Friday, June 13, 2008

The Miami Herald, September 1, 1976, "Judge Deals Out Stiff Jail Terms in Bombing Try" by Joe Crankshaw.

Antonio Rafael de la Cova told a Dade Circuit Court Tuesday that he once helped the FBI finger Castro agents who have infiltrated the Miami Cuban community. FBI agents in the courtroom didn't dispute the assertion.

De la Cova, 25, had remained silent throughout the trial earlier this month which resulted in his conviction for the attempted bombing of a Little Havana adult bookstore May 6. But Tuesday he vainly tried to convince Circuit Judge Ellen Morphonios not to sentence him to 65 years in prison.

Gary E. Latham, a co-defendant who pleaded no contest, was sentenced to 35 years in prison after his defense attorney, Alfonso Sepe, asked the court for leniency. Sepe said Latham was a brilliant individual, but easily influenced by others to do acts against his will.

Assistant State Attorney George Yoss, who prosecuted the case with Assistant State Attorney Hank Adorno, opposed any relaxation of the sentences against the two men.

Yoss told Judge Morphonios that Latham had been cooperative, but that he deserved to be sentenced to show other persons in the community what they could expect if they engaged in such terrorist activities.

Judge Morphonios sentenced a third defendant, Blas Jesus Corbo, also known as Evaristo Yanez, to five years in prison for conspiracy. Corbo faces trial in federal court on the bombing charges although de la Cova and Latham already have negotiated pleas and have been sentenced to 15 and 12 years respectively in federal prison.

After hearing statements from de la Cova and Latham Tuesday, Judge Morphonios judged the men guilty and passed sentences on them totaling 65 years imprisonment for de la Cova and 35 years for Latham.

"The sentences will run consecutively to all federal terms," said Judge Morphonios, meaning that de la Cova could spend 80 years in prison. Latham's negotiations specify his state and federal terms will be served concurrently.

In a handwritten statement, read into the record by Assistant State Public Defender Mel Black, de la Cova charged that:

- His trial was "hastily assembled for a quick conviction and maximum sentence as a way of appeasing the community for the inability to solve previous bombings in Miami."

- "An overwhelming campaign was launched in the newspapers and the electronic news media to falsely portray me as a Communist, a Castro agent, an anti-Semite and anti-American among other defamations." He said the allegations endangered his life in jail.

- The state's key witness, FBI informant Miguel Angel Peraza, "lied under oath when claiming not to have provided explosives and other materials presented as evidence to the court."

De la Cova said federal and state prosecutors "are aware" of Peraza's perjury, but are taking no actions against him.

Peraza denied under oath that he provided any explosives, materials or even the idea for the bookstore bombing. He submitted to a polygraph or lie detector examination administered by the West Palm Beach Police Department and was reportedly cleared of any active role in the attempted bombing.

In his statement, de la Cova told the judge that he had come to the United States when his family fled Castro in Cuba and that "my Christian and democratic environment influenced me to oppose communism relentlessly and vehemently."

De la Cova said FBI agents seized 107 dossiers from his personal archives, which described Castro agents and sympathizers operating in the Miami area, including one on the "mysterious SBD Corporation who (sic) operated the pornographic bookstore at 3458 SW Eighth St.

"I have been found guilty of violating the laws of this nation," said de la Cova, "but my motivation was not to defy the system, instead it became a futile attempt to expose those who threaten its very existence and are responsible for the misery in my own country."

De la Cova also alleged that Peraza had fomented the plot by influencing "my nationalistic impulses."

Black and Sepe argued fruitlessly that Judge Morphonios could not pyramid the sentences finding the two defendants guilty on some or all of the seven charges filed by the state.

But Yoss argued that de la Cova deserved the "same mercy he would have shown any person who walked by that bookstore in the 40 seconds after the fuse had been lit."

When Yoss characterized Latham as extremely brilliant, cooperative and a person who could be a credit to the community, Judge Morphonios finished his sentence saying: "And if people had been in the street they would have been blown to smithereens by this man."

Both attorneys indicated their clients will appeal the sentences.

Copyright (c) 1976 The Miami Herald

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Miami Herald, August 7, 1976, "2 Convicted in Bomb Attempt" by Joe Crankshaw.

Antonio Rafael de la Cova, a graduate history student, and Blas Jesus Corbo, a Pennsylvania prison escapee, were found guilty Friday night of the May 6 attempted bombing of a Little Havana adult bookstore.

A third defendant - Gary Latham, a near genius 22-year-old physics student from Fort Lauderdale - changed his plea from innocent to no contest on Thursday and faces a 35 year prison sentence in connection with the attack.

The trio were the first persons to be arrested and convicted in connection with a wave of bombings which plagued the community in 1975 and 1976.

The three men were arrested by a 30-member posse of FBI and police outside Libros Para Adultos about 1:30 a.m., May 6, after an FBI confidential informant warned of the impending plot.

FBI agents and police recovered more than 50 items of evidence, including a pipe bomb, wigs, .38-caliber revolver, surgical gloves, dynamite, fuses, black powder, and proclamations claiming credit for the bookstore bombing and other Miami area bombings.

The prosecution finished its case Friday afternoon and the defense, in a surprise move, did not call a single witness.

Defense attorneys, Nathan Kurtz and Assistant State Public Defender Mel Black, had contended that the FBI informant entrapped de la Cova, 25, of Miami, and Corbo, 20, of Miami Beach, into placing the bomb at the bookstore.

But the argument apparently fell on deaf ears, for when the jury of four men and two women returned to the hushed, oak-paneled courtroom after five hours of deliberation, they found de la Cova guilty of all seven charges against him.

Corbo, the jury said, was only guilty of conspiracy. Dade Circuit Judge Ellen Morphonios immediately sentenced him to five years in prison because he is already wanted for escape from a Pennsylvania prison.

Judge Morphonios will sentence both de la Cova and Latham on August 31. She has said she will give Latham 35 years and de la Cova 65 years in prison.

The two defendants sat quietly at their defense table. They showed no emotion. The families, warned by the judge against any outburst, sat stiffly in their seats, clenching their fists in their laps.

De la Cova's youngest sister crossed herself several times as the court clerk read off each charge ending with the word guilty for the brother.

Outside, Mrs. Nancy de la Cova, who had smiled at her son as he was lead away, said only: "I put my trust in God on this."

"I don;t understand," said de la Cova's father, Rene. "He is so smart and I am so dumb, but he is in jail and I am out here."

Other family members, who had heard the defendants singing "Cuba Libre" and the Cuban national anthem in the courthouse holding cells during the wait for the jury verdict.

The key witness in the weeklong trial of the three men was a confidential informant, Miguel Angel Peraza, 35, Miami, a veteran of the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion.

Peraza told the jury that he had met de la Cova at a funeral in late January or early February, and that he had allowed the defendant to believe that he (Peraza) was a terrorist.

Peraza told of meetings with de la Cova and Latham to discuss bombs and bombings which eventually culminated with de la Cova revealing the plan to bomb the bookstore, against which Peraza had lead a protest march.

When he learned of the plan, Peraza said he told an FBI agent who then contacted Miami and Metro police to make an arrest.

Although Peraza told police of the plan, he did not know that Corbo would come along on what he called an "operation." Corbo was picked up by de la Cova and Latham almost as an afterthought, Peraza said. He said that Corbo did not know of the attack until he was riding across the MacArthur Causeway.

Peraza's testimony, plus the absence of evidence from FBI agents or police, apparently caused the jury to find [Corbo] guilty only of conspiracy because he did not protest the plan to bomb the bookstore.

But Peraza said that de la Cova planned the attack, made the bomb and assigned everyone roles in the May 6 incident, then carried a .38-caliber revolver and the bomb to the front of the store. The jury found him guilty of all seven charges filed by Assistant State Attorneys Hank Adorno and George Yoss.

