Perry Raymond Russo (a key witness in the Garrison inquiry)
by Pierre NAU
This material is reproduced here by
and thanks to Will Robinson
In the fall of 1992, Marilyn Colman and I traveled to New Orleans to visit our friend Suzanne White ,who recently relocated from the Monterey Peninsula to take the position of Program Directer for the
University of New Orleans public radio station. Prior to that, She held the same position at public radio station KAZU FM in Pacific Grove,vCalifornia.
Marilyn and I produced and co-hosted a weekly investigative news program entitled The Lighthouse Report on public radio station KAZU FM for 8 years. Perry Russo was only one of many we
interviewed concerning the JFK assassination.
We wish to express our appreciation to Ms. White for helping us to make to following interview possible.
Perry Raymond Russo may have been the most important witness in establishing the knowledge of a plot to assassinate President John F. Kennedy, prior to November 22,1963.
Perry Raymond Russo wasb orn on May 14, 1941, to Francis Raymond Russo and Morie Kimbrell Russo. Perry spent most of his early years in the Gentilly section of New Orleans. He attended Our Lady of the Sea elementary school, maintaining about a C + average, and then went on to Colton Junior High School. In 1959 he was graduated from McDonogh High School. Noting that he was very active in school affairs, his brother recalled that Perry once outpolled a fellow student 400 to 70 votes for the class vice-presidency. First enrolling at Tulane university, Russo remained for two years and then, because his Catholic father wished it, he transferred to Loyola University and took his political science degree there in 1964. Perry’s mother died in 1963. Francis Russo, his father, lived at 4607 Elysian Fields and was employed as a machinist at the Champion Rings Service. His brother Edwin, twenty-eight years old, took a master’s degree at Tulane, and became an engineering instructor at
Louisiana State University while studying for his doctorate. Married, he had three children. Perry Russo worked for a financial division of the General Electric Company, but when he left his father’s residence in 1966 to move to Baton Rouge he took a position as a salesman with the Equitable Life Assurance Society. Taylor Bernard, his superior, regarded Russo as one of the better newer sales persons, saying he was reliable and had done his job well. The Barry Goldwater campaign in 1964 drew Russo into his initial affiliation with the Republican party and he supported the Senator’s Presidential efforts, although he has indicated that he might have been a little more at home with a more liberal candidate. (1)
It is unfortunate that, due the Mr. Russo’s untimely death August 16th ,1995, the five-member Assassination Records Review Board established by the JFK Act, signed into law by President George Bush and sworn in on April 11, 1994, which came to New Orleans just one month and nineteen days earier to research and collect Jim Garrison files on the assassination investigation he conducted for the shaw trial and its aftermath, would be unable to call him as a witness based on the testimony he gave in the Shaw Trial.
Perry Russo testified about a "gathering" at David Ferrie’s apartment. Russo stated that when he dropped in at Ferrie’s place, "some where around the middle of September 1963," an informal gather ing – which he described as "some sort of party" – was just breaking up. Some of Ferrie’s usual bevy of youngsters were there but soon left. Russo said a former girlfriend of his, Sandra Moffett, was also there for a while. After she departed, there remained, according to Russo, a scattering of anti-Castro Cubans – a group which occasionally came by to visit Ferrie. A few of them stayed on for a little while. Also there was a tall, distinguished-looking man who had what Russo described as "white hair."Ferrie introduced the man to Russo as "Clem Bertrand." Russo remembered having seen the tall, white-haired man once before, when President Kennedy was in New Orleans for the dedication of the Nashville Street Wharf. Russo had noticed the man because he was the only one not looking at Kennedy. The man had kept studying the crowd, and Russo had concluded that he was a Secret Service agent. At the gathering at the apartment, Russo recalled, Ferrie introduced him to a young man who was called "Leon Oswald." But Russo could not firmly identify this man as the same man he later saw on television as the suspect in the assassination, I,ee Harvey Oswald. After the others departed, only "Oswald," Bertrand, Ferrie, Russo, and several of the Cubans remained. (2)
As described in James DiEugenio’s book, Destiny Betrayed(JFK,Cuba and the Garrison Case), "The group", reported Russo, discussed Cuban-American politics and everyone expressed their distaste for both Castro and Kennedy. Then, the assassination of Fidel Castro was raised,
but Bertrand noted that there would be a real problem getting at him inside Cuba.
Around this time the Cubans left, and only Ferrie, Oswald, Bertrand, and Russo remained. Ferrie continued the
conversation saying that if they could not get at Castro, they certainly had access to Kennedy. Russo said this was characteristic of Ferrie. Since he had known him, Ferrie had become more and more
embittered at the President. Russo had no liking for Kennedy either. He was a Republican and a Goldwater supporter. Joined by their stated hatred of JFK, the men now turned to the details of a plot to do away with him. Ferrie became intense. Pacing the floor, he expostulated on the way to do it : in a "triangulation of crossfire" – shooting at Kennedy from three directions. Ferrie insisted this would ensure that one of the shots would be fatal. As Ferrie became more excited and voluble, Bertrand remained calm, smoking, and added, coolly, that if it happened, they had to be away from the scene. Ferrie said he would be at Southeastern Louisiana campus in Hammond. Bertrand said he would be on a business trip to the West Coast. Russo realized that the discussion had now transcended the hypothetical. They were talking about where they would be when it occurred. Indeed, on his way back from Texas the weekend of the assassination, Ferrie did go see a friend at the university in Hammond. And on November 22, Shaw did have a speaking engagement in San Francisco. Ferrie kept on talking about a triangulated crossfire. But Russo was now tired and his memory weak. Ferrie drove him home that night.(3)
There has been quite a lot of controversy regarding the testimony and the character of Perry Russo. It is unfortunate that Perry Russo has never had the opportunity publicly respond to many of the so called critics other than through sound bite interviews etc. For this reason and because, as radio journalist, we feel one should be allowed to tell their story in their own words ; we wish to share what we believe may be the last complete interview given by Mr. Russo for the record. That is why it is entitled :
THE LAST TESTIMENT OF PERRY RAYMOND RUSSO
New Orleans :October 10, 1992
Marilyn Colman :
Will Robinson :
Perry Raymond Russo :
I think one of the questions that has always been in my mind in
studying the assassination of President John F. Kennedy is... why New
Well, New Orleans in the early sixties was,
for two reasons, a hotbed of anti-Kennedy sentiment. The first and
least organized of the sentiment were the people that were the
segregationists of the fifties thirties and forties. These people hated
Kennedy with a passion. He had fought with Governor Wallace, he fought
with the other civil rights things he had visited in 1960. Martin
Luther King in one of the jail houses in Alabama and he represented a
drastic change to the social fabric of the South. New Orleans was
historically the leader of the South of opinions, of style, of
tradition and so on and most of the other cities attempted to emulate
it. So the concept of Kennedy as a "nigger lover" was very profound
here... was a very impressive feeling...we don’t want to vote for the
"nigger lover" and so Kennedy was despised in that regard. However
there was an ambivalence here. In this particular city (it’s a Catholic
city and he was the first Catholic president) and those that were
racists or segregationists hard core - that fought tooth and nail for
the continuation of the old system - Kennedy represented nothing but an
anathema to the system here. And at the same time I guess he was
appreciated for being a Catholic president. There was a group here and
it was probably the intelligencia of the Cuban exiles at this time
located here in New Orleans, as opposed to the vast majority of the
Cuban exiles who are congregated in southern Florida and in the very
tips of southern Florida. These were the masses of the Cuban who have
come out of Bastista in 1958,’59 and ’60 and then settled in the United
States. These people were anxious to return. Each day that passed made
it more and more difficult and each child that they had made it more
and more difficult for these people to return. They did not want to
remain in the United States. They did not want to become US citizens.
They had no affinity or love for this country, except a respect and an
appreciation of what had gone on, with the help and assistance given to
those people who had been kicked out or had left Cuba because of the
Batista overthrow. So as time passed these people saw children growing
up learning to play American baseball, learning to go to American
teenage clubs, going to American schools learning English and, learning
Spanish somewhere in high school they could possibly get back to their
heritage. These people, the adults, became more and more disoriented
and became disillusioned with the United States’ inability to do
something as regards Fidel Castro. The Bay of Pigs occurred and
everybody in the United States including the Cuban movement here knew
what had happened. We had in fact turned coward. And that cowardice had
fallen on Kennedy’s shoulders for having waited until supposedly the
Cubans had reached the beachhead and then said, "well we don’t want to
have a third world war". He can’t offer the support, fulfill the
agreement he made of the support. The Cubans came back bitter and very
determined that they would mount a second invasion and they would do it
on their own. They had no use for the United States’ promises made
through either the CIA or made through the Kennedys’ statements. They
had no use for that. And so these Cubans began working hard. It was the
ethic in the Cuban community to work as hard as possible and as much as
possible with which to gather up money to buy guns and munitions and
store them. And these guns and munitions would later then be
transhipped to another location with which to made an invasion. That
concept of a second invasion was chosen somewhere in ’62 I guess, or
early 63, to be Guatemala. And there was to be an invasion into the
western side of Cuba from Guatemala. The Cuban movement, or the Cubans
that I encountered here in New Orleans were hell-bent on making sure
that they would have that opportunity. These people were very
determined. They saw their children growing up and each day, as I said
before, passed. Each day made it harder. At that time that they would
have the opportunity to return to their home country because now they
would have the difficulty of not only going back to their homeland, but
of persuading their children who were becoming a few years older why it
is that they have to go back to Havana, to go back to Cuba, if in fact
they were successful in overthrowing Fidel If that were the case these
children, these kids, boys and girls would have nothing to do with it.
