Age of Secrets - The Conspiracy that Toppled Richard Nixon and the Hidden Death of Howard Hughes by Gerald Bellett
(notes from the book)
Chapter 12 - "Damage Control"
When the hearings resumed, everybody testified except Meier, who had actually witnessed the $1 million pay-off. He was told to go home. The committee conspired to sabotage the hearings; any mention of the pay-off in the proceedings was ignored.
The IRS had convinced the committee not to listen to Meier. He was accused of stealing from Hughes and tax evasion and being a publicity hound. (The IRS was clearly being used by the White House, CIA, and Hughes Organization.)
Bebe Rebozo's testimony was such a joke that at one point Carmine Bellino was heard hollering "Oh Jesus." Rebozo's lawyer, William Frates, complained to Dash.
- the committee's chief investigator.
- was close to the Kennedys, helped JFK with personal matters, helped RFK take on the Teamster's Union.
- had scooped up Louis Russell right after the Watergate burglary.
- he may have been Clark Clifford's inside source of info on the committee.
Chapter 13 - "International Intrigue"
Early 1974, federal Judge George Boldt was given charge of Meier's income tax evasion case to be heard in Reno, Nevada.
- normally presided in Tacoma, Washington.
- friend of Nixon and Ehrlichman.
- the Unions hated him.
Meier fell into the arms of British intelligence who wanted access to his political and industrial contacts, and knowledge of the Hughes empire.
1973, the Arab nations embargoed petroleum sales to the west after Egypt invaded Israel. Caused fuel shortages in the U.S.
After WWII American Intelligence lost trust in British Intelligence when it became obvious that they had been infiltrated by Soviet spies. McLean, Burgess, Philby and Blunt all betrayed secrets.
- Head of the Labour Party in Britain.
Meiers' MI5 (British Intell.) contact was Brian Boyce.
After decades of living on international credit the British saw the oil-rich North Sea as a way out. They wanted to nationalize their oil industry and put it under government control along with their steel, coal and railway industries.
The British learned that many of the companies fighting for exploration rights were CIA fronts through Hughes. Through Meier's contacts he supplied Boyce a list of Hughes' European companies connected to the CIA. On July 12, 1974 Harold Wilson took control of the North Sea oilfields.
Undercover as a Hughes deep-sea mining expedition, the CIA's Glomar Explorer recovered a sunken Russian sub in the Pacific.
June 5: Hughes' Romaine St. headquarters in L.A. was robbed.
- Classified documents linking the CIA to the Glomar project disappeared.
- Probably an inside job.
- One day earlier the Securities Exchange Commission had received a court order for records stored there.
- The one important document missing seems to have been the Glomar document (agreement between the CIA and Hughes).
The book "Citizen Hughes" by Michael Drosnin says no such Glomar document was stolen in the break-in, but removed by a security guard Mike Davis. Davis says he later flushed it down the toilet. (but this is baloney.)
- Infamous Beverly Hills private detective.
- In Jim Hougan's book "Spooks" Hall is described as a sleaze, a wiretapper, an informer, a dope peddler, and a double agent.
- July 6: tried selling a briefcase full of the stolen papers to Meier, including the Glomar document.
- was part of two burglaries against Hughes operations in spring of 1974.
- July 1976 he was murdered, his partners Ginsburg and LeBell were falsely convicted of it.
Meier became a Canadian citizen with the help of Boyce and Canadian Intelligence.
August 8, 1974, Richard Nixon resigned.
Winter of 1974 Meier was in bad health. Was a consultant for a company called Trans Continental Video (TCV).
- The president, Wayne Netter, was murdered November 30th.
- Involved with Netter, and who probably killed him, was Robbie Robertson, who was living in Meier's house.
January 3, 1975 Judge Boldt in Reno declared Meier a fugitive when he didn't show up for his trial. Only his lawyer, Robert Wyshak, showed up.
Chapter 14 - "The Gonzales Affidavit"
May 1975, Virgino Gonzales in Mexico City, Mexico filed an affidavit claiming he was a member of the CIA's ultra-sensitive Domestic Operations Division.
- born in Cuba
- recruited into the CIA in 1959, resigned Dec. 1974.
