Thursday, May 16, 2013

Helliwell's First Employer in Tampa

We will recall from a prior post that CIA paymaster Paul Helliwell in his youth was listed as the manager of a liquor distribution company in 1934, the same year Prohibition ended. The treasurer of this enterprise was a Tampa attorney, Cody Fowler, who had arrived from Oklahoma some 12 years earlier.

Cuban Rum, Inc.'s Cody Fowler
Pettingill fired by Pres. T. Roosevelt

Employed by Cuban Rum, Inc. as Secretary and Manager, attorney Cody Fowler, whose mother was a real estate developer who came to Tampa from Jacksonville, was the treasurer for Cuban Rum, Inc. The address for the rum distributor was in the Citizens Bank Building, 706 Franklin in Tampa, coincidentally, where Fowler’s law office (MacFarlane, Pettingill, MacFarlane) was then housed in room 921. The building was torn down in 1978, the same year Cody Fowler died.

One of that firm's senior partners, Noah Brooks Kent Pettingill, came from a family which first moved to Tampa in 1884. He had been appointed Law Judge of the United States Provisional Court for the military district in Puerto Rico during the end of the Spanish-American War; following that, he became U.S. Attorney in Porto Rico, as it was then called.

He was, however, summarily fired by President Theodore Roosevelt in late 1906 after it was learned he had privately taken a case against other "colleagues" within the insular court system, whose names were not revealed. It is possible, however, that what led to his  dismissal was a scandal in 1903--a smuggling indictment involving naval officers in a court within Pettingill's jurisdiction--a scandal which saved the careers of the officers by throwing Pettingill under the tracks. We can only wonder what Pettingill learned from this experience.

Macfarlane family
Pettingill eventually retreated to western Florida to practice law in the firm joined by Cody Fowler in 1924. Pettingill's sister had married Scotsman, Hugh Campbell MacFarlane, who had helped organize the Tampa Board of Trade in 1885 to create a port at Tampa Bay and to lure cigar manufacturers to the area. He purchased 200 acres of marshy land on the west bank of the Hillsborough River, which he developed into West Tampa, a city independent of Tampa itself, which included at least 2,000 Cubans as early as 1895. Howard Street in West Tampa was named for Macfarlane's son, Howard Pettingill Macfarlane, a third partner in the law firm. It is, therefore, not surprising that Fowler, or possibly even his partners Macfarlane and Pettingill, through their investment company, would have been interested in setting up a business to import Cuban rum to take advantage of the end of Prohibition in December 1933. It is not known how long the relationship lasted between Paul Helliwell and the lawyers of the firm, or even whether they may have made use of the strategic position of Paul's father in the Customs house in Tampa, but the question is worth considering.

Nothing But Lies? 

Click to enlarge. Maude the only woman.
Cody Fowler’s mother, Maude Cody had been born in 1875 in Memphis, TN, the daughter of Joseph L. Cody (who claimed in a DAR application to have been a relative of the famous scout and showman, “Buffalo Bill” Cody). While quite young, it has been alleged, she relocated to "Kansas City where she became one of the most successful women of the business world in that city and, as Vice President of the Security Underwriters Corp. of Kansas City, she was one of few strong businesswomen of that day and also headed the the Kansas City Women’s Athletic Club." 

Oklahoma City addresses
None of these statements can be verified. The only Maude Fowler found in the Kansas City directory during those years was single and worked in a laundry. Who invented all the lies about Maude Cody Fowler's life before she came to Florida? Such as a D.A.R. application claiming a link to Buffalo Bill Cody? Her non-existent connection to the Kansas City Women’s Athletic Club? What were these people trying to hide? Perhaps additional research will answer those questions.

The Fowlers--Hotel Managers in Oklahoma City

Mrs. Fowler was married to Orin Scott Fowler, proprietor of Fowler Auto Livery in Oklahoma City, after moving from place to place for many years. They were married in Tennessee, but moved to Missouri where their son, Orin Cody Fowler went to law school. They also lived briefly in Texas and El Reno, Oklahoma.  O. Cody Fowler, as Maude Fowler's son was called, married Maude Stewart, whose father Thomas J. Stewart Sr. was a wealthy lumber man in Arkansas before locating to Oklahoma City, where his office was in the Insurance Building, 114 No. Broadway.

