Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Franklin Scandal

This is a repost of an excellent article written by  : Nick Bryant 

Contact: Nick Bryant    Author of The Franklin Scandal



Part 1 - A Lurid Tale

The “lurid” tale of Franklin, to borrow an adjective from the New York Times in 1988, begins with Larry King. Not the CNN talk show host, but Lawrence E King, Jr. of Omaha, who sang the national anthem at the 1984 Republican convention in Dallas, and throughout the '80s was described as a “GOP high-roller” and “the fastest rising African-American star” in the Republican Party. As King named-dropped to a reporter for Omaha’s weekly Metropolitan in 1988,

“I know some of the people I admire aren’t very popular. Ed Meese. The late Bill Casey of the CIA. And I love former Chief Justice Burger. Those are the people I really like to talk to. Bill Casey ... I thought so very highly of him.”

Tall and corpulent, King had a fondness for flowers, fine tailored suits, expensive cars, mansions, chartered jets, and glistening jewelry. He had a hand in an array of businesses, but his day job was general manager of the Franklin Federal Credit Union, created to provide loans for Omaha’s underserved black community.

Vice Chairman for Finance of the National Black Republican Council, a sanctioned affiliate of the Republican National Committee, King also chaired the Council of Minority Americans, a nonprofit group that sponsored a $100,000 gala at the 1988 Republican convention in New Orleans. The host committee included former President Gerald Ford, Alexander Haig, and Jack Kemp. A ten-minute videotape featuring King and Jack Kemp, urging blacks to vote for George Bush, Sr., was shown at the gala.

On November 4, 1988, federal agents descended on the Franklin Credit Union; the National Credit Union Administration would ultimately conclude that $39.4 million had been stolen. King was indicted on 40 counts, which included conspiracy, fraud, and embezzlement. Current Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, then chairman of the Equal Opportunity Commission, described King as a “friendly person,” and said his legal travails were “unfortunate.”

Larry King had been dogged by accusations of pedophilia for a number of years. Among the first accusers was Eulice Washington, who claimed King flew her to out-of-state pedophilic orgies. She had been adopted by relatives of King’s in the 1970s. Her new “mother” was King’s cousin Barbara Webb, and her new “father” was husband Jarrett Webb, who sat on the board of the Franklin Federal Credit Union. To Eulice Washington, King had been “Uncle Larry.” “Larry King set up the pedophile ring,” says Eulice. “From my knowledge and from what I saw go down, he was the man who got it moving and rolling. Everything went through him. … He loves boys. He loves them like he shouldn’t.”

Shortly after the Franklin raid, rumors of a nationwide pedophile network swept Nebraska, and in January of 1989 a subcommittee of the state’s legislature convened in Lincoln to investigate both Franklin’s looting and the whispers of far worse crimes. The subcommittee would be called the Franklin Committee, and it was chaired by the 64-year-old Loren Schmit, a corn farmer, stalwart Republican, and 24-year veteran of Nebraska’s legislature. The Franklin Committee had not even started its work when Schmit received his first anonymous phone call—Schmit told reporters for British television that the caller had urged him to drop the inquiry because it would reach the highest levels of the Republican Party.”

Eulice Washington’s initial allegations of child abuse appeared in  a 1988 report from Nebraska’s Foster Care Review Board, a state agency that reviews the plans, services, and placements of children in out-of-home care to ensure their optimum welfare. Though the report contained a series of allegations about King, its centerpiece consisted of interviews of Eulice by a Boys Town youth worker. Eulice stated that she and Boys Town students had been transported across state lines for sexual exploitation. After the Board requested a law enforcement investigation, its report moved through channels at the Omaha Police Department (OPD) and the state attorney general’s office in July of 1988. In the absence of child abuse indictments, the State House swelled with rumors of a cover-up..

"We did receive some sensitive information in July,” said Nebraska’s Attorney General in a December 1988 Lincoln Journal article. “My office acted promptly and professionally and nothing was sat on.” In early 1989, the Franklin Committee issued a subpoena to the Assistant Attorney General, demanding that the Attorney General’s office surrender its reports relating to King and child abuse, but Attorney General Robert Spire refused to honor the subpoena. Spire’s investigator, Thomas Vlahoulis, would be called before the Franklin Committee and confess that he hadn’t interviewed a single alleged victim, and had referred all victim debriefings to the OPD.

The Omaha chief of police, Robert Wadman told the Lincoln Journal that the OPD had pursued all leads and found them unsubstantiated . “Every step that should have been taken was taken,” he said. Yet, Chief Robert Wadman would later confess that the OPD never contacted Eulice, and three months after Wadman’s remarks, the Boys Town youth worker who had interviewed Eulice told the Omaha World-Herald that the OPD had never contacted her either.

