FBI files: "Hank" Greenspun parlayed profits from Israel arms smuggling into Las Vegas media empire

Apr 03, 2013, 13:56 ET from Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy

WASHINGTON, April 3, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is being released by the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy:

The FBI declassified 775 pages about former Las Vegas Sun newspaper editor Herman "Hank" Milton Greenspun (1909-1989).   Released under FOIA in January, files telling the story of how Greenspun parlayed profits from illegal gun-running into a Las Vegas media empire are now available online at the Israel Lobby Archive (http://www.IRmep.org/ila/greenspun)

Greenspun was famous as a combative newspaper editor and for smuggling arms to Jewish fighters in Palestine in the late 1940s.  In 1950 Greenspun purchased the Las Vegas Review-Journal, renaming it the Las Vegas Sun, and began fighting a series of high profile battles with Senator Joseph McCarthy, Senator Patrick McCarron and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover from his front page "Where I Stand" column.

A 1952 FBI file reveals that after being indicted a second time for violating the Neutrality Act, Greenspun traveled to Washington and contacted Seth Solomon Pope.  An earlier criminal proceeding ended when smuggling defendants during the trial contacted a juror who became the only vote against conviction. Pope worked in Hawaii at the War Assets Administration, in charge of decommissioning and selling off WWII surplus. Pope was investigated on three occasions for fraudulent sales of war materiel. Greenspun and associates stole 58 crates of .30 and .50 caliber machine guns from the U.S. Navy and smuggled them from Honolulu through Mexico to Jewish fighters in Palestine in the late 1940s. After Pope transferred to the General Services Administration in Washington, Greenspun offered $25,000 to Pope "or anyone else designated by Pope" to "quash" a second Neutrality Act indictment against Greenspun. The effort failed and Greenspun was convicted of a felony and forced to pay $10,000, but received no prison time. 

FBI reports reveal Greenspun received a 10% "kickback" on millions in illegal arms deals funded by the Jewish Agency – Haganah smuggling network through banks in Geneva and Mexico.  Greenspun's net worth from holdings in publishing, motels and construction projects grew to $517,000 by 1952 according to FBI reports.  Seth Pope told the FBI that "...Greenspun informed [Pope] that he and his associate were negotiating for a newspaper in Las Vegas or Reno, Nevada, and that if they got a newspaper they would be powerful in the State of Nevada." By 1958, the FBI began filing periodic reports on Greenspun within its "Top Hoodlum Program" detailing his ongoing dealings with known members of organized crime.

President John F. Kennedy pardoned Greenspun in 1961.

SOURCE Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy