Security's most amazing operation was its smear campaign against New York attorney and power broker Roy Cohn. It was a classic case of Freudian reaction formation—LaRouche, the Red-baiter of the 1980s, going after Cohn, the former aide to Joe McCarthy; LaRouche, the propagandist for organized crime, going after Cohn, its attorney and fixer; LaRouche, who lives like a millionaire but last paid income tax in 1973, going after Cohn, who evaded the IRS through similar tactics for most of his adult life. No two antagonists ever deserved each other more.
The war on Cohn was triggered indirectly by an investigative series I wrote for the Manhattan weekly Our Town in 1979. These were the first articles to call attention to LaRouche's neo-Nazism. Former NCLC members say the series freaked out the national office staff. Especially affected were Jewish members, who had rationalized the turn to neo-Nazism via various self-deceptions,
LaRouche moved quickly to blunt the psychological effect on his followers and launch a counterpunch. The first step was to announce that the articles signaled yet another assassination attempt against him. Previously, such announcements had led to security alerts and mobilizations, whipping up enough hysteria to keep his followers from thinking about things he didn't want them to think about. But for a security alert to be scary, the enemy must be scary—not just a neighborhood newspaper but a giant global conspiracy. Naturally that conspiracy had to include Jews and drug traffickers. In a broadside entitled "We'll Destroy the Zionists Politically," LaRouche announced: "I am a chief target . . . because I have had the guts to identify the enemy boldly and directly. Anyone attacking me in the way that the Zionist rag Our Town did is fully in cahoots with...Dope, Inc."
LaRouche filed a $20 million suit against Our Town, which retained Roy Cohn as its defense attorney. When Security discovered that Colin had represented Our Town on several previous occasions, they blamed him for the articles. The NCLC issued a leaflet with a picture of Cohn and the caption: "Roy Cohn, the mobster who wants to see LaRouche dead." It described him as a major figure in the above-mentioned Dope, Inc. (a mythical Jewish drug cartel), and one of the plotters behind the assassination of John F, Kennedy. As the weeks passed, NCLC ascribed more and more importance to Cohn in their global conspiracies.
This propaganda was too hysterically worded to have much effect on the general public, but inside the NCLC it effectively diverted attention. By constant repetition LaRouche linked Our Town's articles to the name, face, and odious reputation of Cohn, He even claimed Cohn had personally written the series. This was a trick LaRouche had described well in "Beyond Psychoanalysis" (1973): If one is faced with dangerous thoughts, one can "block the process of assimilation" by the "commonplace ruse" of slapping a nasty label on them. The Our Town articles called for a chain-reaction label: Cohn, McCarthy, Mafia, Faggot. This was effective because many of LaRouche's followers were former leftists with a gut hatred of McCarthyism, and Cohn was McCarthyism's premier living symbol. The NCLC members thus could regard themselves as the successors of the Rosenbergs, suffering jolt after jolt from Roy Cohn's Our Town, Roy Cohn's New York Times, and Roy Cohn's Anti-Defamation League.
On another level the anti-Cohn rhetoric reinforced the NCLC's anti-Semitism at the very moment when outsiders were harshly questioning it. One of the oldest ploys of anti-Semites is to focus on an individual Jew who is genuinely sinister, and to describe his crimes in a manner which suggests that criminality is an innate Jewish trait. The LaRouchians had frequently railed against Meyer Lansky, the financial wizard of organized crime, and long-deceased Jewish gangsters of the Prohibition era such as Bugsy Siegel of Murder, Inc. But such figures had always been too remote from the mainstream Jewish community to be convincing symbols. Cohn, however, was a power in New York politics, with ties to many prominent and respectable Jews. The LaRouchians thus could allege that he represented both a Jewish conspiracy and behavior patterns typical of rich Jews. (In fact, Cohn was an aberrant personality who could have come from any ethnic group. Neither of his two historic partners in demagoguery, McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover, was Jewish, and his most sinister clients were Italians.)
Cohn's unrepentant McCarthyism, his homosexuality, his role in selecting judges in New York, and his notoriously unethical behavior before the bar all became grist for the propaganda mill, topped off by his media image as the meanest man in New York—an image he carefully cultivated to enhance the price of his legal services and the effectiveness of his courtroom theatrics. LaRouche transformed this into Cohn, the meanest Zionist in New York, the personification of the alleged inner meanness of Zionism itself. NCLC members then joined in the Cohn-hating much as the fictional denizens of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-four rallied for hate sessions directed at the scapegoat Emmanuel Goldstein. Critical thinking within the NCLC national office was almost completely blocked, and no defections occurred for over a year.