Peraza's testimony concluded the state presentation of the case, and Black and Kurtz said they would put no witnesses or defense because they had not been given sufficient time to study state evidence and the informant's testimony.

After the trial, Black said that de la Cova himself had made the decision not to take the stand because it would have "forced the state to require his brother-in-law, Gary Latham, to take the stand against him. He didn't want to do that."

One of the stipulations in the Thursday change of plea by Latham, was that he would testify against Corbo and de la Cova if requested.

"And de la Cova said he would not plead guilty for a lesser sentence," said Black, "because he will never consent to becoming an informant."

"I don't know where he learned all this or how he got into this," said de la Cova's father. "He never talked politics at home and he never said anything about bombs.

"He never asked for money, except for school, and he always worked. When they called me to say he had been arrested, I thought it was for a traffic ticket."

Adorno, however, told the jury that the bombing attack was the act of cowards with no concern for the safety of anyone walking along SW 8th Street where the bookstore is located.

"They put a 40-second fuse on that bomb. You know how long 40 seconds is?" Adorno said, pointing to the clock and sitting down in his seat for 40 seconds. "It's long enough for them to get away. It's long enough for someone else to walk by the store when the bomb goes off. Hold them accountable, vote them guilty."

Black said his client never denied placing the bomb at the bookstore. But he said he did so at the insistence of Peraza, who sought to justify himself and earn reward money from the FBI.

"My client is only guilty of carrying a gun and having illegal dynamite," said Black in a surprise move. "All the other charges are the fault of the government which let them happen.

"Find him guilty on those two charges and tell the government it overstepped its boundaries on the others," concluded Black.

But the jury found him guilty on each charge. Black said he will file an appeal for de la Cova within 15 days. Corbo's lawyer said he is undecided about an appeal.

Copyright (c) 1976 The Miami Herald

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Miami Herald, August 7, 1976, "Bomb Trial: No Witness for Defense" by Joe Crankshaw.

The trial of three men charged with the May 6 attempted bombing of a Little Havana bookstore came to an abrupt end at 1:45 p.m. Friday when state prosecutors announced that they had completed their case.

Assistant Public Defender Mel Black, defending Antonio Rafael de la Cova, and attorney Nathan Kurtz, representing Blas Jesus Corbo, asked Dade Circuit Court Judge Ellen Morphonios for a directed verdict of acquittal on several technical grounds.

Black and Kurtz then announced that they would put up no further defense and offer no witnesses because the state had not provided them with all the available evidence prior to the start of the trial last Monday.

Judge Morphonios then instructed the attorneys for state and defense to prepare their final arguments for delivery to the jury and the charges, which she would read to the jury before it retires to reach a verdict.

Earlier Friday, an FBI informant swore that de la Cova planned the bombing of a Little Havana adult bookstore on May 6 "to keep the town hot."

But Miguel Angel Peraza, 36, father of four, said that de la Cova did not define what "hot" meant.

Peraza, who has been identified by FBI agents as a confidential informant for them, was the main witness in the trial of de la Cova and Corbo, who are charged with attempting to bomb the bookstore, arson, possession of unregistered explosives, transportation of unregistered explosives and possession of an unregistered firearm.

A third defendant in the case, Gary E. Latham, pleaded no contest, was adjudged guilty and faces 35 years in prison on the same charges.

Peraza, a heavy-set, small man with neatly combed hair, maintained a calm composure during more than two hours of questioning by Assistant State Attorney George Yoss, Assistant State Public Defender Mel Black and attorney Nathan Kurtz.

Peraza told the jury that he suggested an April demonstration against Libros Para Adultos, 3458 SW Eight St., an adult bookstore.

Peraza said he and Jim Garland, whom Peraza described as a "so-so anti-Communist," arranged for the demonstration and brought him de la Cova.

The informant also told the jury that that attempt on the bookstore with a bomb first was discussed at his home at 11:30 p.m. May 4. He said de la Cova came to the house, told him of the plan and showed him the bookstore.

Peraza said he informed the FBI the next morning and was told not to touch any evidence that might be handled by Corbo, de la Cova or Latham and to "be careful of myself."

Peraza recounted how he rode with de la Cova to Latham's Boca Raton apartment to watch the manufacture of the bomb by de la Cova, went to Florida Atlantic University and watched de la Cova and Latham prepare proclamations claiming credit for the bombing and went south to pick up Corbo in Miami Beach.

Peraza said that no one spoke to Corbo of the bombing incident until he got into the car.

Asked if Corbo protested the plan, Peraza said the only objection that the defendant made was that the bomb was too small.

Copyright (c) 1976 The Miami Herald

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Miami Herald, August 6, 1976, "A Day Costs Latham 15 Years" by Joe Crankshaw.

One day cost Gary Latham, 22, Fort Lauderdale, an additional 15 years in prison for the attempted bombing of a Little Havana adult bookstore last May 6.

Latham Thursday entered a plea of no contest to charges that he, Antonio Rafael de la Cova and Blas Jesus Corbo tried to bomb the bookstore at 3458 SW 8th St. Dade Circuit Judge Ellen Morphonios said Latham could expect a sentence of 35 years in prison.

Latham started to enter a guilty plea on Wednesday that would have resulted in a 20-year sentence, but he stopped because he found out he would have to testify against de la Cova, who is his friend.

But Thursday morning, acting under pressure from his family, Latham stood with his attorney, Alfonso Sepe, and Assistant State Attorney Hank Adorno and changed his innocent plea to no contest.

De la Cova tried twice to talk to Latham before the plea was changed, but was rebuffed by the attorneys. Latham never looked at his friend, was fingerprinted and taken from the courtroom before the jury arrived.

De la Cova stopped Sepe. "Dr. Sepe," he asked, "why did you do that?"

"I had to think of Gary," replied Sepe.

"But you never lost a case," protested de la Cova.

"I didn't win this one," said Sepe walking out of the courtroom, leaving only de la Cova and Corbo when a curious jury entered in a few moments.

Sepe said the state's decision to call Miguel Angel Peraza, 35, a confidential informant for the FBI who was with the trio at the bookstore May 6, may have affected Latham's decision.

Peraza, whom FBI agent George Kiszynski said received about $3,900 this year for his work, is expected to be the main witness called to the stand this morning. Latham may also testify.

State Public Defender Mel Black, representing de la Cova, said he did not know if de la Cova would change his plea.

Corbo showed no emotion at the change, and his attorney, Nathan Kurtz, continued to highlight the fact that none of the witnesses knew Corbo would be on the bombing attempt and that none of his fingerprints were found on any of the evidence. Corbo says he only went along for a ride with Latham, de la Cova and Peraza.

Peraza, who was granted immunity against prosecution on charges that he unlawfully possessed dynamite during a fake bomb attempt on his wife's car last fall, gave attorneys a lengthy sworn statement Wednesday night.

The statement is expected to be incorporated into his testimony before the court today.

Peraza's lengthy sworn statement says that he gained de la Cova's confidence by pretending to be a terrorist, although he never encouraged the defendant to commit any acts of violence.

Peraza said he began working for the FBI about three years ago to combat pro-Castro activists. He said he believes de la Cova to be Communist because he "hated this country" and often "hummed a Cuban Communist hymn."

In the statement, Peraza said he thought de la Cova was a defector from pro-Castro ranks but still a Communist. Despite this view, he says he was with de la Cova and Corbo when fire bombs were thrown at the residence of Vicente Dopico, an employee of Areito, a Spanish language magazine favoring a middle of the road policy with Castro.

Peraza says that a Boca Raton synagogue was an alternate target for the trio, the night the assault on the bookstore took place, and that other persons were also targeted for bombings.

Ironically, de la Cova has said he believed he was also fighting Communists and often rode around Little Havana spotting pro-Castro sympathizers for the FBI.

