John Mohr was in charge of the Administrative Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation when he received a $250 cash bonus from Director J. Edgar Hoover. While Hoover was on vacation, Mohr conspired with the head of the FBI Laboratory, Ivan Willard Conrad, Assistant Director Charles Brennan, and the Special Agent in Charge in Omaha, Paul Young, to withhold a lab report on the identity of a policeman’s killer. The misdeed was followed by the cash award immediately upon Hoover’s return.
Mohr oversaw communications between the field offices and the FBI Laboratory. Under the clandestine COINTELPRO counterintelligence program, Hoover had ordered Young in December 1969 to use an “imaginative” approach to remove Edward Poindexter and David Rice, later Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa, from Omaha’s streets. The two men were leaders of the local Black Panther Party affiliate chapter called the National Committee to Combat Fascism. Hoover had declared the Black Panthers as the number one threat to domestic security.
The August 17, 1970 bombing murder of Patrolman Larry Minard, Sr. gave Young the opportunity he needed to satisfy Hoover’s demands. Poindexter and Rice would be blamed for the bombing where police were lured to a vacant house by an anonymous 911 caller. At headquarters, William Bradley, a supervisor under Mohr, sent a memorandum to Conrad at the FBI Laboratory.
“Omaha Office has advised that the Omaha Police Department has requested laboratory assistance in connection with a bombing which took place in Omaha 8/17/70. This bombing resulted in the death of one police officer and the injuring of six other officers and is apparently directly connected with a series of racial bombings which the Omaha Police have experienced. The Police were lured to the bomb site by a telephonic distress call from an unknown male.”
“If approved, the results of any examinations will be orally furnished the Police on an informal basis through the SAC, Omaha.”
Back from vacation, Hoover agreed with the conspiracy to withhold a laboratory report on Minard’s killer and quickly came up with a bonus. Hoover sent a personal letter to Mohr commending him and awarding $250 for the “superior manner in which you fulfilled your responsibilities.”
The day after Minard’s funeral, Mohr wrote to Hoover, “I was deeply pleased that I was associated with a winning team at the Seat of Government while it was necessary for you to be on the Coast and I was delighted to learn that you thought our efforts were so satisfactory.”
Bradley sent a second memorandum to Conrad at the FBI Laboratory about the murder. “In referenced memorandum [8/19/70], the Director approved a request to assist the Omaha Police Department in captioned case through the use of voice comparison examinations by the Laboratory.”
“The SAC, Omaha, noted that he had been instructed by the Bureau to suggest steps of possible assistance to the Omaha Police in solving the bombings. He advised….the existing recording of the false “bait” complaint to the police is the most important present tangible evidence in the possession of the police, and he recommended the Bureau send a Laboratory representative.”
John Mohr’s name was on two distribution lists, a rubber-stamped distribution list and a special typed list with his initials at the bottom of the page. With the murder investigation compromised, the case was fixed The search for a killer was over. Poindexter and Rice were convicted of murder and received life without parole sentences. The jury that convicted them never heard the 911 recording that lured Minard to his death.
Several years later, while serving as executor for Clyde Tolson, his superior at the FBI, Mohr made himself and his daughter beneficiaries and left Tolson’s brother out of a will provided by Mohr. Tolson’s brother complained about Mohr in a contest over Tolson’s will. “The purported will and testament was procured…by fraud and deceit.”
A petition filed in the District of Columbia Superior Court by Hillory Tolson accused Mohr and unnamed others of “fraud, duress, coercion and undue influence” to extract a will before Clyde Tolson’s death that disinherited his brother. Mohr settled the matter out of court ending further allegations against him.
A Justice Department investigation triggered by charges made in 1975 to the House Intelligence Committee led to an investigation of Mohr by the Justice Department after his retirement. Although a five-year statute of limitations barred prosecution, Mohr was deemed guilty in a Special Report of violating federal laws for accepting gifts from a Bureau vendor and converting government property to his own use.
The Special Report also detailed the disgraced administrator’s misuse of FBI personnel. Mohr had his son’s sports car repaired and repainted by Bureau employees. Exhibit Section employees made Mohr an oak liquor cabinet, a walnut wine rack, a walnut cigar box, and two walnut gun cases. Mohr had his private automobile washed and worked on by Bureau employees and home electrical equipment and appliances were repaired. Mohr even had a custom birdhouse built for his backyard at taxpayer expense.
Although Mohr escaped punishment, the two Black Panther leaders targeted by Hoover did not. David Rice, renamed Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa, died in March 2016 at the Nebraska State Penitentiary serving his life without parole sentence. Edward Poindexter remains in maximum-security imprisonment, in poor health, where he continues to maintain his innocence as he has for forty-eight years.
The article is excerpted from my new book, FRAMED: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO & the Omaha Two story, in print edition at Amazon and in ebook. Portions of the book may be read free online at NorthOmahaHistory.com. The book is also available to patrons of the Omaha Public Library.