But LaRouche's troubles in the outside world were by no means squelched. The New York Times echoed Our Town’s findings in a frontpage series, and the story spread to newspapers in New Hampshire, where LaRouche was making his Democratic primary presidential bid. He tried to counter the reports by claiming he was being libeled by Cohn and "the mob" as a result of his antidrug stance, but such protestations were not effective with the general public, and he received only 2,300 votes in the primary. He thus faced a new dilemma: He had built up Cohn as the enemy, but by the logic of this myth, Cohn had caused LaRouche's humiliating New Hampshire defeat. All LaRouche had been able to do to Cohn was fulminate. Some form of revenge would have to be extracted if LaRouche's reputation as a dangerous fellow was not to melt away.
A stroke of luck gave LaRouche the means to extract his revenge in an extraordinary manner, boosting his followers' view of themselves as a potent force and sending a message to the Establishment: Don't mess with Lyndon LaRouche if you have anything to hide. This lucky event was the convergence of the LaRouchians' rage with that of Richard Dupont, a former lover, business associate, and law client of Cohn's. Richard was the co-owner of Big Gym, a gay health club that had been evicted from its Greenwich Village quarters in 1979. Previously Richard had dreamed of purchasing the property, but it ended up in the hands of a real estate developer. Richard blamed this on Cohn's having made a deal behind his back, and he started to talk to anyone who would listen. He said that Cohn had been the silent partner in Big Gym, and that Cohn's personal assistant, Russell Eldridge, had been assigned to skim off cash and procure young men from among the club's clientele to service Cohn's insatiable sexual needs.
Through the years Cohn had double-crossed many clients, from rich elderly ladies through mobsters, and always with impunity. But in Richard he found a victim with an almost superhuman thirst for revenge and a cunning to match his own. Richard was determined to bring down his powerful betrayer, and was willing to run whatever risks were necessary. He contacted many of Cohn's past victims in preparation for a lawsuit. He waged a campaign of hundreds of crank calls to Cohn and various of his associates at their homes and offices. He wrote "Roy Cohn Is a Fag" up and down the sidewalk in front of Cohn's town house. He sent fire trucks and police on a false alarm to Cohn's Greenwich, Connecticut, estate, disrupting a dinner party that included Mr. and Mrs. Donald Trump, the Baron and Baroness di Portanova, and Mrs. S. I. Newhouse. When Cohn was in the hospital recovering from plastic surgery, Richard slipped into the room, wearing a white coat and with a stethoscope around his neck, to remonstrate with Cohn and give him a bouquet of wilted flowers.
Richard also developed a remarkable network of informants in Cohn's office and among Cohn's lovers. He knew where Cohn was at virtually every moment. Secretaries, switchboard operators, and business underlings all helped him, as did Cohn's lovers. His most important source was George Dowling, who ran the skimming operations at Cohn's porn theaters and parking lots. Dowling despised Cohn and provided Richard with information of the most sensitive nature. Richard then called up the head of real estate at the Rock Island Railroad in Chicago and told him how Cohn's associates were skimming off and double-ticketing approximately $350,000 a year from parking lots leased from the railroad. The Cohnheads promptly lost the franchise.
Said Kalev Pehme, a former Our Town editor who knew Richard well and often dealt with Cohn on news stories: "Richard had a profound understanding of Cohn's closet homosexual self-hate. He constantly preyed on this and on Cohn's vanity. It was the cumulative effect, one little thing after another, and suddenly you had this powerful figure breaking down because Richard sent him wilted flowers. Richard just kept hitting him like a prizefighter, little blows, you're woozy, then you're gone.” Pehme attributed Richard's success in gaining the cooperation of Cohn's lovers to this same psychological understanding. "Richard would help them get over Roy. They were often innocent types, not boys, but men, with battered egos, no self-esteem, completely dominated and used by Cohn. Richard would commiserate with them in the most astonishing compassionate way. He developed tremendous rapport with them, and they told him everything."
In early 1980 a friend of Richard's was handed an NCLC anti-Cohn leaflet in front of Bloomingdale's. She passed it on to Richard, who asked Pehme about it.
