Jump to content
The Education Forum

Ralph Serrano, Rolando Masferrer, and Haiti


Recommended Posts

I just got this interesting memo from the Dade County Criminal Intel Section. Never heard of this Serrano before.

Date: December 14, 1966

Subject: Mr. Eugene Maximilien- consul general for the Republic of Haiti

"On this date, Seargant Joseph Fernandez received information from Agent Wallace Shanley, US Customs Service, concerning an individual Mr. Maximilien claims is threatening him and whom he only knows as "Ralph."

Agent Shanley states that Ralph is known to him as Ralph Cerrano aka Serrano (and Geroge Rizo). According to Agent Shanley Cerrano was formerly associated with Santo Trafficante in Cuba and more recently has been involved with the Haitian problem.

Cerrano aligned himself with Rolando Masferrer in the aborted overthrow of the Haitian government. During this operation he made numerous contacts with Maximilien who, according to Agent Shanley, is an opportunist and may have thought it was in his best interest to work with Cerrano and Masferrer. However, when the invasion failed to materialize, Maximilien found himself in an inopportune position and is presently trying to recoup the former position he held in the Haitian government."

There's a little more about the complaint and how there's basically nothing there. Dade CIS terminates the investigation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting Scott.

The connection seems to be with 'Project Nassau,' or 'Operation Istanbul' and Mitch WerBell. Ralph appears to have had more than the one alias listed in that report. I wonder if any of the names associated with this operation could be the one(s) redacted in the attached.

Whoops - wrong file. Corrected.

http://cuban-exile.com/doc_076-100/doc0088.html

OPERATION ISTANBUL

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Project Nassau" was the designation given by Mitch Werbell and CBS News for the invasion of Haiti by Haitians, Cubans and American Soldiers of Fortune. Planning began in the Spring of 1966 when CBS became aware. The actual designation was OPERATION ISTANBUL. They decided to take the opportunity to film an actual Caribbean revolution. The producer and film crew were dispatched to Miami with Mitchell Werbell as an advisor. Freelance journalists also filtered in, like Andrew St. George and Tom Dunkin. Filming for the CBS production was from a rented boat called "The Poor Richard" by a man known as William Harvey. Rifles were rented by CBS and filming took place in a South Miami park. Most of the CBS production crew were informants for one Government agency or another so the entire invasion was stopped in early January 1967 with the arrest of 75 would-be invaders. Congress held hearings on the matter to determine if CBS was financing revolutions.

SERRANO, Ralph....66, 115, 170, 196

aka: Ralph Blair ...117, 264-5

aka: Ralph Almonte ...264-5

deported Sept 66 to Dom Rep ...117-9

has extortion tape of Maxmillian ...116, 118

very good friend of Masferrer ...117

on tape w/Maxmillian Oct 66 ...134

AGENCY : FBI

RECORD NUMBER : 124-90124-10061

RECORDS SERIES : HQ

AGENCY FILE NUMBER : CR 105-159111-8

DOCUMENT INFORMATION

ORIGINATOR : FBI

FROM : HQ

TO : USSS

TITLE : [No Title]

DATE : 05/11/1967

PAGES : 1

DOCUMENT TYPE : PAPER, TEXTUAL DOCUMENT

SUBJECTS : MITCHELL LIVINGSTON WERBELL III; RALPH LAURO SERRANO

CLASSIFICATION : SECRET

RESTRICTIONS : OPEN IN FULL

CURRENT STATUS : OPEN

DATE OF LAST REVIEW : 09/12/1998

COMMENTS : FD-376

post-675-1145500987_thumb.jpg

Edited by Lee Forman
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just got this interesting memo from the Dade County Criminal Intel Section. Never heard of this Serrano before.

Date: December 14, 1966

Subject: Mr. Eugene Maximilien- consul general for the Republic of Haiti

"On this date, Seargant Joseph Fernandez received information from Agent Wallace Shanley, US Customs Service, concerning an individual Mr. Maximilien claims is threatening him and whom he only knows as "Ralph."

Agent Shanley states that Ralph is known to him as Ralph Cerrano aka Serrano (and Geroge Rizo). According to Agent Shanley Cerrano was formerly associated with Santo Trafficante in Cuba and more recently has been involved with the Haitian problem.

Cerrano aligned himself with Rolando Masferrer in the aborted overthrow of the Haitian government. During this operation he made numerous contacts with Maximilien who, according to Agent Shanley, is an opportunist and may have thought it was in his best interest to work with Cerrano and Masferrer. However, when the invasion failed to materialize, Maximilien found himself in an inopportune position and is presently trying to recoup the former position he held in the Haitian government."

There's a little more about the complaint and how there's basically nothing there. Dade CIS terminates the investigation.

Perhaps this is the chap about whom you're inquiring:

496 F.2d 81

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

Ralph SERRANO, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 74-1135.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit.

