"Those at the top of the organizational hierarchy liked him because he had an ability to successfully interface with people beyond the circle of the mob without scaring the pants off them. On the outside he was suave, good looking, impeccably dressed and gentlemanly. On the inside Roselli was like a rattlesnake in a box. You should always think twice before sticking your hand in it."
Johnny Roselli, also sometimes John Roselli and/or Rosselli, was a high ranking member of organized crime, also referred to as the mob, the Mafia, the syndicate, the outfit, and any number of other names and titles. Call it what you will, Roselli was an integral part of it all most of his life, from a young teenage boy in the 1920s to his ultimate demise under their aegis in 1976. Even though he was never a don in the classical sense, he carried a huge amount of sway, influence and stature ahead of himself in the mob, most certainly well beyond his made-man status. His position was totally different and unusual in the organization, a role that did not exist before him and that has not been duplicated since.
Another thing about Roselli that was different, at least in my esteem and how it applies to what is written here, is that I knew him personally, having met Roselli for the first time before I was even ten years old, and maintaining that knowing him on a first name basis for nearly three decades. So said, in that I originally met Roselli on the innocent side as a young boy, that is, outside of any mob affiliation or need, and maintained that relationship up through adulthood, our association and my access to him was on a different level than most.
Friend or not, depending on where you were on the totem pole, Roselli included, with someone like Roselli the process was always simple, basically tit-for-tat. In the chain of things Roselli would be expected to respond the same from those above him as those below him would be expected to respond to him. You ask him for something, he expects, at least some point in time, something in return. However, because of a certain code (at least how it was in those days) whatever is asked of you in return it is never something beyond your station in life to act on. A thief or burglar might be asked to steal or a killer may be asked to kill, but for someone in my station in life, for example, would never be asked or expected to perform or do something beyond one's ability or experience to do so. Once ensnared and not to comply however, for anybody, there would be consequences, most often as not, not always palatable.
Because of me being an innocent (i.e., non affiliated) I might be requested to deliver something for example, that because of the level of need, major or minor, had to be done on the QT so it couldn't be traced back to Roselli or the mob --- which for me was quite simple because there was no overt connection back to either. So too, without being discussed openly at any level, it was a given that the innocence that blanketed any endeavor was a necessary part of that endeavor and it was expected to be maintained, that is, lie if you had to, but not to compromise the endeavor or anyone involved. I know because, as found in Footnote  below, after Roselli's intervention and help regarding my stepmother who had fallen on hard times and who he knew from the old days, I was asked to participate in some level of completion for a couple of small tasks.
Roselli was born Filippo Sacco in Italy in 1905 and immigrated to the U.S. with his mother in 1911, settling in East Boston. He dropped out of school taking a job driving a milk wagon basically to cover the delivery of morphine to a variety of customers. On September 14, 1922, at age 17, Roselli had his first recorded run-in with the law. He was being trailed in a sting operation by Federal narcotic agents during one of his deliveries to a drug addict who was also a government informant. Roselli was arrested and released after six months in jail. Shortly thereafter the informant was found murdered and Roselli became the number one suspect.
Harassed and suspected of murder Roselli fled to New York taking up with the New York gangs. Soon he was farmed out to Johnny Torrio who had moved to Chicago in 1918 taking his eventual underboss Al Capone, who was facing a potential murder charge in New York, with him, becoming a member of the Chicago mob. In Chicago one of the 18 year old Roselli's early jobs, as a predecessor to Joe Accardo, was being the driver for the 24 year old Al Capone before Al Capone became Al Capone. When Roselli was diagnosed with early stages of tuberculosis, doctors recommended a warmer climate. Having established himself as a staunch foot soldier and loyalist to the creed and not wanting to waste Roselli's talents as a fearless follow through enforcer Torrio sent him to Los Angeles in 1924. In Los Angeles Roselli was supposed to fall under the auspices of Joseph Ardizzone and Jack Dragna. Instead he turned to bootlegging working for Tony Cornero without planting his feet under anyone specific. Cornero was indicted by federal authorities on Dec. 22, 1926 for his bootlegging activities. He escaped from the authorities and was on the lam for two years before turning himself in, after which he served two years. With Cornero out of the picture Roselli began focusing his efforts exclusively toward Dragna.
During that period Dragna had continually strengthened his position and eventually took over as the sole Los Angeles don after Ardizzone disappeared October 15, 1931. Dragna had his own longtime core of people around him that he knew, trusted, and was familiar with. In a sense Roselli was an outsider, albeit with strong ties to the Chicago outfit. One area Dragna was weak in was the entertainment industry, that is, Hollywood and the film industry. Keeping Roselli at arms length yet still providing a much needed service he put Roselli in charge of dealing with Hollywood --- which inturn he did amazingly well.
By May of 1932 Al Capone was pretty much out of the picture, not only in Chicago but across the board, having been convicted by the Feds on income tax evasion and sent to the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia (transferred to Alcatraz on August 11, 1934). Most people would say that with Capone gone Roselli's link to the top was severed. However, he had long made a favorable name for himself up and down the oganization because of the way he always conducted himself. Those at the top of the organizational hierarchy liked him because he had an ability to successfully interface with people beyond the circle of the mob without scaring the pants off them. On the outside he was suave, good looking, impeccably dressed and gentlemanly, modeling himself after the mobster Paul Ricca. On the inside Roselli was like a rattlesnake in a box. You should always think twice before sticking your hand in it.
Roselli's modus operandi was quite simple. He collected the money from his "endeavors" himself, then he divided and distributed it himself --- rather than have it go to the Dragna organization for example, for them to divide and distribute. In Dragna's case he was happy because before Roselli and his enterprising Hollywood methods he was not getting any money from that area. Chicago was happy because Roselli was making sure they were receiving their full cut without worry that it was getting skimmed before the cut was made. Roselli's mob related talents and strengths did not just happen overnight, they were cultivated for years. Although the link to the orginal source of the quote below is now lost in cyber-space, it has been attributed to the pretty much anonymous author of DIELAND: Mob: The Los Angeles Satellite. So said, rather than attempt a rewrite or restate it in my own words, I'll present it as it is:
"By the close of the 20's Johnny Roselli was a man of unlimited power and respect. As Roselli's stature grew in both L.A. rackets and social circles, Johnny began to cultivate himself into a gentleman in the mode of his mentor Paul Ricca. Johnny began dressing in hand tailored suits and sported expensive jewlery and dropped the guteral dialect of the streets of Boston, New York and Chicago, where he had grown up and made his reputation. These ways would open the doors of high society to Roselli for the rest of his life. Mixing his gift of charm with the knowledge of when to throw in a well placed act of violence would forever provide a special place in the outfit leadership."
Quietly standing off to the side in the shadows, yet contributing heavily to Roselli's continuing cultivation moving into and throughout the 1930s, was his old boss Tony Cornero. Within weeks of the Nevada legislature's March 1931 law legalizing statewide casino gambling, Cornero and his brothers opened up the Meadows Club, one of the first casinos in Las Vegas. The Meadows, with it's wildly fancy interior and live entertainment was considered the finest casino in Las Vegas and the forerunner to all the casinos that came after it in the 1940s. Roselli had no stake in any of the operations, but Cornero gave him free run of the place. Same with the fleet of gambling ships Cornero had moored beyond the three mile limit off the Southern California coast in the late 1930s --- including Cornero's flagship the Rex stationed off Redondo Beach. The Rex was a high class well-appointed vessel costing upwards of $200,000 to outfit. Cornero designed it to appeal to middle and upper class customers rather than just underworld types. All of it worked perfectly into Roselli's image by providing pull on one end and gaining access on the other with high-rollers, big spenders, movie stars and flush fringe elements such as mobsters and their families.
To show how smooth and easily Roselli was able to work both sides of the fence, right on the heels of a quickie marriage to newspaper heiress Marajen Stevick followed by a just as quick annulment, on April 1, 1939, the 33 year old Roselli married an exceptionally beautiful up-and-coming 22 year old actress with over 20 movies under her belt named June Lang. Reports are that Lang was madly in love with Roselli BUT, like many on the periphery or slightly out of the loop, had no idea he was a mobster. Lang divorced him in March 1943 after she apparently had somekind of leakage of an epiphany and became aware of the truth --- that and rumors of a potential and flowering interest by Roselli toward another actress by the name of Helen Greco.
On December 4, 1942, just three days short of one full year following the attack on Pearl Harbor --- and while still married to Lang --- at age 37, Roselli either joined or was inducted into the U.S. Army. Sent to Camp Cooke and the Fifth Armored Division in California, he actively served as a full-fledged private slick-sleeve G.I., training and doing KP and guard duty along wiht everybody else until he was arrested on federal charges March 18, 1943.
Roselli, along with Chicago mobsters Charles Gioe, Frank Nitti, Paul Ricca, Louis Campagna, Phil D'Andrea, Frank Maritote, and Ralph Pierce, in addition to New Jersey hood Louis Kaufman were indicted on federal labor racketeering charges. Nitti committed suicide the day after the indictments were announced and during the trial the charges were dropped against Pierce. The trial began on October 5, 1943 and on December 22, 1943 they were found guilty of conspiracy to extort more than $l million from the motion picture industry. After spending Christmas with their families the seven men were sentenced on New Year's Eve. The five Chicago mobsters and Johnny Roselli received prison terms of 10 years each and a $10,000 fine. Kaufman drew a seven-year sentence and a $10,000 fine. After serving roughly three and a half years all of them were paroled.
As quick as he was released Roselli landed on his feet, securing a legitimate cover in Hollywood working as an associate producer for his friend Bryan Foy and his Bryan Foy Productions, distributing through Eagle Lion such film noirs as Canon City and T-Men. As entertainment and enterainers slipped back and forth between Hollywood and Las Vegas he became deeper ingrained in the mob's ties and interests in Nevada's gambling capital, overseeing and ensuring that a huge number of different people in a huge number of different casinos, all with different allegiances and interests, were not edging out of their full share of what should be going to the Outfit.
Roselli soon veered himself into operating a talent booking agency called Monte Prosser Productions whose base of operations was in the Desert Inn. Monte Prosser Productions quickly became the ONLY agency used by ALL of the casinos. His agency even had the contract to represent the company that put in and maintained all the ice machines in ALL the hotels in Vegas. People often laugh or make fun of Roselli because of his ice machine connection, thinking it was small time rinky-dink stuff. However, he did it on purpose. Besides being lucrative it gave so-called work crews and maintenance men under his direct control free and unfettered access to almost every floor in every hotel, basically coming and going as they pleased without being noticed, in turn giving Roselli eyes and ears all over Vegas unlike anybody else. For sure, housekeeping workers on the floors knew who they were and more than likely mutually beneficial cooperation came into play between the two on more than one occasion. Although it was well known Roselli could be brutal, albeit usually at a distance, he was also known to be generous. Anything that worked out in his favor was always remembered, things that didn't were never forgotten. If a string of expensive pearls or a gold Rolex fell into his hands every member of the chain, even at the lowest level, received their due in some fashion.
Around that time actor/singer Frank Sinatra sponsored Roselli into the Los Angeles Friar's Club. No sooner had he become a member than with his astute knowledge of such things he quickly figured out there was some sort of a card cheating scam in play. When he learned Maury Friedman, who owned the land the Silver Slipper was built on and helped finance the Frontier Casino --- and that Roselli knew had helped siphon off millions of the casino's profits for the the Detroit mob --- was in the mix he knew for certain there was something going on. Roselli demanded and got, because nobody was willing to go against him, twenty percent of the take. When the whole thing began falling apart for a number of assorted reasons, a man by the name of George Emerson Seach, who assisted the main players in the scam, ratted them out after being granted immunity as a government witness.
