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  • Writer's pictureFred Litwin

Paul Bleau Chokes, Part 18

Updated: Apr 16

Aloysius Habighorst

Paul Bleau's first chokehold is that "the official record impeaches the Warren Commission." He believes that: (page 38 in the Kindle edition of his book Chokeholds)

U.S. investigations into the assassination, statements made by investigation insiders and foreign government conclusions about the assassination prove that there is a strong consensus by the independent investigative authorities that there was a conspiracy in the murder of President John F. Kennedy.

Bleau's chapter then lists out a variety of statements that seemingly prove conspiracy. Of course, Bleau doesn't tell readers the full truth about these viewpoints.

Aloysius Habighorst -- New Orleans Police Officer

Bleau Assertion: (pages 61 - 63)

Many witnesses have confirmed that Clem and Clay Bertrand were Clay Shaw aliases. He used this name in an airport lounge and in a probable moment of absent-mindedness gave it away to Officer Aloysius A. Habighorst after he was arrested. (See line 10 to the left in the Alias box.)
Even though Judge Haggerty ruled the following piece inadmissible… There is no reasonable explanation for the name Bertrand being in this field. This would have gone a long way in proving Shaw’s connections to Oswald.

What Bleau Doesn't Tell You:

It's laughable that Paul Bleau believes this ridiculous story. Even Judge Haggerty, normally disposed towards the prosecution, thought that Officer Habighorst was lying.

Jonas Butzman was another policeman who was there and he said he never heard any questions about an alias. Here is an internal defense memo:

But please read my entire post on this incident.

The following is from AMERICAN GROTESQUE, pp. 353-359.

     In the summer of 1968 the District Attorney's office
had authorized the release to the press of information
contained on the fingerprint card made out at the Police
Bureau of Identification on the night of Clay Shaw's
arrest. the STATES-ITEM printed a photograph of the card
July 30, 1968, and ran an accompanying article which
quoted police officer Aloysius J. Habighorst as stating
Clay Shaw had freely admitted he used the Clay Bertrand
alias.  The alias was typed out on the card, which Shaw
had signed.  Shaw had steadfastly denied ever using the
alias.  The District Attorney's release of this purported
incriminating evidence to the press was in strict
violation of the pretrial guidelines; nevertheless this
information had been widely circulated and highly

     Now the state attempted to enter into evidence the
fingerprint card together with the oral testimony of
Officer Habighorst.  Knowing he was in tricky territory,
James Alcock wisely began by suggesting the jury be
removed from the courtroom while the judge heard oral
arguments pertaining to the admissibility of this matter.

     Louis Ivon, Garrison's smooth-looking investigator,
was sworn in and proved to be a somewhat groggy witness.
Whether he wanted to discourage a lengthy session of
questioning or whether he was simply having an off day of
it was not known. He had been importantly present at
Shaw's arrest, but when Dymond asked Ivon if ho knew what
an arrest sheet looked like, the investigator replied, "I
may have seen them. I may have filled some out."

     DYMOND: Did you examine the original Clay Shaw
arrest form?

     IVON: I don't know.

     Dymond exhibited the form which Ivon had actually
signed and asked where he'd filled it out. Ivon could not
remember if he'd signed the arrest form or not, or the
search affidavit. Only when shown his signature did this
come back to him and then he was unable to recall when or
where he'd signed them.

     Now Officer Habighorst, natty in a snug-fitting dark
suit and vest, was called to the stand. The good-looking
police officer told James Alcock he had fingerprinted
Shaw inside the Bureau of Investigation room the night of
his arrest and that he'd not gotten the information he'd
put down on the fingerprint card from Shaw's arrest
record sheet, but from the defendant himself, including
name, age, weight and, Habighorst and the state claimed,
the alias Clay Bertrand. Habighorst detailed the
procedure to Alcock and testified he had not threatened
the defendant, not offered him promises of any sort in
return for information, or abused him physically.

