On Tuesday September 18, 1973, a convicted swindler sat before a United States Senate SubCommittee and implicated the son of one of the most beloved president’s in American history, in an alleged plot to kill Bahamian Premiere, Lynden Pindling, in 1968.
Oddly enough, just a year before, in 1967, the Pulitzer Prize winners were announced. Two Wall Street Journal reporters, Stanley Penn and Monroe Karim had won the Pulitzer for national reporting on their Bahamas story. They reported extensively on the link between American crime and gambling in the Bahamas. The story was incendiary. UBP politicians and Bay Street oligarchs were implicated in several American newspaper, magazine and journal articles. It all helped to hasten the demise of the United Bahamian Party in the Bahamas.
Almost a decade prior, in 1958, the UBP government opened the doors to international operators of casino gambling hotels in the Bahamas. This tore open a torrential floodgate for untold permutations and combinations of organised crime, Mafia links, drugs, people trafficking, money laundering, influence peddling and prostitution within the tiny island chain. Nothing was ever the same again.
Even to this very day, the floodgates that were opened in 1958, have yet fully close for the Bahamas.
In 1973, a Senate committee (The Jackson Committee) had been convened to investigate the most shocking allegations. The son of a former United States President was conspiring to murder a foreign head of government. The son was Elliott Roosevelt, son of Franklyn Roosevelt and the foreign leader was Premiere, now in 1973, Prime Minister Lynden Pindling. Before Roosevelt could be summoned to testify at the subcommittee hearings, the fled the United States for Portugal.
The details are shocking.
SWINDLER REPORTS $100,000 OFFER
ELLIOTT ROOSEVELT, MOBSTER ACCUSED
IN PLOT TO KILL PREMIER OF BAHAMAS
Washington — A convicted stock swindler said yesterday he was offered $100,000 by Elliott Roosevelt and an alleged mobster frontman to assassinate the Prime Minister of The Bahamas. Roosevelt, son of Former President Franklin D. Roosevelt, called the allegation “an outright lie.”
Louis P. Mastriana told a Senate subcommittee he was asked to assassinate Bahamian Prime Minister Lynden O. Pindling because of Pindling’s failure to grant a gambling licence to as associate of mobster Meyer Lanksy.
ROOSEVELT, in a telephone interview with radio station WGBS in Miami from his ranch near Lisbon, Portugal, said: “It is an utter and complete fabrication and outright lie made by a man who is know con-artist who has been convicted, who has been put in jail, who has been adjudged by the courts of New Jersey as a mental incompetent, and who conned me and my associates out of $10,000 in Miami.”
Roosevelt is a former mayor of Miami Beach.
Pindling reached at United Nations headquarters at New York said, “Washington seems to be full of scandals.” His aides said no formal comment would be forthcoming until they had more information. Pindling was attending the General Assembly that voted the Bahamas into the U.N.
Mastriana testified that he was offered the $100,000 by Roosevelt and Michael J. McLaney, an associate of Lanksy.
“THEY CAME TO me and offered me $100,000 to kill, to whack (Pindling),” Mastriana told the Senate permanent subcommittee on investigations.
“They expected me to kill him.”
(The Indianapolis Star, Wednesday September 19, 1973)
Mastriana now imprisoned in the Federal penitentiary at Texarkana, Texas, said McLaney was angered at Pindling because the prime minister refused to grant him a gambling licence.
McLaney had given Pindling nearly $1 million to finance his political campaign, Mastriana said, with the political payoff funds coming from Lanksy.
WHEN THE gambling licence was not issued, the stock Mastriana continued, “they came to be and offered me $100,000 to kill, to whack (Pindling).”
Who are “they”? asked Senator Charles Percy (R. Ill).
“(Elliott) Roosevelt and McLaney,” replied Mastriana.
McLaney was found guilty in December 1971, of two counts of wilful income tax evasion. He was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Miami to one year imprisonment and fined $8,000.
(The Washington Post, Wednesday Sept, 19, 1973)
LANSKY IS A reputed financial brain of the underworld. Mastriana said he was given $10,000 immediately. Of that sum, $7,500 came from Roosevelt, Mastriana said, and $2,500 came in the form of a check made out to Roosevelt by McLaney. Roosevelt endorsed the check over to Mastriana, a member of the committee staff said. The check, dated May 17, 1968, was made on the Bank of Nova Scotia, a back with several branches in the Caribbean,
Mastriana said he taped his conversations with Roosevelt on the subject with equipment furnished by the U.S. Postal Service. He said he was an undercover agent at that time.
MASTRIANA said the tape recordings now are in the possession of the U.S. Postal Service.
No assassination attempt was made because he feared he would not be able to escape from the island nation. He also said he believed Pindling was so well liked that it be impossible to keep his identity secret after the attempt.
A committee staffer said that a committee investigator had gone to Florida to interview Roosevelt, but that the former mayor of Miami Beach had left a few hours earlier. Efforts to contact Roosevelt at this home in Portugal had been unsuccessful, the staffer said.
PERCY SAID he had talked with Roosevelt in Portugal during the August congressional recess but that he did not know at the time the subcommittee was investigating Roosevelt. Subcommittee officials said they planned to make another attempt to see Roosevelt and obtain testimony from him in Portugal.
Mastriana was given immunity in return for his testimony before the Senate committee.
The committee also produced a copy of a letter dated May 21, 1968 from Roosevelt to Mastriana. In the letter Roosevelt offered Mastriana a job as account executive in a firm called Directions Inc. Roosevelt said the job would pay $10,000 annually.
IN THE LETTER Roosevelt said Directions Inc. was a “subsidiary of my major company… engaged in financial consultations and investment works for select clients.”
U.S. Postal Service spokesman said there would be no comment on Mastriana’s allegations until a check of the files is completed. He estimated it would take until “probably tomorrow morning.”
Earlier, Mastriana testified that President Nixon’s friend, C. G. (Bebe) Reboze, personally cleared a $115,000 check paid by a Miami brokerage from for stolen securities, bur he said Rebozo had no knowledge of his criminal past.
HIS PREPARED testimony gave the names of 34 persons he has dealt with in various criminal activities.