But the lengthy, two-volume deposition, also shows that Peraza took a polygraph of lie detector test to determine his truthfulness at the West Palm Beach Police Department. He passed most of the test, but flunked, according to his own statement, the portion in which he said he did not plant a stick of dynamite on his own car.

Peraza told the attorneys that he believed that agent Kiszynski was the person who told Metro police to search the Peraza home for dynamite, thus setting him up for an arrest on the fake bomb charge.

Two FBI laboratory experts testified they found fingerprints from de la Cova and Latham on the evidence, but none from Peraza. Defense attorneys have maintained that Peraza supplied the materials and explosives and built the bomb which was to have been used May 6.

State Attorney George Yoss said the state may wind up its main case today.

Copyright (c) 1976 The Miami Herald

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Miami News, August 6, 1976, "FBI Informer Ties 2 to Firebombing" by Hilda Inclan.

FBI informant Miguel Angel Peraza has told authorities that two of the three men standing trial for attempting to bomb a Little Havana adult bookstore, threw firebombs into the home of an Areito magazine staffer almost three weeks before they were arrested at the bookstore on May 6.

One of the two, Antonio Rafael de la Cova, 25, already faces charges for the attempted firebombing at the home of Vicente Dopico as well as for the attempted bombing of the apartment of Eliseo Perez-Stable, another staffer of Areito, regarded as a pro-Castro magazine by some exiles here.

But Peraza, 34, said in a sworn deposition Wednesday night that both de la Cova and Blas Jesus Corbo, 20, threw the firebombs into Dopico's house on April 17. None of the firebombs nor the pipe bomb planted outside Perez-Stable's apartment went off.

Peraza, who was working for the FBI as a confidential informant on April 17, said he remained in a car outside Dopico's house while de la Cova and Corbo left with the firebombs and returned empty-handed minutes later.

According to Peraza, de la Cova later returned to the scene in his motorcycle out of curiosity to find out whether police had come out to check the bombs.

Peraza, who is due to testify this morning, said in his deposition de la Cova masterminded the attempted bombing of the bookstore. He also said de la Cova, Corbo and Gary Latham, the third defendant, had also considered bombing a synagogue in Fort Lauderdale and had planned another bombing (he did not mention the site) for May 20, Cuba's Independence Day.

(Latham, in his second turnabout in the trial, yesterday agreed to testify against his co-defendants.)

Peraza said de la Cova introduced him to Corbo in April.

Peraza, who has been accused of fomenting the bookstore crime by de la Cova's attorney, Mel Black, denied prodding the three arrested men to commit crimes.

"I let them think I was following them," he said. "I let them think I was a terrorist. I couldn't let them think I was a priest either."

De la Cova, a history buff who collected data on ati-Castro organizations and police officers alike, bought a pipe in a Lindsley Lumber store in Fort Lauderdale with $5 he borrowed from Peraza sometime in April, the informant said.

He added that he saw de la Cova making the pipe bomb later droppped in front of the bookstore. He said de la Cova assembled the device May 5 inside Latham's Boca Raton apartment under Latham's supervision.

Peraza said he couldn't find out where the trio had obtained the explosives used to manufacture the bomb or those stored in the apartment.

De la Cova, 25, in turn, is expected to testify that Peraza planned the entire bookstore operation and furnished the explosives. Black has been basing his client's defense on FBI entrapment.

FBI Agent George Kiszynski testified yesterday that Peraza's reliability had been tested against other informants. He said Peraza, who had been employed by a Spanish-language newspaper and later by a magazine, had been cooperating with the FBI as a volunteer since 1973, furnishing information on Castro-Communist infiltration in Miami and had never sought or received any payment.

But, Kiszynski added, he paid Peraza a total of $3,900 in expenses so far this year.

Latham, 22, spent a good deal of time last night giving a sworn deposition on the bookstore incident to the prosecutors, Assistant State Attorneys George Yoss and Hank Adorno.

Latham yesterday agreed to testify against his co-defendants if the state asked him. It was his second turnabout in plea-bargaining negotiations with the state. He pleaded no contest to five of six charges which, in all, carry a maximum sentence of 35 years.

In return, the state dropped one charge against him for possession of explosives with intent to harm, carrying with it a maximum sentence of 15 years. The agreement also stipulated that the state sentence was to run concurrently with whatever federal sentence is handed down. All three defendants face similar federal charges on Aug. 31.

Latham had already pleaded guilty in federal court in exchange for a maximum concurrent sentence of 12 years.

Had he stood firm on the first guilty plea he entered before Circuit Court Judge Ellen Morphonios Wednesday, he would have spared himself a possible 15 years in jail.

At that time, the state was willing to drop another charge against him for placing an explosive device with intent to harm, which carried with it a maximum 15-year sentence.

The reason the state was less willing to drop that charge yesterday was that Latham was not needed as badly as a witness.

"Yesterday he had a lot more to give us before we gave immunity to Peraza and obtained his deposition," Yoss explained.

Latham withdrew his first guilty plea when he realized that his friend, de la Cova, was not going to enter a similar plea - a situation which would have forced Latham to testify against de la Cova.

Latham's mother, father and two sisters talked to him briefly yesterday and apparently persuaded him to negotiate again. De la Cova was visibly angered by the move, while Corbo remained aloof.

Judge Morphonios asked Latham yesterday if he fully understood the terms of his plea and warned him that he could get the maximum sentenced on the five charges - 35 years - and probably would.

He said he understood.

Copyright (c) 1976 The Miami News
The Miami News, August 4, 1976, "Bombing Trial Defense Keys on Informant" by Hilda Inclan.

At least two of the three men charged with attempting to bomb a Little Havana adult bookstore on May 6 appear to be trying for acquittal by discrediting an FBI informant whose tips led to their arrest.

The trial moves into its third day today with lawyers for all three men - Antonio Rafael de la Cova, Blas Jesus Corbo and Gary Latham - still trying to subpoena the elusive informant, Miguel Angel Peraza.

De la Cova's lawyer, Mel Black - who is basing his client's defense on entrapment by the FBI - blamed Peraza for "fomenting and creating the crime."

After recounting the series of bombings, assassinations and attempted assassinations that have rocked Dade County's Cuban community in the past two years, Black told jurors in his opening statement late yesterday that the defendants were "simple fall guys" of police and the FBI to ease public pressure for arrests.

Black said Peraza had both furnished the dynamite and made the bomb used in the attempted bombing.

Latham, however, in a statement after his arrest, said the explosives were provided by a woman and a black man in the Cuban community. His statement did not mention Peraza, who is white.

It is expected that the leading FBI agent on the case, George Kiszynski, will testify this week and clarify the informant's role in the case.

Attorneys and prosecutors, meanwhile, agreed yesterday on a jury panel of four men and two women after two days of challenges and deliberations. Witnesses for the state were expected to start testifying today.

Circuit Court Judge Ellen Morphonios denied a motion by the defense attorneys to have the trial moved to a different county because of what they claimed has been "excessive pre-trial publicity prejudicial" to their clients.

Assistant State Attorney George Yoss told the newly impaneled jurors that the dynamite found inside the pipe bomb allegedly dropped by de la Cova in front of the bookstore matched that found in the refrigerator of Latham's Fort Lauderdale apartment the day after their arrest.

Yoss said the informant made it possible for police and FBI agents to move in on the three men, preventing "what would have been a terrorist act."

"These three men acted in a clandestine, calculated planned effort to eradicate from the Cuban community an adult bookstore," Yoss said. "They took it upon their own hands to do so with a pipe bomb."

He said evidence would show that Latham signed out a typewriter at Florida Atlantic University - where he was an A-student in physics - the evening of May 5. It was used to write communiques - each to be called "proclamation of resistance" - were to be mailed after the bombing took place, he said.