The Grand Jury returned an indictment December 21, 1967. The trial started June 11, 1968 and lasted six months. Roselli received a $55,000 dollar fine and five years in prison on pretty much unproven, although most likely true, trumped up charges. He was released October 5, 1973 and retired to Florida.
In June and and then again in September, 1975 Roselli was called to testify before the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the so-called Church Committee. His appearance before the committee circulated around testimony regarding his knowledge of the CIA, the Mafia, and specifically his involvement in a number of attempts to kill Fidel Castro during the 1960s. He was called back again in April, 1976 to testify on what, if anything, he knew about a conspiracy surrounding the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Three months later the committee wanted him to testify again, but found he had been missing since July 28, 1976.
On July 16 Roselli, along with his sister and her husband, went to dinner with known bigtime Mafia don Santo Trafficante. On July 27 a mob-connected lawyer called Roselli from Los Angeles and told him to get out of Miami immediately. The next day, July 28th, Roselli disappeared on the way to play golf. On August 9, 1976 Roselli's body was found stuffed into in a 55-gallon drum floating in Dumfoundling Bay near Miami, Florida. He had been strangled, shot, and his legs sawn off. The barrel was punched full of holes and wrapped in chains.
When Roselli started up through the ranks he was young. Age 13. When he went before the Church Committee he was in his 70s, his mentors and those he swore alligence to throughout the years were either old or dead. The younger ones that were coming up behind him he neither helped nor knew him. Roselli's objective was to set the record straight. In the eyes of the mob however, that is, in the overall scheme of things as it related back to the code, regardless of all of his years of being a loyal member in the past, his testimony before congress was seen as voilating "Omerata," the code of silence, a Cardinal sin punishable by death. If Roselli actually violated Omerata or was simply a victim of a personal vendetta for having stepped on someone's toes is up for argument.(see)
In 1981 or 1982, after living in the Caribbean island nation of Jamaica for two years in the Peace Corps and returning to the U.S. after completion of my service, found me in Florida in pursuit of locating a former Vietnam War POW named Floyd Thompson that had come to my attention as living there. Although I had never met Thompson, he had been peripherally implemental in one of those forks in the road that happens in one's life that ends up having a huge downstream impact.
I bring up Thompson, not because his and my forks in the road relate to Roselli in anyway, but because during my search for the POW, in that I was in Florida, I also tried, without positive results I might add, to locate Roselli's sister, Edith Daigle. I had been told by Roselli himself his sister was living in a community about 25 miles north of Miami, Florida, called Plantation, so I went looking for her, with no other reason to do so other than to offer my condolences. That was pretty much the last time I had any interaction with anything connected to Roselli or anybody even remotely connected with him, pro or con, government or otherwise except for one brief incident that transpired maybe a year or so after my unsuccessful search for his sister.
As for Roselli, other than the above offhand related incidents, the last time I saw him myself personally was some ten years before and done so under or by request in September of 1973, just prior to his release on parole from the federal Terminal Island facility near Los Angeles.
WORLD WAR II COMES TO REDONDO
ROSELLI AND THE KENNEDY ASSASSINATION
JOHNNY ROSELLI, SLOT MACHINES, AND THE FBI
ON THE RAZOR'S
MOST NON-PERSONAL LEVEL KNOWLEDGE RESEARCHED VIA THE MULTI-VOLUME
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 12 PART FBI ROSELLI EXCERPTS
SOME ASSIST, AMONG OTHER SOURCES, PROVIDED THROUGH
ALL AMERICAN MAFIOSO: THE JOHNNY ROSSELLI STORY
by Charles Rappleye and Ed Becker
As to the subject of donations, for those who may be so interested as it applies to the gratefulness of my works, I invariably suggest any funds be directed toward THE WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT and/or THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.
Over and over it has been brought up if and when Roselli showed up in California. It has been reported that as early as January 1924 Roselli was arrested in Burbank, California, a suburb of Los Angeles, after he purchased forty cases of beer. He pleaded guilty before a federal judge stating he wanted to bear full responsibility for his actions and paid the $500 dollar fine. The case was lodged under the name of James Roselli.
In August 1925 Roselli was arrested in the town of Roscoe (renamed Sun Valley in 1948, adjacent to Burbank) by officers of the Burbank Police Department and charged with operating a 1,000 gallon storage facility for beer and distilled spirits. The case was lodged under the name of name Sam Roselli.
Paul Ricca came up through the organization almost from the beginning. When Al Capone was arrested and sent to prison it looked to all the world that Frank Nitti had taken over the Chicago organization. Actually it was Ricca who pulled the strings. Ricca felt that what brought Capone down was the spotlight he put on himself through his high-profile flamboyant lifestyle and that the spotlight put to much illumination on their day-to-day activities. Ricca was much more subdued staying almost exclusively out of the limelight. When he did appear in public he was impeccable. Roselli having known Capone from the beginning decided the Ricca model was the way for him. In Like Cashmere On A Leper (Part One) by John William Tuohy, Tuohy writes the following about Ricca:
"In the working class dominated underworld, where ignorance is a virtue, Ricca was not only relatively well read, he practiced old world manners. He never spoke a vulgar word. He bowed slightly to women and they adored him. He was refined in the peasant Italian view of what refinement was. He never told an off color story."(source)
As to the quote cited in the main text about Roselli, I have received a number of responses informing me the original source can no longer be accessed. At onetime it was found as part of a whole series of interelated mob pages all done by the same author, I mean page after page, outlining the background and lineage of every single one of the various mob families and individuals --- all on the web under the old, free, FortuneCity webpage providers, of which the Roselli page was one. However, now all of those pages are defunct, lost in cyber-space, although the original FortuneCity page titles and URLs live on in Google search even though the pages cannot be called up. The author, whose name I will not mention, who has moved on, requested me to remove his name from my works so a search of him will not lead back to him or connect him with the now defunct pages.
For those who may be so interested I have captured the original page the quote I used was found on and have reproduced a facsimile of that portion of the page related to Roselli. That facsimile can be found by going to:
DIELAND: Mob: The Los Angeles Satellite
Some people have said that the $200,000 dollar figure was low and that it was more like $600,000 dollars that Cornero put into the Rex. Others have said just the opposite, that the Rex was a tub and unseaworthy, a death trap waiting to happen. Thing is, is when the Rex was no longer being used as a gambling ship by Cornero it was reconverted back to its original configuration in 1942 and renamed Star of Scotland. According to records obtained by U-boat.net, the former Rex, renamed as the Star of Scotland, was attacked November 13, 1942, by the German Submarine U-159 about 900 miles west of L'deritz Bay, Southwest Africa and sunk. Quite a little journey for an unseaworthy tub.(source)
(for vintage YouTube footage on Rex please click image)
Gordon Hunter in JUNE LANG: Meet the Girl, with interview notes from the files of Colin Briggs, writes:
"Mafia historians claim Roselli was the Chicago mob's man in Las Vegas. Roselli also was a friend of producer Bryan Foy, and aspired to be a film producer himself. 'The experts' on Hollywood stars in the past have often declared that the reason for the termination of June's contract with Fox was because of her marriage to Roselli. Actually, her contract was 'torn up' the year before the marriage took place, when she quit England and the set of So This Is London. June applauded Colin Briggs when he wrote the truth on this matter back in 1992. She wrote, 'Thank you, thank you, thank you, my dear Colin, for setting the record straight at last.'"(source)
ROCHELLE HUDSON, JUNE LANG, AND FRIEDA INESCORT
(please click image)
Around the same time Lang married Roselli she was working on a movie called Convicted Woman with Rochelle Hudson. The two of them struck up conversation in a friendly manner because both had worked on Shirley Temple movies, inspiring a sort of special esprit de corps between them. Like Lang's career would soon be, albeit for totally different reasons, Hudson's film career would be interrupted as well in the years just prior to the war and into it's early years when she worked as a spy for the Naval Intelligence Service. She along with her husband, a Naval officer posing as a civilian, who like Lang, she had just married, participated in espionage work primarily in Mexico, but also Central and South America. Together they posed as a vacationing couple to detect if there was any German activity in these areas. Hudson's career, like Lang's would never get back on track following the war.
For more regarding Roselli and his "quickie marriage to Marajen Stevick followed by a just as quick annulment" go to the account of same on the website of Maureen Hughes. For more on Helen Greco, aka Helen Grayco, who married bandleader-entertainer Spike Jones in July 1948, and her relationship with Roselli see page 35 of Hughes' book Countess and the Mob.
JOHNNY ROSELLI IN UNIFORM CIRCA 1943
Despite Roselli's age, sketchy background, and illnesses, he still was able to make it into the army and through basic training well enough to be assigned to further training, participating in some fashion in advanced training with a tank battalion --- said to be one of the tank battalions that was a member of an armored division that hit the beaches during the Normandy invasion. Of course, well before that was to happen he was indicted on federal charges, spending the invasion in prison. Author Thomas Reppetto in AMERICAN MAFIA: A History of Its Rise to Power, (2004) writes:
"(T)hirty-seven-year-old Johnny Roselli had joined the army despite severe arthritis and chronic TB. He was brought back from his training with a tank battalion to be arraigned. If Johnny hoped for sympathy from the jury because he was a serviceman, he was disappointed --- the U.S. attorney's office obtained a court order stripping him of his uniform."
The following is how Roselli's military service is recorded as found in the Federal Bureau of Investigation John Roselli Excerpts, PART 8 of 12, page 174 of 204. The pages within the Excerpts, reportedly done by the FBI's Special Investigation Division, cover a period of their information gathering from 8/2/76 - 3/1/77, with an apparent rubber stamp having been received date of May 24, 1977. The section on Roselli's military service reads thus:
Roselli was inducted into the United States Army on December 4, 1942, at Fort McArthur, California and had Army Serial Number 39 54 7191. On December 23, 1942, he was transferred to the Fifth Armored Division, Camp Cooke, California, and on May 25, 1943, he was transferred to Governor's Island, New York City. He remained at Governor's Island until he was confined by civil authorities on December 30, 1943. He received a discharge, other than honorable, on June 30, 1945, at Fort McPherson, Georgia, under the provisions of Section III, AR 615-366, because of his conviction of crime by a civil court.
Several things stand out. One, that Roselli was inducted, i.e., drafted and proven as such through his serial number (see below). Two, he went in on December 4, 1942 and did not receive his discharge from active duty until June 30, 1945, a full three and a half years later. Now, while it is true he received a less than honorable discharge, it was because of a conviction of a crime in civil court, an alleged crime done during a period of time while he was still a civilian, i.e., prior to his induction, with his sentence metered while he was still in. Nowhere is it mentioned, stated, or implied that he received his discharge because of any sort of misconduct or dereliction of duty by him while serving in the U.S. Army under the rules of the U.S. Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Even so, according to Thomas Reppetto in his quote above, the U.S. attorney's office obtained a court order stripping him of his uniform.
If you continue on, you will notice in one of the footnotes further down the page that 20 years later, at roughly age 57, because of having connections in certain areas, Roselli was recruited to serve the U.S. government, participating in a series of highly covert related activities put into place against Fidel Castro and his regime. Using the code name Colonel Rawlston, Roselli made midnight raids to the northern coast of Cuba, offloading U.S. trained anti-Castro Cuban commandos and weapons using twin V-bottom double-hulled aluminum high speed powerboats. On one of those raids the boat he was on was blown out of the water by a Cuban gunboat.
