
Moriarty’s lawyer, Jan Lawrence Handzlik, told the Bee that
had paid Gritz to make business trips to China, Singapore and other
parts of Asia. Gritz said his business trip to Asia in July 1989 was
for the purpose of negotiating an oil interest that he and Moriarty
had set up between the People’s Republic of China and Indonesia.
It is noteworthy that Patrick Moriarty is the longtime (30 years)
partner of Marshall Riconosciuto, Michael Riconosciuto’s father.
They owned several California businesses together, two of which were
Hercules Research Corporation, of which Michael was a partner, and
Casolaro at one time considered the title of "Indio" for the book he
was writing about "The Octopus." His death occurred just days before
he planned to visit the Cabazon Indian reservation near Indio,
California. Though his notes did not divulge what role the Cabazons
may have had in the conspiracy, Casolaro listed Dr. John Phillip
Nichols, the Cabazon administrator, as a former CIA agent.
A source of information which Danny may have read is entitled, "DARK
VICTORY, Ronald Reagan, MCA, and the Mob," by Dan E. Moldea. Moldea
named this unholy alliance "The Octopus" in his book.
Numerous publications reporting on Casolaro’s death corroborated
that one of his sources included Michael Riconosciuto, a
"44-year-old former high-tech scientist who had connections with
Wackenhut Corporation ..."
What brought Casolaro to Riconosciuto was an affidavit signed by
Riconosciuto claiming that when he worked on the Wackenhut-Cabazon
project, he was given a copy of the Inslaw software by Earl Brian
for modification. Riconosciuto also swore that Peter Videnieks, a
Justice Department official associated with the Inslaw contract, had
visited the Wackenhut-Cabazon project with Earl Brian.
Earl Brian was a businessman and Edwin Meese crony who served in
Governor Ronald Reagan’s cabinet in California. The $6 million in
software stolen from William and Nancy Hamilton, co-owners of Inslaw
Company, was allegedly sold by the Justice Department through Earl
Brian to raise off-the-books money for covert government operations.
On May 18, 1990, Riconosciuto had called the Hamiltons and informed
them that the Inslaw case was connected to the October Surprise
Riconosciuto claimed that he and Earl Brian had traveled to Iran in
1980 and paid $40 million to Iranian officials to persuade them NOT
to release the hostages before the presidential election in which
Reagan became president of the United States.
Riconosciuto’s information created a domino effect in Washington
D.C., opening numerous investigations and causing a media blitz. At
that time, Casolaro headed the Hamilton’s private investigation of
the theft of their software and he had regular communication with Riconosciuto.
Former U.S. Attorney General Elliott Richardson, the Hamilton’s
attorney, subsequently sent Riconosciuto an affidavit to sign, to be
filed by Inslaw in federal court in connection with Inslaw’s pending
Motion for Limited Discovery.
The affidavit, Case No. 8500070, entered into court records,
resulted in Riconosciuto’s arrest within days. It read as follows:
"I Michael J. Riconosciuto, being duly sworn, do hereby state as
"(1) During the early 1980’s, I served as the Director of Research
for a joint venture between the Wackenhut Corporation of Coral
Gables, Florida, and the Cabazon Band of Indians of Indio,
California. The joint venture was located on the Cabazon
"(2) The Wackenhut-Cabazon joint venture sought to develop and/or
manufacture certain materials that are used in military and national
security operations, including night vision goggles, machine guns,
fuel-air explosives, and biological and chemical warfare weapons.
"(3) The Cabazon Band of Indians are a sovereign nation. The
sovereign immunity that is accorded the Cabazons as a consequence of
this fact made it feasible to pursue on the reservation the
development and/or manufacture of materials whose development or
manufacture would be subject to stringent controls off the
reservation. As a minority group, the Cabazon Indians also provided
the Wackenhut Corporation with an enhanced ability to obtain federal
contracts through the 8A Set Aside Program, and in connection with
Government-owned contractor-operated (GOCO) facilities.
The Wackenhut-Cabazon joint venture was intended to support the
needs of a number of foreign governments and forces, including
forces and governments in Central America and the Middle East. The
Contras in Nicaragua represented one of the most important
priorities for the joint venture.
"(5) The Wackenhut-Cabazon joint venture maintained close liaison
with certain elements of the United States Government, including
representatives of intelligence, military and law enforcement
"(6) Among the frequent visitors to the
venture were Peter Videnieks of the U.S. Department of Justice in
Washington, D.C., and a close associate of Videnieks by the name of
Earl W. Brian. Brian is a private businessman who lives in Maryland
and who has maintained close ties with the U.S. intelligence
community for many years.
"(7) In connection with my work for
Wackenhut, I engaged in some
software development and modification work in 1983 and 1984 on the
proprietary PROMIS computer software product. The copy of PROMIS on
which I worked came from the U.S. Department of Justice. Earl W.
Brian made it available to me through Wackenhut after acquiring it
from Peter Videnieks, who was then a Department of Justice
contracting official with responsibility for the PROMIS software. I
performed the modifications to PROMIS in Indio, California; Silver
Spring, Maryland; and Miami, Florida.
"(8) The purpose of the
PROMIS software modifications that I made in
1983 and 1984 was to support a plan for the implementation of PROMIS
in law enforcement and intelligence agencies worldwide. Earl W.
Brian was spearheading the plan for this worldwide use of the
PROMISE computer software.
"(9) Some of the modifications that I made were specifically
designed to facilitate the implementation of PROMIS within two
agencies of the Government of Canada; the Royal Canadian Mounted
Police (RCMP) and the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS).
Earl W. Brian would check with me from time to time to make certain
that the work would be completed in time to satisfy the schedule for
the RCMP and CSIS implementations of PROMIS.
The proprietary version of PROMIS, as modified by me, was, in
fact, implemented in both the RCMP and the CSIS in Canada. It was my
understanding that Earl W. Brian had sold this version of PROMIS to
the Government of Canada.