- friends with Frank Sturgis.
- listed many details about Meier.
- one of the best wiremen in North America.
- a good sound technician who had recorded Sinatra, Joan Baez, Streisand, The Who.
- May 23, 1975, called Meier offering assistance.
- Police caught him with a gun and illegal bugging equipment.
- He told Meier he was going to kill him.
- The Police kicked him out of Canada.
Meier was still under CIA surveillance. The RCMP Security Service gave Meier a cover: they pretended Meier was working with CLEU (British Columbia's Coordinated Law Enforcement Unit).
- CLEU was set up for intelligence efforts against organized crime in the province and international drug smuggling.
- Meier's contact with CLEU was Eddie Hameluck.
- wanted Meier to be a consultant for a study it was doing about gambling.
An RCMP team photographed 3 men following Meier. Meier recognized one as a friend of Merhige.
Chapter 15 - "The Secret of Cay Sal"
Dick Hannah told Meier to go to Cay Sal, which is 30 miles off the coast of Cuba.
- was Hughes' chief spokesman, represented him for two decades.
- was vice president of Carl Byoir and Associates of New York, one of the country's leading public relations firms.
- Toward the end of his career with Hughes, he thought something strange was happening with the organization. He wasn't even sure if he was working for Hughes.
- December 1975, age 60, open heart surgery, poor health.
- called Meier and told him to call Mr. Moody in Miami, who will arrange to send him to Cay Sal.
January 1976, Meier went to Cay Sal and saw the cryonics chamber he and Buhler had bought for Hughes 5 years earlier. Inside it was a frozen Howard Hughes. According to the Summa Corporation (the Hughes organization) Howard Hughes was alive and well.
Hughes was announced officially dead April 5, 1976.
Former IRS Commissioner Johnnie M. Walters suspected Hughes may have died as far back as 1972.
February 27, 1976, Jack Anderson published an internal IRS memo saying IRS agents speculated Hughes died in Las Vegas in 1970 and his organization had been using a double.
- composed and witnessed in 1968.
- kept at the Commercial National Bank in Victoria, Texas. Was placed there by the bank's chairman A.B.J. Hammet.
- Hughes willed everything to the Medical Institute so he could get it back when he came back to life.
When Hughes' death was announced, the Mexican Federales seized the piles of secret papers from Hughes' suite in the Acapulco Princess Hotel.
- They wouldn't let Texas have them.
- Meier got them on October 26th.
- The papers showed that in Hughes' last days he was drugged, hardly ate, TV addict, etc. (the opposite of what the Summa Corp. had portrayed him as.)
- The papers proved many of Hughes' signatures were forgeries.
Summa was now being run by Chester Davis, Bill Gay, and Nadine Henley.
September 1976 issue of Playboy published an article exposing Summa's dealings with the White House and the CIA, included a list of Senators and Congressmen the CIA favored, including Gerald Ford. Reagan's people met with Meier to learn more about the story.
Chapter 16 - "The Canada Files"
From a CIA contact, Meier obtained documents that he gave to Canada's Security and Intelligence Branch, and later to Canada's Liberal politicians. Contained info on:
- Canadian politicians, including Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and members of his cabinet.
- the Canadian military, and defense systems and defense industries.
- leading CIA agents in Canada, Cleveland Cram and Stacey Husle.
President of Venezuela, Carlos Andreas Perez, had a collection of Diamonds he wanted to sell. Asked if Meier could help, but he couldn't.
- Meier was asked by Perez's personal representative Lorenzo Montali.
- Joe Napolitan and Clifton White had helped Perez get elected.
- The diamonds were the size of duck eggs!
End of 1976: the judge in Meier's lawsuit with Summa (in Salt Lake City) was Judge Anderson. Anderson found out that Meier's Mexican documents contained a memo by Chester Davis saying "we have Judge Anderson in our pocket in Utah." Anderson ordered that Wyshak recover all copies of the memo and produce them in court.
Chapter 17 - "Trouble in Tonga"
- is between Fiji and French Polynesia.
- is about 173,000 acres.
- achieved independence in 1970 (formerly ruled by the British).
- is a constitutional monarchy, like Great Britain.
