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Friday, 15 September 1995 14:42

Response to Mary La Fontaine's Recent Letter

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In which La Fontaine accuses Carol Hewett of plagiarizing her work on John Thomas Masen.


Methinks Thou Dost Protest Too Much!

Mary La Fontaine's charges of plagiarism may be worth filing a lawsuit over for defamation of character. But this would only be worthwhile if her book was a blockbuster seller reaping loads of royalties. Mary is so egocentric that it never occurred to her that another human being on the face of the earth might coincidentally be researching the same topic.

My research into John Thomas Masen began with Dick Russell's 1992 book The Man Who Knew Too Much. I became intrigued with the identification of a real Oswald look-alike and thought Masen deserved a lot more scrutiny. At the 1993 ASK Women's Luncheon I met numerous women whose research topics were out of the mainstream and rather provocative. I thought it would be a great idea to organize these women. I don't recall Mary La Fontaine being at that conference. Consequently I organized a women's workshop which was hosted by Mary Ferrell and which took place in Dallas in March 1994.

At this conference the topic of John Thomas Masen and John Elrod came up. Mary Ferrell shared her files on Elrod with me. She had no files on Masen but told me all she knew about him. Anna-Marie Kuhns-Walko was not able to attend the conference but gave us women her index to the newly released documents pouring out of the National Archives. This index contained page after page of references to John Thomas Masen. It was understood that Anna's index was not available for public consumption and was a monumental work product that she shared with only a few select persons - I was fortunate to be one of them.

I then asked Anna for all of the files on Masen and Captain George Nonte - which she readily shared. She also provided me with the Frank Ellsworth transcript. Anna also gave some of these same documents to Bill Adams who was working with the La Fontaines. Anna's philosophy is that public records belong to anyone who requests them. Anna has since told me that Bill Adams never got the complete files because he never asked for them; his request was limited to specifically numbered documents and her involvement with Adams was marginal. Her involvement with the La Fontaines was non-existent. I on the other hand communicate with Anna frequently.

My appetite whetted, I sent my college aged son to the National Archives for a few weeks in the summer of 1994 to do further research. This trip cost me $2000.00 incidently; David still uses this research assignment on his resume! David Hewett researched Ruby, Masen, Whitter, Miller, Nonte, Bertha Cheek, Nancy Perrin Rich, gunrunning, etc., etc. In addition I had David go to the Library of Congress to obtain a listing of every book that Captain George Nonte ever wrote - a list which I will happily share with the La Fontaines if they like.

By now, I was hot on the Masen/Nonte story and decided to submit an abstract to the upcoming first annual COPA conference scheduled for October 1994. I had no idea that the La Fontaines were writing a book on the same topic. I was feeling the pressure and was working with Steve Tilly to obtain release of the 14 page classified Whitter document. Tilly would tell me in writing that it was being withheld on grounds of national security. Wow - I really thought I was on to something. Later I learned that Tilly was in error and privacy was the category under which it had remained classified until the La Fontaines' Washington Post article (dated 8/7/94) triggered its release. Alas, it was only Whitter's rap sheet. Bill Adams would later slam me anonymously in a journal for claiming that the Whitter document was classified on national security grounds - had he bothered to call me, he would have learned that the error belonged to the Archives, not me.

I realized I still had lots of work to do regarding the COPA presentation. Of primary importance was the criminal court files on Miller, Whitter and Masen. I made a special trip to Dallas to obtain these files. All I got was the file numbers; the files themselves were in storage at the federal depository in Fort Worth and had to be ordered ahead of time. So I returned to Florida and asked a lawyer friend of mine in Texas to obtain the files for me which she did, including the actual trial transcript of the Miller/Whitter Terrell Armory theft.

In the meantime Gary Shaw provided me with Masen's November 22 fingerprint card. Now if the issue happened to be JFK's ingrown toenails I would defer to a podiatrist's comments about JFK's toenail records. And so I would expect a similar sort of acknowledgment on the part of other researchers about my skills as a lawyer who has practiced both civil and criminal law in various jurisdictions. I am in my 21st year of practice in state and federal courts with landmark, headline cases to my credit. I have won every criminal jury trial that I have tried. And so I think I speak from experience when I comment on police or court procedures. And I also know how advocates hide facts that are detrimental to their position. This is just what the La Fontaines did in not revealing the full contents of Elrod's August FBI reports. And if they knew about the November 22nd fingerprint card, they sure didn't tell their readers. The card says on it in black and white: DATE PRINTS TAKEN. Moreover, police departments are not in the habit of arresting a person one day then calling him back in the next day after he has bonded out because they forgot to take the suspect's prints!