In February of 1989, the Franklin subcommittee’s chief investigator sent a memo to its members. “What appears to be documented cases of child abuse and sexual abuse dating back several years with no enforcement action taken by the appropriate agencies is ... mind boggling,” wrote Jerry Lowe. “The information that became public in 1988 relative to Larry King’s family connection with one of the principals ... is cause for further concern.”

King was noticeably absent from the controversy that swirled around him. On February 7, 1990, US Magistrate Richard Kopf ordered that King be sent to a federal medical facility in Springfield, Missouri for a “mental health evaluation” without a formal motion from King’s attorneys. King was picked up and dispatched the day before President George H.W. Bush was to speak at a political fundraiser in Omaha. Having named Bush as one of his personal “friends,” King had reportedly purchased a ticket for the event and had subsequently been detained by the Secret Service.

On February 9, the Lincoln Journal reported that both King’s pastor and his employer deemed him mentally stable—King acquired a “job” at a flower shop after the credit union’s closing. “I didn’t see any indication of mental problems,” said the pastor, adding he would be “surprised if King were declared unfit.” The psychiatrist in Springfield disagreed, making a diagnosis of “probable delusional paranoid disorder.”

King was then remanded back to Omaha for a mental competency hearing—Magistrate Kopf ruled King incompetent to stand trial and sealed his psychiatric report. Judge William Cambridge then sent King “forthwith” to the US Medical Facility in Rochester, Minnesota, where he spent the next five months as a “pretrial detainee.”

Part 2 - Caradori
In July of 1989, Senator Schmit released a three-page report urging his subcommittee to “find out where the money went and you’ll find the rest,” because their previous tactics had yet to yield an indictment. As an example, Schmit cited a $2,800 credit card receipt that showed King had purchased a coat for a man who was later found shot to death. His death would unconvincingly be ruled a suicide.

This shift in direction of the subcommittee prompted three members, including its chief investigator Jerry Lowe, to resign. In a World-Herald article, Lowe stated that Schmit informed him that there was “pressure to stop the investigation,” which Schmit confirmed: “I have gotten phone calls threatening me. I’ve been told to leave it alone or my kids were going to be orphans.”

After Lowe resigned, Schmit called upon Gary Caradori to succeed him as the Franklin subcommittee’s chief investigator. Assuming undercover disguises from priest to plumber, Caradori had a talent for finding teenage runaways enmeshed in prostitution and drugs. Caradori, a former Nebraska state patrolman, had founded an investigative firm in Lincoln, Nebraska, and the Lincoln Journal loved him: “When the police tell you their hands are tied ... when your only witness has skipped town and when the justice system seems like it’s breaking apart, people call Gary Caradori.”

Caradori went to work immediately, finding new victims and perpetrators …and enemies he never anticipated. “An old friend of ours who used to work for Lincoln Telephone came to the house and told us our phone was being tapped,” says Caradori’s wife, Sandy, a middle school English teacher. “He already suspected it. When he arranged meetings over the phone, FBI agents would already be there when he arrived.” Sandy | Audio Clip One

In November and December 1989, Caradori interviewed Alisha Owen, Troy Boner, and Danny King (no relation to Larry King), all in their early 20s. Owen was serving time in the Nebraska Center for Women at York for writing bad checks, while Boner and Danny King were living in the Omaha area. Caradori recorded their sworn testimony on over 20 hours of videotape, where they described being flown around the country as underage prostitutes and attending grotesquely sadistic pedophiliac orgies. Larry King, they said, had organized it all.

In December 1989, Schmit’s subcommittee gave the videotaped statements to Attorney General Spire and Nebraska’s US Attorney.(Caradori videotaped a fourth victim, Paul Bonacci, in May of 1990, who corroborated Owen, Boner, and Danny King.)

Almost immediately, “anonymous” sources started leaking to the Lincoln Journal and the Omaha World-Herald that “one or both” of the young men videotaped by Caradori had failed FBI polygraphs. The FBI refused comment, but State Senator Jerry Chizek denounced the leaks as a violation of federal law: “I’ve been around a lot of investigations in my 53 years,” he said in a Lincoln Journal article, “and I’ve never seen one like this in my life.”