He said police found numerous items used to make bombs as well as books on how to make them in Latham's apartment.

Nathan Kurtz, the attorney for Corbo, who was arrested with Latham inside a car near the bookstore, claimed that his client was picked up that night by the other two defendants and Peraza.

Corbo, he said, could not have seen the package de la Cova was carrying under his coat allegedly containing the bomb or a concealed .38-caliber gun because de la Cova sat in the front seat while Corbo sat in the rear of the car.

Copyright (c) 1976 The Miami News

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Miami Herald, August 3, 1976, "Jury Selection to Resume in Bookstore Bomb Trial" by Joe Crankshaw.

Selection of a jury for the trial of three men charged with the May 6 attempted bombing of a Little Havana adult bookstore continues this morning before Dade Circuit Judge Ellen Morphonios.

Five jurors tentatively were selected for the panel Monday even though defense attorneys for Antonio Rafael de la Cova, Blas Jesus Corbo and Gary E. Latham had claimed impartial jurors would not be found in Miami.

Attorneys on both sides provided two surprises after it became apparent that no plea negotiations were going to develop.

Assistant State attorney Hank Adorno revealed that Miguel Angel Peraza, a confidential FBI informant who was with the three defendants at the time of the alleged attempt, would not be called as a main witness in the case.

Adorno did not provide any information as to why Peraza would not be called, and attorney Alfonso Sepe said he expects that Peraza may be called as a witness by the defense.

Sepe also added a surprise by announcing that his client, Latham, will withdraw a guilty plea he entered in U.S. District Court to charges related to the bombing attempt.

Latham, de la Cova and Corbo are scheduled to go on trial on the federal charges Aug. 31 before U.S. District Judge C. Clyde Atkins.

Sepe, Assistant Public Defender Mel Black, representing de la Cova, and attorney Nathan Kurtz representing Corbo, spent Monday morning putting motions before Judge Morphonious.

The attorneys individually and collectively asked the judge to delay the case to allow more time for preparation of their defenses, and for a change of venue to move the trial out of Dade County.

The attorneys also asked that the judge compel the prosecutions to provide them with all statements made by their clients at any time and on any subject.

Adorno argued that the state had released all statements pertinent to the trial and that the other statements still held dealt with other crimes, including homicides, now under investigation by the Metro Public Safety Department.

"They are entitled to all statements made by their clients," ruled Judge Morphonious, giving the defense one of the two favorable rulings it received during the morning.

The other favorable ruling came when Judge Morphonious said she would reserve judgement on changing the site of the trial until it could be determined if selection of a jury would be possible.

Defense attorneys had argued that pretrial publicity, which they said included 65 articles in a three-month period plus numerous radio and television broadcasts, had "poisoned the mind of the community" and also provided inaccurate information.

To back up their contention, Black called Gordon Winslow, a deputy court clerk, who repeated statements made ealrier that he had given de la Cova a copy of an FBI report that had been given to Winslow by Alan J. Weberman, Yippie spokesman and author.

And Black called Mrs. Ethel Latham, mother on the defendent, who testified that she had never seen a Nazi flag displayed in her son's apartment in Boca Raton. FBI agents reported finding a Nazi flag in the apartment.

The FBI report and the Nazi flag were mentioned in news stories quoting officials as saying they did not know how the report got into de la Cova's hands. Weberman and Winslow came forward after the stories were printed.

But Judge Morphonious ruled that the selection of a jury would go forward. "I am not going to order a change of venue at this time. I believe that the publicity prior to the trial has not prejudiced the public's mind and that a jury can be selected," she said.

If convicted on the seven-count [?], alleging conspiracy to commit arson, unlawful possession of expolsives, attempted arson and possession of an unregistered concealed firearm, the three could receive up to 45 years in prison.

Federal charges, covering possession of unregistered firearms or destructive devices and conspiracy to explode a destructive device, carry a maximum sentence of 35 years.

According to investigators, de la Cova, Latham and Peraza, met in Boca Raton, drove to miami Beach and picked up Corbo, then went to the Libros Para Adultos, 3458 SW Eighth St. and attmepted to place a pipebomb at the door about 1:30 a.m. May 6.

A posse of FBI agents, Miami and Metro police were waiting to arrest them.

Copyright (c) 1976 The Miami Herald

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Miami Herald, May 22, 1976, "Bomb Suspect Had Secret FBI Report" by Gene Miller and Joe Crankshaw.

FBI agents, searching the home of the man they say dropped a pipe bomb in front of a Little Havana bookstore, discovered one of their own secret FBI reports, federal records revealed Friday.

Agents hauled out 70 boxes and listed the evidence: everything from a paybooth telephone to sex manuals.

They also found copies of the private correspondence of a federal court judge, confidential police investigative reports, jail records, a dart board, a harmonica, and a copy of the death certificate of murdered Rolando Masferrer.

These are among the worldly possessions of Antonio de la Cova, 25, a brilliant graduate history student at the University of Miami who lived a bizarre double life in a Le Jeune Road apartment.

FBI agents also searched the Boca Raton apartment of Gary E. Latham, 22, a near-genius physics students on the honor roll at Florida Atlantic University.

They found, among other things: gelatin explosives wrapped in a newspaper in a refrigerator, electric blasting caps, an M-K2 grenade, a box of latex surgical gloves.

Latham and de la Cova, along with Blas Jesus Corbo, 20, an escaped thief on the run, were the three suspected bombers arrested at 1:30 a.m. May 6 outside Libros Para Adultos, an adult book shop at 3508 SW 8th St. They are in jail awaiting trial.

U.S. Magistrate J.V. Eskenazi issued search warrants last week. Friday, FBI agents filed an inventory of what they found. They found lots.

But the FBI wasn't saying what it all means - if the FBI knows itself. "I don't have the foggiest idea how my report got there," said agent Francis E. Gibbons.

The report was of agent Gibbons' interview with Max (Gorman) Gonzalez on Nov. 1, 1968, after Gonzalez and 12 other "adventurers" got caught in the British Honduras with an arsenal of guns. Gonzalez later said the CIA duped him. Gonzalez and Watergate burglar Frank Sturgis were buddies. They were found guilty in 1973 of illegally transporting stolen cars into Mexico in 1968.

Equally mystified was U.S. District Judge C. Clyde Adkins. He received a letter from David W. Costa, acting director of the Drug Enforcement Administration, on March 10, 1975. "I don't even remember the letter," said Adkins. "I'll have to have my clerk look it up."

How a copy of the letter got into de la Cova's apartment was unexplained. So were copies of eight Metro police booking and investigative reports involving Cuban exiles arrested on bombing and extortion charges. One man they identified by his nickname - Torpedo.

The FBI haul included more than 40 cartons of de la Cova's books, "The Politics of Assassination," "Che Guevara, Guerrilla Warfare," "The Coming Destruction of Israel," and "Bomb Threats and Search Techniques," published by the U.S. Treasury Department.

De la Cova's library also contained books on rock singer Cat Stevens, Beatle John Lennon, the Mafia, Shakespeare, Bob Dylan and "The Joy of Sex." Much of the material seized bore directly upon violent death, war, and revolution.

He had three police report copies on the murder of Ramon Donestevez, shot to death in his Homestead boatyard April 13, newspaper clips on WQBA newsman Emilio Milian, whose legs were blown off April 30 by a car bomb, and the death certificate of Rolando Masferrer, who was also blown up by a car bomb.

De la Cova also collected telephones. Agents carted off seven of them, including a Princess, a red one, two black ones, two wall phones, and one from a paybooth. They also seized a handwritten list: "Calls Who Don't Answer."

Apparently de la Cova logged terrorist activities all over the world. He had an alphabetical [?] from A to G. The FBI didn't [?] to Z.

