It was time to interview Robert Booth Nichols. I was communicating regularly with Ted Gunderson and one day, on an impulse, I asked him for Nichols's telephone number. Gunderson hesitated, then gave me the telephone number of a "relative" of Nichols' in Los Angeles, stating that he really couldn't give out Robert's home number without first consulting him.
I called the relative and left a message for Nichols to return my call. The call came back on December 31, 1991. There was an intriguing international flavor to Nichols' voice. The tone was hostile but polite, and inquiring. Essentially, Nichols wanted to know why I was communicating with Michael Riconosciuto?
I explained to him that I was writing a book on government sanctioned drug trafficking and Michael had information to offer on local corruption. During the conversation, which lasted about 45 minutes, Nichols admitted that he worked for FIDCO and used the code word "Wa Latteral" for the operation in Lebanon.
The following are some excerpts:
CM: "Do you know anything about Michael Riconosciuto in Lebanon?"
CM: "He [Michael] talked about an interesting operation in Lebanon."
Nichols: "What was it called, the operation? I've heard of quite a few projects in Lebanon. If I've heard of it, I'll tell you."
CM: "Well, what was the code name of the one that you heard about?"
Nichols: "Wa Latteral."
CM: "Wa Latteral? And what type of operation was that?"
Nichols: "Well, it was trading in two directions. Now what's yours?"
CM: "Same thing."
Nichols: "Wa Latteral? Yours is the same name?"
CM: "No. I've never heard that name before."
Nichols: "Well, what was the code word of the one Michael said he was involved in?"
CM: "I would have to go over all of my notes, to tell you the truth. It didn't seem important at the time, so I don't have it off the top of my head ..."
Nichols: "What the project was, I can tell you very clearly, there's nothing secret about it now, was to develop an agenda whereby all sides, the Muslim and the Christian sides, would come to an agreement on a redevelopment project to where their respective areas would have the same capitalization, and the same benefit to stop the fighting."
CM: "Did this include rebuilding of the infrastructure of Beirut?"
Nichols: "Very definitely."
CM: "Did this have anything to do with FIDCO?"
Nichols: "Uh, FIDCO was involved in it, right. That was an effort by that company, as I understood it ... the project was to make sure that both sides developed building programs that were initiated concurrently and the development was fair and equitable to all sides, to stop the fighting." (I wondered why an "arms dealer" wanted to stop the fighting in Lebanon?)
CM: "Was there ever any subsidiary of that corporation called Euramae?"
Nichols: "I never heard that name before."
CM: "Ted Gunderson gave me a huge manual on The Octopus ..."
Nichols: "In my opinion, to research anything of that magnitude you are looking at -- it would require a lot of money and a lot of travel and a lot of patience. I don't think Ted Gunderson knows anything, personally. He's domestic. It's not his area."
CM: "Did you operate a telex company with him during the Olympic Games?"
Nichols: "Absolutely not. A telex company. Absolutely not. Oh, jeez. Did you ask Ted Gunderson that?"
CM: "Well, no, I didn't ..."
Nichols: "Well, you can't be shy. You have to ask questions, or else how do you know?"
CM: "What did Danny Casolaro spend so much time on the phone with you for?"
Nichols: "Danny used to ask me different things. But Danny was more into the names in Paris and Switzerland and -- Danny was investigating the whole international situation. You have to spend a lot of money and do a lot of traveling. Danny had said to me that he had a whole agenda worked out, you know, where he was going to go and who he was going to see. And I mean it was literally a global trip ..."
Nichols said he believed Danny was murdered and did not commit suicide. He believed Danny's death had to do with the international scene, someone Danny had contacted overseas.
I asked him, "Do you suppose his death had anything to do with the Justice Department?"
Nichols answered, "I would say, `Time will tell. Time will tell.'"
I pressed Nichols about his civil suit against FBI agent Thomas Gates:
Nichols: "The activities that I've been involved with, I can tell you very clearly, an effort was made for many years to benefit a lot of people that were involved in the corporation. That effort was destroyed by certain moves [by agent Gates]. And it caused a great deal of hardship to myself and quite a few other people who are very angry about it. And we'll deal with that matter in court."
CM: "What was Gates investigating?"
Nichols said he wrote two stories for some Italian movie producers. "They were `sensitive' stories, about overseas. What I did, was I took two little, very brief parts of two stories to copyright in the United States. And so they're very diluted, but enough for the copyrights.
"That's when I met the guy from Universal [studios], because he wanted the stories. And the French wanted the stories ... in 1987, but the stories haven't changed, they're still pertinent."
Gates had overheard the "pertinent" parts on the wiretap and initiated an investigation. I made a mental note to try to convince Nichols at a later date to provide me with the manuscripts. But I didn't want to push him during our first conversation.
I later asked a friend in Washington D.C. to research Nichols' copyrights at the Library of Congress. There were indeed two stories copyrighted by Robert Booth Nichols under the pseudonym of R.N. LeDevoilier. Perhaps he was unaware that a cross-reference would reveal his true identity.
The 20-page manuscript entitled "Acceptable Casualty," essentially outlined gays and I.V. drug users as targets of bio-war by a cabal of military intelligence officers. In the story, a secret file, "C-911-Tuhnekaw," revealed the origin of the first AIDS infection. Field research dated November 12, 1977 originated from a Bay Area laboratory destroyed by fire in December 1975. Assorted bio-labs were mentioned, one in Palo Alto, California. The hero of the story obtained the secret cure from "the Chosen Ones" and escaped to Singapore with his family.
Interestingly, the names of those involved included "Yutaka Okimoto" and "Lawrence Zokosky," the last names of which match those listed on Nichols' "real life" corporation, Meridian International Logistics (MIL).
Nichols also copyrighted a 90-page James Bond type treatment entitled, "Decision of Conscience," which described state-of-the-art electromagnetic technology (launchers) used to demolish a two-story concrete building. I later found the words, "Decision of Conscience," written in Danny Casolaro's handwritten notes also.
Nichols' secret desire to write about his exploits in the CIA had led him to contact Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Assn. of America, through his (then) corporate partner Eugene Giaquinto. The three met at the Beverly Hills Hotel where Nichols attempted to sell Valenti manuscripts disclosing top secret CIA technology.
Nichols later said Valenti refused the manuscripts because they contained "classified national security information." (Valenti once served as assistant to President Lyndon B. Johnson).
During several phone conversations with reporter Jonathan Littman, I learned that he had communicated with Danny Casolaro on a regular basis prior to Danny's death. At the time, I wondered why Littman hadn't written a story on Danny, since he was one of the few reporters to have spoken extensively with him?
