Scandal 26: Abscam


In the year leading up to the twenty twenty election we're counting down the biggest scandals in American political history. This is number twenty six abscam and if the I sting that ended in the arrests of seven us. Legislators December nineteen seventy-nine South Carolina Congressman John Jenrette and his friend. John stow sat in a townhouse in Washington. Dc considering a bribe across the table from them was anthony. Amoroso aid to shake Yasser Habib. The shake has some minor immigration problems. The kind of difficulties jenrette could easily clear up by introducing tailor-made legislation in exchange. For the congressman's help the shake offered fifty thousand dollars in cash. Jenrette hemmed and hawed for a while before finally admitting he was in trouble in his home state for Tampering. With a grand jury. If that investigation moved forward Jenrette confessed his name on legislation would be worth toilet paper a morose. Oh asked whether Jenrette would make the deal. Provided the South Carolina investigation against him was dropped suddenly. The legislature became enthusiastic. I got larceny in my blood. He chored old. I'd take it in a God damn minute across the table. The SHAKES AIDS. Sat back in his chair stunned. He's gotten exactly what he needed to take down a sitting Congressman Yassir. Habib didn't exist on Morose. So was an undercover. Fbi agent and he'd taped the whole meeting now. Congressman Jenrette was headed for jail. Welcome to political scandals. Apar- cast original. I'm Richard and I'm kate you can find. All EPISODES OF POLITICAL SCANDALS. And all other podcasts originals. For Free On spotify. Or Wherever. You listen to podcasts to stream political scandals for free spotify just open the APP and type political scandals in the search bar at park cast. We're grateful for you our listeners. You allow us to do what we love. Let us know how we're doing reach out on facebook and Instagram at par cast and twitter at podcast network the FBI's Abscam case showed the American public. Exactly how low many elected officials were willing to go money? It put crooked legislators behind bars. Many Americans applauded the bureau for exposing the Conman in Congress but some say abscam was the FBI's retaliation against Congress for investigating federal agents abuse of power defense attorneys accused. The bureau of entrapment legal speak for tricking someone into committing a crime in order to prosecute them and finally the FBI's use of fictitious shakes was criticized for playing up harmful. Stereotypes of Middle Eastern. People will leave it up to you to decide whether the ABSCAM investigation should be celebrated for cleaning out corruption. In Congress or scorned for helping to usher in an era of domestic surveillance and Islamophobia while the F. B. I. May have been calling the shots. Melvin Weinberg was Ab- scams leading man born on December fourth nineteen twenty four. He started scamming in elementary school stealing gold stars from his first Grade Teacher's desk. His father's small glass installation business just covered the Weinberg families. Tiny Bronx apartment. Meanwhile a few blocks away. Some of Mel's friends lived in suburban homes with big grassy. Long's this inequity made him furious. Young Melvyn decided that if life wasn't fair then he wouldn't be either. He was going to become wealthy by Hook or by. Crook yet on December seventh. Nineteen forty one. The attack of Pearl Harbor interrupted. Melvin plan to get rich like so many other young American men. He volunteered for world war. Two he was only seventeen but the naval construction force or CB's accepted him. While serving his country. Mel found time to help himself to. He recalled quote. I learned that just as long as you march into some supply house with a bunch of guys and look like you know what you're doing you can march out with your arms full and nobody's going to ask you a question. The Melvin Weinberg signature was born. Act like you belong there. Sell your story with confidence and you'll get away with just about anything after leaving the military in nineteen forty six at the age of twenty one. Melvin went to work. As an enforcer for the glazers union his job was to break the windows of businesses who hired non union glass installers every night. Mel broke a few windows the next day. He showed up on behalf of his glass company offering to replace them. Mel's scam raked in the cash. So much of it. In fact that he had to find new places to put his money he started buying dry cleaning. Businesses and hamburger shops by the early nineteen seventies. Mel had all the hallmarks of a mid level crook. The gambling habit long nights drinking the friends who borrowed his dry cleaning trucks to pull hijackings still. It wasn't enough. Mel wanted to be rich. Not just comfortable and connected looking for ways to earn more money. He found out about front end loan scams. They were the hot new thing in financial crimes at the time. Here's the basic rundown they pray on anyone in need of alone who often can't qualify through a traditional bank that's the mark in comes the scammer who pretends to represent a foreign bank with money to lend the complicated application