PART ONE A few words on Johnny Rosselli, Ed Becker and Tony Montana, by Geno Munari.
Unjust competition is just what it infers. It is often an illegal attempt to gain unfair competitive advantage false, fraudulent, or unethical commercial conduct. Examples include below-cost selling, through counterfeiting or imitation, dumping, misleading advertising, rumor mongering, trademark or trade secret infringement. This story is about a man that used a false story as unjust enrichment to promote his books, his name and his status to gain fame, money and good fortune.
This is the story of Edward N. Becker and his allegations of being present when Mafia boss Carlos Marcello threatened the life of John F. Kennedy. The point of my story, which I have chosen to write in first person, is that I don’t think Ed Becker heard Carlos Marcello say anything in regards to harming John F. Kennedy, or was Ed Becker even present on a day in September, 1962 at Marcello’s Churchill’s Farms.
Scores of books and articles have constantly used the alleged threat of powerful Mafia boss Carlos Marcello as a connecting point to implicate the mafia, mob, outfit or syndicate to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
I have chosen to write this story in first person because a close associate and employee of Carlos Marcello was a co-worker of mine in my first casino job in Las Vegas. Joe Segreto started off in Las Vegas at the Sahara Hotel in the beverage department and learned everything there is to know about the food and beverage business.
I worked side by side with Joe Segreto on a daily basis and after years of studying the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, I suddenly remembered that Joe had worked for Carlos Marcello and after leaving the California Club he went back to work for him in New Orleans to manage a restaurant and handle some other business. At one point, joe was the Business Manager for legendary performer Louie Prima.
I decided to call Joe and ask him in a very polite way if Marcello was in any way connected with the assassination of JFK’s assassination. I thought about how I would approach Joe especially because I had not seen him in years and when I visited his restaurant in New Orleans in the early 1970s he was not in town to meet up.
I called Joe and told him about a book I was writing about a guy who claimed he was a close associate of Meyer Lansky. In this story were many names that had connections or some distant arm’s length relationship with Dallas, Texas, Jack Ruby, Johnny Rosselli, RD Matthews, Tony Giordano, Jonny Stone, TW Richardson, Richard Westbrook, Robert Maheu and others who I was seeking information about. I told Joe, “I did not want to smear my name by writing inaccurate information”, but wanted the low down on Carlos Marcello. I told him that if there was any connection that may have any connection with JFK’s death, to please tell me, because I don’t want to get it wrong and look like an idiot.
He started yelling, “Are you nuts? There is absolutely NO WAY he had anything to do with Kennedy’s death”. What could I say? I knew Joe would not lie to me but how could I prove Joe’s statement. I could not and let this alone for a long time until I discovered these facts I am about to reveal.
It is amazing how many very significant historical incidents have connections to Las Vegas. “Following the money”, may be the reason there are so many inter-connections between the players and the shakers in the one American city that is a genuine mystery to the entire world. There are so many interesting branches that connect Hollywood, Congress, the CIA, the Kennedy assassination, Cuba, politics, the White House and many more. Browsing the newspaper morgues and connecting the dots via timelines and facts becomes a conspiracy theorist’s delight.
Johnny Rosselli has particular interest to this researcher for many reasons. Many years ago I had the privilege of meeting one of the driving authors of Rosselli’s story, Ed Becker. Little did I know then, I would eventually publish his book about Rosselli.
Enter: Ed Becker
Who is Ed Becker? Here is what the Washington Post said in a story WP: Rudy Maxa August 12, 1979)
“When the House Assassination Committee released its report last month, its most perplexing section concerned alleged organized crime involvement with the killing of John Kennedy. Santos Trafficante and Carlos Marcello were fingered as “the most likely family bosses” to have participated in any plot, but then the ambivalent report termed the notion “unlikely.”
Linking Marcello to JFK’s death was an obscure private eye named Edward N. Becker, a shadowy figure who has passed in and out of organized crime circles as a shamus and anonymous researcher of books.
Part Two: Johnny Rosselli, Ed Becker and Tony Montana
Who is Becker?
He’s a 57-year-old, soft-spoken man who today lives in Las Vegas with his second wife. He’s currently involved in business with a former assistant attorney general of the U.S., Washington-based attorney Jerris Leonard. And Becker is not delighted his name surfaced in the House report.
“I expect some kind of retribution,” Becker says today. “The committee said, “We’re doing everything in the world to protect you.” I didn’t believe it. Of course I’m worried.”
In 1955 Becker signed on as public relations director for the Riviera Hotel in Vegas. His milieu was gambling and men whose occupations were vague, he says, and he eventually helped piece together an NBC “White Paper” on organized crime in 1966. He also helped gather information for the books Green Felt Jungle and the Grim Reapers, both billed as exposes of organized crime.
Becker says he was in Louisiana in September of 1962 working undercover for a finance company investigating Billie Sol Estes when he struck up a friendship with Carl Ropolo, a Shreveport oil geologist well-liked by Marcello according to the House report. The two men visited Marcello at his estate near New Orleans. In the course of a long evening of drinking scotch, Becker remembers Marcello cursing the Kennedy brothers and talking vaguely of trying to kill the president.
Marcello denies that.
That scene (without Becker’s name) made its way into Ed Reid’s book, The Grim Reapers, which led the House committee to Becker, who talked with a committee staffer by phone but refused to testify because he feared the arm of organized crime as well as the wrath of the FBI. The Bureau, according to the House report, worked hard to discredit Becker instead of investigating the validity of his information.”
Back to the main point: Browsing through the newspaper files I found one of the mysterious conundrums. Enter the Robert Kennedy assassination, Sirhan Sirhan and his lawyer, Grant Cooper. A story published in 1969 told of the trial of Sirhan that might have to have one more postponement because Cooper had to appear in District Court to face a Grand Jury on charges of contempt of court. The Grand Jury wanted to know how he obtained secret transcripts in the infamous Friars Club cheating case, wherein another client, Johnny Rosselli, was one of five convicted in the cheating of club members.
Rosselli was a partner with Maury Friedman, TW Richardson, Anthony Zerilli, Michael Polizzi and Tony Giordano (St. Louis) in the Frontier Hotel. All but Richardson served time in jail. Zerilli, Polizzi and Giordano were identified as members of the mafia by the U.S. Department of Justice. SEE PART TWO
Rosselli was recruited, along with Sam Giancana and Santos Trafficante, to assassinate Fidel Castro, by Robert Maheu, representing the CIA. Maheu was a former FBI Agent and special operative for the CIA, and later became the number one man in running Howard Hughes hotels in Las Vegas.
Rosselli was a powerful behind-the-scenes influence in Hollywood. According to Gaeton Fonzi: “The story goes that Rosselli . . . ‘suggested’ to Harry Cohn, then head of Columbia Pictures, that Frank Sinatra get the Maggio role in From Here to Eternity, the part that subsequently saved the crooner’s sinking career. Mario Puzo dramatized the incident in The Godfather’s horse’s-head-in-the-bed scene.
Several authors wrote entire books on the subject of the Mob and the killing of JFK and one of the key suspects was Carlos Marcello. Over the years I had acquired printing equipment for various business needs and developed a small publishing company which re-printed a second edition of the Edward Becker’s tome, All American Mafioso: The Johnny Rosselli Story by Ed Becker and Charles Rappleye. The opportunity to print this book was made possible by Tony Montana, who claimed an interest in the book with Ed Becker’s widow. The book is an amazing tale in the life of Rosselli who lived in Las Vegas and was a very controversial individual and was considered the Chicago Outfit’s mouthpiece in Las Vegas in the Late 1950s and early 1960s.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s Café Michele on Flamingo road was the lunch and drink hangout. I frequented the establishment on a daily basis to catch up with friends and share and hear stories about the happenings in the world of gaming, deals and the mob. Ed Becker held court at Micheles a few times a week with his business companion and book advisor, Tony Montana. In fact Ed Becker introduced Tony Montana to me. Montana is not light weight wanna-be, he is a be. His uncle John Montana was a guest at the famed Appalachian Mafia convene in November of 1957, and Tony was an employee of the late Chicago boss, Tony Spilotro. Tony is an expert food and beverage manager who had the skills to turn profits in bars and restaurants. He was a sought after person and recognized to be loyal, efficient and a good problem solver.