I would have that answer soon enough. My confidence in Littman nearly cost me my life. An incident which I am about to relate forced me to document the following events, which I titled, "Vortex," and subsequently turned over to John Cohen, investigator for the House Judiciary Committee on Inslaw. Cohen had strenuously advised me to send it to him as he feared for my life. "Vortex" was also the "affidavit" I supplied to the Customs Agent who interviewed me in February 1993.
During the course of our conversations, Littman had noted to me that he had a close relationship with Robert Booth Nichols, Peter Zokosky and Ben Kalka of The Company. Littman also verified to me that he was in fact, Kalka's cousin, but he (Littman) was a secretive, non-communicative individual and I didn't press him for explanations. Kalka was currently serving time in prison for possession of 900 pounds of methamphetamine.
Littman did, however, confide that Kalka hated Michael Riconosciuto because Riconosciuto was responsible for Kalka's imprisonment. I described how former Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Leighton appeared to have perjured himself at Michael's trial, and asked Littman's opinion of that. Littman stated simply that it didn't matter if Leighton had perjured himself, nothing should be done to get Michael out of jail. There should be no mistrial or acquittal or anything of that nature because Michael was probably guilty of the crime for which he was incarcerated. I didn't pursue the matter further at that point.
Meanwhile, Littman offered to arrange an interview with Robert Booth Nichols and Peter Zokosky for me. In exchange for this, he wanted me to arrange an interview with Tony Patterson and Raymond Lavas (Ted Gunderson's former forensics expert) through Bobby Riconosciuto. Tony Patterson had allegedly served with Robert Booth Nichols in Vietnam, and Raymond Lavas had access to Michael Riconosciuto's hidden computer tapes.
Both men were watching over Bobby Riconosciuto while Michael was in jail. I said I would do the best I could to arrange the interviews. Bobby was the only person communicating with these individuals and only she knew how to contact them. I never mentioned to Littman that I had been communicating with Robert Nichols on the phone. I can't say what my reasoning was at the time. Intuition, I suppose.
Bobby Riconosciuto reluctantly agreed to set up the interviews with Patterson and Lavas, though she pointed out that neither man trusted journalists. I naively assured her that Littman would be okay. It is noteworthy that Littman had been communicating with Bobby and Michael for several months prior to my introduction to them, yet, they didn't completely trust him at that stage of their relationship. When they learned of his relationship with Ben Kalka, they didn't trust him at all.
Elizabeth Riconosciuto's fifth birthday party was scheduled to be celebrated at the La Mirada Gateway Holiday Inn on February 14, 1992 at 11 a.m.. Reportedly, Patrick Moriarty and Marshall Riconosciuto had a financial interest in the hotel and they were paying the bills.
Littman and I decided that would be a good weekend to confidentially interview Robert Booth Nichols and Peter Zokosky in Los Angeles, and it would give Littman the opportunity to meet Bobby Riconosciuto face-to-face. We would also squeeze the Patterson/Lavas interviews in during that time.
Michael Riconosciuto was cooperative about allowing his wife to be interviewed by Littman because it would give the journalist a closeup view of Michael's "family" in action. Tom Olmstead, Michael's lawyer, was scheduled to attend the birthday party as was Patrick Moriarty and Marshall Riconosciuto. After the luncheon celebration, the children and those adults who wanted to tag along would go to Disneyland.
Michael Riconosciuto had dual motives for wanting Littman in attendance. Olmstead had been instructed to pressure Littman to reveal "who" had sent the incriminating 1983 "drug" transcript to the prosecuting attorney in Michael's trial - only Littman knew if it had been Ben Kalka or Littman himself. (Littman had obtained it originally from Peter Zokosky).
On Tuesday evening, February 11th, Littman confirmed a Thursday appointment with Robert Booth Nichols. However, he stressed that Nichols had insisted that the meeting be kept absolutely confidential. No one in media or Michael Riconosciuto's circle was to know of the interview.
I agreed, but explained that I had already mentioned briefly to Michael that I "planned" to interview Nichols at some future date. Michael had said he understood the importance of interviewing Nichols and he would cooperate. I even asked Michael to notify Tony Patterson and Raymond Lavas, via Bobby, that Littman and I would be interviewing them during our trip to Los Angeles.
Littman said that was alright, but I was to tell no one else associated with Michael. I noted to Jonathan that he might want to inform Nichols that I had already mentioned to Michael that I "intended" to interview Nichols at some time in the future. Littman said leave it at that. No problem.
Littman spent the night at my home in Mariposa on Wednesday night. The following morning, on February 13th at 7 a.m., we departed for Los Angeles. Strangely, at the last moment, Littman decided to follow us to Los Angeles in his own car. I rode intermittently with Littman, then with my husband, during the fivehour drive. At hour intervals, Littman pulled off the freeway to report to Nichols - and to a police officer in San Francisco whom he did not identify, but described as his "security."
At noon, we arrived at Nichols' Sherman Oaks apartment building. Littman punched in #68 and spoke briefly to Nichols, who buzzed the door open. At Nichols' apartment, #103, Littman pointed out the electronic security system on the front door, then at the last moment, instructed my husband to wait in the van. We owned a 1991 Chevrolet conversion, so he napped and watched television the rest of the afternoon. Towards the end of the fivehour meeting, Nichols invited him up for coffee and cake.
Peter Zokosky and his wife (former Mayor of Indio), Robert Booth Nichols and his wife, Ellen, were present inside the apartment. Littman had previously warned me that the apartment was electronically wired to detect any listening devices I might be wearing on my body. I said I had none.
Littman had also warned me that I would be seated on a couch next to a stuffed lion which had a tape recording device (bug) under its tail. Sure enough, when I entered the apartment, I was seated on a white couch near the lion. A giant anaconda skin hung stretched across the wall. European and African relics decorated the apartment. It was instantly obvious that Nichols and his wife didn't live in the apartment, it was a meeting place.
Nichols smoked cigarettes and as a result, kept the upstairs windows in the apartment open, allowing a cool February breeze to flow through the apartment. Nerves, and the cool air induced me to keep my light coat on during most of the interview. At first, Peter Zokosky, a friendly, congenial man, did most of the talking. As the conversation warmed up, Nichols entered intermittently, then took over completely.
A formal gourmet luncheon was served of curried soup, salmon and turkey finger sandwiches, wine and homemade strawberry cake. Ellen Nichols was the perfect hostess, but rarely said a word.
At one point during lunch, Nichols instructed Ellen to get the camera and snap a front and side picture of me, which she carried out silently. There was no explanation given for the picture. After lunch, Nichols often stood or sat at the open window while he talked and smoked. It was cold and rainy, and I wondered why he kept glancing down at my van. Littman frequently left the room to attend to something in the back of the apartment. I was unable to determine what he was doing, but noticed that he took no notes and never once joined in the conversation.
