THE ORAL DEPOSITION OF RICHARD J. BRENNEKE
THE ORAL DEPOSITION OF RICHARD J. BRENNEKE, a witness produced at the request of the Attorney General's Office, taken in the above-styled and numbered cause on the 21st day of June, 1991, before Jeff Bennett, C.C.R., Certificate #19, of BUSHMAN COURT REPORTING, INC., Notary Public in and for White County, Arkansas at the Office of the Attorney General, 323 Center Street, Little Rock, Arkansas at 10:10 a.m.
MR. ALEXANDER: My name is William Alexander, Jr., and I'm an attorney and a member of the United States Congress. I'm a member of the Bar of the State of Arkansas as well as the District of Columbia and other states. And I'm taking this deposition today as a member of the United States Congress in my investigative authority under the Constitution, and as a member of the Appropriations Committee having jurisdiction over all agencies of the federal government, specifically those agencies of the Department of Justice, Commerce and the Federal Judiciary. For some time I have been involved in investigating the subject of inquiry today with full authority as a member of the United States Congress. In addition, I'm acting as a Special Assistant to the Attorney General of the State of Arkansas, who is represented here today. And, Chad, would you state who are you, and what you're doing here.
MR. FARRIS: My name is Chad Farris. I'm the Chief Deputy Attorney General for the state of Arkansas. And Representative Alexander is right, that he has been so designated, and I am attending as a representative for the Attorney General's Office and will participate in this investigation.
MR. ALEXANDER: I'll state further for the record, that the nature of this inquiry is confidential. And that it is the evidence is intended to be used to produce for the benefit of the Special Prosecutor in the Iran Contra case now pending in Washington and for other purposes. And I'd now like to ask the reporter if he would swear the witness.
(The witness was sworn.)
EXAMINATION BY MR. ALEXANDER:
Q. Would you state your name, age and residence?
A. Okay. The name is Richard J. Brenneke, B R E N N E K E. My home address is [deleted], in Lake Oswego, and that's O S W E G O, Oregon, 91034.
Q. Mr. Brenneke, would you state briefly your educational background prior to the time when you began full time work; what's your education?
A. I have -- I graduated from Jesuit High School in Portland, Oregon. I went to Seattle University, and graduated from Seattle University in 1984. In 1986, I got my master's degree at the University of Toronto, and subsequent to that became a teacher at St. John's University in New York.
Q. And when were you a teacher in New York?
A. I was in New York from '66 -- I taught the years '66 through '68.
Q. And following 1968, would you describe your work history and the jobs that you had?
A. Sure. I went to work for an offshore mutual fund company in 19 -- in the fall of 1968, and became a their resident specialist in handling financial transfers and moving the money from one point to another. The funds were sold worldwide, not in the United States. I stayed with them for two years. In --
Q. What was the name of the company?
A. The company was United Growth Fund, United Investment Fund.
Q. And how long were you with them?
A. I was with them approximately two years.
Q. And what did you do following the association with the Growth Fund?
A. I did two things; first of all, I realized that what was being done was not in the best interest of the investors in the mutual fund, and some of the smaller people who had money in it, and I gave a full disclosure. I requested a full disclosure conference with the SEC in Seattle, Washington. That was granted, and that was the first briefing I ever gave to government officials on how money is handled offshore.
Q. Okay. Was the money being handled for the government?
A. Some of that money was government money, yes, sir.
Q. And what agency of the government was it being handled for?
A. Central Intelligence Agency.
Q. And so you had contact with the Central Intelligence Agency at --
A. In 1968, late 1968, I was contracted with by the Central Intelligence Agency to furnish them with information relating to the financial movements, the money movement that we dealt with, and who the investors in our mutual fund were.
Q. Did that later lead to a more did that later lead to a relationship of employment with the Central Intelligence Agency?
A. No, sir. I was never an employee of theirs. I was always a sole contractor.
Q. So you were an independent contractor with the Central Intelligence Agency?
A. That's correct.
Q. Beginning when and through what years?
A. 1968 through about 1986, somewhere in 1985, ‘86 is when I called it off.
Q. So what services did you perform for the Central Intelligence Agency?
A. Specialized in two activities; I handled money for them, I handled East Bloc weapons purchases primarily made in Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia.
Q. And what compensation did you receive for your services to the Central Intelligence Agency?
A. Compensation varied by the job, it could go anywhere from 100 bucks for a piece of paper to several thousand dollars for a variety of activities.
Q. In general, what would you say on the average would be your annual income from the CIA for the performance of these services?
A. In the early days, probably $10,000. It grew as time went by.
Q. Up to how much?
A. I can't tell you, because I don't know.
Q. Well, you have income tax returns that you could provide if we ask for them?
A. I have filed income tax returns in the past. And I have to -- I'm sorry if I have to digress for a minute, but I do. The Internal Revenue Service contacted me recently and said they can't find seven years of my tax returns, which I find to be very, very strange. And we -- I am in the process of reconstructing those returns. The reason I can't produce copies of them is that my home has been burglarized twice, both matters of police record, both times reports were made to the cops.
Q. Well, we won't dwell on that. I just wanted to establish the fact that you were --
A. Okay. It's gone to 20 or $30,000 easily in a six month period.
Q. And you said you perform other services, other than mutual fund consultant for the CIA, what were those services?
A. I was a pilot for the CIA at several times.
Q. Where did you receive your pilot training?
A. Initially in Portland, Oregon and British Columbia.
Q. And you were a pilot for the CIA?
A. That's correct.
Q. During what period?
A. During the whole period I worked for them.
Q. And that was what years?
A. That would be '68 through '80 -- I think the last flying I did for them was in '84.
Q. Did you ever pilot an aircraft to a location at Mena, Arkansas?
A. Yes, sir. I did on a number of occasions.
Q. And what aircraft did you fly into Mena?
A. I generally flew a C 130. Aircraft would be brought into Mena, the first trips that I made started in early '84.
Q. I see. Were you based out of Mena for a period of time?
A. That would be a very appropriate description.
Q. How many flights would you say that you made from the Mena, Arkansas airport for the CIA during the period of time that you worked for them?
