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band. In one of these notes, Frank was instructed to tell Bouchard that the Lear jet “had been repossessed,” Mrs. Peroff said.
At the completion of the conversation, she, her husband and Dos Santos talked for a few moments. Mrs. Peroff said Dos Santos conceded that “the case was over—it was finished.”
But, Mrs. Peroff said, Dos Santos, while acknowledging the collapse of the Bouchard inquiry, went on to propose another venture. Dos Santos "began talking to Frank" about a new case he could work on with Mr. Bornstein of the (Queens County) District Attorney's Office," Mrs. Peroff recounted. Mrs. Peroff added :
It is hard for me to put into words as I think back on how I felt at this time. After the long months of effort and money and problems and worries that had gone into the case to bring it to the point where it was it was an indescribable letdown and disappointment to have it end this way. We both felt that things had started going wrong immediately after the name of Robert Vesco was brought into the case. IVe felt that this fact and this alone was the reason for the death of this case.
DOS SANTOS REMEMBERS AUGUST 1
Richard Dos Santos told Senators that he might have been in the Peroff's hotel room at the Hilton Inn August 1, 1973. But he was not present, he said, during a telephone conversation between Peroff and Bouchard (p. 278).
Subcommittee Chief Counsel Howard Feldman read to Dos Santos those sections of Mrs. Peroff's affidavit in which she asserted that Dos Santos was there during the Bouchard call and listened to it, taped it and, to some extent, orchestrated it (p. 278).
Dos Santos denied that he could have taped the call because "I did not have a tape recorder." (P. 279.)
But, Dos Santos testified, he did have a recollection, although not a very precise one, that Peroff did play for him a recording of a Bouchard conversation. In this taped conversation, Dos Santos testified, he thought he remembered Peroff telling Bouchard that the Lear jet had been repossessed (pp. 279, 280).
Dos Santos said Peroff used the story of how the jet was repossessed "to cover his backside" with Bouchard (p. 280).
While he was fairly sure he had heard that Peroff had given Bouchard this account, he wasn't sure where he heard it—from a recording, from Peroff having told him about it or even from discussions with the Subcommittee staff. “The mind plays funny tricks,” Dos Santos testified (pp. 279, 281).
But the contested phone call to Bouchard and the story of how the Lear jet had been repossessed were of diminished consequence by August i anyway, according to Dos Santos. The Bouchard heroin inquiry, with its alleged Vesco-LeBlanc angle, all but died on July 30, the day Frank Peroff was sent away from Montreal. Dos Santos said:
For whatever it is worth, or whether it is good or ill, when he came back from Montreal on that last occasion, it was my
understanding, my belief-whether there is anything to substantiate this, I don't know—that that portion of the investi
gation was at least in limbo if not dead (p. 276). Dos Santos testified that hopeless as the situation seemed July 30 he did admonish Peroff not to give up entirely. "Don't break the umbilical cord,” were the only words of guidance Dos Santos said he gave Peroff that day. “I don't recall giving him any (other) instructions with regard to Bouchard,” Dos Santos said (p. 277).
O'NEILL CLAIMS IGNORANCE OF JULY 20 CALL, MEMORANDUM The subcommittee, in seeking to establish why Frank Peroff was ordered to leave Montreal July 30, also sought to determine why, on July 27, when he insisted he was expected in Costa Rica, the decision was made that he go instead to Canada.
Peroff testified that when he returned to New York from Puerto Rico Bouchard had assured him the heroin transaction was soon to be consummated. Then on July 20, following instructions from Bouchard, Peroff claimed to have received a call in a phone booth from a man "with a New York accent” who waived the need for a password and arranged to recognize Peroff on sight upon his arrival in Costa Rica.
All that was left for him to do, Peroff said, was to call Bouchard and "tell him the color for sure of the plane and the estimated time of arrival in Costa Rica, and that was it.” (P. 122.)
Apprised of the purported July 20 phone call, John J. O'Neill told the Subcommittee it was "all news to me." (P.633.)
