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Jack Abramoff and the Republican Black Hand

Posted in the database on Wednesday, February 08th, 2006 @ 20:10:00 MST (1909 views)
by Daniel Hopsicker    Mad Cow Morning News  

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“One shakedown the post-Prohibition Mafiosi borrowed from the defunct Black Hand was setting up phony “security” companies… Merchants who decline to sign up with spurious watchguard services often found their windows smashed or their premises ravaged by suspicious fires.”

When Jack Abramoff showed up looking like an old-time Mafia don complete with black fedora and matching trench coat last month, to plead guilty to felony fraud charges in a Federal Court in Washington D.C., puzzled observers were asking: what could he possibly have been thinking?

But the beleaguered Republican lobbyist may have been making more than a fashion statement... Abramoff’s garb may have suited his station in life better than the American press was ready to admit. The ‘Disgraced Lobbyist’ job description with which he was incessantly tagged might be less accurate than that of 'Gangland Kingpin.’ And for that role, it must be said, he was impeccably turned out.

Because whatever else Abramoff is remembered for, he is sure to go down in history as the man who gambled the reputation and prestige of the national Republican Party on the uncertain outcome of a murder trial that Court TV's Nancy Grace should really sink her teeth into, placing the GOP squarely in the middle of somebody's deadly earnest Mob War.

To get some idea of the immensity of Mr. Abramoff's accomplishment, one need only picture Ed Meese and Dick Cheney going to the mattresses.

"I don't want to kill everyone…Just my enemies" -- Michael Corleone

Nothing less than the future of the GOP rides on the uncertain outcome of a murder trial in Florida this Spring of three men accused of the gangland style slaying of the one man who stood in the way of Jack Abramoff's ascension into, if not heaven, then at least the realm of the Titans: Sun Cruz gambling czar Gus Boulis.

Here's our modest proposal: We think grateful Democrats should consider erecting statues in Abramoff's honor. Or maybe re-name Faneuil Hall in Boston. And the party’s few remaining practicing Catholics might consider beginning a discreet campaign to talk up Abramoff in Rome as an ecumenical candidate for immediate beatification.

And why not? He's already performed his first miracle. Because it was only through the intercession of (bow your heads) St Jack that the Democratic Party was brought back from the dead.

And if that’s not a miracle, we'd like to know... what is?

Vito, Edgar, meet a friend of ours, Chief Stands-with-Pair

Not since the bygone days when FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover could deny the existence of the Mafia while at the same time vacationing annually at Southern California’s Del Mar Race Track as the guest of Texas oil man Clint Murchison, whose part-owner in his oil company was New York Mob Boss Vito Genovese, has there been such a total disconnect between what passes for the news in America… and what really happens every day.

Millions of words have been written decrying Abramoff’s ruthless greed and utter corruption. But what has gone almost unmentioned, except in passing, is the looming presence hovering on the fringes of all three major story lines in the Abramoff Scandal—the Indian gambling, the Republican slave plantations in the Mariana’s, and the completely unregulated and therefore to-die-for (literally!)casino cruises in Florida--of Organized Crime, or, as it is referred to colloquially, The Mob.

Take Indian gambling, for example. The subject of the Mob and Indian gambling could fill a book. A big book… Senator John McCain deserves credit for bringing to light the vast sums being trucked into Washington D.C. as if our nation's capital were a giant landfill.

The Mob didn’t need to infiltrate the breathtakingly-huge $40 billion a year slush fund known as the Indian gaming industry...

Mob money created it.

Meyer would be proud of you Jack... except for god sake lose the halo

The Indian gaming industry began in 1979 in—can you guess?—Florida... with the Seminole Tribe’s million dollar bingo parlors. Along with Seminole Chief James Billie, a fast-talking former Marine named Robb Tiller was the linchpin in the fortunes of what was to become one of Florida's biggest businesses: the Seminole Indians gambling operations.

“Meyer Lansky put up the original million dollars for the Seminole tribe to start gaming in Hollywood at what became the first bingo hall gaming entity in the U.S.,” Tiller told us matter-of-factly.

In newspaper interviews in the early 80's, Seminole Chief Billie had acknowledged as much. "There might be some semblance of truth," he said, to the allegation that Organized Crime helped capitalize the tribe's first bingo hall. He was referring to a 1979 investment by Cosa Nostra kingpin Meyer Lansky.

When Lansky got into difficulties with the FBI in 1981, no one was happier than Chief James Billie. “It’s great if you are going to arrest Lansky,” he told investigators. “I won’t have to pay him back.”

Even the Inspector General's Office for the U.S. Department of Interior—never known to be an eager beaver outfit—reported ties between one of the companies managing the Seminole casinos' operations and an organized crime family.

