J. Edgar Hoover, it is now generally recognized, was a woefully compromised public servant who allowed organized crime to prosper under his auspices – all while pursuing chimerical communist bogeys into the fifties and sixties. Did the Israelis hold Hoover’s leash? The answer may lie with Hoover’s involvements with Roy Cohn, Meyer Lansky, and a homosexual blackmail operation utilizing underaged boys.
Justin Cascio summarizes the New York syndicate-homo connection at Mafia Genealogy – also introducing an odd character nicknamed “The Skull”:
Lucky Luciano built the Genovese monopoly on gay nightlife in New York City in the 1930s. […]
Of the Five Families of New York, Lucky Luciano’s was the one we now call the Genovese crime family. […] Until 1957, when Vito Genovese went to prison for trafficking heroin through his gay bars, it was called the Luciano crime family.
Luciano had long experience in running brothels, bars, prostitution rings, and even drug smuggling. […] Investing in “fairy places” or “fag bars” was part of a diverse portfolio of organized crime, and an area in which the Luciano family excelled. Their monopoly on gay nightlife in New York City would not be broken for fifty years. […]
Apartment owners and employers did not have to rent to, or employ, people they knew or suspected were queer. A bar could lose its license not only by permitting same-sex kissing, touching, or dancing in their establishment, but simply by allowing gay people to congregate. […]
The businesses that served the LGBT community, were those that paid off the police. And that meant gay bars were run by the mafia. Historians have connected all five of the families to gay bars in New York, with the majority belonging to the Genovese. […]
Mafia-managed bars ran the rackets that had always accompanied the gay bar trade, since at least the beginning of the century: prostitution of both sexes, including minors, pornography sale and production, drug trafficking, blackmail, and extortion.
In addition to crime, poor conditions and sleazy business practices went along with black markets, and gay bars were no exception. The Stonewall Inn was re-opened in 1967 by Tony Lauria, the son of a mafioso, with Genovese family backing […] The missing amenities included an emergency exit and running water. In 1969, the Stonewall was responsible for transmitting hepatitis by serving drinks in dirty, used glasses. […]
Matty “the Horse” Ianniello, acting boss of the Genovese family for ten years (between prison terms for racketeering), was widely acknowledged as “the Genovese capo who controlled much of New York’s gay nightlife.” He paid off the police to protect Lauria’s Stonewall.
Ed Murphy (1926-1989), born Edward Francis Murphy and nicknamed “The Skull,” was a former pro wrestler (not to be confused with another wrestler called Skull Murphy, who died in 1970). Ed was a mafioso, and in 1969, a closeted gay man. He ran prostitution rings, and worked as a bouncer in gay bars. The Skull was working the door of the Stonewall the night of the police raid that kicked off the riots. […]
The predation of both the police and the mafia were the targets of the fury that was unleashed when police raided the Stonewall Inn in June, 1969. One of the goals shared by the Gay Activists Alliance and Gay Liberation Front, two groups that came out of the Stonewall protests, was to get organized crime out of the gay bars. But with gay liberation, those same bars were now cash cows, and the mafia was less likely than ever to want to let go of them. It would be another generation before Giuliani’s aggressive targeting of organized crime in New York in the mid-1980s broke the monopoly on gay bars in the city. […]
Christopher Street Liberation Day, as it was first called, commemorated the Stonewall uprising on its first anniversary, 28 June 1970, with a march from Greenwich Village to Central Park. Four years later the Stonewall’s old bouncer, Ed Murphy, convinced the committee to reverse the parade route to its present trajectory, so it ended on Christopher Street, where attendees could drink in the many Mafia-owned establishments. Murphy came out as gay in the late 70s, and rode in the parade with a sash calling him the Mayor of Christopher Street. He died of AIDS in 1989. Murphy’s obituary called him a gay rights leader.1
Cascio mentions Murphy’s callings as a bouncer and pimp, but neglects to indicate that this “gay rights leader” was also a pedophile. “Murphy was a Gambino associate who banged underage boys – even suspected of killing one or more – and yet neither his mob ties nor degenerate proclivities seemed to garner much outrage from the larger LGBT community,” writes Phillip Crawford, Jr., author of The Mafia and the Gays. “The unfortunate fact is that throughout the 1970s many gay organizations – although certainly not all – advocated for outright repeal of age-of-consent laws.”2 “From the 1960s through the 1980s the FBI used Ed ‘the Skull’ Murphy as a confidential informant and cooperating witness,” Crawford also reveals. “Murphy […] was a notorious child rapist who pimped out underage boys and then blackmailed the closeted johns during the 1960s for the Genovese family in the so-called ‘chicken and bulls’ extortion racket.”3
Slate’s William McGowan tells the story of the extensive chickens-and-bulls network discovered by New York police in 1965:
Impersonating corrupt vice-squad detectives, members of this ring, known in police parlance as bulls, had used young, often underage men known as chickens to successfully blackmail closeted pillars of the establishment, among them a navy admiral, two generals, a U.S. congressman, a prominent surgeon, an Ivy League professor, a prep school headmaster, and several well-known actors, singers, and television personalities. The ring had operated for almost a decade, had victimized thousands, and had taken in at least $2 million. […]
As the NYPD and FBI pursued their investigations in 1965 and 1966, they found that the ring had conducted operations in a dozen or more cities around the country. It was fluid in nature, with a changing cast of about two dozen “bulls” and “chickens.”