Some of the evidence appeared to be more of a personal nature: a Scrabble set, chess set, 24 tape recordings, a bank book, broken alarm clock, and his family tree.

De la Cova's personal items showed scholarship, too. He had a 30-page typewritten manuscript entitled, "The Moncada Attack." This was Fidel Castro's emergence as a revolutionist in Oriente Province in 1953.

Catalogued by the FBI was a numerical code for sending secret messages, 14 teletype messages on Far East matters, and lists of individuals engaged in pro and anti-Communist activities.

Included was a newspaper clipping headlined "What You Should Know Before You Buy A Gun." From a closet, an agent took a .22 caliber Ruger carbine with ammunition, clips, and sight mounts. When captured by a 30-man posse of law enforcement officers, de la Cova dropped a .38 caliber revolver on the sidewalk.

There were numbered receipt stubs from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexica. This is a university where Mexican police killed students last year, quashing a Communist uprising.

One intriguing find was a book, "Coup D'Etat in America," subtitled, "The CIA and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy," written by Yippie Alan Jules Weberman and leftist Michael Canfield. Both authors wrote inscriptions to de la Cova, who assisted them with the book.

From Latham's Boca Raton apartment, the FBI carried off explosives and a suitcase full of books, including "Methods of Electronic Audio Surveillance."

They also found "Bombs and Bombing," by Thomas G. Brodie, who happens to be Metro's bomb disposal expert. Brody defused the pipe bomb that didn't go off at the adult book store.

Bomb material found at Latham's apartment ranged from special non-spark tools and empty coffee cans to BB shot, smokeless black powder, and big firecrackers.

From the same apartment, the FBI took a large bottle of liquid mascara and a bottle of liquid of spirit gum, which actors used to paste on false beards.

From de la Cova's apartment at 960 Le Jeune Rd., the FBI took a brown paper sack full of long brown hair.

The suspects are charged with conspiracy, as well as possession of firearms, attempted arson, attempt to violate the civil rights of another, and interfering in interstate commerce. The commerce was in dirty books.

Circuit Court Judge Ellen Morphonios set trial on state charges for Aug. 2.

Copyright (c) 1976 The Miami Herald.

Friday, May 2, 2008

The Miami Herald, May 8, 1976, "Contrasting Bomb Suspects: 'Braggadocious,' 'Hermitish'" by Edna Buchanan.

A pro-Arab, anti-Castro militant who wore knee-high boots and a beret on the Florida Atlantic University campus where he penned "violent oriented" letters to the school newspaper, Antonio de la Cova, 25, used to brag that he knew a lot about violence in Miami.

Thursday, de la Cova was one of three college students charged with the attempted bombing of an adult bookstore in Miami.

De la Cova once claimed he was shot at in an FIU [Florida International University] campus parking lot.

He was wearing a Palestine Liberation Organization armband at the time, he said in his complaint to campus police. He said he shot back four times with a .22-caliber pistol he kept in his car. Campus Security Lt. George Harper said no arrests were made in the May, 1974 incident and no evidence was ever found to substantiate the report.

A masters candidate in history at the University of Miami, de la cova was fired from a teaching job at Miami's Inter-American Military Academy last January for failure to keep control of his eighth-grade students.

He sometimes wrote for Libertad, the Spanish-language newspaper whose editor, Rolando Masferrer was killed by a car bomb last Oct. 31.

His most recent effort, an article in issue No. 180, dated Jan. 2, 1976, was a chronological account of terrorist violence, including Miami's 47 bombings and 33 attempted bombings since January, 1975. Federal agents now say de la Cova had first-hand knowledge of some of those bombings.

Lucila Masferrer, widow of the slain editor, said the slightly built De la Cova who was an admirer of her husband: "Was constantly asking questions and carrying notes and clippings. It never occurred to me that he could be violent..."

A different viewpoint came from FAU history professor Dale Hoak who taught de la Cova, admired his intellect but wrote the University of Miami recommending against de la Cova's acceptance into the master's program because of his penchant for violence.

"I told them I would be apprehensive about admitting him," professor Hoak said Thursday. "We had meetings in our department trying to seek his expulsion from campus, but we had problems, legally, about getting evidence. Some of my colleagues felt personally threatened. I tried to completely separate his politics from his academic performance, but at the same time, his political activities seemed to border on the violent."

Hoak said de la Cova "would flaunt, he would imply he was either involved or had direct knowledge of some of the right wing anti-Castroites in Miami - destructive activities. He said he had participated in a raid on some Cuban ships at sea. He was braggadocious..."

Fellow students say de la Cova's FAU friends were mostly Arab students in the chemistry department.

In one letter to the school newspaper he wrote: "I believe everyone has a right to his own homeland."

Friends say de la Cova had visited Northern Ireland several years ago, witnessed a fatal bombing and had expressed a "fear of bombs" since.

He played the guitar and harmonica at a campus coffee house following his trip - singing a song he wrote condemning such violence.

"I'm baffled," Mrs. John Latham said softly. Her straight-A, college student son, a 1972 graduate of Fort Lauderdale's Stranahan High School, was being held in lieu of $200,000 bond on bomb charges.

The slightly built, bespectacled 22-year-old lived quietly in a small ground-floor apartment at 1721 NW 15th Vista in Boca Raton for nearly two years.

Neighbors described him as quiet, "straight-looking" and almost "hermitish."

A physics student, young Latham has 50 credit hours accumulated at Florida Atlantic University where he carries a perfect 4.0 average.

FAU declined to discuss Latham's scholastic achievements further, based on his right to privacy under the Buckley Amendment. School officials sent letters to all 4,000 FAU students advising them of their rights to privacy. Only 27 said they wanted privacy protection. Latham was one of them.

FAU physics department chairman James B. McGuire called Latham a good student and echoed Mrs. Latham's bafflement.

"This simply doesn't fit with anything he did in class."

Little is known about Blas Jesus Corbo, 21, student at the north campus of Miami-Dade Community College, except that he swore under questioning Thursday that he was unaware of any bomb plans, that attempts had been made to recruit him into an activist group, but that he was only along for the ride that ended in his arrest.

Corbo told U.S. Attorney Robert Rust that he was returning home from a date Wednesday night when Antonio de la Cova met him near his apartment and invited him for a drive.

"Ride where?" Corbo said he asked.


"What's that mean?" Corbo said he answered.

"You know, around. We do it a lot," he quoted de la Cova. "You know, we get something to eat and things."

He knew nothing of the bomb, he says, until he saw them take it out of the Ford Pinto and go to the adult book store.

He was in the car when police closed in.

Havana-born Corbo has lived in Dade County for 10 years. Persons at the 660 Collins Ave. address he gave say they never heard of him.

Copyright (c) 1976 The Miami Herald

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Miami Herald, May 8, 1976, "Recalling the 'Intellectual' and the 'Radical'" by Dorothy Gaiter.

Antonio de la Cova and Gary E. Latham were as different as night and day to the friends and professors who knew them as students at Florida Atlantic University.

De la Cova, 25, was "unstable, braggadocious," feared by some of the professors in the history department. He carried a gun on campus which frightened students so badly that none would testify to police that he had it, one professor said. He was "a dangerous element."

Latham, 27, was remembered Friday as a "quiet, withdrawn methodical student who kept to himself." He was a very intelligent and maintained a straight-A average, earning a place on the President's Honor List.

Those that saw them together wondered what they had in common. Several people who knew one had never heard of the other.

And yet something during their time together at FAU - before de la Cova withdrew from the University "voluntarily" according to school records - the two became friends, accomplices in some shadowy radical bond that led to their arrest Thursday morning for planting a bomb at an adult book store in Miami's Little Havana.

Undercover police, waiting for them, at the store while de la Cova took a potentially fatal pipe bomb wrapped in a brown paper bag toward the building.