The first two digits of Roselli's Army serial number are 3 and 9. There is a meaning to the first two numbers assigned in the serial number. If you refer to the chart below you will see that the first number, number 3, means that he was drafted. The second number indicates the location where he was when he joined or drafted. Roselli's second number is 9, meaning, according to the chart, he was drafted from an area that encompassed the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington.
WWII US Army Serial Numbers: Meaning of the First Digits:
1 = Enlisted in the Army (in other words, volunteered rather than drafted)
2 = Federally recognized National Guard
3 = Drafted
4 = Drafted
O (the letter O, not a zero) = Male commissioned officers
W = Male Warrant officers
T = Flight officers (Army Air Force)
L = Commissioned officers of the Women's Army Corps (WAC)
V = WAC Warrant officers
A = WAC enlisted women
R = Hospital dietitians
M = Physical therapy aides
The Second Number shows the location where the person enlisted or drafted:
1 = Connecticut Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont.
2 = Delaware, New Jersey, New York
3 = Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia
4 = Alabama, Florida, Georgia Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee
5 = Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia
6 = Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin
7 = Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming
8 = Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas
9 = Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington
0 = When the first number is 3, the zero means he was drafted outside the U.S. (301 indicates Panama; 302 indicates Puerto Rico)
ROSELLI NOT LONG AFTER OUR FIRST MEETING IN 1946
No sooner had Roselli been paroled than I, as a very young boy, met him, the first of three meetings that I am willing to admit to --- although there may have been more as I do talk about a fourth meeting in Footnote . I just don't rank it as such. The initial two meetings were under the auspices of my Stepmother who knew him, and a third time on my own when I went by to thank him for helping her. The fourth meeting I allude to in Footnote  was under request.
I wasn't even ten years old when my stepmother took me to visit Roselli while he was in a hospital in Santa Barbara. She said he was a longtime friend and was recuperating after having been in the army and wanted to pay her respect. While it is true Roselli had been in the army, he only served until he was arrested on federal charges, found guilty and sentenced to ten years in federal prison. On Aug. 13, 1947, after serving roughly three and a half years Roselli was paroled. Roselli had tuberculosis and the time in prison only aggravated the condition. As soon as he was released he immediately put himself under hospital care. Although I didn't know anything about it at the time, when my stepmother and I visited Roselli in the hospital that day he may have been recuperating alright, not from the army, however, but prison.
Before my stepmother and dad got married, every year she would go on weeks-long elaborate vacations, alternating them yearly between three locations. One year she would go to Hawaii, the next Mexico, and the third Canada's northwest territory. She mentioned one of those vacations to me when the two of us first met. After she noticed my interest in the Flying Tigers she told me that she had been on vacation in Mexico and while there had gone down to Mexico City. In Mexico City she had dinner with a "former physician to Chennault's Flying Tigers named Dr. Margaret Chung" and two movie actresses, Virginia Hill and Sophie Tucker --- all of which was confirmed to me by her much later in my life. I did, however, have good cause to remember Virginia Hill, and not because she was said to have been a movie star but because of an incident that happened a few years later.
On the day I saw Roselli in the hospital it was what I would call nothing but a routine visit of one friend visiting another friend in the hospital. However, when my stepmother told Roselli in casual conversation that she had met with Virginia Hill in Mexico a few weeks earlier he got all upset, so much so that my stepmother had to have me leave the room. When I stepped out into the hall my stepmother closed the door behind me and I ended up standing unescorted out in the middle of the corridor all alone, the young boy that I was. Before I had a chance to explain to a nurse that began questioning me as to why I was in the hall she had security manhandle me downstairs to some little room leaving me there without me knowing where I was or anybody else knowing. When my stepmother finely found me I was in a damp single bulb no window room deep under the hospital in the basement along with several other off duty or bugging out hospital personnel playing poker, having won $35 bucks after having been staked by a black laundry-folding lady they wouldn't let play. As I was walking out I handed the full $35 bucks to the laundry woman, which I'm sure was as much as three weeks pay to her in those days. I know my stepmother couldn't have been any prouder. As for Hill and Chung, in a highly disputed quote by some and cited as gospel by others, as found at the Dr. Margaret Chung link, I present the following:
"Hill made frequent trips to Mexico City with Dr. Margaret Chung, an alleged prostitute and abortionist, honorary member of the Hip Sing Tong, and the attending physician to the Flying Tigers --- the private airline the US government formed to fly supplies to Chiang Kai-shek's forces in Kunming, a city described as infused with spies and opium."
DR. MARGARET CHUNG
DR. MARGARET CHUNG
MEETING HER SON ROBERT
After attempting to grab off an undergraduate degree on the G.I. Bill following a hitch in the military, and of which I was eventually able to do, receiving both a B.A. and a California Secondary Teaching Credential, which required an additional fifth year beyond a bachelors as well as student teaching, I was spending some time kicking back getting caught up on some travel, visiting friends, and some non curricular activities. In doing so I was in the process of waiting in the San Francisco International Airport for the next available flight out after having missed my connection because of a late flight, when I noticed a young G.I. wearing Signal Corps insignia also seemingly lost in a waiting mode.
Having been in the Army and the Signal Corps and judging by his demeanor he was on his way back from being in-county I offered to buy him a drink. He told me he would love too except he wasn't 21, a response that practically floored me. Settling for cokes he told me he was indeed on his way back from Nam, headed toward duty in Germany after having spent some time in Hawaii. We talked about Nam and stuff, him telling me he had been stationed with the 1st Signal Brigade at the communication facility on Vung Chua Mountain overlooking Qui Nhon right above the South China sea. I told him I had been to a similar site a few times while in the Signal Corp called Nui Ba Den, the Black Virgin Mountian. We talked a bit about a onetime top secret communication site which was kind of the same albeit in Laos, called Lima Site 85 on Phou Phathi mountain that got hit pretty hard, with me telling him as for Lima Sites, except for LS 20A and LS 118A at Nam Yu I didn't know much about them. In a chit-chat sort of way the two of us hit it off fairly well, although it was easy to tell by his tone that he wasn't really into any of it, that is, the Army, Signal Corps, Viet Nam, or much of anything else.
By his decorations I could tell he had along with a few others, both a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart, of which we talked a little about both, although not unusually so, he wasn't really forthcoming about either --- even with me being a fellow G.I. and all. His name tag read that his last name was Hauser and knowing a person with the same last name, in small talk I asked if he was related in any way to Mary Hauser, AKA Mary Davis, owner of the Portofino Inn located at King Harbor marina in Redondo Beach. Saying no, his dad, also named Hauser, was actually a German national ski champion having participated in the Olympics several times. With that, even though I didn't say anything, I suddenly knew who he was. He was the son of Virginia Hill.
Virginia Hill was a major mob moll, primarily known for her long term on-and-off relationship as the girlfriend of Bugsy Siegel. In 1950, three years after Siegel was shot to death in her home in California she married a non-mob person giving birth to her only child, a boy given the name Robert, now a grown man and the same person I had been talking to in the San Francisco airport. His mother was found dead in an apparent suicide a few years before our meeting from an overdose of sleeping pills near Salzburg, Austria.
The following quote, from an excellent and very well done historical study come biography of Roselll --- and peripherally the mob --- by John William Tuohy, titled Johnny Roselli Gangster, sums up quite adequately how I knew him, saw him, and felt about him:
"Roselli was handsome, slim, with a strong hawk nose and a mirthful, infectious smile, but it was his eyes that people remembered best, cool and blue-gray, dancing and delightful, as one friend recalled, or flashing and steely in anger. His confidence and presumption of power proved irresistible to many women.
"Roselli dressed impeccably, in modern but understated styles from the finest makers; he practiced precise, cultivated manners, and spoke carefully, never betraying the urban streets of his youth. He played golf and tennis, drank sparingly, and spent money freely but not garishly. And there were other qualities, more ethereal but more elemental: a sense of fun that attended all his doings and which found expression in a lifelong attachment to children, and which they reciprocated; and a buoyant enthusiasm 'that made you feel like you were the most important person in the world to him.'"
The last sentence about Roselli having "a sense of fun that attended all his doings and which found expression in a lifelong attachment to children, and which they reciprocated; and a buoyant enthusiasm 'that made you feel like you were the most important person in the world to him" is exactly, as a young boy how I felt. Deeply ingrained from the very start from that first hospital visit I continued to carry that same feeling or awe from young boyhood into manhood, and Roselli looking back at me from that beginning always marked our relationship in a positive light.
Our second meeting occurred with me as a young adult having just turned 21 and deciding to go to Las Vegas for the first time on my own. On the way I stopped by my stepmother's, who had since fallen on hard times, to see how she was doing and slip her a few bucks. When she learned I was going to Vegas she asked if I remembered our trip to Santa Barbara and the man in the hospital. When I told her yes she scribbled a few things on a piece of paper, put it in an envelope and told me to look him up and give him the note. Which I did.
When I went to see Roselli in Vegas, our second meeting, to deliver the note for my stepmother it just happened to be when he was at the absolute top of his game. At the time I had no clue who he was, his stature, or his power. After he read the note he asked where I was staying. When I told him he picked up a phone on the table, dialed a number, told them he was Johnny Roselli, talked a few more minutes, then hung up. He told me he had "comped" my room for me, moved me up to a suite, and that during my stay, except for gambling, everything was on the house. He said if there was any problem tell them to call him. Then he told me to make sure I looked him up before I left as he wanted to return something to my mother. Just as I was getting up he made one last comment asking "Ride any trains lately?" I just pointed at him and we both laughed.(see)
When I went back to the Desert Inn I didn't see Roselli but there was a large manilla envelope waiting for me with one of my stepmother's old aliases written on it. On the way home I stopped by her place and gave her the envelope. When she opened it inside was $5000 in cash.(see)
My third meeting with Roselli was in 1961, during one of the busiest, and by mid-year, the start of the most surveilled time of his life. Although I set the meeting into motion myself, for me, the fact that it transpired at all was through pure luck, anti-luck, fate, or just plain happenstance, having just undercut the start of the government's 24 hour around the clock surveillance. As I look back on the history of events that went on in his life during that period of time I cannot believe how incredibly naive I was. The Bay of Pigs, assassination attempts on Fidel Castro, interactions with the Kennedy brothers JFK and Robert, Marilyn Monroe, Sam Giancana, the list goes on and on. Here I was, a dumbass twenty-something, blatantly walking into the casino I saw him last, not knowing anything about anything, and asking to see Roselli. I was practically thrown out of the place until I called him by his mob name and asked some growler to give him a note.
During the year 1961, although I didn't know it, Roselli barely had time to set foot in Las Vegas, operating out of Los Angeles and traveling back and forth to Miami, Frank Sinatra's Cal-Neva Lodge in Lake Tahoe and a variety of other places taking care of business. Like I say above, I was incredibly naive. I just happened to be in Las Vegas traveling with master sports car mechanic Joe Landaker for the SCCA road races at McCarran Field and thought while I was there I would thank Roselli for helping out my stepmother. The note I handed the growler was just that, a thank you note pure and simple with no intention to meet with Roselli or for it to lead to anything else bigger. It just so happened, for whatever reason, with all his travels and such, during the same time I was there he was in Vegas too --- and got the note.