"(11) In February 1991, I had a telephone conversation with
Peter Videnieks, then still employed by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Videnicks attempted during this telephone conversation to persuade
me not to cooperate with an independent investigation of the
government’s piracy of Inslaw’s proprietary PROMIS software being
conducted by the Committee on the Judiciary of the U.S. House of
"(12) Videnieks stated that I would be rewarded for a decision not
to cooperate with the House Judiciary Committee investigation.
Videnieks forecasted an immediate and favorable resolution of a
protracted child custody dispute being prosecuted against my wife by
her former husband, if I were to decide not to cooperate with the
House Judiciary Committee investigation.
Videnieks also outlined specific punishments that I could
expect to receive from the U.S. Department of Justice if I cooperate
with the House Judiciary Committee’s investigation.
"(14) One punishment that
Videnieks outlined was the future
inclusion of me and my father in a criminal prosecution of certain
business associates of mine in Orange County, California, in
connection with the operation of a savings and loan institution in
Orange County. By way of underscoring his power to influence such
decisions at the U.S. Department of Justice, Videnieks informed me
of the indictment of these business associates prior to the time
when that indictment was unsealed and made public.
"(15) Another punishment that
Videnieks threatened against me if I
cooperate with the House Judiciary Committee is prosecution by the
U.S. Department of Justice for perjury. Videnieks warned me that
credible witnesses would come forward to contradict any damaging
claims that I made in testimony before the House Judiciary
Committee, and that I would subsequently be prosecuted for perjury
by the U.S. Department of Justice for my testimony before the House
Judiciary Committee." . . .
It is necessary to digress here to disclose the magnitude of the
apparent government cover-up relative to Riconosciuto’s case.
About two weeks before Riconosciuto’s trial began, I had received a
call from Michael asking me to contact Brian Leighton, a former
assistant U.S. Attorney in Fresno, whom Michael claimed to have
provided information to. Michael was lining up his ducks.
Essentially his defense rested on his ability to prove he worked for
the U.S. government in intelligence operations, but his lawyer was
behind schedule in making the contacts.
Brian Leighton had been instrumental in prosecuting 29 members of a
drug/arms organization called "The Company." The Company had been
written up in the San Francisco Chronicle on April 28, 1982 under
the heading "Story of Spies, Stolen Arms and Drugs."
According to reporter Bill Wallace, The Company consisted of (quote),
"about 300 members, many of them former military men or ex-police
officers with nearly $30 million worth of assets, including planes,
ships and real estate."
The article went on to say that "federal drug agents said the
organization had imported billions of dollars worth of narcotics
from Latin America, and was also involved in gunrunning and
Specialized military equipment consisting of nine infrared
sniper-scopes, a television camera for taking pictures in darkness,
1500 rounds of small arms tracer ammunition for night combat, a
five-foot remote-control helicopter, and secret components from the
radar unit of a Sidewinder guided missile were stolen from the U.S.
Naval Weapons Station at China Lake in the Mojave Desert.
Federal agents said some of the stolen equipment was going to be
used to make electronic equipment for drug smugglers and some was
traded to drug suppliers in Columbia. Twenty-nine members of the
Company were indicted by the Fresno federal grand jury in 1981.
Amongst those indicted was Andrew "Drew" Thornton, 40, a former
On September 13, 1985, the Los Angeles Times published the story of
Thornton’s death, entitled,
"Former Narcotics Officer Parachutes Out
of Plane, Dies with 77 Pounds of Cocaine."
The article said Thornton
was indicted in 1981 for "allegedly flying a plane to South America
for a reputed drug ring known as ’The Company’ . . ."
Thornton’s mysterious death was discussed at length in a book
written by Sally Denton entitled, "The Blue Grass Conspiracy."
Part of The Company was headquartered in Lexington, Kentucky.
Prosecutors in Lexington, Fresno, California (Brian Leighton), and
Miami, Florida were working together in a joint effort to bring down
The San Francisco Chronicle noted that in January, 1982, Gene Berry,
a state prosecutor in Charlotte Harbor, Florida, was shot in the
face as he answered his door. Police subsequently arrested Bonnie
Kelly as Berry’s murderer. Bonnie’s husband, Mike McClure Kelly, was
a suspected member of The Company who later pleaded guilty in the
Fresno, California case.
In Michael Riconosciuto’s documents, I discovered a letter dated
March 24, 1982, written on Cabazon letterhead to Michael McClure at
Hercules Corporation from Art Welmas, President of the Cabazon Band
of Indians. Copies (cc:) were also noted to Marshall Riconosciuto
and Michael Riconosciuto. The letter complimented McClure’s
competence in presenting a clear and lucid explanation of a power
pack under development at Hercules. . . .
Throughout Michael’s documents, I found references to Michael
McClure and Bonnie Lynne G. Kelly. Michael’s code word for Mike
McClure was "Gopher."
Journalist Danny Casolaro had been communicating regularly with
Michael Riconosciuto and obviously learned about The Company.
It is not to be overlooked that coincidentally or not, Ari
BenMenashe (a former Israeli intelligence agent who lived in
Lexington, Kentucky) told Bill Hamilton that two Lexington FBI
agents had been enroute to meet with Danny at the Martinsburg Hotel
on the day of his death. The Company was headquartered in Lexington.
Danny was not meeting with the FBI relative to PROMIS, he was
preparing to turn over drug trafficking information on The
"The Company was originally out of Lexington, Kentucky and Mena,
Arkansas. Brian Leighton was the assistant U.S. Attorney who was the
most effective person in formulating a strategy in the Justice
Department to go after these people.
"We recognized what they were, for what they were, at that time, and
there were a few ATF guys down in Los Angeles that recognized them
for what they were, OK? Here was a group of over 300 people, most of
them ex-law enforcement and ex-military, ex-intelligence people
involved in a major drug and smuggling operation. And they were
involved in compromising activities. The bottom line was espionage.
"And all Leighton served to do was vaccinate the group against
further penetration. Just hardened them. And all the major sources
that were developed from inside turned up dead. A federal judge in
Texas turned up dead.