     The policeman was cross-examined by Billy Wegmann,
not Irvin Dymond. There was an interesting reason for the

     Officer Habighorst's brother had been driving across
a bridge several years previously and gotten into a
contretemps with another motorist. They stopped their
cars, argued, and then Habighorst's brother had taken out
a gun, shot and killed the man. Dymond, who defended the
brother, succeeded in reducing the crime from murder to
manslaughter and the defendant had served four years in
prison. It was widely rumored that Officer Habighorst
thought his brother should have gotten off scot free, and
his feelings toward Dymond were not friendly. In an
attempt not to crank up an already hostile witness, Billy
Wegmann handled the questioning.

     Billy Wegmann, however, was not wearing kid gloves.
His voice rang loud and clear and he did not permit time
to swat flies between questions, nor did he allow the
witness to dance rings around the answer. Wegmann headed
immediately for a controversial area, wanting to know if
Clay Shaw's lawyer, Eddie Wegmann, had been excluded from
the B of I room when the defendant was being
fingerprinted. Officer Habighorst said, "He was there for
a time. If he was excluded, I don't know why." Was his
attorney present, Billy Wegmann wanted to know, when Mr.
Shaw signed the card? "Yes, sir," the policeman replied.
"Are you sure?" Billy Wegmann pressed. Now Habighorst
hedged: "I recall he was inside the door. I would say he
was more inside the Bureau of Identification than outside
the door in the booking area." Hammering at the police
officer, Wegmann asked if it wasn't a fact he had seen
the arrest register on Clay Shaw before he was finger-
printed. Habighorst denied this, repeating his claim that
he'd received the information directly from Shaw himself.

     BILLY WEGMANN: Was Mr. Shaw's attorney there when
you got an alias?

     HABIGHORST: He could have been. I don't know.

     Judge Haggerty interrupted, asking the police
officer how far the defendant had been from his attorney
during the fingerprinting. "I would say twenty feet,"
Habighorst ventured. "As far as I am from Mr. Alcock."
Judge Haggerty surveyed the distance and said, "That's
about thirty feet." Billy Wegmann wanted to know if
Habighorst had been speaking in a normal voice; the
policeman said he could not say whether Eddie Wegmann had
heard him or not. At one point, Officer Habighorst was
completely thrown by the use of the word "subsequent" in
a question and Billy Wegmann was forced to rephrase the
sentence. Now the all-important questions:

     BILLY WEGMANN: Did Ivon tell you that Mr. Shaw was
not to be questioned?

     HABIGHORST: I don't recall.

     BILLY WEGMANN: Did you advise him [Shaw] of his
constitutional rights?

     HABIGHORST: No, I explained the booking procedure to

     After a short afternoon recess, Dymond began to
attack Habighorst's testimony by putting on the stand
Captain Louis Curole, who had been on duty at Central
Lockup when Shaw was arrested and had assigned a Sergeant
Butzman to guard Shaw until his booking and
fingerprinting were completed. Captain Curole testified
that, as a rule, attorneys are not permitted in the B of
I room with their clients. He went on to say Edward
Wegmann had *not* been allowed to go into the room with
Clay Shaw. He further testified that a copy of the arrest
record is almost always sent to the B of I room and that
this form would include any aliases attributed to the

     Dymond asserted that the credibility of Habighorst's
version was now seriously in doubt in light of Captain
Curole's testimony. Alcock objected strenuously but the
judge overruled him. Judge Haggerty's face was now
tightening into a mold of absolute seriousness of
purpose. His eyes were unblinking, as if he'd sighted a
target that did not please him one bit.

     Sergeant Jonas Butzman followed Captain Curole to
the stand. He had been within five or ten feet of Clay
Shaw all the time the defendant was in the B of I room.
Butzman testified he had heard Habighorst ask Clay Shaw
only one question and that was about the spelling of a
name. Dymond's next question was "Did you ever hear the
name Clay Bertrand mentioned?" "No," was the reply. The
sergeant said he did not know if Habighorst had a copy of
the field arrest form but indicated Eddie Wegmann had
*not* been in the room at all.