process makes the mark trust the scammer who then offers to process their loan application for a fee of course of a couple grand. The funny thing about this scam is sometimes. It worked in favor of the marks. Their initial loan application to the foreign bank would be rejected of course because the bank was fake and had no money but after breaking this bad news melwood reassure the mark that for a little more money they could get certificates of deposit from the Offshore Bank verifying that they had deposited a large sum. The mark could then use that as collateral to get an actual loan from a local bank. The mark got their loan. Mel got his cash and prosecuting. This kind of crime was a low priority. Marks who reported front end scams to the feds were told to try suing in civil court. Should that ever happen well? Mel had great lawyers on Call Front End Scams became. Mel's life's work. He even involved his girlfriend. Evelyn of British expatriate eighteen years. His junior he would call her lady. Evelyn and pretend she was one of Britain's if an ugly little bald guy had a gorgeous British heiress on his arm potential Marx would think he had to be very rich. Didn't tell her she was part of a fraud. Evelyn just thought he liked to see her play. The Role Mel managed to rake in enough money to take his company. London investors international by the Mid Seventies. He was offering loans to businessmen and crime bosses all over the world but while Mel was expanding his wallet the FBI was expanding. Its ability to prosecute these scams after Watergate. The G. Men began to focus on white collar. Crime and in February of Nineteen seventy seven. Mel was indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh for Wire Fraud Mail fraud and conspiracy the FBI could have just thrown the king of Front End Scams in jail but one supervising agent. John Good had a better idea. Mel was maybe the most gifted con artist the FBI had ever come across. Why put a perfectly good? Fbi informant behind bars. That didn't mean he trusted him. John Good Studied Mel Weinberg like a textbook and he spotted one big weakness the so called lady. Evelyn the FBI got a warrant for her arrest and dangled it in front of Melle. Mel was forced to tell Evelyn about his real occupation and that she too was now implicated as she sobbed. Mel promised her that he'd make things right he did so by calling the FBI and telling them he'd plead guilty if only they'd let lady Evelyn Go. Of course that was exactly what they wanted. The FBI has big plans and a long leash for Mel Weinberg High Listeners. If you still haven't heard my new park has series daily quote. I'm excited to share today's episode with you. It's a quote novelist playwright and activist James Baldwin. If you enjoy this episode make sure to follow daily quote free on spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Good morning and welcome to daily quote a podcast original. I'm Kate Leonard. Today's quote from author James Baldwin. He said the price one pays for pursuing any profession or calling is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side. Next will explore how this quote can inspire your day now. Let's explore this quote from James Baldwin. If anyone was familiar with the ugly side of life it was James Baldwin who felt so alienated as a Gay Black Man in Nineteen Forties America. That he moved to France at the age of twenty four but Baldwin didn't give up or quit as a result of the ugliness. He confronted it head on not only in his writing but as an icon an intellectual pillar of the civil rights movement he became one of the most revered and successful authors of his day it takes courage dedication and strength to achieve anything difficult especially in the face of adversity any and every worthwhile pursuit will have an ugly side to the struggle. Cutthroat peers unbreakable glass ceilings systemic favouritism the ugliness of course is relative for each person and endeavor what's essential is to acknowledge not only the ugliness but also how much we can realistically control or change where we stake a claim. And where do we accept the price of admission? No matter how much it costs US emotionally once you accept the ugliness. It can become the motivation and inspiration. One needs to succeed to continue down the path so that more can follow in your footsteps. Furthermore it is the ugly side that allows us to experience the joy and satisfaction of not only pursuing a goal but ultimately achieving it. Daily is a daily podcast. Follow on spotify to make it part of your morning routine and let it inform the rest of your day. Daily quote is a podcast original. If you're listening on spotify you can share this quote with your friends on social by tapping the three dots in the top right corner of the episode. Page scrolling down to share and selecting your sharing option of choice. Remember you can find new paths to positively three hundred sixty five days a year. Follow daily quote free on spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. And now back to the story in one thousand nine hundred seventy seven fifty two year old. International con-artist Mel Weinberg made a deal with the FBI. If they let his thirty