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Exposing the Labyrinth of Institutionalized Crime in the United States: The 'PROMIS' Software Scandal

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Live Broadcast: Wednesday, October 27th, 2010 - 8:00 PM ET.

The Last CircleJoin our guest, investigative reporter, newspaper editor, and private detective Cheri Seymour, as she unravels a scandal that will outrage you twice...once because of the scandal, and once because the criminal media did not bring it to your attention.

Background:

Exposing the Octopus, Circa Hollywood: Revelations of Former DOJ Prosecutors in 2009.

Journalist Danny Casolaro's death was like a stone hurled into a pool of water.  Ever expanding circles of shock-waves rippled from the epicenter in Washington D.C. to the furthest reaches of the nation's consciousness. When the last circle wave crashed upon the West Coast, its psychological effects prompted California journalists to seek answers to what had been contained in Casolaro's files, stolen on the eve of his death. The Last Circle book follows the trail of his investigation which he termed “The Octopus.”

Just prior to his death on August 10, 1991, Casolaro ecstatically told friends he would be traveling to Martinsburg, Va. to “bring back the head of the Octopus.”  Instead, his body was found in a blood filled bathtub at a Martinsburg hotel, his wrists slashed deeply ten or twelve times.  No papers were found in his hotel room or in his car, though his housekeeper said he filled his briefcase with documents and took them with him when he left home.  The hotel room was cleaned and his body was embalmed before relatives were notified; authorities had assumed it was a suicide.

During the last week of his life, Danny had discovered a connection between a former director of international affairs for the Justice Department, the Cali Drug Cartel, and Robert Booth Nichols, an international intelligence operative whom he had been interviewing extensively for months.  Danny's last phone bills indicated he'd spent hundreds of hours on the phone with Nichols, most of the calls averaged one to two hours.  This in effect, was one tentacle of Danny’s Octopus.

Danny had confronted Nichols about the former DOJ director and the Cali Cartel while staying in Martinsburg.  It was the last conversation Danny ever had with Nichols, and with Bob Bickel, a friend whom Danny confided in.  Bickel subsequently confirmed the conversation, but for reasons unknown, the Cali Cartel connection was never published in any of the official investigative reports on Danny's death.  These included the DOJ report of September 27, 1994.

Nevertheless, Casolaro's tragic death opened a Pandora's Box which the DOJ was never able to close.  The former DOJ career official was ultimately indicted in June 1995 for money-laundering, drug conspiracy and racketeering in connection with the Cali Cartel.

The DOJ also found no relevance to the fact that a few days before his death, Casolaro had been warned by his source, Robert Booth Nichols (RBN), to drop that aspect of his investigation, but instead, Danny had called FBI Agent Thomas Gates in Los Angeles and related Nichols’ warning, explaining that Nichols had even flown to Martinsburg to convince Danny of the danger of his probe.  Danny also called Richard Stavin, head of the Los Angeles Organized Crime Strike Force, because both Gates and Stavin had investigated RBN’s affiliation with organized crime and the entertainment conglomerate, Music Corporation of America (MCA), in Hollywood.

The FBI wiretaps had recorded Robert Booth Nichols communicating with Eugene Giaquinto, then president of MCA Home Entertainment Division, and a self-professed life-long pal of John Gotti, boss of the Gambino crime family in New York City.  Giaquinto was also a board member on Nichols' holding company, Meridian International Logistics, under investigation by the FBI as a "source of funding for the purchasing of narcotics/controlled substances and the allocation and use of the proceeds from its trafficking," according to the wiretap application.

Gates and Stavin learned more than they anticipated through the wiretaps and soon found themselves on a collision course with the Justice Department when they plugged into the DOJ’s collusion with MCA, and MCA’s cozy accord with La Cosa Nostra figures from the Gambino organized crime family.

In the Fall of 2009, Richard Stavin and another former DOJ career prosecutor, Marvin Rudnick, gave interviews for The Last Circle in which they divulged the astounding proportions of the cover-up that took place within the DOJ when their respective organized crime investigations were immediately shut down and the wiretaps sealed.

