Eugene A. Hancock

Eugene Hancock was a business partner of Grant Stockdale and George Smathers. Their company, Automatic Vending Services Incorporated, based in Florida, was involved in providing vending machines to government institutions.

In March, 1961, President John F. Kennedy appointed Grant Stockdale as Ambassador to Ireland. This decision was criticised by some political commentators. Several newspapers began asking questions about Grant Stockdale's relationship with prosperous businessman, Sidney Kessler. It emerged that Kessler gave Stockdale a $5,000 interest-free loan at a time when he had applied for permission to construct a $8 million apartment building in Miami.

In April 1961 Grant Stockdale was served with papers in a $131,000 damages suit by Pan-Am Tobacco Corporation. The New York Times reported: "The suit alleged that he had used undue influence to gain contracts for Automatic Vending Services, Inc., a Miami company in which he owned stock." Pan-Am claimed it its suit that Stockdale had been instrumental in gaining for his company the vending service contract at Aerodex Incorporated, an aircraft engine maintenance company in Miami.

There were also concerns about contracts totaling $500,000 a year at Patrick Air Force Base and the Air Force missile test centre at Cape Kennedy. Stockdale argued that Pan-Am was attempting "to get some publicity because I am a United States Ambassador". The Pan-Am suit was eventually dismissed as "frivolous" in Dade County Circuit Court, and the Florida Circuit Court of Appeals subsequently upheld the lower court.

In 1962 Bobby Baker established the Serve-U-Corporation with his friend, Fred Black, and mobsters Ed Levenson and Benny Sigelbaum. The company was to provide vending machines for companies working on federally granted programs. The machines were manufactured by a company secretly owned by Sam Giancana and other mobsters based in Chicago. Hancock was appointed as president of Serve-U-Corporation.

Later that year John Williams began to investigate the activities of Bobby Baker, a close associate of the Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson. His fellow senator, Carl Curtis, later commented: "Williams was a man beyond reproach, sincere and intelligent and dedicated. During his service in the Senate he was rightly referred to as the conscience of the Senate. He was an expert investigator, tenacious and courageous. Senator Williams became the prime mover in bringing about the investigation of Baker."

Questions were asked about Stockdale's business involvement with Bobby Baker. In an interview he insisted he was "absolutely not" a stockholder in Serve-U-Corporation, the vending company which had figured largely in the Baker investigation. He also pointed out that he had disposed of his holdings in Automatic Vending Services, more than a year earlier. However, under pressure from President John F. Kennedy, he resigned as ambassador in July, 1962.

The investigation of Bobby Baker discovered that he had links to Clint Murchison and several Mafia bosses. Evidence also emerged that Vice-President Lyndon B. Johnson was also involved in political corruption. This included the award of a $7 billion contract for a fighter plane, the F-111, to General Dynamics, a company based in Texas. On 7th October, 1963, Baker was forced to resign his post as Secretary to the Majority in the Senate. Soon afterwards, Fred Korth, the Navy Secretary, was also forced to resign because of the TFX contract.

On 22nd November, 1963, a friend of Baker's, Don B. Reynolds told B. Everett Jordan and his Senate Rules Committee that Lyndon B. Johnson had demanded that he provided kickbacks in return for this business. This included a $585 Magnavox stereo. Reynolds also had to pay for $1,200 worth of advertising on KTBC, Johnson's television station in Austin. Reynolds had paperwork for this transaction including a delivery note that indicated the stereo had been sent to the home of Johnson.

Don B. Reynolds also told of seeing a suitcase full of money which Bobby Baker described as a "$100,000 payoff to Johnson for his role in securing the Fort Worth TFX (F-111) contract". His testimony came to an end when news arrived that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated.

On 26th November, Grant Stockdale flew to Washington and talked with Robert Kennedy and Edward Kennedy. On his return Stockdale told several of his friends that "the world was closing in." On 1st December, he spoke to his attorney, William Frates who later recalled: "He started talking. It didn't make much sense. He said something about 'those guys' trying to get him. Then about the assassination."

Grant Stockdale died on 2nd December, 1963 when he fell (or was pushed) from his office on the thirteenth story of the Dupont Building in Miami. Stockdale did not leave a suicide note but his friend, George Smathers, claimed that he had become depressed as a result of the death of John F. Kennedy.

