Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Chicago Condos Rumored to be El Dorado 

In the following excerpt, publisher and researcher Kenn Thomas summarizes the plot told to him by the late Sherman Skolnick pertaining to gold allegedly buried under a Chicago condo development. Skolnick and his associate Joseph Andreuccetti told me a similar tale three years later at the same Skokie, Ill. restaurant (see below).

Steamshovel Press, 1994:

by Kenn Thomas

"... Following this interview, Skolnick discussed his recent work with the involuntary bankruptcy case of caulking contractor Joseph Andreuccetti, which has led to his involvement with scandals of the Clinton era. Mr. Andreucetti was present at this dinner table discussion, as was Skolnick associate Mark Sato, another person helped by the Citizen's Committee To Clean Up The Courts. They explained the connection between Mr. Andreuccetti, a descendant of Italy's House of Savoy, and over $10 billion in gold stolen from the Italian treasury by the OSS in 1943 and now located in Building 4 of King's Point Condominium in Addison, Illinois, a western suburb of Chicago. The story is rich with detail and suitable for expanded treatment in a future issue of Steamshovel. It includes charges by Inslaw informant Michael Riconoscuito that gold mesh filters made by a company named Wirecloth Products was used as a currency within intelligence circles. The story also suggests that the gold was used as collateral in the early 1980s to support the opening of the Chicago branch of the Banca Del Lavoro, long connected to the JFK assassination, BCCI and Household International, a successor to Nugan Hand Bank of Inslaw infamy. From the gold as well, a $50 million contingency fund was established by the Resolution Trust Corporation to cover liabilities from the liquidation into Household Bank of American Heritage Savings and Loan, the S&L that purported to lend Mr. Andreuccetti money to finish the King's Point condos. According to Skolnick and associates, the fund disappeared and ended up in Little Rock to make the Madison Guaranty S&L look incompetent instead of criminal when its financial improprieties are finally examined closely. ..."

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Running Down Sherman's Last Conspiracy 

On learning of Sherman Skolnick's death, I immediately called his Hotline News number to see what his parting conspiracy was. Maybe that heart attack wasn't an accident. I'm sure that's what Sherman would have wondered. Maybe he left a clue, a hint that would reveal the essence of a world gone wrong; one more burrow for me follow down the rabbit hole, through the looking glass. ... When I rang up the number, I got this message: "The number you have tried to reach -- (731) 731-1100 -- is being checked for trouble."

Trouble. That's the ticket: Check for Trouble. Adios, Sherman. You will be sorely missed.

My Dinner With Sherman
Media Mayhem, Jan. 17, 2004:

Back in 97, I went to Chicago for a Society of Professional Journalists conference. While I was there, I decided to call Sherman H. Skolnick, the father of conspiracy theory. We arranged to have dinner. I took the train from downtown to the rendezvous point. It was a rainy night in Skokie. The dinner crowd at the River of Flame restaurant had left hours ago. The waitresses sat around looking tired and smoking cirarettes. But Sherman H. Skolnick was still holding court. Beside him was his dutiful Sancho, a plumbing contractor and pretender to the throne of the House of Savoy. By this time, my tape recorder had ran out of tape and I was still scribbling feverishly in my notebook. Skolnick's narrative had taken another sharp turn and he was now talking about papal gold being buried under a condo development on the northside of Chicago.

Welcome to Skolnick's World. Though "serious" journalists may scoff at his wild allegations, those in the know, including Paul Krassner and myself, have long feared and respected his work. Skolnick's reports make (the late) Dr. Thompson's screeds look like pure dribble, child's play. In his latest Hotline News (773-731-1100) summary, for example, Skolnick reveals that George W. Bush is a homosexual and Red China is blackmailing him. Don't laugh too hard: Skolnick put John Paul Stevens on the road to becoming a U.S. Supreme Court Justice by forcing an investigation into corruption within the Illinois Supreme Court in 1969. And Stevens was the only one to speak out against the high court appointing George W. Bush president. Today, Skolnick, who has been wheelchair bound since childhood, continues to operate his one-man Committee to Clean Up the Courts. Want to know why Saddam Hussein was really found in that hole? Here's an excerpt from Skolnick's Overthrow of the American Republic: Part 45:

"...As usual, the Liars and Whores of the Press promote the Big Lie as to the secret team that snatched Saddam Hussein.

Some claim the unit was not fully informed, other than they had a high-priority target. And there are contentions that the unit, part of the American CIA, came within a few seconds of misguidedly hurling a grenade down into the "spider hole" in which Saddam was kept as a prisoner. Left unsaid by the oil-soaked, spy-riddled monopoly press is that Saddam was being kept as a prisoner buried in a grave-like hole, breathing air through a tube to the surface, rather than the media fairytale that he was simply hiding.


The reasons for having kept Saddam a prisoner under such circumstances, and elsewhere kept for some time in captivity, revolve around his huge worldwide properties. ..."

Makes sense to me.

