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Thread: Ken Burnstine

  1. #31

    Default Re: Ken Burnstine

    Good story none-the-less!

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. #32
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Ken Burnstine

    More detail about Ken's "dealings"...

    Text excerpt from the following page:

    http://www.ajweberman.com/nodules2/nodulec23.htm


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

    THE DEATH OF KENNETH BURNSTINE

    In late 1975 Mitch Werbell, John Nardi (a Cleveland Teamster official) William Bell, Morton Franklin, and Gerry Cunningham were indicted for conspiracy to smuggle marijuana in Miami. These indictments came about through the efforts of informant Kenneth Burnstine. Kenneth Burnstine was an ex-Marine fighter pilot who worked with the CIA during the Bay of Pigs. In 1965 the FBI maintained offices in a building owned by Ken Burnstine. J. Edgar Hoover made Ken Burnstine an FBI contact. Less than six months later, Ken Burnstine's business partners charged him with larceny, but the Assistant United States Attorney declined prosecution. In 1970 Ken Burnstine's fingerprints appeared on stolen securities, and he was charged with selling stolen stock. These charges were dropped after he furnished the FBI with information on Mitch Werbell, who was his partner in the Military Armaments Corporation. At this time, Ken Burnstine said he was a weapons dealer, and was in possession of a Federal arms license. [DEA arrest rec. BT 7936]

    In March 1972 the FBI suspected Ken Burnstine had Congressman Bertram L. Podell (Dem.-NY) on his payroll. Bertram Podell pleaded guilty in 1974 to Federal conspiracy charges for having accepted $41,000 to help a Florida airline obtain a new route. [NYT 7.25.80] In 1973 the FBI investigated Ken Burnstine's Florida Airways. Numerous small aircraft bearing marijuana had crashed in Southern Florida, and all of them bore the name of Florida Airways as lessor. The CIA became interested in Ken Burnstine's operations at this time. [CIA Cable 1.17.73 GI-73-0007] By early Spring 1974, the Drug Enforcement Administration was preparing a case against Mitch Werbell. In October 1974, before it had completed its investigation, Ken Burnstine was arrested in Texas for possession of cocaine. In 1974 STURGIS was incarcerated as a result of Watergate. While in prison, he was visited by Jerry Buchanan, who asked him to contact the CIA for him because he had "a National Security thing." STURGIS: "I says, hey, I'm in jail, I can't do it. When I got out shortly I did contact the CIA for him. This is how Jerry got tied up with certain agents involved in intelligence, and what he did or went about, that's how the thing came about." The "National Security" matter Jerry Buchanan referred to was Ken Burnstine. Jerry Buchanan introduced HEMMING to Ken Burnstine.


    HEMMING: "During early 1975 I ascertained that Ken Burnstine completed operation to Eastern Bahamas but had near fatal incident that caused death of one of his associates in area of Bahamas. I continued attempts to establish contact with Burnstine's group with little success but did accomplish the following: a. Met and identified most of Burnstine's associates, buyers, and Florida distributors over a two month period. Those identified are United States and Colombian nationals." [DEA G 8-74-0012; DEA G1-73-0273-p7] The evidence that Jerry Buchanan amassed was only enough to indict and convict Ken Burnstine of one count of marijuana sale, however, DEA Agent Arthur Sedillo was able to convince Burnstine that he (Sedillo) was a cocaine supplier, during a trip Burnstine made to Mexico City. In 1990 Sedillo was operating out of Monterrey, Mexico. [Messick, Operation Snowbird, page 80] Ken Burnstine was charged with conspiracy and sentenced to seven years. Released on appeal bond, he was anxious to inform in exchange for avoiding this prison term. In July 1975 he told the Drug Enforcement Administration that he had a Florida State Senator on his payroll who was helping to negotiate a proposed agreement regarding immunity for Ken Burnstine from the Office of the United States Attorney. The Drug Enforcement Administration wanted Ken Burnstine to set Mitch Werbell up for an arrest. By November 1975 Ken Burnstine supplied the U.S. Attorney's Office in Miami with enough evidence to indict Mitch Werbell and his associates for Conspiracy. Ken Burnstine was the star witness for the prosecution. Then, on June 16, 1976, two months before Mitch Werbell et. al. were scheduled to stand trial in Miami, Ken Burnstine was killed in an airplane accident during an air show in Mojave Desert in California. Ken Burnstine's plane went into a high-speed stall, and exploded upon impact with the ground. No toxicological tests were conducted (the remains were n too-poor of a condition). The National Transportation Safety Board commented: "It was not a survivable crash." Seconds before his aircraft fell, Burnstine called the pilot flying near him and said: "No (pause). Oh no!" He had apparently applied power in an attempt to pull out of a downward spin, and found that he could not. Had someone tampered with the control surface of his aircraft?

    The National Transportation Safety Board found no evidence of control surface separation prior to impact since "damage to the control surfaces precluded determination of whether or not the rudder or elevator controls" had been tampered with.

    Ken Burnstine's plane arrived at Chino Airport three days before the crash. It was parked outside the hangar on the night it arrived, then berthed in the hangar for the two remaining days.

    Burnstine carried two automatic pistols with him in the cockpit that day. The FBI investigated his death because he had been a Federal witness. Its chief suspect was Mitch Werbell's codefendant John Nardi, since John Nardi was described as "the reputed head of a Cleveland, Ohio, organized crime family." In October 1976 the FBI closed its investigation of the crash. Several pending narcotics cases had collapsed with the death of Ken Burnstine, and three counts against Mitch Werbell and his codefendant were dropped.

