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The Crooked Man[1] By Gary Hill

“There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

William Shakespeare-Hamlet (1.5.167-8)


One of the strangest episodes of the Oswald impostor charades took place at the Ross Avenue Employment Office in Dallas in October, 1963. Employment Counselor, Laura Kittrell conducted an interview with a well dressed black woman who was looking to become a trainee in an electronics factory. She had recently moved to Dallas from Encino California where she had been a domestic employee and worked as a maid for Murray Chotiner (Shotner). The date was October 7th.

During the interview Kittrell noticed a man in a black leather motorcycle jacket sitting at the desk of Don Brooks, another counselor. Later, when her interview was over and the black woman had left, the man in the leather jacket approached Kittrell and said, “Excuse me, I don't mean to be butting in, or anything like that, but didn't I hear that colored woman tell you that she had worked for Murray Chotiner in California ? He's a big gangster.” Surprised, Laura explained that this was a government office and interviews are confidential. The man became angry and said, “Well I'll be damned.” Then he slammed fist down on her desk and loudly repeated, “I'll just be damned.” He then got up and left the office. When Kittrell asked her co-worker Brooks who the man was, he told her his name was Lee Oswald. Littrell found it interesting that both the black woman and Oswald pronounced Chotiner's name as “Shotner.” Littrell had pronounced it like it was spelled, “Chotiner.”[2] She later learned that Shotner was indeed the correct pronunciation.

A few days later Laura was contacted by the claims investigator at the Main Street unemployment compensation office, Paul Elrod. He told her that Oswald would be sent to her to be re-interviewed. He informed her that the applicant had made a mistake on his claim. Elrod added, “He's worried half to death. His Wife is pregnant.

When “Oswald” showed up for the second interview, she didn't recognize him as the man she had seen on October 7th. He seemed to be a different person with a different demeanor and attitude as well. She had to ask him his name to verify his appointment. He said he was Lee Oswald.

When asked about Chotiner during second interview he reiterated, “He's a crook.”


Oh, now, I wouldn't say that,” Kittrell replied.

“Well he is, He's a crook, he is,” Oswald repeated.

After a brief interruption during which she attempted to give directions in broken Spanish to a Cuban refugee, Oswald said, “You know, your Spanish isn't half bad.”

Surprised, Kittrell replied, “Oh, you speak Spanish?”

“I speak three languages,” Oswald proclaimed.

Intrigued, Kittrell answered, “Indeed, and what is the other, German?

“Russian,” he replied. “Oh, I've been to Russia. Matter of fact, I married a Russian girl.”

Oh really? Now how on earth did you happen to learn Russian?” Kittrell replied.

Oswald changed the subject.

What do you think of the Cubans?” He asked.

“Oh I think they're awfully nice.”

“No! No! I mean what do you think of Batista?”

Laura explained that at first she had been pleased when Batista was overthrown, but after Castro started the mass trials, she lost all sympathy for the revolution. She stated she felt sorry for the Cubans.

“Even those who were for Batista?”

“Yes, all of them.” Then she said, “Tell me, what did you like best about Russia?” “The opera!” he answered.

During the conversation Oswald mentioned a job he had when he was sixteen years old in Encino, CA as messenger-boy on a motor scooter as well as some office filing and mailing at the E.T.I. Realty Company.

Four days after this interview the man returned and took an aptitude test. On October 21st the impostor Oswald told Kittrell that his “codes” needed changing. He had joined the Teamsters Union. Laura was confused by inconsistencies between the interviews. In particular that in the first interview he revealed he didn't have a drivers license. Joining the Teamsters, she believed, required one. Also he had said that his wife had had their second child. Later that she was still expecting.

After the assassination, Kittrell wrote to RFK and received a note of receipt from J. Edgar Hoover. However, she was never contacted and their was nothing in WC report about her letter or the incident. During the Garrison investigation in 1967 she was interviewed by Bill Boxley. Eventually she gave her typewritten manuscript to the HSCA.

When Oswald appeared in photographs and newsreels after the assassination, she identified him as the Oswald in the motorcycle jacket she had talked to. It was not until years later, while leafing through the Warren Commission volumes that she identified the impostor or “Teamster Oswald” of the later interviews. The photo she identified was that of Larry Crafard.


He's a crook!


Murray Chotiner was born in Pittsburgh in 1909. In spite of dropping out of high school, he earned a law degree from Southwestern Law College. He worked for Herbert Hoover in 1932 and aided Earl Warren in his campaign for governor of California. He also managed Richard Nixon's 1950 campaign against Helen Douglas. Chotier, notorious for his campaign dirty tricks, arguably contributed to Nixon's reputation along those lines. Nixon campaign advisor, Leonard Garment, depicted Chotiner as a “hardheaded exponent of the campaign philosophy that politics is war” and that “politics is shabby most of the time, filled with lies and deceptions.”[3]

In 1956, RFK grilled Chotiner in a hearing of the McClellan Committee investigating infiltration of organized crime into the textile industry. RFK and Carmine Bellino had dug into the lawyers activities and discovered evidence that a New Jersey uniform company that had been convicted of stealing from the federal government had paid out $5,000 to Chotiner. An informant told Bellino that the money was meant for Richard Nixon to help prevent a possible prosecution by the Department of Justice. The investigation was eventually dropped thanks to Chotiner receiving support from Joe McCarthy. As a result of the damage done to his reputation by the hearings, Chotiner laid low in his association with Nixon until the 1968 election when he aided “Tricky Dick” in his defeat of Hubert Humphrey. Nixon rewarded him by appointing him general counsel to the Office of the Special Representative for Trade Negotiations. A year later he became special counsel to the president.