Three main ringleaders organized, financed, and equipped its various operations. In Chicago, there was John Pyne, already in his early 50s, who had joined the Chicago Police department in 1938. Pyne had been a member of the Chicago department’s Confidential Squad, learning the tricks of the blackmail trade from the very same shakedown artists he had put in jail. Using a nationwide network of police officers, mostly “clerical men,” in his pay, Pyne had dozens of different police badges, which were referred to as buttons. Pyne also had arrest forms, warrants, and extradition forms “from virtually every jurisdiction in the country,” as Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Baer would later say at Pyne’s arraignment.
Moving between New York, Chicago, and Baltimore was Sherman Chadwick Kaminsky, a 38-year-old “salesman” who also went under the alias of Paul Vargo. Kaminsky’s past was hazy. […] Kaminsky often partnered up with John Fellabaum, described in press reports as a “weightlifter and bodybuilder” in his late 20s from Monroeville, Pa. Fellabaum’s beefcake physique apparently made him an attractive lure.
Another principal figure was the arrested Hilton Hotel house detective, 39-year-old Ed Murphy. A burly tough from Manhattan’s lower west side, Murphy was expelled from a Catholic grammar school as a young boy and was put in reform school after whacking a policeman over the head with a milk bottle for breaking his shoebox. He served in the Army in France during World War II and in the late-’40s became a doorman at a couple of gay bars on Eighth Avenue near the Port Authority Bus Terminal. After a spree of robbing dentists of gold used in fillings, Murphy was sentenced to 10 years in state prison, most of it spent in isolation after violent assaults on fellow inmates and guards.
Released from prison, Murphy went back to working the door at a number of sketchy gay clubs such as the Cork, the Sans Souci, and the Bali. He also took up professional wrestling, grappling against legendary characters such as the Super Swedish Angel and Gorgeous George, and throwing chairs at people who booed him. With his bright shaved head, Murphy took on the wrestling moniker of “Skull.” But to the young male runaways and prostitutes whom Murphy cared for – and sometimes pimped – he was “Mother.” Despite his criminal history and shady involvements, Murphy became the director of security at Manhattan’s Hilton Hotel […]
In almost every case, after making contact, the chicken would accompany the mark up to his room, or suggest another hotel where they could go instead. Once in the room, one of two scenarios would follow.
In some cases, the bulls would wait until the two men had gotten themselves into a compromising position before bursting into the room and identifying themselves as vice squad detectives, capitalizing on the fear, panic, and surprise they induced in the victim as they initiated what they referred to as the play. At the Hilton, where Skull Murphy was head of security, the timing was made easier by the inch or so Murphy had shaved from certain room doors, into which he inserted a small dental mirror taped to the end of a cane, the better to see exactly when to pounce.
The bulls would explain the penalties for violating sodomy laws or corrupting a minor, then demand an outright bribe, or as they did to the Princeton professor, suggest that the victim pay “bail money” as a way of avoiding making his arrest public, or prison. In some cases the bulls might induce a payoff by putting a victim together in a room with another man they pretended to have arrested for the same thing elsewhere in the hotel. That other man might say something like: “Hey, I can’t afford to be arrested. I’m going to offer them money, what about you?” Having the victim induce the payoff, rather than demand the money outright, lowered the criminals’ exposure in court.
