“FRAMED” Chapter 18 by Michael Richardson

This is the cover of "Framed: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO and the Omaha Two Story," a series by Michael Richardson for NorthOmahaHistory.com.

Adam’s Note: This is Chapter 18 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 was impossible for them to get a fair trial.”
—Frank Morrison on Ed Poindexter and Mondo


In late-October 1970, a two-day conference on the Black Panther Party was held at FBI headquarters for agent supervisors. An inspection report described the conference.

“Counterintelligence operations and techniques were thoroughly discussed with field representatives….The conference concluded counterintelligence was an effective tool and there was a definite need for counterintelligence operations to neutralize black extremist activities.”[i]

George Moore passed along field recommendations on updated training that came out of the conference to Charles Brennan . “Our experience over the past year and the growth of our knowledge regarding black extremist activities have resulted in utilization of increasing number of sophisticated techniques, some of have involved a number of our field offices and occasionally Legal Attaches in Canada and Europe.”

“The currently used caption for Counterintelligence Program relating to black extremists, set forth as second caption in instant memorandum, is lengthy and cumbersome. For these reasons, field supervisors recommended it be abbreviated. Recommended field be instructed to henceforth utilize the caption “COINTELPRO – Black Extremists – Racial Matters” in place of the present caption.”[ii]

Edgar Hoover approved George Moore’s recommendation to abbreviate the captions on correspondence and the FBI field offices participating in the “Black Nationalist” counterintelligence program were instructed to begin using COINTELPRO to title their memoranda.[iii]

On December 8, the anniversary of the raid on the Los Angeles Black Panther headquarters, leader Geronimo Pratt was arrested along with FBI informant Melvin “Cotton” Smith for murder. Smith would later be a chief witness against Pratt.[iv]

At year’s end, a civilian identification technician logged a color photo into the police evidence room in Omaha. “One photograph…showing Sgt. Jack Swanson and Mr. Ranney with a box containing numerous large sticks of dynamite.” James Perry and Jack Swanson, accompanied by the technician, made a visit to Swanson’s off-site dynamite depot in Iowa. A police report noted the picture was to be held as evidence in the arrest of “Poindexter & Rice.”[v]


Annual inspection report (Bufile 100-448006), Domestic Intelligence Division (1970) approved by William Sullivan. (credit: Federal Bureau of Investigation)
The annual inspection report of the Domestic Intelligence Division for 1970 shows that 408 Black Panther Party members were arrested. It also discloses that all counterintelligence operations were personally approved by William Sullivan. (credit: Federal Bureau of Investigation)


The annual inspection report of the Domestic Intelligence Division came out in January 1971. Assistant Director Mark Felt gave counterintelligence operations a brief and redacted overview. “Although it may involve harassment at times, it is for the most part much more serious and worthy of our efforts only when it inflicts actual damage on the effectiveness of the enemy.”[vi]

“Counterintelligence in the black extremist field is a supplement to our investigative activities that cannot be identified as a function of this Bureau because of its clandestine nature….techniques are employed to neutralize organizations and individuals involved in extremist activities that are a threat to the internal security of this country.”

“Counterintelligence operations are supervised on individual case desks as a logical adjunct of our investigative activities. In addition, one supervisor is designated coordinator to insure that operations initiated in different offices do not conflict….All communications authorizing the institution of any counterintelligence operations are routed through Assistant to the Director William C. Sullivan; no operations are initiated by the field without Bureau approval.”[vii]

George Moore added numbers to the report. “As a result of our investigations and informant penetration along with the cooperation with local authorities, 408 BPP members have been arrested on either Federal or local charges during 1970.”[viii]


Handwritten note from FBI January 1971. (credit: Federal Bureau of Investigation)
This handwritten note was on the back of the envelope from the FBI Laboratory returning the 911 recording to the Omaha police to be used at trial. The tape was kept from the defense and never played for the jury. (credit: Federal Bureau of Investigation)


