Perry Raymond Russo, Grand Jury testimony
March 27, 1967
ORLEANS PARISH GRAND JURY PROCEEDINGS OF MARCH 27, 1967
PRESENT: MESSRS. ALVIN V. OSER AND JAMES ALCOCK
Assistant District Attorneys
Orleans Parish District Attorney
MEMBERS OF THE ORLEANS PARISH GRAND JURY
WITNESS: PERRY RAYMOND RUSSO
Maureen B. Thiel
Orleans Parish Grand Jury
[Webmaster's note: All ellipses as in original.]
PERRY RAYMOND RUSSO, being sworn in by the Foreman of the Orleans Parish Grand Jury, was questioned and answered as follows:
BY MR. JIM GARRISON:
Q. You are the same Perry Russo who testified before this Grand Jury last week, are you not?
A. Yes sir.
Q. I believe you testified about seeing Clay Bertrand, whom we now have identified as Clay Shaw, several times at Dave Ferrie's house. Can you tell us again, how many times did you see him there?
A. At least five . . . maybe six times, counting the times when they finally talked about it, the assassination, you know.
Q. Did they, at any time, suggest that you do anything? Did they ask you to do anything? After all, you had heard so much of what they contemplated . . .
Q. You were asked by one of the grand jury members here about what went through your mind after you heard the plan had been carried out. You said that you were too busy and, I take it, unconcerned, to tell anybody about it in 1963, 1964, 1965 or 1966. Why was that, Perry? I know the answer, but I want the gentlemen here to understand it too.
A. I only saw him about five times in the days after . . . I mean, you know, in 1964. That was Ferrie. And he never brought it up. I wasn't one to bring it up. What would I have said, "How much did you get for having the President killed?" Anybody who would do a thing like that might kill anybody who asked about it. And I was getting ready for law school and I just wasn't interested in Ferrie anymore. Call it lack of interest or whatever.
BY A GRAND JUROR:
Q. Let me see if I understand here. You heard all this and you know JFK was killed a few days later, just the way you heard it planned. Yet, you were too busy to get involved. Is that what you're saying, Mr. Russo?
I mean, I don't know how you could have slept at night. Mr. Garrison has explained in great detail that you are making an almost supreme sacrifice to come forward, to stand tall against the government who have covered this whole horrible thing up, but why didn't you say something?
A. It isn't easy to tell a secret of such great scope. And I didn't know for sure that they did it. I guess Oswald was there, at least, but Ferrie was somewhere else. Mr. Garrison told me he had four strong witnesses that could place Ferrie, Clay Shaw and Oswald together after I heard them planning it, so maybe what I saw and heard isn't all that important. I've been assured that I was just the first one who got involved with 'em. Mr. Garrison has a former Dallas police officer, a CIA guy and some others. Why don't you ask them why they didn't come forward before this too? Mark Lane, you know him, who was once a senator [sic], he told me that he uncovered information three days after the assassination that put Shaw and Ferrie in the midst of it. Why isn't anybody asking him why he kept it secret for so long?
BY MR. GARRISON:
Q. I don't think it's called for to jump on this witness, the one man who had guts enough to come here and jump into all this mess. He has been hounded by the go-along press, has been followed by private detectives, has been bribed by TIME magazine to change his story and has been ridiculed for the truths he has told us. If you want to cast some blame, I think maybe you'll have ample opportunity when I get people like Walter Sheridan, Rick Townley, James Phelan, Hue [sic] Aynesworth and Gordon Novel up here . . . and I will. All of them will be subpoenaed. And you haven't seen a criminal until you talk to Regis Kennedy and William Gurvich. I've told you all about Carlos Quiroga and Layton Martins [sic]. We have evidence tying Quiroga to Dallas, Sheridan and Phelan to taking bribe money from the CIA and a tape recording of TIME trying to bribe this witness. And you jump on him! If that's the way an honest grand jury is going to handle the most important investigation in US history, I may not want to be a continuing part of this whole show. When we began, I told you I knew who the real assassins were and would haul them to justice. You gave me your assurance you would keep an open mind and work with me. So I want that cooperation or I'll go to Judge Bagert and quietly shut this whole investigation down. Perry, I have a couple other questions to ask, then if any more jurors want answers, I'll open it up again, okay?
A. Okay. Shoot.
Q. Did you meet with Edward Wegmann, a lawyer for Clay Shaw, at his office after you visited this grand jury last week? I'll have to be honest with you. Mr. Sciambra . . . Moo Moo . . . said he saw you on the same floor as Wegmann's office. I know it's a free country, but with all the accusations flying around, I've got to know what you've been doing.
A. The day after I left the grand jury, I got a call from Mr. Wegmann. He was real polite, a gentleman to me. He said he knew that me and C. G. Mitchell, an old friend of mine, had got caught shoplifting at Schwegmann's and he said since I was in the public eye and all, things might go bad for me for it hit the newspapers. He said he had a copy of the arrest report. He told me I'd better drop by to talk; that I might need a friendly lawyer. I told him I had already talked to Andy and that you had told him it wasn't nothin' important, that you would take care of it before it got to a grand jury. In return for what I've done for you in this case, you know. The only other thing he seemed interested in was about my truth serum stuff and the hypnosis. I told him I wasn't really under hypnosis anyway. He asked about Lefty Peterson and Al Landry and then I went home.
Q. You didn't relate what you discussed before the grand jury, did you?
A. No, not a bit. Mostly about the shoplifting. Andy told me that was taken care of, so I didn't see anything wrong with talking about it. He said they'd never been able to find that arrest record . . . that it was the least the DA's office could do for the risks I'm taking. We was innocent anyway.
Q. Do you know the danger in talking to the defense lawyers? They're just out to destroy you and make this grand jury and me look like fools. Nobody can stop you from going where you want to or talking to whoever you want to, but the help my office has given you will certainly have to stop if we see a reoccurence [sic] of this type behavior. Do you understand me, Perry?
A. Yes sir. Completely. I didn't mean . . .
Q. One panel member asked last week if you might have some risk of being charged as an accessory after the fact. Mr. Alcock tried to explain the law to the questioner . . . and I hope we've straightened that out. There will be no such charges emanating from the Orleans Parish district attorney's office, so you don't have to be afraid -- if you don't change your story. In that case, the charge would not be accessory[;] it would be perjury.
A. I understand. I only know what I saw and heard . . . and I won't change that.
Q. Since the grand jury has specifically asked that Dean Andrews be brought back this afternoon, I'm going to excuse you now, Perry. Thank you and keep your chin up.
A. Okay. So long.