" ... This is a nasty bunch of people. And they’re still alive and
well. Now where that dovetails into my current situation, is in 1984
I was involved with Robert Booth Nichols who owns Meridian Arms
Corporation and is a principle in F.I.D.C.O., First Intercontinental
Development Corporation. The CEO of FIDCO is George Pender and
Bob Maheu was Vice President ...
"FIDCO was an NSC [National Security Council] corporate cutout.
FIDCO was created to be the corporate vehicle to secure the
financing for the reconstruction of the cities of Beirut and Damour
in Lebanon. And they were working out of an office in Nicosia,
" ... And here I got involved with a group of people that were all
high profile and should have been above reproach. FIDCO had a
companion company called Euramae Trading which operated throughout
the Middle East. I came in contact with the PROMISE software
(unintelligible). Euramae had a distribution contract with several
Arab countries and I was asked to evaluate the hardware platforms
they had chosen. That was IBM/AS400 stuff ...
" ... That had come from IBM Tel Aviv but it came through a cutout,
Link Systems, because they couldn’t deal directly with the Arabs.
"And I came across a guy named Michael T. Hurley and I thought he
worked for the State Department but it turned out he was in-country
attaché for the DEA in Nicosia, Cyprus. [Nicosia is the capital of
the island of Cyprus, off the coast of Lebanon]. Now, the DEA had no
real presence in Lebanon. Neither did anybody else, including the
Israelis. They had their usual network of contacts but it was very
ineffective. The only way to penetrate that situation, was to get
into the drug trade.
"Euramae got into the drug trade and I was told that it was a fully
sanctioned NSC directed operation, which it turns out that it was
... All those operations were bonafide and all the people who were
in them were definitely key government people, although they were
not who they said they were.
"They all worked for different agencies other than was stated.
Probably part of the normal disinformation that goes with that. And
I was technical advisor for FIDCO and we had auspices through the
government of Lebanon to get in and out of Lebanon.
"But as far as going to the eastern part of Lebanon, unless you were
connected with the drug trade, your chances were slim coming out
unscathed ... They built a network throughout the Bekaa Valley, and
[Robert Booth] Nichols ... he is under Harold Okimoto from the
"Harold Okimoto was represented to me as being an intelligence
person, which he is. He has worked under the auspices of Frank
Carlucci for years. [Carlucci was former CIA-deputy director and
former Defense secretary].
"Apparently Harold performed services for the U.S. government during
World War II. He’s of Japanese ancestry. I guess he was rewarded for
services well done.
" ... Harold operates through a company called Island
Corporation. He has contracts for all the condiments at all the
casinos in Atlantic City, in Reno, in Vegas, in Macao, China ...
he’s got contacts in Honolulu, the Orient ... a couple of Jews he
knows in Bangkok ... and there is a casino, no a city about 15 miles
north of Beirut that Harold has his fingers in.
FIDCO was wheeling and dealing on financing for the
reconstruction of the infrastructure of Beirut, they were making
sweetheart deals with Syrian mobsters and the brother of the
president of Syria, Hafez Assad.
" ... The intelligence people in their infinite wisdom decided to
capitalize on the longstanding battle between Rifat Assad and his
group and the Jafaar family. Selectively they were backing both
people, but they were also playing them off against one another,
developing networks. They got a bunch of prominent Syrians
thoroughly compromised and they were in tow in the intelligence
game. And they had people that could get me in and out of the Bekaa
Valley, even out of certain areas of Syria.
"From an intelligence standpoint, it was a success. But to maintain
the credibility of those intelligence operations the heroin had to
flow. To make it real. And the stuff was starting to accumulate in a
warehouse outside of Larnaca.
"I personally was in a warehouse where
Hurley and George Pender and
George Marcobie (phonetic spelling) told me there was upwards of
twenty-two tons. And even though it was packaged for shipment, the
smell of it in that closed warehouse was overpowering. You know,
white heroin like that has a certain odor because of the way it’s
"They had authorization for what they called
into the United States. And they would target certain cities and
then follow the stuff out, ostensibly unmasking the network and
"However, the operation became perverted at the U.S. end of the
pipeline. Controlled heroin shipments were doubled, sometimes
tripled, and only one third of the heroin was returned to the DEA.
"At a certain transfer point at the airport in Larnaca, the excess
baggage from the original controlled delivery would be allowed to go
through. I was given the names of the narcotics people who were
handling that. But there were a couple of agents who were on the up
and up, and they had suspicions.
"An intelligence agent who worked with
DIA is now deceased. His name
was Tony Asmar and he got on to the operation early on, and started
going toe to toe with Hurley [DEA]. He died in a bomb blast and it
was ascribed to terrorists. And it actually was terrorists who did
it, but his cover was deliberately blown. Myself and others
suspected Hurley and Bob Nichols and Glen Shockley were responsible
for that ... "
"You need to understand that the airport in Lebanon was closed down.
I took the ferry from Larnaca to Jounieb. Now Jounieb was slightly
south of where the casino city was and the casino city was intact.
Beirut was a nightmare, and so was Damour, because the PLO destroyed
the infrastructure by burrowing bunkers, and there was no water,
electricity or phones. It was a combat zone.
"The Syrian mob controlled the
Casino du Liban in a little city
north of Beirut. It was used as a front by narcotics people. Island
Tobacco, owned by Harold Okimoto, sells all the cigarettes there.
Now, I could give you the names of the families. They pitted them
off against one another. F.I.D.C.O. was to finance the
reconstruction of the infrastructure of the cities of Beirut and
Damour. Deals were cut as to who got what concessions. There were
certain families, like the ElJorr family that had to be placated.
And there was Rifat Assad and his group.
figured out what was going on with Hurley, that they were
shipping ’noncontrolled’ loads of heroin back to the U.S...
They killed Tony..."
"What were the names of the people you were working for over
there?," I asked. Michael’s time was always limited on the phone.