A. Ten to twelve.
Q. Ten to twelve flights. And you flew a C 130?
A. Generally flew a C 130. I did, however, on occasion come in -- on one occasion specifically I recall coming in on a Lear Jet, on one occasion on a 400 Series Cessna.
Q. You kept flight logs of all of your flights for the CIA?
A. Yes, sir. I certainly did.
Q. You have those logs?
A. They're lodged with my attorney.
Q. And would you submit to us copies of -- exact copies of those logs, and make those an attachment to this record?
A. I certainly will.
Q. And I'd like to ask that the record be held open at this point subject to submission of those logs by the witness at a future time. Now --
A. For the record, I'll try and get those to you next week.
Q. Allright. Now, Mr. Brenneke, could you tell us when you first made a flight for the CIA from Mena, Arkansas?
A. It would have been March, April of 1984.
Q. 1984. And what was the cargo that you transported for the CIA from Mena?
A. From Mena?
A. Okay. From .Mena I would take people who had been trained in the area around Mena, generally paramilitary or military forces from Central America. They would be taken back to Panama City, where I would drop them. And, in addition to that, we would carry weapons that were being shipped down there. The weapons, as I've said, frequently came either from government stores or through Tamiami Gun Shop in Miami, Florida.
Q. Now, were the shipments made from Mena, though?
A. Yes, sir, they were.
Q. Okay. Now, the guns, how did you know they were guns?
A. I could see them being loaded on my aircraft.
Q. Were the guns in boxes?
A. The guns were in crates, and they were stamped clearly on the outside as to what they were.
Q. Now, can you identify for the record some of the kinds of guns that were being shipped from Mena to Central America?
A. M l's, M l rifles, recoil -- small recoilless rifles, 106, I've forgotten the exact caliber on it, grenades, ammunition for these weapons, fuses, detonator fuses. And I remember that one very specifically because it only happened once. But we had detonator fuses on board, and my concern was that we might have the equipment being detonated on the same flight, and I didn't want that.
Q. Did you inspect the crates yourself prior to airlifting?
A. No, sir. I didn't look at every crate. But I would, from time to time, open one because I wanted to make sure of the weights on them.
Q. And who was with you as co-pilot on the first flight?
A. Harry Rupp, a friend of mine who lives in Denver, Colorado.
Q. Did he accompany you on all the flights or were there other co pilots?
A. No, there were other co pilots from time to time.
Q. Can you describe -- name for us the co pilots that accompanied you on the several flights that you made to Central America?
A. No, sir, I can't. It’s been too long.
Q. Do you recall names other than Harry Rupp?
A. Yes. Unfortunately only nicknames. There was a fellow that I flew with regularly that was called "The Hippie.” He worked out of Medellin, would frequently fly the trips up north.
Q. “Up north,” what do you mean?
A. Up to Mena.
Q. To Mena?
A. And also into Iron Mountain Ranch in Texas.
Q. Into Texas. So you -- let's deal with the Mena location at the moment, and we can go to other locations today if we wish --
Q. -- at a later time. There is an airport at Mena, and what's the name of it?
A. It's Mena Airport.
Q. Mena Airport. And who did you see personally involved in the loading of these crates and the management of these cargoes that you knew personally and you can identify for the record? Did you see anyone there you would
A. Yes, a man by the name of Freddie Hampton.
Q. Were there -- Freddie Hampton, is he from Mena?
A. Fred Hampton owns and operates Rich Mountain Aviation.
Q. In Mena, Arkansas?
A. In Mena, Arkansas. And he would be the individual directing his workers. I assume they’re his workers, because they followed his direction in loading and unloading aircraft.
Q. How many workers do you recall were used for the purpose of loading and unloading aircraft?
A. Depending on the shipment, it could run as high as twelve, more often than not it was around five or six people.
Q. Five or six people. Would you -- do you recall any of the names of the people who participated?
A. I was never introduced to who they were.
Q. I see. So as I understand it, they would load the guns and munitions on the C 130, and you and a co pilot, one of whom you've identified as Harry Rupp --
A. Uh huh.
Q. -- would fly these munitions and equipment to locations in Central America. Where was the cargo destined for? Where did you fly it to?
A. We flew it to Panama City and offloaded it there.
Q. Do you remember where in Panama City?
A. Panama -- at Tecuman Airport.
Q. Which airport?
A. Tecuman, T E C U M A N.
Q. Tecuman Airport. That's in Panama City?
A. In Panama City.
Q. Did you fly them to other locations?
A. Yes, sir. We also flew to a point on the East Coast of Panama and Colon.
A. It's a Greek word.
Q. Now, could -- were the shipments met by people in Panama?
A. Yes, they were. They were met by military types who wore military uniforms and were easily identified as members of the Panamanian Defense Force, which essentially is the Palace Guard.
Q. Allright. Do you know any of the people? Did you recognize any of the PDF forces that met these shipments'
A. I recognized them -- I did not know the names of all of them; however, I did know the name of the man who trained them, and he would frequently be there to meet the shipments, and he is a man by the name of Michael Harari.
Q. Who is Michael Harari? Mike Harari was a Mossad agent. He’s an Israeli national. My best understanding is he lives in Israel right now. He was Manuel Noriega's partner in a number of business deals in Panama. I know that firsthand because I had to deal with him.
