Primary Sources: Jack Ruby and the Mafia

Primary Sources: Jack Ruby and the Mafia

Rose Cheramie was found unconsciousness by the side of the road at Eunice, Louisiana, on 20th November, 1963. Lieutenant Francis Frudge of the Louisiana State Police took her to the state hospital. On the journey Cheramie said that she had been thrown out of a car by two gangsters who worked for Jack Ruby. She claimed that the men were involved in a plot to kill John F. Kennedy. Cheramie added that Kennedy would be killed in Dallas within a few days. Later she told the same story to doctors and nurses who treated her. As she appeared to be under the influence of drugs her story was ignored.

Following the assassination, Rose Cheramie was interviewed by the police. She claimed that Lee Harvey Oswald had visited Ruby's night club. In fact, she believed the two men were having a homosexual relationship. Cheramie, the victim of a hit and run driver, was found dead on 4th September, 1965.

The Warren Commission claimed that Jack Ruby was not "part of any conspiracy, domestic or foreign, to assassinate President Kennedy." It also stated that there was no "significant link between Ruby and organized crime". Critics of the Warren Report have claimed that this was not true.

In his book, Crime of the Century, Michael Kurtz points out: "In the month prior to the assassination, Ruby telephoned Irwin Weiner, a "frontman for organized crime"; Robert "Barney" Baker, an associate of Jimmy Hoffa's; Nofio J. Pecora, a lieutenant of the reputed Louisiana Mafia boss Carlos Marcello; Lewis McWillie, who had ties with organized crime figures Santos Trafficante and Meyer Lansky; and Murray "Dusty" Miller, another individual closely allied with Hoffa and the Mafia."

In his book, JFK: The Second Plot (1992), Matthew Smith points out that Thomas H. Killam, a man who worked for Jack Ruby, claimed that there was a link between his former employer, Lee Harvey Oswald and the Mafia. He told his brother, "I am a dead man, but I have run as far as I am running." Killam was found dead in an alley with his throat cut in March, 1964. Smith points out that Dorothy Kilgallenalso died in mysterious circumstances after interviewing Ruby in prison in November 1965.

(D1) The Warren Commission Report (September, 1964)

Between 1949 and November 24, 1963, Ruby was arrested eight times by the Dallas Police Department. The dates, charges, and dispositions of these arrests are as follows: February 4, 1949, Ruby paid a $10 fine for disturbing the peace. July 26, 1953, Ruby was suspected of carrying a concealed weapon; however, no charges were filed and Ruby was released on the same day. May 1, 1954, Ruby was arrested for allegedly carrying a concealed weapon and violating a peace bond; again no charges were filed and Ruby was released on the same day. December 5, 1954, Ruby was arrested for allegedly violating State liquor laws by selling liquor after hours; the complaint was dismissed on February 8, 1955. June 21, 1959, Ruby was arrested for allegedly permitting dancing after hours; the complaint was dismissed on July 8, 1959. August 21, 1960, Ruby was again arrested for allegedly permitting dancing after hours; Ruby posted $25 bond and was released on that date. February 12, 1963, Ruby was arrested on a charge of simple assault; he was found not guilty February 27, 1963. Finally, on March 14, 1963, Ruby was arrested for allegedly ignoring traffic summonses; a $35 bond was posted.

When Ruby applied for a beer license in March 1961, he reported that he had been arrested "about four or five times" between 1947 and 1953. Between 1950 and 1963, he received 20 tickets for motor vehicle violations, paying four $10 fines and three of $3. In 1956 and 1959, Ruby was placed on 6 months' probation as a traffic violator.

Ruby was also frequently suspended by the Texas Liquor Control Board. In August 1949, when he was operating the Silver Spur, he was suspended for 5 days on a charge of "Agents Moral Turpitude." In 1953 Ruby received a 5-day suspension because of an obscene show, and, in 1954, a 10-day suspension for allowing a drunkard on his premises. On February 18, 1954, he was suspended for 5 days because of an obscene striptease act at the Silver Spur and for the consumption of alcoholic beverages during prohibited hours. On March 26, 1956. Ruby was suspended by the liquor board for 3 days because several of his checks were dishonored. On October 23, 1961, he received another 3-day suspension because an agent solicited the sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption on licensed premises.

Does Jack Ruby's criminal record suggest links with the Mafia?

(D2) David E. Scheim, The Mafia Killed President Kennedy (1988)

Despite official denials. Jack Ruby had indeed been a "professional gangster." Furthermore, telephone records and other documents showed extensive contacts between Ruby and underworld figures from across the country in the months before the assassination.