Pehme warned him that the LaRouchians were a cult, but Richard figured any enemy of Cohn was worth meeting. He soon recognized that, cult or not, they had the resources to do what he and other Cohn victims had not been able to do on their own. As to the LaRouchian ideology, it simply was of no interest to him.
Over the next few months Richard met on numerous occasions with Paul Goldstein and other Security staffers, providing them with devastating information about Cohn's personal life, finances, and professional double-dealings. The result was collected and published in a magazine, Now East, whose two issues were devoted almost entirely to stories about Cohn and other attorneys at Saxe, Bacon, Bolan & Manley, as well as their clients.
Goldstein, Richard, and members of the New Solidarity editorial staff plotted out the first issue and its follow-up at Richard's apartment on West Eighth Street. Richard insisted that there be no anti-Zionist rhetoric, which he knew would destroy the magazine's effectiveness. A LaRouchian staff artist drew pornographic cartoons depicting Cohn in flagrante, while other cartoons were plagiarized and adapted from The New Yorker. (Richard supplied the captions.) The advertisements were taken without permission from legitimate gay publications. The entire production was written, laid out, typeset, printed, and paid for by the LaRouche organization, under Goldstein's direct supervision. Yet its masthead listed a fictitious editorial staff and the address of a telephone answering service used by Richard.
For Richard, it was sweet revenge. For the LaRouchians, it was a weird inversion of their experience with Our Town. The latter had dared to bare the LaRouchians' dark secret, their closet Nazism. Now the LaRouchians were laying out Cohn's secrets.
As soon as the press run of the 52-page magazine was completed at LaRouche's PMR Printing Company, the bundles were whisked off to Staten Island and stored in George Dowling's garage. From there, Richard, his friends, and members of the Security staff distributed them around Manhattan. The first copies were passed out during New York's Gay Pride parade in June 1980. Copies of this and the subsequent issue were distributed to Cohn's clients and colleagues, to Manhattan's federal court judges, and to the city rooms of the metropolitan dailies. Stacks were left at East Side restaurants frequented by Cohn, such as "21" and P.J. Clarke's. Charles Tate recalls being assigned to pass out copies at a meeting of a conservative Catholic group attended by Tom Bolan, one of Cohn's law partners.
The first issue's lead article was an "Open Letter to the Gay Community" bearing Cohn's name, in which he purportedly confessed his homosexuality and apologized for selling out Big Gym. Other articles provided details about the skimming operations at Cohn-linked businesses and a combination of real and fictitious stories about his glitzy clients such as Buddy Jacobson, Gloria Vanderbilt, Steve Rubell of Studio 54, Baron and Baroness di Portanova, and Gloria Steinberg, estranged wife of financier Saul Steinberg. In addition, Now East included the names of young men who allegedly had slept with Cohn, details about his health, and a drawing of a graveyard with his name on a tombstone.
The second issue followed in November, with a cover drawing labeled "Roy Cohn . . . Fairy.” It included articles about a male model alleged to be Cohn's latest lover, Cohn's tax-evasion methods, and how he double-crossed several clients including an organized-crime boss.
Veteran Cohn watchers say that much of the information in the two issues was accurate, some was exaggerated, a few things were concocted. But even the false material bore an aura of believability (and hence a great capacity for embarrassing and humiliating Cohn) because of the skillful way in which it was interwoven with the factual material—the secrets that no one else had ever dared print about New York's vaunted "legal executioner." The reported incidents of professional misconduct were far more outrageous than those which would lead to Cohn's disbarment in 1986, shortly before his death from AIDS. In addition, the magazine discussed Cohn's silent partnership in a Staten Island parking lot skimming operation run illegally on city property by Enrico Mazzeo, former real estate manager for the city's Department of Marine and Aviation. Mazzeo already was the target of a Brooklyn federal strike force probe. In November 1983 he was found dead in a car trunk in Brooklyn, the victim of a gangland-style execution.
