The television monitors in a packed federal courtroom today showed Rep. Michael (Ozzie) Myers (D-Pa.) sipping bourbon in a luxurious suite at Philadelphia's Barclay Hotel last January with two representatives of a phony Arab "sheik."
Myers had just agreed to accept $85,000 to wield influence in Congress and with the Philadelphia City Council and the Mafia, and apparently wanted to impress his hosts. "I'm the type of guy that, when you have to go a serious mission, you should hope I'm at your f---ing side," he told them.
I don't give a f--- about nothing. I'm a little f---ing, you know, half crazy at times . . . Did you know I got a ninth-grade education? How the f--- do you think I got to Congress?On my f---ing wisdom?
How do you think I got where I am? Luck?"
The jury in Myers' bribery trial watched the 90-minute-long videotape in stunned silence. During the meeting with two FBI undercover agents, who posed as a "sheik's" representatives, Myers boasted:
That he knew other members of Congress who were "willing to deal with us." He did not name them.
That he knew top organized-crime figures in Philadelphia, so the "sheik" would be able to deal with the Mafia "directly through me."
That he could deliver the votes of four or five Philadelphia City Council members and could "buy the rest.
The 37-year-old congressman also said he was "hurt" because he ended up with only $15,000 from a $50,000 payment he received Aug. 22, 1979, in a motel room at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Myers and three codefendants are charged with taking a $50,000 payoff in return for Myers' promise to introduce a private immigration bill to help the "sheik" enter the United States. Myers' attorney has acknowledged that the congressman took the money, but claims he did not intend to break the law by introducing such a bill.
Last week the jury saw a videotape of the Aug. 22 payment. On the tape that was played today, Myers said he was disappointed that he got only $15,000.
"Im not lookin' to rip anybody off," Myers said at the Jan. 24 meeting with the two undercover agents. "Give me, I want my 35, that I'm entitled to . . . give me 50 in addition.
"I'm not here to rob ya . . . Now I'm going to be very honest whicha. I, when I first talked about this, I was lookin' to get 50. So let me walk away with my 35, give me 50 to go out and do these other things that we spoke about . . ."
On the videotape shown today, FBI agent Michael Wald, who said he was the "sheik's expediter," moved off-camera several times during the meeting to take telephone calls, apparently from FBI superiors watching the meeting from an adjoining room.
Myers and Philadephia attorney Howard L. Criden, a codefendant, were seated on a couch facing the camera, with Wald in a chair to the left left and agent Ernest Haridopolos seated to the right.
Myers brought up his missing $35,000 shortly after Wald said he was there to "expedite things."
I'm involved in taking care of people up front . . . understand my role, right, I'm not a technical individual," Wald said. "I come in and I talk to an individual and I become friendly. We strike an agreement and I go home and I'm happy."
Wald then asked Myers, how to deal with a Philadelphia port authority official. "It can be handled?" Wald asked. Myers replied, "Yeah. It's an old story. Money talks and bullshit walks. Ya know, that's how the game's played.
"Let me, just say, tell you one thing. One guy that isn't taken care of is me. 'Cause I got screwed on the last time i met somebody.
"I was supposed to, at the end of the day, be, ah, ah, 25 times happier than what I was when I went there. And I wasn't . . . ."
Last week, the jury saw the Aug. 22, 1979 videotape in which Myers took an envelope containing $50,000 in $100 bills. Other testimony last week showed that Criden and the other defendants divided the money, leaving Myers with $15,000.
"I only came [to the meeting] because I had confidence in the people who brought me there . . . I'm not a g--d--- idiot . . . What happened that day, I was very, very disappointed . . . I went back to my home city with $15,000 in my pocket . . . I was a little hurt."
Myers said that when he realized that he had been shortchanged $35,000 "I just chalked it up to experience . . . who am I gonna complain to? My congressman? It ain't the first time I've been outslicked, I'll tell ya. And it won't be the last time . . . "
Later in the videotape Myers said, "I'm not looking for a jackpot or nothing . . . and I don't expect any tapes to be runnin' here."
Wald said at one point that the "sheik" was "paranoid" about the Mafia. The agent explained that the "sheik" was preparing to build a $34.6 million hotel in Philadelphia, possibly in Myers' district, and run shuttle services to the Atlantic City casinos. Wald asked how the "sheik" could deal with organized crime.
Myers replied with hesitation: "you will deal with the Mafia . . . strictly through me." And he boasted that the knew key organized-crime figures in Philadelphia.
He said that Angelo Bruno -- who since then was murdered, allegedly by gangland rivals -- was the key man, but that the young turks were Tony Testa and Chickie Narducci.
Though he claimed to be on intimate terms with the organized-crime figures he mentioned, Myers got Testa's first name wrong, Wald testified later.And Myers spoke of knowing a fourth alledged Mafia figure, one who has been dead for 14 years.
"Now I can't say I can handled Tony Testa because I'm not that friendly with him. I know him. He knows me. But the kingpin is Chickie Narducci," Meyers said.
Later, when discussing his concern about the missing $35,000, Myers said: "Let's say I got to go deal with some Mafia operation downtown . . . Now when I go down there and I say, 'Look, what's the problem, what does it take to straighten it out'? . . My name is very important down there, and you know, my friendship is even more important."
"Now when I go back, I can't go back and say 'Look, well, I made a deal but here's half the action.' I'd be in the . . . river the same night. I can't operate like that.I gotta know what I'm talking about . . . .
"I'm not getting shot over somebody I don't even know . . . scamming off the top."
Myers also said he could help the undercover agents find other members of Congress: "I can line a lot of customers up for you, members of Congress that are willing to deal with us. I could put people around you . . . you would b shocked.
You may think I'm kidding, but if you want to spend the . . . money, I'll show you how to spend it." Myers did not name any other congressmen and Wald did not ask for names.
When Wald asked what influence Myers had to help the hotel venture get the necessary zoning and licenses from the City Council, Myers assured Wald he had nothing to worry about. "I can't say I got every City Council member," Myers said, "City Council we can handle. Forget City Council. Those that we can't handle we can buy."
Myers said he could deliver the votes of the four council members who live in his South Philadelphia district.
Criden piped in that he could assure the vote of his law partner -- and codefendant -- Councilman Louis C. Johanson.
Myers said, "If you want something done in City Council, if you come to me with a proposal and say 'What does it take to get this enacted into law?' Now I can't guarantee that the mayor will sign it. . . . I could never guarantee that.
"I mean, if it's a legitimate thing, investment of money, zoning, anything like that, forget all that, that's simple s---. We can handle that for a few bucks."
About 11:30 p.m. at the end of the meeting, Wald assured Myers that he had $85,000 coming to him."Are you satisfied with that?" Walk asked. Meyers replied, "Very good."
After Meyers and Criden left, agent Haridopolos is seen walking across the room on camera shaking his head, as if in disbelief at what he had just witnessed.
Myers met with the two agents in the same suite again the next night. He complained, then that too many people were involved in the Aug. 22 transaction. "It seems like there were a lot of hands in the pie," he said.