A Caribbean Dutch island Rudi Dekkers would be proud of

“The Seminole Indians of Florida, who run four gambling operations in the state, also have a stake in a St Maarten casino. Their original entry into gambling came via a Meyer Lansky associate named James (Skip) Weisman,” they reported.

St. Maarten, east of Puerto Rico, is administered by the Netherlands. The State Department has identified it as a center for cocaine and heroin shipments to the United States, and a haven for launderers of drug money.

Most people think that the Indian tribes run the casinos located on their reservation. Nothing could be further from the truth... For example, Seminole Management Associates (SMA), was the management company that ran the Seminole’s Hollywood casino, also controlled by Lansky lieutenant James (Skip) Weisman.

Meyer's people clearly get around.

The National Indian Gaming Commission finally stepped in. They invalidated SMA's contract. So the tribe immediately hired another company, JPW Consultants, which was owned by—can you guess?—James "Skip" Weisman, with his brother "Butch" Moriarty. These are of course the very same men who'd managed the hall under SMA, before supposedly being dethroned by the U.S. Government.

Being connected means never having to say you’re sorry

When Sharon Lyons, a bingo-card seller, told investigators she saw Skip Weisman packing cash from the Hollywood casino into cardboard boxes, and then sending the boxes off to the island of St Maarten using UPS, Skip was apparently not amused.

"She was told to keep her mouth shut if she wanted to keep her legs," testified investigator Roger Odom, a former Seminole police officer, in a deposition.

Weisman denied, of course, shipping any cash. The boxes were filled with "janitorial supplies, ping pong balls, your balls, your papers, your do-it-yourselfs, different forms to run an office, your boards, just a myriad of different items," Weisman said in a sworn deposition.

“Your balls, your papers, your big-ass cement shoes.”

The More Things Change...

Mob Bosses Frank Costello and Lucky Luciano attended the 1932 Democratic Convention that nominated F.D.R.

By 2004 things had changed, but only slightly. Now not just the Bosses, but even lowly accused Mob hit men were getting into the act. Plus, they'd switched parties. The Mob had gone Republican...

No wonder Gore lost Florida.

One of the three men who go on trial in March for the cold-blooded gangland-style slaying of Sun Cruz Casino’s Gus Boulis found it necessary to show his respect by attending the funeral of President Ronald Reagan.

He even brought an entourage.

Accused killer “Little Tony” Ferrari checked into Washington's posh Madison Hotel for President Ronald Reagan's funeral, according to the June 9, 2004 Washington Post, with his family and a "five-car entourage of aides."

"I'm a big fan of President Reagan," Little Tony told the Post. "I even met him once."

(Oh, to have been a fly on the wall during that meeting!)

...The More They Stay the Same

Back in the early 1930’s, when Mob Boss Dutch Schultz suspected a key lieutenant of disloyalty, he personally encased the man’s legs in cement, and then dumped him, while still alive, in the Hudson River.

Well, remember the Marine arrested at the White House for spying recently? Feeding classified material to politicians in the Philippines? The politicians were Abramoff's clients...

The Marine passed classified documents to a Filipino politician named Michael Aquino, who’d been sent to the U.S. to chill out until he was no longer “hot” in Manila. Why was Aquino laying low?

Because he'd killed a man who’d released an embarrassing video clip during the Filipino Presidential campaign showing Philippine Vice President Joseph Estrada playing high-stakes baccarat at a casino with a notorious gambler.

Edgar Bentain disappeared without a trace, until someone confessed that they’d seen him...in a drum. Bentain was encased alive in cement. Philippine NBI agents were later said to be searching for a metal drum near the bridge.

"We were brought to a bridge near Bacolor, where we saw Bentain inside a drum. We could still see his head but the rest of his body was already buried under cement," said the man’s statement to police. “Bentain was crying and begging for his life.”

In Tagalong, Aquino told him, “You deserve this because you mind other people's business too much!"

The future looks so bright we're gonna have to wear shades

Jack Abramoff’s intense preoccupation with a tiny string of islands 7000 miles from Washington D.C. was no laughing matter... It wasn’t because he wanted easy access to Tahiti, either. Evidence indicates that Abramoff’s clients, who ran the Mariana’s Islands as if they were a sugar plantation in Haiti circa 1700, were also in business with Chinese Tongs, the Yakuza, and the Russian Mafia.

This is, almost by definition, serious business.