Q. All right. Now, Manuel Noriega, is he the former President of Panama?
A. Yes, sir. He is.
Q. Is that the same Manuel Noriega that is now incarcerated and is subject to trial in the Miami District Court?
A. Yes, sir. He is.
A. If I may
A. There's another name that -- a man by the name of Jose Blandon, who was the Minister of Intelligence of the Intelligence Ministry in Panama at that time, and he also worked for Noriega and left somewhere in the mid eighties, is currently in the United States in the Witness Protection Program.
Q. I see. Now, what would happen to the cargo once you landed in Panama at either of these locations when it was met by the Panamanian Defense Forces?
A. The cargo would be immediately offloaded off the aircraft and loaded either onto trucks or stacked in warehouses. If we were going into Colon, there are bonded warehouses where it would simply be stacked.
Q. Were these military trucks?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Could you identify the military insignias on the trucks?
A. No. They were just --
Q They were military trucks?
A. Drab olive green.
Q. Olive green trucks?
A. With numbers stenciled on the side.
Q. I see. Operated by --
A. Operated by people in military garb. I assume they were military trucks.
Q. Okay. And then what would be your actions following the arrival there when the -- after the cargo was unloaded; did you stay the night, or would you immediately turn around and return to the United States? What was your --
A. No, we always stayed the night. Generally we would stay just one night, there were times when we stayed two or three.
Q. Now, you would stay a night or a couple of days and you returned. And would you return with a cargo?
A. Yes, sir, we would. We would come back with individuals, and from time to time unmarked boxes of items that were put in the aircraft along with the individuals. Now, being conservative by nature and not having a death wish, I opened the boxes on a number of occasions to find out what I was flying. And what --
Q. What did you discover the cargo to be?
A. I found the cargo to be cocaine, in some cases marijuana.
Q. Now, would you describe what you saw when you opened the boxes?
A. What I saw when I opened the boxes were plastic bags filled with a white powdery substance. On one occasion I wanted to know more about what it was, so I cut one of them open and tasted it, and I have tasted cocaine in a controlled environment before at the request of law enforcement officials, so this --
Q. So you positively identified the substances that you were carrying as cocaine?
A. Yes, sir, I did.
Q. How much cocaine would you judge that you were carrying?
A. In the course of time there?
Q. Well, in each load?
A. In each load, 4 to 600 pounds.
Q. 4 to 600 pounds. And did you see people loading this cargo of cocaine onto the airplane?
A. Yes, sir, I did.
Q. And who -- can you identify those people?
A. Those were Panamanian Defense Force soldiers. They were in military uniform and easily identifiable as such.
Q. The same people that took the guns off, put the cocaine on?
Q. Is that right?
A. That’s correct.
Q. Now, what would you do with the load of cocaine once it was loaded onto your C-130; where would you go with it?
A. We would bring it to Mena, Arkansas.
Q. And how long would it take you to fly to Mena?
A. Four to six hours, depending on the wind.
Q. And you have a flight log that would identify this flight?
A. Yes, sir, I would.
Q. Each one of the flights?
A. Yes, sir, I do.
Q. And when you landed at Mena, what would be the disposition of the cargo.
A. On one or two occasions the cargo was taken off by people who were not residents of the Mena area and put into other aircraft which departed from there. However, the most frequent activity was that the aircraft would be unloaded in front of Rich Mountain Aviation's hangers and it would be stored in the back of the hanger.
Q. The cocaine would be stored in the hanger of Rich Mountain Aviation?
A. Yes, sir. I, in fact, saw it being put in.
Q. And who did you see putting the cocaine into the hanger?
A. The man that was directing it was Freddie Hampton.
Q. Freddie Hampton?
A. That's correct.
Q. Is that the same Freddie Hampton that you described a minute ago as the owner of Rich Mountain Aviation?
A. Yes, sir, it is.
Q. Now, let's take each one of these trips separately. And we can identify these trips, I presume, by your travel logs, flight logs?
A. Yes, sir, we can.
Q. And go back in your mind to the first trip you took and describe to me the disposition of the cargo; that is, the cocaine, once it returned to Arkansas, once it was delivered to Arkansas? And I am especially I am particularly interested in the identification of persons other than Freddie Hampton. You've talked about Freddie Hampton. You've identified him. Can you identify other people who might have received this cocaine?
A. Yes. I can identify people who in fact received the cocaine, not “might have.” And --
Q. Can you tell us who they were?
A. I can tell you that they were members of John Gotti's family in New York. One of them was an individual known to me by the name of Sal Reale.
Q. Could you spell that name for us?
A. R E A L E.
Q. Sal Reale?
A. Salvatore Reale.
Q. Salvatore Reale?
Q. And how did you know Mr. Reale?
A. Mr. Reale at that time was the Director of -- I believe it was that time, was the Director of Security for Kennedy International Airport in New York City.
Q. In New York City. Speak to the subject of your knowledge of Mr. Reale and his activities as the head of security at Kennedy? Tell us what you know about him and what he did?
A. Okay. Mr. Reale was a -- was one of Mr. Gotti's lieutenants. I watched the two of them interact. Mr. Gotti would provide directions, Mr. Reale would carry them out. It was his job to make sure that cargo being shipped through Kennedy was not lost, but properly located, and in some cases avoiding customs -- avoided the customs procedures.
Q. Are you saying that you saw Mr. John Gotti, the famous bead of the organized crime syndicate, in New York together with Mr. Reale?
A. Yes, sir, I did.
Q. Where did you see them?
A. That was in New York City.
Q, In New York City. What was the occasion that permitted you to see them together, do you recall?
A. I don't recall the nature of it. I do recall that it was a private club that I was taken to, and I had an opportunity to meet with them at that time.
