Was Vernon Bundy in Prison on a "voluntary basis"?
Updated: Nov 10, 2021
Vernon Bundy testified at both at Clay Shaw's preliminary hearing and at Clay Shaw's trial that he saw Shaw and Oswald together on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain. He had come forward, while in prison, the day before he testified at the preliminary hearing, and he was given a lie detector test in which it was determined that he was not telling the truth. Nonetheless, Garrison decided to put him on the stand. After Bundy testified, he was released from prison, and it seems clear that there was some sort of deal with Garrison's office.
Alecia Long, in her book Cruising for Conspirators, writes: (page 118)
"In 1969, Shaw's attorneys asserted that "at the time of the preliminary hearing," Bundy faced narcotics charges and a possible five-year sentence. However, "after Bundy furnished Garrison with a statement that he had observed Shaw and Lee Harvey Oswald" together, "Bundy was ordered released."
Alecia's source for this is an FBI document, dated March 4, 1969, based upon a visit to United States Attorney for New Orleans, Louis LaCour, from Clay Shaw's attorneys Edward Wegmann and Irvin Dymond: (unfortunately this document is not online)
"Bundy was in prison on a voluntary basis, in order to break his drug habit. The most serious crime he committed was breaking into cigarette machines. (Davy, p. 125; also 1995 interview with investigator Gary Raymond by the reviewer) Back then, a pack of cigarettes cost about 30 cents."
His source is Bill Davy's book, Let Justice Be Done, on page 125. Here is what Davy writes:
"Gurvich goes on to write 'Bundy claimed he was in Parish Prison at the time because he went there voluntarily when he felt himself reverting back to the use of narcotics and feared the consequences of his addiction. Official records corroborate this.'"
Davy's source is a memo written by William Gurvich. which I am presenting in its entirety. Bundy tells Gurvich that he went back to prison voluntarily "when he felt himself reverting back to the use of narcotics and feared the consequences of addiction." In June or July of 1963, he left home with two capsules of heroin and went out to Lake Pontchartrain. At the lakefront he saw an older man get out of a black sedan and meet a younger man whom Bundy described as a "junkie." The older man gave the younger man some money, and upon leaving a flyer fell from the younger man's pocket. Bundy identified the older man as Clay Shaw and the younger man as Lee Harvey Oswald. The flyer was supposedly one given out by Oswald in front of the International Trade Mart.
It is clear from the memo that Gurvich is repeating what Bundy is telling him. Here's a short excerpt from the actual interview:
But was this true?
Here is Bundy's rap sheet:
As you can see, Vernon Bundy was charged with violation of probation on March 4, 1967.
More information can be found in this letter that William Gurvich sent to Edward Wegmann:
His arrest in 1966 is not on his rap sheet. This was brought out at the Clay Shaw trial:
New Orleans Times-Picayune, February 8. 1969
Bundy had stolen a cigarette machine from the Municipal Auditorium.
Judge Bagert sent a note to Aaron Kohn, head of the Metropolitan Crime Commission of New Orleans:
Bundy was not in prison voluntarily. While he wasn't facing five years for narcotics, he was in a position to bargain to get out of his year-long prison sentence. But who knows what is not in the record? As William Gurvich notes in his letter:
And so, the FBI document from 1969 made a mistake - most probably originating with Shaw's lawyers. Here is a paragraph from a Clay Shaw court filing:
Something funny was definitely going on with Vernon Bundy. In an upcoming blog post, I will examine Bundy's testimony in detail.