They don’t know Havana. They just want to play at the local playground,
the local school and go to school and go out on dates and so on. These
people, the children were becoming Americanized. So the desperation was
beginning to set in. Now there were a series of events in the 60’s and
late ’62 that were read by the Cuban community differently than were
read by the rest of the United States. Particularly important was the
Cuban Missile Crisis that occurred in October of 1962. Here, we are
told by US news that there is a standoff between Kennedy and Kruschev,
and at the last minute before the blockade is breached by the Russian
transport ships carrying supposed missiles, that Kruschev blinked and
turned and walked away and said he would withdraw his missiles. Not so.
We knew, or maybe not ourselves, but the Cuban people knew and said it
very vocally that there had been a deal made. They had been betrayed.
They had been sold down the river. What did they mean by that ? Perhaps
best revealed by Robert Kennedy in a probably 1966 US News and World
Report interview. Robert Kennedy actually lists what happened because
he was the negotiator or the person that dealt between John Kennedy and
Kruschev in making this deal. Cubans would withdraw the missiles. And
six months after the missiles were withdrawn from Cuba (which were
non-functional, which were non-operational) we would then withdraw our
missiles from Turkey. That was the first secret part of the agreement.
Since Kennedy did not want that particular piece of information to be
blasted across the newspapers, it would make him look like a very
ineffectual president at best... that was kept secret. So in Turkey we
lived by that, we withdrew our missiles and that six months began
and...we have no missiles in Turkey. We have none. Then the second part
of the agreement : we would honor the Soviet alliance with Cuba insofar
as we would not allow another invasion to occur. Now every Cuban in New
Orleans, every Cuban I encountered, (Dave Ferry not being a Cuban)
formulated this view. That this was a betrayal, that this was a stab in
the back. This was a terrible thing that had been done.
I just want to interject one thing. OK, though you were saying that the
Cubans didn’t necessarily want to deal with the CIA on the whole thing
or the intelligence community, why did they get mixed up with people
like Guy Bannister. Obviously with the SchlemBerger arms cache you have
people like Guy Bannister, people like Gordon Nobel you have...Dave
Ferry, and it was like they were still working together.
What you are saying is why didn’t the Cubans want to get involved,
which the Cubans did not. They no longer.. they had lost a certain
amount of respect, in fact a great deal of respect, for the US pledge
to get rid of communism in the Northern Hemisphere. It was not that the
Cubans wanted to deal with the CIA - but the CIA wanted to deal with
the Cubans. Very important difference there, because the CIA would send
its people out and its contacts and its people had been in other
projects over the years and it would send these people out to make
contact and to help along with the movement to free Cuba. So here we
have a situation where there are CIA people.. now David Ferry, the Ace
and Alliance pilot who figured prominently in the summer of ’63 with
Lee Oswald. Dave Ferry is supposedly in the Bay of Pigs dropping in
supplies. He’s a pilot,from Eastern, dropping in supplies and ferreting
in men and so on and so forth. Supposedly that was his function. Now
it’s not unreasonable for me to assume and to realize that contact was
made through him ..."help".. The CIA was an independent agency. It was
not any oversight congressional committee : "We don’t approve of this
agreement we don’t want you to do that". The CIA formulated
assassination plans at that time ; tried to destabilize governments. As
late as the Nixon era the CIA supposedly shot Allende in the palace
down in Chile.
I think that what you are saying proves out because Cuba has been left
alone these many thirty years.
Absolutely, absolutely ! And no one... and now there is another point to
this. It was the opinion of the Cubans here that they had been betrayed
by John Kennedy. Now being a guest in a foreign country, they couldn’t
make that point. These were extremely patriotic people ! You are not
dealing with run of the mill lazy Americans who couldn’t care less what
happened down the block, or worse yet, in a foreign country. You are
dealing with people that are out of their own country, that wanted it
back dearly. Very very volatile, very very emotional people They want
their country back yesterday. And they were betrayed by the United
States. And yet they still saw a possibility. They felt that there were
enough Cuban people inside of Cuba that once a beachhead was breached
and once they had been able to accomplish that and get inland, that
mere presence would force these everyday Cubans in the cities and so on
to jump up and throw Fidel and all the scum out of Cuba. That was their
theory. All they needed was just tolerance by the United States. The
CIA people, uncontrolled by anyone not even perhaps the President of
the United States, fomented that... "Yes ! let’s get Castro ! Yes, lets
get Castro !. Do anything you can" ! It didn’t make any difference to
them. So in fact the CIA began to funnel money in here through its
normal contacts. Its normal people who had been operatives for these
people in the past.
And that may have been Clay Shaw ?
...and that may have been Clay Shaw. Dave Ferry claimed to have been
working for them prior to this so I would assume that they would look
in their files and say, "Oh Ferry... David Woodrow Ferry...lets contact
him and see what he’ll do". Ok so that occurred. It was in January of
’63 that Bobby Kennedy, in this interview, states that he went to the
President...maybe March of ’63...and he said that the spirit of the
agreement with Kruschev is that we’re not to allow an invasion from the
United States. However, you are facing an election in ’64 and in March
of ’63 he begins to think forward to the election. Bobby Kennedy was
the Attorney General.. Bobby Kennedy was also his most trusted advisor.
"You are facing an election coming up. Why allow something to happen
when we could just as easily interpret that agreement to mean that we
will not allow an invasion of Cuba from anywhere into Cuba. Cuba will
from hereafter forever just be a nuisance". And that is what they have
always been since this date. So, by executive order, John Kennedy
authorized the infiltration of the Cuban movement. By executive order
to the Attorney General who then gives it off to the FBI and so on. Now
the CIA is international. The FBI is supposed to be domestic. So the
FBI begins to infiltrate the Cuban movement at this time and begins
to...just to see what it is doing...what kind of strength it has. What
kind of plans it has and so it goes on with this. Now you go back to
the October of 1962 Crisis and the second agreement is that we will not
allow an invasion. That is further interpreted not from just the
mainland because if we in fact allow an invasion from Mexico or
Guatemala Honduras or El Salvador to the east into Western Cuba, what
have you done but done the same thing but called it by another name,
you are sponsoring an invasion. So that was not acceptable in the
finest interpretation of the agreement. The third thing of the
agreement, the most symbolic thing of the agreement and Bobby Kennedy
refers to is that we guaranteed that Fidel Castro’s beard could grow as
long as his toes... all the way to his feet. We would never ever allow
any attempt on him or any destabilization or any assassination attempts
that may have not been because the CIA was trying to foment it all the
while. So you had uncontrolled arms that one hand didn’t know what the
other hand was doing.
This brings up the very
important point about Oswald. There is the belief in the possibility
that Oswald might have been one of these moles working for the FBI
within the anti-Castro Cuban community there. I mean, I understand
that’s something that comes to mind anyway, because it was alluded to,
I believe, in the movie itself and I’ve seen it in print.
My encounter with Oswald was at a meeting in ’63 where I had gone just
happenstance to visit Dave Ferry on an evening. As Dave Ferry came down
the spiral staircase, it was a sort of spiral staircase...
You were an insurance salesman at that time.
No, at this time I’m a student. You see I’m in school. OK. He... this
is the late summer of ’63. Dave Ferry has come over to my house with
Cubans on occasion...I’d been to his house. There had been Cubans and
various other people with him at various times which...(how much faith
you put into these people and their claims and their talk...is its
real ? I’m not sure)..so at this particular night, for lack of having
anything else to do on a hot summer New Orleans night I then go...
How old were you then
So you were a student.
Yeah, at Loyola.
And obviously, (after spending three days in the French Quarter), it
was even an exciting place to go wasn’t it ?
The French Quarter...You look for excitement, something to do . There
was always something to do. It’s a city that rarely sleeps. There’s
always bars, there always music, there’s always jazz and at this time
there was always Dave Ferry. He seemed to be up all the time, 24 hours
a day. He was very very insomniac so to speak.
And he was very welcoming to young men and to the excitement of the
Now Dave Ferry and I had prior contacts for a year and a half. Some bad
and some good. But anyway in this particular instance and visit,
unnannouced or I didn’t tell him that...and then Dave Ferry comes down
and as we’re walking up the staircase of his house he says, "oh yeah, I
have a roommate, Oswald." I thought nothing about it . I knew Dave
Ferry was bizarre. He went in for bizarre-natured relationships. It
wasn’t a big deal whatsoever.
People were very integrated among that society that I’ve experienced in
the Quarter. Everyone accepts everyone, don’t they ?