Q. And so -- okay. Do you remember when it was you saw them together?
A. It was either late '84 or early 1985. But in that three or four month time span, it would have had to have been one or the other.
Q. Was your notice of Mr. Gotti and Mr. Reale in any way connected with your contractual job with the Central Intelligence Agency?
A. Yes. As far back as 1968 and early '69, we had begun to launder money from organized crime families in New York. At that time Mr. Gotti was an up and coming member of one of the families. I got to know them at that time. We used to wash their money out overseas and put it in Switzerland in nice, safe places for them.
Q. So you worked for Mr. Gotti as well as for the CIA?
A. Actually the CIA told me to do that on his behalf.
Q. So the CIA was in, would you say, partnership or association with Mr. Gotti?
A. Yes, sir. I would say a partnership.
Q. And can you describe the nature of that partnership?
A. Sure. The organized crime members had a need for two things; they needed drugs brought into the country on a reliable, safe basis, they needed people taken out of the country or people brought into the country without alerting customs or INS to the fact that they were being brought into the country, they also needed their money taken offshore so that it would not be subject to United States tax where they might have to declare its source. And so we performed these kinds of functions for them.
Q. Mr. Brenneke, are you saying that the CIA was in the business of bringing drugs into the United States?
A. Yes, sir. That's exactly what I'm saying.
Q. And that they were in partnership with John Gotti in this operation?
A. I would say that they worked with Mr. Gotti and his organization very closely. Whether it was a formal partnership, I don't know. But there certainly was a close alliance between the two.
Q. All right. Now, let's go back to the Mena Airport in Arkansas for a moment. At a time when you saw Mr. Reale there, did he receive any of the shipment, the cargo of the drugs that you brought back from Panama?
A. He did not personally take any of the drugs. He did, however, see that they were transferred into aircraft and vehicles so that they could be moved off the field, and that was his function. His function was not to load the vehicles, but to see that nothing got lost on transit.
Q. Are you saying that drugs that you brought back from Central America to Mena were for the purpose of delivery to Mr. Reale, who was in the employ of Mr. John Gotti, the New York crime syndicate boss?
A. Yes, sir. I would say that.
Q. And Mr. Reale was there to manage the transshipment of those drugs?
A. From time to time there were other people from the family down there.
Q. Did you have any conversations with him about where he intended to take those drugs?
A. Yes, sir. I asked on more than one occasion where the drugs would be taken, and I was told the New York City area, specifically Kennedy International Airport.
Q. Now, do you have any knowledge of the CIA, quote, "black bag," operations at Rich Mountain Aviation?
A. Can we --
Q. Do you want to take a break there for a second and smoke a cigarette?
A. No. I just would like to take a break and talk to you for a second.
MR. ALEXANDER: Sure. Let's go off the record a minute.
(Off the record.)
Q. (BY MR. ALEXANDER) Mr. Brenneke, during the break you mentioned that you may have misstated the dates of your college. Do you want to correct that record?
A. Yes. I graduated from Seattle University in 1964, and I graduated from the University of Toronto with my master's in 1966.
Q. Now, I was asking you about whether or not the CIA had a "black bag" operation at Rich Mountain Aviation in Mena, Arkansas. And maybe a more interesting way to ask that question would be, you knew that you were dealing with criminals; is that correct?
A. That's correct, sir.
Q. You were dealing with criminals that were transporting and selling cocaine in the United States?
Q. You were working for the federal government agency known as the Central Intelligence Agency. In a sort of man on the street vernacular, how do you keep these guys honest? I mean, do you -- what precautions did you take and the CIA to know whether or not they were dealing with this cargo in the manner in which it was intended?
A. The general procedure and the procedure specifically used in the case of Rich Mountain Aviation was to go through the files from time to time to be sure that there were no papers being kept back that would link the CIA to the activities there, and if they were, they were removed from the file. And to look at such things as income tax returns and bank statements to make sure that the people with whom we were dealing were not stealing more than their fair share.
Q. We will -- and so you checked on Hampton, did you?
A. Yes, I did.
Q. And what did you discover?
A. I discovered that Mr. Hampton was not stealing more than his fair share, and in general was performing the services that he was -- that he had agreed to provide.
Q. Now, what had he agreed to provide?
A. He provided landing facilities, a place to store the aircraft, assistance with mechanical problems on the aircraft or avionics problems on the aircraft if they were necessary to get it out of there, a storage area for drugs that were brought in, a storage area for weapons that were taken out, a place where people could rest or wait for a truck to haul them out to Nella.
Q. And how much did the CIA pay him for his services?
A. I don't know the dollar figures. That's -- the figure I saw on his tax returns at one point indicated that he had received something in excess of $10,000.
Q. Who would have handled the payment to Hampton for the CIA?
A. My understanding was that the man I was working for at the time paid him, and that was Bob Kerritt.
Q. Bob Kerritt. Can you identify where he might reside?
A. Mr. Kerritt is a full time employee of the Central Intelligence Agency. And when I first met him, I checked on that by waiting for him to return to Washington, calling information in the D.C. area, got the phone number for the switchboard at the CIA, called and asked for him by name, and I got him.
Q. Okay. Now, how did you check on Reale; did you check on --
A. Well, I had already seen him. He and -- I mean, I had seen him in New York. I knew who he was. And, as I say, we'd been dealing with these folks in New York since 1965-69.
Q. When you say we've, you mean the Central Intelligence Agency?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Now, did the Gotti organization, through Reale, pay money to the CIA for the drugs?