The two were taken into custody on a string of federal and state bomb and-or conspiracy charges. Blas Jesus Corbo, a student at Miami-Dade Community College, was with them and shares the charges.

Friday, U.S. Magistrate J.V. Eskenazi reduced the bond for Latham from $200,000 to $100,000 in cash or securities and Corbo from $200,000 to $50,000 in cash or securities.

De la Cova was not present in the Miami courtroom because he has not hired an attorney and cannot represent himself at a bond reduction hearing.

All that led to the arrest Thursday will unfold in time as the police investigation continues and when the fear of talking about them leaves the hearts of some of those who know them - especially de la Cova.

"Tony" was well known on campus as an anti-Semite who was the information spokesman for the Arab and American Student Organization which in his words, "tenaciously professed a strong anti-Zionist platforms,"

Although he was known to sometimes wear a full army fatigue outfit, complete with boots and a hat, students remember that he participated in an Arab-Israeli debate in 1974 wearing a "very chic pin-striped suit and he tore them (the pro-Israeli speakers) apart." Latham, on the other hand, shunned public attention and kept to himself.

"Tony" often sang at the campus' coffeehouses playing his guitar or harmonica, singing songs he'd written that were patterned after Bob Dylan's style, said G. Beppo, a student who used to operate the coffeehouse. Beppo said the only time he saw de la Cova lose his temper was "when he was being heckled by Israeli students."

Academically, he was a "pretty good student," said Dale Hoak who taught him in four courses before taking another job in Virginia last year. De la Cova "raised a lot of questions about his political activities and there was his attitude towards some of his professors.

"Some of my colleagues (in the history department - Tony was a history major) felt personally threatened and they expressed this. I was also very upset by it and I knew that there was a tension about it," Hoak said.

The "tension was so great, that de la Cova once wrote a letter printed in the student paper, the Atlantic Sun, accusing Dr. Boyd Breslow of grading an exam with "undo influence because of my personal beliefs."

According to the letter, Breslow reconsidered the D he gave de la Cova and "re-evaluated the paper to a C-plus." Breslow refused to talk about the disagreement when questioned by Miami Herald Correspondent C.L. Steele.

An acquaintance of de la Cova who asked not to be identified said he had both a "running dislike and respect for Boyd Breslow."

The "tension" grew, professor Hoak said, with members of the History Department meeting occasionally to "seek his expulsion from campus. But we had problems," Hoak said, "because we couldn't get any evidence that we could use.

"He was not a bad student, but he seemed to be disruptive to campus life to such an extraordinary degree that some of my colleagues actually felt threatened by him. I tried to completely separate his politics from his academic performance, but at the same time, his political activities seemed to border on the violent."

When he sought admission to the school's graduate department, the history department rejected his application and he applied to the University of Miami which accepted him even though Hoak wrote a letter suggesting that they evaluate his extracurricular leanings.

Whether de la Cova did half the "violent" things he boasted of is unknown at this time. Hoak said his accounts of various "escapades with anti-Castro ties in Miami" bordered on being braggadocious, "and one tended not to believe him for that reason."

Barbara Rice, a friend and former editor of the Sun when Tony was on campus, said he became disenchanted with the United States because he felt this country had "betrayed Cuban refugees. The State Department had sold them out and they couldn't get any sympathy from the press. He felt that the only thing left was violence," she said.

She said he talked about carrying out attacks on businesses that had ties with Cuba. However, federal agents late Thursday were trying to link the alleged aborted bomb attempt with bombings of the Miami FBI building, Social Security office, two post offices and a bank.

If Latham had any political philosophy, his professors and friends never heard him talk about it.

One student told Miss Steele that Gary "often talked about having radical friends," but he had "always assumed that they were left wing."

James McGuire, chairman of the Physics Department, said Latham was in class as ususal Wednesday, the day before the bombing attempt and he was "withdrawn."

Other professors told Miss Steele that they were shocked that police had confiscated explosive devices and a shotgun from Latham's apartment.

One teacher of the "straight," bespectacled student said Latham was so smart that, "I'd expect him to build a better bomb" than the contraption de la Cova had Thursday.

But still these were the two students arrested together Thursday. A flamboyant radical and a studious "straight" intellectual - an unlikely couple to be planting a bomb together.

Copyright (c) 1976 The Miami Herald

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Miami News, May 7, 1976, Editorial "Break, At Last, in Terrorism."

Everyone will hope that the arrests yesterday morning on SW 8th Street provide a genuine break in the wave of murders and bombings that have terrorized this community for the past two years.

In a display of excellent coordination, officers from the FBI and the county's two largest police departments, Miami and Dade County, apprehended three suspects, allegedly on the scene of an attempted bombing. One of the suspects was said to have been carrying an explosive device when the officers closed in.

The arrests obviously resulted from excellent intelligence work over a long period of time. The incident answers, at least in part, criticism that law enforcement agencies were giving the terrorism less attention than it deserved because the victims were Latins.

Common sense tells us that it is early, however, to conclude that the entire wave of terror, which has included scores of bombings, four murders and three murder attempts, will be closed because of these arrests.

Circumstances suggest that the terrorism in its different forms resulted from many possible motives. Certain covert political groups claimed responsibility for a few activities which appeared to be protest oriented, although even those were clouded by speculation that they were inspired by Castro partisans to sow confusion and discord.

Some of the incidents carried undertones of narcotic involvement, and still others were rumored to be simple cases of extortion - the old fashioned American protection racket.

Investigators believe the arrest of the three suspects, who seemed to be deeply involved in the manufacture of explosives, will lead to the apprehension of other persons connected to the terrorism. We hope they are correct.

We also hope that the investigating agencies will provide more information about all this as soon as possible. The break had been a long time coming; the public deserves relief from the anxiety that has hung over the community for the past two years.

Copyright (c) 1976 The Miami News
The Miami News, May 7, 1976, "How Law Officers Tracked Suspects" by Louis Salome.

A red motorcycle, a dog-eared 15-month-old FBI memo and two bungled bombing attempts led police to make their first arrests in connection with a wave of terrorist bombings that began here two years ago.

A leader in the combined federal and local investigation was FBI agent George R. Kiszynski, a bomb expert. His principal quarry was a 25-year-old former history teacher, Antonio Raphael de la Cova of 960 Le Jeune Rd., who police said had a talent for planting bombs.

Kiszynski eventually pieced together the puzzle which led police in April to implement a seven-week, round-the-clock surveillance of de la Cova.

The hunt started last Nov. 18, when Kiszynski was called in to examine an unexploded pipe bomb left at the front screen door of a University of Miami dormitory apartment. Its occupant, Eliseo Perez-Stable was a staff member of Areito, a Spanish-language magazine which favored peaceful coexistence with Fidel Castro.

While checking out Areito - a national magazine with headquarters in New York and bureaus in several states - Kiszynski learned the name of Vicente Dopico, a member of its editorial board.

Almost four months later, Kiszynski was called in to investigate the attempted fire-bombing of Dopico's home at 450 NW 43rd Place.

As Kiszynski was cruising the area near the Dopico home, he saw a man riding a red motorcycle. Kiszynski followed the motorcycle south on Le Jeune Road and managed to force the rider to the side of the road.

"The rider was a white male, young, about mid-20s, Latin, wearing metal rim aviator glasses and dark clothing" - but as he got out of his car to question the rider, the man took off, fleeing through the yards of two homes.

Kiszynski had gotten a good look at Antonio Raphael de la Cova, but it took some digging and some luck for him to match the name to the face.

With the visual evidence in his head, Kiszynski returned to FBI headquarters here and found a memo written by Agent Joseph S. Dawson dated Jan. 10, 1975, 15 months earlier.

That memo said de la Cova, then a student at Florida Atlantic University, living at 311 SW 31st Ave., Fort Lauderdale, reported to the FBI that he had been accused by police in Boca Raton of stealing documents belonging to one of the officers of Areito. The memo related how de la Cova explained that some students at Florida Atlantic University favored the Castro regime.

