Roy Cohn (1927-1986) was the Commissar of Sleaze in New York City. While representing the Mob, he exerted corrupt influence over both the Democrat and Republican parties, and he seemed to have powerful protection.
In the Sept. 5, 1969, issue of LIFE Magazine, an article called “The Hotshot One-Man Roy Cohn Lobby” stated that J. Edgar Hoover punished three of his FBI agents in New York for cooperating with the U.S. District Attorney in New York Robert Morgenthau in his prosecution against Roy M. Cohn (1927-1986) on a number of felony charges.
The LIFE story reported:
During the McCarthy inquisitions of the early 1950’s, Cohn, as Senator McCarthy’s chief counsel, had worked closely with (Louis B.) Nichols and the FBI in developing cases against suspected Communists. Agents spent weeks screening FBI security files and extracting them in memos for Cohn during the prolonged hearings.
Through these years, Cohn’s friendship with Director Hoover also developed, and this was further cemented by their mutual regard for the multimillionaire boss of the huge Schenley distillery complex, Lewis Rosenstiel (1891-1976).
(Cohn to this day addresses Rosenstiel variously as “commander-in-chief” or “supreme commander,” and Rosenstiel refers to his younger friend as “field commander” or “sergeant major.”)
Since Cohn’s “red-hunting” days, there are assertions that he had maintained intimate political and personal relations with Hoover. The two of them also reportedly shared in sex with their mutual financial sponsor, Lewis Rosenstiel. These sexual assertions were made by Rosensteil’s fourth wife, Susan Kaufman. The account is laid out in “Was Hoover a Transvestite Cross Dresser?” As we often say at Winter Watch: Nothing to see here, move along? You decide.
All of these operatives employed the compromise, blackmail and smear template of control. In the later years much of this occurred in the basement of Studio 54 and in Suite 233 in the Plaza Hotel. At the peak of his game, Cohn would hold court on his yacht as political hacks and sycophants would show up to get the Cohn “recommendations” on judicial and agency appointments.
Hoover was raised to Master Mason on Nov. 9, 1920, in Federal Lodge No. 1, Washington, D.C. His made-man FBI career was meteoric afterward. In 1955, he was coronated a 33rd Degree Inspector General Honorary and awarded the Scottish Rite’s highest recognition, the Grand Cross of Honour, in 1965.
Regardless, the ties are obvious. Curiously, the J. Edgar Hoover Foundation, was set up in honor of the FBI director with a $1 million contribution from the Dorothy and Lewis S. Rosenstiel Foundation. In this 1971 New York Times article, Louis Nichols, Hoover’s assistant at the FBI and now president of the foundation, denies the assertions that Rosenstiel was involved in organized crime. The claim made was that Rosenstiel was also in league with fellow Jewish mobster Meyer Lansky.
Then the drama escalated. When Lewis Rosenstiel lay dying in 1976, Roy Cohn tried to get control over the massive Schenley Industries fortune, allegedly by forging Rosenstiel’s will. Roy Cohn escaped this disbarment but was disbarred later for other infractions.
The Revolving Door Between the Corrupt Interests of Dewey, Hoover and Rosenstiel
Besides the aforementioned Nichols, there was a revolving door between captured agencies and Rosenstiel’s enterprises. Paul Lockwood, chief assistant to U.S. District Attorney Thomas Dewey, throughout the 1930s and ’40s, had by the 1950s become executive V.P. of Lansky partner Rosenstiel’s Schenley liquors. Lockwood was later joined by the previously cited Louis Nichols, Roy Cohn’s political plaything, who shifted from being chief assistant to Edgar Hoover at the FBI to Schenley V.P. in the Cohn-Mafia orbit.
Under the Prohibition law, Charles “Lucky” Luciano and Murder, Inc. boss Meyer Lansky unified the bootlegging operations from Canada into the U.S. into a single national cartel of all rackets. Important rivals, such as Al Capone, were jailed or murdered. Two huge corporations emerged from this bloodbath after repeal of Prohibition: Canada-based Seagram’s liquors, half-owned by Lansky’s partners, the Bronfman family, and half by the British whiskey trust; and U.S.-based Schenley liquors, founded by Lansky’s partner, “retired” bootlegger Lewis Rosenstiel.
For more on Lansky’s role in Murder, Inc. in New York, read “Murder, Inc.: One of the Most Brutal Death Squads in American History.”
Of late, the larger question as to why Roy Cohn was such a hot shot is reemerging.
Some pieces of the puzzle are revealing. He was a made man from a powerful and relentless favor- and string-pulling family and tribe network. Judge Albert Cohn, Roy’s father, who served as a judge on New York State’s top court, was a close associate of Ed Flynn, FDR’s political adviser.
Cohn had incredible power to control media output and could — and did — smear targets liberally. An Esquire magazine article from 1978 mentioned that three of Cohn’s closest childhood friends were New York publishing magnates: National Inquirer’s Gene Pope, Jr., Si Newhouse, Jr., who was the chairman of Conde’ Nast publications and part owner of the Newhouse communications empire; and Hearst Corporation President Richard Berlin. These men operated in concert. All but Pope were Jewish.
Cohn’s business and political partner and client was Jerry Finkelstein, a major influence on the Democrat Party organization of New York City. Finkelstein bought the New York Law Journal. This was the New York legal profession’s daily newspaper, which was given extraordinary power by Cohn’s father, Judge Albert Cohn, who decreed it the exclusive, official medium for publication of legal notices.
In 2009, Robert Sherill penned a must-read Nation article titled “King Cohn” that skewered Cohn as ruthless and unethical. The author asks this important question: “Roy Cohn was one of the most loathsome characters in American history, so why did he have so many influential friends?”
