Plumbers and Hughes To Team Up

Another project involved the stealing of certain documents from the safe of Hank Greenspun, the editor of the Las Vegas Sun. Later, James W. McCord claimed that Greenspun was being targeted because of his relationship with Robert Maheu and Howard Hughes. Robert Maheu was the top Hughes aide who first connected the CIA and the Mafia connections of Bugsy Seigel’s ring before 1960:

Maheu, a former FBI agent was asked by the CIA to connect the Mafia with US Intelligence in order to assassinate Fidel Castro. The advantage of employing the Mafia for this work is that it provided CIA with a credible cover story. The Mafia were known to be angry with Castro for closing down their profitable brothels and casinos in Cuba. If the assassins were killed or captured the media would accept that the Mafia were working on their own.

In August 1960, Colonel Sheffield Edwards contacted Maheu. As Maheu explained in 1995: “In the winter of 1959-60, however, the CIA still thought it could pull off the invasion (of Cuba). But it thought the odds might be better if the plan went one step further – the murder of Fidel Castro. All the Company needed was someone to do the dirty work for it. Professional killers. A gangland-style hit.”

Maheu offered the contract to Johnny Rosell. He in turn arranged for a meeting on 11th October, 1960, between Maheu and two leading mobsters, Santo Trafficante and Sam Giancana. As Maheu pointed out, “both were among the ten most powerful Mafia members” in America. Maheu told the mobsters that the CIA was willing to pay $150,000 to have Castro killed.

On 12th March, 1961, Maheu arranged for CIA operative, Jim O’Connell, to meet Roselli, Trafficante and Giancana at the Fontainebleau Hotel. During the meeting O’Connell gave poison pills and $10,000 to Rosselli to be used against Fidel Castro.

McCord testified that his fellow Plumbers, Hunt and Liddy, were to have carried out the break-in and theft of the papers and that Hughes interests were to have supplied them with a getaway plane and a safe hideout in an unnamed Central American country.

Notably, Maheu served as Hughes’s bagman and among those who received Hughes’ bribe money was Bebe Rebozo, a close associate of Richard Nixon. Hughes via Maheu also provided $205,000 to the politician’s brother, Donald Nixon in January 1957.

Mr. Maheu disclosed that in 1970 he delivered $100,000 to Charles G. “Bebe” Rebozo, a close friend of President Richard M. Nixon’s, in return for possible future favors for Hughes. Mr. Maheu entertained Nixon’s vice president, Spiro Agnew, on his yacht and regularly played tennis with then-Nevada Gov. Paul Laxalt (R), who became a U.S. senator.

But Hughes spread his political largess to both parties, contributing $100,000 to 1968 Democratic presidential candidate Hubert H. Humphrey. Mr. Maheu said he personally placed a briefcase containing $50,000 cash — from receipts at the Hughes-owned Silver Slipper casino — in Humphrey’s limousine. The contributions were legal at the time because they were considered private donations from an individual, not corporate contributions.