But before the 1968 election, the former Beverly Hills lawyer, who had close ties to organized crime figures including gambler Mickey Cohen, was working for Hubert Humphrey. This was less than a year before his appointment as special counsel to President Nixon. Soon after entering office, Nixon established Operation Sandwedge, a secret investigation of Edward Kennedy. Organized by H.R. Halderman and John Erlichman, the project had two main field officers, Jack Caulfield and Anthony Ulasewicz. Ulasewicz, then a member of Nixon's White House/Special Operations Group was quoted as saying: “When I first met Chotiner, the first thing he did was hand me a file on Rand Development Corporation and it's officers.”...Chotiner's file on the Rand Development Corporation disclosed that during 1968 presidential campaign Rand was named as a defendant in a lawsuit started by some angry Minnesota businessmen. The charge was that the Small Business Administration and the Government Services Administration were guilty of fraud and conspiracy in the way of a government contract for some postal vehicles was awarded to a wholly-owned Rand Corporation subsidiary, the Universal Fiberglass Corporation. The Universal Fiberglass Corporation, the lawsuit charged, was born for the sole purpose [of obtaining this contract]. "Despite apparent lack of qualifications, a crony of Senator Hubert Humphrey awarded the contact to the Universal Fiberglass Corporation. The Universal Fiberglass Corporation defaulted and disappeared under Rand Development's umbrella." Murray Chotiner was trying to bring this situation to the attention of the media.[4] Caulfield later admitted that Ulasewicz’s reports on Kennedy went to three people: Nixon, Chotiner and Bebe Rebozo.

Chotiner's other alleged activities include an attempt to blackmail George Wallace about corruption in Alabama. In addition, Dwight Lee Chapin[5] was convinced that Chotiner was secretly involved in Watergate. Chapin said, "There is a person who goes all the way back through this thing, and that is Murray Chotiner. He was in the White House... he leaves; the break-in happens. Murray was the operator for Nixon on God only knows what." Chotiner's law offices were one floor above those of CREEP.

John Simpkin posted an article that was published in the Los Angeles Times (31st March, 1973) that claimed Chotiner had received copies of the tape recordings that had been made by Alfred Baldwin as a result of the bugging Democratic campaign headquarters in the Watergate building.

It was Chotiner who told columnist Jack Anderson of a “gay sex ring” among White House Staffers. Anderson informed J. Edgar Hoover who warned Nixon of reports of homosexuality among his staffers. Nixon's paranoia wreaked havoc on his administration until he finally came to the conclusion that Anderson had been pulling his chain.[6]

Nixon hated Anderson to the extent that in 1972, his henchmen — the “plumbers” — conspired to have Anderson killed. Whether Chotiner played a role in this Machiavellian enterprise is unknown. On January 23rd, 1974, Murray Chotiner was involved in a car accident outside the Washington home of Edward Kennedy. Although he only suffered a broken leg he died a week later.

Carnival Characters

Curtis LeVerne (Larry) Crafard (Craford on his military documents) was only 22 years old in 1963. Prior to meeting Jack Ruby he worked odd jobs, mostly in carnivals. His marriage in 1962 resulted in a separation, a reuniting and a final breakup in August 1963. While working as a night watchman at the State Fair in Dallas, he met Jack Ruby who just happened to have had an investment in a show playing at the Fair. When the Fair closed, Ruby hired Crafard to build a cloakroom at the Carousel Club. Crafard hung on afterwards doing odd jobs. He ran stage lights, cleaned up, answered the telephone and fed Ruby's dogs. William Weston believes Ruby hired Crafard because he resembled Oswald. It seems more than a coincidence that his impersonation of LHO at Kittrells office occurred only one day after Ruby hired him, on October 21st. Several witnesses said they saw Oswald at the Carousel at the time of Crafard's employment there. Hypnotist Bill De Mar told the FBI that Oswald was one of a group brought on stage for a memory expert routine. DeMar knew Crafard, so he couldn't be mistaken about which of them came on stage.[7]


One oddity involving witnesses of the Tippit shooting is that Ruby had a link to Virginia and Barbara Davis. It seems the telephone number (WH3-8120) that the Davises gave to police also showed up on a memo pad kept by Ruby employee, Larry Crafard.[8] Crafard used the pad to keep track of calls made to Ruby while he was out of the club. Why would the Davises be calling Ruby? Dallas Police Officer and personal friend of Jack Ruby, Harry Olson was working in the vicinity of the Tippit shooting and spent more than an hour talking with Ruby late on the night of the assassination. Olson was dating a Ruby stripper named Karen Carlin (stage name Kathy Kay). Olson left town a month after the assassination and moved to California. It is also strange that Crafard left Dallas for Michigan the day after the assassination and the Davises made a similar exodus within two weeks.



