Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine has refused a request by the author of FRAMED: J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO & the Omaha Two story to reopen the 1970 murder investigation of Patrolman Larry Minard. The book details counterintelligence in the case by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that let a policeman’s killer get away with murder resulting in the conviction of two Black Panther leaders, Edward Poindexter and Mondo Wopashitwe Mondo Eyen we Langa (former David Rice).
Poindexter and Mondo were leaders of a Black Panther affiliate chapter called the National Committee to Combat Fascism. Both men were targets of an illegal, clandestine operation of the FBI code-named COINTELPRO and were convicted of murder following a controversial 1971 trial marred by conflicting police accounts, planted and withheld evidence, and perjured testimony. Mondo died at the Nebraska State Penitentiary in 2016, Poindexter remains imprisoned serving a life without parole sentence.
Ignoring the fact that FRAMED put the previously untold story of FBI subterfuge together in one place from primary sources, Don Kleine did not respond to the request to reopen the cold case. When asked by the Omaha World-Herald for an answer, Kleine claimed he is always willing to take a second look if new evidence arises. However, Kleine dodged the request by saying the courts had already given “intense scrutiny” to the case.
“There’s a lot of people who have looked at this. But I’m not aware of anything that leads me to believe these people are completely innocent.”
Kleine began his long career of public service working as a new prosecutor for Donald Knowles, who prosecuted Poindexter. Kleine was not hired until after the Minard case and was unaware of the extent of involvement of the FBI in both the investigation and prosecution.
J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI ordered Special Agent in Charge Paul Young in December of 1969 to get Poindexter and Mondo off the streets. Hoover ordered Young to get “imaginative” just six days after the deadly raid in Chicago that killed Black Panther leader Fred Hampton. Hoover was at war with the Black Panthers and sought their elimination with lethal ferocity.
The FBI orchestrated the murder case against the Omaha Two so well none of its agents had to testify, while the Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms Division had to submit five witnesses for questioning at the trial. The FBI role in the case was controlling, with the FBI Laboratory agreeing to withhold a audiological report on the 911 recording of the anonymous caller that lured police to a bombing ambush at a vacant house. The FBI also arrested Duane Peak, the confessed fifteen year-old bomber and used his older brother Donald Peak as an informant. FBI agents worked directly with Deputy Chief of Police Glen Gates and Detective Jack Swanson, head of the intelligence unit and liaison with the FBI.
Mondo’s FBI file released under the Freedom of Information Act after his death reveals three completely redacted pages during the murder investigation. The captions remaining indicate the censored material was given to the Omaha police.
Once secret, FBI files document a close collaboration between the Bureau and the Omaha police in the case, a relationship Police Chief Richard Anderson denied existed. The Omaha police had instituted a harassment campaign against so-called “militants” at FBI suggestion. After Hoover had ordered Young to be imaginative, that directive guided the police murder investigation against Poindexter and Mondo. The three pages of missing content from the FBI to the police may well contain “new information” that Kleine says he must have before reviewing FBI misdeeds in the case.
The public is not entitled to any more information say FBI censors, however, Kleine with his prosecutorial authority could seek a court review of the redacted documents. Kleine could also find out what happened to the internal FBI inspection reports on the case that mysteriously disappeared and remain unaccounted for.
In July 2016, David Hardy, Chief of the FBI Record/Information Dissemination Section, completed his second search for annual Inspection Division reports on the Omaha field office during Paul Young’s supervision. Hardy reported that inspection reports for the years 1967 to 1973 were missing. Hardy stated simply, “We were unable to locate records.”
The full truth of what went on in Omaha continues to remain unknown.
This report is excerpted from 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.