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Dos Santos testified that one day in late 1973 he received a phone call from O'Neill. O'Neill wanted to talk about the questions he would have to address himself to in the DEA-Customs inquiry into Peroff's allegations, Dos Santos said (p. 331).
Dos Santos said O'Neill explained that "there were going to be certain questions put to him and he wanted to refresh his memory on the basis of mine." (P. 334.)
Their conversation lasted less than five minutes, Dos Santos said. Dos Santos described the talk this way:
He [O'Neill] would say something to the effect of, "Well, remember, Rick, he did so and so, isn't that right?" And I
probably said, “yes.” (P.334.) Dos Santos said that when the telephone conversation with O'Neill ended he reported it to William Green, the Customs representative on the DEA-Customs inquiry. Dos Santos testified that he told Green about O'Neill's call and the nature of the memory refreshing exercise O'Neill wished to conduct. Green told Dos Santos not to engage in. conversations like that with O'Neill anymore, Dos Santos said.
Green's concern, Dos Santos said, was that the Investigations Subcommittee might learn of the conversations and Green did not want Senators "to get the idea that there was collusion, that we wanted to dress it up." (P. 334.)
Dos Santos said John O'Neill called him again. But this time, Dos Santos testified, he told O'Neill that, upon the advice of Green, they should not be having conversations like this and that there were to be no more. Dos Santos said there were no more (p. 331).
THE JUNE 1974 INTERVIEW OF BOCCHARD BY TIIE RCMP
In explaining their actions in pursuing the Vesco-LeBlanc leads, DEA officials, specifically Administrator Bartels and Group Supervisor O'Neill, testified that DEA was able to determine that Bouchard was lying to Peroff about Vesco and LeBlanc in order to stall Peroff and keep him on a string,
O'Neill testified that his conclusion in this regard was based on information he had received from the RCMP, shortly after Peroff had reported the possible Vesco-LeBlanc involvement to DEA. O'Neill, testifying from memory, could not pinpoint the exact nature of the information he received from the RCMP nor the date he received it, although he testified that he reached his conclusion prior to Perofis arrival in New York on July 17, 1973. No reports or memoranda were ever written during this time period which documented the RCMP information about Bouchard lying to Peroff, according to O'Neill.
Regarding these matters this exchange took place between O'Neill and Subcommittee Investigator Philip Manuel during ONeill's testimony:
MANUEL. Specifically, did the RCMP tell you, either
O'NEILL. Yes sir.
O'NEILL. It was a growing feeling during April, May
MANUEL. Confine yourself, Mr. O'Neill -
MANUEL. Excuse me—to the period of time after July 6, after the Vesco-LeBlanc possible connection becomes known to you.
O'NEILL. When Poissant was in New York.
O'NEILL. No sir. They had the same information and their
MANUEL. Did you have such a conversation with Mr.
O'NEILL. No, because we agreed.
O'NEILL. I don't think there ever was a Vesco-LeBlanc involvement in this, so it wasn't finished or over with. I don't think it ever started.
MANUEL. So at the time you received the information you didn't believe that Vesco and LeBlanc were involved in this?
O'NEILL. At the time I received the information I thought it was another attempt by Bouchard to string along Peroff
(pp. 554, 555). O'Neill's contention that he and DEA Agent Sidney Bowers agreed that there was sufficient information to conclude that Bouchard was lying to Peroff about Vesco and LeBlanc was contradicted by Bowers as seen from this exchange during Bowers' testimony:
MANUEL. To your knowledge as of July 16 had any information come from the RCMP to anyone in the DEA that would clearly and specifically indicate that Mr. Bouchard was lying to Mr. Peroff about the Vesco-LeBlanc involvement?
Bowers. No. Clearly and specifically that he was lying? No.
MANUEL. Was there any information to that effect whatever to your knowledge ?
BOWERS. We knew all along we were dealing with two con men, Peroff and Bouchard. Everything we were getting we were taking with a grain of salt to some extent. We had no specific information that Bouchard was lying each time he talked to Peroff. But we had an extreme lack of solid proof that he was telling the truth also.
MANUEL. What investigation did you conduct to determine that one way or another, if any!
BOWERS. Myself. In what particular areas?
MANUEL. With respect to verifying the authenticity, the possible authenticity of what Bouchard was telling Peroff regarding Vesco and LeBlanc?
BOWERS. I myself didn't initiate anything in Montreal. I was expecting to get either a report or a memorandum detailing what the specific information was relative to the Vesco involvement. If there had been any leaks in Montreal, I would have seen that they be followed up. I didn't receive any paper.
MANUEL. Do you have any idea as to why you didn't receive such a report or such documentation?
BOWERS. Apparently Don Santos didn't write one.
MANUEL. Did he, to your knowledge have sufficient information at that time to write one?
Bowers. He apparently knew that the Vesco name had come up and I don't know exactly what he knew at that time. He told me that the name had come up. He played a portion of a garbled tape to me where I heard the name Vesco. But thai
was about all I could make out of it (pp. 787, 788). Later in Bowers' testimony this exchange took place.
MANUEL. By July 16 could you discern any particular enthusiasm of the RCMP with respect to the possible involvement of Vesco and LeBlanc in this narcotics case?
MANUEL. Did they make any comment to you in that regard one way or the other?
BOWERS. Not that I recall. You are talking about enthusiasm. It was all part of the job is waiting and seeing, you know seeing how the information develops.