Nichols was aptly described in magazine articles as "Clark Gable without the ears." But his mannerisms were intense, simultaneously controlled and dramatic. I intuitively sensed the violence in him, but only through his eyes. He studied me intently as I spoke, making every effort to throw me off balance by continuously correcting me. He also would not speak while I wrote on my notepad, stopping mid-sentence each time I put pen to paper.
It worked in some cases, but I finally rallied. I was in HIS apartment, with women present, though they were busy in the kitchen, and my husband was parked outside the apartment. I was certainly in no physical danger, so I gathered myself and bluntly asked the questions I had driven 350 miles to ask.
Referring to the U.S. currency and gold transfers into Swiss bank accounts, Nichols admitted that he was contracted by the government to "handle" the 42 Cobra helicopters which Michael had said were stored in Europe, then shipped to Iraq via North Korea.
At first he would not say what he did with the helicopters, but then revealed the entire operation. John Vanderwerker at Intersect Corporation in Irvine, California, had been the CIA facilitator. It was a "classified" CIA operation, though Nichols would not give the name of the White House official behind it. I assumed it was Michael McManus, but didn't push it. Glenn Shockley had brought Nichols into the operation. At least I had verbal confirmation of the operation, and unknown to Nichols, I had the entire paper trail.
Regarding Danny Casolaro, Nichols and Zokosky both insisted that Danny had been "murdered." Danny's book research had progressed to a point where he was looking overseas for answers and Nichols had offered to direct him to certain connections that would have completed his investigation.
Nichols confirmed that he was privy to Danny's findings on a regular basis, but chose not to elaborate on the content of his last conversation with Danny.
I continued to press him for information on the "cause" of Danny's death; what had he discovered that caused him to be murdered? Nichols responded defiantly that he knew why Danny died, but he said "no journalist or investigator had done enough work to be deserving of that information yet."
It was not until the end of the meeting, when we had established a tentative rapport, that Nichols offered to take ME to Europe, as he had Danny, to find the answers to my investigation of the Octopus. But, he stressed it would be very expensive and I would be gone for several months. I remember the probing look on his face as he made the offer. I had nodded slowly, stating I would give it some thought. I wondered fleetingly if he was trying to recruit me into the CIA? Or create a new Manchurian Candidate?
Regarding the stolen PROMISE software, Nichols said he believed Michael Riconosciuto had been contracted by the government to "derail" Bill Hamilton at Inslaw. According to Nichols, Michael DID have the PROMIS software codes. Allegedly, Peter Zokosky's "brother" sold copies of the software to Israel. Zokosky nodded in agreement at that statement.
Nichols said Michael HAD to know he was going to be arrested for operating a meth lab, but he (Michael) thought the FBI would bail him out again. Someone named (Admiral) Al Renkin allegedly "covered Michael's drug act."
I never knew what that meant and didn't pursue it, as I wasn't there to learn about Michael Riconosciuto. While we were on the subject of drugs, I took the opportunity to question Nichols's involvement. I lead in by describing the drug situation in Mariposa county, adding that the entire country seemed to be economically dependent on the drug trade. Nichols nodded in full agreement, then noted that Europe's economy was completely dependent on drug money. Without drugs, banks and whole countries would collapse financially.
We moved into another area of discussion. Peter Viedenieks was an associate of Earl Brian, according to Nichols. Other names were tossed around such as Senator Terry Sanford, a family friend of Earl Brian. Sanford was Nichols' link with Earl Brian. And, noted Nichols, Viedenieks was associated with Earl Brian through Hadron Corporation.
Allegedly, all of these fellows had met at Nichols' "007" Playa Del Ray condo at one time or another, including Viedenieks.
It is noteworthy that at the time of this meeting, neither Nichols or I could have foreseen the importance of this information. The issue of Viedenieks' connection with Earl Brian or Terry Sanford, or even Nichols himself, had not been raised publicly yet. At the time, I didn't place any particular significance on Nichols' relationship with Earl Brian or Peter Viedenieks, I just took the information at face value and wrote it in my notes.
Nichols reacted violently when I asked him if he had any business dealings with Brunswick Corporation in New Jersey. He jumped up from his chair by the window and yelled, "Absolutely not!"
I quickly explained that I had looked up Sir Denis Kendall (the famous M16 World War II British officer) in "Who's Who in America" and learned that he had once been associated with Brunswick. Nichols said he did not know Sir Denis Kendall. His eyes told me otherwise.
I noted that was strange since Michael Riconosciuto seemed to know him well. Nichols and Zokosky exchanged glances. I further explained that Bobby Riconosciuto said she had been to Kendall's home on Doheny Drive in Beverly Hills with her children once. She had often called Kendall when she was trying to locate Michael, and within hours of calling Kendall, Michael always called her back. Nichols and Zokosky seemed disturbed by that statement.
I didn't mention that Riconoscituo had stated Kendall was Nichols' supervisor (CIA "handler"), or that J.M., Ted Gunderson's research partner, had found a brochure in Ted's files advertising for Swedish nurses at a medical research complex in Mexico. The brochure contained both Gunderson's picture and Sir Denis Kendall's.
I had obtained all of the documents pertaining to Nichols' current lawsuit against Thomas Gates of the Los Angeles FBI, his corporate activities and his weapons permits. Nichols had been investigated by Gates for allegedly turning over sensitive information to organized crime figures in America and the "Yakuza" crime syndicate in Japan.
Nichols' corporation, Meridian International Logistics, Inc. (MIL), the parent company to Meridian Arms, had filed a lawsuit against Gates for contacting Nichols' European and Japanese business associates.
As a result, not only were Nichols' weapons permits cancelled, but his associates were allegedly intimidated by the investigation, thus damaging Nichols' ability to transact business.
I was curious about how far Nichols would take the lawsuit, and exactly what the nature of the research was that MIL fronted to the Japanese. I started out by asking Nichols if he had provided a "grant" to a Japanese facility for biological research? Nichols said he had provided no grant to any Japanese facility and attempted to change the subject.
Nichols was not evasive, but aggressively direct when he did not want to discuss something. Michael Riconosciuto had once commented to me that the biological technology which Nichols was involved in was "Hitler's wet dream." According to Michael, who was uncharacteristically hesitant about discussing the subject, "biotechnology was the weapon of the future, making all other weaponry obsolete."
In Michael's files in the desert, I had retrieved a small cylindrical canister, about six inches in length, with a cap on it. The metal canister had not been marked, and instinctively, I had not opened it, but had placed it on a shelf in our empty guest house in Mariposa.
It was not until months later, after Michael learned I had copies of his documents, that I had asked him what the canister contained. Michael had become distraught, explaining that the canister contained genetic material in a hybridoma base, a military concept, only to be used for military applications. Michael had stolen the canister from a shipment at Wackenhut destined for King Fahd of Saudi Arabia and placed the sample in his files in the desert. (Proposals had also been underway with King Fahd to provide "security" for his palace).
