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In his testimony before the Subcommittee, Peroff said that while he and his family waited to board the plane he gave the tape of the July 10 conversation with Bouchard to Pinol. Peroff identified this recording as No. 5 in the crucial Bouchard series (p. 77). Peroff said he held onto the tapes of the July 6 and July 8 conversations with Bouchard-Nos. 1 and 4 of the series—and later gave them to the Investigations Subcommittee.
Pinol, in his sworn statement to DEA-Customs investigators, denied receiving any tapes July 17 at the airport. Pinol said he was given two tapes by Peroff the entire time Peroff was in Puerto Rico and that these two tapes were given to him prior to July 1, 1973. Pinol said he sent both those tapes to Richard Dos Santos by registered mail.
TIIE EVENTS OF JULY 17 IN NEW YORK
Arriving at the Kennedy Airport in New York, the Peroff family was met by two DEA agents, Richard Dos Santos and Dennis Perry. Peroff said Dos Santos gave him $1,100 in cash, "an amount,” Peroff explained, “far less than what I had spent in performing my assigned duties in this investigation” (p. 77).
When Agent Dos Santos handed Peroff the money at Kennedy Airport—the sum was $1,093.38—it brought the total amount of funds the U.S. Government had spent in 1973 on Peroff to $34,394.68. This figure included expenses for himself and his family and the rewards following the successful completion of the Paris heroin seizure and the Rome counterfeit money capture.
Peroff, still at the airport, paid Dos Santos the price of his airfare from Puerto Rico to New York. Peroff did not explain why he paid this money, except to say that Group Supervisor John J. O'Neill wanted it that way (p. 77). Staff inquiry indicated that this payment by Peroff to Dos Santos came about because in his heated conversation on the phone with Dos Santos and O'Neill. Peroff said he would bring his family and pay his own way. The DEA men held him to his word.
The money exchange completed, Dos Santos went over to Judy Peroff and said hello. Then, Peroff testified, the two DEA agents walked out of the airport, leaving Peroff and all the family's luggage and Judy Peroff and the five children and the poodle grouped together alone in the terminal. Nothing was said about Conrad Bouchard, about the trip to Costa Rica, about Robert Vesco or Norman LeBlanc or anything else that had seemed so very important just 24 hours before, Peroff testified.
Peroff didn't know what to do. So he went to a pay phone and called Special Watergate Prosecutor Archibald Cox (p. 77).
VIII. O'NEILL, OTHERS RECALL PUERTO Rico PERIOD
AGENTS TESTIFY ON FAMILY ISSUE
Frank Peroff told Senators that John J. O'Neill approved the idea of his bringing his family from San Juan to New York. O'Neill denied it. Richard Dos Santos was questioned on this subject.
Dos Santos said he first learned the Peroff family was coming when Peroff called him from the San Juan airport July 17 (pp. 286, 426, 427). Dos Santos said he told his boss, Group Supervisor O'Neill. O'Neill insisted Peroff not bring his family, Dos Santos said. DEA wanted to have discussions with Peroff about the Bouchard case, Dos Santos said, but the agency did not wish to be responsible for Peroff's family. Dos Santos testified:
We wanted to talk to him. We wanted to pick his brains. We didn't want to, you know, take over the lodging and care and support of his family (p. 287).
BOWERS DIARY REFERS TO PEROFT FAMILY
There was some support for Peroff's assertion that DEA had originally given him approval to bring his family to New York July 17, 1973. This support was found in the diary and testimony of DEN Agent Sidney Bowers. Bowers, who was assigned to Montreal in 1973, wrote in his diary entry for July 16 that on this day he had talked on the phone with Richard Dos Santos about the Bouchard inquiry and that Dos Santos had told him that the Peroffs might be coming to New York soon. The entry for July 16 is as follows:
Talk w/Dos Santos re Frank & Connie caper-Frank hadn't talked w/Connie since last Wednesday (July 111 Frank upset re reported involvement of Vesco et al. Frank and family may come to NY in near future. Call Savoie, advise of above-ask if RCMP want Frank to come to MTL
(Montreal]—Claude will check w/Poissant and advise Bowers testified that he remembered Dos Santos telling him that Peroff wanted to bring his family to New York because he was unhappy with their quarters in Puerto Rico and he was also unhappy because Customs was no longer paying the rent (p. 789). Then Subcommittee Investigator Philip Manuel and Bowers had this exchange:
MANUEL. But in any case you did have a conversation with Dos Santos in which Dos Santos advised you as of the 16th that possibly Mr. Peroff may bring his family to New York; is that correct?