Stavin first noted for the record, “I never believed for a moment that Danny Casolaro committed suicide. I spoke to him for about 45 minutes the week before [his death] and this was not a despondent man. The first question he asked me was whether he had to be concerned for his safety because he was going to meet RBN.”

Author Cheri Seymour had obtained copies of the FBI wiretap applications along with memorandums of the actual wiretaps, including FBI internal reports on Robert Booth Nichols.  One of the main reasons she had contacted Richard Stavin was to corroborate the following: (excerpted from The Last Circle, Chapter 22, entitled “The Octopus Exposed”)

“Mr. Stavin: Can you please confirm that the FBI wiretap revealed a conversation between Eugene Giaquinto [board member of MCA and Gambino associate] and Martin Bacow in which ‘Giaquinto told Bacow that he would call Edwin Meese and have the FBI’s investigation stopped.’ Stavin, replying to what is in the public record, confirmed it in an e-mail."  

The wiretap applications and affidavits submitted by Stavin and Gates evidenced a belief that Robert Booth Nichols was providing government information and printouts to Giaquinto, MCA and the Mob in Hollywood. Stavin had listened to almost every call made when the wiretaps were in effect, spent countless hours at the listening post alongside numerous agents who were assigned on a shift basis to monitor the wiretap. He said that he and Thomas Gates “were astounded by the comments Giaquinto made about Robert Booth Nichols as to what information he could get from the federal government.”

Giaquinto told Martin Bacow that the computer printouts being delivered to him by his “government man” contained indictments and other ongoing investigations as well as IRS cases.  Stavin remembered one incident in which RBN had been under surveillance and photographed exchanging materials with Eugene Giaquinto in a Hollywood parking lot outside the Le Dome restaurant on Sunset Boulevard.    

The intercepted conversations captured Giaquinto referring to Robert Booth Nichols as a “super sleuth” and other similar terms.  Martin Bacow had boasted to Giaquinto about his man in the LAPD-OCID (Los Angeles Police Department’s Organized Crime Intelligence Division), and Giaquinto boasted back about his “government man [RBN] being higher than the CIA.”

Marvin Rudnick commented that with Richard Stavin’s subsequent resignation from the DOJ, it proved that the DOJ was involved in a cover-up. “I knew they were under tremendous pressure from above,” he said.  In an e-mail to Stavin, Rudnick wrote: “I remember Bill Wagner telling me that your wiretaps included a call that went right into the White House …”

The wiretaps were so spectacularly successful that they were dismantled and the investigation was shut down when DOJ headquarters learned what they contained.  In effect, the FBI and prosecutors were ultimately obstructed and betrayed by the Justice system that they worked for.  However, unknown to the DOJ, all three of these honorable investigators had secretly and individually provided the wiretaps to an investigator for the House Judiciary Committee.  They were stored in the National Archives in Suitland, Maryland until 2001 when copies were provided to author Cheri Seymour and other individuals.

Seymour said when 15 first draft chapters of The Last Circle were placed on the Internet in 1996 by someone at Cornell University, she had no idea there was a last circle represented in Dante’s Inferno, but in retrospect it seems fitting, she reflected.  In 1306 A.D., Dante poeticized nine circles, the ninth being the last level before the final descent into Hell. “The last circle housed those souls who had been traitors to their country, their friends, and their Lords.”  This indeed was Danny Casolaro’s Octopus. The theme of the cover of The Last Circle book was predicated on this verse from Dante’s Inferno.

Self-Confessed Mafia Hit-Man Tells Media He Worked for the Government – DOJ Drops Prosecution of the Case in 2010.

Less than a week before his mysterious death, Washington D.C. journalist Danny Casolaro told friends he planned to travel to Indio, California to complete a book treatment entitled, “Behold A Pale Horse: A True Crime Narrative.”  