His voice had been fraught with worry. He implored me to remove the canister from my property immediately, take it to a "class 4 facility" where it could be disposed of. I was absolutely NOT to open the canister as it contained lethal toxins.
Later, at the meeting with Robert Booth Nichols, I again wondered why arms dealers such as Peter Zokosky and Robert Nichols would be interested in genetic research? Five years earlier, Zokosky and Wackenhut Corporation had attempted to sell "biological warfare viruses" and vaccine kits to the U.S. government to be used against small countries bordering Albania or large countries bordering the Soviet Union.
I did not openly confront Nichols at his apartment about the above documents, but asked him if he had sold or facilitated the research of specific biotechnology to the Japanese? Nichols adamantly denied any involvement in any such research.
When I rephrased the question, and he realized I knew about the MIL agreements, he admitted that he had in fact facilitated the research of methodology and induction of cytotoxic TLymphocytes through "five offshore [out-of-country] research institutes." But, he added that the research was "classified" by the sponsoring governments and "secret" and he could not discuss it.
When I pressed for the names of the sponsoring governments, he clammed up. Had I known more about the technology at the time, I would have pointedly questioned him about the properties of the virus, but in retrospect, my ignorance opened doors that otherwise wouldn't have been opened.
I did, however, mention to Nichols and Zokosky that Michael Riconosciuto had allegedly worked on the same technology at Hercules Research in the early 1980's, reportedly using fish for incubation purposes.
Zokosky responded, embarking upon a lengthy discourse on the processes by which "they" had incubated the virus in cow uterises and udders in biolabs twenty floors beneath the ground. But Nichols interjected, discontinuing the narrative. It was obvious that both men were becoming agitated, so I dropped the subject for the time being.
Regarding Thomas Gates, Nichols expressed real anger and noted he would take the lawsuit against Gates as far as it would go. He said he didn't care if he was awarded any money (he was suing for $11 million), but he would ruin Tom Gates, no matter what it took.
A thought crossed my mind that he was about to say that he would kill him, but instead, he sat silently glaring, waiting. I asked him how much the lawsuit had cost him so far, and he said not a dime. Originally, Michael McManus had advised Nichols, but then the case was handled by John Rowell.
It was already apparent that Nichols was warming to the interview, in a disarming, contentious sort of way. We were reaching a common ground, a netherworld of danger and intrigue. The room became his stage, the people his audience. He never took his eyes from mine, making every effort to distract me from my notes.
Unquestionably, he was a "game" player. The more I entered the game, the better he liked it. It was a trade off, I gave him a little information, he gave me a little. But he gave as much as he took ...
I asked him about his relationship with MCA corporation. He said Eugene Giaquinto, President of MCA Home Entertainment Division, had resigned from his company, MIL, after the FBI investigation was underway.
But Giaquinto was a smart man, noted Nichols. He had learned much from the man. Giaquinto drove an older car, as did Nichols. They hid their assets, living modestly when in the U.S., keeping a low profile. The FBI would "prove" nothing, said Nichols. He added that MCA Corporation was "going broke," and the only division that was making a profit was the home entertainment division, which Giaquinto headed.
I recalled privately the conversation in which Michael Riconosciuto had told R.J. that MCA was currently facilitating the largest leveraging scam ever conceived of in this country. MCA was subsequently sold to the Japanese, but I had no idea what connection that had to the above referenced conversation.
Nichols continued to lead the conversation towards Riconosciuto. Nichols and Zokosky could not understand why Ted Gunderson testified for Michael at his trial in Washington state. At a previous dinner party at Nichols' apartment in Sherman Oaks, Ted reportedly told the two men that Michael had loaned him (Gunderson) $60,000 for a joint business venture. Ted still owed Michael the money.
It is noteworthy that Ted also supplied Robert Booth Nichols an affidavit for HIS lawsuit against Thomas Gates.
Ellen Nichols had mentioned during lunch that Michael often buried secret documents and equipment. Obviously, they were trying to learn what documents I had acquired. I had not uncovered any "buried" documents, but had obtained his private files from the trailer in the California desert. I did not reveal this to Nichols, assuming that Littman had kept my secret.
However, as the conversation progressed, I came to realize that Nichols did, indeed, know I had obtained Michael's files. One statement which Nichols said in the presence of Jonathan Littman surprised me. Littman continued to leave the room to attend to something in the back of the apartment. When he returned, I asked Nichols to repeat what he had just said. Nichols obliged by reiterating that "Michael Riconosciuto would kill me if he learned that I had obtained his private documents."
I asked him "why" he believed Michael would kill me over that? Nichols seemed to want confirmation of something I'd obtained, something specific, but wouldn't define what it was and I had no intention of revealing anything to him at that point.
He randomly discussed the (coroner's grand jury) affidavit in which Riconosciuto had accused Phillip Arthur Thompson of killing Paul Morasca (Michael's partner) in San Francisco. Thompson had worked for the FBI under the code name of "Jason" in some capacity which Nichols would not define.
But, according to Nichols, it was Riconosciuto who had tortured and killed Paul Morasca. Peter Zokosky corroborated Nichols' comment. Both men said the torture of Paul Morasca was Michael's "style" that Michael had discussed torture techniques of that nature to Nichols prior to Morasca's death.
They added that "Jason," Phillip Arthur Thompson, was not so creative in his killing style. Thompson had allegedly killed many people in his career, but he chose to use a gun and get the job done quickly. Nichols also said at lunch, with Ellen listening, that he knew who killed Mary Quick. Ellen rolled her eyes at her husband and beseeched him to change the subject. I asked Nichols to name the killer or at least give me a clue. Nichols said the killer of Mary Quick had been arrested and released. Obviously they were talking about "Jason," who HAD been arrested and released.
Nichols and Zokosky both agreed in a conversation between themselves that Michael Riconosciuto had caused the death of other people also. Nichols repeated at least three times to my face, with Zokosky and Littman nodding in agreement, that he believed Michael would kill me.
I privately wondered why Nichols was making such an issue of this? I would understand soon enough. Meanwhile, Nichols continued to press his point. He said Michael was a patient man and would wait as long as necessary to accomplish this. I did not respond, as I had become somewhat immuned to the threat by then.
Littman had made similar statements on the drive up to Sherman Oaks. I simply did not perceive Riconosciuto as a killer. Nevertheless, I asked Nichols how Michael would kill me if he was in jail? Nichols said it would be done by one of Michael's "drug flunkies." He said Riconosciuto HAD worked for the government, and had been "rescued" by the FBI for years. He added that Michael could get away with murder.