Eugene Hancock appeared before the Committee on Rules and Administration on 14th January, 1964. Hancock testified he was president of Serve-U-Corporation "only in name" and knew little about its affairs. He went onto insist he had no personal knowledge that Bobby Baker was a big stockholder in the firm. Hancock swore he never gave Baker any money, and denied that Baker was to share in commissions he expected from a contract with a Washington area defense plant.

Primary Sources

(1) William Torbitt, Nonmenclature of an Assassination Cabal (1970)

From 1960 to 1963, the ruling hierarchy of Lionel Corporation was General John B. Medaris, Roy Cohn and Joe Bonanno (Joe Bananas), a top Mafia man from New York, Las Vegas, Tucson and Montreal, Canada. Lionel Corporation during this period did over ninety percent of their business with the space agency and army ordnance furnishing such items as electronic equipment, rocket parts, chemical warfare agents and flame throwers. Also, during this period, General Medaris, though having retired in 1960, remained on active duty as special advisor to Army Intelligence in the Pentagon. The Lionel Corporation management was in direct contact with Louis Mortimer Bloomfield who, among other things, was a lawyer with offices in Tangiers, Morocco and Paris, France. Bloomfield was also the president of Heineken's Brewers, Ltd., Canada. General Medaris was a director of one of the land speculation companies of Bobby Baker and Senator George Smathers in Florida. Joe Bonanno (Joe Bananas) in his capacity as a Mafia leader, was associated in the Havana and Las Vegas gambling with L.J. McWillie, Clifford Jones and others.

In addition to J. Edgar Hoover's close association with Roy Cohn, he was also a long time friend of General Medaris. Joe Bonanno (Joe Bananas) had been a personal informer for J. Edgar Hoover for over a decade during 1963. Grant Stockdale, ex-United States Ambassador to Ireland and former George Smathers Administrative Assistant and a stock holder and officer in Bobby Baker's vending machine and Florida land transactions, knew and was closely associated with almost all of the top figures in the cabal. Shortly after President Kennedy's assassination on November 22, 1963, Grant Stockdale was pushed, shoved or fell from the fourteenth story of a Miami building and was killed immediately in the fall. As an officer in the Bobby Baker enterprises, Grant Stockdale had particular knowledge of a good part of the workings of the cabal and his death was one of a series made necessary to protect the group from public exposure...

Fred Black of Washington, D.C. was a lobbyist for North American Aircraft and business associate with Bobby Baker and Clifford Jones. Black has confirmed the connection between Jones, McWillie, Baker, Ruby and ex-Cuban President, Prio.

After November 22, l963, Black publicly told many people in Washington, D.C. he had informed J. Edgar Hoover that an income tax conviction against him must be reversed or he would blow the lid off Washington with revelations of the assassination conspirators. Lobbyist Black prevailed upon J. Edgar Hoover to admit error before the Supreme Court where his case was reversed in 1966. Hoover did well to rescue Black from the conviction. Fred Black, while socially drinking with acquaintances in Washington has, on numerous occasions, been reported to have told of J. Edgar Hoover's and Bobby Baker's involvement in the assassination through Las Vegas, Miami and Havana gamblers. He named some of these as the Fox Brothers of Miami, McLaney of Las Vegas, New Orleans, Havana and Bahamas, Cliff Jones of Las Vegas, Carlos Prio Socarras of Havana, Bobby Baker and others. He stated there was also a connection in that some of the gamblers were Russian emigres.

Don Reynolds, Washington, D.C. businessman and associate of Bobby Baker and who had a number of questionable business transactions with Walter Jenkins on behalf of Lyndon Johnson, also gave testimony concerning Bobby Baker's involvement with the principals and he has stated on numerous public occasions that this group was behind the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Black was a stockholder with Baker in the Waikiki Savings & Loan Association in Honolulu. The other members were Clifford Jones and his law partner, Louis Weiner. There was the Farmers and Merchants State Bank in Tulsa where Jones joined Baker and Black in a stock deal and brought in a Miami pal by the name of Benny Sigelbaum, a courier of funds and documents to the Swiss banks for Permindex and the Syndicate.