He then drove to Martinsburg, West Virginia and checked into room 517 at the Sheraton Inn on August 8, 1991.  Two days later, his body was found by a maid in a blood filled bathtub, his wrists slashed deeply ten or twelve times, and the documents and briefcase he brought with him were missing and never recovered.  The hotel room was cleaned and his body was embalmed before relatives were notified; authorities had assumed it was a suicide.

Casolaro’s untimely death created a domino effect in Washington D.C. obliging journalists from every major newspaper and magazine in D.C. to probe the substance of Danny’s research which he dubbed the “Octopus.”  Danny’s investigation began with the theft of the PROMIS software (Prosecutor’s Management Information System), a revolutionary new software program that was developed for the U.S. Department of Justice to upgrade their case management tracking system.

Danny worked closely with Bill Hamilton, owner of INSLAW Company and developer of the PROMIS software, to locate and identify those responsible for illegally modifying the software, installing a backdoor in the program, and then selling it worldwide.  The alleged purpose of the modification was to allow U.S. authorities to secretly monitor foreign intelligence operations and track overseas commercial and banking transactions.

INSLAW’s attorney, Elliott Richardson, a respected former U.S. Attorney General, obtained an affidavit from a scientist on March 21, 1991 claiming that the PROMIS software was modified at the sovereign Cabazon Indian Reservation in Indio where a Joint Venture was in effect between the Cabazons and Wackenhut Security Corporation to develop esoteric weaponry on the reservation.

What transpired in Indio, California during the time of the Cabazon/Wackenhut Joint Venture subsequently became the subject of investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice, the House Judiciary Committee on Inslaw, U.S. Customs, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, FBI and police agencies and media worldwide.

On September 27, 1994, the U.S. Department of Justice released a 187-page Report on INSLAW’s allegations; 62 pages of which were exclusively devoted to the death of Danny Casolaro.  On pages 166 - 167 of the DOJ report, it noted: “During forensic testing, the West Virginia State Police Crime Laboratory found a folded piece of paper inside Mr. Casolaro’s left shoe.  The shoe had been found in room 517, next to the bed --- the writing was Mr. Casolaro’s ---.”

The documents and briefcase that Casolaro took to Martinsburg were missing and never recovered, but the note hidden in his shoe contained an outline for a chapter of his book, “Behold a Pale Horse.”  The outline on the piece of paper read as follows:  “Chapter on 1980 – Terrorist underground, Afghanistan, Mideast, Iran – John Philip Nichols after arrival – Indian Reservation – Fred Alvarez – Paul Morasca – Philip Arthur Dempson [Thompson] – Fresno – Hercules, Bill Kilpatrick, The Big Tex, Ricono [Riconosciuto] – San Francisco – Finish up chapter w/Paul M. and Fred A./ord.”

There was no indication why Casolaro had put the piece of paper inside his shoe, but the last words on the note clearly revealed where his investigation had ended, i.e., “finish up chapter with Paul Morasca and Fred Alvarez.”

Fred Alvarez, 32, had been Vice-Chairman of the Cabazon Tribal Council prior to his execution-style murder and the murder of his friends, Ralph Boger and Patricia Castro on June 29, 1981 in Rancho Mirage, California.  Paul Morasca,31, had been appointed to manage the Cabazon Casino in Indio prior to his murder six months later, in San Francisco, on January 14, 1982. The seed money for the Cabazon Casino originally came from a Mafia member of the Gambino organized crime family, according to a San Francisco Chronicle article, “Tiny California Tribe’s Huge Clout,” dated September 4, 1991.     

The Morasca murder remained unsolved, but the Fred Alvarez triple-homicide cold case file was reactivated in late 2007 when Rachel Begley, the daughter of victim Ralph Boger, convinced the Riverside Sheriff’s department to re-open the case. Detective John Powers of the Central Homicide Unit - Cold Case Division, was assigned to the case.