Orin Scott and Maude Cody Fowler lived in Oklahoma City in 1918, managing the Hotel Lawrence, at 15 West Grand Avenue.  The 1917 directory also listed the older Fowler couple as proprietors of the Martinique and Hadden Hall hotels in the city. They never resided in Kansas City.
Oklahoma City's Martinique Hotel at 112 N.W. 7th Avenue was less than two blocks east of the site where the Murrah federal building would be destroyed years later by whoever was directing the actions of Timothy McVeigh. Hadden Hall--215 N.W. 10th, three blocks north of the Murrah Building -- was where all the Fowlers lived in 1917, just prior to the parents' departure for Florida, and it stood in the heart of the city across the street from the Santa Fe depot, often called the Frisco and Rock Island Railroads. Research at this blog goes into great detail on the career of Prescott Bush's father-in-law, George Herbert Walker, who was for many years a large stockholder of the Frisco, as well as its president and chairman. [Search for "The Presidents Bush: The Walker Genealogy".]

Cody Fowler, past department commander of the American Legion in Oklahoma, was honored by "several hundred Legionnaires from all points in the state assembled at the home of the Oklahoma City post" on August 19, 1924, before officially setting out for Tampa, Florida where he would rejoin his parents. The item, which appeared in the Ardmore daily newspaper, stated
"Fowler will leave Oklahoma soon for Tampa, Florida, where he will enter a prominent law firm of the Sunshine State." 

Even after moving to Florida, Cody Fowler continued his involvement with the American Legion and also became active in the chamber of commerce. By 1950 he was president of the American Bar Association. His father had long since died, but his mother was active for years in Tampa real estate.

What Happened in Jacksonville?

Orin S. and Maude C. Fowler's names appeared as managers of Artesian Farm Land Sales in the 1913 city directory of Jacksonville, Florida, with their address shown as the Hotel Jackson, 206 Main. Artesian Farms had been incorporated in 1910 by the Bolles Trust Co. and the son of former Florida governor, William Sherman Jennings.

Governor Jennings moved from Chicago to Florida in 1885, settling in Jacksonville after serving as Florida's governor 1901-05. William Jennings Bryan had also been born in Illinois, his mother Mariah Jennings, sister of William Sherman Jennings, having married in 1852 her brother's law partner, Virginia-born Silas Bryan, who moved west to Illinois after his parents died. His own death occurred in Marion, Illinois in 1880, when his eldest son, named for his wife's brother, was a young student of 20 with four younger siblings. 

In 1881 William Jennings Bryan began law school in Chicago, spending much of his time at the home of former Senator Lyman Trumbull; in 1883 he began practicing law in Jacksonville, Illinois, where he married in 1884, but by 1887 the newlyweds had moved to Lincoln, Nebraska, from which district he was elected to Congress as a Democrat and began serving in Washington in January 1891. His mother's brother, William Sherman Jennings, who built a home on Biscayne Bay in 1913, and was "very active locally, promoting the sale of real estate for George Merrick, the founder of Coral Gables," was the governor's first cousin.

The Artesian Farm Land Co. was at that time housed in the Dyal-Upchurch Building, at 4 East Bay in room 310, next door to the Atlantic and East Coast Terminal company (see ad above left). It clearly was near the corner of Main and East Bay years before the Main Street bridge was constructed. 

Church near old Hadden Hall in 1917
Directories for 1917 and 1918 also show the O. Cody Fowler family living in Jacksonville at 721 West 15th Avenue, though simultaneously claiming to be a resident of Oklahoma City, at Hadden Hall, on West (now NW) 10th Street (between N. Robinson and N. Harvey avenues), only a half block from First Christian Church. A duplicative listing in the 1920 Census, however, showed the family living with his wife's parents in Oklahoma City.
At some point prior to 1920 the Fowlers bought a house in Jacksonville, as the U.S. Census for that year shows Orin S. and Maude C. Fowler living on Edgewood Avenue. Maude's younger sister Elsie Lee Cody, an unmarried school teacher, moved to Florida from the Texas panhandle and later lived at 1860 Oak in Jacksonville. The Fowlers listed their occupations that year as druggist and truck garden farmer--far from being the eminent businesswoman from Kansas City touted in sales brochures!