four year old girlfriend. Evelyn Knight Walk Free. He take a plea deal even if it meant going to jail the FBI or more specifically forty-one-year-old supervising agent. John Good had no intention of letting mel time a clean cut blue eyed bronx native just like mel good was the son of a federal agent. He never even considered another career now with sixteen years of experience under his belt. He was looking to make his name. In nineteen seventies world of high stakes. Financial Crimes was the place to do it. Agent good believed Mel could be highly valuable as an F. B. I. Middleman luring his fellow con artists into various traps with this in mind. Each in good sent two of his men Myron Fuller and Jack McCarthy to negotiate with Mel they told the con man that he and Evelyn could both stay out of prison on the stipulation. That mel deliver other white collar criminals to the FBI. Nell had no choice but to agree but at first he was far from eager to help the way. Mel Soy it agency fuller and McCarthy were bland cops who lacked the creativity of their boss. Agen good they'd be of little help as he tried to snare his fellow scammers. So Mel said about concocting his own traps. Such was the invention of an unseen wealthy Arab businessman that Mel would pretend to represent this was nineteen seventy seven and OPEC the Organization of Petroleum. Exporting Countries was a hot topic in the United States just four years before the nineteen seventy three oil crisis had sent gas prices in the US through the roof anti Arab sentiment in the US spiked and the archetype of the oil-rich shake became a pop. Culture Bogeyman Mel knew how crooks mines worked being one himself. They were always looking for a bigger mark. His imaginary Arab would be a big fish but still a believable won. His targets would bend over backwards for it and then when they slipped up. Melwood hand them to the FBI MEL even provided his own recording apparatus to tape his phone calls with targets lest the FBI accuse him of lying about his conversations. Pretty Soon Mel and his imaginary shake got their first fish. Joe Tokyo a heavy for a front end. Scammer named Fred Pro Mel called Troch Gio about his Arab friend who was looking to make an investment in a criminal enterprise. Troch Yo and fred pro were quick to bite offering to provide mel with samples of counterfeit money. They were printing if his friend liked it. He too could invest in the counterfeiting ring. It only took mel three months to wrap the pro tro by then he'd gathered enough evidence for the FBI to raid pros offices arrest them and put both in prison for years supervising agent. John Good was impressed. Sure Fuller and McCarthy remained Mel's handlers but the supervising agents started sending him leads directly by the end of nineteen seventy seven Mel. Got A little promotion if you will. He was tasked with investigating high-dollar crimes. Like art. Heists another agent. Tom McShane asked for males help. In entrapping a thief peddling stolen paintings worth a million bucks catching the thief was no problem for Mel. He even bargained the price of the paintings. Down to seven hundred. Fifty thousand dollars before arranging deal. The company that had ensured the stolen paintings further surprised Mel with a ten thousand dollar reward worth about forty two thousand dollars today by the next year. Supervising agent good suggested they level up. Mel's operation now. Not only would he be posing as an associate of a fictitious wealthy Arab. They'd use the full might of the FBI to back up his story he could lure in bigger crooks with a more legitimate seeming background story. Mel invented a new shake of fictional millionaire named come beer Abdul Remond and registered a Shell Corporation to match Abdul Enterprises Ltd the FBI got a high ranking bank official involved. Who would vouch for romance wealth and as the icing on the cake the bureau created a real bank account for the shake and deposited? Cool MILLION BUCKS. This new operation was christened. Abscam that was short for our Ab- scam at first when it was brought up immediately that this was offensive. They decided it meant Abdul Scam. This wasn't exactly inoffensive offensive. Either but at least it was the actual name of their front company. Abscam first victim was another art thief. This one proved so dimwitted that when the undercover agent playing shake come beer Abdul Rahman didn't say one word and aerobic during the entire meeting. He didn't even question it the FBI decided Mel was so valuable. He deserved more than just his freedom. As compensation in July of one thousand nine hundred seventy eight mel was placed on the FBI's formal payroll. He only earned twelve thousand dollars a year or less than fifty thousand in today's dollars but they also provided him with office space for a dual limited as well as the use of a private plane and especially equipped van. This welcome news went a long way towards helping mel take pride in his undercover work. It wasn't quite the lifestyle he wants enjoyed but he was having a good time. Anyway Mel moved onto tackling securities huckster. There's many of them running versions of his old scam about fraudulent certificates of deposit. Whenever one