MANUEL. So that Mr. Dos Santos would have had knowledge as of July 16 of at least that possibility? Bowers. Yes, sir (p. 789).
Dos Santos said that any difference in Bowers' diary and what actually happened was "more apparent than real.” Dos Santos testified:
His [Peroff's] family coming to New York and being supported by the DEA was one thing. His family coming to New York, and we felt it would be after he came to New York to be debriefed, which we were paying, is something else again. We wanted him to come to New York and be debriefed, keep
ing his family down there for the time being (p. 427). Manuel asked Dos Santos:
Did he advise you prior to July 17 that he was going to bring his family to New York? (p. 427). Dos Santos replied:
There were many conversations with regard to his family situation, the fact that they were allegedly going to be kicked out of their apartment by this Mrs. Weiss. However, the decision was made that he would come up first. Whether his family came up later on, is something else again, but he would
come up first and be debriefed (p. 428). Nonetheless, in this exchange Dos Santos made abundantly clear when he first became aware that the Peroff family was coming to New York:
MANUEL. Mr. Dos Santos, when was the first time that you
Dos Santos. I had a telephone conversation the day he was
O'NEILL'S VIEW OF JULY 17 FLARE UP
Group Supervisor John J. O'Neill had a broader interpretation of the events that led up to the July 17 flare up. O'Neill said the family issue was only one of several factors that contributed to the tension between Peroff and the government. The other factors included the commercial vs. executive jet controversy and the undefined status of Frank Perofr. No longer a Customs informant, Peroff was not officially a DEA operative either. Consequently, Peroff was trying to carve out a position with DEA advantageous to his own needs and the needs of his family, O'Neill said.
By the same token, O'Neill sought to establish a viable relationship with Peroff, a relationship conducive to DEA procedures and resources. In a sense, then, the two men were sparring, O'Neill said, and he, O'Neill, was determined not to give ground. For his part, Peroff was equally determined, or seemed to be, for rather than compromising he severed his association with DEA, O'Neill said. But O'Neill was not persuaded. IIe testified that he thought Peroff was blusling.
O'Neill testified as to his own thinking this way. He said, for example, that he preferred that Peroff come to New York alone and leave his family in Puerto Rico. That way, O'Neill said, Peroff could have been free to work long hours with Drug Enforcement Administration agents without having to concern himself with the needs of his family (p. 572).
But, that being said, O'Neill felt he had no right to keep the Peroti family in San Juan or in any other way constrict their movements. "I told him he could do anything he wanted with his family," O'Neill testified (p. 572).
However, O'Neill said, he did not believe the government should pay the family's expenses once they arrived in New York. O'Neill said he made that disclaimer very clear to Peroff but that Peroff chose to ignore it (p. 570). O'Neill explained:
I had no objection to his bringing his family. [But] I was not going to pay for his family or support them while here,
which he had insisted I agree to (pp. 571, 572). O'Neill said Peroff argued that his family should be supported in New York—and that O'Neill had made that promise. Since Peroff issued this declaration from the San Juan Airport, O'Neill said, it was like an ultimatum. O'Neill termed Peroff's methods as “a common tactie” informants use, a "blackjacking type of tactic.” (P. 572.)