"Ok, there was a man named Maurice Ganem. He had a relative, either
a brother or a cousin, who is a senior DEA official with Michael
Hurley. I can’t remember his name right now. Anyways, Maurice was
agency, you know, in country, in Lebanon. And Maurice and I and
George Pender worked together."
"Which agency? CIA or
DEA?," I asked.
"CIA." Michael continued. " ... And then there was
Danny Habib and Bob Nichols worked out of Cario (phonetic spelling)
"And Bob was NSA or ..." "No, Bob was
NSC at that time."
"George Pender and Bob Clark were the high level contacts on all of
this. Bob Clark got drummed out because he was clean. And McFarland
then took over, OK?"
"So, it was
George Pender and McFarland and Michael McManus
[Assistant to President Reagan at the White House]."
I asked, "What was your involvement with that particular operation?"
"I handled communications protocol. All the communications and
financial transactions. If I could get my records on line I could
show all the money flows, everything."
Michael called back later that day and we continued our
conversation. He was intent on talking to someone in FinCen
(Financial Crimes Enforcement Network). " ... The keystone cops are
working on my defense. You know it’s really an ordeal. Have you
talked to R.J. again?"
"No Mike, he’s not giving much information."
"Listen, tell him that not only am I willing to polygraph, but I
need some expert help and I think he needs some expert help. In the
league we’re playing in, the only guys we can get that have the
where-with-all are with FinCen. That stands for Financial Crimes
Enforcement Network. Get me a technical guy that speaks my
"Alright, Mike ..."
"I’m talking about
Swift Chips. That stands for Clearing House Interbank Payment System, Ok?"
"I’m mad, OK?"
"I’m real mad. The government has all my files and records. They’ve
got all of my optical storage disks. Each of those optical storages,
130 of them, contains 20,000 plus pages. They jacked me around so
" ... Get an expert that speaks my language, and I’ll tell him
everything I know and he can do so much damage, they won’t need my
testimony or anything else."
"Mike, everything you know about what?"
"Tell R.J. it goes all the way back to the Cayman Islands and the
Bahamas and Castle Bank. Norm Caspar ... Resorts International
"How’d you get this stuff?"
"I handled the money for them, OK?"
" ... For the Wackenhut people. For
Norm Caspar who was a Wackenhut
employee during all of this. Now, there was the Workers Bank in
Columbia. I can’t pronounce the Spanish name for it, I just know it
as Workers Bank. I set up their virtual dead-drops ..."
"It’s a way to get around A.C.H. reconciliations on a daily basis.
It’ll take an expert, you know, I can’t even talk to a normal human
being about this ..."
" ... And the bottom line here is
Bob Nichols and Gilbert Rodriguez,
Michael Abbell, whose now an attorney in D.C., but he was with the
criminal section of the Justice Department and Harold Okimoto, and
Jose Londodo, and Glenn Shockley are all in bed together. (Three
years after this conversation, Michael Abbell was indicted for
laundering money for the Cali Cartel).
"Now Ted Gunderson ..."
"Mike, have you got any paperwork on that?"
"Now, wait a minute. Gunderson was physically with me when Wayne
Reeder, Peter Zokosky and his wife and several of Wayne Reeder’s
lieutenants, Bob Nichols and his wife, Harold Okimoto, George
Pender, Deborah Pender, Dill Pender, and myself were all together
" ... Where?"
" ... At Wayne Reeders country club, golf club, in Indio,
California. And Bob discussed openly in front of Ted Gunderson and
myself and everyone present bragged about Glenn Shockley and
Jose Londono having 3,500 soldiers. It’s now almost double that ..."
"What does that mean? What are the soldiers?"
Mike: "R.J. will know what it means."
"This took place in 1983. I have correspondence on the things we
were doing. But I was in fear of my life because Bob was starting to
act irrational. The guy was getting drunk all the time, waving a gun
out of the car window, shooting in the air, you know, just really
doing a mind trip on me. I’ve been on the run ever since ..."
"Mike, what are you going to provide to FinCen?"
"I’m going to show them how these boys handled the life blood of the
cash flow on a day to day basis. I’m going to unmask the whole
"Anything specific on Robert Booth Nichols?"
Mike: "Nichols is Harold Okimoto’s godson. He’s also
(phonetic sp.) boy, and Wolfgang Fosog’s (phonetic sp.) boy."
" ... And who are they?"
"The FinCen people will know. There’s also
"Alright. Well, if I’m going to play around with this, I don’t want
to be in the dark ... I could end up like Danny. I’ve got to know
what I’m dealing with."
"If you get the right guy at
FinCen, he’ll jump at this, OK? We’ve
got to start right now. We’re talking about some time getting things
up and rolling to where we’re fluid and flexible and functional in
their system internationally. They’ll be able to watch the daily
Michael continued to request of
R.J. that he be connected with
someone "trustworthy" at FinCen, to no avail. He also requested to
be placed into a Witness Protection Program, again offering to
assemble his computer equipment in a secret location and provide
FinCen with a day by day view of Mob (and MCA Corporation) illegal
According to Michael, before his arrest, he had been handling gold
transfers, money laundering, "virtual dead drops," altered ACH daily
reconciliations and other transactions for various underworld
figures including Robert Booth Nichols, Harold Okimoto, George
Pender, Wayne Reeder, Michael A. McManus, Norm Caspar, Gilbert
Rodriguez, Jose Londono, Glen Shockley, and others.
Michael continued to call and give me tape-recorded (at his request)
messages to pass on to R.J. The man accepted the messages, but they
just went down the big, black hole and never emerged again.
One message in particular later became significant to me. The
message from Michael to R.J. went as follows:
three dozen C130’s down at the Firebird Lake Airstrip on the Gila
Indian Reservation in Arizona. Check out J & G Aviation, it’s an FBO.
The Fresno Company is alive and well down there.
"The real activity is not at Mirana, it’s at Firebird Lake Airstrip.
Other airlines operating at Firebird are Beigert, Macavia
International, Pacific Air Express, Evergreen and Southern Air.