Tony assisted Ed Becker in getting some interviews with top mafia bosses which Ed was unable to arrange. Ed’s claim to the mob was his association and work experience with Gus Greenbaum at the Riviera and Flamingo hotels. My former boss, Sidney Wyman from the Dunes Hotel, was the second biggest shareholder in the Riviera Hotel with Greenbaum. Becker was not on the inside position in management and therefore not connected so to speak, only by association. Becker wanted to interview Marcello in New Orleans but could never contact Marcello or his associates to arrange a meeting. Tony arranged this interview through Joe Pignatello owner of the once famous Villa d’Este Italian restaurant.
I read Becker’s book and read Ed’s recant of a meeting in 1962 with Carlos Marcello. It went as follows:
The same month, Carlos Marcello described a more detailed plan in the privacy of a farmhouse on his sprawling country estate outside New Orleans. Ed Becker, a private investigator and free-lance businessman, was meeting with Marcello and his longtime associates Carlo Roppolo and Jack Liberto when their boss pulled out a bottle and poured a generous round of Scotch. The conversation wandered until Becker made an offhand remark about Bobby Kennedy and Marcello’s deportation. The reference struck a nerve, and Carlos jumped to his feet, exclaiming the Sicilian oath, “Livarsi na pietra di la scarpa! (Take the stone out of my shoe!)”
Reverting to English, Marcello shouted, “Don’t worry about that Bobby son-of-a-bitch. He’s going to be taken care of.” Emboldened by the Scotch, Becker interrupted. “You can’t go after Bobby Kennedy. You’ll get into a hell of a lot of trouble.” In answer, Marcello invoked an old Italian proverb: “If you want to kill a dog, you don’t cut off the tail, you cut off the head.” Bobby was the tail, an adjunct, an appendage. If the President were killed then Bobby would lose his bite. Marcello added that he had a plan, to use “a nut” to take the fall for the murder, “like they do in Sicily.” Seated again, Marcello abruptly changed the subject, and the Kennedys were not mentioned again.
One afternoon I was recording some “Mob Moment” spots for the radio station KIYQ-LP (www.KiYQ.org) and interviewing Tony Montana. I was interested in the meeting Tony had arranged with Marcello, Becker and himself prior to the book, All American Mafioso, released. Tony told me that they stayed in a small hotel in the French Quarter and to be ready the next morning to be picked up by a driver. The pair waited in the outside dining area and soon after breakfast a car arrived with a driver approaching them and introducing himself as a representative of Carlos Marcello. After the pleasantries, Tony got in the front seat next to the driver and Ed sat in the rear seat. Ed was demonstrably very nervous sitting in the back seat after the driver said they were going out to the Farm in Metairie. Becker thought that the meeting would be in a nearby office. The trip to the Farm was more than 30 minutes. The driver with an obvious method to his madness remarked to Ed, “Don’t worry. If something was going to happen to you it would have already”, and grinned in a joking manner. Tony realized the driver was just being humorous and they continued to the Farm.
Tony continued the story, “They were brought into Marcello’s office and we met Carlos Marcello.”
That is when a light went on in my head. In Ed’s book he writes that they met in 1962. If that was the case and true, why would they have to be re-introduced? Something is wrong here. I asked Tony, did it appear to you that Ed was meeting Marcello for the first time. He said absolutely. That is consistent because if he had met Marcello through another friend in 1962, why would he need Tony to make the new introduction? Why would Marcello also appear to meet Becker for the first time and greet him like he was meeting him for the first time?
The answer is that Becker never was at a meeting with Marcello in 1962. It was fabricated. So there is also a good chance that the other evidence against Marcello is fabricated.