Right. Yeah, you have to. You have to accept them at face value. You
don’t know whether or not that’s a valid analysis of the person you’re
dealing with. You have to wait over time. But you accept them at face
value. I walked up and upon entering the house, the room...I walked up
and Oswald is sitting down fooling with a rifle, cleaning it or doing
something with it. And I walked and turned and just out of a natural
way I have, I stuck out my hand to shake hands. He jumped up and lunged
at me and said "What in the fuck is he doing here ?" And I backed up and
I said, "Fuck you" and with some other expletive and then Dave Ferry
jumped in between and told Oswald "he’s alright".
So exactly as it was portrayed in JFK is exactly the way it happened.
Very very jumpy, very hyper. Sort of disoriented, would you say ?
No ! Absolutely not !
Very focused ?
Very focused. Yeah, on whatever. And he objected to my presence. So
then, you know, I didn’t need him. Who was he ? I didn’t care. And then
I went in and then there happened to be a few Cubans there. Some I had
seen before. Ferry, there were some people that came in and out. Shaw,
who I hadn’t seen before and various other people coming in and out. It
seemed like there was always a milling of people about. Now, so the
very oldest time when I first was interviewed by the DA of New Orleans.
For lack of any other word I called it a party. It wasn’t !
It was just people hanging out.
You know why we can understand that because I... in my...at the same
age you were...I was in the Haight Ashbury. And it was exactly the
same. There were houses in the area...which was the Haight
Ashbury...people went in these houses and out of these houses. Just
hung around. It wasn’t really a party. Everyone knew everyone. When I
speak with people about knowing some interesting characters that we
know about, for instance Michael Reconisciutto which is an important
character, everyone knew people. You saw them but you didn’t really
What you are saying is that you’d get
together. People got together. It was a hot night. People started
drinking, sitting around. Shooting the bull.
this particular night at this time there seemed to be...Dave Ferry
seems...you have to understand Dave Ferry. First of all, he was an
Eastern Airlines pilot who had been bumped from the Airline for
allegedly putting a jet on automatic and riding around and supposedly
having sex up in the air while the jet is on automatic. He made
phenomenal amounts of money compared to that time...you know that would
be huge amounts of money. He had no dependents except his mother and so
he lead the life he wanted to lead. He was an adventuresome type of
person. There wasn’t anything that he wasn’t ready to attempt to
conquer or challenge that he wouldn’t take. But he was obsessed with
the Latin type for himself, sexually and otherwise. But the Latin type
was something he was very interested in. So that didn’t seem out of the
way. I had seen him with so many different types, but you have to
understand that Dave Ferry was the center axis of a wheel and all the
spokes moved from Dave Ferry and none as you pointed out, none ever
touched the other. He had a relationship with me. He had a relationship
with Oswald. He had a relationship with Shaw. He had a relationship
with the Cubans. He had a relationship with the others and they did not
have interrelationships. You dealt with Dave Ferry to Dave Ferry and
outward from him. So therefore, Dave Ferry, who, on this particular
night was absolutely obsessed with Cuba. He was pacing back and forth
and ranting and raving on his coffee table, which sat in the middle of
the room. Always You could find one cup stuck on top of another cup
full of cigarette butts. You’d find beer cans here and there. He was a
bachelor. He had absolutely no sense of keeping things in order. And
everything in his home...there were little cages with mice and rats and
so on. And these are things that... he had doctorate degrees on the
wall from universities. Don’t know if they were valid. In that day you
couldn’t purchase those things. Nowadays you can order through the mail
and become a PHD overnight.
And he looked very bizarre.
OK, the bizarre nature of his look was...that was my first encounter.
We can go back to that in a little bit but this particular night...
pacing back and forth, pacing back and forth. He was very frustrated.
This is after the raids that the FBI made on August 3rd, 7th and 10th I
think of 1963 on his munitions dump. Not his, but on the Cuban
munitions dumps around.. Schlumberger,Houma and the other areas around
the lake where guns were being stored and he was just ... now it was
so, I guess, decided by several circles that not only would (they) not
allow an invasion from another country they were going to actively
frustrate it. So someone was reporting where these things were and
someone was giving them very good information. And then all of a
sudden, if you read the articles of the Times Picayune, local newspaper
of New Orleans, at that time you will see that all of the places that
were raided no arrests were made. Because, what are you doing arresting
people who are patriots storing munitions for no other reason than to
blow a communist head off in Cuba ? Why would you arrest somebody ? You
couldn’t do that. So all you did was confiscate the weapons. This meant
to the Cubans again another sign of betrayal who enunciated it very
clearly to Dave Ferry, that this was betrayal - that they could not
redeem themselves. They could not bounce back from, because now they
would not be able to invade on their own. Money that they had...these
Cubans were absolutely the best hardest working people in the whole.
They would put Americans to shame with their long hours. They were
collecting... at that time you could buy anything you wanted at the
local military store. You could buy hand grenades, you could buy
rifles, you can buy bazookas. You can buy anything you had money for.
There were no laws against it. You could transship it out. Until April
or May when, after recommendation by Bobby Kennedy, Jack Kennedy
authorized the Commerce Department, the State Department to say you
must get a permit to transship anything over a size of a 12 gauge
shotgun out of this country. If you get those two you can ship it. But
if you don’t you can’t. You could still buy them. They were still
thinking of shipping them. They would figure a way out. They were very
very aggressive people about figuring out ways that they would do
without. So you can buy another weapon because that will return us to
the homeland...that will return us to Cuba.. So Ferry was upset. There
was a map. I distinctly remember a map of Cuba and I also distinctly
remember that there was an old phonograph machine with a 78, I guess,
record album on there of a speech by whoever...probably Fidel. It could
have been Raul, it could have been Che Guevera, I wouldn’t have known.
Probably Fidel ranting and raving. I could pick up words here and a
little bit lingo and the Cubans here were just absolutely incensed by
everything said out loud on this record. And the Cubans were incensed
by this. Just upset about this. And then over the evening there was
Ferry parading around..."we cannot invade, we don’t have any guns what
are we going to use..bows and arrows ? you know this is really the
shits". You know and he’s back and forth back and forth, you know...
upset. And then by contribution from everybody around it was, you know,
sort of...we got to assassinate Castro. That’s it ! That’ll work !
Assassinate Castro. That’ll work ! OK.."
What amazes me
about Ferry in this scene. Now as I said again it takes an
understanding of New Orleans to understand this. That fact is this is
very open. Ferry didn’t try to hide his sentiments ?
the fact that it was open - there was an anti-Kennedy sentiment that he
was no good. Therefore for whatever reason, because he had integrated
the schools and everyday you heard about a new court order and everyday
you heard about the legislature trying to circumvent that with
nullification. None of which worked and the Attorney General’s office,
Bobby Kennedy - Kennedy was a name was very aggressive in pursuing the
So Kennedy could have been assassinated in
New Orleans. The fact that he ended up being assassinated in Dallas -
it could have easily have happened here.
Oh yeah sure. It could have easily happened here.
Would you say that the South, in general, was very angry with John F.
The South in general...that is why in the ’64 election we have Johnson
running against Goldwater and I am a rabid Goldwater man. They are only
five states that go for Goldwater. Every one of the five was in the
South. There was Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama and Georgia.
All five go for Goldwater...their electoral votes. The rest of the
states go for Johnson in a huge landslide in which ...the great
mandate. Down south it was not. He was an anathema too because he came
in worse than Kennedy concerning the racial situation down here. But
the Kennedy thing...Dave sort of began to formulate this plot to
assassinate Castro : And then what happens if you’re unsuccessful ? What
happens if you have problems getting into Cuba.? Oh, he had all this
worked out. He in his mind had all this worked out. "Send in three
assassins. They must be willing to die." Well there’s people, there are
people that are willing to die in the fuselage. "They must have visas
that is very important because they would have to look for (the) right
time in which to make the attack against Fidel. So they would have to
have freedom of movement around Cuba...and if there were a seven hour
speech in Havana then they could sit there and listen to that and
figure out maybe here, maybe next time...whenever."
So he could not do that by himself, he had to have the intelligence
agencies working with him.
OK it’s my opinion that Oswald went to Mexico City for the sole purpose
of getting the visa. In order to do that he must look, in all public
appearances, to be very pro-Cuba. If you think back to the sixties and
early seventies H.Rap Brown, Eldridge Cleaver, Newton, Seal, all of
them end up in Havana on Havana Radio blasting the imperialist
colonialist enslaving United States. That we have a racist society that
exploits people and so therefore there will be revolution because
there’s going to be revolution in the streets. So how do you create
this with Oswald ? Oswald is a good choice for a number of reasons. One
is he has a Russian wife. Two is he’s an official defector who reenters
the United States very easily. So he is now associated with anti-Castro
Cubans but that is relatively secret. The Cuban secret police is not on
the streets of New Orleans you see. So he has to create some kind of
public image of being pro-Marxist. Pro Castro, pro Russian. So how does
he do that ? Well he comes to meetings with us and then the next day
he’s out on the street, or the next week , or next couple of weeks,
he’s out on the street distributing pamphlets for Fair Play for Cuba
Committee, Hands off Cuba Committee, New Orleans Chapters. Those
chapters didn’t exist. But yet he’s doing that. And...