"Question to R.J.: How much cocaine or heroin can be transported in
a C130? Do you want the C130, or do you want the guys who
"Do a matrix link analysis, then sit down and pick the targets.
Otherwise, you will tip off the others and the proof will dry up....
The message continued regarding Robert Booth Nichols:
"Bob Nichols runs Glen Shockley. Glen Shockley runs Jose Londono. I
[Michael] sat with Bob Nichols and Mike Abbell. Bob handed him
$50,000 cash to handle an internal affairs investigation that the
Justice Department conducted which would have led to the extradition
of Gilbert and Miguel Rodriguez and Jose Londono.
"Bob Nichols told me [Michael] that it was necessary to
’crowbar’ the investigation because they were ’intelligence
"Michael wanted to hand The Company and
Bob Nichols over to FinCen
in exchange for entry into the Witness Protection Program, but
nothing was forthcoming from R.J.
It was two years before I learned who Mike Abbell,
and Jose Londono were. Abbell had worked in the criminal division of
the Justice Department, according to Bill Hamilton. Hamilton added
that, to his knowledge, Abbell had left the DOJ in 1982 and went
directly into the Bogota, Colombia law offices of Kaplan and Russin.
A member of our loosely coalesced investigative team, George
Williamson, a former San Francisco Chronicle reporter, obtained Abbell’s background from library directories: From 1973 to 1979
Abbell was staff assistant to the Assistant U.S. Attorney General.
From 1979 to 1981 he was the Director of the Office of International
Affairs of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice.
After leaving the Department of Justice in 1982, Abbell became
counsel at the law firm of Kaplan, Russin and Becchi, with offices
in San Francisco, California Bogota, Colombia Santo Domingo in the
Dominican Republic Bangkok, Thailand Tapai, Taiwan New York Madrid,
Spain and Miami, Florida.
As of this writing, Abbell was listed as working in his own firm
with a partner named Bruno Ristau (Ristau and Abbell) in Washington
D.C. Ristau was also formerly with the law firm of Kaplan, Russin
and Becchi. And from 1958 to 1963 he was an attorney in the Internal
Security Division and Civil Division of the Department of Justice. .
A TIME magazine article, dated July 4, 1994, described Gilbert
Rodriguez as a "leader of the Cali [Columbian drug] cartel, which
controls 80% of the world’s cocaine trade." The newly elected
president of Columbia, Ernesto Samper Pizano, was accused of taking
$3.7 million in campaign funds from Rodriguez, which in effect, put
Samper in league with Colombia’s drug lords.
Three audio tapes of conversations between Rodriguez and Samper’s
campaign manager, Santiago Medina, had been handed over to U.S.
State Department officials before the election, but nothing was
DEA officials were furious, stating to TIME that,
"No one did
anything. They [the State Department] allowed this travesty to take
place. Everybody, including the U.S. government, is participating in
The State Department responded, "We can’t interfere with elections."
I pulled out a book from a dusty corner of my library entitled,
"Cocaine Politics" by Peter Dale Scott and
Jonathan Marshall, and
looked up the name Gilbert Rodriguez.
On page 83, Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela and Jose Santacruz Londono were mentioned as part of the
early leadership of the Cali cartel.
On page 88 it was noted that
the "Calibased Ocampo and Gilberto Rodriguez had been the principal
targets of a major DEA Centac investigtion that resulted in
indictments of Rodriguez in Los Angeles and New York in 1978."
At that time, President Jimmy Carter’s Human Rights foreign policy
in Latin America distanced the CIA under Stansfield Turner (later a Wackenhut Board Director) from any death-squad interdiction. The
Carter administration was also reportedly reluctant to go after Ocampo because of its determination in 1977 to sign a Panama Canal
treaty with General Torrijos, even though Torrijos and family
members were heavily involved at the highest levels of the world
The Cali cartel, described in a 1983 Customs report, laundered its
profits through Miami banks, one of which was Northside Bank of
Miami, owned by Gilberto Rodriguez. Rodriguez popped up again as the
leader of a delegation to the "cocaine summit conference" in Panama
City in the early 1980’s. Yet, Rodriguez’s name was subsequently
removed from DEA reports under the Ronald Reagan administration. In
fact, according to disgruntled DEA agents, some of whom suspected
they were stumbling into a CIA connection, the case was never
pursued past the indictment level and the Centac 21 task force was
totally dismantled when Reagan and Bush came to office. . . .
On Monday, August 5th,
"Riconosciuto called Bill Hamilton from his
jail in Tacoma. He wanted some information about a former Justice
Department attorney [Mike Abbell], and warned Hamilton that getting
the information might be dangerous. Hamilton called Casolaro to help
him find out about the attorney.
"That same day, Danny called Bob Bickel to say that he was "getting
close to the source, and he would soon go to Martinsburg and bring
back the head of the Octopus."
Tuesday, August 6:
Casolaro had been typing steadily since Monday,
and by afternoon, he’d finished. Olga, his housekeeper, helped him
pack a leather tote bag. She also remembered him packing a thick
sheaf of papers into a dark brown or black briefcase. Danny walked
out the door saying, "I have all my papers ... Wish me luck. I’ll
see you in a couple of days." That was the last time Olga saw Casolaro alive.
Wednesday, August 7:
According to Inslaw records, Casolaro called the
Hamilton in the afternoon, and was put on hold. Before Hamilton
could get free, he had hung up. At some time on that same day,
Riconosciuto called Hamilton again to ask for the information about
the Justice Department lawyer [Mike Abbell]. Hamilton called
Casolaro, but he had already left for Martinsburg.
Thursday, August 8:
Casolaro called Danielle Stalling and asked her
to set up appointments for him the next week with a former police
officer, now employed as a private investigator, to learn more about
the Laotian warlord Kuhn Sa’s proposed Golden Triangle drug trade.
Friday, August 9:
By now Hamilton was starting to worry. I talk to
Danny everyday," Hamilton said. "I had never [gone without speaking
to him for so long] before, so I called Bob Nichols in Los Angeles
and asked whether he had heard from Danny recently."
