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In his testimony, Grant said Peroff was more or less rambling all over, making one unsubstantiated allegation after another and that none of them made very much sense. For instance, on the subject of Robert Vesco's role in the alleged heroin plot, Grant testified:
In the way he mentioned Robert Vesco was he said you know the name Vesco and at that time it really didn't mean that much to me. He says something to do with the effect of the President, the President's brother or something like that. It really didn't dawn on me what his point was. He was
making a lot of allegations (p. 821). But, according to the November 28 memorandum, Grant understood quite well what Peroff was trying to say. Grant wrote in his memo that Pero si claimed to be involved in a 101- to 200-kilogram heroin effort and that to finance the project "$50,000 was being put up by Robert Vesco and that the remainder was being put up by Mr. LeBlanc." A man named “Giuseppe Cotrone" and another namel "Bouchard" were also participants in the plot, Grant wrote, adding that Peroff was supposed to fly in a Lear jet to a Latin American country and that the heroin was to be purchased for $300,000.
This detailed description of the purported Bouchard heroin conspiracy was given November 28, 1973 by the same Peter B. Grant who on June 1-4, 1974 testified to Senators that:
He [Peroff] relayed a lot of information, sir. He was just continually talking. I just had a very difficult time under
standing (p. 822). Grant's ability to understand Peroff was much better November 28 for, according to his memorandum of that date, some of the other specific points he understood Peroff to have made were that Peroff and his family had arrived in New York from Puerto Rico July 16; that Peroti's wife was named Judy; that they were staying in room 636 at the Hilton Inn, telephone 322-8700; that Peroff claimed to have worked in a “major narcotics case" for Customs and BNDD in Paris in which "numerous arrests” had been made; that Peroff claimed to have helped Frank Leyva and Harris Martin of the Secret Service capture $100,000 in counterfeit currency in Europe; that Perofi's address in Rome had been "at Vaba Gallo #16;" that the Peroffs had once lived in Florida ; that DEA agents he had worked with included "Octavio Pinno" and "Rick De Santis and Dennis J. Perry;" that Peroff felt he was owed money by federal agencies; and that he feared he would be killed either at the direction of the mob or Federal officials.
Grant wrote that Peroff claimed to be trying to take his case to Senators Sam J. Ervin, Jr. and Henry M. Jackson to insure that "a high level decision” was made.
MARTIN DENIES ANY ROLE IN PEROFF ARREST
In the Subcommittee inquiry, there were differing accounts of how the decision was made to set in motion the legal machinery to have Frank Peroff arrested.
Secret Service Agent Peter Grant testified that he did not know who made the decision or how it was implemented. But in his Novem
ber 28, 1973 memorandum he made clear that he told Secret Service Agent Robert Connelly where Peroff was and Connelly was to tell the Orange County Sheriff's Office in Orlando. Shortly thereafter, Peroff was in jail.
Harris J. Martin of the Secret Service testified that he knew that Warrants had been placed on Peroff prior to July 18 (pp. 863, 864) but that he played no role in any of the subsequent actions taken by Peter Grant such as calling Robert Connelly and providing him with Peroff's location, enabling the Florida authorities to have Peroff arrested (p. 871).
Martin's testimony on this issue was that Grant came to him with the story of Peroff calling the White House. Martin said he remembered the name Peroff and his previous dealings with him on the European counterfeit case. Martin said he and Grant "would have pulled the file” on Peroff and found the existence of the warrants, But, Martin said, he gave Peter Grant no instructions on what to do now that he, Grant, knew about the warrants (p. 871).
This aspert of Martin's testimony differed with what Peter Grant had testified to. Grant said his initial call to Connelly was at the direction of Martin (pp. 838, 839). Martin said nothing about having Grant check with Connelly. In fact, Martin meant to give Senators the understanding that when Grant came to him with information about Frank Perofi's calls he. Martin, did nothing in the way of giving (irant instructions as to low to proced. Januel questioned Martin on this point. It should be noted that in Manuel's fourth question in this exchange, he referred to Martin when he meant to say Grant.
MANUEL. Could you relate to the Subcommittee how you became aware of these telephone calls?
MARTIN. I believe Peter Grant came down to my office, asked me if I knew a guy named Frank Peroff.
JANUEL. You say he came to your office personally?
MARTIN. I believe he did. Maybe he called on the phone first, but it is just down the hall. He told me this fellow Peroff was on the phone, that he had mentioned my name, that he had done some work for us at one time. Of course, then I recognized his name. So I said yes and told him what I knew of Peroff.
MANUEL. Did you tell him specifically of the existence of the warrants ?
MARTIN. I would think that at that time we would have pulled the file and in looking through the file would have said there were some warrants outstanding for this guy in Orlando.
MANUEL. Did you instruct Mr. Martin in any way whatsoerer on how to proceed with respect to the warrants?
MANUEL. Did Mr. Grant advise you in any way that the name of Robert Vesco had been relaved to him by Vir. Peroff?
MARTIN. I don't recall. I don't think so.
VANUEL. Did Mr. Grant relay to you any information whatever about the fact that Mr. Peroff was a current, active informant for a federal agency, specifically the DEA?
MARTIX. Yes, I believe yes.
MANUEL. Did you instruct him in any way whatever on how to proceed to corroborate that information or how to get in touch with the DEA?
MARTIN. No (pp. 871, 872).
Do you have any knowledge whatever, Mr. Martin, as to
O'NEILL SAYS HE WAS THE ONE WHO HAD PEROFF ARRESTED
With Grant's testimony brought into question by his November 28 memorandum and with Martin's testimony differing from Grant's, the Subcommittee, in trying to find out how and why Frank Peroff was arrested July 22, 1973, reviewed the testimony of Richard Dos Santos and John J. O'Neill.