of his targets got suspicious Malpensa doubt that soothing voice he used to use on the shopkeepers with broken windows he could make just about anyone believe he had their best interests in mind to keep Mel's cover from being blown. The FBI was careful when arresting his targets. If Mel had to be present they'd rough him up. Like any other scammer. Meanwhile he'd angrily accused the target of having brought a rat to the negotiating table. They'd also pretend to arrest any undercover agents playing the shakes employees if it was done right the arrest e believed that one of his own associates wasn't informant not mel. This formula made perfect sense to all involved. Send the X. Scammer bombers Rinse Repeat to Mel. It was the super bowl of scam. An opportunity to go up against the best in his old business and beat them neither Mel nor the FBI intended for Abscam to target corrupt politicians for his part mel had almost no interest in politics at all. The government was just a bunch of fellow crooks who found illegal scam then in October of Nineteen. Seventy eight KM SMALL-TIME FRAUDSTER. Bill Rosenberg Mel thought at first that Rosenberg wanted to sell the shake. Fraudulent certificates of deposit. But when Rosenberg arrived at Mel's rented office on Long Island he presented the Abdul Limited staff with a series of business proposals. He wasn't trying to sell securities. He was looking for an investor for various shady projects according to him one local politician. The mayor of Camden New Jersey could be bribed in exchange. Camden could provide equipment business licenses and city permits. Abscam had been created to prosecute financial crimes but the FBI wasn't going to ignore a mayor on the take. Not when he was being served up to them like a Christmas Ham with little pivoting could pursue bribery and corruption charges due to a quirk of the city's Gambling Licensing Atlantic city casino builders couldn't finance their projects through US banks so Rosenberg proposed that Abdul provide loans for the construction and wants the casinos were built. They bribed the mayor to ensure they were approved for gambling licenses. On December First Mayor Angelo Keti arrived Abdul. Ltd's Long Island headquarters. He agreed to guarantee the gambling licenses in exchange for four hundred thousand dollars. He told MEL quote. I'll give you Atlantic city without me. You do nothing. The FBI could have put era Keti in handcuffs on the spot but completely of his own accord. The mayor went on to offer to introduce the shake to other corrupt politicians. No reason to arrest just one mayor when you could use him to get every bribe-taker on the eastern seaboard. Finally Mel had found a target truly worthy of his talents as a con man. He continued to build his relationship with mayor. Eric Keti through a series of phone calls and meetings and soon the two were bosom buddies. The mayor even cut bill Rosenberg out of their relationship. Preferring to deal directly with Mel the tables had turned in less than two years at the beginning of Abscam. The bureau had the power to hold prison. Time over. Mel's head now. He had even more leverage than they did without Melanie Operation. They LOSE FAR MORE IMPORTANT ARRESTS. So Mel took a stand in the form. Of demanding new handlers. He was tired of dealing with Asian McCarthy if he wasn't replaced MEL was out agent. Good knew he couldn't replace McCarthy but admitted that he wasn't the best fit for the job so he called up agent. Anthony Marocco born in the bronx like now agent. So was a soothing. Cool-headed type who came bearing good news supervising agent. Good was also giving mellow raise to three thousand dollars per month or about twelve thousand dollars today. Thus a winning team was born. There first task was to nail the mayor. They needed to get him on tape. Taking bribe on January Twenty Ninth Nineteen seventy-nine. They got the shot. A video camera was concealed in a filing cabinet in Abdul Limited headquarters mayor. Eric Keti it on time after suggesting that the shake hire one of his friends. He slipped the two envelopes of cash into his suit. Jacket and departed. It was the first time in American. History unelected official was videotaped taking a bribe. The mayor of Camden was the first politician caught by upscale now he was about to unwittingly helped the FBI snare the second mayor era. Keti had no idea he'd been caught on tape or that. Abdul Limited wasn't an actual criminal organization after all Mel gave him a bribe. A federal sting operation would never have given him real cash or so he thought so eric. Keti was still more than willing to vouch for the imaginary shake to his fellow. Crooked Politicians Mel decided to give our Keti a little push he convinced supervising agent good and the FBI brass to let him throw a party in the mayor's honor using an abandoned Miami Yacht recently seized by the FBI. Surely Eric Hetty couldn't resist inviting his politician cronies to a party celebrating him. Agent goods signed off on the plan and it was decided that an Arabic speaking F. B. I. Agent named Richard Far Heart should portray Emir Yassir Habib at the Party on March Twenty Fourth Nineteen seventy-nine Mel was ready to welcome