     The defense was picking up speed and called Police
officer John Perkins to the stand, again over Alcock's
objections, but the judge, now pursed of mouth, quickly
overruled him. Although Perkins was not on duty at the
time of Shaw's arrest he was assigned to the B of I room.
Questioned about standard operating procedure, the police
officer testified he had never fingerprinted a person
without the field arrest record. More damaging, he
claimed that the fingerprints are applied to the card,
after the arrestee signs the card, and the information is
put on the card last of all.

     Now Eddie Wegmann was called to the stand and
questioned by his confrere Irvin Dymond. Eddie's face had
never displayed such angry signs of colic as when he
testified this day about Clay Shaw's arrest and the
booking procedure. It was obvious he had much more on his
mind than the specific testimony he was called to give
this afternoon. Those were not acorns puffing out Ed
Wegmann's cheeks. He was bursting with a sweeping blanket
denunciation of the entire unspeakable injustice heaped
upon his client from March 1, 1967, moment-to-moment, up
until this very minute. If the jury had not still been
playing poker in their waiting room upstairs, I think he
might just have let it out in one ringing explosion. He
snapped out his answers with bare civility to his own co-
attorney in the case: No, he had not been allowed in the
B of I room with his client. No, there had been nothing
about an alias on any report sheet, no alias, in fact,
had been mentioned that evening. He also testified about
his meeting with Shaw in one of the D.A.'s offices after
Clay had been told he was being charged with the crime
and was being placed under arrest. Eddie Wegmann said
they'd kept the conversation to a minimum because he had
been warned the room might be bugged.

     After Eddie Wegmann was excused, Sal Panzeca, the
junior member of the defense team, was questioned by
Irvin Dymond. Short, compact and snappy, Panzeca had been
the first legal counsel to see Clay Shaw on the day of
his arrest. He testified he'd told Louis Ivon and other
members of the D.A.'s staff that Clay Shaw was not to be
questioned and that he would, under no circumstances,
answer questions. Panzeca also testified he believed the
room they were in was bugged, that communication between
him and Clay Shaw was mostly accomplished by writing
questions and answers on a pad, adding, "I told him not
even to say hello or goodbye to anyone."

     Now Clay Shaw took the stand--the jury was still
out--and in a firm, clear voice began his testimony
regarding the circumstances of his arrest. The press and
spectators granted him complete silence and attention.
Here was the Big Boy himself. Clay stuck to the questions
asked him, never volunteering more information than was
requested, as he testified that he had obeyed the orders
of his attorneys and spoken to no one. In no uncertain
terms, he testified he had signed a completely blank
fingerprint card, had not been asked about an alias, had
certainly never told anyone he had used an alias, and
that his lawyer, Eddie Wegmann, had not been permitted to
enter the B of I room with him.

     Under cross-examination by James Alcock, Clay got a
laugh when he testified about giving information to an
officer who typed up his original arrest sheet, before
going to the B of I room. Clay said he had been standing
three or four feet away from the booking officer and had
not seen exactly what the man was typing. The judge
asked, "Was there anything preventing you from seeing
over the counter?" To this, the six-foot-four defendant
replied in an easy going voice, "No, that's never been a
problem with me." The spectators and press laughed, and
order in the court was called.

     Clay Shaw also stood for no loose dangling ends. He
had testified earlier that Habighorst told him it was
necessary to sign the blank card in order to get bail, to
which Clay said he replied, "In that case, I'll sign it."
Now Alcock asked if Officer Habighorst had asked him any
questions, to which Clay replied, "No." "You did not
utter one word?" Alcock asked. Clay made no bones about
correcting the attorney: "That was not my testimony. I
said I was asked no questions."

     It was after the defendant was excused that the fun
and fireworks began. Alcock sought to enter into evidence
and before the jury--who had spent the afternoon
upstairs--the fingerprint card and Habighorst's
testimony. Dymond objected on the grounds that the
witness testified he'd signed a blank card.