Nichols told Hamilton "Yes," he had spoken with Danny late Monday
night [August 5th] and he had been "euphoric." Nichols told Hamilton
he (Nichols) was taking off for Europe that evening.
It was at that point that Olga, Danny’s housekeeper, received four
or five threatening phone calls. The first was about 9 a.m., a man’s
voice, in good English, said, "I will cut his [Danny’s] body and
throw it to the sharks.
"About a half hour later, another call came in. "Drop dead," the
man’s voice said.
Saturday, August 10:
At 12:30 that afternoon, a maid knocked on the
door of room 517 at the Sheraton Martinsburg Inn. Nobody answered,
so she used her passkey to open the door; though it had both a
security bolt and a chain lock on the inside, neither one was
attached. When she glanced into the bathroom, she saw a lot of blood
on the tile floor and screamed.
Another hotel maid came into the bathroom and saw a man’s nude body
lying in the blood-filled tub. There was blood not only on the tile
floor but splattered up onto the wall above the tub as well. The
police were called to the scene.
At 8:30 p.m. that night, unaware that Danny’s body had been found,
Olga, Danny’s housekeeper, returned to Casolaro’s house to look for
him. The phone rang. A man’s voice said, "You son of a bitch. You’re
It was not until Monday, August 12, that authorities notified family
and friends that Danny Casolaro was dead. . . .
Just days before his death, Danny had planned to visit the
reservation. In his notes were cryptic references to slow-acting
brain viruses like Mad Cow Disease, which could be used against
targeted people by slipping the virus into meat pies. Riconosciuto
told Rosenbaum that Danny was "concerned" that he may have been a
target of this virus.
"That was one of the reasons he [Danny] had
such an obsession with this story. He felt he had been hit by these
people." . . .
Danny’s girlfriend, Wendy Weaver, had been present at one of the
meetings at the Four Seasons Hotel bar when Nichols issued the
"You don’t know how bad this guy Riconosciuto is ... he
might not get you today, he might not get you next month. He might
get you two years from now. If you say anything against him he will
Nichols repeated the warning several times, said Weaver.
five times." Weaver described Nichols as "very charming, very
handsome," but said "it [the meeting] was a weird night, so weird."
Another friend of Danny’s met Nichols at a luncheon at Clyde’s in Tysons Corner where Nichols allegedly informed them that he had just
been asked to become "minister of state security" on the island of
Dominica. Reportedly, the island was going to be transformed into a
CIA base. The friend, who spoke to Rosenbaum on condition of
anonymity, said Nichols was "very slick, very civilized-appearing"
... "oozing intrigue," but he added that he had never witnessed a
performance like the one that ensued.
After lunch Danny had pulled his friend aside and showed him a
purported FBI wiretap summary on Nichols. The summary was part of
FBI agent Thomas Gates’s affidavit in Nichols’ slander suit against
him. The summary linked Nichols to the Yakuza and to the Gambino
crime family as a money launderer.
Danny’s friend had been shocked.
"You just put me in a meeting with
this man and didn’t tell me what the hell why didn’t you tell me
before?," he asked Danny. Danny said he wanted to see how Nichols
would react. The friend told Rosenbaum, "In other words, he gaffed
me with a hook and tossed me in the water to see if the Octopus
Danny HAD in fact been receiving death threats on the phone. One
threat reported by his housekeeper, "You’re dead, you son of a
bitch," which came hours AFTER Danny’s body had been found, ruled
out Danny himself as a possible source of the threats. And his
prophesy to his brother, Tony Casolaro, "If anything happens to me
it won’t be an accident," made it unmistakably clear that Danny did,
indeed, feel threatened.
Nevertheless, Danny appeared upbeat to most of the people he talked
to prior to his death. Dr. Tony Casolaro, a specialist in pulmonary
medicine, told Vanity Fair that he didn’t believe his brother
committed suicide because Danny was so excited and upbeat about his
investigation on that last Monday when he saw him.
The autopsy examination of Danny’s brain had revealed possible
symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis, but friends and family dismissed
this as irrelevant because Danny had never complained of symptoms
or, to their knowledge, known of the disease, if he had it.
Tony was also troubled by a number of facts, one of which was
Danny’s current papers and files which he took to West Virginia were
missing from his motel room. His body had been embalmed even before
family members were notified of the death, and the motel room had
been commercially cleaned before any type of investigation, other
than a cursory look at the death scene by police, could occur.
In his Vanity Fair article, Ron Rosenbaum wrote that he had obtained
one of Casolaro’s surviving notebooks and found mentioned under the
heading of August 6, four days before Danny’s death, the name
"Gilberto." It read: "Bill Hamilton August 6. MR ... also brought up
’Gilberto.’" Rosenbaum did not speculate publicly who Gilberto might
be, but it was obviously Gilberto Rodriguez, head of the Cali
Cartel, at that time deeply involved with Michael Abbell, formerly
of the Department of Justice.
A dozen or so drafts of Casolaro’s proposed manuscript along with
notes and phone bills had been sent to the Western Historical
Manuscript Collection at the University of Missouri by his brother,
Dr. Tony Casolaro. Tony Casolaro had sent the material to the
University because, at one time, the IRE (Investigative Reporters
and Editors) Association, headquartered at the University, had
researched the fatal car-bombing of reporter Don Bolles in Arizona.
Bolles had been researching a mob-connected gold smuggling operation
in that state. Through Tracy Barnett at IRE, I learned that a
graduate student at the University had been assigned to catalog all
Danny’s material for eventual insertion into a data base. In
contacting the graduate student, who by then (September 1994) worked
for ABC in Houston, Texas, I learned that few if any journalists had
inquired about the notes.