- is ruled by King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV, he wanted to modernize Tonga.
- create a tourist industry.
- build an airport, and deepen the harbor for ships to come in.
- asked Meier for assistance.
- The U.S. objected, wanted Tonga to stay a backward nation.
- Tonga's chief of police was George Aakau'ola.
Meier helped get private investors to fund the project. He traveled all over selling Togan Bonds.
- While at the Chinese consulate in Vancouver, Meier planted a bugging device for the Canadian security service.
- In Japan he met with Ryoichi Sasakawa, one of Japan's richest industrialists.
December 21, Judge Anderson ruled against Meier, even though:
- the case started with 10 defendants as conspirators, but ended with only Meier. (how does one conspire with himself?)
- Meier never worked for Summa.
- Meier negotiated mine purchases at Hughes' direction, no checks were made out to Meier.
While Judge Anderson was assessing damages:
- the Salt Lake Tribune reported the existence of the memo saying the judge was in Summa's pocket.
- attorney Doug Wallace published his "Millenial Messenger" hammering Judge Anderson, the Mormon Church, the CIA, the Hughes organization, Intertel, and unnamed "others."
- Wallace requested Anderson be impeached.
Anderson ruled that Meier pay $7.9 million.
Paul Schrade told Meier about rumors the government was going to do something bad to Meier.
Meier's former friend, Robbie Robertson, alleged Meier had forged some of the Hughes documents. A grand jury in Salt Lake City looked into it. Robertson also alleged someone, on Meier's behalf, threatened to kill him.
At Meier's recommendation, Hameluck (from CLEU) became Tonga's security chief.
Tonga's Minister of Labour, Baron Vaea, told how a box mailed to the American Peace Corps Center in Tonga broke open and cocaine fell out.
The U.S. was very displeased with the airport and Meier's assistance. To make things safer for Meier, the King made Meier his financial advisor and issued him a diplomatic passport.
May 15: construction began.
May 17: in the U.S. a warrent was issued for Meier's arrest for obstructing justice.
June 1: Boyce told Meier that Washington was up to something, and to always use his diplomatic passport, not his Canadian passport.
Meier's 7 year-old son, Jimmy, was stalked for kidnapping, police were called, family guarded him constantly.
March 24: a molotov cocktail showered Jimmy with glass while he slept, but no fire.
May 27: strangers inquire about Jimmy at a bowling ally. The Delta Police arrested them, they had phony American I.D. The Canadian Security and Intelligence traced them to the U.S. Army base in Fort Lewis, Washington.
Meier brought his family to Australia.
Capt. Semple of the U.S. Navy told Meier they will do everything in their power to stop him from helping Tonga with the airport construction.
The FBI in L.A. were secretly investigating Richard Nixon's relationship with the late Howard Hughes and financier Robert Vesco.
- The official story wasn't believable.
- Nixon was apparently spending far more than he should have earned.
- A friend of Meier.
- Businessman from California.
- Highly placed agent in the U.S. State Dept.
Alan Copeland (read the book "The Profession of Violence: The Rise and Fall of the Kray Twins" by John Pearson)
- An acquaintance of Jay Walker.
- (For the thrill of it) an undercover civilian agent for the FBI and the Treasury Dept. and other intellegence agencies.
- had infiltrated criminal organizations in the U.S. and England.
- was working with the Justice Dept.'s Organized Crime Strike Force and the Los Angeles FBI office, and told Walker he wanted Meier's help bringing back Robert Vesco.
Meier in Tokyo
- Reporter and author Masatake Takahashi told Walker that the Americans are planning to bring Meier back to the U.S., or even kill him using the Yakuza (Japanese Mafia).
- Industrialist Sasakawa told Meier that the Americans have him under surveillance in Japan.
- Charlie Onadera, who represented various Japanese firms, told Meier to leave Japan, somebody at the U.S. embassy is dealing with the Yakuza.
- Meier and his family fled to Australia.
In New Zealand the King of Tonga told Meier that the U.S. will try to ruin the construction of the airport.
Meier went back to Australia. Sydney police said a number of CIA men were in town closely watching Meier.
July 27: Meier was arrested, to be extradited to the U.S., but Meier showed he had a diplomatic passport so they let him go.