On January 28, 1971, a dictabelt and transcript of the 911 recording was mailed to Paul Young from the FBI Laboratory “for return to Omaha police for trial as per instructions of ASAC [REDACTED].”[ix]

Reverend Foster Goodlett, grandfather of Duane Peak, was deposed by defense attorneys.   Goodlett, who baptized Duane and his five siblings, did his best to keep the teen involved with the church before Duane became homeless in early 1970. “At least each Sunday I went there to pick them up for Church School and Church.”[x]

Goodlett first learned of Peak’s arrest when the police called to inform him. “Well, they asked me would I go down—they had taken him into custody—and talk with him.”[xi]

Goodlett was driven to Central Headquarters by the police and then was taken to an interview room with Duane and attorney Thomas Carey, who Goodlett had retained earlier in the week. “Well, we asked him about this matter; and, what we was concerned about, we wanted him, if he was involved in any way that he knew anything about it, to just simply tell what he knew about the matter.”

“Well, as I recall, that—he said that he delivered the suitcase, and this was it, and not knowing just what had been set up.”[xii]

Goodlett explained he stayed in contact with Duane by making trips to the jail in Fremont where he was being held. The police also brought Duane to the Goodlett home for counsel and prayer.[xiii]

Goodlett was asked if he knew his grandson was “flirting with Black Panthers.”

“It was my assumption; but he did not admit, you know, that he was, because he would come to my home at various times when we heard that he was, and then he would say that he had not connected with them; that is, to become a member.”[xiv]

“We didn’t think that he was the instigator of it, such a technical situation…..I couldn’t conceive for one minute that this boy was able to do that; and that’s still my position on that.”[xv]

Goodlett’s advice to Peak after his arrest was to cooperate with the police. Goodlett was unconcerned with Duane’s right to remain silent, the minister had both body and soul to save as young Peak faced the prospect of the electric chair. “That was my hope; that he would be able to do that; and in fact it’s still my position on the matter; whatever he knows about it, and to what extent he might be involved, just simply tell it as he know and he understands.”[xvi]

Telling all seemed to be Thomas Carey’s defense strategy as well as he sought a deal for Peak. Goodlett quoted what Carey said at the police station. “Well, there isn’t any need for us to talk longer, because I have told Duane it would be in his best interests to just tell what he knew about.”[xvii]

Goodlett told about two visits at his home from FBI Special Agent Ed O’Brien. “Well, it seems like it was before and after. Before, he came by and asked if we know anything about his whereabouts; had he contacted us in any way.”

“He had been to our home in that he asked if we found out where he was, or heard anything about his whereabouts, it would be to our best interests to let him know where he was.”[xviii]

“I told him that Donald said he was at this place.”[xix]


Nebraska Governor Frank Morrison
Former Governor Frank Morrison was appointed Public Defender and represented Ed Poindexter. Years away from the courtroom while busy with politics left Morrison rusty on trial procedure.


Former governor Frank Morrison, appointed Douglas County Public Defender in mid-January, announced he would co-counsel the defense of Ed Poindexter; however, he needed more time to prepare for trial. Morrison would later write in his memoir that justice was not be had in the case. “Racial feelings in North Omaha were rampant….It was impossible for them to get a fair trial.”

“I firmly believe that with adequate funds to investigate the case, I could have cleared both Rice and Poindexter in spite of the poisoned atmosphere created by racially inspired rhetoric.”[xx]

Morrison sought a continuance for the murder trial. Morrison said he could not get up to speed on the case, particularly because of Duane Peak’s conflicting statements. An extension of time was granted.[xxi]

In a contentious pre-trial hearing, Thomas Kenney offered clippings from the Omaha World-Herald in support of a request for change of venue. Defense attorney David Herzog argued for a move to Lincoln.[xxii]

Hamilton denied a change of venue and then denied Kenney’s request for a psychiatric examination of Duane Peak. Arthur O’Leary had his own comment to Herzog’s joint request for the psychiatric exam. “Then you are playing games with the Court because you are convinced in your own mind and you know as well as I do that that young man is no more nutty than you or I are.”