Manuel told O'Neill that Peroff claimed to have been in contact with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police July 20 and that the Mounties as well as DEA agents, knew about the call from the “man with the New York accent." (P. 633.) To that, O'Neill replied:
I am not aware of it. I have no knowledge. I spoke to nobody in Canada who told me about that (p. 633). Manuel then showed O'Neill a memorandum written to him by Richard Dos Santos at 11:40 a.m., July 20, 1973 in which Dos Santos informed O'Neill that the Mounties had just received word from Peroff that the heroin venture was soon to be launched. O'Neill said this was the first time he had ever seen the July 20, 1973 memorandum (pp. 633, 634).
In the July 20 communication, Dos Santos said he had received a call from Corporal Claude Savoie of the RCMP. Savoie reported that Peroff had been in touch with the Mounties. Peroff was said to have told Savoie that he had talked with Bouchard and that Bouchard had told him that he was "still waiting for the guy to come back and that as soon as he came the deal was go." (Pp. 633, 634.)
The Dos Santos memorandum to O'Neill went on to say that, according to Savoie, Peroff was asking the Mounties to utilize him as an informant and work out an arrangement with DEA headquarters, bypassing New York DEA altogether. Savoie said Peroff was told the RCMP would not bypass New York DEA but it was recommended
that the New York office meet with Peroff and the Mounties regarding "Frank's further utilization."
The Dos Santos memorandum of July 20, 1973 before him, O'Neill said:
To my recollection, this is the first time I have seen this . This is the first I have seen this memo ... As I told you when you recited the list of things that was the first I had
heard of it (p. 634). Richard Dos Santos, in his appearance before the Subcommittee, was shown a copy of the July 20 memorandum for John J. O'Neill. Dos Santos testified that he remembered writing the memorandum and that his mention of the conversation with Savoie had reference to a call from Savoie that occurred "days or possibly even hours" before he wrote the memo (pp. 425–426).
Looking at the Dos Santos memorandum, O'Neill testified, "This is the first I have seen of this memo.” (P. 634). Philip Manuel, Subcommittee Investigator, asked:
In other words, you were in the decision-making process in this case and you were not even getting the benefit of infor
mation such as this. Is that your testimony? “Yes," O'Neill replied (p. 634). This discussion then followed:
MANUEL. How could you possibly make an intelligent decision without having the benefit of this type of information?
O'NEILL. When you add it all up, it still comes down to the same thing.
MANUEL. I don't know whether it does or not, Mr. O'Neill.
O'NEILL. When he asked for the money, when he went there and asked that this thing be backed up, this information be
backed up, it still came out zero (pp. 634–635). Manuel pointed out that had O'Neill known about the purported July 20 calls from Bouchard and from Costa Rica, O'Neill might not have sent Peroff back to Montreal. O'Neill said there was no way he could have known about the July 20 conversations because he spoke to Peroff
' for the last time July 17 (p. 635). Manuel asked:
So you don't know whether he got such instructions or not to go to Costa Rica? “Right,” O'Neill said (p. 635).
O'Neill seemed to be asserting that proof of the wisdom of his sending Peroff to Montreal July 27 was in the fact that no heroin transaction and no trip to Costa Rica ever occurred after July 27. Moreover, he said, Bouchard did not confirm the July 20 conversation when he met July 27 with Peroff. Manuel asked O'Neill how it was that he knew Bouchard did not confirm on July 27 the July 20 conversation, O'Neill testified that he was sure Bouchard did not confirm what he had said July 20. This exchange ensued:
MANUEL. It seems to me regarding your concern about Mr. Peroff's well being, while he was in Montreal, if Peroff had his instructions from Bouchard to go to Costa Rica and you sent him into Montreal, not knowing that he had received these instructions, you could have gotten him killed in Montreal. Right?
O'Neill. No, because that would have been worked out. In other words, the idea for him to go to Montreal is to get money, if possible, in Montreal. If not, and he did receive it let me ask you this. I will reverse the logic. Why when Bouchard met him on the 2--that Friday, the 27th? Was that the day that they met! Why did not Bouchard reafirm the conversation that he had had one week previous with him?