Cohn was desperate to stop the flow of information to Richard, but there were just too many inside sources. When John LeCarré's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy was dramatized on television, Dupont and the LaRouchians began to refer to these sources collectively as "Geraldine"—after LeCarré's "Gerald the Mole." Cohn went to his old antagonist Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau with a desperate request for help. In October 1980 Richard was indicted on thirteen criminal counts, mostly acts of petty harassment that, under ordinary circumstances, a district attorney wouldn't waste his time on. The Village Voice noted that Morgenthau and Cohn had seemed very chummy at a party the night before Richard's 6 A.M. arrest. The Voice believed the indictment said more about Cohn's power in New York politics than about Richard's criminality.
Morgenthau's office was well aware of the involvement of the LaRouchians with Richard. Assistant DA Harold Wilson called Our Town about them on several occasions in August and September 1980. Yet none of them were indicted. Richard's attorney, John Klotz, believes a political decision was made to let them off: "Just after Richard's arraignment I went to Wilson, I said, 'Let's work something out, we'll help you get LaRouche.' Wilson said to me, 'After I convict Dupont, I will immunize him and put him in front of a grand jury. I don't need your help.' "
That second grand jury was never convened. Former associates of Cohn and LaRouche say that an agreement was arrived at: LaRouche would stop harassing Cohn, and there would be no reprisals against LaRouche. Now East ceased publication, and New Solidarity scaled back its attacks on Cohn. According to Anne-Marie Vidal, a former member of the NCLC inner circle, LaRouche aides paid a substantial sum to Cohn to introduce LaRouche to important people and persuade the media to leave the NCLC alone. According to law enforcement sources, such a deal was indeed made, but Cohn never delivered what he had promised.
Dupont's trial in the summer of 1981 lasted five weeks. Wilson never once mentioned the defendant's LaRouche connection or the involvement of the LaRouchians in Now East, although its distribution was included among the charges against Dupont. This was an extraordinary omission. LaRouche's probable involvement had been mentioned repeatedly in The Village Voice. Bringing his name into the case could only have strengthened Wilson's hand, especially with Jewish members of the jury. Nevertheless, the prosecution maintained that Dupont published and distributed Now East alone. Defense counsel Klotz's questioning of Richard brought out that he was dyslexic, never graduated from high school, had no experience in newspaper layout or any other aspect of newspaper work, and could not have produced the magazine on his own. This left a hole wide enough to run a bulldozer through. All Wilson had to do was ask Richard who his accomplices were, and then claim that Richard, far from being a little guy seeking justice, was a sinister ally of the infamous LaRouche. But this was no ordinary trial. It was a political trial in which the real prosecutor was not Wilson but Roy Cohn, disguised as the star witness. And Cohn had gained a vested interest in keeping LaRouche's name out.
Everything about the wilted-flowers trial was potentially explosive: a homosexual version of the TV series "Dallas," with Cohn as J.R., that provided a rare window into the profoundly disturbed world of power in New York. But Judge Bentley Kassal's rulings, the prosecution's tactics, and Cohn's influence with the media kept that window mostly closed. If it had been opened, the public would have learned much about high-level New York political corruption, foreshadowing the Donald Manes-Stanley Friedman-Mayor Koch scandals of the mid-1980s. But editors at the metropolitan dailies allowed the trial only minimal play. Even The Village Voice only nibbled at the edges. There were no TV cameras on the courthouse steps. People v. Dupont disappeared into the Memory Hole.
The jury found Richard not guilty on both of the felony counts, but guilty of six misdemeanors. To convict him of crank phone calls to Cohn cost the taxpayers over $250,000. But when Michael Hudson, a victim of straightforward loan fraud by the LaRouchians, went to the DA's office in 1982, he was told his complaint was too complicated (unlike the sexually-politically-psychiatrically entangled Dupont case!). Indeed no prosecutor seemed to be willing to take on LaRouche. In 1979 a New York Times editorial had urged a probe of his nonprofit Fusion Energy Foundation. But the State Attorney General's office, which is in charge of monitoring nonprofit organizations, took no action. It was one of the few times this publicity-conscious office ever ignored The New York Times.
Meanwhile, LaRouche's NCLC developed Manhattan-centered scams in the early 1980s that—according to subsequent indictments and civil RICO suits—would rip off the public for tens of millions of dollars. Even as this was beginning, The Village Voice and Our Town published articles pointing out LaRouche's financial improprieties and links to racketeers. Neither Morgenthau's office nor State Attorney General Robert Abrams' office nor the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York showed any inclination to look at these accusations. The first real probe in 1984 had to begin in Boston. Abrams only went after LaRouche in the summer of 1986, when Roy Cohn was safely on his deathbed and several state attorney generals from Alaska to Florida were already on the case—investigating a conspiracy that began in Abrams' own backyard.
Charles Tate says the Security staff believed in the early 1980s that the soft treatment the NCLC received in New York—including Mayor Koch's speak-no-evil attitude toward LaRouche mayoral candidate Melvin Klenetsky in 1981—was due to a fear of NCLC smear campaigns. The NCLC's negative personal information about political figures, he said, was actually in files "in alphabetical order" in the Security office. Tate added that he personally interviewed an alleged former intimate friend of Brooklyn DA Elizabeth Holtzman and also received information on her from a paid informant. The aim was to convince prosecutors and politicians that "they don't need an enemy of this type," Tate said.
In the 1987 Frankhouser trial, Tate testified that whenever LaRouche couldn't find damaging information "he would invent something." Indeed the LaRouchians followed an age-old smear tactic: Look at a person's lifestyle and figure what might be true, then publish your speculations as fact. A certain percentage of the time you will hit the bull's eye, and the victim will freak out thinking you know more than you do. If it isn't true, much of the public will believe it anyway, and the victim will heartily wish you'd just shut up. If you're doing this in an exceptionally corrupt political environment like Koch's New York, where most public figures have secrets to hide, you're guaranteed a large measure of immunity from libel suits. To gain a powerful intimidating reputation, you just have to be right once in a big way. The LaRouchians were right in a stupendous way with Now East, and after that no one in New York seriously went after them for years.
Following Dupont's trial but prior to sentencing, Judge Kassal received a letter from Roger Stone, regional director of Ronald Reagan's 1980 presidential campaign. Sent at Cohn's request, the letter was apparently intended to urge a stiff sentence for Richard. Stone complained that Richard had once called to ask him about his "personal relationship" with Cohn, then sent him flowers and several copies of Now East. Kassal delayed sentencing while ordering Richard to seek psychiatric treatment. However, the following June he imposed a sentence of four consecutive years for Richard's nonviolent prankish misdemeanors—a punishment virtually without precedent in such a case and regarded as incredible by some journalists who covered the trial. A few months later, Kassal was elevated to the Appellate Division.
While the case was being appealed, Richard was ordered to Rikers Island to begin serving his sentence. Believing accidents had been known to happen to enemies of Cohn, and that Rikers Island was a good place for such an accident, Richard went underground and spread the word that the DA's detective squad had better not come near him—he had AIDS. (This actually was not true.) Several months later Richard went to former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who arranged for him to turn himself in. When the appeal came up, Kassal disqualified himself. The remaining judges agreed it was indeed peculiar that Dupont had been sentenced to jail for passing out a magazine on the street, a constitutionally protected activity. They dismissed that count, but let the rest of the conviction stand.
The Cohn-LaRouche war might have ended after Richard was convicted, save for Helga LaRouche's car being involved in a near accident in West Germany. The LaRouchians smelled an assassination attempt. Frankhouser's Mister Ed gallantly offered to protect Helga and suggested that the CIA was taking the threat very seriously. Mordechai Levy said that the infamous assassin "Henry Duvall" was involved and that Roy Cohn was obviously behind "Duvall." The freak-out began when Goldstein went to Richard to ask if he could find out anything from inside Saxe, Bacon. Sensing an opportunity to resurrect Now East, Richard confirmed Levy's story.
The LaRouchians were furious over Cohn's alleged "double cross." They responded with an attack even nastier than Now East—hundreds of thousands of copies of a bogus New York Times supplement, "Profiles of the Times," designed to look like the Sunday book review section but devoted to further exposing Cohn and his associates. Tate says it was Richard's "brainchild," and that Richard devised "what to say and how to say it." On a Saturday night in October 1982, two members of LaRouche's Security staff took "Profiles" around to dozens of newsstands in Manhattan and Queens in a rented van. Wearing dark glasses, they represented themselves as Times employees and instructed the newsdealers to insert the supplement in the Sunday papers. Before the Times management could react, it had reached tens of thousands of readers.
"Profiles" contained alleged quotes from former lovers of Cohn, including three men who later died of AIDS. It also contained a fake Barbara Walters interview with Cohn in which he purportedly admitted his homosexuality and discussed in some detail his inner emotional life and illegal dealings with various business associates. The piece was written with subtlety and verve. After buying the Times that Saturday night, I was halfway into the Walters-Cohn interview before it dawned on me: Richard and the LaRouchians had struck again,
A later edition of the Times carried a disclaimer, and many of the "Profiles" copies were never distributed. Yet the prank turned out to be far more effective than Now East. It was reported on the wire services and in daily papers across the country, raising the issue of Roy Cohn's homosexuality with millions of readers. New York's daily papers on Monday reported the indignant howls of eminent persons. Cohn declared "Profiles" a "total lie" and vowed to seek "every available" legal remedy “to see that something like this does not happen again…to someone less capable of self-defense." Republican gubernatorial candidate Lew Lehrman, himself a target in "Profiles" along with Mayor Koch, said that "so outrageous a personal attack has never occurred in an election in New York State politics." Leonard Harris of the Times said that it was "the poison Tylenol technique applied to newspapers," while another Times executive, John Pomfret, promised that the paper would "pursue vigorously an investigation of this outrage in consultation with law-enforcement authorities."
The Times’s veteran Nazi hunter Howard Blum was assigned to track down the LaRouche connection. Morgenthau announced the launching of an investigation by Harold Wilson and a team of detectives. A grand jury was convened to examine evidence that the LaRouchians had violated forgery laws.
But all this turned out to be mere bluster. Although the district attorney's detective squad raided LaRouche's printshop on November 16, it failed to simultaneously raid the typesetting firm, located at another address. When the police arrived at the printshop, a member of LaRouche's legal staff was already there, forewarned.
Part of the story came out in 1986 in the Boston credit-card fraud case, when FBI special agent Richard Egan testified regarding information on the bogus Times supplement received from government informants. The NCLC Security staff had "managed to have some kind of leak of information from the district attorney's office which allowed them to destroy the [printing] plates" before the search warrant could be executed. Security chief Paul Goldstein, who was Morgenthau's chief suspect, had been sent on a "European vacation." Former LaRouche bodyguard Lee Fick had run into Goldstein in Wiesbaden, and Goldstein had told him, "Lyn wants me here because it's too hot in New York." LaRouche aide Jeffrey Steinberg had asked Klansman Roy Frankhouser to go to the printshop and "lean on" an employee whom Steinberg was worried might talk to the police.
Former police officer Phil Perlonga, a Metro employee who served as a LaRouche bodyguard in 1982-83, says that the LaRouchians asked him to shadow Richard, whom they were fearful might make a deal to cooperate with the authorities. "I followed him all over the fur district," Perlonga recalled. He also said the LaRouchians asked him to conduct surveillance of the DA's office to see if Richard went in or out.
For several weeks, the LaRouchians were extremely jumpy. LaRouche was living in a town house on Sutton Place. Perlonga, in charge of a security detail, recalls that someone phoned in with a report that Morgenthau's detective squad was on its way to arrest LaRouche. LaRouche's in-house Security people immediately "came downstairs, put on bulletproof vests, and checked their .45s. I took the Metro guys outside, and told them to stay there and if the police came, to tell them there were crazy people armed inside and that they should communicate through me. I then went back inside; I was prepared to blow LaRouche's guys away if they fired on police officers.” But the DA's squad never arrived: The report was a concoction phoned in from Los Angeles by Mordechai Levy. "I made it all up," Levy said. "It was part of my plan to drive them crazy."
In spite of their paranoia, the LaRouchians made some shrewd moves during the "Profiles" uproar. New Solidarity issued a threat as to what Cohn could expect if the case ever came to trial. The article began by noting that he had decided not to sue for libel. This supposedly reflected his "reticence to make himself and his business and sexual dealings the subject of what could only be one of the country's most highly publicized trials . . . especially given what this news service knows to be Cohn's many crimes." The article quoted LaRouche as saying that "Cohn has more enemies than a queen bee has eggs." If the DA ever brought the "Profiles" case to trial, the defendants would "drown [Cohn's] political career in a flood of publicity and gales of laughter."
The LaRouchians also targeted Morgenthau. Security notebooks from November 1982 show that they assiduously pursued negative information about the DA and his wife, former New York Times reporter Lucinda Franks. According to one notebook entry, a source at a drug treatment center told them a preposterous story that Morgenthau owned whorehouses. Another entry described an undercover phone call to one of Franks's colleagues. They then flooded downtown Manhattan with leaflets devoted to standard LaRouche charges—e.g., that Morgenthau was a tool of the "Israeli mafia" and that his wife was a "terrorist sympathizer." (She had indeed spent time with the Weather Underground, but for the purpose of writing a book about them.)
One leaflet, passed out in front of Morgenthau's office to make sure he received the message, contained a LaRouche zinger transcending the usual NCLC rhetoric. It alleged that Morgenthau had "sat on the biggest banking scandal of the past decade, American Bank and Trust's 1976 failure,” and that he had "prosecuted clerk-level fall guys while top bank officers and manipulators...received immunity in a $45 million rip-off of depositors.” Details followed, based in part on long-forgotten articles in Barron’s and New York magazine by Richard Karp, a freelance financial reporter. Karp told me the LaRouchians had called him at the time and questioned him closely about the American Bank scandal and related matters. He recalled that they seemed extremely well informed.
The LaRouchians boasted in a December 10, 1982, New Solidarity article by Linda de Hoyos (who had been involved in the production of Now East) that they were engaged in an effort to "unnerve" Morgenthau and catch his office "off guard." A December 14 article by Security staffer Vin Berg in Executive Intelligence Review made the threat explicit: "Morgenthau has been involved in many covert operations against LaRouche in the past, but this one is the riskiest, because it is being conducted openly….By stepping into the light of day in this way, Robert Morgenthau has made himself, his financial and political associates, and his record in office matters for intense public scrutiny."
By early 1983 the DA's office suspected that Goldstein and two aides were the chief culprits. Yet by December 1983 there was still no action. Harold Wilson, in a telephone interview, attributed the delay to a federal court lawsuit the LaRouchians had filed against the DA that year. But the investigation may simply have been spiked. John Klotz says he approached the DA's office with an offer that Richard would give testimony in exchange for some consideration on his own sentence but the DA spurned the offer. Was the DA's office once again letting the LaRouchians off the hook to protect themselves and other powerful people from further embarrassment? Wilson claims that his office didn't make a deal with Klotz because they didn't believe Richard could give "direct, competent, truthful evidence." But this statement is belied by Richard's competent and truthful (if rambling) testimony about Cohn in his 1981 trial, as well as the extraordinary accuracy of his published information on Cohn. The Village Voice quoted Klotz shortly after the ''Profiles" hoax: "The last investigation [the Now East one] was botched by Morgenthau's office because they didn't go beyond Dupont to look at the financing and publication of Now East. The New York Times is paying the price for that with this [second] reprehensible publication." Certainly the DA's double standard for big guy LaRouche and little guy Dupont bore more than a little similarity to the double standard in the American Bank case.
According to NCLC defectors and Security employees, LaRouche's top aides alluded to a new rapprochement with Cohn that supposedly resulted in the abandonment of the "Profiles" investigation. LaRouche and Cohn had associates in common who would have wanted this high-profile war stopped, even if Roy had to eat humble pie. Cohn was the attorney for Fat Tony Salerno, and Fat Tony, as would be alleged in a federal indictment in 1986, had his hooks deep into Teamster boss Jackie Presser, LaRouche's number one hoodlum ally. In fact, the LaRouche-Cohn war ceased for good. There were no more major revelations, although New Solidarity would gloat over Cohn's AIDS a few months before the major media dared mention it. Goldstein returned from his "vacation" to continue his trickster campaigns with greater impudence than ever. Meanwhile, The New York Times abandoned its own investigation of the "Profiles." With the exception of a brief item on the DA’s raid, nothing more was ever published. The Village Voice noted that the Times "seems curiously reticent on a matter so deeply offensive to its own integrity." But the Times had also been curiously reticent in covering the Dupont trial or, for that matter, anything relating to Roy Cohn's corruption of the New York political process in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Nevertheless, LaRouche had played close to the edge with his "Profiles of the Times." Shortly after the DA's raid on the printshop, he packed up and moved to Virginia, although NCLC headquarters remained in New York for two more years. In a 1984 affidavit, he stated that he had not "travelled to New York since December of 1982 and will not travel to or visit New York City" because of the "security situation." However, he continued to dabble in New York political intrigues from the safety of his country estate. In 1983 a bitter enemy of Morgenthau, former New York City medical examiner Dr. Michael Baden, met with LaRouche in Leesburg. Baden had been removed as medical examiner in 1979 in part because of pressure from Morgenthau. The LaRouchians had championed Baden in several articles, depicting him as a victim of machinations by the Dope, Inc. cartel. He was accompanied by his wife, Dr. Judianne Densen-Gerber, formerly of Odyssey House, who had spoken at LaRouchian anti-drug rallies, and by Dr. John Grauerholz, a former colleague of Baden's in the Suffolk County, New York, medical examiner's office.