Herzog replied, “I am not playing games,” triggering an outburst from O’Leary.

“That is about as much shit as I have heard in a long time. You sit there and take his deposition and discuss philosophy with him for 253 pages and you want to come in here and say he is nutty.”[xxiii]

Hamilton denied the defense request and said it was not the role of psychiatrists to evaluate trial testimony.[xxiv]

Edgar Hoover wrote to Charles Brennan concerning the annual inspection report of the Domestic Intelligence Division. Hoover complimented Brennan on the arrests of black extremists. “Careful review and analysis of your handling of racial matters indicates significant accomplishments have been made. Important increases in the quality and quantity of our informant coverage are most favorable, and highly effective arrests have been made of a large number of dangerous extremists.”[xxv]

In early March, Judge Donald Hamilton held a hearing on a motion to suppress evidence. Thomas Kenney explained at issue was clothing seized when Ed Poindexter and Mondo were arrested, items from a warrantless search of the National Committee to Combat Fascism headquarters, and items from the search of Mondo’s home.

Kenney called Robert Cecil to testify. Cecil stated the police broke the lock on the front door when they came in the NCCF headquarters and denied having a weapon in his hands. Cecil testified he was then handcuffed and used as a human shield while police searched the rest of the building.

Arthur O’Leary explained the police actions were because it was an emergency search. “What I am trying to get at, there were weapons, there were signs in the house indicating danger and so forth and the police were in a hurry to do what they had to do.”[xxvi]

O’Leary then questioned Cecil about the term “racist pig” but Cecil turned a taunt back to the prosecutor. “But we used Fascist pig. We don’t use racist pig.”[xxvii]

Cecil denied seeing any machine guns when attorney Patrick Green suddenly arrived in the courtroom. “Mr. Cecil is currently facing charges under the National Firearms Act in Federal Court and Judge Robinson appointed me as his counsel. I don’t know how it came about that he was called as a witness and interrogated without my being  informed.”[xxviii]

After a recess and discussion with his attorney, Cecil claimed his Fifth Amendment privilege and his testimony ended. David Herzog called Mondo to the witness stand. Mondo briefly testified that he gave no one permission to search his house or take his clothing.

Thomas Kenney called Ed Poindexter as a witness. Poindexter testified he did not give permission for a search of NCCF headquarters nor did he voluntarily give his clothing for analysis. “No, they just told me to get out of it and there was four against me and I got out.”[xxix]

Jail warden Charles Terry testified that he did not give permission to an agent of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Division to take Mondo’s clothing and there was no written record, contrary to jail procedure, of the clothing having been removed. Terry said that if an ATF agent had taken the clothing he would have needed inside help. “Somebody would have to have let him in the clothes room in order for him to get the clothes.”[xxx]

Arthur O’Leary called Jack Swanson, head of the Omaha police Intelligence Unit, who testified about the focus of his squad.  “At that particular time we were primarily interested in the activities of any militant groups in Omaha who might be engaged in any types of civil disorder.”[xxxi]

“We started a file on the Black Panthers in August 1968.”[xxxii]

Swanson disclosed he had knowledge of a search warrant for the NCCF headquarters in July 1970. “I was assigned to assist alcohol tax when they served a search warrant.”[xxxiii]

Swanson continued working closely with ATF agents and took four of them along with seven Omaha policemen on the evening search of Mondo’s house.[xxxiv]

When asked about preparation of the search warrant for Mondo’s house, Swanson admitted he did not review the affidavit with his commanding officers or a prosecutor who was present at police headquarters. Swanson said the basis for his affidavit was an old tip from a source he refused to name. “I was told at one time that if there was dynamite in town and if the NCCF had it, that David Rice’s house would be one of the places they might store it.”[xxxv]

“It was just after the arrest of Luther Payne, which we made for possession of dynamite.”[xxxvi]