The Fremont Hotel downtown was one of the major sponsors of the road races that weekend and because of that Landaker and I were staying in one of several comped rooms (i.e., free) set aside for people associated with the races. My note to Roselli was a last minute idea and without really thinking about it I used Fremont Hotel stationary to write the note on. From that he was apparently able to track me down and make contact because that evening Landaker and I were sitting in one of those infamous all you can eat, cheap (in those days) buffets having dinner when a man stepped up and told me Roselli wanted to see me. Landaker's jaw fell open. He had worked for Tony Parravano and, although I am not intimating any sort of a connection, he was familiar enough to know who Roselli was, but had no clue I knew him or why Roselli wanted to see me. Roselli and I met in a room behind the gift shop at the New Frontier Hotel. We spoke for a few minutes, I told him how much what he had done had helped out my stepmother and he thanked me for delivering a message to Brenda Allen a year before. That was it.
Just as I was leaving the room behind the gift shop a very good looking well dressed clean shaven man was entering, with the two of us having to circle out of each others way as he was going in, neither of us realizing the other was there at first. As we passed in the narrow space of the doorway we made very strong close eye contact and even though I felt I should know him I didn't ... nor did I recognize him. Although I noticed there was a kindness about him I didn't expect a potential Roselli cohort would exhibit. Ten years later I was to meet the same man again under much different circumstances and although I didn't recognize him, after some time together he remembered me. The man was Dan Rowan of the Rowan and Martin comedy team, headliners in Vegas in those years before. It seems in those days Rowan had developed what was said to have become a mutual infatuation between himself and Phyllis McGuire of the McGuire Sisters, also headliners in Vegas at the time. It seems also at the very same time a major heavyweight mover in Roselli's inner circle had also developed an interest in McGuire and Rowan was told in so many words to put a lot of distance between himself had her, otherwise there would be consequences. I heard Rowan was actually roughed up over it. If Rowan seeing Roselli was related to any of that I don't know. For more on the meeting between Dan Rowan and myself ten years later, which reveals a side of Rowan than most people know, see:
P-40 FIGHTER PILOT DAN ROWAN
AND NOW THIS:
At the top of this footnote I open by me saying I met Roselli three times that I was willing to admit to. Over time a number of people have come forward interested in anything else I might be willing to share. For those who may have an interest, since this page first went on online I have put together aspects of a fourth meeting, actually a string of interrelated meetings that add up to one meeting, between Roselli and myself, all dealing with slot machines. See:
SLOT MACHINES, ROSELLI, AND THE FBI
THE SLOT MACHINES WERE ORIGINALLY STASHED IN A SECRET HIDDEN
ROOM OF ANDY DEVINE'S SPORTSMAN'S TAVERN, BIG BEAR LAKE, CA.
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As for Landaker, I had known him since I was a teenager. In 1958 I even traveled cross country with him in a truck full of Ferraris and Maseratis to Miami then on to Nassau for the Bahamas Speed Week. For whatever reason, a couple of years later we bumped into each other and he asked me to go to Vegas with him for the races, and for no other reason than doing it, I did. For more on Landaker, et al, see:
OF COBRAS, SCARABS, MASERATIS, AND ZEN
The next day, with the race weekend over, I took in Hoover Dam then drove down to the little onetime mining town of Searchlight thinking I might take in a little gambling and maybe even partake in a few extra curricular activities on the side at the infamous El Rey Club, also known as a casino, motel, and brothel.
Navigating through the casino the day I was there in an attempt to find a lucky machine, I bumped into the club's owner Willie Martello and introduced myself. He told me he remembered well the day my "mom," i.e., my stepmother, and I was there, saying, "She pulled a fuckin' .45 out of her purse and pointed it at one of Daisy Mae's girls. I thought she was going to blow the shit out of her, the place, and everybody in it," my stepmother's pistol having somehow mysteriously morphed from a .25, which is barely even a gun, to being a .45, which is like a small cannon at close range. We talked a few minutes, shook hands, and jokingly as he walked away he asked if I was carrying any kind of a firearm. When I told him no he said as far as he was concerned it was all in the past, no harm, no foul.
As soon as Martello left and I sat down to try and win a fortune than some heavyweight stepped up showing me he had a pistol shoved in his belt and wanting to know what my connection was with Martello, saying we seemed awful of chummy for a guy just passing through. After a brief explanation the man left. Within a few minutes he was back telling me that Roselli wanted to talk to me on the phone. Using a pay phone from a bank of pay phones in some dark hall in the back Roselli asked the same thing as the man, although wanting a clarification if I was using his name, i.e., Roselli's, in any fashion in any dealings with Martello. I ensured him I wasn't, saying I had no dealings with Martello, it was strictly a friendly visit while informing Roselli the background story between Martello, my stepmother and me. I added as far as I knew Martello didn't even know I knew him. With that Roselli said, "He knows." Roselli told me he wanted me to distanced myself from Martello before it got dark that day, permanently dark. Then, as requested, I handed the phone back to the man. After a couple of quick words over a couple of quick seconds the man hung up telling me that Roselli said to give his best to my mom. Knowing everything was cool between us with that remark I left that instant and never went back.
THE EL REY CLUB: RESORT, CASINO, BROTHEL
In 1967, a full twenty years AFTER Roselli had been released from prison for the motion picture industry extortion incident the Feds were still trying to catch him on anything. He was followed everywhere, a string of snitches began showing up amongst casino, restauarant, and hotel employees. In a long line of hearsay, mobster and known hitman Frank Bompensiero, who had become an informant for the FBI, told the agency that their primary witness George Emerson Seach had been targeted to be taken out. According to Bompensiero, because of the Friars Club indictment, before Seach could testify, Roselli told Jimmy Fratianno to kill him. While Bompensiero was staking out Seach's home Fratianno learned that the FBI had taken Seach to Hawaii for safekeeping.
Bompensiero, the informent he was, was certainly no sweet smelling bed of roses. During the heyday of the gambling ships off the coast of Redondo Beach and the likes of the brothel of Fifie Malouf well established along the the Strand, the city, especially the length of the waterfront, was wideopen. On the evening of Monday July 19, 1937 a mob affiliated gambler named George Lester "Les" Bruneman was walking arm and arm with two young women along the waterfront business district in Redondo, just past the north entrance to the Horseshoe Pier when at least one bullet ripped through his back from several shots fired by two contract hit men. The women half-carried, half dragged the wounded Bruneman north along El Paseo, eventually taking refuge in the lobby of the Fox Theater at the north end of the street.
Bruneman survived the shooting. Three months later, on Monday, October 24, 1937 he wasn't so lucky. Bompensiro and Leo "Lips" Moceri walked into the Roost Cafe located at 2700 Temple Street, Los Angeles while Bruneman was sitting and having a few drinks with a ladyfriend and pumped eight bullets into him. Within seconds of hitting the floor they ensured the job was completed by throwing several more rounds in him. A couple of bullets that passed through Bruneman and tore into the legs of the woman that was with him, a 24-year-old nurse named Alice Ingram he met in the hospital from the first shooting.(source)
I call it "trumped up charges" because there is no federal law for cheating in gambling. The Feds put together a bunch of money crossing state lines and tax evasion scenarios, none of it directly related to the events in the Friar's Club that inturn led to Roselli's arrest. Besides, it was only hearsay that he was getting a 20 percent take, plus the cheating scam was already in place and running when Roselli came across it in operation. He had no part in setting it up or in it's operation. The following is from 432 F. 2d 879 - United States v. Roselli:
The proceeds of one "peeked" game included three checks totaling $31,500 given to Teitelbaum by one of the victims. At Teitelbaum's request, the victim subsequently replaced one of the checks with a new one for $10,000 made out to "J. Martinez," a fictitious name. Friedman ultimately gave this same check to his secretary in Las Vegas and instructed her to collect it and give the proceeds to Roselli. She delivered to Roselli an envelope containing $10,000 in cash. He gave her a $100 gratuity in return. Friedman denied that this represented Roselli's share of the proceeds of the rigged game and testified that Roselli was merely acting as a messenger to pay a debt Friedman owed to a third party. The trial court, however, was not required to believe this improbable explanation.
This evidence was sufficient to support the trial court's conclusion that a prima facie case involving Roselli in the joint enterprise had been made out. Friedman's statements in furtherance of the common enterprise were therefore admissible against Roselli, and this additional evidence furnished adequate support for the jury's verdict against him under Count 1.28
Roselli was also convicted of substantive violations stemming from transportation of the "J. Martinez" check to Las Vegas from Los Angeles. There was ample proof, if believed, to convince the jury that Friedman was responsible for transporting the check to Las Vegas in furtherance of the conspiracy, and thus to justify Roselli's conviction of the substantive counts as Friedman's co-conspirator.
Finally, Roselli was convicted under Count 22 of willfully filing a false income tax return. The jury, as well as the judge, could have rejected Friedman's testimony and concluded that the $10,000 Roselli received in Las Vegas was not Friedman's money but Roselli's, and it is undisputed that Roselli failed to declare it as income.
ROSSELLI UNDER THE FBI MICROSCOPE
ROSELLI AND THE KENNEDY ASSASSINATION
Over and over I am asked about any involvement Roselli may or may not have had in relation to the Kennedy assassination. What I have presented about Roselli as found on the various pages I've written circulates around what I knew of Roselli myself. In my writings, at least up to this point, I have circumnavigated almost all of what has been written about Roselli that aligns him in any involvement with the assassination. However, for those who may be so interested, the links and paragraphs that follow are somewhat different:
I mention in Footnote  that my stepmother and Roselli were friends. It was through their friendship I crossed paths with Roselli several times throughout my life starting at the young age of around ten years old right up into my early twenties in the 1960s when I was drafted into the military. Footnote  gets into how, when and why interactions between Roselli began again after the Army and the Peace Corps.
Typically, as a two-year draftee the Army wouldn't spend much time on me or anyone, but because I had a confidential clearance with so much of the investigative leg work done, it became a major key in the Army's decision with what to do with me. The confidential clearance came about because during the few years that transpired between graduation from high school and being drafted I landed a fairly high paying job for a seemingly innocuous little aerospace firm with a huge reputation. I was originally hired as a trainee technical illustrator for the firm, but was quickly put into a skunk-works-like smaller offshoot of the company that helped design and build the high altitude breathing equipment for the then super-secret U-2 spy plane, inturn requiring me to have the clearance.
Knowing Roselli or even having someone of his stature in my background could have easily derailed me obtaining a security clearance, but because of the era and the times the totally opposite happened --- it actually enhanced my chances and had a tendency for those in power to steer me toward areas I might not have otherwise been considered for. For clarification please see the following as found in The Johnny Roselli Dossier. Notice the Richard M.. Bissell and Roselli connection, Bissell being one of the main movers in the U-2 program:
1. In August 1960, Mr. Richard M. Bissell approached Colonel Sheffield Edwards to determine if the Office of Security had assets that may assist in a sensitive mission requiring gangster-type action. The mission target was Fidel Castro.
2. Because of its extreme sensitivity, only a small group was made privy to the project. The DCI was briefed and gave his approval. Colonel J. C. King, Chief, WH Division, was briefed, but all details were deliberately concealed from any of the JMWAVE officials. Certain TSD and Communications personnel participated in the initial planning stages, but were not witting of the purpose of the mission.
3. Robert A. Maheu, a cleared source of the Office of Security, was contacted, briefed generally on the project, and requested to ascertain if he could develop an entree into the gangster elements as the first step toward accomplishing the desired goal.
4. Mr. Maheu advised that he had met one Johnny Roselli on several,occasions while visiting Las Vegas. He only knew him casually through clients, but was given to understand that he was a high-ranking member of the "syndicate."
