Sunday, August 21, 2011

Why Roy Cohn Hated Bobby Kennedy

Life magazine said in its Oct. 3, 1963 issue: "Roy Cohn sits in a chemical complex of dupes and jugglers--all involved in the United Dye Co. conspiracy and the government's indictment of Cohn."
Somewhere in this chemical complex sits Roy Cohn.

The previous blog entry here included an excerpt of an excellent copyrighted research from DUCK KEY ONLINE about early development of Duck Key (on an island chain extending up from Key West) relative to an FBI investigation concerning whether Roy Cohn owned a residence there in his own name. As one of the included exhibits at the Duck Key website reveals, Roy Cohn was a co-defendant in a bribery case brought against him in New York with fellow Assistant U.S. Attorney Morton Robson, who had been previously associated with an assortment of questionable prosecutions, including one against Adam Clayton Powell. In a case arising 56 years after initially being admitted to practice law (a case involving German financier Guido Bensberg), Robson would eventually be disbarred.

Robson's name also appeared in FBI files--with an identification number following it (58-1232), which in other FBI files is simply designated "New York"--connected to New York Bureau information sent to J. Edgar Hoover in Washington, D.C. It appears to indicate that a copy of such investigative information was also sent to the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York, where Morton Robson and Roy Cohn had been employed as attorneys by U.S. Attorney Frank Hogan before Morgenthau's appointment in 1961 by Kennedy.

The bribery case brought against the two attorneys concerned United Dye & Chemical, then controlled by one Lowell MacAfee Birrell. A 1958 report from "Legat, Havana" (short for Legal Attache, or the FBI agent in an embassy abroad) to Director Hoover identified Birrell as follows:
In the past LOWELL M. BIRRELL has been associated with the Oriental Park Race Track outside of Havana. An article appeared in the "Times of Havana", an English language newspaper in Havana on March 4, 1958 reporting that BIRRELL had been ordered to pay a $3,256,639 judgment to the Dynamics Corporation of America for "frauds committed on the corporation by BIRRELL." This article indicated that Federal Judge SYLVESTER J. RYAN had filed the default judgment against BIRRELL following an inquest hearing in New York City....
Extra copies of this letter have been prepared for forwarding by the Bureau to New York (3) Miami (3) and Salt Lake City (2). Additional copies have been prepared in view of the references made to MEYER LANSKY and SANTO TRAFFICANTE in order that copies may be placed in those files.
More than a year after this report, the following item appeared in the news:

 THE POST-STANDARD, Syracuse, N. Y., Wednesday, August 26, 1959
Jurors Indict
Mystery Men
In Stock Gyp
NEW YORK. (AP) — A grand jury linked two alleged master stock swindlers in a single indictment Tuesday, charging mystery-man Alexander F. Guterma [sic] and fugitive Lowell M. Birrell with conspiracy in stock market dealings. The federal grand jury indictment accused the two once-fabulously wealthy financiers with conspiring to violate the securities exchange act by filing false and misleading reports on dealings in the United Dye Chemical Corp.
Also named in the indictment were the chemical company and Virgil D. Dardi. Dardi is now president of Chem Oil Co., successor to United Dye and Chemical, of which Guterma and Birrell were once officers and directors. Others named were Robert C. Leonhardt, former head of a Wall Street brokerage firm; Louis Levin, a Quebec attorney; Pierre A. DuVal, a publisher of brochures [weekly bulletin put out by DuVal's Consensus, Inc.]; and Harry W. Bank, described as a Wall Street "finder" or promoter [one-time promoter of Omega Equities Corp. of Los Angeles]. Guterma is free on bail now with several other charges hanging over him, all involving alleged stock manipulations to swindle other firms he once controlled. They include the Bon-Ami Co. and the F.L. Jacobs Co., a huge holding company through which Guterma acquired control of businesses ranging from lace to the Mutual Broadcasting Co.
Birrell, having fled to Brazil with a false Canadian passport, revealed his opinion of the prosecution against him to Time magazine which tracked him down in Rio in July 1959 after Brazilian police had pursued the passport violation. According to Time:
New York District Attorney James V. Hallisey flew to Rio to test whether Lowell Birrell would come back willingly to stand trial. If Birrell has a change of heart, the Brazilian government, despite the lack of an extradition treaty with the U.S., can probably find ample cause to put him on a New York-bound plane.
Perhaps someone got to the Brazilian government because several months later Birrell was still "living it up in Rio," as Time reported in its November 16, 1959 edition:
Expatriate Nostalgia. With more vodka came wistful recollections of Birrell's fieldstone showplace in fashionable New Hope, Pa., where he once kept a shiny, vintage fire engine, and reportedly entertained such celebrities as his friend the master swindler Serge Rubinstein, and some of Mickey Jelke's choicer, $100-a-night call girls. "I always took a big interest in the volunteer fire department in New Hope," said Old Fire Buff Birrell. "Volunteer firemen are a great thing in rural America." He also liked the autumn hunting. But "my house and nine-acre farm are in litigation now. They took it from me; nobody will get anything except the lawyers." [Minot Jelke's story was told in a movie, "Cafe Society," available on DVD.]