With all the right clothes and the right police jargon, some of the blackmailers appeared “more detective than real detectives,” the FBI’s Paul Brana said. The official paperwork – warrants, affidavits, arrest forms – was convincing too. […]
They played this long game with chutzpah too. On two occasions they marched New Jersey Congressman Peter Frelinghuysen, who sat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, right out of his Capitol Hill office and onto a private plane for a trip to his New Jersey bank where he paid them $50,000 in total, according to the FBI’s Paul Brana. Admiral William Church [cousin of Senator Frank Church], who, among other duties was in charge of the New York Naval Yards at the time, was escorted from the Pentagon, handing over $5,000, as was an Army general who paid $2,000. The criminals also rushed a prominent surgeon right out of an operating room, forcing his colleague to finish the procedure. They didn’t miss a chance to see a bit of the world either, flying to London to nick a well-known British producer for $3,000. […]
In one case, two phony detectives, armed with pistols and flashing their shields, broke into a hotel room and got the drop on a nuclear scientist from California with a chicken. The bogus cops took the man’s credentials then let him leave for the West Coast. A month later, the cops arrived in California and gained entrance to the government research facility where the scientist worked. As they confronted him for money, they were interrupted by the scientist’s supervisor. The quick-thinking victim introduced the extortionists as two detectives he had befriended on his last trip east, and the two “detectives” were then given a tour of restricted areas of the facility, right at the height of the Cold War.
As the blackmailers’ interest in the House Foreign Affairs Committee and government nuclear facilities (and perhaps also McGowan’s use of the word “chutzpah”) might suggest, the chickens-and-bulls operations were clearly something more ambitious than what would typically be associated with mere “mafia” racketeering. McGowan continues:
Sherman Kaminsky agreed to plead guilty on federal charges, but when Admiral William Church committed suicide, New York DA Frank Hogan raised the prospect of prosecuting him on manslaughter charges. Kaminsky tried to strike a deal with federal prosecutors, says Andrew Maloney, but the feds refused. Panicking, Kaminsky jumped bail, becoming a fugitive for 11 years.
Authorities suspected that Kaminsky might have spent some time in Israel, but couldn’t find any productive leads. In January 1978, however, the FBI got a tip and apprehended Kaminsky early in the morning at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport as he transited flights between Vancouver and Denver. According to the FBI, Kaminsky had lived for much of the intervening 11 years in Denver under the name of Calvin Paley, and had operated a rabbit-raising business as well as a company that distributed hair replacement products.
Because Kaminsky had deliberately fled, the federal statute of limitations on his extortion conviction was voided. In the end, Kaminsky dodged jail, making a deal with federal prosecutors to gather state’s evidence on a fellow detainee who was suspected of being a central figure in the 1976 Orlando Letelier bombing case […] Kaminsky was enrolled in the federal witness protection program in whose custody he has presumably died. […]
Eventually known as the “Mayor of Christopher Street,” Murphy played a central role in organizing the now-famous street festival that takes place during New York’s annual gay pride weekend. Every year, Murphy and a crew much younger men would ride in a convertible Cadillac in the gay pride parade itself. […]
At his standing-room-only Roman Catholic funeral, the priest said that “If Ed Murphy is not with God, then there is no God.”4
“How had Murphy dodged the lethal prison bullet?” asks R. Marc Kantrowitz at Patriot Ledger:
Was it due to the difficulty the feds had in securing witnesses? Or was it due to a far more basic reason? Murphy was a rat, an informant against the Mob and, as such, treated with the softest of kids [sic] gloves. Or was it, as some have opined, that among those he was blackmailing was the head of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, who for years refused to even acknowledge that organized crime existed? Whatever the truth, Murphy was never punished for his brash lawlessness.5
It is interesting to observe, in view of the very highly placed figures targeted by the chickens-and-bulls network, that investigators “suspected that Kaminsky might have spent some time in Israel”. Robert N. Schwartz, an assistant U.S. attorney in New York’s Southern District, told writer Eugene Propper in 1978 that Kaminsky “was a rather colorful criminal with an arrest record stretching back to 1945, who had decorated his cell [in the Metropolitan Correctional Center] with a photograph of himself proudly wearing the uniform of the Israeli Haganah, the elite commando organization that had used terrorist tactics to help win Israel’s battle for existence.”6 My question is: did Kaminsky’s service to the Zionist state come to an end when he left Israel for the United States?