The Johnny Roselli Dossier
As for Roselli and any potential involvement in the Kennedy assassination, going over the facts that have come down to me and what I knew of the man personally, my opinion most closely parallels what can be found by going to the link at the bottom of this paragraph. Readily available in that linked section are free and complete full access under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligent Activities regarding Roselli and the assassination, known as the Church Committee, as well as the FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION JOHN ROSELLI EXCERPTS, Part One through to Part Twelve in PDF format.
The documents from the Senate Select Committee and the FBI Excerpts are the original source everybody who is anybody goes to to get their written material, quotes, and information from. If you find any contradictions or differences of opinion relative to yourself or your views or what you may have read elsewhere, you can quickly clarify or resolve almost any inconsistencies by going through the twelve excerpted sections and the Senate' committee's material and strengthen or modify your position or thinking on the matter (although difficult, most of it is searchable).
However, before doing any of that, that is, the need to go through volumes of pages and reports, at the link so suggested below, I've provided a concise, easy to read two paragraph synopsis or overview on the whole Roselli/JFK connections (or not) that cuts to the quick, setting aside all the verbiage. Please visit:
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The map below, marked with an "X", shows the location where Roselli's body was found in Dumfoundling Bay. The X can be found by drawing a diagonal line left to right downward from the word "County" on the upper portion of the map to the words "Dumfoundling Bay." The X is about half way between:
(for larger size click image then click again)
Some people, questioning the nature of Roselli's death and how he was found, that is, floating in a drum wrapped with 200 pounds of chains, how was it the drum would even been able to float.
If the drum was weighted with chains and punched full of holes only around or near the top it would have begun to fill with as it settled. If it settled before it filled with the top side down, then air would have remained trapped in the upright lower half. As the body decomposed gases produced by the bacteria could have displaced the water allowing the drum to "float" at or near the surface. How it would work mathematically:
A cubic foot of water weighs a little over 64 pounds. A 55 gallon drum would displace about 7.3 cubic feet. 7.3 times 64 = 470. This implies that a sealed 55 gallon drum and it's contents would need to weigh more than 470 pounds to sink. So if you take the weight of the drum (say, 50 pounds), add the weight of the deceased (167 pounds), add some chain (another 200 pounds?) and you have 411 pounds, not enough to sink --- but if you add some water you could have enough to sink it. Now if some of that water is displaced by the gases produced by decomposition the drum will no longer sit on the bottom.
ROSELLI VICTIM OF MAFIA BECAUSE OF SENATE TESTIMONY
A person who made reference to have known me in the past, or at least having come in contact with me on more than one occasion at one time or the other, and, after reading any number of my works online, including Firehair wherein I recount quite a number of early infatuation experiences, asked why I have left out a certain high-profile person he saw me in the company of a number of times in later years, namely in the early to mid 1980s --- mentioning her by name. The her he spoke of was one Phyllis Davis, of which I write the following in the opening paragraph on her page:
"Phyllis Davis was an actress of extraordinary beauty and true natural talent, who, without the need to ever break through into the A-list category so clamored for by the entertainment media and it's toady sycophants, had, through her own subtle wiles and abilities, developed a unique set of ties and connections with Las Vegas, the Hollywood TV and movie industry, and some say even the mob."
PHYLLIS DAVIS: THAILAND, TERMINAL ISLAND, TERMINAL CANCER
Along the way Davis, at one point in her life, had also developed a semi-interest in Mediums, the psychic-world and psychics, especially so one Char Margolis. Although not straight-line directly related, Davis had also became enamored, at least short term or on-the-side with what she had heard regarding the possibilities innate to the supernormal perceptual states known in Sanskrit as Siddhis. In the process she was directed toward me.
PHYLLIS DAVIS CIRCA 1980
As the story continues it was through the Davis connection, however brief or long lasting, that brought about for me the last of anything officially Roselli related. If you have ever read what I have written about a woman named Brenda Allen, as well as a few paragraphs back, you would have run into the fact that just before high school I had a crush on a certain young blonde that was at the time the girlfriend of a guy in the 11th or 12th grade nicknamed "Blackie." I mention he and his buddies pulled me aside one day and threw me up against the wall making it clear that the girl was HIS girl and to stay away from her. I also said I learned really fast never to have designs on the girlfriend of a guy who had a nickname, especially so if it was something like "Blackie."
The Siddhi enamored lady of later years became un-enamored with Siddhis quickly, or at least after a short passage of time, apparently because forthcoming results were not quick enough along with the difficulties in mastering them, the regimen, etc., and moved on. About that same time, with me remaining around peripherally because of a personal request to do so, I was yanked off the street one day by a couple of heavyweight growlers almost in the same way as the aforementioned Blackie had done with me in my youth or Dan Rowan as found in Footnote  and told, "Roselli's dead you monk-ass prick, you got no protection so bug off."
"According to the Buddha and how the sutras are said to present it, to manifest or execute the abilities of Siddhis, a stringent regimen of meditation and concentration MUST meet certain levels of accomplishments. To reach such a level the meditator must be perfect in the precepts (Sila), bring his thoughts to a state of quiescence (Samadhi), practice diligently the trances (Jhana), attain to insight (Prajna) and be frequenter to lonely places."
SIDDHIS: Supernormal Perceptual States
Phyllis Davis, in an honest assessment of herself, unlike most, must have questioned if she could meet such criteria, that is, being masterful in Sila, Samadhi, Jhana, and Prajna and be frequenter to lonely places.
The very last time I came in contact with Roselli himself personally in any fashion was during the late summer of 1973. On August 26 of that year Roselli was transferred from the prison at McNeil Island, located in southern Puget Sound, northwest Washington to the prison on Terminal Island, located in the harbor a few miles south of Los Angeles, California. A month and a half later, on October 5, 1973, he was released from Terminal Island and placed on parole. Before his release I went to see him, by request.
The request for that last contact came about through a set of circumstances that on the surface, at least as I viewed it, were totally unrelated at the time. To wit:
In the late 1960s and into the 70s, edging up against the time Roselli was being transfered to Terminal Island, with no connection to the mob or the underworld, there existed an infamous 60s head shop in Laguna Beach, California on Pacific Coast Highway called Mystic Arts World --- albeit now long since gone, having burned to the ground in the early 1970s.
Mystic Arts World was not much more than a front for the operations of an outfit that called themselves The Brotherhood of Eternal Love. The Brotherhood dealt heavily in the movement and sale of 1960s counter culture indulgents such as marijuana, psychedelic mushrooms, and LSD. The Brotherhood also circulated around such "turn on, tune in, drop out" heavyweights as Dr. Timothy Leary and Dr. Richard Alpert, AKA Ram Dass the author of the counter culture bible Be Here Now (1971) that so influenced Steve Jobs of Apple fame and thousands of others to trek off to India and other exotic places.
For all practical purposes at the time of Roselli's transfer the Brotherhood was all but defunct, at least the upper echelon as the year before there was a huge government raid that sent a good portion of the leaders on the run, scattered, or arrested. However, there was still in place major lower level folk and hanger-on's.
My uncle, who lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico and long since gone from the Laguna Beach art scene, for whatever reason during the exact same years as the Brotherhood and unaware or unconcerned with it's dismantling, maintained or had available to him rather in his name or not, a post office box in town. Every once in a while a package would come to me from my uncle through various means, hand delivered, etc., and, since I had a fairly regular access to Laguna Beach in those days being in and out of Orange County for a variety of reasons as found in the Warlord link below, I would then take the package to the post office and put it into his P.O. box or, if requested to do so by my uncle, hand deliver it to someone associated with the Brotherhood.
MEETING WARLORDS, ET AL
The following quote as it relates to the Brotherhood and me delivering packages to the post office for my uncle as found at the source so cited:
"There was never any mail in the box when I was there and the packages I placed into the box were always gone when I put in another one. It is my belief the packages, because of their small size and light weight, contained Peyote buttons for someone's private or personal use. My uncle had strong connections to a number of southwest Native American groups and considered the use of Peyote as spiritual or religious in nature and not breaking any fundamental law. He was, however, very familiar with the federal statutes and the penalties behind them, and made stringent efforts to cloud the issue as much as possible between himself and any recipient thereof. For some mysterious reason not long after the Brotherhood ceased operations the delivery of packages mysteriously stopped as well."
BHAGAVAN DAS AND THE LAGUNA BEACH CONNECTION
A short time following Roselli's arrival at Terminal Island but prior to his release and with me having no in depth knowledge of his incarceration or for sure, his transfer, not having followed his whereabouts or what he had been doing for many years, I was delivering a package to the Laguna Beach post office box for my uncle when I was approached by a man who said he was an associate of Roselli. He told me after being advised by members of the Brotherhood on how to find me he had been monitoring the post office for sometime in an effort to contact me.
Asking me to wait, being in those days a time long before cell phones, the man went to a nearby payphone and made a call. The person he called had to call someone else. When he called back the man handed me the phone. The man on the other end said he was a friend of Roselli's and to prove it he was told to tell me not to ride any more trains to Sacramento.(see) Knowing full well what he meant I asked how I could be of service. Apparently pleased in how I phrased it, i.e., being of service, he responded with wanting to know if I remembered delivering something to a lady in Long Beach for Roselli after, through me, he had helped my stepmother. When I answered yes he asked me the name of the lady. I told him I would give him the first if he gave me the last, which he did, the name of the lady being Brenda Allen, the onetime infamous Hollywood madam. Again, the man on the phone, apparently pleased with the results, said on behalf of Roselli he needed to meet with me.
A few days later, feeling compelled to take the man at his word, especially since his Sacramento comment and knowing it wouldn't be known either by law enforcement officials or members of the mob other than Roselli, as instructed I met under the condition per my personal request that it be so, the same man that had stepped up to me in front of the post office in Laguna Beach. Per his or their request, our meeting, as short as it was, occurred in the downtown Greyhound bus station in Los Angeles, the two of us leaving almost immediately in a taxi. After a short ride up and down a few side streets I was hustled through the back door of a scummy little restaurant in Chinatown off a pig sty of an alley and pointed to a very narrow wooden set of steps that led upstairs to a surprisingly sunshiny and immaculately kept small room just above the kitchen. In the room were two extremely fine looking skimpily dressed, albeit notably high class mid-20s Asian women sitting on a couch and close by some obviously recently used drug paraphernalia spread out across the glass coffee table in front of them.
Also in the room was a burly older white man in a dark sports jacket with a white dress shirt opened at the neck and no tie standing with his back to the door staring out the window. The man kept his back to me most of the time while he continued to stare out the window and I continued to stare almost exclusively at one of the women who had not long after my arrival, propped both her feet and long bare legs up on the coffee table knees together. When I glanced over she immediately spread her legs wide apart revealing she was clearly clean shaven all the way up a la a Brazilian or Hollywood wax with no underpants.
By this time in my life I had been a lot of places and done a lot of things, but catching me off guard almost as though I was out of my league, the young woman placed the index finger of her right hand in her mouth slightly wetting it as she turned it, then wiped it across the residue of white powder on the coffee table. Almost like a Miami Vice episode of ten years later without the background music she gently rubbed the powder along both sides of the cleanly shaven up-and-down outside edges of the skin-fold entrance at the top of her legs, all the while looking at me then down then back as though inviting me try some. The man asked if I knew Roselli as well as how, why, and how long? Redirecting my thoughts as much as I could I told the man I had known Roselli since before I was ten, had interacted with him several times, primarily on behalf of my stepmother over the years, but as far as I could remember, had not seen or been in contact with him in over a decade.