Why did he not then give him these instructions face-toface? Why didn't they firm it up and make it absolutely to
tally clear (p. 636) ? Manuel said there was no DEA documentation to show one way or the other what Bouchard had told Peroff about Costa Rica. Moreover, the demand for advance money which Peroff confronted Bouchard with raised a new obstacle to the project, a difficult obstacle at that, for Bouchard had few financial resources and Peroff was demanding thousands of dollars from him before he, Peroff, would go to Costa Rica. Accordingly, Manuel asked:
Mr. O'Neill, do you have any evidence or indication that there was no confirmation of the July 20 phone call from
Bouchard to Peroff at the July 27 meeting in Montreal? O'Neill replied:
My recollection, my answer to that is I have no evidence because this is the first I ever heard about it (P. 637). This discussion followed:
FELDMAN (Subcommittee chief counsel]. So that when they met in Montreal, there might have been a reconfirmation of this, the July 20 phone call ?
O'Neill. The fact that it wasn't reconfirmed might lead one to believe that maybe it was never
FELDMAN. Wait. We don't know if it was reconfirmed.
FELDMAN. Did they tape this conversation between Bouchard and Peroff when he was in Montreal?
O'NEILL. I don't know. You would have to ask them.
FELDMAN. Have you talked to them about any taped conversations?
O'NEILL. No. I think ask them.
FELDMAN. Have you gotten any briefing from them on what happened in Montreal ?
O'NEILL. The briefing was Connie Conrad Bonchard] came over, saw him for an hour, left, went home and took the phone off the hook.
FELDMAN. Did they tell you what happened in the hour with the RCMP!
O'NEILL. The conversation was very vague, very general.
FELDMAN. Did they tape the meeting?
O'NEILL. No. This I got from Bowers and I was on leave
POSTSCRIPT ON JULY 20
In retrospect, from Frank Peroff's point of view, July 20 was a day of wasted effort. It was on this day that Dos Santos sent the memorandum to O'Neill saying that Peroff had reported to the Mounties Bouchard's hope that the heroin deal was close to being launched. And it was also on this day that Peroff claimed to have received the final instructions on the Costa Rica trip. But along with these signs of progress was the issue of the outstanding warrants on Peroff and what might happen to him because of them. Manuel asked Dos Santos:
As of the close of business July 20, which would have been a Friday, to your knowledge had a decision been reached to
have Mr. Peroff arrested on the warrants from Florida? "No," Dos Santos testified, explaining that the decision was still pending. That judgment would be made later by John O'Neill and possibly his superiors, Dos Santos said (pp. 436, 437). Dos Santos was wrong. The decision was already made. The wire requesting New York police to arrest Peroff was sent the day before—July 19—by Orlando Sheriff's deputies.
Curiously, Dos Santos testified that during the July 22–27 perioda time when Dos Santos and Peroff had several conversations, both in jail and out—the two men did not discuss either the July 20 phone call Peroff was supposed to have received from the “man with the New
York accent” or the related conversation Peroff had with Bouchard which Dos Santos cited in his July 20 memorandum to O'Neill. Peroff testified the opposite, insisting that he did try to convince Dos Santos that final arrangements for the Costa Rican trip had been made.
It is one of the many inconsistencies in the testimony that Dos Santos would not discuss with Peroff the substance of his July 20 memo to O'Neill. But Dos Santos on three occasions testified that he could not remember discussions between himself and Peroff on these subjects from the time Peroff went to jail until Peroff got on the plane for Montreal July 27 (pp. 264, 266).
DOS SANTOS STATES PURPOSE OF JULY 27 TRIP
According to his testimony, there was no doubt in the mind of Richard Dos Santos as to why Frank Peroff was sent to Montreal July 27, 1973. From the moment Peroff was released from the Queens County jail, it was understood, Dos Santos said, that Peroff was to return to