Working out of the office of Guy Bannister.
Right, working out of the office of Guy Bannister and ...’
Did you know Guy Bannister ?
No I didn’t. So he’s doing that. He gets slugged on the street, pushing
match. He sticks out his chest. "Hit me." He gets arrested, brought
down to First District, no central booking here in the city at that
time, brought down to First District. A man with...
Did Joe Carlos Bringier the person who...
I know who he is but no, I didn’t know him at the time. OK he goes down
and gets booked out on a ten dollar cash bond and what does he do the
next day ? He ends up on WWL Radio debating Ed Scanlon ...on the
relative merits of Marxism vs capitalism, whatever, and from seven to
ten, nine to ten, I’m not sure what it is the CIA paid for this
broadcast because its clear channel 50 thousand watts zoom straight
into Cuba ! So here is the Cuban police...this guy, well he’s one of us,
he’s a friend of ours . Yeah, they probably have a big file on him. So
this is decided then you know that Lee Oswald is to go to Mexico City
to get the visa. Which he goes. The CIA is there but they will not
reveal what it is that they found out about his entry into the Cuban
embassy . For some reason or another the Cuban embassy turns down his
application. Every other anti-US person who has gotten any notoriety
will end up ...
Well that brings up another gray area
because there is also speculation that Oswald himself never went to
Mexico. Because when they did produce a picture that was supposed to be
Oswald out in front of the Russian embassy I think it was, it wasn’t
And you mentioned that you knew this gentleman that was the spitting
image of Oswald.
Right. There was a fellow that Dave Ferry had, who was a gun enthusiast
and supposedly a great shot.
that’s Santana ?
Not William Seymore, but Santana.
Santana, yeah. And Santana - oh he would go Cuba. But he was wanted in
Cuba. He was wanted in Cuba for crimes against the state or whatever
thing, and his visa might have been found out. But at least under the
name of Oswald when, for most, ninety nine out of a hundred people he
would have fit. There would have never been any question. Boom ! Stamp
the visa you’re in ! Go about your business. He spoke Spanish. He could
probably handle himself and he would have probably been very effective.
You’re talking about Santana
Santana Yeah. Now I don’t know if that was going to be the case, but
that was one of Dave Ferry’s friends.
There were sightings of several people who called themselves Oswald.
There was a situation where there was a gentleman going to buy cars. We
don’t think they were Oswald. Lots of other researchers don’t believe
that it was Oswald.
So now that we don’t get confused,
this meeting, or not this meeting, this "get together" at Dave Ferry’s
house in which Oswald was present... now, was that the one where Clay
Shaw was present ?
Yeah, sure thing.
Now how did he come about into this. Because you said at one point that
before that, you had never known of the connection between all these
OK there was no connection between one to the
other that was very obvious. None of the groups mixed well. I was
always asked who did Oswald associate with. He didn’t associate with
He was just a friend of Ferry’s.
Yeah he was a friend of Ferry’s who sat there...who I didn’t get along
with and he sat there and he was observant. Well, that could be said of
a number of people. The only one that didn’t fit was Shaw ’cause he was
dressed too well to belong with this group.
Did you know who he was at the time ? Or you had no idea. I had seen him
before. I thought he was secret service.
He looked like we’d say "the heat".
He looked like heat. Well, when I had seen him in 1962 with the Federal
...the National Avenue Wharf here in New Orleans, I was at Loyola
University and it was announced - of course it was in the paper...that
classes were going to be called at 1:30 or 1:00 to go over if you were
interested. Run over to National Wharf which is not far from Loyola
University. And you would have an opportunity to see a president...a
Catholic president who was coming to dedicate the National Federal
Wharf, which he did. So I went over and I got over there a little late.
And I got there just about the same time that the motorcade was pulling
on to the outside apron of the Wharf and it was exciting and all that
kind of stuff. And at last I would see a president. And see him with
all his entourage. So I went in the back of the cavernous auditorium or
cavernous wharf warehouse type of building..huge thing. Stretching
three or four straight long blocks. They may have had two thousand
chairs there for visitors and people to go and hear the President speak
and see all the regalia and all the excitement and all that. And there
may have been that many people there. Toward the back of the auditorium
as I walked in, the one person that caught my attention was Shaw. I
looked and he was the only person not looking at the stage. And so I
figured oh well he’s secret service. Because that would be the job.
Whey wouldn’t you look and hear what the president had to say and see
all the excitement. He wasn’t. He was looking the other way. And so
that was all to that. There was the only other time I had seen him. So
anyway getting back to that particular night...Ferry, being challenged
by various people about whether or not it’s possible that you could
shoot Castro, and a very small percentage of being able to get away
with it. And then assume that the people would rise u,p if that were
possible. No one at the police station, heavily armed everywhere. Well
that’s not... you can’t... that won’t work... you know and various
people indicated problems with that particular thing. So someone said
the real bastard is Kennedy. If we can’t get Castro get Kennedy. Blame
it on someone that likes Castro and the US will go to war. Just simply
we’ll go to war in a rage and Castro will be eliminated and that will
be the end of that. And the Cubans can return to their homeland and
everybody will be happy and we’ll have no communists in North America
or South America. Well, that was challenged too. You know various
people.. Shaw....Oswald had remarked too, I’m not sure...I’ll have to
think about this as to what was possible about that. One challenge to
Ferry was you can’t get close enough to the President in order to pull
this off with any degree of accuracy or any degree of hopeful
expectations of being successful. Ferry said, "what are you talking
about ?" He said when Eisenhower came to New Orleans in 1956 or ’58 or
something on a visit, he came to New Orleans. He said, now either he’s
saying he or he’s saying he knows someone who did, went all the way up
to the limousine and touched it before he was stopped. You know, trying
to go up there and grab Ike’s hand or something before he was stopped.
"And if he can do that", he said, "carefully planned, you can execute".
He said, "after all, I can fly him out the country. What I’ll do is fly
him down to Mexico or down to Brazil." He said, "I can handle that." He
said well by going to Brazil (there) is no extradition. He said we
would probably have to sacrifice someone or two. And then it would be
successful. There would be an instant rage against Castro having pulled
this off. That’s almost what happened. On the day of the assassination
Dave Ferry ran off to Houston in a rainstorm and parked at a roller
rink or an ice skating rink and stood there six of seven hours.
Wouldn’t let anybody use the public telephone. Nothing ever happened.
He became obnoxious about preventing other people from using it and
then left. He had gone and something happened. Whether or not he was
going there for a pre-setup or meeting, who knows. No one knows. But it
was very strange behavior on his part. Guy Bannister, for whom he had
worked. Guy Bannister, on the day of the assassination or the next day,
went into his house closed the door, closed the shutters and never left
again. He did not operate his office. Within a week he did this. He did
not operate in his office. He closed down shop and several eight months
later (was) found dead at the bottom of the stairs. I know this because
I know people that knew him and they said that they had to go out and
bring food to him. He would call them and say well I need...
This is Guy Bannister you’re talking about.
He became extremely paranoid. He thought he was going to get killed.
Well, this was after the incident which was on the day of the
assassination where he pistol whipped Jack Martin.
Jack Martin, Yeah.
Yeah because, that was an amazing thing in itself. That was in the
Warren Commission and how people could miss that...
Just forget it.
Well they wanted that.
Do you think that he was having a nervous breakdown or do you feel that
he was killed.
No hey it was a ...he believed himself to be a target. That’s what I
would feel. And I believe that he did not die from falling down the
steps which would have been an accidental...
That the way we feel about a lot of these deaths surrounding this whole
Breaking of the neck.
It just happened all too fast.
But he completely withdrew from the world.
Ok so did ... what happened was David Ferry finally got around to
talking about getting Kennedy - shooting Kennedy.
Yeah, because he was challenged about Castro’s successful...
And he was talking about...triangle or rifle fire.
yeah he said there would have to be a triangulation of crossfire and
then he went around and just paced back and forth. He was drinking
coffee, gulping coffee, drinking beer, smoking cigarettes and he has
this triangulation - he kept using his hands with the index finger and
the big finger and the thumb showing it would have to come from
triangulation. He said there has to be a diversionary shot. He says you
do not pull off an assassination without diverting. He says no matter
what you read in the books that the secret service is supposed to speed
up, he said it will not. It’ll be so startled, he said, they will slow
down. That’s what they did ! And that moment, once the diversionary shot
catches everybody’s attention we all look to the right or to the left
to see a diversionary shot. At that time the dead ringer hits and you
are successful. You have to have planned escape routes beforehand. He
says you have to be willing to sacrifice somebody.
So he absolutely was not shot from the back.
Well, now I can’t say. He was shot in this triangulation of crossfire.
He would have been shot in the crossfire. He could have been shot at
one of the three legs...
Well, in relation to the head shot is what you are saying.PR From the
The head shot
The head shot comes from the front. So much evidence that would
point... so many witnesses... so much evidence that would point to
that... and for those apologists... even the medical people that come
up now... you are talking about a crazy bunch of crap. That does not
work ! I’ve dealt with guns. I know the direction of fire. There is no
way the body comes at you when you shoot at it.