In “King Cohn,” we learn that his maternal grandmother was deranged. One of his mother’s brothers was “either mentally retarded or brain-damaged.” Some members of the Cohn family thought Roy’s mother should have been institutionalized. Everyone agreed she was extremely neurotic at the very least. Yes, seems Roy was well suited for his role in life.
All his life, Cohn particularly sucked up to Jewish journalists, because he practiced law through headlines. He became a tout and gossip procurer for Walter Winchell, who returned the favor by giving Cohn his first national notoriety, and he was very close to the once-powerful columnist George Sokolsky, in whom Cohn saw a second father, and Richard Berlin, head of the Hearst newspaper conglomerate.
Cohn was virtually a member of the newspapering Newhouse family; throughout his adult life he was in daily contact with Si Newhouse, and on one occasion old Samuel Newhouse gave Cohn a half-million bucks, free and clear, to get him out of a jam.
And, as already mentioned, The New York Times in the Abe Rosenthal era was an entirely friendly dumping ground for Cohn’s politically murderous gossip.
All of the aforementioned journos had close ties to J. Edgar Hoover as well. This is a formula that continues to this day, but with an added dialectic circus element to boot.
Sherill goes on, citing from a book by Nicholas Von Hoffman about the man’s business practices:
Von Hoffman lists mountains of evidence: looting enterprises by collecting excessive fees; asking other lawyers around his firm to sign false affidavits (and telling one who wouldn’t, “I can’t afford your Harvard ethics”); asking clients for money to bribe the judge and then pocketing the bribe money; or not telling clients he was going to bribe judges, and doing it. His money was spread widely. “If fixing the clerks wouldn’t accomplish his goals,” says von Hoffman, “Roy would tamper with witnesses.” There were strong suspicions that he sometimes defrauded his own law partners.
On at least one occasion he allowed top Mafia bosses to hold their meeting in his office so that, if wiretapped, what they said could not be used against them in court because of the lawyer-client relationship–a relationship with the Mafia, it should be added, that was much too extensive and friendly and covered too many years to be in any way innocent.
Cohn’s underworld clients included Thomas and Joseph Gambino, family of the New York Mafia “boss of bosses,” Carlo Gambino; Carmine Galante, alleged Mafia executive of Westchester County; Fat Tony Salerno; and Frank Cocchiaro, alleged subordinate of Sam (“the Plumber”) Cavalcante. Cohn was a partner of Joe Bonnano and his henchman, and a close comrade of Lansky partner Moe Dalitz.
Per Sherill, Cohn was a particularly nasty homosexual. He was often a favored guest at the ranch of multimillionaire Shearn Moody, who readily provided, we learn, “many little boys of the night” to guests who desired them.
“Detective James Rothstein had an opportunity to have a sit-down with … Roy Cohn. During this sit-down, Cohn admitted to Rothstein that he was part of a rather elaborate sexual blackmail operation that compromised politicians with child prostitutes.”
The roots of the relationship between the Dulles-Dewey crowd and the modern cryptocracy apparatus go back to 1935, when Thomas Dewey (1902-1971) was made a New York Special Prosecutor responsible for “investigating organized crime.” Cohn’s buddy Jerry Finkelstein served as staff assistant to Dewey, wrote Anton Chaitkin in “Morris and the Cohn Family Criminal Gang” [EIR Volume 23, Number 28, July 5, 1996].
He weaned down the competition by targeting Dutch Schultz. He jailed Lucky Luciano, leaving Meyer Lansky the undisputed boss of the National Crime Syndicate. Later, under the cover of WWII, New York Gov. Dewey released Lansky’s partner Charles “Lucky” Luciano from prison to re-create the Mafia under Anglo-American intelligence control, according to Chaitkin.
Entirely under Dulles’ management, Dewey was elected New York’s governor in 1942. Allen Dulles was chief adviser to Republican nominee Thomas E. Dewey in his 1944 and 1948 presidential races. Dewey freed Luciano from prison and exiled him to Italy in 1946.
In 1957, after a disgraceful performance as counsel for Sen. Joseph McCarthy, Dewey’s personal representative, Judge David Peck, arranges Cohn to be placed in the New York law firm of Saxe, Bacon and O’Shea. Cohn then brought in such clients as the Gambino family, the Finkelsteins, and Lansky partners such as Schenley’s liquor boss Lewis Rosenstiel, wrote Chaitkin.
It was there that the methods described in “King Cohn” were implemented.
Dulles gave Dewey $2 million in CIA money for the purchase of the infamous Mary Carter Paint·Co. Armed with the Dewey name, Mary Carter Paint served as a protective umbrella for the Lansky mob’s move into Caribbean gambling, money laundering and drug trafficking. In the late 1960s, a royal commission investigating organized crime in the British Caribbean islands helped finish off all gambling rivals of Mary Carter Paint, which had meanwhile changed its name to Resorts International, Chaitkin reveals.
What really drew our suspicion to the Dewey-Dulles cabal was the appointment of their law partner J. Lee Rankin as Executive Director and General Counsel to the rigged Warren Commission.
Resorts International hotel and casino company developed Paradise Island in the Bahamas in the 1960s. In 1978, under chairman James Crosby, it expanded to Atlantic City, New Jersey, with the opening of Resorts Casino Hotel.
Cohn became Donald Trump’s legal counsel in the 1970s.
Cohn died in 1986 after a two-year battle with AIDS. And after Crosby’s death in 1986, Resorts International was briefly controlled by Trump before being acquired by Merv Griffin in 1988. [See “The Snarling Death of Roy M. Cohn” by Nicholas von Hoffman]