I was becoming unresponsive to the game, so I presume Nichols decided it was time to "set the hook." It was not until two years later that I understood the significance of this incident. At one point during our conversation, and completely out of context with what we were discussing, Nichols played a video tape of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The southern wall of Nichols' apartment contained a six-foot-wide screen on which I watched a blownup (enlarged), slow motion "uncut" version of the famous Zapruder film.
I watched what appeared to be the standard media version of the film, seen so many times in film clips over the years, but then Nichols slowed the camera even more, and on the sixfoot screen, I observed the driver of the limousine turn to his right, first looking at Connolly, then at Kennedy. The driver's left hand came over his right shoulder, and he was holding a long barreled gun. Smoke and a bullet emerged from the gun, traveling ever so slowly across the screen into Kennedy's head, blowing brain tissue into the air as he fell back against the seat.
Stunned, I watched Jacqueline Kennedy open her mouth in horror as she glanced at the driver, then try to climb over the back seat of the car.
Littman and Zokosky and I stared at the scene in silence, unable to believe what we were seeing. Nichols then changed the tape and showed what he described as the "media" version of the Zapruder tape. In the media version, the driver continued to drive, unflinching, as the shots rang out. Then the scene switched to the back part of the limousine.
At this point, Nichols stopped the frame and pointed with a stick at a tree in the background behind the limousine. From the middle of the tree to the ground, there was no trunk, just air. The top part of the tree was growing in air!
I demanded that my husband be allowed to see the film. I felt I must have been hypnotized. When he arrived, he viewed both films up close, in slow motion, and saw the same thing. Nichols played both tapes backwards and forwards as often as we demanded, until the memory of it was burned forever into our minds.
I wondered if the video had been tampered with. I asked Nichols where he had obtained the original "uncut" version? He would not say. I had no idea at that time that his F.I.D.C.O. partner, Clint Murchison, Jr.'s father had had instant access to the Zapruder film immediately after the assassination in Dallas, Texas.
Nichols studied me for the longest time, then walked over to the window and lit a cigarette. He finally commented that the CIA can cover up anything it wants, even a president's murder. He wanted to show me the power of the Octopus. "Nothing is as it appears to be," he said.
Somehow, that statement rang true. He then noted that he'd read my first book, the one I had sent him, then handed me a book entitled, "The Search for the Manchurian Candidate." He told me to read it, appraising me silently. Inwardly, I recalled a conversation with J.M., in which she related a conversation she'd had with Ted after a dinner engagement with Nichols. Nichols had reportedly stated to Ted that he headed a 200man assassination team. Jackie had been too frightened to elaborate on this conversation, but had pointed out that Nichols once worked in the MKUltra (Manchurian Candidate) program during the Vietnam war. This program was part of the "Phoenix Project." Interestingly, numerous publications had mentioned that Earl Brian had also participated in the Phoenix Project during the war.
Nichols' sister was allegedly a professional hypnotherapist, and Nichols himself was reportedly trained in the art of hypnotism. According to Riconosciuto, they all called themselves "The Chosen Ones," wore skull and crossbones rings, and shared a common interest, if you could call it that, in the old German SS occultism, its tribal and inner circle rites.
As I was preparing to leave, Nichols pointed his finger at me and reminded me of the agreement I had made with him through Littman. I asked him what agreement? He said the agreement that I would tell no one about this meeting. I again assured him that I would mention it to no one. He said I had better not or I would end up like the rest ...
When we finally left Nichols' apartment around five p.m., I told Littman I did not intend to accept any more collect calls from Michael Riconosciuto at the Tacoma jail. I might even wrap up the whole investigation at that point, because I had more than enough material for a story or a book.
Littman proceeded to issue a warning which I recorded in my notebook in the car. It read as follows: "Littman warned me today to watch out. No one gets out of this alive. No one walks. If I cut them off, it would be very dangerous." I was completely numb at that point, and unresponsive to any further threats. We agreed to meet at 11:00 a.m. at the La Mirada Gateway Holiday Inn in La Mirada the following day to attend Elizabeth Riconosciuto's birthday party. Tom Olmstead, Michael's lawyer, would be flying in for the meeting, Ted Gunderson and J.M. would be there, Patrick Moriarty would be picking up Olmstead at the airport, Raymond Lavas would be there and possibly the elusive Tony Patterson, if Bobby could arrange it. Also expected was Janice Wynogradsky, the Australian reporter who produced the news story for Australian T.V.
I was exhausted and looked forward to a restful evening, but first I drove to the nearest toy store and purchased some birthday presents for Elizabeth.
That evening, I mentally reviewed the day's events. Nichols and Littman were undoubtedly screwing with my head. The doctored Zapruder tape gave them deniability. The information I had obtained at the meeting may or may not have had value, but I knew one thing, the deaths surrounding Riconosciuto and Nichols were real enough.
Behind the smoke and mirrors labyrinth was a story, one they were working very hard to conceal. I felt sure the corporate and government connections were little more than "fronts" for large scale drug trafficking.
At 7:30 a.m. the following morning, Bobby Riconosciuto called the hotel where we were staying (the La Mirada Gateway Holiday Inn) and informed me that the luncheon meeting had been changed to a new location and Jonathan Littman was not going to be allowed to attend. I explained that I had not heard from Jonathan, did not know where he was staying, and could not get in touch with him to tell him about the change. Bobby and I argued about the inconvenience to Littman. I told her that Jonathan and I were not puppets to be manipulated by she or Michael. Bobby argued back that Olmstead had not shown up at the airport, Ted and J.M were having a tiff, and she did not trust Littman because of his relationship with Ben Kalka and Robert Booth Nichols.
She did not want her daughter's birthday turned into a "circus." I agreed with that aspect of the meeting, however, Bobby still had not arranged an interview with Raymond Lavas or Tony Patterson. Bobby argued that she did not think Lavas or Patterson would talk to Littman. I pleaded with her to arrange the appointments for Littman's sake, since he had driven from San Rafael for that purpose. I explained to her that it was important that Littman be present at the interviews with Lavas and Patterson because I was working on the Mariposa story with him and we had made an agreement.
Bobby asked me directly if I had interviewed Robert Booth Nichols? I said I had not. I felt it was really none of Bobby's business. I qualified that, however, by saying that I expected to interview Nichols at some time in the future. Bobby said she understood and would attempt to arrange the interviews with Lavas and Patterson for the following day, Sunday.
It is noteworthy that Littman wanted to interview Tony Patterson because Patterson "claimed" to have been in Vietnam (Phoenix/MK-Ultra) with both Earl Brian and Robert Booth Nichols. I doubted that. To my knowledge, Nichols had never served in the military.