Perhaps the lies had something to do with the massive fraudulent schemes which had already been occurring in Florida as early as 1912. One newspaper, the Miami Metropolis, had traced the fraud to Wall Street and to some land investors operating all over the country at the time, in particular the Security Underwriters Corp. of Kansas City mentioned above.  

Click image to enlarge.

 We'll examine these allegations in future posts.

Next, see:
When White Russians Invaded Florida

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

An Off-the-Books Private War

An Off-the-Shelf Enterprise

Excerpt from:
The Marcos Dynasty by Sterling Seagrave
©1988, Harper and Row, Inc
Reading between the lines of Lieutenant Colonel North's testimony, it is clear that CIA director William Casey was proud of having an "off the shelf" team of private operators funded by unofficial sources. This enabled Casey to avoid the kind of interference from Congress that had been blocking the Reagan administration's initiatives to topple the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. But Casey's gambit was not entirely new. The members of The Enterprise were all larger-than-life characters who had worked together for many years, a first generation of colorful old OSS hands, and a second generation of hard-nosed covert action types who cut their milk teeth at the Bay of Pigs. Some of their names have since become familiar:
  • John Singlaub, 
  • Richard Secord, 
  • Ray Cline, 
  • Theodore Shackley, 
  • Thomas Clines, and others.
Alan A. Block, Masters of Paradise
But no longer around is the man who, in a way, started it all going: the CIA's original overseas paymaster and Mister Black Bag. His name was Paul Helliwell.

Paul Helliwell, a lawyer, had been a colonel in the U.S. Army’s G-2 Intelligence unit in the Middle East, later transferring to O.S.S. as Chief of Intelligence in China, and he had a reputation for buying information with bars of opium. He reputedly met with Ho Chi Minh, leader of North Vietnam, three times in 1945 but was unable to reach an agreement for the U.S. to provide Ho with weapons to use against Japan because Ho would not swear not to use them against the French. When O.S.S. was disbanded, Helliwell stayed in intelligence in the War Department.

He left the military around 1947, when the CIA was created, and joined a Miami law firm — Bouvier, Helliwell and Clark — but still found time to work for the CIA.

[Cite: Alan A. Block, Masters of Paradise: Organized Crime and the Internal Revenue Service in The Bahamas (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1991).]

Helliwell’s first major assignment after the war was to find a way for the CIA to subsidize the airline, Civil Air Transport, owned by Major General Claire L. Chennault, which had been used to furnish materiel to the anticommunist Chinese in Southeast Asia.
In 1951 Helliwell set up Sea Supply as the CIA’s first proprietary company in order to transport weapons to the Nationalist Chinese troops in Burma and to Thailand police, whose Chief was involved in the opium trade. The planes were not returned empty after the guns were unloaded; they were filled with drugs destined for the United States — usually Florida. The money derived from the sale of the drugs had to be laundered for the CIA, and Helliwell figured out how to do it.
Tommy the Cork
His associates in Sea Supply, and later in the Caribbean area planning the overthrow of President Jacobo Arbenz of Guatemala, were New York attorney Thomas G. Corcoran ["Tommy the Cork"] (one of FDR’s "Brain Trust") and Frank Wisner.
In 1961 Helliwell became "paymaster" for operatives working covert intelligence operations in the Bay of Pigs, although his methods are not clearly apparent. However, in late 1963 he was involved with a bank in the Bahamas called Bank of the Caribbean Limited, which was "picked up" in 1965 by one of his clients, a CIA-connected "insurance conglomerate."