I was in the service myself and I’ve shot firearms and it doesn’t work
It goes in line of fire, the line of direction and it’s gonna move that
way. And all of the apologists that will come up with these convoluted
theories just to make then fit. It doesn’t work.
They’re desperate. OK, so picture 1963. In New Orleans I know, whenever
there is any kind of a crime scene right away the police rope off
everything. Do not touch, do not enter, do not cross. They gather up
all the available physical evidence and they bring it in to the police
stations and this is done (on) a grander scale by all the resources of
the Federal Government. Get it together. Once Oswald was dead it became
very easy to incriminate him. He had a Russian wife. She was not going
to challenge anything anybody said. She had only been in this country a
couple of years. She did not know that there were avenues to say oh no
you can’t say my husband did it, oh no you can’t do this, you can’t
accuse him. No, there was no one to champion Lee Oswald. There was no
one. So therefore the Federal investigative agencies that dealt with
this had all of the evidence in front of them. Well we have problems.
The problem is as the Zapruder film shows is this bad jerk backwards.
How can we handle that ? Then Senator Spector, then investigator for the
Warren Commission then well...if in fact he was hit by the same
bullet... you don’t know all this speculation that went on in the
background. And some of which then becomes plausible with the fact that
there are how many volumes ? 60 volumes of this stuff of evidence that
It was 26, I think.
of evidence that was supposed to support this of which only three pages
can with even a convolution of logic can possibly deal with this
See, we are all familiar with that. We want to stay on with what your
involvement with this was, because...
Sure. OK, Yeah.
So the Stone’s, the way the movie had this scene with David Ferry was
absolutely what happened.
Yeah, Stone, in the JFK movie that he produced, it followed true to
form the Garrison case as to Garrison’s presentation of evidence. The
Joe Pesci handling of Dave Ferry, that paranoia,that complete control
Manic behavior.GPR That type of
personality Dave Ferry was. And it was handled very very true to the
history of that period in particular, the history of New Orleans. There
other questions... you know there are five things to what we are
talking about. I did not like the accents but that’s my own personal
opinion of the movie.
So picking up from August or
early September of 1963 we have this meeting, or not meeting, this "get
together" at David Ferry’s house, informal get together, and present
there was Lee Harvey Oswald, Clay Shaw known at that time as Clay
Burke, introduced to you as Clay Burtram and David Ferry.
Ok Bertrand. So at that time you didn’t think much of ....you didn’t
really take seriously the raving and ranting of Dave Ferry was talking
about concerning the possible assassination of a president.
Well ok, I don’t know whether to have taken Dave Ferry seriously at all
or whether or not I made no opinion about him. I probably made no
opinion about him. Because I had heard these sentiments throughout New
Orleans and the surrounding parishes or counties. It was an
anti...bitterness against Kennedy. "He should be dead, somebody should
shoot him. I’d put up a medal to someone that shot him." Those kinds of
remarks... you heard those every day. It was no different. Ferry was a
little bit different because he did say, this is the way you do it,
this is what we should do, this is plan A, this is plan B. And Ferry
had always in the past been able to back up what he said with different
actions and different things. However bizarre they may have been .
Whether Ferry was serious or not, don’t know. But he was around the
same people that showed up in Dallas. Supposedly. There was Lee Oswald
in Dallas. He had been here...supposedly a roommate of Ferry’s’. Marina
Oswald said that he never ever was away from her bed each night in New
Orleans. That’s not true. And I’m sure that she would admit to it now
that he beat her. She’s admitted to that and I’m sure he stormed out of
there and went someplace and when he went someplace he’d (Ferry) just
(said) this is my roommate. That is how he was introduced. That didn’t
mean a big deal...he was unshaven. That was not a big deal to me
either. So when the assassination occurred I was leaving...at twelve
thirty on November 22, 1963 I left Political Science 315 for Father
Clancy at Loyola University...a raving liberal nut ! And I had to fight
the Jesuits and fight his philosophy and fight his politics and now we
had right about the angels and right below God, a President who was a
Catholic. And here was Father Clancy. So I left the class. Political
Science 315 convened at 12:30 or a quarter to one, whatever...So I left
and I left Loyola University and was headed home, as was my occasion,
and I turned on the radio. Local radio station WTIX and the WTIX
announcer about 12:45 was playing rock and roll music and he
.interrupts the music and says, "I don’t know what this means I don’t
know if this is true but," he says "we just got a wire over AP wire
saying that the President has been shot in Dallas. We’ll get back to
you as soon as we can verify this information." So I switched to
another station which was a network station WDSU and began listening
and they began to corroborate that. And so I drove quickly, I was six
or eight blocks from Loyola Grove, back to the campus and drove in on
the campus over the grass and everything else. People began to move
around. Maybe they had heard something too, and to Father Clancy’s 316
class, and I said, "Ha Ha Ha Your boy just got shot." And they said
who ?, and I said Kennedy . And the guy stood up and... "you John
Bircher no good son of a bitch" in front of Father Clancy. And so I
smiled and laughed and walked out of there. There was vengeance now by
whomever. And then by the time I got home it was announced that they
had made an arrest of an Oswald. And I said Oswald ? I looked at the TV.
I’m sitting down with someone and I said, when they showed his picture
the first time, he showed his picture the second time. They showed his
picture on TV I said, "I know that bird." And I began to become just
fascinating by the turn of events and all of the evidence and within
three hours you knew Oswald had done it. It was all over. He had done
it. They had gotten their man. They were sure he had done it and so on.
And everybody was testifying to that so that was it. I was now going to
return to school. And I spoke this bit of information to other people
and we talked about it, you know, and that was it. So I went about the
fall school semester and continued through school and about my life. So
that was what happened all the way up to that date.
It’s an interesting ...you were going to a Jesuit college correct.
Jesuit university. They had Jesuit teachers there. It’s a non sectarian
Catholic owned university. Loyola University of the South just like
Loyola University of Chicago and Loyola University of LA, right ?
There were a lot of Jesuit connections to many of these stories.
Well I wouldn’t doubt that. The Jesuits were the intellectual arm of
the Catholic Church created back as a counterbalance to the reformation
when Martin Luther and the others came about with their arguments
against Catholic heresy, the Jesuits came out with their affirmation of
Catholic theology as being correct and having a continuous nature all
the way back to Peter. And so the Jesuits were the intelligent arm of
the Catholic Church and they still remain so. They are the teaching arm
of the Catholic Church for the most part.
we get on a completely different subject...so now we have Kennedy dead
and a reporting that Oswald is the suspect...did it. Now what did that
do to you ? What started clicking in your mind ...did something click in
your mind at all about the meetings with Ferry and all them ?
Well, nothing exceptional because he was just one of a number a
characters that had said essentially the same thing. I was more
fascinated by the films and by the interviews that they were doing over
in Dallas and other places that Oswald had been. When it was connected
up that he was from New Orleans that’s the first time that I really
thought well, that’s the same guy. I’d seen a picture of him and it
looked like him. But it was now the same guy and he was from New
Orleans. There couldn’t have been two, you know with that look and with
So sure. you didn’t see one of the people that they claimed were the
Oswald doubles or the lookalikes ?
Well, you see that has always been a question about that. Because
Oswald as I remembered it, and the encounter at Ferry’s apartment, when
Ferry told me as we walked up the stairwell, he said, Oh I have a
roommate – Oswald, he gave me the first name. I thought he said Leon.
But it may not have been. Yeah, it may have been Lee. I...walked up the
steps and then that bad encounter with Oswald and then went about my
business. And we didn’t have much interchange then.
So what was your first encounter with Jim Garrison ?
