By Colbert I. King
Saturday, March 11, 2006
On a Friday in August 1959, five men in their twenties were arrested about 2 a.m. and held in the county jail all day after sheriff's deputies found a blood-spattered, unoccupied car about 1:15 a.m. at the entrance to Vicary's Park on Kickapoo Creek Road near Peoria, Ill.
Joined by Sheriff Harry P. Backes, two deputies had found two men walking toward the park entrance; the two men told the deputies that they had struck a dog and were going to bury it.
Further investigation revealed three others hiding in some weeds, the sheriff said. Because the men's car was saturated with blood and they gave conflicting stories at the time of their arrest, Sheriff Backes thought there might have been a connection between the dog incident and a strong-arm robbery earlier in the evening.
After checking the blood-spattered pants of one of the men at the state crime laboratory in Springfield, it was determined that the stains were animal and not human blood. Backes said the men then changed their story and said they had "caught a dog and were barbecuing it."
Police then found the skinned animal on a spit in the park. The insides of the dog had been removed, and a bottle of liquor was found on a nearby park table. Backes said the men told him they had been drinking earlier in the evening at a West Bluff tavern.
One of the men arrested in the incident, in which a dog was killed, skinned, gutted and barbecued on a spit, was Frederick V. Malek, 22, of Berwyn, Ill.
Charges of cruelty to animals were later dismissed against Malek and three other men after Andrew P. O'Meara testified that he had struck and killed the dog with a piece of 2-by-4, and that he alone had skinned the animal and tried to cook it. O'Meara said he was trying to show Malek and the others something about living off the land.
This account is based on two 1959 news articles, one on Aug. 8 and one on Aug. 11, in the Peoria Journal Star newspaper.
Before obtaining the articles from the Journal Star, I spoke with Malek by phone yesterday. He said he and O'Meara went to Peoria in the summer of '59 to visit friends at Bradley University. They got drunk out of their minds at the time. He said he didn't know why O'Meara had killed the dog, that he was not a participant and that he was in no position to stop it.
Why, some readers may certainly ask, should they be taken back to an incident that occurred nearly 50 years ago, when Malek and his friend O'Meara had just graduated from West Point? What is the relevance of that to today's Fred Malek, patron of the arts, fundraiser for charitable events, prospective owner of the Washington Nationals baseball team?
Similar questions may have been raised after a recent column ["Fred Malek, Then and Now," Feb. 4] that recounted Malek's abuse of the public trust and public servants during the Nixon years and his role in carrying out Richard Nixon's disgusting hunt for Jews in the Bureau of Labor Statistics. He was only in his thirties at the time, his friends say in his defense.
Okay, but consider this e-mail that arrived after the column ran:
"Dear Mr. King -- Thanks. Joel Popkin. One of those 13 Jews Malek identified."
Is there a continuum of behavior whose parts cannot be separated from the whole Malek?
There was the dog killing in Peoria in the '50s, the Senate Watergate Committee in the '70s, the doomed nomination to be a governor of the U.S. Postal Service in the '80s, and now the Securities and Exchange Commission action in 2004.
Yes, Malek vs. the federal government two years ago.
The SEC instituted administrative and cease-and-desist proceedings against Malek, his company, Thayer Capital Partners, and two Thayer affiliates, TS Equity Partners IV L.L.C, and TC Management Partners IV L.L.C. The SEC charged that in 1998 the Connecticut treasurer, Paul J. Silvester, used state pension investments in Malek's company to reward a friend and political supporter, William DiBella, former majority leader of the Connecticut Senate.
The SEC charged that Malek, who was seeking state money for investment in one of Thayer's funds, hired DiBella and paid him a percentage of the state pension fund's total investment with Malek's company, "even though DiBella had no prior involvement with the transaction and ultimately performed no meaningful work related to the investment." DiBella understood from Silvester that he didn't have to do any work for Malek or his company and that Silvester even increased the amount of the pension fund's investment with Malek "by at least $25 million (to a total of $75 million) solely to secure a larger fee for DiBella," according to the SEC News Digest.
Silvester was later sentenced to four years in jail after pleading guilty to federal charges that included racketeering and conspiracy to launder money, according to the Hartford Courant. Silvester was also working on deals with other investment companies.
Fred Malek and his company, for their failure to disclose to the pension fund (and pensioners) the side deal to retain and pay DiBella nearly $375,000 -- and without admitting or denying the SEC's findings -- consented to the issuance of a cease-and-desist order censuring him and his company. Malek's company was ordered to pay a civil penalty of $150,000, and he was personally made to pay a civil penalty of $100,000.
That wasn't ancient history or a youthful indiscretion. The year: 2004. Malek was 67 years old.