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New release of Black Panther file reveals FBI rigged investigation of murdered policeman

February 26, 2017

by Michael Richardson

Buried in the Federal Bureau of Investigation file of deceased Black Panther leader Wopashitwe Mondo Even we Langa (formerly David Rice) are secrets still hidden by Bureau censors, missing records, a misleading letter to a New Jersey Congressman, and a handwritten note revealing the FBI called off the search for a policeman’s killer just four days after the officer was buried.

An FBI memo dated Aug. 20, 1970, approves the Omaha Police request for help comparing voices – the voice of the person who called police with the voices of the suspects. But two days later, in a handwritten note at the lower right, the voice exams are cancelled, indicating a setup.

Mondo was deputy of information for the National Committee to Combat Fascism in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1970 when he was accused of murdering a policeman with a bomb. The NCCF was a Black Panther affiliate organization targeted by the FBI under an illegal and clandestine counterintelligence operation dubbed COINTELPRO.

Mondo was on a secret detention list called the Security Index, and Director J. Edgar Hoover ordered the Omaha FBI office to get Mondo off the streets. Mondo died serving a life sentence for murder on March 11, 2016, at the Nebraska State Penitentiary.

The heavily redacted file contains three pages of content still censored from public release 46 years after the crime. Many redactions go to protect the identity of informant OM T-7. The three redacted pages of interview information were “immediately furnished to the Intelligence Division of the Omaha Police Department.”

The sequence of the pages in the file suggests the unknown source may have been one of three men arrested in possession of dynamite in Omaha three weeks before the fatal bombing. Charges were dropped against all three men several days after the trial that convicted Mondo and co-defendant Edward Poindexter, NCCF chairman.

Mondo was on a secret detention list called the Security Index, and Director J. Edgar Hoover ordered the Omaha FBI office to get Mondo off the streets. Mondo died serving a life sentence for murder on March 11, 2016, at the Nebraska State Penitentiary.

The “smoking gun” of a counterintelligence operation in the case was a handwritten notation about the cancellation of a test by the FBI Laboratory of a recording of the 911 call which lured Patrolman Larry Minard Sr. to his death. The test, to discern the identity of an anonymous caller, was ordered by Hoover to be conducted informally, with no written report.

A closeup of the Aug. 24 “smoking gun” notation on the FBI memo

Five days after Hoover’s command for a verbal report only, the assistant special agent in charge of the Omaha office called FBI headquarters and cancelled the test altogether, even before the arrest of the prime suspect, 15-year-old Duane Peak. As there is no legitimate investigative reason to cancel a test of the 911 recording of a killer’s voice just one week into the murder probe, the call from the Omaha FBI office speaks to a fixed outcome.

Mondo’s FBI file details the close collaboration between the Bureau and the Omaha police. By 7:45 a.m., FBI agents had been briefed by a police inspector about the 2 a.m. bombing and had swung into action. “Omaha Office offered assistance in covering out-of-state leads and FBI Laboratory facilities offered. Omaha advised it had notified military and Secret Service, was following closely, and alerted its racial informants in pursuit of investigation.”

The “smoking gun” of a counterintelligence operation in the case was a handwritten notation about the cancellation of a test by the FBI Laboratory of a recording of the 911 call which lured Patrolman Larry Minard Sr. to his death.

A FBI teletype memorandum reported, “Close liaison is being maintained with Omaha PD, and the Omaha Office has furnished and is furnishing helpful info to PD to aid them in this investigation.” A second teletype memo stated, “Omaha initiating intensive investigation to locate and apprehend fugitives.”

A FBI letterhead memorandum boasted, “Special Agents of the FBI in conjunction with members of the Omaha Police Department arrested [Duane Peak].” Further, “Captain [Hartford] advised that the Police Department was in the process of obtaining a search warrant … and that he would advise the FBI as to the results.” Another FBI memo reported, “Captain [Hartford] requested our assistance in interviewing [REDACTED] for any information he may have regarding the bomb slaying.”