The man said that was perfect as I would be "clean." Explaining further he said Roselli had helped me in the past, now it was my turn to help him. He wanted me to visit Roselli in prison, but since only relatives or approved friends could see him I needed to be put on the visitor's list. He handed me an addressed business-size mailing envelope with some papers inside to fill out which, when returned to the prison, if cleared and after Roselli's OK, I would be put on an approval list to visit . He said after I was approved to go see him, be advised that during any visit I may be not be left alone with him, possibly monitored or even recorded. He will already be prepped so don't try and give him anything or take anything from him that might raise any suspicions. Just be an old friend and talk to him about anything and everything --- the old days, my stepmother, whatever --- but, somewhere along the way, after talking for a while swing the conversation around so I could insert the following sentence in the exact words:
"One more thing before I forget Mr. Roselli, I was going to see your sister in Florida, but can't because of traffic. She is still upset because Uncle Sam treated you so badly when you were in the Army."
He handed a white sheet of paper with the sentence typed in caps in the center of the page and said after I memorized the sentence verbatim, emphasizing the word "verbatim," he told me to burn it.
DONUTS AND THE ART OF SURVIVAL:
During our conversation at Terminal Island Roselli asked how my mother was doing, meaning of course, my ex-stepmother, Roselli always referring to my stepmother as my mother. I told him the close relationship the two of us once had sort of dissipated, widening to such a point that I hadn't seen her in a very long time. He made me promise I would do what I could do reinstate that relationship because family was the most important thing a person could have.
Then Roselli told me something that I never knew and almost fell off the chair when he told me.
He said the major reason he helped my mother so generously that day I came to see him in Las Vegas in 1960 or so without a moment of hesitation was because when he himself was having tough times after being released from prison she had, when she was near the top or her game, helped him when he was down and out near the bottom of his game --- while many others were unwilling to do so, most of them basically disappearing into the woodwork.
Authorities were constantly badgering him from day one after his release from prison trying to find any sort of an infraction to his parole in order to reinstate his incarceration. To keep the authorities and his parole officer off his back he had to constantly show proof of a regular job, or at least working in some capacity in a legitimate "earn money" enterprise. Not everybody, friends or otherwise, with legitimate business concerns were willing to step forward and have someone on their payroll with previous background affiliations as those attributed to Roselli.
When my stepmother became aware of his dilemma she came forward offering what she considered a viable solution. It seems a couple of aeronautical engineers that worked for an aircraft factory called Ryan Aeronautical Company in San Diego had availed themselves in some manner to one of the more enterprising offers provided by my stepmother. One morning my stepmother overheard two women who came into contact with the engineers discussing an invention they were working on.
In the 1940s, at the peak wartime production, the Ryan plant where the engineers worked had 8,500 employees with an annual production run of over $55 million. After the war the workforce dropped to 1,200 with an annual production of only $8 million. Many of those fortunate enough to still find themselves employed were really sitting around not doing much of anything after the war. In 1947, on a lark, to keep busy and to look busy, several of the engineers got together inventing and developing an easily reproducible easily manufactured machine that could make 90 deep-fried mini donuts per minute. Originally designed as a joke, in local tests it turned out to be a huge hit. So much so they started looking for enterprising folk to franchise them.
My stepmother ran the idea past Roselli telling him, even though she was about to embark on what was turning out to be an almost mandatory two-year leave of absence from the U.S., it was a ground floor opportunity. The inventors, although not businessmen, were hot to move forward and she would, before she left, under the counter --- with the inventors saying their association with Roselli was all done on an in-kind cost basis --- spring for all up-front costs with no worry for payback. So too, as I understood it, and I may be wrong about this, but, in that the engineers were overseeing production in the early stages, for every four or five associated with Roselli they would slip in one or two. Roselli would put himself in charge, maybe make a little money, and show he was running a legitimate business besides.
In October of 1950 they, or at least Roselli, formed the Western Tom Thumb Distribution Company having exclusive distribution rights for Tom Thumb donut machines and donut mix in eleven western states. In December of 1952 the venture was dissolved with the start and finish times shifted almost exactly six months after my stepmother's departure and return. A little over a year later, March 7, 1954, his parole expired and Roselli was free to basically do whatever he wanted.
Everybody laughs, but the mini donut venture got Roselli off the hook for quite a while and introduced him for the first time into the possibilities of other types of similar machines, ice machines for example. You may remember from the main text above that Roselli, after becoming entrenched in Las Vegas got the contract to put in and maintained all the ice machines on all of the floors in ALL the hotels in Vegas. People still snicker and make fun of Roselli because of his ice machine connection, thinking it was small time rinky-dink stuff. However, besides being lucrative it gave his so-called work crews and maintenance men under his direct control free and unfettered access to almost every floor in every hotel, basically coming and going as they pleased without being noticed. In turn giving Roselli eyes and ears all over Vegas unlike anybody else. Again, the mini donut machines started it.
Except for one small detail, that was it. That one small detail was, however, big. It revolved around the fact that prior to my meeting with the burly older white man in a dark sports jacket in Chinatown --- that I figured I never met before --- turned out to be wrong because we HAD met before. See:
THE MAN WITH THE MEAT HOOK
Interestingly enough, a reader of my works tells me that around the same time Roselli was being transferred and released from Terminal Island in 1973, the actress Phyllis Davis, as mentioned in regards to Roselli in Footnote , starred in a movie titled Terminal Island. He also informed me that outtakes from the film, which can be found by searching the Internet Archive, clearly explain the unique set of other things commented about as found in the footnote.(see)
As an extra added insight, in a close relationship as to whatever one may find regarding Phyllis Davis and the Internet Archive, whenever either of the two women in the small room above the cafe in Los Angeles' Chinatown as so described above come to mind, I cannot picture anything other than The Infamous Madame Toy as characterized by my favorite artist/cartoonist Wallace 'Wally' Wood in his spy-story series Cannon and so depicted in the graphic below. For more regarding Madame Toy et al, and any potential comparison thereof, please visit the following:
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SLOT MACHINES, ROSELLI, AND THE FBI
"The slot machines that were in a secret hidden room at my stepmother's ranch had been in storage in a lumber yard in Big Bear City, California, after having been removed from an upstairs room in the Sportsman's Tavern. My stepmother's ranch foreman Leo and another man, with me tagging along, took a big old truck, actually an old canvas covered four wheel drive World War II army truck, up the back road into Big Bear and with the help of a couple of other men already there, loaded the machines into the back of the truck."
ROY ROGERS AND ANDY DEVINE
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SLOT MACHINES, ROSELLI, AND THE FBI
GAMBLING IN BIG BEAR AND THE SPORTSMAN'S TAVERN
On March 30, 1949 the tabloid-like Los Angeles Daily News began publishing a series of expose' articles concerning slot machines in California. The very first article they printed was titled "Slot Machines Flourish In San Bernardino County," and without pinpointing specific locations per se' informed the reader there were quite a number of cash pay out machines in operation, a large portion of them in the Big Bear area. With the slot machine articles showing up in the Daily News March 30, March 31, April 1 and April 8, 1949, it was becoming apparent Andy Devine's reputation was becoming more and more at risk. In Gambling in Big Bear and the Sportsman's Tavern, linked previously above, the following is found:
"(With} the press doing a lot of investigations, it was most likely at this point that gambling came to an end at the Sportsman's Tavern. It is not known what happened to the slot machines from the Tavern, but considering that they cost $200 to $1000 in 1949, they most likely were sold off to someone else in the town (or out of town such as back to Las Vegas as used equipment)."
For anyone who may be so concerned, be assured there is no offense intended toward the on-screen persona or personal integrity of Andy Devine, an ardent exemplar and defendant of the Cowboy Code of the West, but more or less here, taking a cue by harkening back to the old days of the wild and wooly west and saloons.
When the envelope intended for my stepmother was given to me that morning at the Desert Inn the man who did so was the same man that initially blocked me from seeing Roselli a few days before. At the same time he gave me the large envelope for my stepmother he also handed me a smaller business-size envelope that felt like it had at least two pages or more and possibly even a key in it. The man told me that although Roselli was helping my mother he was doing so indirectly through me. In return for that help Roselli expected me to do something for him. That something was to hand deliver in person the smaller envelope to the person to whom it was addressed and NOT to lose it, and under no circumstances not leave it with anybody else, give it to anybody else or let it fall into anybody else's hands and for sure not to open it. I was also told the envelope had to be delivered in the next couple of days and after I did, to call a certain number and confirm it. He also told me incase it was undeliverable for any reason to call the same number and wait for further instructions.
The envelope had a type-written address to one Miss Marie Brooks, 1405 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, California and no return address. I went to the place and after waiting a good part of the day and into the early evening I was finally able to catch up with Miss Brooks and hand deliver the envelope.
I was almost stunned that I recognized Miss Brooks immediately. When I told her I knew her and under what circumstances we met she seemed quite relieved, saying she recalled our meeting six or seven years before quite well. She had been extremely nonplussed when I first stepped up and told her I had something for her from Roselli, turning away exhibiting a strong reluctance in taking the envelope and wanting to know how I found her. Showing her the address on the envelope and after hearing of our previous meeting she changed her mind, even opening the envelope in front of me. She tipped it up and tore off the end rather than along the top above the sealed flap, that way, in the process, any key, if there was one, stayed deep in the end of the envelope. The short term relief she exhibited a few moments before turned quickly into an almost full-body collapse after she read or saw the contents of the envelope. When I asked if everything was OK and if she was alright, she quickly recomposed herself and indicated things were either fine or soon would be. With that we shook hands and I left.
Miss Brooks, of 1405 E. Ocean Boulevard, Long Beach, California, who I recognized, turned out to actually be one Brenda Allen, who, during the whole decade of the 1940s, before she simply fell off the grid following a never ending series of law related problems and disappeared, was Hollywood�s most notorious and prosperous madam.
Allen, who from before the war through to the end of the 1940s was rumored to have upwards of 114 working girls in her harem on a regular basis. In all the years of her operation she prided herself for never having stumbled or ever having to spend a night in jail. In the end she was caught in a more-or-less vendetta type sting put into place by disgruntled members of the Los Angeles Police Department (read: not on her payroll). The following is from the Brenda Allen site linked below:
"In a trial without a jury Allen was found guilty of pandering and sentenced to five years, the sentence to be served at the State Institution for Women in Tehachapi. Later it came out the female police officer lied under oath and, even though she personally admitted to the act of perjury, the sentence against Allen was not rescinded. Allen filed an application for probation which was granted on condition that she serve one year in the county jail in addition to five years probation. In May, 1949 she commenced to serve her time. Less than four months later, Friday, September 2, 1949, Allen was released from jail on order of the California Supreme Court based solely on the fact that the police officer had perjured her testimony."
COL. FLOYD J. THOMPSON, U.S. ARMY
On March 26, 1964, an L-19 Bird Dog on an air-recon mission around the Khe Sanh area was brought out of the sky by small arms fire. The body of the pilot, Captain Richard Whitesides, USAF, was not located at the time but presumed to have been killed. Some fifty years later his remains were found at a crash site on a densely wooded Vietnam hillside and returned to the U.S. for burial.
The observer in the L-19 that day was Captain Floyd James Thompson, the CO of the Special Forces unit A-728, Khe Sanh. Thompson survived the crash but suffered multiple injuries including a gunshot wound and a broken back. He was captured almost immediately by the Viet Cong. Several years later he was turned over to the NVA and taken to Hanoi. He spent a total of nine years as a POW with about six of them in the Hanoi Hilton.