Well, in February of ’67 I’m in Baton Rouge going to school and also
working up there for Equitable Life Insurance Co. and the newspapers in
Baton Rouge then had...an article comes out : "New Orleans District
Attorney reopens an inquiry into the Kennedy assassination." Well this
is interesting. And so there’s a quick rehashing in the articles that
are up there : Kennedy assassination - that there was a New Orleans
connection to what happened in Dallas. So, and then all of a sudden
there is a reference to David Woodrow Ferry. And I’m sitting there
reading that on a Wednesday or a Thursday and I said, David Woodrow
Ferry...could it be the same one ? The next day his picture is in the
paper in Baton Rouge and its the one and only. So at this time I penned
out a letter, wrote a letter to the DA’s Office, knowing that if I
didn’t contact them they would contact me. I would have to have been
somewhere in the notebook somewhere on a telephone inscription or
something...or my name.... (they) would contact me. Why not contact
So at this time did you start thinking about that night with Oswald and
Sure. And so I wrote a letter saying "I would be in on Saturday the
26th of February of ’67. That I had known Dave Ferry and I had heard
him state that he was going to shoot the President and it wouldn’t be
very long. So if you have someone at the DA office I will be there at
six pm Saturday evening. If no one is there I will assume that you are
not interested." So on Friday, because of a lack of funds...’cause I
was in college at the time and was absolutely broke...for lack of
funds...I started thinking that Kansas was playing LSU baseball
Saturday that somehow or another I just wasn’t going to go to New
Orleans ’cause I couldn’t afford it. It would cost two or three dollars
in gas and I didn’t have a place to stay and so on. So a number of
changes came into being and so I decided not to go to Baton Rouge. And
then I called Baton Rouge Detective Bureau or Sheriff s Office and
asked them about the investigation. I was relatively naive in the sense
of knowing whether or not they would...I thought they would have at
least some interest in it. The Baton Rouge Detective Bureau person that
answered said that they didn’t know anything about this DA Garrison’s
inquiry. "But, I said, "was there any possibility that you could ask me
pertinent questions and take a stenography of it ?" And they said, "well
we wouldn’t know what to ask." I said, "well when can I get someone to
do this." And they said, "well call the newspaper. They’ll do it." So I
called Baton Rouge Morning Advocate, The State Times and talked to Jack
Kemp or someone there. Eventually talked to Jack Kemp and then an
interview was given. And then from there that same night, Friday night
at about ...well I went to the baseball game. I went somewhere and I
came home at 9:00 o’clock. I said my duty was done. I did not know it
was in the newspaper. So I come home and all of a sudden there people
everywhere around the house. WBRZ Channel Two News ; WAFB had notes in
the doorway : "please contact me" and so on. And so I’m startled by all
this and then someone from WBRC pulls up : "You Perry Russo ? We want to
talk to you." Maybe it was WAFB, I’m not sure. I think it was WAFB. And
so I said, "well, what is it about ?" "Well about the article in the
State Times, the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate." Well you know anyhow I
was just dragged away and kept a prisoner at Channel 2 Studios, maybe
it was. They wouldn’t let me out (of) there after talking to me. They
didn’t want the other station to get it. So they kept me until 5:00 so
that the other station wouldn’t be able to get its news on its news.
You know, I guess well I didn’t have any idea what they were, why they
were, we’ll get you a sandwich you just stay here. The guy who gave you
a ride here isn’t around. We can’t give you a ride back. Well I had no
money for that, ok well, I’ll eat a sandwich. And then I went
eventually ...I started thinking that maybe they were playing games,
which they were, and so then I eventually went home. When I got home...
I’m home an hour or half an hour and there’s a knock at the front door.
At this time I don’t want to see anybody... nobody. There’s a knock at
the front door and a guy identifies himself. He says, "I’m Andrew
Shambrook. I’m from New Orleans District Attorney’s Office and he shows
his identification. He said, "could I speak with you ? At first he asked
who I was. I said Perry Russo. I said, yeah you can come on in. And we
sit down in the front room. After some preliminary small talk. he said,
"I would like you to look at some photographs and tell me if anyone
there that you know or have seen or remember." So he goes through a
series of twenty or thirty photographs and did not take any notes. All
he did was mark the back of the photographs, put a little x or check or
something on the back of the photograph. And he showed quite a few of
the people that I knew - that I had met through Dave Ferry. Of course
Dave Ferry was one of them. He came to Oswald. I said, "Yeah I know
him. That Ferry’s roommate but he’s a little dirtier." I said, "Oswald
(is) just unshaven, two three days you know." And he said yeah, and
marked it and then Shaw and then Sergio Accacia.
He actually had a picture of of Shaw with him. That’s interesting.
That is very interesting. So that means it was an early...in the movie
they talk about Shaw early on in the movie but no one could ...but they
didn’t call him...wait a minute..
Bertrand, He asked
me his name. He said, "what was his name." And I said, "Bertrand, Clem
Bertrand. He said Clem Bertrand, It wasn’t Floyd ? I said, "no, Clem." I
know it was Bertrand. I’m not sure of the first name, probably Clem."
And he said OK and he continued with the photographs of different
people and quite of few of them I had never seen or heard of you know
what I’m saying ? Some of the photographs weren’t all that good, some
were. And then he said listen, I’m very interested. The District
Attorney, Jim Garrison will be very interested in talking to you. Will
you be available to come down to New Orleans ? And well this is my civic
duty I’m supposed to... and so I said yeah. And so he said, "I’m going
to leave. Please don’t talk to anybody no more. Don’t talk to anybody".
So I said OK. Well channel 2 showed...he left...and that was about it.
He did not take any notes. He did not write down anything and then he
left. I went to New Orleans and then I got a call...I think I had a
telephone at that time...but I was then contacted by WBRC and these two
guys come in ...to show you the scum of the news media they will do
anything. This guy had a microphone up his sleeve. And he said we just
want to talk to you about everything but...I said I can’t call to you
all. He said well we’ll talk to you about your baseball. I had a
baseball team in the past. And basketball. I said OK. So they come in
and of course they quickly changed the subject onto that. I said well I
can’t really talk. This guy just left from New Orleans DA office and, I
said, he was rather excited about wanting to talk to Garrison and
Garrison wanting to talk to me. And then I noticed the microphone. I
said, " you-all hold on a minute." Now they are in the back. This is a
shotgun house, typical for New Orleans... straight from the back so you
can shoot a shotgun through it and if it goes straight through ’em well
it won’t hit a thing. But the back door was locked, I knew that. So I
went and got a machete and I came back and I said, "now you got a
microphone in your hand. You want both arms chopped off or you want one
chopped off at a time because I’m gonna get it !" I said, "you’re a no
good sonofabitch." And I started screaming at ’em. "Oh no, we don’t
have one !" I said, "don’t tell me that," I said, "there it is - a
microphone." And so we went round and round about that. I said, "I’m
gonna whack ya ! I’m gonna whack ya !" And so he said finally said, well
he says, look, and you know, I guess he thought I was a mental midget
or something. He took the tape (and) he said this is not on. He took
the tape and turned it over. He said, listen we’ll play it. There was
nothing on the tape. I said is that right ? I said give me the whole
unit. I said I’m gonna get the whole unit. So anyway I got the unit, I
took the tape out, kept the tape and then they went about their way.
And they weren’t able to make a verified statement. So then I was
recontacted with the DA’s office and asked to come to New Orleans.
Which I did. And then I met Garrison for the first time. That’s the
answer to that question. And Garrison (is) very impressive, very
sincere, he asked different questions about people that Chambray had
indicated that I knew. And so we went over that. And he said we would
like you to stay in New Orleans. I said well I can’t do that. I said I
have to go away home. I got classes and I also work. He said we will
take care of the work and I would advise maybe you might best withdraw
from school. And so I said OK. After some talking and so on and I
stayed in New Orleans and was bandied from one investigator to another.
One question to another and they continued to ask questions and then
finally they said would I submit to sodium pentathol, I didn’t know
what it was. I said yes. They said would I submit to hypnosis with a
certified hypnotist. I said yes. I said any type of and then I said
I’ll get back... and so we eventually down the line did one or the
other and both. And then that was it. So that was about it. That answer
your question ?
Sure does. So now
we’ve reached the point where Jim Garrison ...were you told that the
District Attorney in New Orleans, Jim Garrison that and has strung
together through that meeting, Lee Harvey Oswald, Clay Bertrand, also
known as Clay Shaw or vise versa and David Ferry.
Right, correct, plus the Cubans.
And that’s ...plus the Cubans and that’s when your roller coaster ride
And along with that Garrison’s. And why don’t you relate some of that
Well, in this period of time Garrison then is overwhelmed by requests
for interviews. I mean it’s all day long, you read it in the newspapers
here, I see it on television at night. One announcement after another.
He’s embattled, pushed by all circumstances. There are various news
authorities who then come out with statements that this is a problem
with this and a problem with that. Which is fair. Then all of a sudden
Garrison asks me, he said, there is a reporter who had once done a
piece on his investigation of the judges here in New Orleans and he
felt that he wanted to find out how far this man would go in
interviewing me...and find out exactly what his agenda was. So James
Phelan is then introduced to me. And I meet with Phelan and we talk.
And for several hours of conversations, the conversations are recorded
by the DA’s office with my knowledge, and James Phelan continues to
attack Garrison’s case, saying no I couldn’t have known Clay Shaw, I
couldn’t have known Oswald. He said I knew Ferry probably, and that I
had made a mistake. He then writes a scorching attack in the Saturday
Evening Post and the controversy begins. He does not cross the line of
threatening me or intimidating me with threats of that sort nor does he
offer me anything to change testimony. In that sense he’s perhaps a
neutral news reporter. Neutral is questionable then. He introduces me
or tells me of WDSU TV ’s crusade to reveal the truth. So he tells me
about Walter Sheridan, FBI agent for twenty years. Very great
credentials and Rick Townley is introduced to me who is a local WDSU
affiliate newscaster and I’m told to meet with them because he wants to
pose some questions to me. Well he doesn’t pose any questions. Walter
Sheridan comes to me and says listen we gonna take Garrison out of
this. He said we can’t allow this to go on any further. He says now
you’re going down with him. And he plays this hot cold
relationship...but I’ll give you an out. He says, I want you to go over
to Biloxy Mississippi, we already have it arranged. You are to go and
do a hotel-motel room and he says in that room Clay Shaw is going to be
there. He says I don’t care what you talk about when you go in there
but when you finish one hour later, half and hour later, he says you
come outside. He says we’re gonna have the cameras rolling and you’re
gonna state the following : One, that you do not know Clay Shaw and you
never did.. Two : that you never knew anybody named Oswald and three,
you never heard of anything about any shooting of the President back in
’63 before the President was shot. And he says you do that, he says, we
won’t go after you. You might be able to save yourself." But he says
you gonna go with him, we’re getting Garrison. He’s done with . We’ll
finish him off. I said well, Mr Sheridan, and Garrison was aware of
these conversation and was...
