-Caveat Lector-

Joseph P. Russoniello

Attorney - California, USA

J O S E P H   R U S S O N I E L L O

      In the 1980s, Joseph P. Russoniello was a U.S. Attorney in California.

Presumably, a U.S. Attorney is a tough prosecutor who represents the best

interests of the public; but Russoniello went soft when it came to a drug

case involving the CIA.

     Between 1981 and 1984, the DEA had compiled sufficient evidence to

crack the biggest cocaine ring in California at that time. Police had nabbed

several "frogmen" swimming onto a beachhead carrying at least four-hundred

pounds of cocaine. Ultimately, 35 people were arrested, along with guns,

drugs, catalogs for automatic weapons and silencers, and $36,800 in cash.

Federal prosecutors declared that the money was evidence from the drug

operation, and would be used for the trial. While this appeared to be a

clean bust, the authorities were about to have the rug pulled out from under


     The ring1s alleged leader, Julio Zavala, claimed that the cash was not

drug money, but was money earmarked to purchase weapons for the CIA1s

illegal Contra war in Nicaragua. Zavala requested that the money seized by

the cops be returned to the Contras. According to Gary Webb of the San Jose

Mercury News, Russoniello decided not to keep the cash as evidence, and did

not want it forfeited to the government, which is the standard procedure in

drug cases. The drug money was then returned to the Contras. In a 1986

Senate hearing, Senator Arlen Spector and investigator Jack Blum openly

discussed Russoniello1s capitulation to Contra Drug-runners. Blum stated

that Russoniello had angrily shouted at investigators and Senator John

Kerry, who was chairing the committee investigating intelligence-community

links to the drug trade. Russoniello accused them of being "subversive for

wanting to go into it." Some may say that Russoniello (now an attorney for

companies that allegedly obtained government aircraft illegally) went from

prosecuting criminals to representing criminals. Others may say that from

the "frogmen" cocaine case to the current aircraft scandal, Joseph P.

Russoniello has always represented the best interests of the CIA.

San Jose Mercury New, July 24, 1988


The Parents1 Agony, The Army1s Cover-up, The Prosecution1s Failure.

     A Baptist minister named Gary Hambright, was indicted in September 1987

on charges that he committed "lewd and lascivious acts" with six boys and

four girls, ranging in age from three to seven years, during

September-October 1986. At the time of the alleged sex crimes, Hambright was

employed at a child care center on the U.S. Army base at the Presidio. At

the time of Hambright1s indictment, the San Francisco police charged that he

was involved in at least 58 separate incidents of child sexual abuse.

     That day there was much backslapping at a press conference called by US

Attorney Joseph Russoniello to announce the charges. A press release said

the maximum penalty that might be imposed in this case is 96 years in prison

and a $3 million fine. Surrounded by Army brass from the Presidio and

several FBI agents, Russoniello said there would be no more arrests because

despite the children1s allegations, there were no other suspects. But even

Gary Hambright appeared to suggest that others had been involved. At a press

conference Oct. 2nd after he was arraigned, Hambright, reading from a

prepared statement, said he was innocent of all the charges and added, "I

cannot understand why these allegations and falsehoods have been, directed

solely at me."


     Larry and Michelle Adams - Thompson had noticed changes in their

daughter1s behavior after placing her in Gary Hambright1s class four or five

times in September and October of 1986. The girl, who turned 3 in October,

had begun having nightmares and would wet herself when frightened. Her

parents believed it was just "a bad stage" she was going through until they

heard about the Tobin boy (another one of Hambright1s victims) in January.

The girl was taken to a therapist at Letterman Army Medical Center in

February. In therapy, the girl talked about being sexually abused by

Hambright and by a man named "Mikey" and a woman named "Shamby" whose

identities were unknown. On Aug. 12, 1987, the Adam-Thompsons were shopping

at the PX at the Presidio. Suddenly the girl ran to Larry Adams-Thomson and

clutched his leg. He looked up and saw a man whom he knew as Lt. Col.

Michael Aquino.

     "Yes, that1s Mikey," the 3-year-old told Adams-Thompson. After being

taken outside, the girl added, "he1s a bad man and I1m afraid." As they were

leaving the parking lot, the Adams-Thompsons saw Aquino1s wife, Lilith.

Larry asked the child if she knew the woman.

     "Yes, that1s Shamby," the girl said.

     The family went home and called the FBI.

     When interviewed by authorities the next day, the girl identified Gary

Hambright from a photo lineup and said she had been driven to Mickey and

Shamby1s home by Hambright. There, she said, she was abused by Hambright,

Mickey and Shamby in a room with black walls. She said that she had been

photographed. She said Hambright and Mickey were dressed in women1s clothes

and Shamby was dressed in man1s clothes.

     The investigators drove her to Leavenworth Street in San Francisco. The

girl was asked to identify any of the houses that she had been to before.

While walking past 2430 Leavenworth, the girl identified the house as the

one where she met "Mikey" and "Shamby." It was the Aquinos1 house.

     A search warrant was served on the Aquino home on Aug. 14. In

attendance were agents from the FBI and the San Francisco Police. Because

the abuse allegedly occurred on city property, it was to be a city case.

     Among the items seized were video tapes, cassette tapes, notebooks with

names and addresses, two photo albums, one paper plate and two plastic

gloves from the kitchen garbage, four plastic cases of negatives and 29

photos of costumes and masks. With his widow1s peak and arching eyebrows,

Lt. Col. Michael Aquino looks more like a pudgy Dracula than a high ranking

Army officer with top security clearance. He is the founder and high priest

of a satanic church, the Temple of Set. His wife, Lilith, a gaunt woman with

long, dark hair, is the priestess in the temple1s Order of the Vampire. The

couple refer to the search as a "raid" and have branded the investigation a

witch hunt.

     According to an article in the Oct. 30,1987 San Francisco Examiner, one

of the victims had identified Aquino and his wife as participants in the

child rape. According to the victim, the Aquinos had filmed scenes of the

child being fondled by Hambright in a bathtub. The child1s description of

the house, which was also the headquarters of Aquino1s Satanic Tempe of Set,

was so detailed, that police were able to obtain a search warrant. During

the raid, they confiscated 38 videotapes, photo negatives, and other

evidence that the home has been the hub of a pedophile ring, operating in

and around U.S. military bases.

     On April 19, 1988 the ten count indictment against Hambright was

dropped by U.S. Attorney Joseph P. Russoniello, on the grounds that, whole

there was clear evidence of child abuse (six of the children contacted the

venereal disease, (chiamydia), there was insufficient evidence to link

Hambright (or the Aquinos) to the crimes. Parents of several of the victims

charged that Russoniello1s actions proved that "the Federal system has

broken down in not being able to protect the rights of citizens age three to


    Russoniello would later be implicated in efforts to cover up the links

between the Nicaraguan Contras and South American cocaine-trafficking

organizations, raising deeper questions about whether the decision not to

prosecute Hambright and Aquino had "national security implications."

     On May 13, 1989, the San Jose Mercury reported that Aquino and his wife

had been recently questioned by Army investigators about charges of child

molestation by the couple in two northern California counties, Sonoma and

Medocino. A nine year-old girl in Santa Rosa, California, and an 11 year-old

boy in Fort Bragg, also in California, separately identified Aquino as the

rapist in a series of 1985 incidents, after they had seen him on television.

page two >

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