Between February 12, 1973 to April 4, 1973 American prisoners of war from the Vietnam era were released and returned back to the United States under the banner of Operation Homecoming. On March 16, 1973, ten days short of nine full years in captivity, Thompson boarded a flight at Gia Lam Airport, Hanoi, North Vietnam to Clark Air Base, the Philippines, in the process becoming the longest held prisoner of the Vietnam conflict. He retired with the rank of Colonel in 1982 and died July 16, 2002, in Key West, Florida.(see)
In the above main text, juxtaposed to the extreme ordeals Thompson faced during his nine years of captivity, I write in Doing Hard Time In A Zen Monastery about leaving the monastery for an unspecified amount of time on a round trip trek high into the mountains to visit an ancient man of Zen.
The morning I left the Zen man's hut he was nowhere to be found. I did however, find a piece of cloth tied to my shoulder bag marked with four Chinese characters, one in each corner, and in the center an outline of a shape that was unrecognizable to me at the time or to anybody else that saw it.
Fifteen years later the mystery of the shape was solved on its own, both the Chinese characters and the shape all relating to the Caribbean island nation of Jamaica --- a place I am sure the Zen man never saw or heard of --- nor I would think, those so many years before, ever having even a remotest possibility of knowing I would end up there one day.(see)
In several places on the internet I make reference to having lived on the Caribbean island nation of Jamaica for a few years and while there, apprenticing under a Jamaican man of spells called an Obeah. Usually, although those references may make mention of a given year now and then, most do not lay out any actual start-finish times of the period I did so. There is at least one place it shows up fairly specifically, as found in the quote below at the source so cited:
"When Apostolides and my uncle crossed paths I was living in Jamaica, having left during the winter of 1977 after being in Hong Kong earlier in the year. Just into the fall/winter of 1978 I began apprenticing under a Jamaican man of spells called an Obeah, not returning until the spring of 1981."(source)
Somewhere along the way during the four years that elapsed between the POWs release in 1973 and me heading off to Jamaica late in 1977 I became privy to the fact that not only was Thompson alive, but he had been released. Because he had been on that ill-fated flight almost the same day I arrived at the SF camp and teams were still out searching for him, his name had been permanently installed somewhere deep into my memory banks, at least enough that when I heard his name come up among the returnees, at the time, it jogged my memory. However, after I ended up in Jamaica, which was not totally of my own volition in that I had joined the Peace Corps and they more-or-less assigned me there, AND me being in Jamaica had been foreseen by the Zen man fifteen years before I ever knew I was going to be there, I began to think about Thompson a lot.
Butting right up to the end of that period of time of being in Jamaica by a year, the following can be found in Adam Osborne wherein I write:
"Sometime in the spring of 1982 and a year or so after being gone two years in the Peace Corps, a very good friend of mine, a onetime philosophy major that I had known in college, but somehow now having morphed into a big time computer geek, contacted me."
I left the island on an Air Jamaica flight from Kingston with a quick stop at Montego Bay then on into Miami. During that one year period between leaving Jamaica and the spring 1982 time period mentioned in the above quote I made every effort to search down and meet Thompson. What I discovered was deeply saddening. In January 1981, a few months before I started my quest and without me knowing it, Thompson, who was still on active duty, suffered a heart attack. Then a few weeks later a severe stroke that put him in a coma for six months, of which afterwards he was diagnosed with expressive aphasia being only able to read, write or speak effectively with great difficulty. I was never allowed to see him.
"On April 1, 1939, the 33 year old Roselli married an exceptionally beautiful up-and-coming 22 year old actress with over 20 movies under her belt named June Lang. Reports are that Lang was madly in love with Roselli BUT, like many on the periphery or slightly out of the loop, had no idea he was a mobster. Lang divorced him in March 1943."
On May 12, 1942, two thirds of the way into Roselli's marriage to June Lang and a little more than 30 years before the POWs were released from the Hanoi Hilton, where Thompson had been incarcerated for close to six of his nine years in captivity, the Flying Tigers, in lieu of bombers in that none were in their inventory nor were any ever available anyway, sent a group of six P-40s consisting of three late-model P-40Es equipped with bomb racks along with three early model P-40Bs, on a 700 mile round trip run from their main headquarters in Kunming, China, to attack the Gia Lam airfield in Hanoi. Five of the P-40s reached Hanoi, with one returning to base because of engine trouble.
Immediately following the bombing runs by the P-40Es the older P-40Bs swept in right on their tails strafing everything of any substance relative to the airfield they could find. Said to have been flying one of the P-40Es that day was John Donavan. After his strafing mission shooting up the control tower, grounded planes, and anything else he could hit of value relative to the airfield Donavan began to pull up. As he did Japanese anti-aircraft rounds began ripping through his P-40 tearing it to shreds causing it to crash through the end of the runway ending Donavan's life in a ball of flames.
THE FLYING TIGERS BOMB HANOI: MAY, 1942
Touch the Wall is an internet site dedicated to maintaining the accuracy and information regarding military veterans who served in Vietnam and/or the Southeast Asia conflict in some fashion related to the war or the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial. Be it a name on the wall or records of service time, they do what they can to ensure all information is accurate and concisely presented. Interestingly enough John T. Donovan, who was killed by anti aircraft fire in his P-40 in his run against the Gia Lam airfield in Hanoi in 1942, in their section First veteran classified as killed in country lists Donovan as the first saying:
"Flying Tiger John T. Donovan was killed on May 12, 1942, but our involvement in Vietnam was not considered official and his name is not on the Memorial."
COL. FLOYD JAMES THOMPSON
THE P-40 GOOSE SHOOT
PEARL HARBOR SURVIVOR
THE MAN WITH THE MEAT HOOK
Actually it was more than quite odd that the man in the room above the cafe in Chinatown and I would ever have had a chance to have met. It was quite obvious he was mob and I wasn't. Typically I didn't travel in mob circles. As a matter of fact I can most adamantly state that other than Johnny Roselli and my connection to him through my Stepmother and how it may have tentacle out sometimes into questionable areas beyond my own personal desire for it to do so, I had NO formal or informal connection, affiliation, or interaction with the mob or members of the mob on any sort of a long term or short term basis up to that time or throughout my life. So said, what is odd is that not long after the two of us saw each other we both realized we had met or knew each other at some time in our lives prior to the Chinatown meeting --- of which would have to been on some mob related level --- and of which I had none.
In more than one place in my works I write that when I turned 21 I bought my first new car, a brand new low-slung British sports car with two rows of louvers along the hood, held down by a leather belt. One day, for whatever reason I don't recall now, the belt gave me some kind of trouble and someone with a similar car directed me toward a shoe repairman said to be a master in leather work.
His shop, a small almost falling down dump of a place with the outside walls covered by unmatched weathered asphalt roofing tiles, was located not far up the street from the restaurant where I worked when I was a teenager in high school. I had gone by the shop at one time or the other probably a thousand times and never really took notice of the place. At first glance the cobbler was an almost perfect stereotypical fit for the shop and job. He was a funny little old semi-round guy that invariably wore a transparent green casino or poker dealer type visor pushed higher on his head rather than down, along with a well worn below the knee dirty canvas-cloth tie-in-the-back work apron with square patch pockets of the same material sewn on the outside he always seemed to have his hands in. The cobbler took one look at the belt and assured me it was easily repairable leaving no visible difference than the original, although it would take a couple of days.
Two days later I returned to the shop a hour before closing and, even though the door was unlocked, there was no sign of the cobbler. Pushing the door open rang a small bell, but still no cobbler. After a few minutes I eventually found him in the back bent over deep in concentration working on some leather item, an item that turned out to be a beautifully handmade leather shoulder holster. He jumped as though startled when he discovered I was there and initially tried to cover what he was doing, but realizing it was too late he just stood up, retrieved my belt and handed it to me.
Curious about the holster I asked who would need such a fine and no doubt expensive item. He responded by telling me that was how he really made his money. He created and designed custom handmade shoulder holsters, using nothing but the finest leathers and metal attachments either solid or plated with gold or silver, each holster made to carry a specific weapon for a specific person, taking in size and build of the person so the gun would hang perfectly and couldn't be seen under an expensive suit and, although mostly for show and prestige, still able to be pulled out quickly and efficiently. He said sometimes his customers would come to the shop, other times he would meet them at a hotel near the airport, and other times he would be flown out of town, usually first class, to meet and measure the customer.
Still not an answer as to "who," I asked again, saying I was sure no law enforcement officer would ever need such a fine and expensive piece of equipment. It was then, after a period of silence and eyeing me up and down, sensing I could be trusted, the cobbler admitted that most of his customers were high level members of the mob. When I asked him if he ever made a holster for Johnny Roselli telling him that I had known Roselli since I was a little boy he became my "best buddy," saying he knew it, he knew I was affiliated. Basically then, he began relating his life story.
Although retired now, he had grown up on the streets of Chicago and as a kid, to earn money, began running numbers and such things. Honest, dependable and consistent, albeit with NO leanings or stomach for violence, he became a trustworthy low-level bagman and lookout. One day, tagging along as instructed with a half a dozen higher up gorillas he followed them from the loading dock of a meat packing plant into the plant proper for some meeting or the other.
No soon had he entered the plant and started walking toward the back than he saw five or six naked men hanging upside down from meat hooks among the slabs of beef. One look at the men and he took off running as fast as he could, not stopping until he collapsed, falling to the ground totally out of breath, and when found, blocks and blocks if not miles away.
Everybody in the mob, or at least that portion of it, thought it was the funniest thing they had ever seen, immediately ingratiating him even further into their circle, and from there-on-out being known as "Meat Hook." Somewhere along the way powers that be assigned him to be a listener, working in the stable areas with thoroughbred race horses, first at Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, then reassigned to the west coast. With absolutely no knowledge of horses or the track, and needing a cover he became a stable boy, quickly learning how to fix and repair a whole host of leather items such as saddles, stirrups, bridles, halters, reins, bits, and harnesses, all stuff needed in the racing and horse business. In the process he began creating his own better equipment requiring less repairs. From there he became an expert in leatherwork of which repairing shoulder holsters to making them became part of his expertise.
Over time anybody who was anybody had to have one of his shoulder holsters. When he retired he continued to be sought out, and actually, in the overall scheme of things, how things are run, he really had no other options other than to comply. He did tell me, however, he never made a holster for Roselli. Besides he said, Roselli, except possibly in his early days, or on a one-off specifically designated request to do so by one who had the power to request, never carried iron. Meat Hook told me, although it wasn't like the old days, Roselli had worked himself so high up in the organization he never killed down, only up. There was always someone beneath him to take care of lower level jobs. Not many equal or above him that could take care of business. The cobbler said although he knew Roselli only marginally he always counted him as a friend because it was clear Roselli always held him in high regard because his own father was a shoemaker, plus, he said, Roselli loved the "Meat Hook" story. He was sure lots of work was sent his way because of him.
The day I stopped to pick up the belt for my car I parallel parked on the street right in front of the door going into the shoe repair shop. After our talk about his life I went back outside going-about installing the belt. As I did a big American sedan pulled up directly behind my car, stopping so close that the sedan's front bumper and my car's rear bumper were so close a person couldn't pass between them. Two men got out of the sedan with the driver coming around the front of my car and the passenger, who got out of the shotgun side, meeting him on the sidewalk in front of the shop albeit waiting for the driver to open the door. In doing so, as I glanced up, the passenger, having a second or two, turned to me for a moment making eye contact, saying he thought I had a pretty nice little car.
