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Being without a telephone was a source of concern for Peroff, Seibert said, since it restricted his ability to call Bouchard and Dos Santos. Seibert said he told Peroff he could always use the phone in the DEA office; or he could call from a neighbor's phone and charge the calls to DEA. Seibert said that while they talked, Richard Dos Santos called a neighbor's phone-Normand Chabot's—and asked for Peroff. After Peroff spoke to Dos Santos, Seibert took the phone. Seibert said Dos Santos referred to Peroff as a "con man" forever asking for money.
Seibert said that as Peroff was preparing to leave Puerto Rico he authorized government travel orders for Peroff and also arranged for Octavio Pinol to give Peroff $50 in DEA funds to reimburse Normand Chabot for long distance calls Peroff had made from the Chabots' apartment. Seibert said he asked Pinol if he saw Peroff turn the $50 over to Chabot. Pinol "reported negatively," Seibert said. Seibert added that in September of 1973 Normand Chabot asked DEA to pay a $66.45 phone bill Peroff had left unpaid.
Seibert said no reports were written by DEA agents in San Juan about Peroff, Bouchard, LeBlanc “or anyone else involved in the Bouchard investigation.” Seibert said this was the responsibility of the New York DEA office. Seibert said he assumed that everything he was being told about the case had already been written up in New York.
TIIE AFFIDAVITS OF NORMAND AND CIIRISTINE CHABOT
Next door to the Peroffs in the Park Plaza Condominium, 100 Isla Verde Drive, San Juan, lived Normand and Christine Chabot. Chabot, a traffic engineer, and his wife now live at 3 Oak Crest Drive, East Brunswick, New Jersey. In March 16, 1974 Subcommittee affidavits, the Chabots said that when they were neighbors of the Peroffs in Puerto Rico Frank Peroff used their phone occasionally.
Normand Chabot said that one mid-July afternoon at 4:45 o'clock he walked into his apartment and found Judy and Frank Peroff there visiting with his wife, Christine. Chabot said Peroff had just recorded a long distance call and was now trying to place another call to New . York to someone Chabot understood to be a U.S. Government official.
When Peroff got through to the official in New York, Chabot said, Peroff then played over the phone the tape recording of the previous call
. Normand and Christine Chabot said they could hear the tape as it was replayed. They said the other party on the taped conversation had a French accent. After the tape playback call was completed, the Chabots said, they talked for a while with Judy and Frank Peroff. From what they could recall of the tape playback combined with remarks the Perofl's made to them in discussions, the Chabots said, "it was brought out that Frank Peroff would have to go to Vesco ... to get the money for the narcotics or drugs.” The Chabots added that "no further identification of Vesco was mentioned."
Christine Chabot added that Frank Peroff taped several telephone conversations from their phone.
The Chabots said they met DEA Agent Octavio Pinol through his association with Peroff. They said he later came to their apartment and bought some of their furniture. In their affidavits, the Chabots made no reference to whether or not Peroff, or the federal government, paid them for long distance calls charged to their account by Peroff.
IX. THE EVENTS OF JULY 17, 18 AND 19, 1973
FLORIDA AUTHORITIES ASK FOR PEROFF ARREST JULY 19
There were warrants outstanding on Frank Peroff in Florida. The warrants were in connection with two bad checks he was alleged to have written. Federal drug agents had known about the warrants since early 1973 when Peroff became heavily involved in informant work.
On July 19, 1973, the Orange County Sheriff's Office in Orlando sent a telegram to the New York City Police Department. In the wire, the Florida authorities said that the warrants, issued April 7, 1972, were still outstanding and asked New York authorities to arrest Peroff.
A copy of the July 19 wire was made part of the hearing record. The message said that Peroff could be arrested at the Hilton Inn Hotel at Kennedy Airport. The wire said Peroff was in Room 636 and registered under his true name.
On July 22, 1973, Peroff was arrested at the Hilton by New York City Police.
This section of the staff study will now review the events of July 17, 18 and 19 which led to Perofl's arrest.
PEROFF TAKES CASE TO HIGHER AUTHORITY
When DEA Agent Richard Dos Santos left him and his family alone at Kennedy Airport July 17, Peroff said, he became “very confused and very unsure of what to do next.” (P. 77.) Peroff said he as certain of only one thing—that being, he said, that Conrad Bouchard and others thought him part of their heroin scheme. Both he and his fictitious executive jet were supposed to be standing by for a trip to Costa Rica, Peroff said, explaining, “The big problem here was that I could not sit back and let things cool down." There wasn't time, he said (pp. 77, 78).
“Drastic" action was called for, Peroff concluded. He went to a pay phone at the airport and tried to call Archibald Cox, the Special Watergate Prosecutor. Peroff testified that he failed to reach Cox. But he had made up his mind to keep trying to get through to Washington in the hope, he said, that higher authority would intervene at DEA and get the Bouchard inquiry-and his role in it-back on track. Peroff said he checked his family into a nearby Hilton Inn and kept on making phone calls (p. 77).
Peroff said he tried to contact Customs Commissioner Vernon D. Acree. The Commissioner had helped before in settlement of money owed him by Customs. Maybe Acree would help now, Peroff hoped. But he could not reach Acree either. Peroff said he also asked for John Brockman, who had been Acting Assistant Commissioner for Investigations at Customs. But Brockman was not available (p. 78).
