Home American History The Men Who Did Not Kill Kennedy: Part I (The Criminal Element)

The Men Who Did Not Kill Kennedy: Part I (The Criminal Element)

The Men Who Did Not Kill Kennedy: Part I (The Criminal Element)

The shadowy mystique cloaking the assassination of President John F. Kennedy has in some respects grown deeper over the decades. The public has been left seeking historical clarity after more than half a dozen Congressional and Executive branch investigations. What remains are cleaved government findings that have denied and supported the existence of a plot to murder America’s past head of state. Authors, experts, and former officials have further over time weighed in to support or deny the existence of a deadly plot but definitive evidence to support popular claims remains scant or just does not exist. Often endorsements, attributions of guilt lacking documentary proof, and recycled past claims with new twists are the standard fare given to the public for consumption. Yet the proof largely dispelling the array of stories created by official and public figures is too often left unspoken.

Ideas of a criminal element related to the American Mafia and other foreign gangsters being directly responsible for the death of President Kennedy are quite popular in modern times. However, several reside upon myths which utilize an infamous criminal that was not involved based upon legal documents or might rely upon the theory of an unreliable or deceased source. Dispelling the claims which utilize these sometimes popular but untenable figures narrows the sweeping ranks of people so many prematurely have decided are responsible. A reduced list with continued expansion can allow for more reliable suspects and possibly lead to one who is viable. Thus, offered for your inspection are two noted suspects which evidence supports had nothing to do with the events of that fateful day.

Johnny Roselli

Amongst the most infamous gangsters claimed to be present in Dealey Plaza either firing shots or facilitating some aspect of a criminal conspiracy is fixer Johnny Roselli. He was born Fillipo Sacco near the beginning of the last century but adopted the name John Roselli during the 1920’s and made a longstanding connection with Al Capone’s gang in Chicago. Reportedly later that decade the gangster financially enriched himself running a Los Angeles bootlegging operation and by operating prostitution rings.[i] [ii] Johnny was increasing his gambling holdings, extorting money from a wire service, and amid the late 50s had sent mafia allies to murder at least two people. Notably, the mafioso is not killing his opponents himself but using others to do so for his benefit. Roselli spent years expanding his Los Angeles rackets and during the 60s additionally gained significant financial kickbacks from some Las Vegas gambling operations.

Official documents note that amidst the fall of 1960 Roselli was contacted by Central Intelligence Agency employee Robert Maheu to discuss the potential use of criminals for one of its several plots to assassinate Fidel Castro.[iii] Subsequent meetings in time included Chicago mob boss Sam Giancana and would provide him means to blackmail officials by quashing other unconnected criminal charges. Tampa boss Santo Trafficante was also present for a meeting playing the role of courier and one further syndicate member was later involved. While this would present Roselli’s official importance in making contacts with criminal syndicate leaders, it features him only in the role of bad faith facilitator. He is not a trained assassin and when he did have the opportunity to undertake a murderous conspiracy, he used this chance instead to extort officials. Some claim despite the facts this notorious figure was involved with that precise sort of plot.

All stories that rely upon Roselli’s presence during President Kennedy’s assassination do not account for the official records that disprove such assertions. Unknown to many is the Federal Bureau of Investigation was surveilling him for years prior and following the events of Dealey Plaza.[iv] Officials monitored Johnny’s apartment and telephone in Los Angles while tracking him during November of 1963 across the United States. He went to Arizona, California, and ended in Las Vegas where Bureau informants reported him residing at the Desert Inn Hotel.[v] [vi] [vii] [viii] Documents support Roselli at this location outside Texas in the days before and following the Kennedy assassination preclude his ability to participate in the crime.[ix] Official surveillance notes he even accepted a phone call from Judith Exner in his Nevada hotel room on November 22, 1963. Johnny Roselli was a violent criminal, who met a violent end amid 1976, but the facts support he did not kill America’s president. 

Charles Nicolleti

Another popular asserted suspect in the Kennedy case is hit man Chuckie “The Butcher aka Typewriter” Nicoletti. This mafioso at least was noted for possessing the skills and record of eliminating multiple rivals and other targets. Charles possessed the means to undertake a lethal crime and the Kennedy Justice Department by increasing organized crime prosecutions hypothetically give such a person a plausible motive. Yet a final essential part of Nicoletti’s asserted participation is lacking, the opportunity to committee the act. He likely did not possess this because he was many states away in the period before the assassination and Nicoletti, similar to Johnny Roselli, was also under extensive official surveillance.

Charles was born within the Illinois city of Chicago amidst the winter of 1916 and raised by Fillipo and Grazia Nicoletti. He resided in that area for most of his life and during the 1930s attained a minor enforcer position within local mafia circles. After Nicoletti’s established a reputation being a hit man he practiced these skills aiding Felix “Milwaukee Phil” Alderisio, the subordinate of Chicago mafia leader Sam Giancana. Johnny Roselli contacted the hit man seeking logistical ideas during the 1960s for a CIA’s assassination plot and one document would subsequently call Nicoletti the syndicate’s “chief executioner”.