It also emerged, disturbingly, that evidence establishing these criminal ties had been repeatedly suppressed or distorted by the Warren Commission, the government body initially charged to investigate Kennedy's murder. For example, the Commission reported that "virtually all of Ruby's Chicago friends stated he had no close connection with organized crime." But a trace of the Commission's cited references revealed that one of these "friends" was a notorious Mob hit man credited with planning some of its more important executions. More than half of these cited friends, in fact, had some racketeering associations.

Why is David E. Scheim critical of the way the Warren Commission obtained information about the suggested links between Jack Ruby and the Mafia?

(D3) Peter Dale Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK (1993)

FBI documents released in 1979 show other instances in which key information was either altered before it reached the Warren Commission, or else withheld altogether. For example, judging from Warren Commission records, the FBI covered up Jack Ruby's connections to organized crime. The Commission did not receive an important interview with Luis Kutner, a Chicago lawyer who had just told the press (correctly) about Ruby's connections to Chicago mobsters Lennie Patrick and Dave Yaras. All the FBI transmitted was a meaningless follow-up interview in which Kutner merely said he had no additional information.

Apparently the FBI also failed to transmit a teletype revealing that Yaras, a national hit man for the Chicago syndicate who had grown up with Ruby, and who had been telephoned by one of Ruby's Teamster contacts on the eve of the assassination, was about to attend a "hoodlum meeting" of top East and West Coast syndicate representatives, including some from the "family" of the former Havana crime lord Santos Trafficante.

Why did the FBI want to cover-up Jack Ruby's links with organized crime?

(D4) G. Robert Blakey was interviewed by ABC News in 2003.

ABC News: How central is Jack Ruby's murder of Oswald to your understanding of this case?

Blakey: To understand who killed President Kennedy and did he have help, I think you have to understand what happened to the assassin of President Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald. I see Jack Ruby's assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald as a mob hit.

This is in direct contradiction to the Warren Commission. The Warren Commission portrayed, wrongly I think, Jack Ruby as a wild card who serendipitously got into position to kill Oswald. I think in fact he stalked him. I can show you from the Warren Commission's evidence that he tried to get into where he was being interrogated, number one. That he tried to get in where there was going to be a lineup, number two. That he was seen around the garage, where he was announced that he was going to be moved. And we know, from Jack Ruby himself, that he had a gun with him at the time of the lineup.

I believe that Ruby was able to get in to kill Oswald through the corrupt cooperation of the Dallas P.D., that he was let in through a back door and he was given an opportunity to kill Oswald. I see that, therefore, as a mob hit. And if that's a mob hit, there is only one reason for it, and that is to cover up the assassination of the president himself. You kill the killer.

ABC News: Since you believe that Lee Oswald shot the president, and you also believe that Carlos Marcello was behind the assassination, what connections do you point to between Oswald and Marcello?

Blakey: I can show you that Lee Harvey Oswald knew, from his boyhood forward, David Ferrie, and David Ferrie was an investigator for Carlos Marcello on the day of the assassination, with him in a court room in New Orleans. I can show you that Lee Harvey Oswald, when he grew up in New Orleans, lived with the Dutz Murret family (one of Oswald's uncles). Dutz Murret is a bookmaker for Carlos Marcello.

I can show you that there's a bar in New Orleans, and back in the '60s, bars used to have strippers and the strippers circuit is from Jack Ruby's strip joint in Dallas to Marcello-connected strip joints in the New Orleans area. So I can bring this connection.

Did Lee Harvey Oswald grow up in a criminal neighborhood? Yes. Did he have a mob-connected family? Did he have mob-connected friends? Was he known to them to be a crazy guy? He's out publicly distributing Fair Play for Cuba leaflets. If you wanted to enlist him in a conspiracy that would initially appear to be communist and not appear to be organized crime, he's the perfect candidate. Ex-Marine, marksman, probably prepared to kill the president for political reasons.

Could he be induced to kill the president for organized crime reasons unbeknownst to him? I think the answer is yes and compelling.

What evidence does G. Robert Blakey have that Jack Ruby was linked to the Mafia. Why does Blakey believe that Ruby killed Lee Harvey Oswald?

(D5) Michael Kurtz, Crime of the Century (1982)

In the month prior to the assassination, Ruby telephoned Irwin Weiner, a "frontman for organized crime"; Robert "Barney" Baker, an associate of Jimmy Hoffa's; Nofio J. Pecora, a lieutenant of the reputed Louisiana Mafia boss Carlos Marcello; Lewis McWillie, who had ties with organized crime figures Santos Trafficante and Meyer Lansky; and Murray "Dusty" Miller, another individual closely allied with Hoffa and the Mafia.