“I just didn’t feel that with that information we had enough at that time.”[xxxvii]

Captain Bruce Hartford described the search of NCCF headquarters. Hartford saw an unremarkable suitcase that Swanson had also examined. “I noticed the suitcase, yes, and I didn’t pay a particular lot of attention to it.”[xxxviii]

“This suitcase was not brought in.”[xxxix]

Robert Pfeffer testified next and he also saw the suitcase seen by Hartford and examined by Swanson. However, Pfeffer saw things not seen by the others stating, “there was a little attaché case with wires running from it and a clothespin attached to the wires.”[xl]

After admitting he did not bother to seize the case with wires and clothespin, Pfeffer was asked why he did not mention the clothespin in his deposition several weeks earlier. Pfeffer testified, “Yes, I did.  I am sure I did.” However, despite his certainty, Pfeffer’s testimony contradicted his deposition where he did not mention a clothespin.[xli]

During a discussion about police reports, Herzog pointed out to the judge the unreliability of two people quoted in the reports.

“I am convinced that Donald Peak and Duane Peak, on separate occasions, although Duane is immaterial at this point, but I was convinced that Donald Peak lies.”[xlii]


Door to the Media, Pennsylvania FBI office. (credit: Federal Bureau of Investigation)
This door to the Media, Pennsylvania FBI office was entered by the Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI and the theft of secret COINTELPRO files spelled an end to the clandestine program. (credit: Federal Bureau of Investigation)


On March 8, 1971, in Media, Pennsylvania, an eight-member burglary team of anti-war activists calling themselves the Citizen’s Commission to Investigate the FBI broke into a satellite Federal Bureau of Investigation office and obtained COINTELPRO documents that would end the clandestine program within weeks. The team had staked out a FBI office in the Philadelphia suburbs after concluding security would be too difficult to penetrate at the main office. Wearing business suits, gloves, and carrying suitcases, the team gained entry with a crowbar when lock picking attempts failed.

The FBI investigation of the break-in would last years, use over two hundred agents, and fail to identify those responsible. Hoover suspected Daniel and Phillip Berrigan of the crime and expended considerable Bureau resources attempting to make a case against the activist brothers. The document heist was organized by William Davidson, a professor of physics at Haverford College. John Raines, another burglar, explained over forty years later why he participated in the break-in. “We did it because somebody had to do it.”[xliii]

Ten days after the Media burglary, a representative of the FBI met with Deputy Assistant Attorney General Leon Ulman to discuss a court order prohibiting publication of stolen documents, now-dubbed the MEDBURG files.[xliv]

Meanwhile, Hoover, seemingly oblivious to the approaching firestorm over the stolen files, sent a letter to FBI field offices entitled “Firearms Acts” emphasizing that agents should be actively investigating firearms violations by black extremists. Hoover was competing with the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Division for jurisdiction over gun laws. “Agents assigned to extremist matters should thoroughly review all of the criminal statutes involving Federal gun law violations so that they would be in a position to recognize and vigorously pursue possible violations coming to their attention during extremist matters investigations.”[xlv]

During the third week of March, jury selection in the Minard murder trial began. Two jury panels were first selected for other trials leaving few minority faces left in the juror pool. David Herzog rose to protest. “The population of the City of Omaha is approximately 400,000 inhabitants; that the Negro population within the City of Omaha is approximately 40,000 citizens and residents; that of the number of persons called for jury service, that there are less than the proportion obtained by dividing the number of citizens in each of the general categories and the Negro population, or ten per cent, there are less than ten per cent, drastically less than ten per cent Negroes seated in the Courtroom.”[xlvi]

Judge Hamilton denied the motion and continued with jury selection identifying for the prospective jurors all of the prosecution staff, defense team, police officers, and possible witnesses. The last witness named was Norma Aufrecht. Although Aufrecht was listed as a potential state witness she was never called and the jury never heard her testify.[xlvii]

Mondo commented on the jury. “The jury wasn’t all European. There was one African on the jury. He was let on because he stated during voir dire that he had a friend on the Omaha Police Department.”[xlviii]

The first of the MEDBURG stolen FBI documents to go public was in the Washington Post. George Moore understood what needed to be done and recommended relaxing COINTELPRO operations. “Director authorized submission of 90-day progress letters concerning captioned program for purpose of stimulating thinking in offices where black extremist activities are concentrated. Forty-three offices are currently participating in this project.”

