Eight years after terrorist
ringleader Mohamed Atta practiced ‘touch & go’s’ off the runway at the Venice
Municipal Airport, the men he did business with there have not been called to
account for running a continuing criminal enterprise at the same time their two
flight schools, in Naples and Venice FL, were being used to teach a
still-unknown number of suspected terrorists to fly.
The continuing criminal
enterprise at the Venice Airport helmed by Rudi Dekkers and Wallace J. Hilliard
has been an open secret, according to numerous Southwest Florida aviation
Should they ever be
exposed to full public view, they would utterly discredit the official story
being told about why the terrorist pilots were in Venice Florida, and what they
were doing while they were there.
Few, however, think either
man will ever be called to account.
“This (9/11) will never be
solved,” stated Fort Lauderdale aviation executive and former fighter pilot
Winsor Brown. “The government doesn't want to do it.”
“Here we are—JFK was shot
in 1963—and everybody's still looking about who did what to whom. Lets see...
’63… ’73… ’83…’93… 2003. So we're talking, gee, 45 years? And we don’t know
Which brings up an impolite question:
Does being based at the
Venice Airport offer immunity from prosecution?
Stephen L. Ruth, Venice's very own Secret Agent
place to look for answers would be the amazing progression of Stephen Ruth, the
second person at the Venice Airport—General Byrd being the first— whose name is
entwined in the story of the JFK assassination and its aftermath.
As we saw last week, in
1959 a defense contractor called Chance Vought, which several years later grew
into the giant aerospace company LTV controlled by General D. H. (Harry) Byrd,
began building, launching and testing Regulus II cruise missiles at the Venice
Byrd, of course, is a
familiar name in the story of the Kennedy Assassination. He owned the Texas
School Book Depository in Dallas, from which Lee Harvey Oswald allegedly fired
the shots which killed President John F. Kennedy.
While looking for evidence
of Byrd’s involvement at the Venice Airport we unearthed, in the archives of the
Mary Ferrell Foundation, in an FBI folder
marked JFK VOLUME XV from the House Select Committee on Assassinations, an
intriguing police report.
Stephen Ruth, a suspected
CIA Agent, had flown to Cuba in 1969 on a mission to assassinate one of “four or
five” of the men then still alive who had been part of the Kennedy assassination
The police report, from
Sheriff Geoff Monge of Sarasota County, dated Dec 6 1978, was addressed to the
FBI's Tampa office. The subject:
President John F. Kennedy."
the report, Monge states he has recently learned that "Stephen Ruth,
arrested several years earlier on a burglary charge, had been the passenger on
an airplane that crashed in Cuban territory in...early 1970."
The day after Ruth was
arrested, according to the memo, "Ruth contacted Corporal Lynn Taylor of the
Sarasota Sheriff's office Venice Office. At that time Ruth was suspected of
trafficking in narcotics... had spent some time in jail in Cuba... and on his
release returned to Venice Florida."
Ruth told Corporal Taylor
that his true mission in Cuba had been to “do away with an individual who was
incarcerated in a Cuban prison, one of five persons involved in the
assassination of President John F. Kennedy.”
"Corporal Taylor asked Ruth
if he had done what he was sent there to do.
Ruth replied that the job
had been done. "According to Ruth, within five years he would have some nice
cars and as much money as he needed."
Corporal Taylor advised
that he had the feeling Ruth was inferring he had been sent there by the Central
Intelligence Agency (CIA.)"
We reported last week that
there may be valid reasons to suspect Stephen Ruth was telling the truth.
Three million reasons, really
Ten years after the
intriguing police report, we found this:
set for man in jail on drug charge” reported a Feb 3, 1988 headline in
the St. Petersburg Times.
“An Englewood man was
being held in the Sarasota County Jail on $10-million bail Tuesday night on
a drug-related charge, the Sarasota County Sheriff's Department said.
Stephen L. Ruth, 38,
was charged on Polk County warrants for keeping or using an aircraft for
selling drugs and failure to produce a pilot's license.
The charges resulted
from an investigation that U.S. Customs and the Polk County Sheriff's
Department launched when Ruth was arrested after landing an airplane at the
Lakeland Airport, the department said.
It looked like Stephen
Ruth’s “CIA” luck had run out.
A bit of a sticky wicket
September, Ruth was sentenced to 60 years for altering an airplane's
identification number during a drug-smuggling operation.