Dos Santos said pointedly that he had nothing to do with Frank Peroff being arrested and he didn't know who did (p. 437).
But his boss, John J. O'Neill, said he thought Dos Santos had Peroff arrested (p. 584). But, O'Neill said, Dos Santos took these steps because he was ordered to—by O'Neill (pp. 584,585).
O'Neill said he did not know of the existence of the warrants until July 18, 1973 (p. 579). But when O'Neill learned of the warrants he immediately initiated action to have Peroff arrested. O'Neill took this course, he said, “Because he was a fugitive. The warrants called for his arrest." (P. 583.) O'Neill testified:
I told him [Dos Santos] to find out if the warrants were still outstanding and would the State of Florida, I believe it was, I forget what county, if they would extradite him. He checked and came back and told me that they did. I told him to find out where Peroff was living, determine what precinct he was in, go to the New York City Police Department precinct where Peroff was living and give them the informa
tion (p. 584). O'Neill said he assumed upon giving Dos Santos these orders that Dos Santos carried them out. But, being advised by Subcommittee staff that Dos Santos denied having anything to do with Perofl's arrest, O'Neill said it was now his understanding that Dos Santos had not done what he was told to do (p. 581).
O'Neill said he learned from Subcommittee investigators that Dos Santos denied having Peroff arrested (pp. 581, 585). That means that from July 22, 1973, the date of Peroff's arrest, until O'Neill's first contact with Subcommittee staff, which was in February of 1974, O'Neill thought Dos Santos had effected Peroff's arrest. Now, with Dos Santos' denial, O`Neill could offer no other explanation as to how it was that O'Neill's directions to have Peroff arrested were carried out.
SEVERAL UNANSWERED QUESTIONS
The Subcommittee, then, was left with several unanswered questions in the issue of Peroff's arrest. O'Neill said it was he who decided to have Peroff arrested. O'Neill said he ordered Dos Santos to make the necessary contacts with law authorities in Florida and New York. Dos Santos denied he did this. Secret Service Agent Peter Grant testified he knew nothing about how the arrest was eflected. Yet his own memorandum of November 28 said that it was be who told another agent how to locate Peroff, information to be passed on to Florida police.
Moreover, Grant did concede that he called Connelly--but he said
Complicating the matter even more was a conflict on the question
After you talked with Agent Grant, did you discuss these
I think O'Neill had been made aware in advance that there
His [Dos Santos') recollection is different from mine. My recollection is that the first time I found out about those warrants was when Mr. Valentine told me or Peter Grant told
me (p. 593). There was even confusion as to why O'Neill had Peroff arrested. First, O'Neill said it was because Peroff was a fugitive from justice. Then, O'Neill added another dimension to the decision, as he testified:
There was two parts to it. The first part is that he is a fugitive, that I am a law enforcement officer, and that if I know that a man is a fugitive and there aren't mitigating circumstances that he should be arrested. That was number one. The second reason is that when Peroff is in jail he has now lost a lot of his bargaining position and then we can talk
to him again (p. 585). Manuel asked O'Neill if by these remarks he meant to say that by having Peroff arrested it was hoped he would be more cooperative with DEA."That is another part of it, yes, sir,'' O'Neill said (pp. 585, 586).
BACKGROUND TO PEROFF'S ARREST STILL A MYSTERY The Subcommittee failed to establish the precise details in the chain of events resulting in Frank Peroff's arrest. Many of these details remain a mystery.
But to DEA Administrator John R. Bartels, Jr., the explanation was simple. He told Senators:
On July 22, our New York office learned of Peroff's arrest by the New York Police which apparently resulted from an exchange of information between the Secret Service and
Florida law officials (pp. 465,466). Bartels' explanation was correct as far as it went. But there was much more to Peroff's arrest than the "exchange of information" between Secret Service agents and Florida police. There was, for example, the fact that a DEA Group Supervisor, John J. O'Neill, believed himself responsible for setting in motion the machinery to have Peroff arrested.
Moreover, O'Neill testified that in giving the order to have Peroff arrested he did not think he was sacrificing any future use of Peroiï as an informant.
Putting Peroff in jail was "worth doing," O'Neill said, because it would enable DEA agents to talk to him, to try to persuade him to be more cooperative, and, if it was then decided to use him as an informant again, “we could have made an approach to the authorities to have him work again.” O'Neill explained:
I would presume when he was working for Customs that they had informed the Florida authorities that they were using a man that was wanted. If they had done it once, we
could do it a second time (p. 586). So, on that logic, O'Neill went ahead and had Peroff jailed. But O'Neill said he ordered Richard Dos Santos, his subordinate at the time of Peroff's arrest, to initiate the action leading to Peroff's imprisonment. O'Neill said he thought Dos Santos had followed those orders. When advised that Dos Santos denied initiating such action, O'Neill offered no explanation as to how the incarceration process for Peroff was begun.
Richard Dos Santos testified that, while he did not have anything to do with Perofl's arrest, he did nothing to stop it either. This point was brought out when Senator IIuddleston asked Dos Santos about his July 18 phone call with Peter Grant of the Secret Service.
Dos Santos said he told Grant that Peroff was “involved in a particular investigation" but Dos Santos added, “I didn't make any representation to him that if be was arrested it would stop an ongoing investigation.” (P. 348.)
Dos Santos said Grant was trying to extract from DEA “our recommendation as to whether this fellow should be arrested." (P. 319.).
Dos Santos testified that he didn't say yes to Grant and he didn't say no.
"You just made no comment at all?" Senator Huddleston asked. "That is correct, sir," Dos Santos said (p. 319).