According to Michael Kurtz, what links did Jack Ruby have with organized crime in the month before the assassination of John F. Kennedy?

(D6) J. Edgar Hoover made a telephone call to President Lyndon B. Johnson on 29th November, 1963.

This fellow Rubenstein (Jack Ruby) is a very shady character, has a bad record - street brawler, fighter, and that sort of thing - and in the place in Dallas, if a fellow came in there and couldn't pay his bill completely, Rubenstein would beat the very devil out of him and throw him out of the place... He didn't drink, didn't smoke, boasted about that. He is what I would put in a category of one of these "egomaniacs." Likes to be in the limelight. He knew all the police in that white-light district.... and he also let them come in, see the show, get food, liquor, and so forth. That's how, I think, he got into police headquarters. Because they accepted him as kind of a police character, hanging around police headquarters... They never made any moves, as the pictures show, even when they saw him approaching this fellow and got up right to him and pressed his pistol against Oswald's stomach. Neither of the police officers on either side made any move to push him away or grab him. It wasn't until after the gun was fired that they then moved... The Chief of Police admits that he moved him in the morning as a convenience and at the request of motion-picture people, who wanted to have daylight. He should have moved him at night... But so far as tying Rubenstein and Oswald together we haven't as yet done. So there have been a number of stories come in, we've tied Oswald into the Civil Liberties Union in New York, membership into that and, of course, this Cuban Fair Play Committee, which is pro-Castro, and dominated by Communism and financed, to some extent, by the Castro government.

According to J. Edgar Hoover, was Jack Ruby linked to organized crime?

(D7) Matthew Smith, JFK: The Second Plot (1992)

Television personality and celebrity-reporter Dorothy Kilgallen was permitted to interview Jack Ruby in prison in November 1965. She returned to her New York home after her talk to Ruby telling her friend, Mrs Earl T Smith, all about it and declaring she was going to break the assassination mystery wide open. She was found dead a few days later resulting, they said from an overdose. Two days later, Mrs Earl T. Smith was also found dead.

Why does Matthew Smith think Dorothy Kilgallen death might be connected with her visit to see Jack Ruby? How might this information help to explain Ruby's relationship with the Mafia?

(D8) Hugh Aynesworth, JFK: Breaking the News (2003)

In my view, were it not for the pervasive influence of a handful of individuals, there would be no plague of conspiracy theories surrounding the Kennedy assassination.

The first of these regrettable characters was Jack Ruby, who by stealing the executioner's role, created generations of doubters, and not unreasonably so. It was an audacious, desperate act that would seem to make sense only if Jack Ruby had a very powerful, rational motive for killing Lee Harvey Oswald.

The truth is that he did not; the hard evidence in the case supports no other conclusion.

Based on indisputable facts, I believe that Ruby acted spontaneously in the basement at City Hall. The opportunity to kill Lee Harvey Oswald suddenly presented itself, and Ruby acted accordingly. He could just as well have been driving home from the Western Union office at that moment.

Does Hugh Aynesworth believe that Jack Ruby was linked to the Mafia?

(D9) Joachim Joesten, How Kennedy Was Killed (1968)

And so Jack Ruby, on December 9, 1966, - exactly one day after he had learned that his new trial was going to be

held in February or March 1967 at Wichita Falls, about 140 miles from Dallas - was stricken with a mysterious disease

first diagnosed as a common cold, then as pneumonia and finally as generalized cancer.

For more than three years, with a death sentence hanging over his dead for most of the time, Ruby had been as fit as

a fiddle in the custody of Dallas Sheriff Bill Decker. At no time before December 9, had the prison doctor who visited

him regularly, detected any flaw in Ruby's splendid health. But now, with a new trial in prospect in a different place, death quickly overtook the man who knew perhaps more than any other living person (with the possible exception of David

Ferrie, then still totally unknown to the public at large) about the real background to the assassination. He passed away in the morning of January 3, 1967 - and another inconvenient trial was happily averted.

As always, my critics are likely to counter at this point with the challenge: 'Where is your evidence that Ruby was murdered?'

The evidence is there, plain to see for anyone with an open mind, but it is purely circumstantial, not tangible. (The people who arranged for Ruby's death, as they had previously arranged for the overt murders of President Kennedy, Patrolman Tippit and Lee Harvey Oswald, to say nothing of the 20-odd witnesses who have also been disposed of, weren't stupid enough to leave any palpable traces of what they had done.)

What evidence does Joachim Joesten provide that Jack Ruby was murdered?