Summary


So how can we make sense of the Kittrell saga? A million questions come to mind. One might ask why was Crafard pretending to be Oswald? How did Oswald know about Murray Chotiner, or even how to pronounce his name properly? He was supposed to be dyslexic. How was Ruby involved? It seems he had to be. Chotiner was connected to both gangsters like Mickey Cohen as well as politicians like Humphrey and particularly Nixon. Ruby had underworld connections and once worked for Nixon as well as Johnson. Ruby was defended by flamboyant attorney Melvin Belli who's client, mobster Mickey Cohen, was also his close friend. Belli confided to his chauffeur that “the fix was in” in the Ruby trial. Belli was hired to make sure Ruby got the death penalty.[9]


The evidence indicates that Ruby stalked Oswald the entire weekend looking for an opportunity to eliminate him. He hung around the police station bringing sandwiches and coffee to his police friends. He tried to get into the room where Oswald was interrogated but was kept out.

When Ruby died of cancer in 1966, Belli told several people including his law partner, Seymour Ellison that he believed they injected Ruby with cancer. He said, “they got Dorothy (Kilgallen) and they injected Ruby.[10]

The Warren Commission, amazingly, found no connection between Ruby and the mob. When they examined Jack Ruby's phone records,… they saw what was essentially an inventory of the Mafia leaders that they had been investigating for the past two years at the Justice Department. RFK remarked that it looked like a list of the individuals that he had investigated in racketeer hearings. In addition, Ruby's clubs were owned my the Marcello organization. Ruby's ties to the mob went back to his childhood days in Chicago when he was a runner for Al Capone.


And what of Crafard? Whatever Crafard was doing it had to be at Ruby's behest. When impersonating Oswald, he told Kittrell of a job he had when he was sixteen years old in Encino, California as messenger-boy on a motor scooter as well as some office filing and mailing at the E.T.I. Realty Company. Was this an effort to connect Oswald with Chotiner? But if so, why? If Crafard was being used as a pawn in a game to incriminate Oswald, why would he do so at an unemployment office of all places? Perhaps he and Ruby were trying to get Oswald's unemployment compensation extended even though he had found employment at the School Book Depository. But again...if so why? And what was the obviously fictitious Teamster's Union story about? And finally, what was the innuendo of the reference to Cuba and Batista? It is well known that Ruby was involved in gun running to anti-Castro Cuban's. Was all this part of the setup of Oswald's identity as a sheep dipped pro-Castro sympathizer? Ruby's partner in this gun running endeavor was Tom E. Davis. Davis, like Ruby's other crony Crafard, was known to use Oswald's name. That's two of Ruby's associates who were known to use Oswald's name. In essence impersonating him. There is no doubt that Ruby is the link in this game of deception.

It is apparent that we may never have all the answers to these questions and countless more. We can thank Jack Ruby for that. When he killed Oswald the door to the truth of who he was was closed forever.


“Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.”

-John F. Kennedy


Bibliography


Laura Kittrel, typewritten manuscript to HSCA

William Weston's, The 4th Decade Nov. 2000/Jan. 2001.

Meagan Day-Timeline Nov. 23, 2016

Denial of Justice, Mark Shaw

John Simpkin, JFK Assassination Debate-The Education Forum, August 9, 2005

[1]Apologies to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

[2]For more detail on this incident see Kittrel's typewritten manuscript to HSCA describing Oswald interviews and William Weston's articles in the 4th Decade Nov. 2000/Jan. 2001 issues.

[3] John Simpkin, JFK Assassination Debate-The Education Forum, posted August 9, 2005

[4] Ulasewicz, Pres. Priv. Eye, 1990

[5]American political organizer, businessman, and Deputy Assistant to President Nixon during the Watergate scandal. Chapin was convicted of lying to a grand jury during the scandal and served nine months at the Federal Correctional Institution, Lompoc.

[6] Meagan Day-Timeline Nov. 23, 2016

[7]William Weston, The Fourth Decade, January 2001

[8]Crafard was supposedly asleep in the backroom of the Carousel when the assassination took place. Yet the Warren Commission called him to testify in a rambling 3900 question interview that took two days and covered all aspects of his personal life but almost nothing about the assassination. In their defense, they had to be aware that he didn't know anything about it unless he dreamed it while asleep at the Carousel. Of course it is important to know the details of the personal life of this accomplished(?) individual. It's almost as important as Ruby's mother's dental records (certainly of consequence if Ruby had bitten Oswald to death, but unfortunately he did not) and Oswald's pubic hair. These kinds of worthless reports alone could fill a volume of the report. In contrast, witnesses close to the events weren't very important and weren't even called unless they said Oswald did it.

[9]Denial of Justice, Mark Shaw

[10]Ibid, p286. They being the CIA (specifically Dr. Jolly West)


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