The Consortium

JFK Records Fight Draws Jail Term

By Sam Parry

When Harry Connick replaced Jim Garrison as District Attorney of New Orleans in the 1970s, he went through the routine process of cleaning out old files. But some of those files were anything but routine. They included Grand Jury records of the Clay Shaw investigation, the only criminal prosecution arising from John F. Kennedy's assassination. When Shaw was found not guilty, the records could legally be destroyed. Connick ordered them burned.

But the man assigned to light the match, Gary Raymond, then a staffer at the District Attorney's office, couldn't bring himself to do it. "It's not every day you are assigned to burn the records of investigations into the assassination of a President," he told The Consortium. Raymond protested the decision, but Connick wouldn't budge.

So, Raymond disobeyed the order and kept the files for 21 years. When Raymond learned last year that Congress had commissioned the Assassination Record and Review Board to recover all documents relating to the Kennedy assassination, he turned the Grand Jury files over to television reporter Richard Angelico for delivery to the board. "When Congress asks for all documents, they mean all documents," explained Raymond.

Unfortunately for Raymond, this action placed District Attorney Connick in a bad spot. Connick had already testified that those Grand Jury files did not exist. When Connick's statements were contradicted, he accused Raymond and Angelico of theft of secret Grand Jury records, an action considered to be in contempt of court, even though neither had disclosed the contents of the Grand Jury testimony.

For his part, Raymond said that he suspects that Connick had previously given two print journalists access to the Grand Jury material for articles they wrote in 1995 attacking Jim Garrison's investigation of Shaw. "Their articles must have come from the Grand Jury files" Raymond claimed. "That's where their information comes from."

Connick denied giving the records to the reporters and insisted they were shown other non-confidential material for their stories. The district attorney continued to pursue the case against Raymond and Angelico. On Feb. 13, Raymond was found guilty and was sentenced to 6 months in jail, but is out pending appeal. The judge deferred Angelico's court ruling until Feb. 22.

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