“FRAMED” Chapter 15 by Michael Richardson

Adam’s Note: This is Chapter 15 in a series for NorthOmahaHistory.com called Framed: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO and the Omaha Two Story. It was written by  Michael Richardson. Learn more here.

 


“It doesn’t make any difference what the truth is”

—Arthur O’Leary, August 31, 1970

 

At the end of August, J. Edgar Hoover sent the Los Angeles FBI office the altered diary of a Progressive Labor Party officer to use in falsely identifying the individual as a government informant. Hoover outlined the action with a memorandum. “Laboratory was requested to make forged entries in the diary. These entries were phone numbers at Army and Secret Service, which when called would identify the agency. Other notations in the diary indicate that [REDACTED] has been furnishing information to these agencies. He would thusly be branded as an informant….Documents Section of the Laboratory Division was authorized to make the necessary alterations to above diary, following which LA Office authorized to anonymously mail the altered diary to PLP headquarters in NYC.”[i]

Hoover’s use of the FBI Laboratory in COINTELPRO and other counterintellingence operations with falsified documents and fixed results compromised what was boasted to be the world’s best forensic laboratory. When Hoover told Ivan Conrad to withhold a report on the identity of the 911 caller in the Minard case or forge a diary entry against a Progressive Labor Party leader Hoover betrayed his own claims of tobjectivity and scientific integrity by the laboratory. The record of FBI Laboratory misdeeds spans decades and extended beyond the termination of the COINTELPRO program. Conrad cast a long shadow over the laboratory.

 

Ivan Willard Conrad, director of the FBI Laboratory
Ivan Willard Conrad, director of the FBI Laboratory, handled counterintelligence assignments given to the laboratory. Conrad talked with J. Edgar Hoover about the 911 tape from Omaha. (credit: Library of Congress)

 

In Omaha, Captain Bruce Hartford informed the local FBI office of the arrest of Mama Summers as an accessory after the fact. “[Captain Hartford] stated that his department had learned that [Maxine Summers] had given aid to [Duane Peak] by asking a friend of hers…if [Nancy Haynes] could board two individuals who were in Omaha to attend a rally.”[ii]

Arthur O’Leary deposed Duane Peak. Thomas Sledge participated in the deposition. Peak was asked about the Black Panthers. Peak said he was not a member because he was too young. After prodding from prosecutor O’Leary about membership, Peak became a defacto member. “You might as well say I was a member because they allowed me to go along to all of the regular party functions.”[iii]

O’Leary asked Peak about the “incident concerning Officer Larry Minard.”

“It was on a Monday before the bombing….I went down to headquarters and Poindexter said he wanted to talk to me and he took me down the street and told me what he planned on doing. He said he was going to make a bomb and that he was going to plant it in a house and have somebody call the police up there.”[iv]

“He didn’t say exactly what I was supposed to do. He told me on that day to be at my cousin, Frank’s house at nine o’clock….I went over there and Poindexter was there and said he was going to David Rice’s house.”[v]

 

2816 Parker Street North Omaha Nebraska
Mondo’s house, 2816 Parker Street, was where the fatal bomb was allegedly constructed. Mondo was not home when police purportedly found dynamite and blasting caps inside. (credit: Omaha Police Department)

 

“We went to the house and Poindexter went down in the basement and brought a suitcase up and there was a case of dynamite there and he took three sticks out and put them in the suitcase and he had a battery. I didn’t watch how he put it together but he said it was all set and he put paper around it and he shut it and he planned on doing it that night but he didn’t. I don’t know why.”

O’Leary asked Peak if Mondo witnessed construction of the bomb but did not get the answer he sought.  “He didn’t see it being made. I don’t think he knows how he made it.” O’Leary pressed Peak about Mondo’s knowledge of the bomb leading Peak to reply. “David knew there was dynamite there, I am quite sure of that.”[vi]

Peak explained that the bomb was constructed in the kitchen while he and Mondo were in the living room. “Poindexter came out and said everything was ready and that he was going to try and get a ride.”[vii]

O’Leary asked Peak what Mondo said when Poindexter announced everything was ready. “David, he didn’t say anything. He left before Poindexter was finished.” O’Leary again tried to pin down Peak on Mondo’s knowledge of the bomb-making in the kitchen. “Well, I am not too sure whether he knew or not, but Poindexter did get the dynamite out of the basement.”