A. Yes, they did.
Q. Do you know how much money?
A. Firsthand knowledge, somewhere in the $50,000,000 bracket.
Q. How do you how much money?
A. Because I banked that money for them in Panama City, and ultimately transferred it to other locations in Europe.
Q. Did they pay you in cash?
A. Yes, generally.
Q. And what do you mean “generally"; what other forms did they pay you in?
A, You're given -- I owned an aircraft in Mexico City for a while that was payment for some work I had done.
Q. I see.
A. Occasionally there were items like that.
Q. So what would be the procedure for you to receive the payment from the Gotti organization for the drugs?
A. Generally the money was -- okay. Let me restate that. The money was given to us in cash.
Q. "Us," you mean the CIA?
A. "Us” meaning the people I worked with, who were also associated with the Central Intelligence Agency. We would transfer that money to banks in Central and South America. And from there transfer it via accounts that I had established back in 1970 to -- they were accounts of which I was a beneficial holder and the named signee on it.
Q. Let's take a payment from Mr. Reale in cash, and follow the procedure step by step as you know it for the transmittal of that money from the Gotti organization to the Central intelligence Agency?
A. Okay. That money was delivered to us in cash. There were -- there were occasions where there were wire transfers, but generally -- the generally followed method was cash. That would be stored in the aircraft on its return trip to Panama. Once it reached Panama, we would put it into a bank account, which at that time was in the Banquo DePanama?
Q. Banquo DePanama?
Q. All right.
A. And the account name was the initials IFMA, which was a company that I set up in Panama City in 1970, I believe, it may have been '69.
Q. Did you get a receipt for deposit?
A. No, sir. We would not get a receipt for deposit. The money would be deposited there, but it would be subsequently and then almost immediately transferred to -- the transfer points in general followed this way; they came it came to Spain or Liechtenstein, from there it went to either -- it went to Monte Carlo, and the ultimate destination was Zurich or Geneva but, in any case, Switzerland.
Q. The money was given to you by the Gotti -- the agent for the Gotti organization?
A. Yes, sir. And there were other people besides the man that I've named. And I'd have to see photographs but I can surely pick them out for you.
Q. Well, we can return to the manner in which the money was transferred at a subsequent time. I'm trying here to identify the source of the money --
Q. -- and the place that the money went to, and who received the money. And you have said that that went to the CIA?
A. To CIA accounts that I established on their behalf in the late sixties and early seventies. I still have the incorporation papers on them.
Q. How do you know that the money went to the CIA itself?
A. Because I would transfer personally that money out of that account into others.
Q. Did you ever talk to any people in the CIA about the money?
A. Sure. I talked to Mr. Kerritt from time to time, Mr. Ellis, who was also a controller, from time to time --
Q. Who is Mr. Ellis, can you tell us, and --
A. Ellis is an employee and was an associate of Mr. Kerritt. Robert Ellis is his name, E L L I S. He was an associate of Kerritt's. The two used to work together frequently.
Q. What other CIA agents knew of this operation, and knew that the money came from the Gotti organization?
A. I'd have to say Harry Rupp would be someone who would know that, because Harry at that time had a gold importing business in Switzerland.
Q. Can you recall any conversations you had with any of the CIA agents about the money, and tell us the nature of that conversation, the scope of it?
A. Sure. When I found that we were bringing drugs into the United States, and that we were receiving money which was being put into accounts which I knew to belong to the United States Government, as I'd set them up specifically for that purpose, I called Mr. Don Gregg, who was a CIA officer with whom I was acquainted, and complained about the nature of what we were doing.
Q. Now, who is Mr. Don Gregg?
A. At that time, he was George Bush -- Vice President George Bush's National Security Advisor.
Q. And do you recall the date that you had this conversation with Mr. Gregg?
A. I am more than willing to look for it in my telephone records.
Q. And when you discover that, you can provide it for us?
A. I will provide you with --
Q. You have records of the conversation?
A. Yes, I do.
Q. And will you make a copy of that record available for this --
A. Yes, sir, I will. Including my handwritten notes that are contemporaneous.
Q. Now, you don't have any notes with you at this time?
A. No, I do not.
Q. But do you recall the conversation with Mr. Gregg?
A. Very well.
Q. And can you tell us what you remember about that conversation?
A. I surely can. I was told that it was none of my business, what I was flying in and out of the country. That I was hired to do specific things, and if I would do those things and not pay any attention to anything else, we would all be very, very happy. I didn't like that.
Q. Well, what else did he say?
A. Shut up and do your job.
Q. He said, "shut up and do your job?"
A. Essentially, yes.
Q. Did you have any further contact with him?
A. I talked to him in 19 --
Q. "Him," I'm talking about Mr. Gregg?
A. Yes. Subsequently I talked to Mr. Gregg on a number of occasions as well as to other people in the Vice President's office to voice my concern over the use of drugs in -- importing drugs into the United States and using the cash generated from that to perform operations which I perceived to be not put before Congress in any form.
Q. So you had two conversations with Mr. Gregg?
A. Actually, I had more than that.
Q. Well, can you tell us about the other conversations, and can you identify approximately the dates that they occurred?
A. Between 1984 and 1986. And I'd be happy to furnish you with copies of my telephone --
A. -- logs that -- the telephone bills that I still have.
Q. And you can specifically identify more than one, several conversations with Mr. Gregg?
A. Six or eight conversations with Mr. Gregg, and they're all on the telephone records that I have.
Q. Right. Well, we will return to that. Okay. Off the record a minute.
(Off the record.)
Q. Mr. Brenneke, I'd like to return for a moment to the question of payment of money from the Gotti organization that you have stated went to the CIA. And I’m not certain that it is clear how you knew that the money, that the some $50,000,000, did you say --
Q. -- in money, how you knew that money went to the Central Intelligence Agency. Could you explain again what happened to the money that you took to Panama, where it was deposited, where it went, and how you knew where the money went to?