July 29: Meier's family flew back to Canada, but he stayed in Australia.
Newspaper reports discreditting Meier were used to embarrass the King of Tonga.
While hiding out in Australia, Meier was unable to sell Tongan Bonds.
Jay Walker told Meier that the FBI was trying to figure out a way to help him and get him back to Canada.
August 26: Meier called Boyce in London and said he's trapped in Australia; doesn't know how to leave. Boyce told him to see "Wally" at the Peking Palace Restaurant. Wally sent Meier to the Cuban Embassy's Ministry of Foreign Affairs office (Sept. 7th), ask for Olga Chamero Trias. She told Meier to meet with Mr. Bass in Australia Square. Bass got Meier a New Zealand passport with a fake name.
September 27: Meier returned safely to Canada.
Chapter 18 - "Canada Sells Out"
Both the FBI and the U.S. Justice Dept. were waiting for him.
Oct. 10: the FBI sent Walker and Copeland to meet with Meier.
- They wanted to work with Meier in finding out about the death of Howard Hughes.
- There was pressure from the CIA to lay off.
- Meier suggested Hameluck should be the liaison between Meier and the FBI.
Hameluck flew to L.A. and met with FBI special agent Bradley Maryman and a high official from the Justice Dept. They wanted to work something out and help Meier, but were under pressure from some people in the Justice Dept. to back off.
Oct. 20: Meier was arrested at his house by the Vancouver RCMP Commercial Crime squad working with the Justice Dept. (Led by RCMP Corporal Pat Westphal.)
Meier's lawyer, John Taylor, got him out on bail.
FBI in L.A. flew to Washington to confront whoever was attempting to thwart the investigation into Hughes' death and Nixon's surprising wealth.
Copeland and two FBI agents met with Meier. They offered him protection if he would go with them to Salt Lake City. Copeland showed Meier an internal FBI document listing people they were investigating. Included:
- Richard Nixon
- Donald Nixon
- Howard Hughes Medical Institute staff
- a number of Summa employees and an equal number of U.S. Senators.
Meier stayed in Canada but told the FBI what he knew about Hughes' death and body.
- placed a file on Meier in FBI Headquarters in Washington D.C. which included allegations that he was involved with an international organized crime syndicate.
- Nixon's former personal Secret Service agent and friend.
- had worked for Intertel and Howard Hughes.
- was now a power in the Justice Dept.'s Organized Crime Division.
- visited CLEU's office in Victoria asking about Meier.
December, Meier went to court before Judge Paris. The judge orders Meier's extradition to the U.S.
After Christmas, Copeland called and said another team of agents were going to meet with Meier. Meier met with:
- FBI agent Joe Charles
- Sterling Epps of the Treasury Dept.
- Jim Henderson of the U.S. Justice Dept.'s Organized Crime Strike Force.
- A customs officer from the U.S. border station in Blaine.
- Pat Westphal.
The meeting went nowhere.
End of January 1979, someone tried to shoot Copeland, but missed.
A week later Copeland called Meier and told him not to trust Jim Henderson.
Feb. 14: Meier thought maybe the federal government could prevent his extradition. He met with Prime Minister Trudeau in Senator Perrault's office, but got no help. Trudeau told Meier not to discuss with anyone (except Genest) the CIA dossier he had supplied the Canadians.
May 17, 1979: Meier was extradicted to the U.S.
Chapter 19 - "Presumed Guilty"
Two CIA agents told Meier he could be home within a week if he cooperated and told them info concerning his Hughes days, his political associates, what he'd been doing in Canada and elsewhere, and with whom. Meier refused. Two Marshals took him to Utah.
Actress Terry Moore visited Meier in jail.
Meier's trial began July 25, 1979 in Salt Lake City.
- Meier's lawyer was James Barber.
- Stephan Snarr was the Utah district attorney prosecuting Meier.
- Robertson testified against Meier, and gave conflicting, unbelievable stories.
- James Barber and a Xerox copying machine expert, Steve Thompson, proved that Meier couldn't have forged documents like Robertson claimed.
- The jury found Meier guilty. His release date was May 1981 if he couldn't get paroled.