guests on board. It was a dangerous gambit but if it worked the corrupt mayor would be thrilled with the personal attention from what he believed to be a wealthy oil magnate. The gamble paid off Senator Harrison Arlington Williams. Junior of New Jersey showed up to honor. The mayor of Camden agent. Far Heart turned in a prize winning performance in disguise as a mere. Habib even presenting mayor. Eric Keti with the Ceremonial Saber. Supposedly from his country. It was actually from the flea market. The mayor was moved by the gesture. Soon after the successful party he offered to introduce Mel to thirteen corrupt members of the New Jersey state legislature. He also wrote out a list of federal and state officials that he believed could be bought. Mel decided to push his luck. A little bit and told Eric Kennedy cockamamie story about needing cash to finance some repairs on the yacht. They happen to cost exactly twenty five thousand dollars and he couldn't tell his boss about it because you see the damage was one of his staff's fault and he didn't want them fired. Mayor Eric Keti eagerly returned his twenty five grand to Mel telling him to use it for the boat. Mel smugly returned the cash to the FBI to pay for the party. He was winning in everyone's eyes. Before the spring of one thousand nine hundred seventy nine was over Melwood Hook Senator Williams too as it turned out just like the Mayor. The senator had his own sketchy business proposal or Abdul Limited. That's coming up next and now back to the story in April of nineteen seventy nine fifty four year. Old Conman turned. Fbi informant. Mel Weinberg made contact with New Jersey Senator Harrison Williams. His goal was to get him to accept a bribe from the imaginary shake and Emir Behind. Abdul Limited of fake companies set up by the FBI as with Camden New Jersey mayor. Angelo Eric Keti. Before him Senator Williams was excited to hammer out a business deal with Abdul Limited. He'd been unable to finance it through. Us funders the senator and his business partners wanted to purchase a titanium mine one of the few in the US so they asked the Amir for a one hundred million dollar loan as far as assurances that they pay back the loan. The senators business partners explained that the. Us government was about to use a lot of titanium for military projects like building submarines. With the mine hand they easily pay back their nine figure debt. Senator Williams also implied he influenced the federal government to buy his titanium for their military projects. So not only was. He opened bribes. He was abusing his seat in the Senate on June. Twenty Eighth Mel. Met with the senator again this time. He got him to state his plans. Very plainly on tape quote with great pleasure. I'll talk to the president of the United States about it. It of course being lucrative defense contracts the senator was offering his influence over the president as collateral to get alone abscam had lucked into its first big time Washington politician. There was nothing holding back agent. Good from seeing how many bribetakers he could snare. The whole unit became focused on using each corrupt mark. Lure in the next one in comparison to the FBI's investigations of ordinary criminals. Abscam was a house of cards targets had to be investigated simultaneously if one of the politicians was arrested too soon it would jeopardize their chances with the others. This meant a lot of stalling. Waiting Mel kept promising mayor. Eric Keti that money was coming in any day for his Atlantic City Casinos. Meanwhile on the other line was Senator Williams still expecting his one hundred million dollar loan for the titanium mine every time. One of them got suspicious. Mel was right there to reassure them. Miraculously they kept believing on July. Twenty six nineteen seventy-nine Agent Moreau had an idea for how to catch even more corrupt politicians. He casually to mayor. Eric Hetty that Emir Habib the character from the boat party dressed in a turban and sunglasses was having some immigration trouble during this conversation a morose. Oh was in character. As his abscam persona and Abdul Limited employees the emir's war torn homeland had become unstable. Amoroso said and he hoped to seek asylum in the United States only. He needed some brave politician to help him. Obtain THAT STATUS. Because he didn't technically qualify. Eric Keti Promise to introduce the Abdul Team. To some congressman. Who would do favors as long as someone covered their expenses. Code for a bribe. Of course agent. Amoroso's idea was a gold mine. Once the SPIGOT had been turned on it was hard to turn off Eric. Keti kept coming up with names of congressman who could be bought the FBI scrambled to keep up. They need video evidence of the legislators personally accepting bribes. They also needed to say on tape that they would help the shake and Amir emigrate in exchange for the money. The next move was to rig a hotel suite with video audio recording equipment then on August Twenty Second Nineteen seventy-nine Mel met with Congressman. Michael Joseph Mars a fast talking thirty six year. Old Democrat representing the voters of Philadelphia. Congressman Myers was hoping to meet Habibi person but when