Illegal wiretaps by federal authorities were the decisive factor in today’s dismissal of the case against two Jewish Defense League members accused of the fatal fire-bombing of impressario Sol Hurok’s office in Jan. 1972. The case was dismissed for lack of evidence.
Federal Judge-Irving R. Kaufman threw out the case against Stuart Cohen and Sheldon Davis after assailing wiretaps of the JDL office ordered without court authorization in Oct. 1970 by the then U.S. Attorney General John Mitchell. Cohen and Davis were set free after two witnesses, -Richard Huss and Jeffry Smilov refused to testify against them. The accused cannot be tried again on the same charges. Huss and Smilov face criminal contempt charges and are being held on $50,000 bail. They have been in jail since June 8 on a civil contempt citation.
Judge Kaufman rejected the government’s efforts to compel the key witnesses to testify. He noted that the government has conceded that the 1970 bug installed in the JDL’s New York office was illegal and, in fact, had destroyed the illegally obtained evidence.
The JDL has denied implication in the bombings of the Hurok and Columbia Artists offices which book Soviet artists for performances in the U.S. Sheldon Seigel, a JDL member who allegedly participated in the bombing in which one person was killed, had been granted immunity to testify as a prosecution witness. He refused to testify yesterday on grounds that government questions were based on the evidence obtained by the illegal wiretaps.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.