Of all the enterprises, none could compare with the controversial Serv-U Corp., a Baker-Black controlled vending- machine firm. Ed Levinson, president of the Fremont Hotel, Las Vegas, Nevada, was also a partner. Grant Stockdale, President of Serv-U and his money is covered later. Formed late in 1961, Serve-U Corporation provided vending machines for the automatic dispensing of food and drink in companies working on government contracts. In the next two years, Serv-U was awarded the lion-share of the vending business at three major aerospace firms - North American Aviation, Northrop Corporation and Thompson Ramo Wooldridge's Space Technology Laboratories. Baker and Black each bought stock in the company for $1 a share, while the others paid approximately $16 a share.

(2) The New York Times (2nd December, 1963)

Grant Stockdale once had close business connections with vending machine concerns that are under investigation in the Robert G. Baker inquiry...

In an interview published in The Miami Herald last October, shortly after the Senate authorized a study of Mr Baker's dealings, Mr. Stockdale said: "I hope I don't get cut up too bad. I haven't done anything wrong."

In a reference to his former political activities, he said: "I am a business man, but I still consider myself a quasi-public figure. I am very meticulous in my dealings."

Mr. Stockdale's responses were to questions about the similarities between the Washington damage suit against Mr. Baker, which touched off the Baker case, and a 1961 damage suit against Mr. Stockdale and others in Miami.

In April, 1961, just as Mr. Stockdale was leaving Miami to assume his duties as Ambassador to Ireland, he was served with papers in a $131,000 damage suit. The suit alleged that he had used "undue influence" to gain contracts for Automatic Vending Services, Inc., a Miami company in which he owned stock.

Mr. Stockdale accused the complainant, the Pan-Am Tobacco Corporation, of trying to "get some publicity because I am a United States Ambassador". He denied the charges... This suit was dismissed as "frivolous" in Dade County Circuit Court, and the Florida Circuit Court of Appeals subsequently upheld the lower court.

Mr. Stockdale, one business associate said, was then "harrassed" by newsmen concerning his connection with Automatic Vending Services and its president, Eugene A. Hancock.

Mr. Hancock formerly was president of the Serv-U-Corporation the vending company which has figured largely in the Baker investigation.

(3) Dom Bonafede, The New York Herald Tribune (3rd December, 1963)

Miarni friends said yesterday that Mr. Stockdale, who was in the real estate and investment business, was despondent over the death of President Kennedy. He is reported to have fallen on his knees and prayed when lie heard the news...

Prior to his resignation it was disclosed that he had borrowed $1,000 interest-free from Sidney Kessler, a New York and Miami builder, who was seeking an $5,000 commitment froin the Federal Housing Administration. The petition was later approved.

President Kennedy reportedly learned of the loan and demanded that Mr. Stockdale return the $5,000.

In a trans-Atlantic telephone call to a Miami reporter, Mr. Stockdale reportedly commented that the President was "afraid the loan could make it look like I was finagling around with the FHA"...

Mr. Stockdale's name also came up briefly as a part time associate of Eugene Hancock, a vending-machine operator, mentioned in the investigation of Bobby Baker.

(4) Joachim Joesten, The Dark Side of Lyndon Baines Johnson (1968)

Hardheaded businessinen - and Stockdale was certainly hardheaded, as his record shows - don't kill themselves because a friend has been murdered, be it the President of the United States. Besides, relations between Kennedy and Stockdale had soured considerably, as we shall see.

All this is part and parcel of the official myth making that goes on day after day in the United States to gloss over the conspicuous taints in The Great Society. It has been going on at a greatly accelerated pace since the assassination of President Kennedy.

The truth of the matter is that Grant Stockdale was also a wheelerdealer and had found himself caught in the Bobby Baker web, If his death was suicide, the reason was that he feared exposure. More likely, Stockdale was murdered because he knew too much and somebody else feared exposure...

To recapitulate the many and striking similarities between the Stockdale and Baker cases:

Grant Stockdale is a big wheel in the Democratic Party and a person of considerable influence in Washington; Bobby Baker is also a big wheel in the Democratic Party geared to one of the biggest and exercises even greater influence in the capital.