Peak did not know where Poindexter got the battery. Peak went on to describe the suitcase as “gray, real dark gray.” Peak was uncertain where the suitcase came from; first it was in the bedroom, then Peak changed the story saying he thought Poindexter had the suitcase with him. “He put a hole in the bottom of the suitcase and there was a blue insulated wire extending from the hole, about four inches.”[viii]

Peak claimed he had another rendezvous with Poindexter. “The next day.…we walked up Ohio to 30th and he spotted the house and he said, “That would be a good house right there. He walked up and he walked down the alley and looked at it.”[ix]

According to Peak, he and Poindexter then walked to Mondo’s house with Poindexter planning on doing the bombing that night. “We went over there and I sat on the porch and there was a police cruiser up the street and he stopped a car and David went up there to see what they were doing and I guess they decided to check David’s identification and David called Poindexter and Poindexter walked up there and when Poindexter come back, he said he wasn’t going to do it because the police officer had saw him that night.”[x]

Peak stated he did not see Poindexter again until Friday evening at a nightclub. Peak was a member of a singing group and sang a couple of songs as an opening act. “Friday night we had a little group meeting and we were singing down at the Legion club. I saw Poindexter down there and Poindexter told me that he wanted to have it done by Sunday and I told him I didn’t want to be involved.”

Poindexter would not take no for an answer according to Peak. “Well, you have to follow orders, and if you don’t do it, something is going to happen to you,” and he told me, he said, “You take the suitcase up to the house,” and he said he was going to show me, you know, how to trigger it off and I told him, no, I didn’t want to do it, and so he said, “Well, take it up there and just leave it,” and he said, “Make the phone call.”

Peak said he had a conversation with Mondo outside NCCF headquarters at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. “I told him that Poindexter wanted me to take the suitcase up there and I didn’t want to do it, and he said, “You might as well go on and do it.”

“He left before I did. I was waiting on a ride and he left and went home and my ride came and I went up there.”[xi]

O’Leary asked Peak who his ride was. “They call her Sunny but her name is Lamar something.”  O’Leary attempted to identify the potential witness with a series of questions but all he got out of Peak was that Sunny’s first name was Lamar. According to Peak, Lamar took him from headquarters to Mondo’s house where Peak entered the house and spoke with Poindexter and got the suitcase. Peak told O’Leary that Lamar waited for him while he went inside for the suitcase and then she drove him with the suitcase to Olivia Norris’ home.[xii]

“I went into the house and Poindexter told me to get the suitcase and take it over to the house and I went and got the suitcase and brought it out and put it in the car and I went down to the Spencer projects.”[xiii]

Peak was at the Norris home for about twenty minutes making a phone call. When he arrived he spoke with Annie Norris about the suitcase telling her it contained clothing.[xiv]

O’Leary asked Peak if he was afraid carrying the suitcase around. “I was afraid the whole time.”[xv]

“Delia drove me up there and she dropped me off in the alley….I took the suitcase out of the trunk and walked up the alley and Delia left and I walked in the house—there is a porch there and I walked in the house and the door was already open and I put it in the living room in the middle of the floor.”[xvi]

“I just set it down and left.”

Peak denied triggering the bomb. O’Leary pressed for details but Peak wanted out. “I want to hurry up and get out of this, I want out of this whole thing.”[xvii]

O’Leary asked Peak what happened next at the vacant house. “I was only there for a few minutes. I walked in and put it in there and looked around and walked out….I set it down and it was setting straight up so I don’t think it was armed.”[xviii]

O’Leary then led Peak through a correction of an earlier statement that Peak was to receive a phone call. “Then when you told us you were supposed to get a phone call that wasn’t true?”

“No, I was trying at first to hide something.”[xix]

 

O'Leary to Peak1
In a deposition, prosecutor Arthur O’Leary told Duane Peak the truth did not matter. O’Leary wanted a conviction and kept Peak out of prison in exchange for his testimony against Mondo and Ed Poindexter. (credit: Douglas County Attorney)

 

O’Leary told Peak to repeat the story and tried to budge Peak from his claim he left the bomb untriggered in the vacant house. “I want to go over it once again. As a practical matter, it doesn’t make any difference what the truth is concerning you at all.”[xx]

O’Leary’ statement that it didn’t make any difference what the truth was triggered a response from Peak’s lawyer. Thomas Carey explained that O’Leary was looking for the truth about the crime. O’Leary continued his attempt to extract information about the bomb. “It doesn’t hurt you one bit to tell me the rest, if there is any more….What I am getting at is, when you left the bomb or the dynamite there, all there was was the wire trailing out of it and you set it upright, is that correct?”[xxi]

“You didn’t arm it or attach it to the floor or anything like that?”