Ruth had apparently been
caught flying 400 pounds of marijuana from Belize to Florida. He certainly
big enough plane (see pic of Ruth’s DC4 Globe master).
That this was not Ruth’s
first conviction for drug smuggling made it even more of a sticky wicket.
appeared to be taking it all highly personally:
A little less than two
years later, Mar 31, 1990, there is this St. Petersburg Times headline about
Stephen Ruth: “Inmate accused of trying to hire killer”
“An inmate already
serving 60 years in a drug case was charged Friday with hiring an undercover
agent to kill his former attorney and the law officer responsible for his
arrest, the Polk County Sheriff's Department said.
“Steven L. Ruth
offered the agent $80,000 to kill Tampa lawyer Dominic Baccarella and Frank
Mercurio, a special agent with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement
(FDLE) in Tampa, a sheriff's spokeswoman said.”
“He also agreed to pay
the agent another $ 300,000 to design and execute a plan to break Ruth out
of the Polk County Jail.”
When we realized that the
lawyer Ruth was trying to have hit, Dominic Baccarella, had been Ruth’s own
attorney, we got a little chill.
Desperado with a mean streak
Stephen Ruth from Venice Florida
was some kind of desperado. Still, all he got for his troubles was another
felony conviction in 1990 for threatening to kill 10th Judicial Circuit Court
Judge J. Dale Durrance, FDLE Special Agent Frank Mercurio…and their
Stephen Ruth apparently
had money to burn, as well as something approaching a bad attitude. As well, he
had connections to Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar.
FDLE investigators wrote
to the Florida Attorney General, Bob Butterworth, that they feared Ruth would
continue to try and use "the many assets he had acquired in his narcotics
ventures to finance an escape or cause harm to other witnesses."
That’s when high weirdness
set in. This being a Florida story, you knew it was coming.
An August 3, 1998 story in
the Tampa Tribune had this headline:
“Prosecutor fired after complaints”
“Days after a drug
dealer's attorneys complained to state officials, an assistant attorney
general was fired,” the story reported.
“In April 1997, Jeanne
Clougher filed a legal motion in Sarasota County Circuit Court that she
hoped would help neutralize a drug smuggler who had threatened to kill
public officials from his prison cell.”
“Under the state's
racketeering law, Clougher, an assistant attorney general in Tampa, was
attempting to seize valuable real estate worth an estimated $3 million that
the state said Stephen Ruth had purchased with drug profits, which the
Florida Department of Law Enforcement contended Ruth planned to use to
finance contract murders on public officials.
Unforeseen consequences, unintended results
An FDLE investigative report
obtained by The Tampa Tribune says that Clougher was among those Ruth wanted
killed. The FDLE took the threat so seriously Clougher was taught by the agency
to use a gun.
“That's when the case took
an unexpected turn,” the Tampa Trib reported.
And how. Ruth's lawyers
called Clougher's superiors in Tallahassee and less than 48 hours later she was
fired, the paper reported. Her superiors did not explain why.
Amazingly, Clougher was no
rookie, but an eight-year veteran of the attorney general's office.
Still, a spokesman for
Attorney General Bob Butterworth said "nobody" would have any comment now on
Clougher's firing. But it probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway. The
spokesman’s name, reported the Tampa Tribune, presumably with the straight-face
the story’s seriousness demanded, was “Joe Bizzaro.”
Jeanne Clougher was not
only out of a job, she was scared. "I didn't have any protection anymore from
Ruth," she told the Tribune.
hid in my house for the next two weeks with the alarm system on and the gun next
to me every place I was. I expected a hit."
Ten years later, not much
had changed. When we contacted her for comment on this story, she declined.
Except this... Instead of being locked away
in cold storage for 60 years, for just the drug smuggling, plus,
presumably, whatever penalty was deemed appropriate for trying to have officers
of the court murdered in batches...Something happened....
The report ends on
what can only be considered a chilling note, at least for anyone who believes in
that old "equal justice under law" chestnut...
“Ruth remains in
Florida State Prison, where he is serving
a 30-year term.”
As you approach the speed of light, time
speeds up... Apparently the same calculus applies to elite deviants smuggling
drugs under color of law....
(Phone calls to Mr. Ruth's last known residence have not
been returned. Even his Mom claims not to know where he is. We have the feeling
though, that after reading about himself here tomorrow, he might just decide to
return our calls for comment.)