he arrived. Mel explained that the emir was delayed due to an emergency in the middle. East Myers knotted sagely and accepted that. Excuse now Ahmir in his role as the Amir's aid and Mayor Eric. Keti were there to meet the congressman. They didn't even have to propose. A bribe Myers. Did it for them? Saying money talks in this business undercover agent. Amoroso handed over a briefcase containing fifty thousand dollars. Congressman Myers took it and literally ran out of the hotel to his car whether his reaction was paranoid or he was simply giddy with money. Loss is anyone's guess. The routine continued with forty-one-year-old Congressman. Raymond lederer another Democrat from Pennsylvania. Just like Myers. He took the briefcase and agreed to introduce legislation. Giving the shake and emir asylum in America. He winked as he told the men in the hotel suite. I'm no Boy Scout. Definitely no boy scout but he was headed for wearing a uniform. This one in an unflattering shade of Orange by late Nineteen seventy-nine the FBI was so pleased with APPs scams results that the bureau brass authorized supervising agent good and his team to use a Washington. Dc Townhouse for future meetings. It was federal property but it status was classified even legislators would know it belonged to the FBI so they wouldn't get suspicious when they were invited there to meet with Abdul Limited Mel loved the new headquarters in Georgetown when of DC's wealthiest neighborhoods living large. A big shot surroundings helped him convinced himself. He was a big shot after all. By this point Abdul Limited had built quite a strong reputation. The operation began calling in other shady political insiders known as Bagman for help lining up meetings. These bag men functioned as scapegoats for elected officials by handling their dirty work. The FBI knew all about bag men and how to counter them. They coached melanoma also to insist on personal meetings with congressman. Once again the playbook was the same hand off the fifty thousand dollars in a briefcase and get the elected official on tape promising to help the emir and shake in return for the cash. The third target came to the house in October of Nineteen seventy-nine congressmen. Frank Thomson a sixty one year old Democrat from New Jersey. He was an experienced politician. And the chair of the House Administration Committee he was also smarter than his predecessors at first he suggested investing the fifty thousand dollars in his district rather than paying it to him directly then when Mellon Agent. Ahmir also pressured him to take the briefcase. He refused to touch it. It wasn't the Thompson was clean. He just had a protocol for avoiding trouble. He wanted the briefcase go to his middleman. Howard CRICHTON Roseau refused to make the hand off to Croydon. Until he had Thomson on tape. He needed a recording. That had the congressman promising to introduce a private immigration bill in exchange for the bribe. It took two meetings and plenty of negotiation between to get him there but finally he folded the cash. Went to CRICHTON but Thomson was caught regardless variations of the same gamut worked on the next few targets to another one of CRICHTON's associates congressman. John Murphy. A fifty three year old Democrat from New York was implicated despite his refusal to personally touch the bribe money. His presence at the meeting alone was plenty of evidence for the FBI then came congressman. John he was a forty three year old South Carolina Democrat best known on Capitol Hill for his across the aisle marriage to Republican researcher Rita Jenrette. It was also John who once said. I've got larceny in my blood. And so he did. Jenrette sent one of his associates. John Stow to collect the bribe. The congressman slipped up though he called Mel to acknowledge receipt and thanked him for the money. The call was taped last to take. The Bait was fifty five year. Old Florida congressman. Richard Kelly the only Republican to fall for Abscam on January eighth nineteen eighty he came to the FBI townhouse with John. Cusack a cold blooded mobster who scared. Even Mel Kelly wanted more than fifty thousand dollars so the men offered him a twenty five thousand dollars down payment on future. Two hundred fifty thousand dollar bribe craftily. Kelly waited until his mob associate was out of the room then stuff the cash in his pockets hiding it meant he might avoid giving the mafia there cut. The congressman was playing a very dangerous game but so was mel. In fact he was getting tired of it. Senator Williams was still hounding him about the titanium mine. It had been months now and there were multiple close calls with legislators who refused to meet with the Abdul Limited group at all if any of them were smart enough to suspect they had been flirting with the FBI rather than a wealthy Amir. Warn their fellows if that happened. Well guys like Congressman Kelly with mob connections might retaliate for being caught in a honey trap the FBI had six congressmen and one senator on tape taking bribes or agreeing to take bribes inbetween. Those big fish. They also caught Eric. Keti three Philadelphia City councilman and an official with the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Trying