A second FBI letterhead memo spelled out the degree of cooperation. “On a continuing basis, the Omaha Division has exchanged information with the Intelligence Division of the Omaha Police Department, regularly furnishing that department information pertinent to their investigation when same can be done without compromising Omaha informants. Background information obtained by the Omaha Division of the FBI on members of the NCCF was furnished to the Omaha Police Department.”

Mondo (then David Rice) and Ed in a news clipping at the time of their highly publicized trial

The FBI and Omaha police even shared at least one informant. “[REDACTED] is an Omaha police informant whose use as an informant should be kept confidential.” However, the Omaha police chief claimed this joint investigation never happened.

Chief Richard Anderson testified at a post-trial hearing to the contrary of the FBI documents. In May 1980, Anderson stated there was no Bureau involvement in the case. Either Anderson was lying to the court or he had been lied to by his subordinates, who worked closely with FBI agents.

In December 1982, Congressman Richard Roe from New Jersey asked the FBI for a report on Mondo’s case. Assistant Director in Charge Roger Young with the Office of Congressional and Public Affairs misleadingly replied two weeks later that there was no Bureau role to report. “The investigation of these two individuals was conducted by the Omaha Police Department and the trial was held in state District Court, not in a federal court. … I am, therefore, not in a position to furnish you a report.”

Some FBI records on Mondo have disappeared. David Hardy, section chief of the Records Management Division, explained some material may have been destroyed during two major purges of records in 1978 and 1998. However, according to Hardy, “there was an additional record potentially responsive” but the record “was not in its expected location and could not be located after a reasonable search.”

Mondo and Ed in more recent photos

Mondo’s file does reveal in January 1971, three months before the murder trial, the FBI Laboratory did return the dictabelt recording of the 911 call submitted by Paul Young, the special agent in charge of the Omaha FBI office. The file does not reveal if Young returned it to the Omaha Police Department as instructed. Omaha police officials and prosecutors have all testified in post-trial proceedings that there was no communication with the FBI and that the Bureau did not participate in the investigation.

Although Mondo died in prison and cannot benefit from a new trial, Ed Poindexter remains imprisoned for a crime he vehemently denies. The jury that convicted the Omaha Two, as the pair are now known, never heard the 911 recording of a killer’s voice. The tape recording was kept from the defense and during the discovery process was never provided.

The jury was never told the FBI called off an analysis of the anonymous 911 caller’s voice to determine identity. In short, the jury was unaware the case was fixed and that J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI were willing to let a policeman’s killer get away with murder to imprison two COINTELPRO targets.

The official story, told at trial, was that Mondo and Poindexter put 15-year-old Duane Peak up to the crime. Peak, a squeaky-voiced youth, said he made the 911 call, however the recording is of a deep baritone voice. The reason the tape was not analyzed to discern if Peak’s voice was on the recording was because of his confession, prosecutors and police later said. However, the handwritten notation found in Mondo’s FBI file gives lie to that explanation because the test was cancelled three days before Peak was even arrested.

The jury was never told the FBI called off an analysis of the anonymous 911 caller’s voice to determine identity. In short, the jury was unaware the case was fixed and that J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI were willing to let a policeman’s killer get away with murder to imprison two COINTELPRO targets.

Ed Poindexter remains confined under harsh maximum-security conditions, serving a life-without-parole sentence. After Mondo’s death, Poindexter wrote to a supporter the loss was great but that it was important to “continue the struggle.”

Michael Richardson has written extensively about the FBI’s Operation COINTELPRO, focusing especially on the Omaha Two, Wopashitwe Mondo Even we Langa, now deceased, and Ed Poindexter, who were imprisoned in the last COINTELPRO conviction in 1971. He can be reached at richardsonreports@gmail.com.

3 thoughts on “New release of Black Panther file reveals FBI rigged investigation of murdered policeman

  1. Thomas

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