Stockdale is also a major stockholder in a vending-machine company. This outfit garners, one after another, extremely lucrative contracts in Government installations and Government-controlled defence plants. And eventually it becomes the target of a damage suit by a competitor, charging the use of "undue influence" in obtaining these contracts.

Two years later, Bobby Baker travels exactly the same road with all its way stations, as has already been described in previous chapters.

Any thought that all this could be purely coincidental is now dispelled by this paragraph in the Times story:

'Mr. Stockdale, one business associate said, was then "harassed" by newsmen concerning his connection with Automatic Vending Services and its president, Eugene A. Hancock...'

There you have it, in a nutshell. Eugene A. Hancock is the president of Automatic Vending Services. One of his biggest assets is a prominent stockholder, Grant Stockdale, who has plenty of pull in Washington.

Coincidentally, of course, profitable government contracts start tumbling out of Washington's cornucopia and into the lap of the Hancock-Stockdale enterprise.

Then, a couple of years later, the scene shifts. Hancock is now president of the Serv-U-Corporation, another automatic vending concern, with the very, very influential Bobby Baker as his principal stockholder (in fact, though not in name). Automatically, again, the cornucopia tilts and starts pouring out juicy government contracts.

And, exactly as before, the new venture leads to a large damage suit in which it is charged that these contracts were obtained through the misuse of influence in Washington.

Hancock is then the conspicuous connecting link between the affairs of Grant Stockdale and those of Bobby Baker. Yet after Stockdale's "suicide", the Senate committee investigating the Baker scandal blandly declared that there was no tie at all. Stockdale, a spokesman for the committee said, was not under investigation and there had been no plans for the committee to question him. And, indeed, the committee did not ask Hancock as far as is known, any questions about Stockdale when it grilled him.

Just one more of those fabulous "coincidences", you see, that abound in every phase and facet of the Johnson regime, and most strikingly in the Oswald story: at the precise moment that the Bobby Baker investigation gets under way, an earlier high-ranking influence peddler formerly associated with the same figurehead president, Hancock, a man hoping and praying that he won't "get cut up too bad" in the process, mysteriously plunges to his death from a tall building. Yet, in the official view, there is no link, no connection.

(5) Larry Hancock, JFK Assassination Forum (9th June, 2004)

Neither Stockdale nor Smathers was an officer or a stockholder or seemingly involved in any way with Serve U - Bakers vending company. Both Smathers and Stockdale of course were politically connected in DC, Stockdale very active in Democratic politics. There is speculation that either of them or Smather's associates could have introduced Baker to Hancock who did become Serve U President.

Stockdale and Hancock had been running a vending machine company in Florida - Automatic Vending - which seems sort of a model for Serve U, focused on govt. contracts. However Stockdale did not join Serve U and took a Kennedy appointment as Ambassador to Ireland. Upon his return to Florida he became consultant to another vending machine company which had contracts at Cape Canavaral. Shortly after his JFK appointment, Automatic Vending had been sued for improper actions in getting a contract at Aerodex but the suit was eventually dismissed.

All in all there is nothing to indicate that either Stockdale or Smathers had any ties to Serve U and Stockdale's friends seem to have felt his suicide immediately following Kennedy's death was personal grief due to his identification and admiration with/for JFK. If there is something more mysterious about it nobody has connected any real dots to date and the speculation seems to be built entirely around the timing of his suicide.

(6) Adele Edisen, JFK Assassination Forum (13th June, 2004)

At 10:00 a.m. on Monday, December 2, 1963, Grant Stockdale came to his office on the 13th floor of the Alfred I. Dupont Building, 169 Flagler Street in Miami. His secretary, LaVerne Weingartner, who usually opened the office was not there, but at a dentist's office and would not arrive until 10:30. Stockdale went into a law office across the hall from his and asked Mrs. Mary Ruth Hauser how he could get a key to unlock his office door. She offered to call the building manager to send someone to open it.

Mrs. Hauser stated, "He followed me into my office and stood there while I called down for a key. He stood there very calmly. He didn't seem at all agitated... Somehow the subject of the President's death came up... He told me he was in his office when his wife called to tell him the President had been shot. He said he just got down on his knees and prayed."