But, interestingly, Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Zipperstein
from Los Angeles, working for the Department of Justice, had
requested copies of Danny’s NOTES, but declined Danny’s phone
records. The graduate student noted that the notes and drafts of
Danny’s proposed manuscript focused on a Cabal of intelligence
people who, originally consisting of numerous names, were
subsequently narrowed down to about eight. One of those names was
Glen Shockley. Shockley, of course, was listed on the Board of
Directors of F.I.D.C.O. along with Robert Booth Nichols.
Shockley was also a corporate partner in Meridian International
Logistics, headed by Nichols. Shockley was also a CIA-contract
employee (according to several sources) who allegedly "ran Jose Londono" of the Cali Cartel. This according to Riconosciuto’s taped
interview with government agents while negotiating for Witness
I purchased everything of any significance pertaining to Danny’s
writings and documents, including the FBI wire tap summaries which
corroborated everything I had learned to date.
In reviewing the summaries, it became apparent that the FBI had
inadvertently stumbled onto a CIA drug trafficking operation which
included high ranking La Cosa Nostra figures, the Gambino crime
family and the Japanese Yakuza.
One affidavit in support of an application to intercept wire
communications over the telephone listed names of those to be
intercepted: Robert Booth Nichols, Eugene Giaquinto (then President
of MCA Corporation Entertainment Division, and corporate partner with
Nichols in Meridian International Logistics), Angelo Commito, Edward
Sciandra, Michael Del Gaizo, Joseph Garofalo, and others.
The purpose of the interceptions was to determine "source, type and
quantity of narcotics/controlled substances, methods and means of
delivery, and the source of funding for purchasing of
The intercepted conversations read like a "Who’s Who" of organized
crime. It was also apparent that Eugene Giaquinto enjoyed a special
relationship with John Gotti.
Ann Klenk, a long time friend of Danny Casolaro’s and former
associate of Washington D.C. columnist Jack Anderson, held all his
personal notes which were not sent to the University. In a September
14, 1994 phone interview, she noted that the last time she talked to
Danny, that last Monday before his death, he told her he’d cracked
the Inslaw case.
I asked her, "Do you think he resolved that?"
Ann responded, "Oh, yes. I KNOW he did. He TOLD me he did. He said,
’Ann, I broke Inslaw.’ And I said, ’Geez, Danny that’s great!’ But,
I never asked him what he found because he was very despondent about
it. He said, ’You can have it. You and Jack [Anderson] can have the
story. I don’t even want it.’"
Ann said Danny was disgusted and related their last conversation: "I
said, ’Danny, you worked on this [so long] and now you don’t want
it?’ He said, ’It’s just a little piece of the puzzle anyway.’ See, Inslaw led him into this, but Danny quickly became more involved
with the drug aspects ... with the CIA-aspects, with the Wackenhut
I said, "I know what you mean, because I followed the same trail."
Danny’s proposed drafts and notes obtained from Western Historical
Manuscript Collection at University of Missouri revealed information
never published in mainstream media. Typewritten and handwritten
lists of contacts included names and telephone numbers of Ted
Gunderson, Raymond Lavas, Robert Nichols, Peter Zokosky, Bob Bickel,
Fahim Safar, Earl Brian, Peter Dale Scott, Art Welmus, John
Vanderwerker, Jack Blum, Dr. Harry Fair, Bill Hamilton, Bob Parry,
Bill McCoy, and numerous others.
Most of Danny’s drafts focused on the Southeast Asian heroin
connection, CIA drug money used to finance the Contras, and the
ability of terrorists to send missiles containing dangerous
chemicals and biological diseases into the U.S.
One typewritten draft, entitled, "Behold A Pale Horse," described
an "international cabal [in Southern California] whose freelance
services covered parochial political intrigue, espionage,
sophisticated weapon technologies that included biotoxins, drug
trafficking, money laundering and murder-for-hire."
According to Danny, the cabal continues today, "its origins spawned
thirty years ago in the shadow of the Cold War." . . .
Within six months of Casolaro’s death, Riconosciuto was again
attempting to trade information in exchange for entry into a Witness
Protection Program. But this time, instead of using Casolaro or Bill
Hamilton, he was using me to make the contacts.
At Riconosciuto’s request, I contacted a man whom I will identify as
N.B. at the BATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms) in San
Francisco. Michael had advised me to call this agent because the
BATF was "Treasury Department" as was FinCen.
I set up the phone meeting and Riconosciuto called the San Francisco
BATF collect, as scheduled. N.B. listened attentively to Michael,
then ran a check on him through the departmental computer system.
Shortly thereafter, I received an unnerving phone call.
N.B. advised me in strong terms to "get out of this" while I still
could. He said I would end up getting subpoenaed as a witness if I
didn’t discontinue my investigation. He added that sometimes people
got killed or committed suicide when they got involved with Michael Riconosciuto or
Robert Booth Nichols. . . .
Through one of Michael’s contacts, I was able to obtain the
corporate documents on F.I.D.C.O. Corporation (First
Intercontinental Development Corporation). This formidable
organization lead me straight to the head of The Octopus.
The Board of Directors of FIDCO consisted of the following
(1) Robert Maheu, Sr, Vice President, Director former FBI agent,
former CEO of Howard Hughes Operations, senior consultant to Leisure
(2) Michael A. McManus, Director, Vice President and General Counsel
to FIDCO former Assistant to the President [Reagan] of the United
States at the White House in Washington D.C.
(3) Robert Booth Nichols, Director, Sr. Vice President and Chairman
of Investment Committee Chief Executive Officer of R.B.N. Companies,
International, a holding company for manufacturing and development
of high technology electronics, real estate development,
construction and international finance.
(4) George K. Pender, Director former Director of Pacific Ocean area
of Burns & Roe, Inc., an international engineering & construction
corporation with active projects on all seven continents of the
world. Senior engineer consultant to Burns & Roe, Inc.
(5) Kenneth A. Roe, Director Chairman and President of Burns & Roe,
Inc., International engineers and Constructors, a family corporation
owned by Kenneth Roe and family. Major current project of the
company is the engineering design and construction of the U.S.A.