SunCruz was to have been Abramoff’s springboard to wealth and power beyond the dreams of mortal men. Some of Sun Cruz’s dozen gambling boats in Florida and South Carolina were to be used to open operations in the Marianas Islands in the Pacific. Abramoff and Kidan traveled to at least a dozen countries, including China and the U.K. scouting potential expansion spots, for what they called "the shining star" of the industry.

"You know, we're really scouring," Kidan told FORBES in Abramoff's Washington office in early 2001. "I've been traveling like crazy. Jack's been traveling like crazy. Sometimes together, sometimes separately, looking at locations."

Except, to do that, Kidan and Abramoff first needed to get rid of Boulis.

So Adam Kidan wrote $250,000 in company checks to men who are today about to go on trial for capital murder. Asked what the checks were for, Adam Kidan used the same excuse the Black Hand did back in the early days of the 20th Century. He told The Miami Herald that the checks he wrote to accused killed Anthony Ferrari were “for security.”

He couldn’t very well say they were for the Black Hand.

Yet Kidan has not been charged with any crime in Boulis' murder.

"Actual business tactics" for Dummies

In an interview in the Dec 27 2005 Newsday Kidan took exception to his portrayal in the media as a failure in the business and legal professions. The Miami Herald, to cite one example, called him “a defrocked lawyer.”

We think its better than being called a "fucking dunsky." If John Gotti were alive, what do you think he'd call a guy who pays for a hit with a check?

Conceding he had filed for bankruptcy and surrendered his license to practice law, Kidan said that both instances were “actually business tactics.”

Rabbi Daniel Lapin, the Jewish Jerry Falwell, let poor Jack have it with both barrels. “I think the Torah he has learned helps him to internalize the tragic events of the past two years in his life, and use them for personal transformation.”

Still, Jack Abramoff’s mea culpa for his transgressions wasn’t exactly what you might call heartfelt. He attributed his downfall, in part, to “zealousness for finding funds for the charities I supported.”

He told The Jewish Journal, “I had lost a sense of proportion and judgment."

Kidan, perhaps finally realizing that he's no rocket scientist, contents himself with saying he had just been "looking the other way."

A "seductive yet fraudulent netherworld?" Who are they kidding?

“Sometimes you go into a business and the upside potential is so great that you close your eyes and look the other way," said Kidan. "I looked the other way and the other way has come back to smack me."

Newsday reported that Kidan was giving its readers “a unique insight into a seductive, yet fraudulent netherworld.”

"Never look the other way" may qualify as a unique insight on Long Island. But somehow we doubt it.

Just like Rudi Dekkers, Kidan was being given a pass.

We’ve barely scratched the surface of the hidden connections that we've discovered around Abramoff and Kidan.

But we may as well take our time dishing them out...

There’s not much fear of being scooped. The major media has decided to let sleeping dogs lie.

If the Abramoff saga were a Bob Hope road movie, it would be being tidied up with left-over funding from Lady Bird Johnson’s Highway Beautification program.

There's always a few bad apples... Don't mean nuthin.'

The Jack Abramoff Scandal is being prettified. The revisionists are already working to redeem the unredeemable.

While pundits ponder out loud the question of whether Abramoff’s crimes represent the handiwork of “a few bad apples” or institutional corruption of gargantuan proportions, we all know that "B" is a definite non-starter.

Jack Abramoff, it will be explained, was an aberration. A singularity. An evil genius, creating corruption where none would otherwise have existed, or the Arnold Rothstein of American politics bribing a hapless Congress into pretending they're the infamous Chicago Black Sox during the crooked 1919 World Series.

Maybe its not even Abramoff's fault. Maybe something in his childhood...The back-peddling is in full swing.

Abramoff may have visited the White House, sure, an unnamed source tells the Washington Post, but his trips were generally social visits such as Hanukkah receptions.

Their meetings, President Bush insisted, were just innocent “grip-and-grin” encounters. “It’s part of the job of the president to shake hands with people and smile,” Bush remarked.

Too bad it isn't true.

Our attitude about what's going on is that we feel a little like the bitter hero of Hemingway’s "The Sun Also Rises," who spoils the romantic musings of the love of his life, Lady Brett, after she's gushed about how--if only Jake hadn’t had a certain unmentionable male organ blown off by a land mine in World War I--they could have had a damned fine life together.

In the novel's closing line, Jake replies, "Isn't it pretty to think so?"

Once you've lost your illusions, there's no getting them back.

While awaiting sentencing, Kidan told a reporter, "I look forward to cooperating and getting on with my life.”

What we’d like to say to him is: "Not so fast, pal."

Abramoff admitted in interviews that his business was shot through with illegalities. Gus Boulis was shot through too. Three times.

And we don’t hear Jack saying much about that.

Not yet, at least.

Stay tuned.

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