I-Team: The Mob's Possible Link to the Kennedy Assassination - 8 News NOW

I-Team: The Mob's Possible Link to the Kennedy Assassination

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The Warren Commission The Warren Commission
Jack Ruby Jack Ruby

LAS VEGAS -- The idea that the CIA might enter a pact with the Mafia to murder a political leader might sound absurd, but it happened, and it began right here in Las Vegas. The target was Fidel Castro.

Special Section: JFK Assassination Coverage

Before he died some years ago, Las Vegas private eye Robert Maheu confirmed that he was the point man in an audacious plot cooked up by the CIA. Maheu recruited Las Vegas mob ambassador Johnny Rosselli, who in turn brought in Mafia kingpins Sam Giancana of Chicago and Santos Trafficante of Florida.

At least five attempts on Castro's life were made. And the Cuban dictator warned there might be retaliation for American leaders. The Warren Commission didn't even mention Operation Mongoose -- a glaring omission given that a later probe by the House found that JFK probably was the victim of a conspiracy, and that the same mob figures might have been in on it.

Questions Linger 50 Years Later

For investigators, the tip off came when mob crony Jack Ruby gunned down Lee Harvey Oswald.

"It's a standard mob hit to shut the guy up," law professor Robert Blakey said.

He was the lead counsel for the House investigation. He appeared last month at the Mob Museum and thinks there is no question the mob was involved in the events of Dallas.

"It is my speculation that Oswald was to be shot as he came out of the building. He thwarted it. He got out," Blakey said.

Trio with Las Vegas Ties Linked to JFK Assassination Rumors

Part of Blakey's investigation focused on Las Vegas connections. Jack Ruby's close friend Lewis McWillie was among the dozens of Las Vegans interviewed. Ruby had been in frequent contact with McWillie leading up to Dallas. Some investigators think the Las Vegas plotters were joined by ousted Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa, and by New Orleans Mafia chief Carlos Marcello, both of whom had their own reasons for wanting the Kennedys dead. One long time Las Vegas man claimed to have first-hand knowledge.

Feds Probe Jack Ruby's Friendship with Former Las Vegan

"Oh I was in the mob. I really got to know them," said Ed Becker.

Investigator Ed Becker gave the I-Team an interview before he died. He was a close friend and biographer of Johnny Rosselli, and worked as a private eye for Louisiana crime lord Carlos Marcello.

Tell us what you think about President Kennedy's assassination

"He'd call me all the time. I'd visit him, have drinks at his house, got to know him very well," Becker said. "I was feeling pretty strong with him so I said to him, 'you've had a tough time with the Kennedys, haven't you?' Oh my God, he started yelling and screaming what rotten people they were. He starts yelling at me that he is going to kill him one of these days. I said who, Bobby Kennedy? Then he started telling me in vernacular Italian. 'No no no, you gotta kill the president. Chop off a de head' is what he said, and 'the tail dies, chop off de head, no more wagga the tail.'"

Marcello later told Becker where it would be done -- in Dallas -- and how, with multiple shooters and a patsy.

"Carlos said, you get a nut, and you put him in front, and he does all the dirty work, and you are clean from behind," Becker said.

He says he was questioned by the FBI not long after meeting with Marcello, because the feds had Marcello bugged. Months later, when the news broke about Dallas, Becker got chills. A week after Dallas, he was questioned by the FBI again and was grilled again years later by Blakey's committee, but no one believed him, though Blakey came to the same conclusion on his own.

Blakey learned that Lee Oswald had worked for Marcello in 1963, and that Marcello was a hidden owner in Jack Ruby's Dallas nightclub.

"It is not widely known but Marcello had a 50 percent ownership in the Carousel," Blakey said. "A guy who grew up with Ruby, Lenny Patrick, who was a mob shooter went to Jack and says shoot him. If the mob wants him out, then the mob had a hand in the assassination."

Johnny Rosselli, Sam Giancana, Carlos Marcello and Jimmy Hoffa each confided in close friends that they were, in fact, part of the plot to kill Kennedy. They bragged about it. Three of the four were murdered.

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