     This brought forth the no-nonsense ruling of Judge
Haggerty. He had been wound up by the preceding testimony
of two lawyers, the defendant, and three members of the
New Orleans Police Department, all in direct conflict
with Officer Habighorst's testimony. Now he faced James
Alcock squarely from his bench, saying he would not allow
the fingerprint card or the testimony of Officer
Habighorst introduced into the trial. He would hold to
this ruling, no matter whose testimony was to be
believed. Either way, the judge claimed a foul. Two
policemen had violated Shaw's constitutional rights, he
said, by not permitting the defendant to have his lawyer
with him during the fingerprinting--in direct
contravention of the famed Escobedo decision, which
allows an arrestee to have his attorney with him at all
stages of the booking, fingerprinting, and questioning
process. Judge Haggerty also announced that Officer
*Habighorst* (and when he hit the name of the officer,
the judge hit it hard) had violated in spirit the effect
of the Miranda decision by not forewarning Clay Shaw of
his right to remain silent. The judge went on to say
Habighorst also violated Shaw's rights by asking him the
alleged question about an alias, adding, now that he was
revved up and clearing his mind of feelings built up by
this afternoon's performance, "Even if he did [ask the
question about an alias] it is not admissible" Judge
Haggerty then spit out, "If Officer Habighorst *is*
telling the truth--and I seriously doubt it!"

     Alcock leaped up from his chair at this remark, his
cheeks instantly crimson and his voice highly shrill and
trembling with anger as he shouted, "Are you passing on
the credibility of a state witness in front of the press
and the whole world?"

     Judge Haggerty jutted his head forward and said,
"It's outside the presence of the jury, Mr. Alcock." He
then sat back and spoke in a loud voice. "I don't care.
The whole world can hear that I disbelieve Officer
Habighorst." He gave Alcock a what-do-you-think-of-that
look and then, as if to punctuate his feelings for all
time and leave no doubt whatsoever, Judge Haggerty leaned
forward once again and said, "I do not believe Officer

Here is an excerpt from above that might explain Habighorst's testimony:

Officer Habighorst's brother had been driving across
a bridge several years previously and gotten into a
contretemps with another motorist. They stopped their
cars, argued, and then Habighorst's brother had taken out
a gun, shot and killed the man. Dymond, who defended the
brother, succeeded in reducing the crime from murder to
manslaughter and the defendant had served four years in
prison. It was widely rumored that Officer Habighorst
thought his brother should have gotten off scot free, and
his feelings toward Dymond were not friendly. In an
attempt not to crank up an already hostile witness, Billy
Wegmann handled the questioning.

Previous Relevant Blog Posts on Paul Bleau

Bleau doesn't tell his readers about Roger Craig's credibility problems.

Bleau believes the Rose Cherami story.

Bleau claims the Shaw jury believed there was a conspiracy in the JFK assassination. This is just not true.

Bleau doesn't tell you everything about Lyndon Johnson's feelings towards the Warren Report.

Bleau leaves out some important details about the beliefs of Burt Griffin.

Bleau leaves out an important paragraph from Alfredda Scobey's article on the Warren Commission.

Bleau misleads readers on the testimony of John Moss Whitten.

Bleau gets it all wrong on Dr. George Burkley.

Bleau doesn't tell the whole story about John Sherman Cooper.

Bleau claims that J. Lee Rankin questioned the findings of the Warren Report. This is just true.

Bleau tries to make it appear that Dallas policeman James Leavelle had doubts that Oswald could be found guilty at a trial.

Bleau gets it all wrong on the FBI Summary Report.

Bleau discusses the conclusions of the HSCA but leaves out it most important finding.

Bleau leaves out some important details about a Warren Commission staffer.

Was Oswald a loner? Bleau says no, and then says yes.

Bleau leaves out some important details about Malcolm Kilduff.

An introduction to Paul Bleau's new book, Chokeholds.

Was David Ferrie Clay Shaw's pimp?

Did Lee Harvey Oswald have an escort?

Edward Girnus was in prison for forgery, and he told a fanciful story about Clay Shaw and Lee Harvey Oswald.

Leander D'Avy told the HSCA he saw Oswald and Ferrie with the three tramps.

Bleau's analysis of Garrison's files is full of errors.

Bleau believes there were seven plots against JFK before Dallas.

Bolden's allegation that there was a plot against JFK in Chicago has changed over the years.

There is no evidence that there was a plot against JFK in Tampa.

There is no evidence that there was a plot against JFK in Chicago.


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