These calls failed, Peroff said, but he pushed forward. He explained:
I found myself quite alone and in a position where we had waited all this time for this investigation to come to a head and now that a possible financier had been identified and was waiting for me to go through with this deal, there could not be any delay that could satisfactorily be explained away to
Bouchard or to the financier (p. 79). Peroff said he had tried to persuade DEA Group Supervisor John J. O'Neill that the Bouchard heroin effort was not being run by "amateurs or fools," that if he, Peroff, did not make the trip to Costa Rica by private aircraft "the case is dead.” But, he said, he could not change O'Neill's mind (p. 79).
Peroff also had failed in his attempt to go over O'Neill's head. That was on July 17 when he tried to call Cox, Acree and Brockman. Peroff didn't give up. The next day he called the White House.
PEROFF CALLS FOR J. FRED BUZHARDT
Reporting to the White House was a kind of last resort, Peroff said, but he felt he had no other recourse. He said he tried to call and explain his predicament to various federal officials, including John R. Bartels, Jr., the DEA Administrator; and other officers at the DEA and Customs. He said he was also trying to get through to John R. Wing, a prosecutor in the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Wing was handling the government's case against John Mitchell, Maurice Stans and Robert Vesco. Finally, Peroff said, he concluded that going right to the White House was a course of action that offered the best chance for success (p. 78).
His need for money was motivating him now, Peroff said. Peroff said that he had "never considered myself a paid informant” but now, owing to the amount of time he had invested in the case, it was a matter of economic survival for him that Bouchard's heroin plot be foiled and Peroff be paid a handsome reward. “I very much needed this case to happen," Peroff said (pp. 79, 80).
He said that his pursuits in Europe, some legal, some admittedly illegal, had been providing him and his family a “comfortable and rather normal life” but all that had disappeared when his government had enlisted him in the Bouchard inquiry and brought him back to North America. While Peroff made no reference to the unpaid bills he left behind in Rome, he did tell Senators that he would have stayed in Italy “if I had been able to avoid prosecution" (p. 80).
Peroff said he could have made $350,000 in his own pursuits if he had not become a government informant (p. 120).
In any event, Peroff believed the White House to be his last remaining chance to get the Bouchard case going again. He said he had seen the name of J. Fred Buzhardt in the news a lot lately and he decided to start with him. Buzhardt was President Nixon's Special Consultant. In July of 1973 he was working on matters related to the Watergate litigation. Before placing the call, Peroff wrote out a statement so that he could make a reasonably organized presentation of his story to Buzhardt (pp. 80, 162).
PEROFF TALKS TO PETER GRANT
Peroff said a switchboard operator at the White House referred his call to a person identifying himself as Peter Grant, attorney and assistant to Buzhardt. Perotf said he read his statement over the phone to Peter Grant (p. 80).
Peroff gave the Subconimittee the statement he said he read to Grant. It was made part of the hearing record. Written in erratic script in an eight- by 10-inch notebook, the statement traced Peroff's involvement with federal agents going back to his role in the SolarikSilverman narcotics transactions. Peroff's statement asserted that he was coerced by federal agents into working on the Bouchard inquiry. The statement said that when Robert Vesco's name surfaced in the inquiry drug enforcement officials set out to sabotage the case and, in so doing, exposed him and his family to retaliation by criminals.
Apparently at some point in the call with Peter Grant, it occurred to Peroff that his statement might be difficult for Grant to believe, for Peroff wrote in his notebook, "Peter Grant thinks I'm a nut." Peroff also wrote in his notebook obscene epithets beside the names of Frank Leyva, John O'Neill and J. Fred Buzhardt.
Peroff said he did not identify himself by name to Grant. Instead, he said, he gave his old Customs informant code, D-73-1. Peroff said that someone at the White House must have called Customs to check on the code identification because the next time he called the White House he was referred to as Frank Perofi, even though he had yet to give his name (p. 82).
Peroff recalled that over the next four days he spoke with other White House personnel, including persons who identified themselves as being Mr. Andrews, J. Fred Buzhardt and "a lady who said she was Mr. Buzhardt's personal secretary." Peroff said he received about six calls from the White House. He said that, following Grant's instructions, he made two collect calls to the White House (p. 81).
THE STATEMENT OF MORRIS II. DAVIS, JR.
DEA Agent Morris H. Davis, Jr., gave a sworn statement to the DEA-Customs inquiry December 5, 1973. Davis said he was working at DEA Headquarters in Washington "one afternoon in July 1973"; when Peter Grant of the Secret Service called him.
Davis said Grant explained that a man named Peroff was making charges against DEA. Davis said Grant wondered if he knew Peroff's control agents. Davis said he would try to find out who they were and have them call Grant back. Davis also said that Grant told him there was an outstanding warrant in Florida for Peroff.
Davis said he then called the DEA Regional Office in New York and spoke to a DEA agent but he could not remember the agent's name. Davis said he told the agent what Grant had told him about Peroff.
The existence of the warrant on Peroff in Florida was discussed with the New York DEA agent, Davis said, adding that he gave the agent Grant's name and telephone number and explained that Grant was awaiting a call. The New York DEA agent said that he would call Grant. Davis asserted in the DEA-Customs statement.