But the tactic failed, O'Neill said, adding that he refused to agree to Peroff's demands and that, at that moment-July 17, 1973-Peroff, of his own accord, retaliated by severing his relationship with DEA. "That was his decision," O'Neill testified. "He told me that he had no interest or desire in any way to continue his cooperation with DEA." (P.573.)
But O'Neill, in referring to Peroff's “cooperation with DEA," acknowledged that the precise nature of Peroff's relationship with DEA--with the U.S. Government in general-was ill-defined. O'Neill was at a loss, in fact, to try to define it. As O'Neill put it, Peroff "hadn't really cooperated with DEA, but since he was a voluntary informant, I didn't know of anything that we could do to keep him." on the Bouchard case (p. 573). Peroff didn't owe DEA anything. DEA, for instance, wasn't paying Peroff expense money. John R. Bartels, Jr., DEA Administrator, testified that all the money his agency ever paid Peroff was $50—and that was for phone calls (p. 467).
In turn, as of July 1, 1973, Peroff was no longer a Customs informant because Customs was no longer in the drug enforcement business. Thus, from July 1 until July 17—the date of Peroff's socalled break with DEA-he was caught in a kind of informant's limbo, informing to an agency that felt no responsibility toward him, and promising mobsters the use of an airplane he did not have. Perofl was receiving no expense money--and the expense money owed him by Customs was not forthcoming,
O'Neill himself attested to the uncertainty of Peroff's role in life when he described for Senators how DEA authorized Perofl's airfare from San Juan to New York July 17. O'Neill explained that DEA had not given Peroff a code name or number. So Perofl's defunct Customs
number, D-73–1, was used. “The reason we did it that way is that you try all the time to identify anybody, any witness, as much as possible identify him by a number or code name rather than his name," O'Neill said, adding, however, that he had not yet decided to give Peroff a DEA code name or number or in any other way formalize his association with the agency (pp. 573, 574). O'Neill explained :
We wanted to get him up [to New York] to talk to him, to evaluate him. If it did look like there was something there, we would have made him an informant. If there was nothing there, we would have risked the whole thing of a round trip ticket to Puerto Rico. Talking to someone of the caliber of Bouchard a round trip ticket to Puerto Rico is an investment
(p. 571). It was, therefore, to O'Neill's mind, a testing period for Peroff, a time to determine whether or not DEA could use him. Yet, unfortunately for Peroff, nobody told him this was a tryout. Peroff was following the instructions of DEA personnel, working and living as if he were central to a major heroin inquiry. There is no indication by any of the government's witnesses in the Subcommittee's hearings that any drug enforcement agent or official ever informed Peroff that the Bouchard investigation was tentative or that his, Peroff's, role in it was in doubt.
In testimony before the Subcommittee, both Dos Santos and O'Neill said Peroff came to New York July 17 on orders from them. Yet O'Neill still persisted in informing Senators that Peroff was not a DEA undercover operative.
Thus, Subcommittee Investigator Philip Manuel asked O'Neill “If he [Peroff] wasn't a DEA informant at the time he travelled from Puerto Rico to New York, why did you get so upset when he brought his family?" (pp. 569,570).
O'Neill replied, “Because he said we were going to pay for them.” (p. 570).
O'Neill went on to say that even though Peroff announced July 17 that he was through with DEA he was not telling the truth. What Perofl was doing, O'Neill said, was trying to strengthen his own "bargaining position.” Accordingly, O'Neill said, he, O'Neill, refused to acquiesce to Perofl's demands because he, too, was "setting up” a bargaining position for DEA (pp. 575, 576.)
The discussion on this issue covered the many points of contention which O'Neill felt were at stake in the July 17 dispute at Kennedy Airport. The O'Neill exchange with Manuel went like this:
MANUEL. On July 17 as a result of this telephone call between yourself and Peroff, was his relationship with DEA, whatever that was at the time, at an end?
O'NEILL. He terminated.
MANUEL. Whether he terminated or you terminated, was it at an end?
O'NEILL. No, I didn't think so. Again, I think he was trying to set up a bargaining position for himself.