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Man Gets Prison Term for Selling Forged JFK Papers

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From Reuters

A Connecticut man who made $5 million selling forged “documents” signed by President Kennedy, even duping CBS-TV’s “60 Minutes” into considering a documentary, was sentenced to 9 1/2 years in prison Friday by a federal judge in Manhattan.

Lawrence Cusack, 48, was convicted in April on 13 counts of wire and mail fraud for a five-year scheme in which he produced and sold more than 200 documents supposedly containing the handwriting of John F. Kennedy, his brother Robert F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe. He has been in prison since July.

Cusack claimed his deceased father, a New York lawyer, had been a secret advisor and confidant to Kennedy and had assisted the president with intrigues, including the supposed payment of hush money to Monroe to cover up an affair and cover-ups of Kennedy’s interactions with organized crime figures.

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In addition, Cusack sold forged letters falsely showing an attempt by Kennedy to prevent former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover from blackmailing him and Kennedy’s supposed addiction to painkillers.

Trial evidence showed all the documents were forged, but not before they were the source of many false rumors about the Kennedys and other figures.

Starting in 1993, Cusack represented himself as a lawyer and decorated former Navy lieutenant commander to John Reznikoff, a dealer in autographs and stamps, and he perpetuated the five-year fraud through Reznikoff.

In 1997, however, journalists including Pulitzer Prize-winner Seymour Hirsch and ABC’s Mark Obenhaus began to doubt Cusack’s claims and ultimately uncovered the forgeries, clued in by such oversights on Cusack’s part as adding U.S. postal zip codes to letters he said were written in the 1960s, before zip codes were used.

Evidence presented at the trial showed Cusack’s father had never known Kennedy, that Cusack had stolen money from his father’s estate, that he was not a lawyer and had never served in the Navy.

In sentencing Cusack, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote imposed additional time above the 6-8 years called for in sentencing guidelines, saying Cusack “showed a complete, and nearly sociopathic disregard for the impact that his actions would have on others” and that he had shown disdain “for society’s understanding of important political and historical figures.”


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