Patterson had a rather provocative story to tell about Nichols. Allegedly, Nichols had smuggled several gold icons out of Vietnam into the U.S. He later killed the pilot so there would be no witnesses, and left Tony Patterson stranded in Vietnam to be captured and tortured by the Viet Cong. Nichol's activities in Vietnam also allegedly included drug trafficking for the CIA, which both Bobby and Michael Riconosciuto maintained was still operational today. THAT sounded closer to the truth.
Bobby called me back and instructed me to arrange a dinner meeting with Littman that evening (Saturday) and she would show up to be interviewed, then if Littman agreed to provide her with the name of the person who had sent the 1983 "drug" transcript to the prosecutor at Michael's trial, she would call Patterson and Lavas for interviews on the following day.
I was becoming stressed at that point. The whole weekend was spinning out of control and I was caught in the middle. I noted to Bobby that I would wait for Littman to show up at the La Mirada Gateway Holiday Inn and tell him the meeting had been changed to a new location, but that he was not invited. I would then give him the new meeting time 7:00 p.m. at the Belle Isles restaurant in Anaheim. Bobby agreed to that arrangement.
My husband and I waited until 11:30 a.m., but Littman never showed. He also never called to say he would be late. At 11:40 a.m., I left a message for Littman at the front desk apologizing for the sudden change in plans, and said we would meet him at the Belle Isles at 7:00 p.m..
Bobby had changed the luncheon to the hotel where she was staying with her children in order to be able to sign the tab on Patrick Moriarty's bill. Janice Wynogradsky was present, along with Ted Gunderson, J.M. and her two children. Neither Olmstead, Moriarty nor Marshall Riconosciuto showed up at the birthday party. Elizabeth opened her presents, we ate lunch and cake and caravanned over to Disneyland. We had a good time with the kids until six p.m.
At 6:30 p.m., Ted, J.M., Bobby and all the children returned to Bobby's hotel suite. I drove directly to Belle Isles. At 7:00 p.m., neither Bobby nor Littman had appeared for dinner. It turned out that Littman had left a message at the restaurant that he was sorry he missed us at the La Mirada hotel, but there was no mention of whether he would be joining us for dinner or not.
I called Sheri Littman, his wife, and she said Jonathan was on his way home. She did not know why.
Bobby Riconosciuto sat with Ted Gunderson and J.M. in her hotel suite and ate pizza. When I called her, she said Ted had detained her at the hotel, she couldn't get away. My husband and I finished our dinner and drove to San Diego to see my mother.
I never spoke to Bobby or Michael Riconosciuto again until one week later when I learned Bobby had requested the return of Michael's eight boxes of documents. My husband had dropped me off at my mother's home and returned to Mariposa. For days he had been receiving urgent messages from Bobby requesting that I call her. He simply told her that I was tired and needed a rest.
Michael Riconosciuto called and asked him if we had interviewed Robert Booth Nichols? My husband said, "No."
When I returned home, I called Bobby and learned that Littman had told Michael Riconosciuto all about the meeting with Robert Booth Nichols. Bobby wanted to know why I had lied to her about the Nichols meeting? She explained that Littman had also told Michael that he had dug through Michael's private documents at my home which I had obtained from Michael's secret trailer in the desert. Bobby had never told Michael about this because Michael had instructed her to stay away from the trailer.
I told Bobby that I did not believe Littman would do such a thing. I added that if I HAD interviewed Nichols, and he requested confidentiality, I would keep my word to him. There was no reason to discuss such an interview with Bobby or Michael. Bobby accepted that.
However, to convince me that Littman had in fact told Michael about the contents of the meeting, she recounted that Michael had told her that the meeting took place on Thursday, it lasted five hours, and I would not take my coat off during the entire meeting, which allegedly made Nichols nervous.
Bobby also stated that I had been seated in a location where I could be scanned for electronic devices, and since I was not "bugged," Nichols could not understand why I didn't take my coat off.
I immediately hung up from Bobby and called Littman. There was no answer at his home, so I called Robert Booth Nichols. Upon answering the phone, Nichols immediately accused me of "breaking my word to him." There was a sinister edge to his voice. I explained to him that, to date, I had not spoken to Michael Riconosciuto since two days prior to the Sherman Oaks meeting on February 13th.
Nichols countered that Littman had called him and told him that "I" had immediately reported to Michael the entire contents of the meeting, because Michael knew all about it. His tone was accusing, attentive, but devoid of anger. Then silence, waiting. I was indeed caught in the tentacles of the Octopus, and I felt the weight of it at that moment.
I told Nichols that I would have Bobby Riconosciuto call him and repeat what she had said to me, that Littman had betrayed both Nichols and myself.
Nichols laughed. "Why should I believe anything Bobby says? I don't want to talk to her, and I don't want her to have my telephone number. Did you tell her where we met?" His voice was deeper, throatier, and I felt like a fool. Why should he believe her? I was grasping at straws and I had no answers. Why would Littman betray me, with so much at stake?
I said I would get to the bottom of this and let him know the results. Nichols said he was leaving for Australia the next day, would not be back for three months. (He had said the same words to Bill Hamilton when he was searching for Danny Casolaro on August 5th).
Nichols said he was VERY interested in hearing the results. "For my sake." He added that I should keep Peter Zokosky apprised of the results of my inquiry, then he hung up.
I called Jonathan Littman and asked him, "What's going on?" His voice was withdrawn, cautious. "I don't know. What is going on?" I decided to tape-record the conversation. My life was in danger as a result of Littman's actions, and I needed a lifeline to save it.
I explained that I had been in San Diego visiting my mother, and when I returned, Bobby Riconosciuto related the details of my interview with Nichols. "She said YOU told Michael everything."
Littman said, "Michael knew the truth."
"I haven't talked to Michael since before the interview with Nichols! How did he know about it?"
Littman's voice took on a slow, malignant tone. "What I'm saying is, you told him beforehand, and you can't play games with people like Michael."
I was astonished. And somewhat flustered. But I wanted to give him every opportunity to explain himself. "No. No. Something has happened. Something's wrong. Bobby just told me that YOU told Michael all about the meeting. And I told her I didn't believe that. I told her I DIDN'T have an interview with Robert Booth Nichols ..."
Littman quickly responded, "You shouldn't lie to Michael ..."
I thought to myself, why should I have to report who I interview to Michael or Bobby? It was none of their business. But instead, I said, "Bobby told me she knew I interviewed Robert Booth Nichols on Thursday, for five hours, and I wore my coat through the entire meeting. And she said, `That made Nichols paranoid.' Now, how in the hell could she have known that?" Littman answered in an eery, robotic voice, "I want to tell you something ..."
I interrupted, " ... And how did she know that I allowed you to look at Michael's documents, Jon?"
Littman began again, "She didn't. She only knows you have them ..."