They would also have you believe that jailers keep track of cell assignments by Roman numerals such that Douglas is in Cell No. F-II (i.e. Roman numeral 2) next to Oswald in cell block F when Douglas was really in A-11 next to Elrod who described his cell as No. 10. (See my upcoming article in Probe on the cell assignment dispute.) In the last analysis, the La Fontaines failed to present any credible evidence that Elrod was with Oswald.

Back to my research methodology: By August 1, 1994 (the designated deadline) I had submitted my COPA abstract on Masen and Nonte. The La Fontaines' article was still unpublished in the Washington Post. I was notified on August 9th that the committee reviewing the abstracts had accepted mine. As of that date I still did not know of the La Fontaines' pending book. It was at the October 1994 COPA conference that I first learned of the Washington Post article on Elrod, Masen, Miller and Whitter. It was Paul Hoch, in fact, who gave it to me for I do not subscribe to the Washington Post. I even got to meet Jeff Morley at COPA, the Post reporter who sponsored the article. I was so excited that the La Fontaines were writing a book on this subject. I even mentioned to Hoch that I had done alot of research on this topic and he should tell the La Fontaines about me so we could share information. But the La Fontaines were not at COPA and I had no way of knowing if Hoch ever told them about me.

I still had lots of work to do. I was having trouble getting some of Nonte's books through the inter-library loan program. I even went to a gun show at the Tampa Fairgrounds in March 1995 to peruse their book stalls for Nonte books and I struck gold. In addition to Masen and Nonte, I was researching military weapons and assassination weapons and was delighted to discover a convergence with Masen, Nonte, the CIA, silencers, Werbell, the Mendoza brothers, assassination weapons, 6.5 ammo, etc. all of which were overlooked by the La Fontaines. The gun show put me in contact with the book lists of para-military organizations and those were really an eye opener. I now knew that the La Fontaines' book was imminent and wondered if they had progressed as far as I had with my Delta Force and Soldier of Fortune publications.

Before Oswald Talked was even published, I promised Probe in the spring of 1995 that I would do a series of articles on Masen and Nonte as well as on weapons in general. My kick-off article was published in July 1995 where I introduced myself to the research community and mentioned my work on gunrunning. I was chagrined that Oswald Talked came out before my particular article on Masen but thought I would just simply combine my research with a book review.

Needless to say, Oswald Talked was a disappointment as it related to this area of inquiry. I thought there would be more about the whole gunrunning scene and about Elrod, Masen and Nonte in particular. I had no idea that the authors would be digressing on sex-capades with Catholic priests. If only they had called me, for I have Father Machann's address and that of Daniel Douglas, too! It was evident from their book that they did not bother to get the criminal files on Masen, Miller or Whitter. And they knew precious little about Nonte. Their knowledge of weapons and big time arms dealers was non-existent.

Researcher Robert Dorf put together a workshop in San Francisco over the last July 4th holiday to discuss Oswald Talked (and the Mexico City aspects of the assassination). He invited me to attend to counterbalance Bill Adams who was also invited to represent the position of the La Fontaines. Actually I felt outnumbered when I learned that attendee Paul Hoch had helped the La Fontaines enormously. The presence of Mary and Ray would have slanted the discussion too much; I would have been all alone in making my case. Also, I was told that Mary had a most obnoxious personality that would put a damper on the workshop. The diatribe against me seems to bear this out. There was nothing secret about this meeting - it was simply restricted to a small group that our host chose to invite. I did the very same thing when I sponsored a Paine workshop in June 1995 and purposely avoided inviting one particular gentleman because I did not want the offensive man in my home. Simple as that. Mary seems proud that she prevented Mr. Jeremy Gunn of the Review Board from attending the meeting. But she shot herself in the foot because the consensus of the attendees was that both sides to the Masen/Elrod debate had valid points which would justify further investigation by the Review Board.

Sorry folks, but the La Fontaines are full of sour grapes when it comes to the Masen/Elrod/Nonte material. They took a weak story line and inflated it beyond credibility to make a book sell which comes perilously close to tabloid journalism. Now I'm wondering if the rest of their book can hold up to scrutiny.

Last modified on Sunday, 30 October 2016 14:50
Carol Hewett

Carol Hewett holds a degree from the University of Texas School of Law.  She served as litigation director of the National Juvenile Law Center, and formed her own law firm where she focused primarily on criminal defense and family law.  After 1992, she limited her practice to federal administrative appeals on behalf of social security disability claimants, whereby she could pursue assassination research on almost a full-time basis. She was a frequent contributor to Probe.

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