June 27, 1974.

Paul P. Rao, Jr., New York City, for defendant-appellant.

Robert W. Rust, U.S. Atty., Miami, Fla., Mark S. Geraghty, Trial Atty., U.S. Dept. of Justice, Crim. Div., Narcotic & Dangerous Drug Section, Washington, D.C., for plaintiff-appellee.

Before GOLDBERG, GODBOLD and MORGAN, Circuit Judges.

LEWIS R. MORGAN, Circuit Judge:

Serrano was convicted at a jury trial of conspiring to import heroin, in violation of 21 U.S.C. 963. Serrano alleges in his appeal that four errors occurred at his trial: (1) that the circumstantial evidence of the conspiracy charged was insufficient for a conviction; (2) that the proof at trial materially varied from the charges in the indictment; (3) that the prosecutor made improper statements in his summation to the jury, which comments were plain error, and (4) that the government failed to disclose fully and timely an alleged agreement with an unindicted co-conspirator concerning that conspirator's testimony at trial, to the defendant's prejudice. After a careful review of the trial record and study of opposing briefs, this court finds that the first, second and fourth allegations of error on the part of the defendant-appellant are without merit. The prosecutor's summation, however, is found to have been improper and for that reason this case is reversed and remanded to the district court for a new trial.

The boundaries of propriety as to what can and cannot be included in a closing summation by a government prosecutor are very clearly drawn in this circuit. In United States v. Brown, 451 F.2d 1231 (1971), we considered this statement by a prosecutor:

'However, I would like to add that the attitude of Mr. Wilder on this assignment-- the fact that he had never been in the Jacksonville area before; he never knew Mr. Hayes or Mr. Brown before he arrived here; the chances that he took, in the sense of being an undercover agent-- he had no interest in this case, other than doing his job. And I personally feel he did a real good job. I feel that he was doing his duty to his country, and to the organization of which he was a member-- and he was doing it to the best of his ability, and it was successful, in my opinion.' Id. at 1235-1236.

Page 82

Considering the above statement, the court, in Brown, made a clear inunciation of the law to be applied. Judge Tuttle stated: . . . it is contended by the United States that this was harmless error and it should be overlooked. This court has passed too many times on this kind of comment by prosecutors to permit it to continue by allowing it to be brushed under the rug under the harmless error doctrine. See Gradsky v. United States, 5 Cir., 373 F.2d 706; Lawn v. United States, 355 U.S. 339, 78 S.Ct. 311, 2 L.Ed.2d 321; McMillian v. United States, 363 F.2d 165 (5th Cir. 1966); Dunn v. United States, 307 F.2d 883 (5th Cir. 1962) and Steele v. United States, 222 F.2d 628 (5th Cir. 1955).

There is absolutely no justification for the reference to the danger undertaken by Wilder for working as an undercover agent and, of course, as we have said in the cases cited above, it was improper for the government counsel to state that he personally felt the agent 'did a real good job,' or that he felt that 'he was doing his duty to his country,' and finally that work he was doing was 'successful, in my opinion.'

In the case now before the court, the prosecuting attorney stated to the jury:

You better believe he is only a man and he is one of the best undercover agents we have. He puts his life on the line for stuff and I wish we had more men like Jack Short. He is the kind of man we need to stamp out narcotic trafficking. He is a good undercover man. This is fortunate for us. He has been doing undercover work now for four years. If he were not successful we wouldn't have gotten Leal and Serrano and many others.

In Brown, supra, the government contended that the comment made by the prosecutor was harmless error and therefore should be overlooked. In the case now before the court, the government contends that the comment by the prosecutor was harmless error and therefore should be overlooked. As we disagreed in Brown, we must disagree now. The two statements are almost identical in the message they communicated to the jury.

We are compelled to conclude that this statement made by the prosecuting attorney deprived the defendant of a fair trial and therefore the conviction must be reversed and the case remanded for a new trial.

Reversed and remanded.

If not, George H. W. Bush had a business partner named Jorge Diaz Serrano, about whom you can read in the intro of Turner and Hinckle's "Deadly Secrets." Oddly, an attempt by journalist Jonathan Kwitny to locate corporate records for between 1960-66 of the company controlled by these two men came up empty. They had been "inadvertently destroyed" not long after Bush was sworn in as Vice President. I don't contend that this man, who was imprisoned for five years after being convicted of embezzling millions of dollars from the Mexican state-owned oil company, is necessarily the Ralph Serrano you seek, but since "your guy" used the name George [Jorge] as an alias, one cannot rule it out.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

At the risk of confusing the issue even more -

George Bush business partner Jorge Diaz Serrano is on the left below. Rolando Masferrer associate Ralph Serrano might be the guy on the right. One source I have says it is, another isn't 100% sure.

There you have it, clear as mud.

James

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...