Life Magazine would do a profile on Roy Cohn some years after he wriggled out of Morgenthau's grasp. It showed his closeness to Lewis Rosenstiel of Schenley Distributing Company, another friend of J. Edgar Hoover's who was also mentioned in the Torbitt Document.

Looking back to the 1960's following the 2008 debacle of Wall Street, we can only wonder how all those stock manipulations of the past were brought to light when so much of what the same type of manipulators do today remains hidden until they bring down their house of cards, usually on our heads. They have always loved good times and the "high life".

In 1963 Roy Cohn was 36 years old, ten years removed from the high-flying days when he and Bobby Kennedy sat on Joe McCarthy's Communist-hunting committee in the U.S. Senate. The conspiracy of which Cohn was eventually accused allegedly occurred in 1959 when he entered into an "illicit scheme" to distract a grand jury from indicting the men shown in the cartoon at the top of this blog. Cohn's actions taken on behalf of the conspiracy were said to have been committed between June 1962 and May 1963, covering up the actual stock maneuvers of the other conspirators.

Cohn's foremost defense was "Vendetta!" in which another conspiracy of sorts was to blame--Prosecutor Robert Morgenthau and his superiors, including the Real No.-1 Enemy, then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. As relayed by the Life journalist, the events were traced back to 1955 when Lowell Birrell, a "brilliant student of the University of Michigan Law School, clubman and son of Presbyterian minister, held control of United Dye, a 164-year-old firm..." The public corporation listed on the NYSE had been destroyed by 1955. According to Life, "Birrell had already looted the company's treasury of some $2 million and picked its bones; now he was eager to dispose of the corpse." (page 26)

Roy's father, Albert Cohn, a local judge in New York and a "power" in the Democratic Party, and his mother, the former Dora Marcus, were pictured but not named in the 1963 Life article. Cohn met his fellow conspirators in 1957, though no proof was asserted in the case he even knew Birrell:
Cohn's co-investor in the Sunrise in Las Vegas was Allard Roen, manager of Desert Inn and Stardust casinos. (p.27)
Allard Roen had been a mere protege of oilman Sam Garfield before bringing him into the Las Vegas scene as a shareholder in a private hospital which in some minds linked him, through Roen into enterprises controlled by Purple Gang mobster Moe Dalitz, who had been investigated by Senator Estes Kefauver. Roen was, in turn, tied in up to his neck in United Dye with other stock manipulators engaged in a pump and dump scheme to foist the corporation onto the unwary public after "picking its bones," as Life writers had so colorfully described their blood-thirsty intentions. How all the players were brought into, and used by the perpetrators of, the scheme is deftly shown on page 29 of the Life article cited in the above link, though it takes some study to fully grasp all the intricate maneuvers. It takes even more head-scratching to see how the role of the former U.S. Attorney Morton S. Robson fits into the caper.

What made Roy Cohn's entry into the manipulations possible was his strangely-unknown relationship to the Marcuses and Cowens -- his mother's family -- who controlled the Lionel Corporation.
Keep in mind that this explosive issue of Life appeared at newsstands on October 3, 1963 and would be followed on November 22, 1963 by another exposé about the Quorum Club, and how Bedford and Angus Wynne of Dallas were involved in what Life called the "Bobby Baker Set" in the Q Club. Life was certainly ruffling some powerful feathers that fall.

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