According to Burton Hersh, author of Bobby and J. Edgar, Manhattan D.A. Frank Hogan’s mid-sixties Rackets Squad investigation into the chickens and bulls uncovered a photograph of “Hoover himself ‘posing amiably’ with Kaminsky, while [Hoover’s lover] Clyde Tolson had reportedly ‘fallen victim to the extortion ring.’”7Anthony Summers, in his study Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover, cites the assertions of Susan Rosenstiel – fourth wife of Jewish tycoon Lewis Rosenstiel, a business partner of Meyer Lansky, “Chairman of the Board” of organized crime in America – to make the case that Hoover was compromised on the basis of his deviant proclivities:
In 1939, Meyer Lansky used Rosenstiel as a go-between while plotting the surrender to Edgar of the gangster Louis “Lepke” Buchalter. By the forties, Edgar was cheerfully accepting the liquor baron’s hospitality. In 1946, he and Clyde were guests of honor at a barbecue thrown by leading liquor companies, including Rosenstiel’s. […]
By the fifties, Rosenstiel was surrounded by familiar figures from Edgar’s world. […]
Closest of all was Roy Cohn, now a high-profile New York attorney. His services were at the disposal of Lewis Rosenstiel […]
Rosenstiel trusted Cohn “as a son,” and Cohn indulged his eccentricities. The pair was once observed on a yacht, cruising past the West Point Military Academy with a recording of General MacArthur’s farewell speech blaring forth from a loudspeaker. The Rosenstiel clique liked to address one another as if they were members of some secret army. Cohn, like Lansky, called Rosenstiel “Supreme Commander.” The millionaire called Cohn “Field Commander,” another crony “Sergeant-at-Arms” and so on.
Rosenstiel cultivated Edgar assiduously. […] Susan Rosenstiel’s final and most sensational revelations suggest her husband and Roy Cohn involved Edgar in sex orgies – thus laying him more open than ever to pressure from organized crime.
She describes orgies involving her husband, Cohn, Hoover, and teenage boys that took place in New York’s Plaza Hotel, in “a beautiful suite, one of their biggest, all done in light blue.”8 “One corroboratory sidelight turned up when New York attorney John Klotz began to investigate Roy Cohn on behalf of a client,” Hersh reveals:
Declassified New York government files and spadework by a private detective substantiated the allegation that there was indeed a “blue suite” at the Plaza, Suite 233. “Roy Cohn was providing protection,” Klotz discovered. “There were a bunch of pedophiles involved. That’s where Cohn got his power from – blackmail.”9
Roy Cohn, as Michael Collins Piper points out in Final Judgment, was also one of the investors in the shadowy Permindex corporation linked to the Mossad and the JFK assassination10. Hoover’s other interesting associations included Meyer Lansky and the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith. According to Lansky associate and covert FBI operative Michael Milan, Lansky and Hoover “sometimes broke bread together”, while “Mr. L. was never rousted, was rarely served with federal subpoenas, and was generally left alone to conduct his business.”11 The mobster, as Jerry Klinger writes for The Jewish Magazine, “was a life-long Zionist and ardent supporter of Jewish charities.” In violation of an American arms embargo against the occupiers in Palestine, Lansky worked with Haganah terrorist Yehuda Arazi to ensure “that weapons destined for the Arabs mysteriously got lost, fell overboard or were mistakenly loaded onto [a] ship bound for Israel.”12 Hoover, moreover, was a notable beneficiary of ADL largesse, Piper reveals:
It was the pro-Israel Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of B’nai B’rith that was largely responsible for the establishment of the J. Edgar Hoover Foundation in 1947. (Top Lansky associates have long been generous financial backers of the ADL.) The Hoover Foundation’s first president was Rabbi Paul Richman, Washington director of the ADL.
Hoover’s longtime associate, Louis B. Nichols, the FBI’s Assistant Director in charge of the Records and Communications Division of the Bureau, was the FBI’s key contact with the ADL when the ADL helped orchestrate mass sedition trials against key critics of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s foreign policy.
Nichols went on to serve as president of the J. Edgar Hoover Foundation, but only after he left the FBI. Upon retirement from the Bureau he signed on as Executive Vice President of Schenley Industries, a major liquor firm run by ex-bootlegger and Lansky associate Lewis R. Rosenstiel.13
Is any of this adding up – or am I just paranoid?
[Note: the following episode of The Opperman Report features the reminiscences of NYPD Detective James Rothstein, who investigated, among other things, the Son of Sam web and its connection to New York pedophile rings. Rothstein discusses his involvement with Ed “The Skull” Murphy and the Stonewall Inn.]