Littman was being evasive, outright lying. I was becoming increasingly frustrated. I hated being reduced to that level of conversation. But so much depended on it. "John, Bobby said Michael called her. Michael NEVER knew I had those boxes until YOU told him. Bobby said YOU revealed to him that you had seen the documents, seen the diary, seen everything."
I had withheld portions of the diary from Littman, amongst other things. I couldn't understand why he would have alarmed Michael about the diary, or lied about having it. Michael had risked his life at Wackenhut to obtain the only copy, broken into Dr. John Nichols' office to retreive it, and fled to Washington state to begin a new life. He had thought it was secure in the desert. Now I had it. And Michael knew Bobby and I had kept the secret from him. And Littman had betrayed us both.
I continued ... "How would Michael have known that I didn't take my coat off in the meeting with Nichols? Nobody knew that except you, Jon."
Littman stayed cool as ice. "Let me get one thing straight with you. I gave you the conditions under which you were to meet with Nichols ..."
" ... And you betrayed those conditions by telling Michael that we were going to interview Nichols. And that put all of us in an awkward position ..."
I was astonished at how twisted the whole situation had become. I stammered, "Jonathan, I didn't know I HAD an appointment with Nichols at the time I told Michael that. I simply told him I PLANNED to interview him at sometime in the future. I haven't spoken with Michael since the interview with Nichols? But YOU have ..."
Littman continued his train of thought, disregarding what I had said. "Once you told Michael you planned to interview Nichols, then you had to tell him everything. You had to tell the truth."
I asked pointedly, "Did YOU tell him the truth?"
Perversely, he confessed, "I told him the truth exactly. Because he knew we'd been there. And I'm not going to lie to Michael. He knew we'd been there ..."
I interjected, "But you gave your word to Robert Booth Nichols that you would never divulge the contents of the meeting to anyone. How could you do that?"
Littman attempted to change the subject, to put me on the defensive. "YOU are now the fly in the spider's trap ... You gotta be staight with all these people. With Michael, with Zokosky, with Nichols, these people can figure these things out. They're not dumb people."
"John, I've been straight with all of them. Every one of them. I have never betrayed any of them, other than to provide you, as a journalist, with some documents you requested ..."
He interrupted me, still speaking meticulously, ever so slowly. "You cannot fool people like Michael and Bobby and Ted Gunderson. Michael knew the meeting was going to take place. And it's not a good idea to go back and tell him a story that something didn't happen when it did happen."
There was a monotonous singsong to his voice. He sounded like a tape recording. I was incredulous. Why was I defending myself to this man? I tried once again. "Michael doesn't control my life. I didn't tell him the meeting never took place. I NEVER SPOKE TO MICHAEL AFTER THE MEETING WITH NICHOLS! I didn't lie to him because I haven't spoken with him. I was in San Diego. I still haven't spoken to Michael. Why can't you understand that?" "Well, you're in the middle of it, because you're involved with Bobby and ..."
" ... Well, I'm not. That's the point, I'm not. It's a dangerous game and I want no part of it. I made that very clear with Bobby today when I spoke with her, which is the first time I've spoken with her since the meeting in Sherman Oaks."
" ... You told Michael that you were going to have a meeting with ..."
I was determined to get a confession from Littman. My life might depend on it. "Jonathan! Jonathan! You stood in that room with Robert Booth Nichols, and you heard him say aloud in front of both us, that if Michael ever found out what I have [the documents], he would kill me. I would be dead. Do you remember when he said that?"
" ... Yet you told Michael you had come to my home and seen his documents from the desert? Why?"
Littman repeated over and over the same words. "You lied to Michael. That was very stupid ..."
I wondered if he was intoxicated. I cut in, "You set me up. You called Nichols immediately after YOU told Michael about the meeting. Then you called Nichols and told him that "I" told Michael about the meeting. Now, Nichols just told me that today. Why did you do that, Jonathan?"
Jonathan did not deny setting me up, but stammered lamely, "I ... I did not appreciate your phone call to Nichols earlier today. You have placed me in an awkward position with Zokosky and Nichols ..."
So, Nichols had informed Littman of my phone call! Had he accused Littman of betraying him to Michael? I would probably never know the answer to that. I responded, "I called Nichols and asked him what was going on? How in the world could this have come about? I told Nichols what Bobby had said."
Littman was outraged that I had called Nichols and conveyed what Bobby had said. He was also outraged that Bobby had called me and confronted me about the Nichols meeting. Obviously THIS had not been in the scheme of things. Littman had obviously NOT expected Bobby to confront me.
After the Los Angeles fiasco, I had been fed up with her treatment of Littman and was cooling off in San Diego for a week. I had told Littman that I wouldn't be speaking with either Bobby or Michael again. Littman had underestimated Bobby's determination to speak to me, and my assertiveness in calling Nichols. His plan had backfired. Perhaps he had expected me to be dead before I had an opportunity to talk to anyone?
I was immediately alarmed about the synopsis and backup documents I had turned over to Littman on the Mariposa drug lab. It had included the names of the Indians who had confided in me. We had planned to do a story together for the San Francisco Chronicle.
"John, can I ask you one more question? Did you ever send the Mariposa information to the Chronicle?"
He answered curtly, "No."
"You asked me to send it to you. Why didn't you send it to the Chronicle? Why did you even ask for it?"
Jonathan hissed at me. "You lied to Riconosciuto's wife, or your husband did [regarding the Nichols meeting], and as a consequence of that, you're in hot water. I warned you about this whole thing ..."
"I'm in hot water because YOU betrayed me to Michael," I countered.
Again he repeated, "I told him EXACTLY what happened. You're a fool, and you better start getting smart ... I think you should think twice about continuing with this ..."
The Indians who had turned in the drug lab were at risk. Jonathan had their names, including detailed information on two deputies implicated in growing marijuana and distributing methamphetamine on the Indian reservation in Mariposa. I wanted my paperwork back.
"Jonathan, there's something I need to know right now. This is important. You have information on Mariposa ..."
Jonathan hung up. I paced the floor of my office for a moment, then called him back. He didn't answer, but I knew he was standing by the phone while I talked into his answering machine. I informed him that I intended to document everything that had transpired at the Nichols meeting, including his betrayal of me to both Nichols and Riconosciuto, and that he had attempted to set me up to be killed by one or both of these men.
I said I was taking the report to the nearest U.S. Attorney and sending a copy to his editor at the San Francisco Chronicle. And, I wanted my Mariposa paperwork returned.
I then called Robert Booth Nichols, but there was no answer at his home, so I called Peter Zokosky. Zokosky, as always, was friendly and congenial, and confirmed that Nichols was very interested in the results of my inquiry. I recounted the conversation I'd had with Littman, in which he had confessed his betrayal, and offered proof of the conversation.