to go for more seem both greedy and risky supervising agent. John Good agreed. It was time to wind abscam down and reveal the project to the public. He had his team begin preparing indictments on Saturday February second nineteen eighty the FBI arrested all their targets at once. It was a performance worthy of any COP DRAMA ON TV. They knocked on each elected officials door at the exact same time so none of the guilty parties had time to hear the news and flee. It took over one hundred F. B. I. agents to execute the mass arrest which naturally alerted the media. Nbc photographers caught the agents. Serving their warrant. At the home of Senator Williams reporters worked tirelessly to figure out all the arrestees just in time for a list to grace the front page of the Next Day's New York Times Mel. Weinberg had worked off his debt to his country. Many times over he was probably the best value any law enforcement agency ever got for a plea deal at first congress and the Senate closed ranks house leadership including speaker tip. O'neill angrily accused the. Fbi of setting up congressman the targets defense attorneys said the same they believe the FBI had coaxed their clients into taking bribes. They otherwise would never have accepted. But when the trials started congress sang a different tune by the winter of nineteen eighty grand juries returned indictments for bribery and conspiracy charges on all seven of the big fish. And even the five small. Fry Congressman. Michael Myers the first to be indicted was expelled from Congress on October. Second nineteen eighty. The vote was three hundred. Six to thirty making Myers. The first sitting congressmen expelled by the House. Since the civil war he went on to be convicted and sentenced to three years behind bars. This Senate to was all set to expel Senator Williams but he beat them to the punch by resigning. He was later convicted and served two years of a three year sentence. Williams was the first senator in over sixty years to do time following suit Frank Thompson and John. Jenrette also resigned from Congress. Jenrette was also lucky enough to get a sentence of divorce from his wife Rita. Raymond Lederer to resigned while Jon Murphy and Richard. Kelly lost re election campaigns after being indicted prosecutors in these cases scored a remarkable one hundred percent conviction rate. Every politician charged in connection with Abscam was convicted of at least some of the charges against them and they all serve time in prison. That includes Eric. Hetty the Camden Mayor. Who started the ABSCAM Snowball Rolling Downhill? A jury convicted him of bribery. The judge punished him with the heaviest sentence of all six years. Though in the end he only served thirty two months the FBI agents. Along with Melvin. Weinberg became temporary minor celebrities. But none really wanted the publicity. There were no tell all book deals. In fact the most information the country ever got from inside the F. B. I. About Abscam came from the freedom of Information. Act Request in response to that request the FBI revealed an archive of newspaper clippings and letters from the public most of them supportive of Abscam over the years though several lawsuits were filed by convicted public officials accusing the FBI OF ENTRAPMENT. All were unsuccessful but some questions still linger. It's hard not to wonder. We're all those politicians really corrupt all along or was Mel. Just such a good scammer. He managed to corrupt them. Mel Himself was asked this question in one thousand nine hundred eighty one on. Cbs is sixty minutes. He replied with one of his favorite sayings. You can't con an honest man. If that's true Mel's life's work. Proves there might be far fewer honest men in politics than any of us would like to believe. Thanks for listening. We'll be back next week with scandal. Number Twenty five when the nineteen sixty election pitted incumbent vice president Richard Nixon against all American Democrat John F. Kennedy and questions of voting fraud abounded among the many sources. We used in researching this story. We found the book the sting man inside Abscam by Robert W green particularly useful. You can find all episodes of political scandals and all other park cast originals for free on spotify. Not only to spotify already. Have all of your favorite music? But now spotify is making it easy for you to enjoy all of your favorite podcast originals for free from your phone desktop or smart speaker to stream political scandals on spotify just open the APP tap browse and type political scandals in the search bar. We'll see you next time. Political scandals was created by Max Cutler and his apart cast studios original it is executive produced by Max Cutler sound designed by Dick Schroeder with production assistance by Ron Shapiro Carly Madden and Travis Clark. This episode of political scandals was written by yellen a war with writing assistance by Kate. Gallagher and stars Richard Rosner and Kate Leonard. Remember you can find new paths to positively three hundred sixty five days a year. Follow daily quote free on spotify. Or wherever. You get your podcasts.

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