‘You realize now that it doesn’t make any difference whether you did nor didn’t. That doesn’t really make one bit of difference at all at this stage of the game but I want to make sure concerning somebody else that might have been involved. Because you see what it amounts to, Duane, is that eventually you are going to have to testify about everything you said here and it isn’t going to make one bit of difference whether or not you leave out one fact of not, as far as you are concerned.”[xxii]

 

O'Leary to Peak2
O’Leary to Peak: “it isn’t going to make one bit of difference whether or not you leave out one fact of not.” (credit: Douglas County Attorney)

 

Peak had nothing to add except that he shaved his head at the home of a girlfriend, Jean Haynes.  O’Leary asked Peak about the girlfriend. “Is she a colored girl?”

Peak answered yes and then said he stayed with her until going to Mama Summers’ house. Peak claimed he went to the Summers residence seeking advice. “I wanted to talk to somebody about trying to find out how to go about turning myself in.”[xxiii]

It was now time to correct Peak about the identity of Lamar, the white girl Peak said had driven him around with the suitcase hours before the bombing. O’Leary provided Peak with her name. “During the time that you had a conversation with David Rice in front of the Panther headquarters on Sunday, August 16th, and that was before you went up to his house at 2816 to pick the suitcase up, there was a Norma Aufrecht there, wasn’t there?”

After Peak agreed that Norma had given him a ride, O’Leary asked about Sunny and Peak explained that Sunny and Norma were the same person. Lamar was never mentioned again.[xxiv]

Peak explained that he knew Aufrecht and had been to her house but he couldn’t remember where it was. Peak said that Norma had no idea what was going on.[xxv]

Peak said he had also told his sister Theresa and his grandfather that Poindexter made the bomb and gave the instructions. Thomas Carey asked a question. “Duane, do you have any reason to think that anybody went into that house after you left and before the police came?”[xxvi]

Peak avoided answering the question with a question. “Because they said the suitcase was in the doorway and I put it in the middle of the room?”

Peak was asked if he knew who bombed the Component Concepts Corporation to which he replied no.  Peak was then asked if the bombing was done by the Panthers. “All I know is they blew it up.” Peak denied any knowledge of who was responsible for the bombing of the police sub-station on Ames Avenue, except that it was also the work of the Panthers.[xxvii]

O’Leary asked Peak if he had been threatened while in jail or heard from any of the Panthers. “My brother Donald said that when he was up in the county jail they put him in a cell next to Poindexter…and he heard Poindexter say he wasn’t going to be shit on by nobody, or something like that.”[xxviii]

Thomas Sledge ended the questioning by asking about the location of the hole in the suitcase to which Peak replied the hole was in the middle of the side of the suitcase when it was standing up.[xxix]

Glen Gates got a report from Washington that he had been waiting for almost a week. “On 31 August 70, received a report from Mr. Maynard J. PRO, Assistant Chief, Research and Methods Evaluation, A.T.F.D. Laboratory, Washington, D.C. The following conclusion:

  1.    The explosive used in the bombing was dynamite.
  2.   Dynamite was found in the trousers worn by Elmer CECIL.
  3.   Dynamite was found in the shirt worn by Edward POINDEXTER.
  4.   Dynamite was found in the debris from the trunk of the 1968 Plymouth, Nebraska 1-Y8940.
  5.   A piece of copper wire recovered from the blast area was cut by a pair of pliers found at 2816 Parker Street.” [xxx]

 

 

gates memo 001
The ATF Laboratory gave Glen Gates the results he had been waiting for. Gates ordered the arrest of Ed Poindexter for murder. (credit: Omaha Police Department)

 

Ed Poindexter was rearrested by the Omaha police for the murder of Larry Minard, Sr.