Stockdale and Mrs. Hauser were still talking when someone came to unlock his door. She started to followed him across the hall, but just then her office phone started ringing and she returned to answer it. Mrs. Hauser said, "It couldn't have been five minutes later that there was this terrible thud...I just wonder if I had gone right behind him...I don't know, I guess it wouldn't have made any difference. The whole world has just gone mad."

Stockdale's body lay on the roof of the five-story Florida National Bank and Trust Company below the Stockdale office window. Dr. Sheffel H. Wright who had offices in the Dupont Building pronouned him dead at 10:30 a.m.; the police placed the time of death at 10:17 a.m.

All of the people who saw and spoke to Stockdale on his way to work said he had been in good spirits, waving and saying hello. He stopped for a shoe shine, spoke to the elevator operator, and exchanged words with the parking garage attendant. However, it was his friend George Smathers who claimed that it had been an accumulation of grief and worry that had driven Stockdale to suicide.

One newspaper report states that Mrs. Stockdale had urged her husband to seek help for his depression after the assassination, but she called the doctor on Monday to inform him that he was so much better.

According to an article written by Miami Herald Reporter John B. McDermott, titled "Stockdale Into Irrational Mood," Stockdale had tried to reach him on Sunday, December 1. "He wanted to tell me something - to talk things over."

McDermott's article presents the following information:

On Saturday, November 23, 1963, Grant Stockdale flew to Washington, D.C., after a call from Robert Kennedy. He returned that night, thinking he would be unable to get a ticket to the church for the funeral services.

On Monday, November 25, Stockdale learned that a ticket had been reserved for him by the White House, but there was not enough time to get proper plane connections on time.

On Tuesday, November 26, Stockdale flew up to Washington and talked with Robert and Edward Kennedy, and then flew back that night. As a result of this last trip, Teddy (Edward) Kennedy called Mrs. Stockdale, "expressing anxiety over the ex-ambassador's mental state."

Stockdale had mentioned to several people during the ten days before his death that "the world was closing in."

On Sunday, December 1, after attending services at St. Stephens Episcopal Church with his family, Stockdale had paused to speak with Attorney William Frates.

"He started talking," Frates recalled Monday. "It didn't make much sense. He said something about 'those guys' trying to get him. Then about the assassination. He said he wanted to talk to me - that he had already talked to Billy Gaither (another attorney)."

Grant Stockdale was 48 years old when he died. Funeral Services were held on Wednesday, December 4, 1963, at St. Stephens Episcopal Church with 200 people attending. The blue-and-gold Ambassadors' flag was draped over the coffin. Pall-bearers were Senator George Smathers, Attorney William C. Gaither, former State Senator R.B. Gautier, Jr., former U. of Miami football star and team leader Eddie Dunn, Stockdale's business associate Eugene Hancock, and Realtor Walter Etling. Burial was arranged with the Van Orsdel Coral Gables Mortuary at Woodlawn Park Cemetery.

(Information taken from newspaper articles in the Miami Herald and Miami News.)

(7) Larry Hancock, JFK Assassination Forum (14th June, 2004)

I have to say I do find the Stockdale incident very interesting but there is a lot of speculation going on without some important data.

First, nothing in Adele's background mentions his earlier association with Hancock in Automatic Vending (even though Hancock was apparently a pall bearer at Stockdale's funeral). There is no mention of his other vending machine venture that got him into legal trouble with his appointment as ambassador and we have no details about that or how it ever came out? It is a bit unusual to see someone give up an appointment as Ambassador - that usually costs plenty of money in campaign contributions, what was going on with Stockdale's businesses and finances that brought that about?

As a close friend of JFK and a former business associate of Hancock it is very possible that Stockdale felt very badly about the Baker Serve U Corp scandal which was doing so much damage to the Administration - Stockdale could easily have ended up even being called as a witness on that. One of the big open issues that never got resolved was Hancock's real role in Serve U Corp beyond being apparently no more than a front for the company and not really involved in its business affairs. There is just a lot that we don't know about things that may have been affecting Stockdale in late 1963, aside from the murder of a close friend. One of the questions that crossing my mind is why no reporter did a better job with the Stockdale death, especially given his known association with some of the people involved in the explosive Serve-U corp scandal? Another is why he was apparently talking to lawyers right before his suicide?

