By Jon Robberson – Program Director, The Hagmann & Hagmann Report
JFK assassination plot expert, Jim Marrs, began his recent remarks regarding the murder of our 35th President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, as follows:
“Dallas, Texas in 1963 was just an entirely different time and place.”
Indeed, the entire United States of America was a different time and place. Especially if you were a smart, ambitious black man from East St Louis, Illinois.
Abraham W Bolden was born on January 1, 1935. He graduated cum laude from Lincoln University with a BA in music composition. God had other plans. Mr Bolden became the first African American detective with the world famous, Pinkerton Detective Agency. After a stint as a PI, Abraham Bolden served the people of Illinois as an Illinois State Trooper.
In October of 1960, Abraham Bolden was hired by the United States Secret Service and thus became the first African American to wear the Secret Service badge. In June of 1961, Mr Bolden was transferred to the White House detail. On a yachting excursion that summer, he was stupefied when a US Navy Steward brought him a sandwich from the galley of Kennedy’s vessel. President John F Kennedy was charmed to be the first US President to engage an African American on his personal security detail and remarked to a staffer (in Mr. Bolden’s presence) that he was “the Jackie Robinson of the Secret Service.”
After a brief stint on the Presidential Detail, Agent Bolden was reassigned to Chicago where Jet Magazine noted in 1962 that he was the number two agent in the entire nation when it came to busting counterfeiters and paper hangers. It was while pursuing enemies of the Department of the Treasury, that Agent Bolden saw on television reports that JFK was murdered.
The President was dead and Agent Bolden knew things about the good old boy nature of the Presidential Protective Detail that would soon place him is the crosshairs of his colleagues and directly into the history books of American Civil Rights and jurisprudence run afoul.
Agent Bolden knew that the Kennedy Secret Service was essentially a moveable feast of boozing, womanizing and hair of the dog mornings. Bolden also remembered vividly that some racially motivated curmudgeon colleague hung a hangman’s noose above his desk.
For five decades, Abraham Bolden defended his actions in the aftermath of JFK’s death by repeatedly and unwaveringly reiterating that he took his concerns regarding the unprofessional dispensation of the JFK Detail directly to James J Rowley, the head of the Secret Service. Agent Bolden wanted justice and a proper investigation into the horror show in Dealey Plaza. Based on fifty years of examination, it would appear that Agent Bolden made enemies.
His enemies were in full damage control mode and about to strike back.
On May 12, 1964, US Secret Service Agent, Abraham W Bolden was accused of and subsequently charged with attempting to sell a government file to Joseph Spagnoli Jr in exchange for $50,000. The case gets a bit confusing from here but the bottom line is that on August 12, 1964, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois received the juries verdict regarding the charges leveled at Bolden.
Judge Perry sentenced Abraham Bolden to six years in prison. Bolden responded tearfully “If at the time of my arrest I ever embarrassed any agency of the United States, it was because at the time I thought my statements were true. I did not mean to embarrass anybody. I ask you, please have mercy. In God’s name, please have mercy.”
Abraham Bolden threw himself on the mercy of the court. US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois responded thus:
“The verdict completely rejects the outrageous charges made by the defendant and confirms the publics’ belief in the absolute integrity of the US Secret Service.”
Bolden was fired from the US Secret Service in August 1964.
In January 1965, Joseph Spagnoli (the primary accuser of Bolden) was found guilty of counterfeiting charges and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. During his trail, Spagnoli admitted to being a degenerate gambler and that he trumped up charges against Bolden. Based of Spagnoli’s confession, Abraham Bolden appealed his case.
On December 29, 1965, three judges, Judges John S Hastings, Winfred G Knoch and Luther M Swygert, presiding over the Seventh Circuit Court, upheld Bolden’s conviction and denied a retrial.
In June, 1966, former US Agent, Abraham Bolden was remanded to the Federal Penitentiary at Terre Haute, Indiana and would subsequently serve thirty-nine months in Federal custody, even spending many criminally ghoulish nights in Unit 29 of the Springfield Federal Penitentiary; the psych-ward.
The case of Secret Service Agent Abraham Bolden is eerily similar to that of another dynamic black fighter from the early 1960’s; the infamous plight of Rubin “Hurricane” Carter. Hurricane was convicted by an all white jury for a triple homicide in Patterson New Jersey. A crime he did not commit. Like Bolden, Rubin Carter served his country with distinction (US Army, 82nd Airborne, Golden Gloves) but ran afoul of the power structure and was summarily silenced by the system.
It is this writer’s opinion that were Agent Bolden’s
concerns regarding the Secret Service’s role in Kennedy’s death properly investigated and Agent Bolden’s limited inquiries regarding Dallas vetted, ex post facto, the entire history of the assassination of JFK would not only read significantly differently, some very powerful and very corrupt men would have gone to prison instead of the Jackie Robinson of the Secret Service.