MANUEL. Were they at that period of time doing anything actively by way of investigation to determine the feasibility or the authenticity of the information concerning Vesco and LeBlanc to your knowledge.
BOWERS. To my knowledge, no (p. 791). Richard Dos Santos, Peroff's control agent in DEA and the man DEA officials said was responsible for the lack of reports and documentation in the Peroff-Bouchard investigation, was also questioned about his knowledge of any information received by DEA at the time the investigation was in progress, namely after July 6 to the date of Peroff's trip to Montreal on July 27, which indicated that Bouchard was lying to Peroff. In that regard, this exchange took place between Dos Santos and
MANUEL. At the time that you effected his [Peroff's) release [from Queens County Detention Center on July 25, 1973) the Vesco-LeBlanc aspect of this investigation was still very much alive, is that correct?
I believe you testified to that effect last week.
Dos Santos. Friendly forces were the only ones who were aware that he was arrested. There is no information that anybody who we were trying to conduct an investigation on was aware of his arrest and, therefore, he was in good shape.
MANUEL. But specifically with respect to the Vesco-LeBlanc aspect of this investigation, at that time it was still alive, is that correct, from the investigative standpoint ?
Dos Santos. There was nothing that militated against that.
MANUEL. At the time of Mr. Peroff's release from jail on
Dos SANTOS, No.
MANUEL. So again that statement indicates that as of the
Dos Santos. That is correct (pp. 438, 439). John R. Bartels, Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration in his testimony before the Subcommittee on June 11, 1974, also addressed himself to the question of whether Bouchard was lying to Peroff in July 1973.
In response to questioning by Senator Walter Huddleston, Bartels made the following statements:
There comes a point in time when you have to have some corroboration about this particular deal. What I gather from Mr. O'Neill was that there was information that he had received which indicated that this allegation that Mr. Vesco was involved and that it would take money, was not true and was not accurate ..
... I haven't heard Mr. Peroff's testimony or Mr. Dos Santos' testimony but what I understand from Mr. O'Neill it is that the man who was not about to go to Costa Rica to pick up $300,000 nor was Mr. Bouchard in a position to arrange for such a transaction. So based on my information, which admittedly comes solely from Agent O'Neill's recollection, it is that the information Bouchard was giving to Peroff was not accurate. It was not being confirmed by the RCMP. Mr. Peroff indeed and Mr. Bouchard, indeed had every motive to flee. There was indication or information that Bouchard was not telling Peroff an accurate story, that there was,
in fact, no deal there (p. 479). Based on all of this testimony, it seems that group Supervisor O'Neill was the only one who received information from the RCMP while the investigation was in progress that Bouchard was lying to Peroff. O'Neill not only did not reduce any of this information to writing, but also he evidently did not inform anyone else in DEA at
the time. He did not inform Agent Bowers in Montreal, nor Agent Dos Santos who was under his command and was Peroff's control agent, of this most pertinent information,
The Subcommittee staff investigation corroborated the fact that Frank Peroff travelled to Montreal in November 1974 at the request of the RCMP to work on a counterfeit money case. At that time Peroff was successful in introducing two undercover Secret Service agents to Conrad Bouchard. As a result, Bouchard and several others were arrested and some $84,000 in counterfeit Canadian currency was recovered.
This arrest of Bouchard enabled Canadian authorities to revoke Bouchard's bail and remand him to prison pending final sentencing for his previous narcotics conviction. During the bail revocation proceeding, Peroff was exposed as a Government undercover agent and pictures of Peroff and Bouchard taken in March 1973 aboard the U.S. Customs-rented Lear jet were made public.
Since Peroff had caused Bouchard's arrest only a few weeks earlier, it can be logically concluded that Bouchard and his associates became aware of Peroff's undercover role only after Peroff was publicly identified as such.
On March 1, 1974, Bouchard was sentenced to two life terms in Canada and although Bouchard appealed the sentence, bail was denied and Bouchard remained in prison, pending appeal.
The Subcommittee staff has also corroborated the fact that while le was free on bail following his narcotics arrest in January 1972, Bouchard waged a public campaign against certain RCMP narcotics officers, charging them with corruption and basing his defense on his claim that he was framed. The most conspicuous target of Bouchard's charges was Sgt. Giles Poissant, head of the RCMP narcoties squad in Montreal, who was also involved in the undercover activities of Frank Peroff as Peroff worked first for U.S. Customs and then DEA in what has been described as a joint investigation by U.S. and Canadian authorities. Poissant's subordinates, Paul Sauve and Claude Savoie, were the primary Canadian officers who worked with Peroff.
On June 13, 1974, two days after his appearance before the Subcommittee and on the eve of the Subcommittee's final executive session in this case, John Bartels wrote a letter to Senator Jackson detailing a “new piece of information” which was brought to the attention of DEA as a result of an interview of Conrad Bouchard by RCMP officers Paul Sauve and Claude Savoie.
Bartels stated in his letter that “At some time within the last several days, Bouchard sought an interview with officers of the RCMP in an apparent attempt to mitigate against the possibility that he would receive a further sentence for other charges still pending."
According to the Bartels letter, the DEA resident agent, having been advised of the pending interview of Bouchard, requested that he be questioned in connection with the information originally given to Peroff regarding Vesco and LeBlanc.
Bartels stated in the letter that “we feel that this new information further supports the accuracy of my statement to the Subcommittee and of the representations which DEA personnel have made as a result of this inquiry” to the effect that Bouchard was lying to Peroff to retain his interest.