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Kennedy documents provide peek at the mob

document January 16, 1997
Web posted at: 6:15 a.m. EST

From Correspondent Bruce Morton

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The veil behind which the Mafia hides from the public has been partially lifted with release of FBI documents once used by Congress to look into the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

At least 15,000 pages of documents, first examined by the House Assassinations Committee in the late 1970s, have been released. The papers, however, reveal far more about the mob, or La Cosa Nostra, than Kennedy's death.

"This is the most substantive release of documents relating to organized crime the FBI has ever made," said Steven Tilley, a Kennedy archivist.

Wiretaps covered by the papers capture Mafia members complaining about FBI actions against their organizations and personnel.

Teamster shenanigans


One memo documents Teamster corruption when two Detroit men go to union headquarters in Washington to pick up a loan for a Las Vegas casino, apparently in a meeting with Teamster boss Jimmy Hoffa.

In an instance of life parodying art, mobsters were caught on tape talking about honor in terms most people would consider the sole territory of a Hollywood scriptwriter.

"If I don't do what you say, if something goes wrong, you can kill my brother, you can kill my mother, that's how honorable I am," a man believed to be Nick Bianco told New York mobster Raymond Patriarca.

Kennedy-Hoover feud

Kennedy & Hoover

Release of the Kennedy-related FBI documents has also spotlighted the power and eccentricities of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

Hoover's feud with Attorney General Robert Kennedy, John F. Kennedy's brother, is prominent in the pile of papers featuring the director's handwritten notes.

Hoover's disdain for the Kennedy brothers is particularly evident over the public parading of mob informer Joseph Valachi. The disclosure of Valachi's identity and testimony in public left the FBI director shaking his head.

As Hoover, no stranger to using power for his own ends, wrote in an FBI memo, "I never saw so much skullduggery ... "


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