My research takes me to strange places….
Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale
Welcome back. If you follow this column you know that I usually write about all the good in the world and despite current events I believe that the good really does outweigh the bad. This week’s story however is about the dark side and a man who many believe may have changed the world back in 1963.
Carlos Marcello was born in Tunis, North Africa in 1910 and immigrated to the United States in 1911. He began his criminal career as the mastermind of a crew of teenage gangsters who robbed banks in the New Orleans area before he was captured and did five years in prison for armed robbery and assault and battery. In 1938 he was arrested again for the sale of 23 pounds of narcotics and received another prison sentence along with a $76,830 fine. Marcello served just 10 months in prison and upon his release he became associated with Frank Costello, the leader of the Mafia in New York. By the late 1940s, Marcello had taken control of the Louisiana gambling industry and with his partner Meyer Lansky began buying up the big gambling casinos in the area. Marcello became the Godfather of the New Orleans mafia soon after, a position he would hold for thirty years.
On March 24, 1959 Marcello was ordered to appear before a Senate Committee investigating organized crime. Serving as Chief Counsel was Robert F. Kennedy, brother to then Senator John F. Kennedy. Marcello refused to answer any questions relating to his background, business activities and associates and during the hearings he developed a lifelong hatred of Robert Kennedy. After John Kennedy was elected President, Marcello stated that he planned to have the President murdered and that then his brother, who had become Attorney General, would no longer be a problem.
On April 4, 1961 Attorney General Robert Kennedy had Marcello arrested and extradited to Guatemala- the country he had falsely listed as his birthplace. Before long Marcello was back in the US where he told several under cover informants that President Kennedy would soon be dead and his brother would be out of a job.
G. Robert Blakely, Chief Counsel to the House Select Commission on the assassination, published a book in 1981 called “The Plot to Kill the President.” In the book he says that just before Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963, another mafia leader associated with Marcello, Santos Trafficante supposedly met Jack Ruby in New Orleans to visit about “a problem” that Marcello was having. This meeting was followed by another meeting with alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. Blakely claims that there was in fact a conspiracy and that both Lee Harvey Oswald and another unidentified gunman killed the President following Marcello’s orders.
Soon after his appointment as Attorney General, Robert Kennedy had singled out Jimmy Hoffa, Sam Giancana and Carlos Marcello for prosecution. He planned to make an example of the three as part of his campaign to destroy organized crime. According to Blakely his three targets had laid out a plan for the President’s assassination.
Marcello was reputed to have called Bobby the “tail of the dog” and John the head, saying “if you cut the head off a dog the tail will die but if you cut the tail off the dog can still bite.” Their hatred toward the Kennedy brothers had gone far beyond business and become a matter of honor, a Sicilian vendetta against their enemies. In sworn testimony
Undercover agents said that Marcello had uttered a traditional Sicilian curse when talking about the Kennedy brother, “take the stone from my shoe” along with several other death threats.
After President Kennedy died the FBI investigated Marcello and he stuck to his story that he wasn’t an organized crime figure at all but just a plain old tomato salesman and real estate investor. However a story that appeared in the New York Ties on January 14, 1992 claimed that Marcello and Jimmy Hoffa had both been involved in Kennedy’s assassination.
In 1981 Marcello was indicted for racketeering and mail fraud in a scheme to bribe state officials and he was imprisoned in 1983. After suffering several strokes, he was released in 1989 and spent the rest of his life in his white marble two story home overlooking a golf course in Metairie, LA. He died on March 13, 1993.
The Warren Commission investigating President Kennedy’s death had long concluded that there was no direct link between Ruby and Marcello, or was there?
Till next week I’ll see ya down the road….