A. I'd be happy to. I set up, in 1969 or 1970, a number of corporations in Panama City. Those corporations in turn opened bank accounts. Those bank accounts were accounts that I would normally use in the course of my business with the CIA to transfer money into the accounts, and from there to transfer them into specific accounts in Spain or, as I say, in some cases other countries in Europe. The ultimate destination was Switzerland, where those funds were. I knew where they went, because I'm the person who went in and gave the order to the banker to move them.
Q. And you had an arrangement with the CIA to organize those banks for the CIA, to open the account?
A. That was what I specialized in doing. I laundered money there.
Q. How long did you -- were you engaged in the activity of laundering money before you went to work for the CIA?
A. Never. I mean, I -- we weren't laundering money at the point -- when I first was recruited, which was in '68, '69, all we were doing was selling mutual fund stocks offshore.
Q. So you're saying that you were recruited by the CIA to organize and open accounts for the CIA for the purpose or laundering money?
A. That's correct.
Q. And how many accounts did you open for the CIA, and can you identify where those accounts were opened and in which banks?
A. Yes, I can. They were opened in Panama. The accounts for the companies, if you wish, I will provide you with the Articles of Incorporation --
A. -- as they were drafted at that time.
Q. We will ask you to submit those as an exhibit to your testimony. And, of course, we will have to come together again in order for that to be presented, those documents to be presented. And just describe for the moment, since we're going to have to come back again with these documents, the countries, the names of the banks that you recall that you opened, where you opened accounts for the CIA?
A. Panama City, Banquo DeMexico, at one point we were using a Citibank correspondent down there whose name escapes me. I just don't recall it. We had a man on site who worked for us, as well as worked for Ron Martin, a man named Johnny Mollina, M O L L I N-A, I believe. John was -- would spend a lot of his time in Panama City there and worked in one of the banks that we used. I set up an account in -- well, I set up more than one account in Madrid that was used. I set up an account in Brussels at Bank Lambert that was regularly used. I set up accounts at Credit Suisse and --
Q. Is that a Swiss bank?
A. That is a Swiss bank. And Bank of Credit and Commerce, commonly referred to as BCCI, also a Swiss bank. A bank that no longer exists called Bank Uoffman. And to facilitate matters not to drag this out, to facilitate matters I set up a bank in Panama City on behalf of the mutual fund company I worked for so that I could ultimately control how the transfers were handled.
Q. And you organized a bank in Panama for the CIA?
A. I organized it for the company I worked for, that was -- it was subsequently used by the CIA and it was used by members of the organized crime families. The bank was called U.S. Investment Bank. It really existed in Panama City. You could actually go in and open a checking account there.
Q. And the money that you got from the Gotti organization that you put on the airplane and returned to Panama on the next trip, you personally took to a bank in Panama City?
A. You bet, I did.
Q. And you deposited that money. And can you tell us the amount of those deposits, and the directions that you would give to the officers at the bank, and the name of the bank, and where the money would go? Just detail that for us?
A. All right. The money would go into -- let's take Banquo DePanama, the Panamanian National Bank down there, as an example. I would go in. I would meet with -- at times I would meet with, for instance, Johnny Mollina. John worked for one of the banks down there, I think it was City that he worked for at one time. In any case, I would go in. I knew the bank officers by name. Unfortunately, I don't recall all their names since it's been many years ago. And I would provide them with directions as to how the money was to be transferred and where to transfer; that is, is it to be transferred by cashier's check and courier to Madrid in a specific account there or is it to be just wire transferred to Madrid as a transfer of funds from IFMA, a Panamanian corporation, to IFMA's affiliate in Madrid or Brussels at Bank Lambert. They needed to know that. And then I would have to tell them at the other bank that money was coming into that account.
Q. So you would notify the CIA bank, or the bank having the CIA account in Spain or in Switzerland?
Q. That the deposit had been made in Panama?
Q. How would you notify them?
A. Generally by telephone. And they would be told that there were a variety of codes that were used, but the message was very simple, you're going to receive money in this account, the money will probably stay in the account anywhere from 24 to 72 hours, at which time it will be transferred out of that account.
Q. Did you ever utilize bearer bonds for the purpose of laundering money?
A. Sure did.
Q. Can you tell us how that was handled?
A. Sure. It was handled in two ways; when U. S. Investment Bank was active in Panama it would issue bonds, no names on them, which was common. It's common in Europe, it's common in Central and South America. And those bonds actually belong to the individual that is carrying them; as, for instance, the stock in IFMA belongs only to the person who happens to have it in his hand at that moment. You lose it, you lose your money.
Q. And what would you do with the bearer bonds?
A. The bearer bonds would be taken generally by courier to -- in some cases to Banquo DeMexico in Mexico City and transferred from there or sent from there by their couriers. By 1985, late 1985, it was getting uncomfortable in Panama, and so some of the Venezuelan banks in Caracas were used. And they would -- the same procedure was followed, though; the money would be deposited into an account, you would walk into the bank, for example, and sit down with the Vice President or Managing Director of the bank. You were clearly a large depositor and a large customer of that bank. And you just simply explained that you wanted to deposit this money in this bag, and he would just kindly go ahead and do so for you.
Q. Mr. Brenneke, under whose direction were you working in order to carry out the function of depositing the money from the sale of the drugs to the New York [branch of the Gotti Organization] --
A. Bob Kerritt, an officer of the Central Intelligence Agency in Washington, D.C.
Q. All right. Now, would you spell his name for us?
A. K E R R I T T.
Q. And would you talk with him regularly about this operation?
A. Yes, I would.
Q. And do your telephone logs --
A. Probably would not show it, because I never made the calls from my home phone.
Q. I see. But you do recall the conversations?
A. I have notes of the conversations.
Q. You have notes of the conversations?
A. Yes, sir. I certainly do.
Q. And you can -- do you remember the dates? Will those notes bear the dates?
A. The notes bear dates.
Q. We will ask you at some future, subsequent date to refresh your recollection so that you can produce a memorandum of dates and times and any other information concerning your conversations with Mr. Kerritt.