That same year Grauerholz and other medical professionals allied with Baden became involved in a campaign to discredit Morgenthau and Baden's successor, Dr. Elliot Gross, over their handling of the death in police custody of a young black graffiti artist, Michael Stewart. Grauerholz served as a source for The New York Times in a series critical of Gross and was later honored at a dinner held by a political coalition that was seeking justice for the Stewart family. The Times and the political coalition suffered considerable embarrassment when the New York Post revealed that Grauerholz was a full-time follower of LaRouche. The campaign against Gross and Morgenthau meanwhile developed anti-Semitic undertones in the black community, thanks to the newsletter of a group that called itself African Activists in America. The LaRouchians did their bit by alleging that Gross and Morgenthau were part of an anti-Michael Baden conspiracy headed by the "Israeli mafia." An article by LaRouche's Upper West Side snitch Bruce Bailey was circulated, alleging that blacks were held in a Zionist "death grip." (After multiple probes on the local, state, and federal levels. Gross eventually was cleared of any wrongdoing in the Stewart case. In October 1987, Mayor Koch dismissed him from his post, citing administrative ineffectiveness.)
By June 1986 the LaRouchians were under investigation in over a dozen states for loan fraud. New York NCLC members had participated in soliciting many of these loans at a time when their organization’s regional office was located right down the street from Brooklyn DA Liz Holtzman's office. But New York prosecutors, despite the strong sentiment against LaRouche in the Jewish community in the wake of his organization's Illinois campaign victories, lagged far behind states where public sentiment and the demands of justice were not nearly as strong. Our Town publisher Edward Kayatt ran an editorial calling for sacking both Morgenthau and Abrams if they didn't move on LaRouche. The untouchable Morgenthau ignored it. Abrams, however, spoke from the floor at a Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council gathering in Manhattan the week the editorial appeared, apologizing for his office's failure to exercise vigilance and asking anyone who had been ripped off by LaRouche to come forward. Shortly thereafter his office began contacting many victims of LaRouche's fund raising.
The LaRouchians figured they could once again use their embarrassing-revelations tactic. On August 4, New Solidarity published an article about how certain Abrams aides were involved in the gay rights movement. A week later an article by Michelle Steinberg and LaRouche's chief spokesman, Ed Spannaus, suggested that the NCLC might be in possession of potentially embarrassing information received from Cohn shortly before his death. Pointing out that Cohn had wanted on his deathbed to pass on some information about public officials, they speculated that this information was from Cohn's "blackmail files" and that "Cohn's knowledge of the homosexual weaknesses of some...as-yet-unnamed public officials was not academic.” They boasted about the devastating quality of some of the NCLC's past insider information from circles around Cohn ("some of the very charges published in the 'Profiles' insert sheet were the basis for a series of civil actions that led to Mr. Cohn's ultimate disbarment"). They also alleged that in my forthcoming book (this one) I would demonstrate that "Cohn and LaRouche ultimately reached a coming to terms" and that "Cohn became an unofficial legal consultant to LaRouche." Finally they suggested that "some of the infamous Cohn files" might have "quietly slipped into the hands of some of Lyndon LaRouche's closest associates in rural Virginia."
But whatever information the LaRouchians possessed was not equal to quashing a felony investigation in the 1986 atmosphere in which New Yorkers wanted something done about LaRouche. It had been easy to evade indictment for pranks like Now East and "Profiles,” but loan fraud running into tens of millions of dollars was no prank. In March 1987, Abrams' office indicted fifteen LaRouche aides. Among them were Now East writer Linda de Hoyos, who had boasted in New Solidarity in 1982 about unnerving Morgenthau, and Edward Spannaus, co-author of the August 11, 1986, article about the alleged "Cohn files."
CLICK HERE FOR THE REFERENCE NOTES TO THIS CHAPTER.
CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE TO NEXT CHAPTER.