“Since these offices have participated significantly in this program, it is felt we can now relax our administrative procedures by eliminating the 90-day letter. We will not suffer from this discontinuance as continued participation in this program by field is followed by individual Supervisors in Racial Intelligence Section, Domestic Intelligence Division. In addition, the Inspection Division analyzes each office’s participation in this program during field office inspections.”[xlix]

However, Hoover was not ready to cancel COINTELPRO and instead tightened supervision of the clandestine operation by George Moore’s section in a memorandum to Special Agents in Charge ordering aggressive action. COINTELPRO was a runaway hell-bound train but Hoover ignored the warning signs and roared ahead.

“You must insure that Racial Matters Supervisor, Special Agent Coordinator for this program and Agents assigned to Racial Matters investigations are aware of continued objectives of this program and that meaningful proposals are submitted to the Bureau on a timely basis. Insure that such Supervisor and Coordinator are aggressively and enthusiastically ramrodding this program and that Agents are exercising ingenuity and initiative to accomplish this program’s objectives.”

“You must generate understanding of the objectives of this program and insure your office is participating in it on a timely basis. Extent of your office’s participation in contributing to the program’s objectives will be followed at the Bureau, and your participation will be analyzed during field office inspections.”[l]


<< Chapter 17 | Table of Contents | Chapter 19 >>




  •  [i] Archive.org, FBI Domestic Intelligence Division-HQ, Vol. 2, p. 142, January 12, 1971
  • [ii] George Moore to Charles Brennan, October 29, 1970, Reel 4 Black Nationalist Hate Groups,  microfilm, 1978
  • [iii] J. Edgar Hoover to Albany, October 30, 1970, Reel 4 Black Nationalist Hate Group, microfilm, 1978
  • [iv] Archive.org, FBI Domestic Intelligence Division-HQ, Vol. 2, p. 54-55, January 12, 1971
  • [v] OPD Supplementary Report, Trial Record 001365, December 29, 1970
  • [vi] Archive.org, FBI Domestic Intelligence Division-HQ, Vol. 2, p. 30, January 12, 1971
  • [vii] Archive.org, FBI Domestic Intelligence Division-HQ, Vol. 2, p. 141, January 12, 1971
  • [viii] Archive.org, FBI Domestic Intelligence Division-HQ, Vol. 2, p. 57, January 12, 1971
  • [ix] Mondo’s FBI file, envelope notation, p. 2, January 28, 1971.  Defense attorneys were never informed of the 911 recording return to Omaha from the FBI Laboratory.
  • [x] Foster Goodlett, Deposition, p. 6, February 1, 1971
  • [xi] Foster Goodlett, Deposition, p. 11, February 1, 1971
  • [xii] Foster Goodlett, Deposition, p. 13, February 1, 1971
  • [xiii] Foster Goodlett, Deposition, p. 19, February 1, 1971
  • [xiv] Foster Goodlett, Deposition, p. 30-31, February 1, 1971
  • [xv] Foster Goodlett, Deposition, p. 52, February 1, 1971
  • [xvi] Foster Goodlett, Deposition, p. 48, February 1, 1971
  • [xvii] Foster Goodlett, Deposition, p. 58, February 1, 1971
  • [xviii] Foster Goodlett, Deposition, p. 54, February 1, 1971
  • [xix] Foster Goodlett, Deposition, p. 56, February 1, 1971
  • [xx] My Journey Through the Twentieth Century, Frank Morrison, p. 40, 2001
  • [xxi]   Judge Donald Hamilton was appointed to the bench by Morrison when he was governor.