“Mama was downstairs in the kitchen with baby Ericka in one arm, and preparing supper with the other arm. I was upstairs in the bathroom washing up when I peeped out the window to see an unmarked car cruise by. A gnawing feeling swept over me. I checked one of the other bedroom windows and saw another unmarked cop car cruise by. I knew something was definitely up.”

“Mama answered the door, and I heard her say, “If you’ve come to just arrest him, then do so. But if you have come to kill him, then you’re going to have to shoot through me and this baby first.”

“I immediately crept downstairs and plead for her to get out of the doorway. My .38 was tucked into my belt, and I was ready to use it, but not in front of her and the baby. I peered around Mama and noticed cops everywhere, thick as a swarm of black flies or gnats. Realizing that a shoot out would be an exercise in futility, I quickly stashed my weapon, and convinced Mama that I’d be okay if she’d just step out of the door way and come inside, as I’d turn myself in without incident. She did, and I kept my promise.”[xxxi]

 

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Citations

  • [i]              FBI Vault, New Left—Los Angeles, Sec. 2, p. 51, August 31, 1970
  • [ii]              Mondo’s FBI file, FBI letterhead memorandum, p. 48, September 2, 1970.  Hartford’s report to the FBI was not completely accurate, Nancy Haynes actually told police that she thought the pair were brothers travelling to attend a funeral.
  • [iii]             Duane Peak deposition, p. 3, August 31, 1970
  • [iv]             Duane Peak deposition, p. 6, August 31, 1970
  • [v]              Duane Peak deposition, p. 7, August 31, 1970
  • [vi]             Duane Peak deposition, p. 8, August 31, 1970
  • [vii]             Duane Peak deposition, p. 9, August 31, 1970
  • [viii]            Duane Peak deposition, p. 10, August 31, 1970
  • [ix]             Duane Peak deposition, p. 11, August 31, 1970
  • [x]             Duane Peak deposition, p. 12, August 31, 1970
  • [xi]            Duane Peak deposition, p. 15, August 31, 1970
  • [xii]            Duane Peak deposition, p. 16, August 31, 1970
  • [xiii]           Duane Peak deposition, p. 14, August 31, 1970
  • [xiv]           Duane Peak deposition, p. 18, August 31, 1970
  • [xv]            Duane Peak deposition, p. 17, August 31, 1970
  • [xvi]           Duane Peak deposition, p. 19-20, August 31, 1970
  • [xvii]           Duane Peak deposition, p. 20, August 31, 1970
  • [xviii]          Duane Peak deposition, p. 21, August 31, 1970
  • [xix]           Duane Peak deposition, p. 23, August 31, 1970
  • [xx]            Duane Peak deposition, p. 25, August 31, 1970
  • [xxi]           Duane Peak deposition, p. 25-26, August 31, 1970
  • [xxii]           Duane Peak deposition, p. 26, August 31, 1970
  • [xxiii]          Duane Peak deposition, p. 29, August 31, 1970
  • [xxiv]          Duane Peak deposition, p. 31, August 31, 1970
  • [xxv]           Duane Peak deposition, p. 37, August 31, 1970
  • [xxvi]          Duane Peak deposition, p. 38-39, August 31, 1970
  • [xxvii]          Duane Peak deposition, p. 39, August 31, 1970
  • [xxviii]         Duane Peak deposition, p. 40, August 31, 1970
  • [xxix]          Duane Peak deposition, p. 41, August 31, 1970
  • [xxx]           OPD Supplementary Report, Trial Record 001360, September 1, 1970
  • [xxxi]          Edward Poindexter, letter to author, March 24, 2008

 

 


About the Author

Edward Poindexter and writer Michael Richardson in 2016.
This is Edward Poindexter and writer Michael Richardson in 2016.

 

Michael Richardson is a former Omaha resident who attended Westside High School and the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Richardson was a VISTA Volunteer on the Near-Northside and served on the Nebraska Commission on Aging before moving from the state. Richardson attended the Minard murder trial and reported on the case in 1971 for the Omaha Star in his first published article. After a nineteen year career as a disability rights advocate, Richardson worked for Ralph Nader coordinating his ballot access campaigns in the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections. Richardson has written extensively for the San Francisco Bay View, OpEdNews.com and Examiner.com about the trial while spending the last decade researching and writing the book.

 


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