Fast Breeder Nuclear Reactor Plant in conjunction with Westinghouse
Electric Corporation which is responsible for the nuclear system
supply of steam. Construction value of present business backlog of
Burns & Roe, Inc. is in e Manager access of six billion U.S. dollar.
(6) Frances T. Fox, Vice President and Director former General of
L.A. International Airport, former Director of Aviation for Howard
Hughes Nevada operations, now called Summa Corporation, City Manager
of San Jose, California.
(7) Clint W. Murchison, Jr. Director Owner of the Dallas Cowboys NFL
(8) William M. Pender, Director and Sr. Vice President licensed
contractor, State of California.
(9) Glen R. Shockley, Director Consultant to Fortune 500 Companies
in business management. Internationally known as financial
consultant in funding.
The list of directors was accompanied by a letter dated January 11,
1983 on FIDCO letterhead originating out of Santa Monica, California
addressed to Robert Booth Nichols in Marina Del Rey, California. The
letter, signed by George K. Pender, briefly referenced a copy of a
resolution resulting from a meeting of the Board of Directors of
On April 13, 1983, Robert Booth Nichols wrote a letter to Joseph F. Preloznik in Madison, Wisconsin, outlining proposed arms projects,
one of which was to build a two story building of approximately 7500
square feet with concrete walls and floors to house the "R & D
(I later found the R & D facility referenced in a 1981 Wackenhut
Interoffice memorandum as a companion facility to Wackenhut to be
constructed on the Cabazon Indian reservation for the assembly of
shell casings, propellants, war heads, fuses, combustible cartridge
cases and other weapons systems). . . .
If in fact, F.I.D.C.O. was a vehicle of The Octopus, then the
tentacles of its Board of Directors lead straight to the head. Clint
Murchison, Jr. of Dallas, Texas was the son of Clint Murchison, Sr.
who, according to Dick Russell, author of the book, "The Man Who
Knew Too Much," (pp. 521-523) was cut from the same political cloth
as H.L. Hunt. . . .
"Back in 1951, after General Douglas MacArthur was
relieved of his Korean command by President Truman, H.L. Hunt
accompanied MacArthur on a flight to Texas for a speaking tour. Hunt
and Murchison were the chief organizers of the pro-MacArthur forces
in Texas. They would always remember the general standing bareheaded
in front of the Alamo, urging removal of the ’burden of taxation’
from enterprising men like themselves, charging that such restraints
were imposed by ’those who seek to convert us to a form of
socialistic endeavor, leading directly to the path of Communist
According to Russell, Hunt went on to set up a MacArthur-for-president
headquarters in Chicago, spending $150,000 of his own money on the
general’s reluctant 1952 campaign, which eventually fell apart as MacArthur adopted the strident rhetoric of the right wing.
"Still, connections were made," wrote
Russell, "Charles Willoughby,
for example, was a regular part of the MacArthur-Hunt entourage and
undoubtedly was acquainted with Murchison as well."
Both [the Hunts and the Murchisons] cultivated not only powerful
people on the far right, but also J. Edgar Hoover, Richard Nixon,
organized crime figures, and Lyndon Johnson, whose rise to power
emanated directly from his friends in Texas oil.
"Like Hunt, Murchison was an ardent supporter of Senator
McCarthy’s anticommunist crusade. McCarthy came often to the
exclusive hotel that Murchson opened in La Jolla, California, in the
early 1950’s. So did Richard Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover.
"In 1961, after Nixon had lost the presidential election to JFK the
previous year, Murchison sold Nixon a lot in Beverly Hills for only
$35,000 a lot Murchison had financed through a Hoffa loan which
Nixon sold two years later for $86,000.
When Hoover visited the (Murchison) Hotel Del Charro, as he did
every summer between 1953 and 1959, Murchison picked up his tab.
That amounted to about $19,000 of free vacations for the FBI
Director over those years.
Whether Hoover knew it or not, almost 20 percent of the Murchison
Oil Lease Company in Oklahoma was then owned by Gerardo Catena,
chief lieutenant to the Genovese crime family.
By the autumn of 1963, a major scandal was brewing around Bobby
Baker, whom Vice President Lyndon Johnson had made secretary of the
Senate Democrats in 1955, when LBJ was majority leader. LBJ called
Baker "my strong right arm, the last man I see at night, the first I
see in the morning."
On October 8, 1963 Baker was forced to resign, as a Senate
investigation of his outside business activities began producing
sensational testimony on numerous questionable deals.
"Baker’s deals were tightly interwoven with the Murchison family and
the Mob," wrote Dick Russell.
"What first attracted the attention of Senate investigators was a
lawsuit brought against Baker in 1963 by his associates in a vending
company, alleging that he failed to live up to certain bargains.
Those associates were, for the most part, Las Vegas gamblers; one of
them, Edward Levinson, was a lieutenant of Florida mobster Meyer
Lansky, whose Fremont Hotel in Vegas was financed through a Hoffa
"Baker, it later turned out, did considerable business with the Mob
in Las Vegas, Chicago, Louisiana, and the Caribbean. Through Baker,
Levinson had also gotten to know Clint Murchison."
"Clint Murchison, Jr. [listed on the Board of Directors of FIDCO]
tried to persuade the Senate Rules Committee in 1964 that his own
real estate dealings with Jimmy Hoffa in Florida were ’hardly
relevant’ to the Baker investigation."
Robert Maheu (Senior Vice President and Director of F.I.D.C.O.), was
also mentioned in Russell’s book, "The Man Who Knew Too Much," (pp.
190). Wrote Russell: "Back in 1960, with then vice president Richard
Nixon serving as the White House’s liaison to the CIA’s Cuban
operations, the CIA had initiated its long series of assassination
attempts against Castro. The ’cutouts’ in the operation started with
Las Vegas billionaire Howard Hughes’s right-hand man, Robert Maheu,
who got in touch with organized-crime leaders Sam Giancana, Johnny
Rosselli, and Santos Trafficante, Jr.
"They in turn enlisted the direct assistance of Cuban exiles ..."