  • [xxii]  Trial Transcript, Vol. 1, p.67, February 11, 1971
  • [xxiii] Trial Transcript, Vol. 1, p.85, February 11, 1971
  • [xxiv] Trial Transcript, Vol. 1, p.94, February 11, 1971
  • [xxv] Archive.org, FBI Domestic Intelligence Division-HQ, Vol. 2, p. 265, February 12, 1971
  • [xxvi] Trial Transcript, Vol. 2, p.22, March 3, 1971
  • [xxvii] Trial Transcript, Vol. 2, p.24, March 3, 1971
  • [xxviii] Trial Transcript, Vol. 2, p. 32, March 3, 1971
  • [xxix] Trial Transcript, Vol. 2, p. 66, March 3, 1971
  • [xxx] Trial Transcript, Vol. 2, p. 74, March 3, 1971
  • [xxxi] Trial Transcript, Vol. 2, p. 84, March 4, 1971
  • [xxxii] Trial Transcript, Vol. 2, p. 114, March 4, 1971
  • [xxxiii] Trial Transcript, Vol. 2, p. 98, March 4, 1971
  • [xxxiv] Trial Transcript, Vol. 2, p. 109, March 4, 1971
  • [xxxv] Trial Transcript, Vol. 2, p. 130, March 4, 1971
  • [xxxvi] Trial Transcript, Vol. 2, p. 132, March 4, 1971
  • [xxxvii] Trial Transcript, Vol. 2, p. 133, March 4, 1971
  • [xxxviii] Trial Transcript, Vol. 2, p. 163, March 4, 1971
  • [xxxix] Trial Transcript, Vol. 2, p. 164, March 4, 1971
  • [xl] Trial Transcript, Vol. 2, p. 170, March 4, 1971
  • [xli] Trial Transcript, Vol. 2, p. 172, March 4, 1971
  • [xlii] Trial Transcript, Vol. 2, p. 182-183, March 4, 1971
  • [xliii] John Raines, NBC interview, January 7, 2014
  • [xliv]  Archive.org, William Sullivan, Vol. 7, p. 114, March 24, 1971
  • [xlv] Archive.org, FBI Domestic Intelligence Division-HQ, Vol. 3, p. 137, August 19, 1971
  • [xlvi] Trial Transcript, Vol. 1, p. 99-100, March 22, 1971
  • [xlvii] Trial Transcript, Vol. 1, p. 107, March 22, 1971.  Norma Aufrecht claimed privately she gave Peak, Mondo and a suitcase a ride a week before the bombing.
  • [xlviii]  Mondo, letter to author, July 2, 2007
  • [xlix]  George Moore to Charles Brennan, March 25, 1971, Reel 4 Black Nationalist Hate Groups, microfilm, 1978.   Also, Agents of Repression: The FBI’s Secret War Against the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement, Ward Churchill & James Vander Wall, p. 38, 1988.
  • [l] J. Edgar Hoover memorandum, March 29, 1971, Reel 4 Black Nationalist Hate Groups, microfilm, 1978


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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  1. Adam, I’ve collected a lot of information on this subject over the years (being from North O ). But this was very enlightening. Thank you.       David

    ⁣Sent from Blue ​

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Greetings! What do can you share about Little Bohemia 1885-1890; and the founding owners of Svoboda Bakery. There’s little on-line. My great grandmother was Marie Svoboda who lived 1219 So 14th Street, married to Josef Hayduk. I’ve no idea if she’s related to owners. Thank you.
    Denice ADAMS, Santa Barbara, Ca


    1. Hi Denice, and thanks for writing. When I was studying the history of the entire city, I started an article about Little Bohemia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Bohemia_(Omaha,_Nebraska)

      For more information on the area, including your g-grandmother, I’d suggest you research the Omaha World-Herald online archive. You can find it and other resources from the Omaha Public Library (which I love) at https://omahalibrary.org/browse_program/local-history/

      Good luck!


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