When they mean we’re going to take care...did they mean body harm ?
No. They meant that they were going to so ridicule Garrison for having
a ridiculous state of appearances that no one would believe him. And
this would be a frontal attack. There would be innuendo, there would be
the various misinformation that are leaked out such as one that Drew
Pearson, or what the fellow that succeeded Drew Pearson, Jack Anderson
leaks out that Garrison has a sexual encounter at the NOAC, New Orleans
Athletic Club with a six or seven year old. And this is supposed to
defame Garrison’s image that he is not the man on the white horse. Well
the truth of the matter was that Garrison was very sincere. Well Walter
Sheridan tells me and threatens me that he’s gonna take Garrison out
and take me with him. So I’m in school and, perhaps at this time I’m
not, because I think I had withdrawn, but I have no resources to fight
any kind of this kind of an attack so therefore I should crumble. Well
Garrison is told of this, he’s aware of it. He knows exactly what
the...how the conversations have gone and so I said, I posed the
question, the almighty question to Walter Sheridan, ex FBI, perhaps
still connected with the government, chief investigator for Frank
McGee’s white paper, the editorial side of NBC. And I asked Walt
Sheridan, I said, "Mr. Sheridan, if I were ever to say that, you know
what would happen to me, I would be finished in New Orleans or a dead
man, one or the other." He said, Well, he says, where would you want to
live, if not New Orleans." And so having the fascination with Hollywood
and California and Los Angeles and mighty state of dreams and all that,
I said well, California. It’s the only state I was ever interested in
visiting at that time. And he says pick out a city, I said Los Angeles.
And he said OK He said we’ll give you a job for five years. You don’t
have to go to work. You’ll get a check. He said, but you gotta do this
This fits right in with what they did with Pershing Gervais.
Absolutely, but you didn’t feel physically threatened at all ?
Not physically threatened, no. No, I never did. Not physically
threatened that they were going to do anything physically to me. No,
they were going to ruin me.
They were going to ruin you and your reputation, your ...
Right. In August or October of ’68 this is about a year down the line
around the same time, TIME magazine comes out with an article. Garrison
Case. And its an analysis of the Garrison case and it says the Garrison
case is based upon a lot of soft information but primarily upon the
testimony of one Perry Raymond Russo, Baton Rouge insurance salesman
and known drug addict. TIME magazine alibis and explains in court
depositions and court information that this was a typographical error.
That they really, in reality, meant Vernon Bundy. But one or the other
could be right if Garrison was basing his case upon Perry Russo. Then
they couldn’t attach the drug addict because I did not even smoke
marijuana. I was Sicilian family brought up in this country. We did not
smoke marijuana. And yet they knew that Vernon Bundy was a convicted
heroin addict. So that was labeled. They settled out of court for
$15,000. They did not issue a retraction and that remains as an
unchallenged claim. All I had at that time was the $15,000 minus the
legal expenses involved. The whole point of which was the damage was
done. It was never to be retrieved after that. Every job application I
would put in there was always the feeling that this is an unstable
person. This is a person who may even be illegal. May be doing all
kinds of things that are illegal. The consequence of that was that
their attacks, coupled with whatever Walter Sheridan was engineering,
were very successful. They had attacked me and they could do it with
impunity and so therefore I was no longer a creditable witness. No one
in any of the other 49 states or perhaps even Louisiana would have
believed a known drug addict would know anything at all about the
Kennedy assassination and that he had hallucinated.
another question. When you went to Walter Sheridan to, or Walter
Sheridan approached you and you went back, I think I heard on the
documentary, "The Garrison Tapes" that you were wired. That you had a
microphone on so he could record this.
Garrison recorded it.
Yeah, cause I know Garrison, when Walter Sheridan started the smear
campaign, Garrison tried to get him in the courtroom.
OK, immediately after the proposition was made that I go to Biloxi, sit
in a hotel room, motel room with Clay Shaw, 30 minutes or an hour later
come out and make my statement denying everything that I had stated in
court, I would then be whisked off where I wanted, which was LA,
immediately after that because there was an offer of something for
something. They wanted me to change testimony to fit their particular
agenda and in so changing the testimony to be protected I would be
given something. So they were offering me a bribe of a witness to make
sure that I would damage Garrison for them. Perhaps stab him into the
chest and that would be the lethal blow that would bring the Garrison
Did they represent who was giving them
number one, the right to do this ? Did they say they were doing it from
the Federal Government.
No, they never did. In 1991
Jim Phelan contacted me almost weekly when he first ...the first news
reports came out that Oliver Stone was going to do a movie and that
movie was going to be based upon Garrison’s book "On The Trail Of The
Assassins". When that information was across the United States and
Oliver Stone was an established director with credentials and an
ability to gather money back in and produce for his movie then Phelan
called, which I hadn’t heard from Phelan for ten years at this point,
1991. He call and said, Oh do you remember me ? and I said sure I
remember you. And he said well how’s everything. and I said, he said, I
hear they’re making a movie down there on Garrison. How are they going
to play it ? I said I don’t know. I said that’s Stone’s information. He
said well are you going to be in it ? I said I don’t think so. He said
are they going to have your character in it. I said yeah they are. And
I said but I can’t tell you in what capacity and which way they are
going to play it. He said, well he said, this movie just can’t come
about. He said we can’t have that.
Yeah, we can’t have that. And I said Jim, I said you’re talking about
something twenty-five years before and I said you’re talking about a
case that was in New Orleans and I said you’re saying we can’t have it ?
And over the period of the conversations – we must have talked about
ten or twelve times - over the period of the conversations he said that
what, why would you let them portray you in this movie. You have to
stop the movie. And I said Jim, (talkin to Phelan over the phone), I
said I can’t stop the movie. I said Stone can do whatever he wants with
this movie. I said if he plays it accurately following the book I said
more power to him. Just because he’s a creditable director and I said
what is the problem there ? He said because when this movie comes out,
he said, it will so affect the younger people that they will then
remember that there’s something happened in New Orleans that several
people got together and they shot Kennedy. He said the effect of that
will be devastating. I said who cares what the effect is. I said it’s
still academia and I said it still just movie makin. He said you have
to stop it. I said why do I have to stop it ? He said because it will
hurt the United States., And I said, It’ll hurt the United States. I
said I’m part of the United States. He said it will hurt me. I’m a
friend of Shaw. I said I was a friend of Shaw. I said I don’t care what
it looks like. I said I’m already destroyed. He said it’ll hurt the
agencies of the United States and that was the revealing statement by
him. It will hurt the agencies.
This is James Phalen.
James Phalen, A free lance writer, particularly having written that
article way back in ’67 for Saturday Night Post... it will hurt the
agencies. I said I couldn’t care less about the agencies. I don’t care
about intelligence gathering. I said this is strictly Stone’s work. I
said if it’s done true, I said then judge it on the merit. I said if
it’s not, he’ll fall. It’ll fall by the wayside. And he said well you
got ...And then not being able to get me to agree, he said I’m going to
send you some papers. Would you give them to Stone ? And this of course,
James Phalen felt that his insight in these articles would then
persuade Stone, right in the middle of a production, to cancel because
James Phalen said so. Well, I went to Stone and told him I had papers
and he said file them, they gave him, because they did not consider
James Phalen a serious journalist. Which I told James Phalen and he
exploded. Serious journalist ! He says, tell Stone he’s not a serious
director. And I said now that definitely is an understatement. Anyway
he told me, he said I’m coming down there. He said I’m going to stop
the movie. So when I told Stone this, and his people, Stone said I want
you to remain on the set. So I talked to Phalen once again and I misled
him intentionally. He said how long do they have.. this is in the
middle of July...he said how long do they have before the movie gets
...I said oh way into August. The movie was finished on the 27th or
28th of July here. And he said I’m coming down. He said I’m going to
make sure that this movie does not come out without at least the other
side being examined. And I said fine. I said you come down. So I don’t
know if he ever did. But Stone asked me would you please point him out
and identify him. We have a contract with this city and no one can step
across that line that I do not want to step across that line. And if he
does we are going to invoke the contract and ask the police to arrest
him. And that was for that period of the filming that was done on the
streets and such.
So what you’re saying ...Are you happy with the movie "JFK" ?