To penetrate the magazine's hierarchy and learn more, de la Cova told Dawson, he had become friendly with some of Areito's leaders. But he denied stealing documents and offered to take a lie detector test, according to Dawson's memo.

Kiszynski tracked down a picture of de la Cova and now he had the identity of the man on the red motorcycle he had flagged down a few weeks earlier.

From that time in mid-April, a dragnet of police kept watch on de la Cova's every move. It paid off at 1:30 a.m. yesterday.

Police got the break they wanted Wednesday when a Metro investigation spotted de la Cova "reconnoitering" the 3400 block of SW 8th Street.

That investigator, David S. Nye, recalled that some Cubans had picketed the Mini-Adult Books store at 3458 SW 8th St. a couple of weeks earlier.

The police watch continued that same day and detectives saw de la Cova leave his apartment at 8 p.m. in a faded beige Volkswagen with a sunroof, heading north.

Other detectives saw an old school chum of de la Cova's, Gary E. Latham, leave his home at 1721 NW 15th Vista, Boca Raton, about 7:20 p.m. driving a 1974 Pinto.

At 9:16 p.m., two persons, one of them de la Cova, entered Latham's apartment. The other man was unidentified at the time. Shortly after, Latham returned home and at 9:37 p.m. the trio left in Latham's Pinto.

About 11:10 p.m., the three man returned to Latham's apartment and de la Cova was carrying "what appeared to be a heavy satchel or suitcase," FBI Agent Federico Villalobos said.

Shortly after midnight, the three men headed down Interstate 95 towards Dade County. The brown, three-door Pinto eventually stopped in the 3400 block of SW 8th Street.

Police said de la Cova, carrying a package, and another unidentified white male left the car and walked up 34th Avenue and turned up toward the adult bookstore.

When police moved in to arrest the pair, de la Cova tried to flee, dropping the package.

At this point, a small mystery creeps into the police account: There is no further mention of de la Cova's companion on the street. It is unclear how he escaped and police have refused to comment on the point.

After the arrest of de la Cova, other officers "almost simultaneously" moved in on the Pinto and arrested Latham and a man identified as Blas Jesus Corbo, address unknown.

That makes three men. However, if the police affidavit is accurate, there were four men on the scene - two in the car and two, including de la Cova, on the street.

Another mystery is Corbo himself. Police at first said his address was 660 Collins Ave. Miami Beach. But, the manager of the apartment at the address had no record of Corbo living in the building and other tenants said they had never heard of him.

Much more is known about Latham, who had been chums with de la Cova since elementary school.

When police searched Latham's home in Boca Raton, they found a shotgun, hand grenade, gelatin-type explosives and completed pipe bombs. Police called it a "bomb factory."

There were also reports from police that other parts of the dynamite allegedly planned for use at the adult bookstore were found in Latham's home.

An honor student in physics at FAU, Latham was regarded as virtually a hermit by his neighbors.

"This doesn't sound like the one I know," said Eve Magnuson, a neighbor. "We thought he was a hermit. He never had any visitors. He doesn't know anyone. You hardly knew he was there."

In his apartment, police found several books and publications on bombs, including one on how to defuse bombs by Metro's detonations expert Tom Brodie, who defused the explosive allegedly dropped on 8th Street by de la Cova yesterday morning.

The three men were charged with violating a series of state and federal laws. They are being held in Broward County Jail on $200,000 bond each.

Police have indicated that the arrests may lead to a breakthrough in solving other bombings that have been occurring in the Miami area with increasing frequency in the past two years. Since Jan. 1, 1975, there have been 80 of them attempted, 47 of which resulted in actual detonations.

Police hinted in the affidavits seeking warrants to search the apartments of de la Cova and Latham that the latter may have been involved in a series of five bombings last Dec. 3. But they stopped short of making a direct connection.

The state of terror that has gripped parts of Miami's Cuban community was shown by an incident yesterday afternoon at WQBA, a Spanish-language radio station whose news director, Emilio Milian, had his legs blown off by a bomb last Friday.

A WQBA spokesman said a suspicious-looking package addressed to Milian arrived in the mail. It had no return address.

Station officials promptly evacuated the building and called Metro's bomb squad. The bomb squad arrived and gingerly opened the 10-by-12 inch package.

It contained a Bible.
The Miami News, May 7, 1976, "De la Cova: Two Political Faces... A Fixation on Communism" by Hilda Inclan.

Antonio Raphael de la Cova, whom police arrested early yesterday as he was allegedly about to plant a bomb in an adult bookstore in Little Havana, is a man with two faces, politically and intellectually.

At Florida Atlantic University, where he received his bachelor's degree in history, he was known as a leader among pro-Castro intellectuals, police said.

It's likely he adopted a pro-Castro position at the university in order to infiltrate pro-Castro factions.

In Dade county, where de la Cova taught American history at a private high school, he was widely known as a vehement opponent of Castro.

His alleged attacks on Areito magazine, a national publication which advocated peaceful coexistence with Castro, mesh more with the Dade County version of his political leanings.

De la Cova's grades at FAU were good, and he has been seeking admission to the University of Miami's graduate school.

He was dismissed from his job as an eighth-grade history teacher at the Inter-American Military School at NW 7th Street and 36th Avenue in January because he could not maintain discipline in class.

"But he was a fine teacher," said school principal Pedro Roig.

"His fixation was Communism. He would always be very quiet until somebody brought up the subject of Cuba or Communism. Then, he wouldn't stop talking."

De la Cova, one of four children, had moved in the past year to an apartment at 960 Le Jeune Rd. It was from there that police had watched his every move for seven weeks.

Nancy de la Cova, his mother, said, "What can I tell you about him? I am his mother. If it is true that he was involved, then I can't condone it. I can't justify it. I must condemn this type of activity."

Mrs. de la Cova, who teaches Spanish in a private school during the day in Fort Lauderdale and in an adult education program at night, said, "If he had been stupid, I could understand that he would get involved in something like this. But he was very intelligent."

Rene de la Cova, Antonio father, is a lab technician at the North Broward General Hospital at Pompano.

His family has lived in Fort Lauderdale since July 1966. The family arrived from Cuba in 1961, and moved to Louisville and St. Louis before moving to South Florida.

De la Cova wrote sporadically for the weekly Spanish tabloid Libertad, which was directed by the late Rolando Masferrer, who was victim of a bomb blast last Oct. 31.

Masferrer's politics were mixed and he had many enemies on the right and left.

"This (de la Cova's arrest) has taken everybody by surprise," said Lucilla Masferrer, Masferrer's widow.

"He (de la Cova) was the type of person you would never suspect of terroristic activities. He looked rather harmless, kind of intellectual, a studious type of person."

Copyright (c) 1976 The Miami News

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Miami Herald, May 7, 1976, "Explosives, Grenade Seized At Bomb Suspect's Apartment" by Edna Buchanan and Joe Crankshaw.

[Front Page Photo]

Explosives, clocks, a shotgun and a fragmentation grenade were seized from a "hermitish" young college student's Boca Raton apartment Thursday, hours after he and two other students were arrested planting a time bomb at an adult book store in Miami's Little Havana, police and FBI agents said.

Literature and letters which FBI men said were "not political but could pertain to bombings" were also found at the apartment of Gary E. Latham, a 22-year-old straight-A mechanical engineering Florida Atlantic University student.

Latham, Antonio De la Cova, 25, a University of Miami student seeking his masters in history and Blas Jesus Corbo, 21, a student at Miami Dade Community College, are being held in lieu of $200,000 bond each on a string of federal and state bomb and-or conspiracy charges.

Little was known immediately about Corbo.