In 1968 the bank’s name was changed to Underwriters Bank Limited, which had been registered by Inge Gordon Mosvold, a Norwegian shipbuilder who may have been a front for an even wealthier man named Daniel K. Ludwig, for whom Mosvold had chartered the Mercantile Bank and Trust in Freeport in January 1962. The corporate shareholders of the Mercantile Bank were Cayship Investment Company, Inc. (Panama); Security (Bahamas) Limited; and Cia. de Navegacion Mandinga S.A. (Panama); as well as two nominees.
Mercantile Bank was parent company for the now-famous Castle Bank and Trust formed by Helliwell, alleged to be "one of the CIA’s finance channels for operations against Cuba," being managed from Andros Island in The Bahamas beginning in 1964. [Wall Street Journal, April 18, 1980.]
Thanks to the CIA's part in rescuing the regime of Generalissimo Chiang in 1949, Helliwell had access to its black resources. In 1949 Helliwell and a handful of other CIA agents salvaged Claire Chennault's Civil Air Transport (CAT) and other American and Chinese aircraft from the mainland, and transferred them by ship to Taiwan.
He spent the years immediately following Mao's victory reorganizing the U.S. line of defense around Red China. With war-surplus Victory ships and Liberty ships, and some of Chennault's planes, he set up Sea Supply Corporation and Air America, using the Philippines and Thailand as staging bases for secret operations throughout Southeast Asia. As a means of harassing Red China from the rear, and gathering intelligence, Sea Supply ferried materiel to Thailand to support the KMT opium armies in Burma and the rebellious Champa tribesmen in eastern Tibet. CAT and Air America flew these supplies from Thailand into the Golden Triangle poppy fields and across upper Burma to the Himalayas, and flew supplies from the Philippines for the beleaguered French at Dienbienphu.
It was an expensive business. The KMT and the CIA paid off General Phao, the commander of the Thai police, who obligingly transshipped heroin from the opium armies down to Bangkok for export. They also paid the KMT's General Li Mi what it took to keep his army of ten thousand going, which Li Mi was not about to do with his share of the opium proceeds. All this took a lot of gold bullion, but Helliwell rose to the occasion. He and other Agency financial experts in the field followed basic rules laid down by the original CIA director of covert operations, Frank Wisner. First get the rich people on your side, including the rich gangsters, then set up channels for black money so you can provide funds across borders to the people who need them to get the job done. Kim Philby said Wisner once told him, "It is essential to secure the overt cooperation of people with conspicuous access to wealth in their own right." The cooperation of rich people hid the transfer of black money.

Helliwell's Family and College Days

What Seagrave failed to reveal, however, are a few small details about Helliwell before he joined the Army. Could any of these facts have contributed to placing him where he ended up later--as the center man in the dirty money laundry for the CIA?

See map online
Paul Helliwell’s father, Lionel H. Helliwell, was an English cloth buyer from Yorkshire when he settled in New York, but by 1930 he had relocated to Seffner, Florida, a small town east of Tampa, Florida, where he secured a job with the United States Customs House, then located on the third floor of the building facing Florida Avenue, between Twiggs and Zack Streets (see inset map).

Paul lived at home until at least 1933, but a 1934 listing in the Tampa, Florida, City Directory, shows him living alone while working for Cuban Rum, Inc., the only company listed under liquor importers, only months following the repeal of Prohibition. Intriguingly, immigration records indicate that Helliwell made at least one trip to Cuba in 1934, the same year he began as a freshman at the University of Florida in Gainesville, where he was soon in position to make even more powerful contacts.

Click image to enlarge.
Living in the Chi Phi House in Gainesville, Paul was one year behind future Florida governor, George Smathers, a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon House, where his roommate in 1933-34 was Philip Graham. Pulled out of college for a year because he had developed dissolute habits, according to Carol Felsenthal's biography of Graham's future wife, Phil was allowed to return in the fall of 1934, which placed him in the 1936 graduating class with George Smathers, who would continue law school in Gainesville until 1938. Helliwell completed his law studies there a year later. 

Phil Graham got into Harvard Law only after his father sought help from Claude Pepper, but the young genius had proved himself by the end of his second year when he was named head of the Harvard Law Review. Another Harvard Law scholar, Ed Prichard, Jr., soon introduced him to Felix Frankfurter, the Harvard professor whom FDR named in 1939 to the Supreme Court, and also key recruiter into FDR's brain trust. It was an auspicious year. Phil Graham and George Smathers both married in 1939, and Paul Helliwell graduated from law school and had married Majorie Mae Muller, whose father had moved the family to Florida  and sold insurance while her mother managed the Astoria Apartments at 1367 S.W. 5th Street (at 14th Avenue), where Marjorie grew up.

By 1945 Paul and Marjorie Helliwell were living in Miami, along with his parents. Paul had joined the military during the war and was already a Lieutenant Colonel. His father still worked as a Customs inspector. 

Peter Dale Scott sums up who was directing Helliwell in this one sentence:
In effect, Corcoran was running an off-the-books private war in which a private company, China Defense Supplies, was diverting some of the war materiel destined for China to a private army, the American Volunteer Group.
We'll pick up there later.

Next: See

Helliwell's First Employer in Tampa