A. I'll be happy to do that. I'll also be happy to furnish you with memoranda that I sent to government agencies specifically complaining about the use of drugs in this operation.
Q. One further question, before I defer to my associate. You mentioned a Mr. Rupp that was a co-pilot that went with you. Have we identified who he is, and where he might be located?
A. Yeah. Harry Rupp, Heinrich Rupp is his correct name, H E I N R I C H, Rupp, R U P P, lives in the Denver, Colorado area. I think he lives in the city of Aurora, which is near Denver.
Q. Have you seen him subsequent to his being a co-pilot with you on these operations?
A. Of course. I've been at his home frequently, and I testified in his behalf when he was indicted and tried two years ago, 1988.
Q. What was he indicted for?
A. Bank fraud.
Q. Was he acquitted?
A. No, he was found guilty of destroying -- well, along with the president and the officers of the savings and loan, of basically looting it.
A. And I testified on his behalf, saying that since that was common in our line of work, what was the problem.
Q. All right. Let me just ask a couple of general questions in order to try to reach a conclusion here. Did you ever discuss your concerns with the CIA Director, the late Bill Casey?
A. Yes, I did on a number of occasions. And Mr. Casey's telephone logs would reflect phone calls to me, made to me in - specifically in Lake Oswego, which was at that time the location of my office.
Q. So Mr. Casey called you?
A. Yes, sir, he did.
Q. On how many occasions?
A. Two that I can recall specifically.
Q. What was the nature of the conversation with Mr. Casey?
A. What went wrong in Central America.
Q. Can you relate to us that discussion; tell us what he said and what you said?
A. Certainly. Bill Casey's main concern -- there were two main concerns to him; one, exposure of the operations in Central America; and two, why did the system breakdown. To me he sounded like sort of a general or supervisor who doesn't have his hands on the pulse of what's really happening out in the trenches. And by this time I had caused sufficient problems for CIA and others in South and Central America that the Israelis had in fact sent over a team of people to shut down the Israeli involvement in anything that closely resembled the drug business. I could get no assistance of any kind similar to that from the United States Government, and I explained that to Mr. Casey. And his first question was, why I had gone to Israel, and I said, because I tried everybody in the U. S. Government first and they sure as hell weren't going to help.
Q. Well, we haven't asked you about that effort that you are referring to, to try to stop the operation, and I think my associate will ask you about that in a moment.
Q. I think, finally, I want to ask you if you have any knowledge of the money that you're talking about coming from the Gotti organization being used for any other purposes, other than depositing in the bank accounts for the CIA?
A. Sure. We had to run the operations at Nella, for instance. The training facilities at Nella had to be paid for.
Q. Now, where is Nella?
A. Nella is about 10 miles out of Mena, north.
Q. North of the Mena Airport. We've not talk about that, Mr. Brenneke. Can you tell us what you know about Nella; what it is, and for what purposes it was established?
A. Sure. Nella was a training base for military and paramilitary folks from south of the border, Mexico, Panama.
Q. Who managed the base? Who operated the base?
A. Don't know the names of the operators.
Q. What agency operated the base?
A. Central Intelligence Agency, as far as I knew.
Q. Did you know anyone from the agency that was responsible for the operation?
A. I knew the names of some of the people over there. I didn't spend much time at Mena, so I'd have to answer that by saying, no, I really don't know. I do know one of the folks who was a flight instructor over there, and that was Terry Reed.
Q. Terry Reed.
A. And on another occasion, I did provide Mr. Reed with a deposition in a case in which he was acquitted.
Q. Mr. Brenneke, I have here in my hand a copy of a videotaped deposition which was presented as evidence in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas in the case United States of America. Plaintiff versus Terry Kent Reed. Defendant. And I will ask you if you can identify this document?
A. (Witness viewing document.) Yes, sir. That is the testimony that I gave under oath in Portland, Oregon.
Q. This is a transcript of your testimony; is that correct?
A. That's correct.
Q. This is not a deposition. I'm sorry. This is a transcript of your videotaped testimony?
A. That's correct. I was testifying.
Q. And you can identify that?
A. Yes, that is correct. I identify it as such and --
Q. Then I would like to offer that as an exhibit, number, I suppose this is 1, to your testimony.
(Deposition Exhibit 1 was marked.)
MR. ALEXANDER: Off the record a second.
(Off the record.)
Q. MR. ALEXANDER: Mr. Brenneke, I don't want to dwell on this too much at this point. But I think it's important just to summarize the connection between the Mena CIA operation and the Nella CIA operation. And can you just tell us briefly what distinctions there was, if any, and whether or not these operations were one in the same? And let's move onto something else after you have explained that.
A. The operations were one in the same. The equipment that was used at Mena would frequently transport people and equipment to the truck, for instance, you know, would drive up to Nella and leave people and equipment there.
Q. So, in other words, the CIA had an operation in Mena which included Nella?
Q. And was that operation given a code name, do you know?
A. Not that I'm familiar with right off hand. I don't recall one right off hand.
Q. The other thing we may need to do is to pick up on the question of the money laundering. Money was paid to you by the Gotti organization. You took it to Panama. It was deposited. From Panama it was wired to foreign accounts you said in Switzerland and Spain and other countries?