I'm certainly not suggesting Stockdale might not have had some suspicions (although I really have a problem with him knowing anything specific about a threat to JFK and keeping it to himself for months). In any event, if he shared anything with the Kennedy family I find it very consistent that they gave him no response at all. There is a clear pattern of Kennedy family participation quashing any real investigation of conspiracy and in actually removing evidence - that has been documented elsewhere. There is a scenario that does explain that and I have addressed it in my book, it involves the secret war on Cuba, the Castro assassination attempts and national security. Whether or not we will ever know more about that than we do now is a good question, there are some good researchers pursuing that angle though.

On Stockdale, it's surely a lead worth pursuing but somebody needs to go back to the basics and investigate Frates, Gaither, Stockdale's personal and business situation etc. I just don't think we have enough data for conclusions.

(8) Anne Stockdale, email to Adele Edisen on the death of her father (16th June, 2004)

Yes I guess that is factual, except I thought that when he came home from Ireland, that he no longer had any $ interest in Vending Machines. One thing I do know is that Kennedy asked Daddy to go to the Air Force Base South of Miami to see if (against Kennedy's orders) bombs were being loaded on the planes. Bombs were being loaded on the planes!! I believe one of the reasons Daddy was killed was because he knew that the Government was being run by the Military Complex.

The Military Complex didn't want the American People to realize (and still don't ) that they were calling the shots. Daddy knew he was being followed... & he told Mom that they were going to get him... and they did. There was an attempt on my life also several days after Daddy's funeral . I realize now that this was a scare tactic to silence my Mother... i.e. if you speak about anything, Your kids are dead. It worked!!

(9) Montana Standard-Post (15th January, 1964)

A Miami, Fla., vending machine operator testified Tuesday that former Senate aide Robert G. Baker never used influence to help him obtain a contract.

Eugene A. Hancock, former president of Serv-U Corp., told the Senate Rules Committee that Baker plans to appear before the committee and challenge testimony that he accepted $5,600 for helping another operator land a contract.

The testimony concerning the $5,600 was given Monday by Ralph L. Hill, former president of the Capitol Vending Co., Inc., of Washington. Hill's differences with Baker, as set forth in a $300,000 lawsuit, led to the current investigation into Baker's outside business activities while he was secretary to the Senate Democratic majority.

Hancock said he discussed the inquiry with Baker at dinner Monday night and, "He said he was coming down here and go against Mr. Hill." The committee, which is seeking to determine whether Baker engaged in any business dealings that conflicted with his Senate duties or involved other improprieties, plans to call him as a windup witness. Baker resigned under fire last Oct, 7 after Hill accused him of conspiring to force Hill out of a profitable vending machine franchise.

Chairman B. Everett Jordan, D-N.C., said the group has no intention of calling Sen. George A. Smathcrs, D-Fla., who was shown Monday to have let Baker in on a profitable Florida real estate investment. "We don't need him - we're not investigating senators," Jordan said when newsmen asked if Smathers would be called. Jordan said the committee's assignment is to investigate Senate employes, past and present, and he said Smathers is not an employe of the Senate.

L. P. McLendon, the committee's chief counsel, said in answer to earlier questions that the Florida transaction would be invesligated thoroughly.

Smathers said in a statement that he invited a former aide, Scott ]. Peek, and Baker to buy shares in the Florida land venture for $1,500 each. The investments have brought them more than $7,000 over the past seven years, Smathers said.

Aides of Smathers said that the real estate deal involved a tract of land in Orange County, near Maitland, Fla.

Hancock, Tuesday's only witness, testified he was president of Serv-U "only in name" and knew little about its affairs. He said Baker's law partner, Ernest C. Tucker, was secretary and board chairman and controlled the company's bank account.

Hancock insisted he still has no personal knowledge that Baker was a big stockholder in the firm. Hancock swore he never gave Baker any money, and denied that Baker was to share in commissions Hancock expected from a contract with a Washington area defense plant.