Meier was sent to the federal prison in Boise, Idaho, in solitary confinement.
Two CIA agents said he could make a deal and go home if he told them about Howard Hughes, Tonga, what he'd been doing with the Canadian government, and where he got the CIA file he gave to the Canadians. Meier wanted to talk to his lawyer, Wyshak, but they said no.
October 11: Meier was flown to Seattle, then taken to Termainl Island jail in Long Beach.
Again, two CIA agents asked Meier to cooperate and he could go home.
October 22: was taken to the El Reno, Oklahoma prison. Two CIA agents told Meier this was his last chance to make a deal.
November 2: was transported to the federal prison in Englewood, Colorado.
Alan Copeland was sent to prison by the Justice Dept. (18 months) despite help from his friends in the FBI and Treasury Dept. Copeland believed it was retaliation for his work with Meier.
1980, Meier was transferred to Canada, but had to stop at Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. At Lewisburg, CIA agents wanted him to sign 3 documents, and he would be allowed to go home:
- the 1st one said that money from Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi had been deposited in a Hawaiin bank account that Meier had set up for the King of Tonga. (But this wasn't true.)
- the 2nd document stated that Meier received classified documents from certain CIA agents (Meier were to name them) and Meier was directing whomever held those documents to surrender them to federal agents.
- the 3rd document said Meier gives up all files and documents to government agents relating to Hughes, his companies, and any related businesses.
They also wanted the so-called Gemstone documents and files pertaining to John F. Kennedy and his family. (Actually, Meier didn't have them, but he had read them.)
The Gemstone Files (also known as the Gemstone Charts)
- Drawn up by the CIA graphics department for Howard Hunt to be used on Richard Nixon's behalf. They were a master plan for the disruption of the Democratic Party's presidential campaign in the 1972 election.
- George Clifford had obtained a copy .
Robert Kennedy amassed a file on JFK's assassination from many sources, but mostly from the FBI, and was waiting until after he was elected to act on it. After RFK's assassination, Paul Schrade asked Ted Kennedy what had happened to that file: Ted turned white and told him to never mention it again.
After 6 days in Lewisburg, Meier was taken to Kingston Penitentiary in Ontario, Canada.
Sept. 26, 1980: was transferred to Mission Institution in British Columbia.
Chapter 20 - "Framed for Murder"
Robbie Robertson was now accusing Meier of the 1974 murder of Alfred Wayne Netter, a Vancouver stock promotor and business associate of Meier's. (In all probability Robertson actually committed the murder.)
January 19, 1981: Meier was paroled.
February 2, 1981: Michael Brenner convened the grand jury in Los Angeles to seek the indictment of Meier, Gordon A. Hazelwood and William Raymond McCrory for the murder of Alfred Wayne Netter.
Witnesses against Meier were:
- Robert Robertson
- insurance agents
- Buchmann (TCV sales promotor)
The investigator against Meier was Patrick Westphal, RCMP officer.
The prosecutor against Meier was William Halprin, Canadian Dept. of Justice lawyer who represented the U.S.
The grand jury ordered all defendants to be indicted. Meier's bail was set at $750,000.
August 28: Meier was arrested at gunpoint by RCMP officers at his friend's house in Vancouver.
Chapter 21 - "In Search of Justice"
December 1983: Meier was extradicted to Los Angeles.
August 27: preliminary hearing began.
- Ex-policeman Earl Durham represented Meier.
- Prosecuting Meier were Deputy District Attorneys Robert Schirn and Michael Tranbarger.
- The judge was Marion L. Obera.
October 2: Meier got out on bail, went home to British Columbia and began essembling witnesses for his trial.
February: one of Meier's friends who helped raise bail withdrew his share fearing Meier might jump bail, so Meier went back to Los Angeles County Jail.
May 1: Paul Schrade and other friends raised $200,000 bail and Meier was released again.
May 13: Meier asked Judge McKee to remove his attorney, Durham, and appoint a public defender. African-American Al DeBlanc took the case.
September, the prosecution offered Meier a deal: murder charges would be dropped if Meier pleaded no contest to a minor charge of harboring a fugitive, then Meier could go home. Meier didn't want to but DeBlanc talked him into it.
Meier went home.