Yeah, it was done true to that period of time in New Orleans. Yes. And
it offers a possible explanation as to what went on in Dallas. With the
much available .. the many bits of evidence that’s come to light since
the assassination and since the publication in August of ’64 of the
Warren Report there is so much evidence that has come out since. Stone
played it much truer to the facts than the Warren Commission
speculated. So it comes to the New Orleans connection, Oswald was born
in New Orleans. Oswald lived in New Orleans. Oswald went to school in
New Orleans. When he defected, he was defecting for... after coming out
of the Marines...he went to the Soviet Union. When he returned,
reaffected to the United States he returned to New Orleans. I said he
stayed here and that is the period of time I knew him. A volatile
period of time in New Orleans history because there was so much easily
heard assassinations and hating of the President that he should be
dead, somebody should shoot the son of a bitch and...which is not that
uncommon to hear. And so Oswald was from that period. Ferry was from
that period and it would be altogether much more possible that instead
of Oswald being the malcontent that the Federal Government pictured him
as, for him to have been the shrewd observer for the FBI and making
money on the side. Just reporting on this Cuban group of which he was a
member and which he supposedly taught guerrilla warfare. He was in
spirit a member. He was everything that this group wanted. He was one
of them. And yet the Federal Government chose to emphasis the fact that
he was a malcontent that couldn’t get along with anybody. Well he
couldn’t get along with me but he got along with everybody else.
So now today you still remain friends in contact with Jim Garrison and
his chief investigator Louis Ivon.
Louis Ivon, yes and some of the other people that were involved..?
Are some of them still around like Andrew Chambrey ?
Andrew Chambrey is now magistrate court judge. Judge in magistrate
court for the Parish of New Orleans which is equivalent to a county in
other states. He sets bonds and releases prisoners that he deems are
responsible and reliable to come back. James Alcock was Garrison’s
chief prosecutor and the man that handled most of the courtroom duties.
Alcock was a judge for a period of time then went into private
practice. He lives very close to New Orleans. Al Oser, another. Was a
judge, went into private practice. He also is around the New Orleans
area. Louis Ivon, Garrison’s chief investigator for that period is
around. Now associated with the DA’s office in New Orleans. And then
you have others, so many others that were around at that time ; that
were knowledgeable of either Shaw or Ferry or Oswald ; that several
people have come forth since and that have said yeah they were around.
And there were times that they encountered both of them. And I don’t
think at this stage of the game, contrary to what the Federal
Government would have gained by denying...why not admit that Shaw may
have been an operative or someone because he had so many contacts with
the South American countries and South American presence. It would have
been normal. I would think they would have been remiss in their duties
if they had not.
Well they have been. It has been
said, it’s been said by several. Helms for one - that Mr. Shaw was a
deep cover agent for the CIA.
’cuz there has been a
lot of operations in Italy since WWII. Quite a few of them as far as
moving money through the banks and also keeping the government in line
and anti-communist, as they look at it. They’ve had this "Gladius"
operation recently. I’m not going to belabor that. That appeared in the
news that even the president of Italy, I believe the prime minister,
president or something admitted that he came across...
And also he was taken out of office right after that...the point we’re
making is that in looking back on this we can see that this is only a
small part of the operations that were around this. This was...you can
Yeah this was a small part of the continuing
problem of Cuba. The people that were not disciplined by the Federal
Government were doing things on their own. Felt very strongly about
taking over Cuba or booting out Castro or liberating Cuba. And this
particularly was evidenced all along the sixties whereas now we say
there’s oversight committees of the CIA...there were none then.
When you look at how the assassination went down and how the cover up
had transpired and obviously there was a cover up, you have to say what
we had in this country was a coup d’etat.
Well you don’t have to agree but what do you think of that ? I mean it
appears that you know...
Do you think there was from that point, do you believe things changed.
And you do believe they changed for the better or worse
Probably things changed. You know, but a coup d’etat...it was...
Well, when you kill or effectively take out the head of state and you
put somebody else in place or somebody else gets elected and the
policies reverse or change...
They put someone else in his place before he was elected.
We had made agreements with...
Castro was sitting there and no one has managed to ...
Which means that ...
Possibly even, I mean even the anti-Castro.Cubans partners were used
too, to bring about the means to a bigger end, or however you say it
because of the fact that Vietnam came along and it looked as thought
Kennedy was going to reverse that, and they turned that around.
Of course I disagree on the Vietnam thing. There is an invisible
government in the United States that continues ...
Well, they’re not so much invisible anymore...
Well it may not be invisible but that continues the onward thrust of
the US policies and that of course is the protection of the country and
the protection of certain trends and certain beliefs. Those do evolve
over a period of time.
Don’t you think that protecting
the arms dealers and the people that make armaments to keep a world
safe so we can give a $146 million in arms to Somalia. They bought it
from us. There were $146 million worth of arms floating around Somalia
as we speak right here.
Well I’m all for that. That’s
the only difference. I’m all for that. You know, I’m for selling the
whole world arms. You know. That’s just my particular feeling on that..
So is there anything in conclusion you want to say about your
experience with this ?
That it will never happen again. You know that this particular naive
approach to what your civic duty is and what it isn’t in society. All
of that is overshadowed by what is going to be the fact of the outcome.
It is almost a predestined thing that even in this election coming up
Clinton, Bush, Perot not much, either one or any of the three, can
possibly alter the direction the country is going into. So it was at
that period. Since the cold war was the number one issue of the United
States and its internal workings and its external workings. That was
the major issue and that invisible government makes sure that we are
not prone toward risk. And if it has to be the removal of a, as you-all
would say, of a leader of a country then it has to be. And it has done
And many other countries. Yes.
Yeah, the one in Indonesia, I mean in South Vietnam. Yeah. And that’s
all the name of the game.
I understand that there’s been a lot of things in the press that are
untrue and misinformation about you that you feel very angry about that
you would like to set straight.
OK : over the years the
press, for whatever it’s own reasons whether it was...it had it’s own
agenda, whether it was government sponsored, whether it was government
leaked or whether these people who wrote these articles had various
ways to get at Garrison and of course one way is of course to attack me
and my credibility. Recently the 1968 article of Time Magazine listing
me as a drug addict when I never even smoked marijuana did it serious
damage to anybody believing that Perry Russo could possible speak
anything about something factual because he was a known drug addict.
1970 US New and World report says that Perry Russo is a very dapper
dresser. However, there’s always a "however", However, he associates
with a strange crew of wierdos and over the years has so done so.
That’s not libelous but you get into just a slanting of that particular
article. Who would trust a person that hangs around with a strange
assortment of wierdos. Then you have a Times Picayune which is a
notorious champion here in New Orleans of anything that is
anti-Garrison over the years. Time Picayune newspaper publishing
company which publishes two newspapers comes out with an article on the
twentieth anniversary of the Kennedy assassination saying that
convicted burglar, Perry Raymond Russo, which I’m not a convicted
burglar. They ...we go into court on that and they...we don’t go into
court but we go into discussions and they settle out of court with a
retraction. Seventeen weeks later on the 55th page of something of the
Sunday newspaper whereas the first statement came with my photograph
and "convicted burglar statement right underneath it." So now over the
years I have thought to be by myself and not read any of the articles
or read any of the newspapers clippings when Oliver Stone contacted me
asking me to sign on and do technical work. I thought that was
satisfactory. I continue not to read the articles that were written
even at that time. However there was one that was written in the
January issue of Gentlemen’s Quarterly and for this reason I have come
to talk to you people who have asked for an interview. It’s an
opportunity to set the record straight. Nicholas Lehman wrote an
article in GQ analyzing the movie which hadn’t yet at this time come
out. And so he wrote an article and in the article he savaged Garrison
and savaged me. The article states that Stone’s basing his movie upon
Garrison who is basing his conspiracy theory upon testimony of Perry
Raymond Russo, Baton Rouge insurance salesman cum grifter. That would
seem like a very innocent remark except I looked up the definition and
it means a convicted swindler. I have never had any convictions for
anything except traffic. And yet this news outlet GQ thinks it can take
a cheap shot. I didn’t ask for the publicity. I have never asked for
one interview ever, by anybody. I have not taken any money for
interviews and GQ takes this cheap shot. A person reading this article
in another area would read a grifter, isn’t he a scam artist, isn’t he
a con man, isn’t he a swindler or a dishonest.. yes that’s what grifter
means and GQ said it. Nicholas Lehman was deposed in this particular
case which is in Federal Court now. Was deposed.. The essence of his
deposition when asked why he would label Perry Russo a grifter was
...his answer was that he was hired...he did not want to label him as
he had been historically labeled as Baton Rouse insurance man. He
wanted to give a different twist, a different light upon that person.
And he was hired to savage the movie. And he said that’s exactly what
he did in the article and he had no regrets about it whatsoever. He
savaged it and the best route to savage it was to savage Garrison and
to savage Garrison’s witnesses.
Did he say who he was hired by ?
he didn’t say.
End of Tape\Interview
1- THE KENNEDY CONSPIRACY by PARIS
FLAMMONDE, pub. by MEREDITH PRESS(1969),pp. 79,80
2- ON THE TRAIL OF THE ASSASSINS by
JIM GARRISON, pub. by SHERIDAN SQ. PRESS (1988),pg.152
3- DESTINY BETRAYED(JFK,CUBA,and the
GARRISON CASE) by JAMES DI EUGENIO, by SHERIDAN SQ., pg. 144
1996 copyright : LIGHTHOUSE ARCHIVES/LIGHTHOUSE REPORT