    I received this email in October 2005: "I enjoy reading your material on JFK and G. P. Hemming; although I can’t agree with all of the material. You are the only one who wrote about Ken Bernstine. He is listed in old news papers as a Marine Fighter pilot and smuggler. The truth is he was a Marine Corps Counterintelligence Officer in Atsugi before Oswald got there. He was not a pilot; never went to Navy flight school, but did go to a small private school in the South when he got out of service. I should know in that I served with him in Atsugi and took over his duties shortly after he left. He had everyone convinced he was a fighter pilot. That never happened. So I would like to know anything additional about Ken, a Northwestern graduate. It appears that Hemming took over some of Bernstine’s old smuggling accounts, but I believe that Ken was an informant for a few agencies before he died. His lawyer got disbarred and the hoods that he snitched on all died soon after his death. It was a strange story about a strange guy. When his checking account was checked in Ft. Lauderdale, he had over one million dollars in it....[I am a former intelligence/counterintelligence officer USMC. I served with Bernstine in Atsugi. He got orders to flight school when he left Atsugi in 1956, but never went to Pensacola. Instead he went to a private flight school in some small place in Alabama. You can read about his exploits in old Miami newspapers. I believe his lawyer's name was Levy. I am listed in the credits in several books. Russel's book and the one I knew best Henry Hurt of Readers Digest. I am in the credits of the Frontline story about Lee Harvey Oswald. Bernstine entered the Air Races and won one year while flying a P-51. He had one sentence hanging over him and he was a material witness in another when his plane crashed upon landing. His plane was found in 8 pieces and in his plane he had Two guns. Well Mr. Weberman I am trying to obtain some info for I am writing a book about Oswald in the Far East. My name is Jack R. Swike and I served in the Corps during 1953 and from 54 through 58. Later I was assigned counterintelligence duty in the Fourth Marine Division in Reserve. In Japan Bernstine walked around and wore a shoulder holster. We all had .45's. I never knew what he was up to until he left. He was working on counterfeit military currency. The Office of Naval intelligence told him and us to keep them informed on what we were doing. He told them to go to hell. When he went home it was my belief that he would become a private detective. At one time he owned an airline company in Miami which he used for his smuggling.
    Last edited by AirDOGGe; 11-23-2009 at 10:49 PM.

  3. #33
    Join Date
    May 2002
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    Stayton OR
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    Smile Re: Ken Burnstine

    For a good side view of Suzi-Q see the December photo on your 2009 AAFO calendar. Dan

  4. #34
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    Aug 2004
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    Default Re: Ken Burnstine

    Where was Abraham Zapruder when we needed him???

  5. #35

    Default Re: Ken Burnstine

    Quote Originally Posted by AirDOGGe View Post
    More detail about Ken's "dealings"...
    Wow AirDOGGe, that was awesome! Hollywood could not have made a piece of fiction as entertaining as that! Somebody should make a movie about it. It involves warbirds, drugs, mafia, and Lee Harvey Oswald. What a conspiracy debacle!

    FANTASTIC reading! Thanks!

  6. #36

    Default Re: Ken Burnstine

    Thanks for all the info, his story is certainly very interesting. It reads like a organized crime novel.

  7. #37
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Reno, Nevada
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    2,587

    Default Re: Ken Burnstine

    Thanks!
    I've always been fascinated by the whole Burnstein/Whittington/Levitz connection and remember all the rumors in the 70's.

  8. #38

    Default Re: Ken Burnstine

    If you have any more info, can you please pass it along, this just keeps getting more intriguing. Was a where of the drug story but not of any connection with the Whittington's or Gary Levitz??

  9. #39

    Default Re: Ken Burnstine

    ...found more interesting stuff...

    "The Missing Chapter Lee Harvey Oswald in the Far East" By Jack R. Swike

    p-122

    Ft. Lauderdale, FLA police department confidential criminal investigation (date unintelligible)

    remarks: The following is an investigation into the criminal activities of Kenneth Gordon Burnstine, aliases Ken and Mr. B, dob February 15, 1933, place of birth, Chicago, Illinois.....

    criminal history: arrests date back to 1953, includes arrests for grand larceny, firing into vehicle, interstate transportation of stolen property, assault & battery

    Burnstine is a known smuggler of marijuana and cocaine. Uses aircraft for his operation and deals in large quantities.

    p-123

    the crash investigation map (mojave case # A1-43631)

    --aircraft wreckage was strewn from point of impact to 250 yards east x 97 yards wide.

    --Parts of victim shown in 8 places scattered over 100 yards long.


    The Ocala Star Banner, Sun, Nov 15, 1981

    "...the sole evidence identifying the body was a thumbprint from a severed thumb..."

  10. #40
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
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    Mtn. View, Calif.
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    Default Re: Ken Burnstine

    --Parts of victim shown in 8 places scattered over 100 yards long.
    I wonder if the preceeding is correct, since the article I posted says the PLANE was found in 8 pieces (not counting the smalls bits that no doubt were scattered about).

    I edited only one portion of said article where it stated that no toxic tests were conducted on the pilot, as there were no viable body fluids left to work with. I thought it a bit gruesome, so I left that text out.

    Wayne, please edit this post to remove the last paragraph of this post if you feel the same way.

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