Q. Did you establish an account in the United States to get that money back into this country?
A. Yeah, I did. I established an account at Brown Brothers Harriman in New York City.
Q. Brown Brothers Harriman; is that a bank?
A. That's a bank in New York City.
Q. And when did you establish that account?
A. That one probably goes back to around 1980.
Q. I see.
A. It's an old account.
Q. How do you know that the money that you picked up and that you received in Mena from the Gotti organization, took to Panama, wired to bank accounts in Europe, came back to the United States?
A. I ordered the transfer of funds.
Q. And to whom did you report these actions?
A. I reported them to Don Gregg, Bob Kerritt, Bob Ellis, and from time to time other people that would be serving in --
Q. And you're saying that you have notes of these conversations in your records?
A. I not only have notes, I have letters that I wrote to some of these people.
MR. ALEXANDER: I see. I think that's all I have. Thank you very much, Mr. Brenneke. I would now defer to my associate who may wish to ask you some additional questions.
FURTHER EXAMINATION BY MR. FARRIS:
Q. Mr. Brenneke, I'm Chad Farris. We met this morning for the first time. And I just have a few questions based on the testimony you’ve given this morning. You testified that you had complained about the use of drugs in this endeavor you were involved in directly to Mr. Gregg, who was on, at that time, the Vice President's staff; is that right?
A. That's correct.
Q. Why, in your role -- given your role and participation in this endeavor, would you care about the use of drugs as part of this plan?
A. Because when my son was sixteen years old, he -- my wife and I were made aware of the fact that he was a drug user by his by virtue of his behavior. We put him through a number of treatment programs. Be disappeared, and for three and a half years we didn't know whether he was dead or alive. He is now twenty six years old. He's got the mental and emotional capacity of a thirteen year old, and he's still a drug user. That's my only child.
Q. So at the time that you learned that drugs were involved in this operation, then that would have already happened to your son; is that right?
A. That's right. That happened in -- on Halloween night in 1980.
Q. How long after you became aware of the use or involvement of drugs in the operation did you file the complaint or lodge the complaint with Mr. Gregg?
Q. And you testified that Mr. Gregg essentially told you just to do your job and carry on; is that right?
A. Carry on, that's right. Simply carry on and do my job. I wasn't hired to do anything else.
Q. If you were so concerned about the use of drugs in the operation because of for the reasons you’ve described, why did you continue to take part in the operation, if you did?
A. I took part in it long enough to disassociate myself from it. And I made certain that what I was carrying were not drugs on the aircraft that I was flying, with the exception of one flight which did contain drugs, which I was forced to take in this case at the point of a gun. There was -- to my recollection, there was one other flight that went into Texas that was again directed out of Langley. I had no choice but to fly the mission.
Q. That's the time period we're talking about, between your first conversation with Mr. Gregg and the time that you stopped participating in this operation?
A. I cleaned up my portion of it during late 1984, early 1985, and by mid 1985 I was essentially out of it. I went back and did some work on a hostage negotiation program, spent several months at that. By 1986, I was out of it totally.
Q. You testified about a trial involving Mr. Rupp, and I believe you stated that you testified in that trial. As a result of your testimony in that trial, did you have any encounters or problems that you can tell us about?
A. The testimony in that trial was used to indict me for perjury, and I was -- I'm sorry. The accusation was making false statements before a Federal Court. And the false statements were that -- I'll enumerate them as they were enumerated in the complaint. And it was a Grand Jury action, in which they said that I lied when I said George Bush was in Paris in 1980 to negotiate a delayed release of the hostages, that Don Gregg and Bill Casey were there for the same purposes. That I lied when I said I worked with CIA as a contractor. And I lied when I said Harry Rupp did the same. A subsequent trial in 1980, ended in April, after two weeks of trial I was found not guilty of any of those charges.
Q. Did Donald Gregg testify against you at the trial?
A. Yes. Don Gregg, currently our Ambassador to -- the American Ambassador to South Korea and residing in Seoul, came back to Portland, Organ to testify against me. And his testimony was directly related to where he was on the weekend of -- that the period of 18, 19 and 20, October, 1980, and he offered photographs in evidence stating that they showed he -- him to be on a beach at Bethany Beach, Delaware. We submitted those photographs to a qualified meteorologist who looked at them and the weather reports for that specific time period, and found that they could not -- the pictures couldn't have been taken at that time -- the weather was wrong.
Q. In connection with the charge that you described that was filed against you, were you ever offered a plea bargain or --
A. I sure was. They offered me an opportunity to say that I lied on all counts. And if I would do that, there would be a guilty plea but no prison time and no fine. And at that time I was facing five years in prison and a fine that could have gone to $250,000. I had not, too long before that, had to file bankruptcy because of harassment and problems that I had had in this case. I turned the offer down. The offer was actually made to my attorney, who -- Rich Muller, who turned it down on my behalf.
Q. Did you serve time in prison?
A. I've never been in prison nor have I been convicted of a crime. And with this exception, I haven't been charged with a crime.
MR. FARRIS: Let's go off the record just a second.
Q. (BY MR. FARRIS): Mr. Brenneke, what do you hope to achieve by testifying here today? What's the purpose of your testimony, to you personally?
A. To me?
A. It's an attempt to help clean the slate. What I did for nearly twenty years, I'm not real proud of. I started doing it for what I thought were all the right reasons, and realized in the end that I was doing the wrong things for all of the wrong reasons. And this is an attempt to help set the record straight, hopefully to encourage someone to investigate these kinds of activities so that what happened to my son doesn't happen to somebody else's.
MR. FARRIS: Okay. That's all I have.
MR. ALEXANDER: I have no further questions. Thank you, Mr. Brenneke.
MR. FARRIS: Thank you.
WHEREUPON, at 11:30 a.m., the taking of the above entitled deposition