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Sherman Skolnick, 1930-2006 

Chicago Tribune, May 23:

Even before blogs, activist had scoop on government

South Sider whose persistence led to resignations of 2 Supreme Court judges disliked term conspiracy theorist

By Josh Noel

Never one to trust an obvious explanation, Sherman Skolnick found hidden motive in many of Chicago's biggest events during the last 40 years--from Harold Washington's death (the mayor was murdered, he said) to the Chicago 7 trial (which he claimed was orchestrated by the CIA to justify increased government repression.)

Sometimes proven right, often mocked for being so far out of the mainstream, Mr. Skolnick bristled at being called a conspiracy theorist. Especially when he had successes that included driving two members of the Illinois Supreme Court to resign in 1969.

"There's a stigma to being called a conspiracy theorist," Mr. Skolnick told the Tribune in 1988. "It's a polite way of calling someone a nut. These things I uncover aren't conspiracies. They're simply the way powerful people conduct business."

The indefatigable Mr. Skolnick, 75, who chased scoops until the end, died Sunday, May 21, at his South Side home, apparently of a heart attack, his family said.

Paralyzed below the waist by polio since the age of 6, Mr. Skolnick was nearly a household name in Chicago in the late 1960s and early '70s, when he was chairman of the Citizens Committee to Clean Up the Courts, a public interest group he founded. Largely self-educated with used law books he bought for as cheaply as 50 cents each, Mr. Skolnick's allegations and activities were chronicled routinely by local media.

During a second burst of fame, when Mr. Skolnick insisted that Washington had been murdered with an overdose of cocaine in the 1980s, a Tribune profile called him "something of a heroic figure in this town, albeit an eccentric and irritating champion, more odd than dashing."

"He wore thick glasses, had buck teeth, dressed forgettably and showed absolutely no respect for authority," the 1988 story says. "Skolnick rode his rusting, squeaky wheelchair as if he were a brave knight on a fine steed, finding and avenging wrongdoing at the highest levels of government, jousting with the mighty on behalf of the weak."

When he decided to cut out the middleman--the press--and bring his news straight to the people, Mr. Skolnick began with "Hotline News" in the early 1970s, a recorded news phone message he updated from his home.

He later worked in radio and cable television and then started an Internet site (www.skolnicksreport.com), where he opined endlessly. Among his recent posts are "The Overthrow of the American Republic, Part 81" and "Coca-Cola, the CIA and the Courts, Part 16."

"Sometimes he was a real eccentric, and sometimes I didn't believe a lot of these things he said," said his brother, Seymour. "But a lot of it was true. He had just found a calling."

Mr. Skolnick was born in Chicago in 1930. His mother was a homemaker and his father was a tailor. They were Jewish European immigrants. The family lived in an apartment on the West Side until moving in 1950 to a South Side home, where Mr. Skolnick lived until his death.

The youngest of three brothers, Mr. Skolnick contracted polio in 1936 on a family vacation to Benton Harbor, Mich. He had 16 operations, that, at best, allowed him as a young man to walk 100 feet with crutches. He took inspiration from President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who also had polio. In response to letters and poems he wrote to the president, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt would write him back, he said in the Tribune story.

In high school, he developed his taste for investigative work, looking into the past of a wood shop teacher with a quick temper.

"He used to bug me," Mr. Skolnick recounted in 1988. "I found out he'd been transferred from another school for throwing a kid down some stairs and was in trouble with the school board. The next time he got mad at me, I told him I knew his secret, and he left me alone."

Mr. Skolnick's most spectacular victory came in 1969, when he found that two judges on the state Supreme Court accepted a gift of stock in a Chicago bank from a defendant whose case they were to decide--and for whom they ruled favorably.

Skolnick's findings led to a blue-ribbon investigative commission and finally to the resignations from the court of Chief Justice Roy J. Solfisburg Jr. and Justice Ray Klingbiel. The day they resigned, the crush of neighborhood traffic and people was so great, he said, that six police cars were stationed in front of his house. Inside, photographers rolled up his rugs and moved furniture to get photos of him from different perspectives.

By the 1980s and 1990s, even as technology allowed him to reach more people, Mr. Skolnick was mostly a public and media afterthought. Of course, he said, that was a conspiracy too. In 1971, he accused the Tribune of being a tool of military intelligence and the Chicago Sun-Times of being a conduit for the CIA.

"I made some statements in 1971 that some members of the press had ties to espionage agencies, and I just became blotted out," he said in 1988.

After falling down the stairs at his home about three years ago, he became a recluse, his brother said, never leaving his home again, except to go to the hospital for about a month earlier this year. He hired a live-in caretaker.

"He said, `I've got my computer and telephones, and I'm hooked up around the world and this is what I want to do,'" his brother said. "I said OK. It wasn't my choice, but he lived a good, full life."

Apart from his brother, there are no survivors.

Graveside services are scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday at Waldheim Cemetery in Forest Park.

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