Sam Giancana

He was given control of gambling operations in the town of Cicero and during 1962 was not regularly performing murders but “planning” hits “in the Chicago area ordered by Sam Giancana”. Nicoletti would “plan each contract and arrange for the personnel to carry out same”. He reportedly followed the hit squad in a different vehicle “to see that the operation was carried out properly” and “no problems arose which would jeopardize” the “Outfit”.[x] Alderisio and Nicoletti would be arrested that year inside a “hit car” specifically designed with hidden compartments to conceal weapons and switches for turning off its outer lighting. 

Nicoletti was observed by an FBI source during the middle of November 1963 at the Chicago home of loan shark Sam “Mad Sam” DeStefano playing cards, this gathering occurred shortly before the murder of a suspected federal informant. The next day an FBI source was told by DeStefano that “his ‘fat friend’ Leo Foreman was dead” and bail bondsman’s wife reported him missing the same day to local police. Due to past altercations with DeStefano and Nicoletti evidence notes both were suspected of killing the presumed turncoat.[xi] Leo’s body was discovered by police in a the trunk of a car November 19, 1963 and this incited greater official investigation of both DeStefano and Nicoletti.[xii] Further inquiry revealed that Foreman was not reporting to officials and police discovered a notebook in his possessions naming the slain man’s criminal and official contacts.

Sam Stephano

The FBI notes the following day Sam DeStefano attempted to stem the accusations of Foreman’s murder and “submitted to numerous television and newspaper interviews”, which likely brought even greater attention to all involved.[xiii] Nicoletti feasibly attempted to stay out of the media spotlight and federal officials state in this period their “knowledge” of DeStefano and his “associates” was provided to local authorities. Nicoletti, a current police murder suspect, cannot just sneak away unnoticed while also scrutinized by FBI phone and informant surveillance and while a close associate drawing media attention. The hit man likely attempted to quietly distance himself from the Foreman murder and not rush across the country to commit a slaying that would generate even more press. Two days later President Kennedy was assassinated and only claims lacking evidence place Charles Nicoletti anywhere near Texas in that period.

In the course of 1967 Giancana had been replaced by Sam Battaglia and Nicoletti was selected to arbitrate internal syndicate problems for his new boss. Six years later Tony Accardo, Joseph Auippa, and Gus Alex were leading Chicago’s syndicate and Nicoletti had became a prominent figure responsible for controlling a group of hit men called “The Blazers”.[xiv] Nicoletti’s faction within the Chicago mafia pushed for the entire syndicate to deal narcotics, as he was the prior decade, but failed to sway his superiors.[xv] As 1973 passed he was now semi-retired but still maintaining extensive rackets and in that period Sam and Mario DeStefano were among those facing trial for the death of Leo Foreman. Following his court room antics Sam DeStefano was killed and his brother Mario would be convicted of murder. Charles Nicoletti during 1977 was killed outside an Illinois restaurant by an unknown assailant and his body was left in a car similar to his prior associates victim.


C.A.A. Savastano

[i] House Select Committee on Assassinations, Federal Bureau of Investigation Subject File, Q-R, Subject: John Roselli aka AR, June 8, 1965, pp. 1-4, The Mary Ferrell Foundation, maryferrell.org, National Archives and Records Administration  Identification Number: 124-10288-10198

[ii] Ibid, December 12, 1957, Subject: John Roselli, Criminal Activities: Gambling – Horse Racing, pp. 11-13, MFF, NARA ID: 124-10200-10419

[iii] HSCA, Segregated Central Intelligence Agency Files, Roselli, Johnny; Summary of Activities in Cuba, pp.1-4, NARA ID: 1993.06.28.18:21:05:560310

[iv] HSCA, FBI Subject File, No Title, John Roselli, Anti-Racketeering,  pp.1-3, NARA ID: 124-10278-10062

[v] Ibid, November 23, 1963, No Title, John Roselli, pp. 1-2, NARA ID: 124-10222-10401

[vi] Ibid, November 19, 1963, No Title, John Roselli, pp. 1-3, NARA ID: 124-10222-10404

[vii]Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, Church Committee Boxed File, April 23, 1976, Testimony of John Roselli, p. 5, NARA ID: 157-10014-10000

[viii] HSCA, FBI Subject File, John Roselli, Elsur, pp. 10, 12, 14, 17, 18, 20, 28, NARA ID: 124-10353-10149

[ix] Federal Bureau of Investigation, December 02, 1963, [No Title], JRO, pp. 1-2, NARA ID: 124-10222-10405

[x] FBI, July 18, 1962, No Title, NARA ID: 124-10308-10119

[xi] FBI, November 21, 1963, THP, ACT, Foreman, Leo, Murdered, Info, pp. 1-2, NARA ID: 124-10200-10106

[xii] HSCA, FBI Subject File, C-D, Richard Cain, Murder of Leo Foreman, p. 69, NARA ID: 124-90095-10036

[xiii]Ibid, November 22, 1963, THP, ACT, ASSOC, BKG, Numerous Individuals, pp. 7, 12, NARA ID: 124-10200-10102

[xiv] Ibid, A-B, Gus Alex, April 20, 1973, No Title, pp. 14, 15, NARA ID: 124-10196-10353

[xv] Ibid, May 24, 1973, Anti-Racketeering, pp. 1,2, NARA ID: 124-10197-10261