Despite the FBI's attempts to sabotage his investigation, Caradori continued to follow the money. In his “Investigative Report” of April 13, 1990, he described his meeting with a former employee of an airplane charter service used by Larry King. Though the woman was apprehensive about having her name connected to the “Franklin investigation,” she disclosed that King used her charter service on a weekly basis, and routinely traveled with a number of young men who were “very good looking,” dressed in fancy suits, and “clean cut and clean shaven.” The young men, she noted, never spoke, which she found extremely “strange.”

Obtaining hundreds of flight itineraries from two charter services, Caradori had proof that King chartered the planes, but very few of the itineraries had a “passenger manifest” or any list of people on the flight. The itineraries listed several different destinations, but most flights were to Washington, DC.

By May of 1990, Caradori had compiled a “Leads List” of 271 people who may have been victims, perpetrators, or witnesses, and submitted it to state and federal investigators. In June 1990, Caradori warned Schmit’s subcommittee that the Douglas County grand jury was being deliberately “misled by the influence of the State Patrol investigator and various people in the FBI.” He voiced his reluctance to furnish the evidence he was amassing to the Nebraska State Patrol and FBI (as the subcommittee had ordered), because they were using it to sabotage his investigation.

Caradori also testified that he had been trying to obtain pictures of King’s orgies. Some of the victims he interviewed mentioned a photographer named Rusty Nelson: “Photographer in the Omaha area who was employed by Mr. King. Alleged to have taken pornographic photos of children and to have also directed sexual activity for photographs,” said Nelson’s entry on Caradori’s “Leads List.” Caradori referenced five videotape exhibits and an OPD report implicating Nelson in “possible child pornography,” noting that he lived in a luxury apartment sublet from Larry King.

In 2003, I located Rusty Nelson living in a Columbus, Nebraska trailer park. I spend hours with him, judging his veracity, and ultimately discern numerous contradictory statements that severely impugn his credibility. He has also been imprisoned for the possession of child pornography. But, at the same time, Caradori’s investigation clearly tied him to King.

“King hired me to take pictures of adults and children in compromising positions,” Nelson tells me. “The pictures showed who the adults were and who the kids were. I gathered that the purpose was blackmail.  I gathered that the purpose was blackmail and it was political. The content of the pictures, and the events surrounding them, would be an instant end to a politician’s career.”

Nelson went on to say that King had attempted to pressure him into “hardcore” activities, and their relationship fissured. He says that the FBI then started to harass him—not to force his disclosures about King’s pedophile ring, but to silence him. He fled Nebraska and moved to New Mexico, where Caradori first contacted him. Nelson promised Caradori incriminating photographs, and they agreed to meet in Chicago.

Caridori, accompanied by his 8-year-old son A.J., flew his single-engine Piper Saratoga from Lincoln to Chicago on July 7, 1990. The mission, he said to his wife, was to meet Nelson and then go to the Major League All-Star Game with A.J.

“I met with Caradori briefly,” says Nelson. “I just gave him the pictures and got out of there.” Caradori phoned Senator Schmit from Chicago, exclaiming, “We got them by the shorthairs!”

The Piper Saratoga crashed around 2 A.M. on July 11 in a cornfield near Ashton, Illinois, killing both Caradori and his son. Remnants of the plane were scattered up to 1,800 feet from the fuselage, indicating that it had broken up in flight. Two days later, FBI special agent Michael Mott and a colleague delivered a subpoena to Caradori’s grieving widow, demanding all of her husband’s Franklin evidence.

Caradori’s investigative assistant, Karen Ormiston, told the investigators from Britain's Yorkshire Television that someone had tampered with Caradori’s vehicles before his death and, she felt, sabotaged his airplane. Many of his possessions were missing from the wreckage, she said, including the briefcase that presumably held the photographs. She also asserted that Caradori’s death was effectively the end of the Franklin investigation, because additional witnesses were too frightened to emerge from the shadows. “There were many victims,” Ormiston said. “We knew of more. There are more. They’re still out there. They’re afraid to come forward.”

Senator Schmit submitted an affidavit stating that he had been warned that Caradori’s life was in danger. He also wrote a letter to the National Transportation Safety Board regarding the missing backseats of Caradori’s plane: “... I do not know anything about sabotage, but I have been told that a phosphorous type bomb would, in fact, vaporize metal and any other material with which it came in contact and that unless someone knew what they were looking for, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to detect.... I am sure there will be those who will scoff at such a suggestion, but there have been entirely too many violent deaths associated with this investigation....”

The NTSB wasn't able to provide a reason why Caradori's plane broke up in flight, but it unconvincingly offered pilot error or instrumnet malfunctions as possible explanations.




GOD Does not Sleep...And HIS Justice is Eternal  

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