When I was done with the belt I headed back to the shop to thank the cobbler for a job well done, but when I reached the door the doorknob was locked with a sign in the window reading closed. Knowing he hadn't left yet and the two men were still inside I scooted around the side of the building between a narrow space along the side of the shop and a fairly tall wooden fence next to it and headed toward the rear, ending at the back door. As I entered the room the driver moved quickly and aggressively toward me grabbing a gun off the table. The cobbler yelled to stop, I was with him, and with that the driver halted his forward momentum. In the meantime I could see the passenger was being fitted with a shoulder holster. I thanked the cobbler and slowly backed out through the door with my hands up and apart in front of my chest palms open facing outward, returning to my car. The passenger of the sedan being fitted with a shoulder holster that day was the same man I met years later in Chinatown. After the passage of those years and our short talk above the cafe in Chinatown and I was leaving I asked if I could see his shoulder holster. Sure enough it was made by Meat Hook. It was then the man remembered me.
ROSELLI AND THE KENNEDY ASSASSINATION
Everything in the below two paragraph quote --- and any decisions reached thereof --- have been culled out by the author of the paragraphs from having read and interpreted the contents from the Senate Committee Boxed File Testimony and/or the multi-page 12 part FBI excerpts collected over the years on Johnny Roselli through various surveillance techniques and witness interviews, and thus then, provided to the author through the Freedom of Information Act. Please note the Senate Select Committee and the Church Committee are the same entity. Full access click-through online links to both are provided below:
"Johnny Roselli was under Federal Bureau of Investigation surveillance for months prior and after the assassination. Officials had staked out Roselli's Los Angeles apartment and offered daily reports in November, while other FBI agents tracked Roselli's travel, phone calls, reservations, and movements elsewhere. On November 16, Roselli accompanied Maurice Friedman and two women on a flight to Phoenix, Arizona. November 18 Roselli and Friedman leave Phoenix on a flight to Las Vegas, Nevada. Informants observe Roselli later at the Desert Inn Hotel in Las Vegas. An FBI informant reports that Roselli's friend Jonie Taps had knowledge of Roselli's past travel arrangements with Friedman and the two women. Taps states that Roselli is destined for Los Angeles again November 20, 1963. Roselli also later testified having knowledge that officials were observing and pursuing him during this time.
"Roselli is suspicious and correct that officials have been closely watching him for months, thus it is unlikely he would commit any murderous crime having realized officials were observing. Las Vegas was among the areas Roselli possessed legal and illegal financial interests and he often traveled between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Roselli then returned to the Las Vegas Desert Inn Hotel. November 22, 1963 FBI observers note that Roselli is not in his Los Angeles apartment. Johnny Roselli later testifies before the Senate Select Committee, 'The morning the President was assassinated, I was asleep, in bed, at the Desert Inn Hotel...' which is in Las Vegas, Nevada. Roselli then days later feasibly returned to Los Angeles because the FBI monitors activity in Roselli's Los Angeles residence on November 26, 1963. Based on all the verified evidence Johnny Roselli was not in Texas during the time."(source)
The author writes In the bottom paragraph above that Roselli later testified before the Senate Select Committee saying, "The morning the President was assassinated, I was asleep, in bed, at the Desert Inn Hotel..." Below is the singular paragraph section extracted from the Select Committee documents wherein Roselli tells the committee under oath that he was at the Desert Inn Hotel in Nevada on the morning of November 22, 1963, the day of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The complete full-sized page from the original source can be retrieved by clicking the paragraph/image. Also accessible is not only the whole transcript, but both the individual preceding page and the page that follows in full:
FROM SENATE SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE ACTIVITIES,
BOXED FILES, TESTIMONY OF JOHN ROSELLI, SEPTEMBER 22, 1975
(for complete full-sized in-context page, please click above paragraph)
FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION
PART 1 OF 12
CHURCH COMMITTEE BOXED TESTIMONY
ROSELLI- WAS MAKING MIDNIGHT RUNS TO CUBA USING HIGH SPEED
ALUMINUM BOATS, INFILTRATING ANTI-CASTRO CUBAN COMMANDOS
AND WEAPONS ONTO THE ISLAND, OPERATING OUT OF THE FLORIDA
KEYS AND THE BAHAMAS HELD CAY SAL BANK 30 MILES FROM CUBA
(please click image)
Following my completion of Basic Training at Fort Ord, California, unlike most bottom-of-the line two year draftees who got not much more than OJT (on the job training), I was sent to Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at the U.S. Army Signal Corps School, Fort Gordon, Georgia, to be school trained. Except for a short detour to Fort Benning, also in Georgia, I was then sent to Fort Riley, Kansas. From Riley, on TDY (Temporary Duty. i.e., serving at a location other than one's permanent assignment), I continued participating in an never ending series of so-called covert related training activities both in and out of the country --- some of it even, up until the time of the assassination of JFK, being sent by the military to Panama, Cay Sal Bank off the north coast of Cuba, and Swan Island located between Cuba and Honduras, Cuba related.
Many years ago, or about 10 years after the fact for me, thinking I might write a book someday, I sat down on-and-off over a roughly two year period with a couple of other than Army buddies, yet at one time covertly affiliated with me in some fashion or the other, and wrote down everything either I or we could think of or remember regarding my military service connected adventures. I never wrote a book, but I still have pages and pages of the notes and their are parts that refer to Cay Sal Bank, used as a staging base for a variety of operations against Cuba, Colonel Rawlston (a known Roselli pseudonym) running twin high speed boats full of commandos into Cuba, and a CIA safe house located along Key Biscayne Bay.
Some people hate if not cringe over a great deal of what I write because I make so many references back to my childhood reading comic books and/or sending for tons of box top and radio premium offers. However, in Roselli's case, without finding and going through the aforementioned series of notes I wrote years ago, him using the name Colonel Rawlston, was unforgettable because of those box top offers. If you remember the grandfather of the girl who babysat me and my brothers all the time had a top to bottom garage-workshop filled with all kinds of junk. It was there searching through stuff in his garage I found a Tom Mix Straight Shooters Telegraph Set :
"The Tom Mix Set set was a free box top offer promoted by the Ralston Wheat Cereal Company one or possibly two years before the war. One box top and .10 cents in coin or free with two box tops. Ralston had tried the telegraph gig once before but that product-offer was never designed to actually send and receive, being more of a practice set. The old man, a cereal box top sort of guy, had long since sent for two of the kind that worked, but never got around to hooking them up. In that he had a matched set, as soon as I was able to convince him to do so we wired the two of them together between each of our places."
WESTERN UNION STANDARD RADIO TELEGRAPH SIGNAL SET
Roselli, under the code name Colonel Rawlston, was making midnight raids to a string of pearl-like islands off the northern coast of Cuba, offloading U.S. trained anti-Castro Cuban commandos and weapons using twin V-bottom double-hulled aluminum high speed powerboats. On one of his raids a Cuban patrol boat caught the boat Roselli was on in its searchlights, blowing a hole in the bottom and sinking the boat almost immediately. Roselli was pulled out of the water by the other boat as they machine gunned the searchlights, slipping away into the night.(see) It is not known what happened to any of the anti-Castro Cubans set ashore, but not one of them returned or reported back. Operating out of Cay Sal I was set down on one of those pearl of islands islands alone one night providing communication, not knowing for sure if I would ever be picked up by anybody on the way back. I recall the Colonel Rawlston part of it all because of the telegraph set.
CAY SAL BANK, LOCATED 50 MILES NORTH OF CUBA SHOWING REMNANTS OF ABANDONED AIR FIELD
(for larger size click image then click again)
VIDEO OF ABANDONED BUILDINGS, CAY SAL
AND NOW THIS: MR. ROSELLI, NICE GUY?
"(Roselli's ice machines) gave so-called work crews and maintenance men under his direct control free and unfettered access to almost every floor in every hotel, basically coming and going as they pleased without being noticed, in turn giving Roselli eyes and ears all over Vegas unlike anybody else. For sure, housekeeping workers on the floors knew who they were and more than likely mutually beneficial cooperation came into play between the two on more than one occasion. Although it was well known Roselli could be brutal, albeit usually at a distance, he was also known to be generous. Anything that worked out in his favor was always remembered, things that didn't were never forgotten. If a string of expensive pearls or a gold Rolex fell into his hands every member of the chain, even at the lowest level, received their due in some fashion."
AS FOUND IN THE MAIN TEXT ABOVE
Generally speaking, every year right around November 22nd, the anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, I get a slight uptick on emails regarding Roselli.
Following in that same theme I received two Roselli related emails from two different people a couple of days apart right around that same time. Both emailers were "Roselli was in on or part of the assassination of JFK" type guys. One liked how I presented Roselli, a sort of an insight into knowing him on a personal side that just isn't seen elsewhere. The other writer was disgruntled to the hilt that I take it fairly easy on a known mobster and killer, either ignoring or sanding the edges so smooth Roselli comes across as a let's all have Thanksgiving dinner together around November 22nd nice guy.
All my interactions with Roselli were done by coming in on his right side, people who didn't may have experienced different outcomes. But I will tell you what I saw. One night I was sitting in a casino very cautiously playing a three at a time dollar slot machine when I heard a man say, "Hey, Sunshine Boy." It was Roselli. He called me Sunshine Boy because I don't think he could ever remember my name if he ever knew it, or, for all I know he called any number or everybody that. Me, I took it as a pet name. He was on his way to an elevator being held open some ways across the casino and wanted me to walk with him. I had a whole pile of dollars in the tray under the machine and he said not to worry about it. To me it was a substantial sum, to him it was nothing to worry about. It also boiled down to dollars or Roselli. So I got up, went to the elevator and he and I and the two men who had been holding the elevator open stepped in, the men moving to the back wall. Several floors later the elevator stopped, we got out and two other men were waiting for Roselli in the hall. Down the hall from the elevator was a lone woman housekeeper with a cleaning cart apparently going between rooms. I walked with Roselli after he waved me to so, the other men staying closer to the elevator.
Roselli walked up to the housekeeper and asked if she knew who he was. Scared to death and shaking badly she nodded yes, then blurted out that she hadn't done anything wrong. Roselli calmed her assuring he knew that. Then he handed the woman a brand new crisp $100 dollar bill thanking for what she had done, that she should lay low for awhile. I think at first the woman thought she was going to be shot or something because she practically collapsed to the floor she was so relieved. In a quick exchange of pleasantries Roselli learned she was working a second shift that night. He had one of the guys come down the hall and told him to arrange it for her to have the rest of the night off with pay. We got back on the elevator, went down to the casino floor, and when we stepped out there was a man waiting with a couple of full trays of silver dollars so full of dollars and so heavy he could hardly hold them. The man handed the two trays to me, and Roselli, looking down at all the silver dollars, actually house minted dollar coins, said the machine must have turned fairly lucky while we were gone.
WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUND, by Jack Anderson
THE WASHINGTON POST: Tuesday, February 23, 1971, Page B-11
Roselli made midnight dashes to
Cuba with his hired assassins in
twin powerboats. Once a Cuban
patrol ship turned its guns on
the darkened boat, tore a hole
in the bottom and sank the boat.
Roselli was fished out of the
water by the other boat, which
escaped into the shadows.
CASTRO STALKER WORKED FOR CIA
------------------(original source for the above quote)