Zokosky said that would be fine and he would pass the information along to Nichols. On Sunday, February 23rd, I again talked to Bobby Riconosciuto. We again discussed what Littman had done and why he had attempted to convince Nichols that I had betrayed him [Nichols] to Riconosciuto.
Bobby and I both acknowledged that Michael had knowledge of Nichols' government and drug activities over a twentyyear time span. Unquestionably, Nichols wanted to discredit Michael in any way he could ... or deter anyone from obtaining Michael's information.
Suddenly, Bobby said she believed I was being "set up for a hit." I said I thought Michael was being set up with Robert Booth Nichols.
Someone, whoever was controlling Littman, was trying to create friction between Michael and Nichols, and attempting to use me to do it. My friendship with Bobby had unexpectedly thrown a monkeywrench into their plans.
Bobby confided that Michael had taperecorded the conversation in which Littman had reported the contents of the Nichols meeting. Michael had called a "friend," and had the friend patch Michael through to Littman. The conversation had then been monitored and tape recorded by the third party (obviously Ted Gunderson who performed this functon often). Bobby agreed to send me a copy of the taperecording.
I asked her why Littman would try to turn both Nichols and Michael against me. Professional jealousy? Bobby said, "No, the same thing happened to Danny Casolaro."
Littman had been talking to Danny Casolaro regularly, as well as Nichols and Riconosciuto at the time of Danny's death. Yet, Littman had never written a single word about Danny -- or Robert Booth Nichols!!
We both agreed that someone was being set up, but Bobby insisted that it was me. She said she needed to check something out and she would call me back. Shortly thereafter, Bobby called back and breathlessly stated she had confirmed that I was about to die. She would not say who she had talked to, but intuitively, I felt it was Ted Gunderson.
Bobby said if I died, Michael would be held responsible. I had received collect calls daily from him for three months, then cut off all communication with him after meeting with Nichols. I had obtained ALL of Michael's documents in the desert without his knowledge, until recently. I held in my possession the bank cards which Paul Morasca and Mary Quick had died for.
It was a perfect set up, noted Bobby. Everyone, including my own husband, would believe Michael had contracted my death. Inwardly, I recalled the numerous statements by Nichols and Littman and Zokosky that "Michael would kill me."
Undoubtedly, they had expected me to repeat those statements to others, perhaps other reporters, or friends, or relatives. Who, in turn, would have repeated it to the police "after my death."
In fact, I hadn't repeated it to anyone, but it WAS scattered throughout my notes. Bobby advised me to get out of the house immediately, then call the FBI, the U.S. Attorney, the police or anyone else I could think of immediately. "They're going to kill you, if you don't RUN!," she yelled.
She said she was going to hang up, and when she called back, she didn't want me to be in the house. I became somewhat alarmed because of the various deaths surrounding Michael Riconosciuto. Regardless whether anyone believed him or not, the deaths were NOT make-believe. To name just a few: Mary Quick; Paul Morasca, Michael's former partner; Michael May who had visited Riconosciuto in jail two weeks before his death; Dennis Eismann, a lawyer Michael tried to hire; and of course, Danny Casolaro who had been introduced to the Octopus through Michael Riconosciuto. There were others with less direct connections.
Just three months after Danny's death, I had been approached by Riconosciuto, and the game of Dungeons and Dragons had begun again, this time with a new player. It seemed as if Nichols and Michael and Ted, and others, played a real life game, and when one of the players got "accidented" or "suicided" (as Ted called it), they simply recruited new players. Oddly, Michael had once said that anyone could leave "the game" by simply dropping out while they were still alive. Once it was known they had dropped out, they were left alone - if they kept their mouths shut.
Michael had used journalists to gather information he needed to stay abreast of the game. It was a subtle form of blackmail he used on Nichols and Ted and, indeed, the government whom he had worked for. I had once asked him why "they" didn't just kill him. He had answered that they didn't want to kill him. They wanted his technology. The FMC deal was, in fact, still on hold. The deaths around him were "punishment" for his indiscretions, and to keep a lid on their biological warfare, hightech weaponry, and large scale heroin and cocaine operations worldwide. But who would believe it all? There were hundreds of dead end gopher trails ... dried up corporations, discredited witnesses, dead bodies. Nichols had said only days before, in Littman's presence, that my death would be brought about by one of Michael's "drug flunkies." Who would believe otherwise?
Littman had seemed adamant, even outraged, that I HADN'T reported the contents of the Nichols meeting to Riconosciuto. Why? When it was Littman who originally warned me not to? When I didn't, Littman reported it himself.
Somehow, the success of the scheme had hinged upon Riconosciuto having knowledge of the meeting. I had unexpectedly kept my word to Nichols. Of course I had. My life depended on it. And, why had Nichols made a point of showing me the Zapruder film? What possible significance could that have on my investigation?
(Two years later, after speaking with Dick Russell, author of "The Man Who Knew Too Much," a 17year investigation of the Kennedy assassination, and Garby Leon at Silver Pictures, we theorized that the film had been shown to provide Nichols with "deniability." If I had mentioned the showing of the film to anyone in media, and placed any credibility on it, it would have invalidated everything else that took place at that meeting.)
The phone rang again, and it was Bobby Riconosciuto. She was even more agitated than before - and furious that I was still in the house. I assured her that I was leaving and hung up. I called Ray Jenkins and Roger Imbrogno and asked them to come to my home in Mariposa. Ray was a former Chief of Police of Merced College and a good friend. His companion, Roger, was in the State Guard with him. They arrived 45 minutes later carrying military rifles and a bulletproof vest.
I sat at my computer and documented the whole event, entitled, "Vortex." It was a 17page diary of sorts which began as follows: "The following is a detailed account of an investigation which I began on December 1, 1991 and continue to work on intermittently as time allows. In all my years as an investigator and journalist, I have never encountered anything as bizarre or as alarming as this story. The purpose of this diary is to document these occurrences for my own safety ..."
I did not send the report to the U.S. Attorney as I had threatened to do. Nor did I send it to Littman's editor, Michael Yamamoto, at the San Francisco Chronicle, though I should have. I simply kept it and sent a copy to R.J., where I'm sure it disappeared, as always, down the big, black hole.
At that point in time, my sense of reality was diminishing. I couldn't tell if I was overreacting to Bobby Riconosciuto's warning, or if my lack of experience might cause my death by staying at home. Ultimately, I decided to disappear for a while.
I drove to Fresno to stay with a friend, who subsequently accompanied me to Galveston, Texas where we stayed with her mother for three months. Walking the beaches of Galveston, I found some measure of balance within myself, and returned home in June, rested and ready to resume my life. For several months after that, I had no contact with any of the principles in my investigation until October, 1992.
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