On September 26, 2009, twenty-eight years after the murders, self-confessed Mafia hit-man James “Jimmy” Hughes, 52, was arrested as he boarded a plane destined for Honduras at Miami-Dade International Airport. Hughes had been employed as chief of security at the Cabazon Indian Reservation in 1981 and was now being charged with three counts of murder (with special circumstances) and one count of conspiracy.

Chapter 25 of The Last Circle book, entitled, “Rachel’s Resolution,” contains 49 absorbing pages about Jimmy Hughes’ involvement at the reservation, his escape to Honduras where he built a new life under the sponsorship of FGBMFI (Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship International), and behind-the scenes details of Rachel Begley’s and Detective John Powers’ two-year investigation that brought Jimmy Hughes to justice.

Patrick Healy, a T.V. reporter for NBC News, had interviewed Jimmy Hughes in 1985.  In the news clip, Hughes said the Alvarez homicide was an “ordered assassination,” adding that the hit was an “authorized, backed, government covert action.”

http://www.nbclosangeles.com/station/as-seen-on/Victim_s_Daughter_Decries_Dismissal_of_Murder_Charges_Los_Angeles.html

According to all accounts, Fred Alvarez had been murdered to stop him from exposing either to the Tribal Council or publicly, various illegal activities at the reservation, including but not limited to the skimming of profits off the top of the Cabazon gambling enterprises by the Cabazon Administrator and his staff.  

At a FGBMFI website: http://www.fgbmfivoice.com/stories/996hughes.htm in an article entitled, “A Hit Man With A New Mission,” Hughes inexplicably confessed his career as a Mafia hit-man before he found God:  (excerpt)

“After a six-year hitch in the military, I became a professional hit man for the Mafia. I collected money, hurt a lot of people and saw a lot of blood. I know what it’s like to cut the throat of a man, see a man die, or throw a man in the trunk of a car and take him to his death. I did many horrible things. I allowed myself to do whatever was necessary."

“One day I had a contract on a man. They had paid me a lot of money to kill this person. I travelled over many states, and walked into the man’s house one day, pulled out my pistol, and put a bullet in everybody’s head."

“There were many people there that day because he was having a party. As I stood there with the gun in my hand, I suddenly realized that all those people were dead. They had died instantly. I had been paid to kill one man, but had killed half a dozen people. The rest had just been in the wrong place at the wrong time --- “

The author of The Last Circle, Cheri Seymour, said she ended her investigative journey with the arrest and extradition of Jimmy Hughes because, after 18 years, she finally found a happy ending to her book.

Not so --- On July 1, 2010, nine months after Hughes’ arrest, and on the 29th anniversary of the date that the bodies of Alvarez, Boger and Castro were found, the state Deputy Attorney General got the case dismissed in Indio superior court, and Jimmy Hughes was set free that same day.

On July 2, the Desert Sun newspaper in Indio published an article titled, “Octopus Murders Case Dropped: Officials Refuse to Divulge New Evidence that Led to Dismissal,” in which Begley said that “she feared for the safety of herself and others” with Hughes’ release from jail.  The Attorney General’s office would not give interviews or comment on what “new evidence” had influenced them to drop the Jimmy Hughes case.  

Begley articulated a statement in court requesting a Preliminary Hearing so the court could determine the evidence in the case. (excerpt): “ --- Please be advised that the only request I am making for myself and on behalf of the family members of the other murder victims, is that the evidence against Mr. Hughes be presented in a court of law and that Mr. Hughes face his accusers here in the United States rather than hiding out in Honduras where he is untouchable.

“There must be a way, Your Honor, with the power and wisdom of this court, that you can find a way to protect the lives and rights of Hughes’ victims.  To Jimmy Hughes I say: I hope your short time in jail has given you time to truly repent. Be advised that even if the court and the Attorney General fail me today, I will never give up seeking truth and justice for my dad, Fred, and Patty.”

Read more about The Last Circle at:   http://www.ark-roundtable.com/book.html

Cheri Seymour has worked as an investigative reporter, newspaper editor, and private detective for two decades while pursuing a career as a non-fiction writer.

 
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