De la Cova was known as a radical anti-Castroite who taught Cuban history at a military school deplored the spate of bombings that have plagued Miami and wrote about them in the Cuban publication Libertad.

On the campus of Florida Atlantic University, which he attended for two years, students remember him as a radical pro-Castroite who condemned American involvement in the Cuban situation.

Corbo, Latham and De la Cova have no prior records, police said.

Police wouldn't say whether the three were believed tied to any other bombings in the area. But in a search warrant for De la Cova's apartment, Thursday officials said they were looking for a "typewriter used to write threatening communications."

A tri-agency task force of FBI, Miami and Public Safety Department agents waited in darkness on a surveillance that sealed off 10-blocks from SW 32nd to 42nd Avenues at SW 8th Street Wednesday night and early Thursday.

The wait for 30 undercover men ended at 1:30 a.m. whne a brown 1974 Pinto owned by Latham rolled to a stop in a shopping center parking lot 75 yards from the adult book store at 3458 SW 8th St.

The occupational license for the shop - picketed by irate citizens last month - is issued to a man named Al Dowd, S.B.D. Inc., county records show.

De la Cova stepped from the car with a potentially lethal pipe bomb - dynamite wrapped around a pipe with a black powder fuse - in a brown paper sack under his arm, FBI agents said.

"He was walking like it was the middle of noon," a police officer said.

As De la Cova bent over, placing the bomb directly in front of the book shop's yellow door, the undercover men moved in on command, they said, guns drawn and shouting for him to halt.

Instead, he fled, still carrying the bomb, running first east and then west, no more than five feet in either direction, police said.

Seeing agents closing in, he dropped the bomb to the sidewalk, police said and reached for a .38 caliber revolver which fell from his shirt. He and the other two suspects, one of whom was on foot near the car and the other inside the Pinto, were arrested with no resistance.

Police described the suspects' reaction to their arrest as "total shock."

Metro Bomb Squad expert Tom Brodie, on stand-by during the surveillance, quickly dismantled the device.

Later Thursday a Metro bomb disposal truck rolled to the Geneva Apartments at 1721 NW 15th Vista in Boca Raton where Latham has rented a $185-a-month efficiency for two years.

FBI men and Boca Raton police took their search warrant in through a window because "they don't know what to expect, the door could be rigged," an officer said.

They also searched and photographed a grey Volkswagen parked nearby, apparently belonging to Corbo.

"I wouldn't call it a bomb factory," Boca Police Chief Charles McCutcheon told Herald Reporter Dorothy Gaiter, "but there were explosive devices in his apartment." He said his department had been part of the investigation for about two weeks, and that the trio so far has not been linked to other South Florida bombings.

"They do have reason to believe that the bomb found this morning came from this apartment," Chief McCutcheon said.

Two pounds of explosives were removed from the apartment, he said.

FAU declined to release information on Latham's scholastic career based on his right to privacy under the Buckley Amendment. School officials said they sent letters to all 4,000 FAU students advising them of their rights to privacy. Of the 4,000, 27 said they wanted privacy protection.

One of the books found in Latham's apartment, police said, was written by bomb expert Brodie - who stood by during the search to dispose of any explosives.

Neighbors described the 1972 graduate of Stranahan High School in Fort Lauderdale as a quiet, almost "hermitish" loner.

He was clad in blue jeans and a green army coat when arrested. He and De la Cova both wear gold rimmed round eyeglasses.

Neighbors also described De la Cova as "a very quiet man. He's lived alone for slightly more than a year in a single room on the top floor of an apartment house at 960 Le Jeune Rd.

Student President Jim Hardman said De la Cova's friends were primarily Arab students - mostly from the chemistry department.

Campus police say that on May 22, 1974 De la Cova, wearing a Palestine Liberation organization armband, complained that he was shot at by four youths with a shotgun in the campus parking lot.

He shot back four times, he said, with a .22 caliber revolver which he kept in his car. Campus security Lt. George Harper said no arrests were made and no evidence was ever found to substantiate the report.

During that time, students said, De la Cova wore knee high boots and a beret to symbolize his protest image.

Miami friends of De la Cova gave conflicting accounts, describing him as a fiery anti-Communist who left FAU because he felt some teachers were Marxist.

De la Cova wrote articles for Libertad, the Miami Spanish language newspaper whose editor, Rolando Masferrer was killed by a car bomb Oct. 31, 1975.

De la Cova's most recent contribution to Libertad was a Jan. 2, 1976 article detailing Miami's 47 bombings and 33 attempted bombings since January, 1975.

Corbo, a Havana-born permanent resident alien, told police he lives in South Miami Beach, at 660 Collins Ave. People at the apartment said they never heard of him.

Miami Police Chief Garland Watkins was at home, asleep during the wee hours Thursday when Miami FBI Chief Julius Mattson telephoned to say that the joint surveillance was successful.

All three agencies have worked together since November to solve area bombing cases.

The recent bombings, one of which cost WQBA radio station director Emilio Milian his legs last week, have resulted in outraged reaction from the community, police say.

"Community concern has been reflected in information to police agencies," Chief Watkins said.

The investigations and surveillances in past months have been "coordinated at top levels" of all three agencies, Watkins said.

Investigators said they hope the Thursday arrests will lead them to conclusions in other cases and said their efforts are continuing.

"You can't make one neat little package out of all the things that have happened over weeks and months," Watkins said. "We still need as much, or more information from the public."

Investigators said they had no motive for the attempted bombing of the book store.

The store operators gave land lord Soloman Latman notice that they will be closing four days ago, he said. Signs in the store, which feature 25 cent mini-movies, sex devices and magazines, say a 50 percent discount is in effect in a going out of business sale.

The manager, an attractive young woman, said she operates the store for a man in charge who represents out-of-town owners. She declined to give his name.

The $300-a-month, three year lease was signed by Al Dowd, who could not be reached Thursday for comment.

All the tenants in the sprawling building have complained about the adult bookshop since it opened in April, 1975, Latman said.

"He lied to me," Latman says, insisting he was unaware of the type bookstore planned when the lease was signed.

When he asked the potential tenant the type of book shop he said he was told that "Spanish books" would be sold.

Last month a group of demonstrators picketed the store but departed after less than a day. They were objecting to the store's presence, but neighboring businessmen said the demonstrators were strangers.

The store, open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. was extremely busy after 6 p.m. neighbors said.

closest neighbors are a doctor's office on one side and a bakery on the other.

The bookstore manager, who asked that her name not be used, said she knew nothing of the bomb attempt or any threats.

She said she did not know the suspects.

Latham and De la Cova are charged federally with conspiracy to violate civil rights, conspiracy to and attempting to bomb property used in interstate and foreign commerce, and possession of an unregistered destructive device.

Florida charges against them include, carrying a concealed firearm, having a gun while committing a crime, attempting to discharge a destructive device, and possession of a destructive device with intent to harm life, limb or property.

Corbo is charged with conspiracy to commit the violations.

Corbo, and the two others, appeared before the U.S. Magistrate Charlene Sorrentino who advised them of their rights and set a bond hearing for Friday.

She appointed Public Defender Ed Galante to represent Corbo. De la Cova said he would hire his own lawyer and Judge Sorrentino gave him until 10 a.m. Monday.

Copyright (c) 1976 The Miami Herald
The Miami News, May 6, 1976, "Three Suspects Arrested in Little Havana Bomb Try" by Milt Sosin.

Three men were arrested early today as they allegedly tried to bomb a building in Little Havana in what may be the first crack in an 18-month wave of terrorist bombings here.

FBI Agent-in-Charge Julius Mattson said, "The investigation and these arrests are expected to lead to the solution of some other bombings, including those last December (when seven bombs exploded in a 24 hour period.)"

Federal and local officials refused to link the men arrested to any specific bombing or attribute any motive, and Mattson added it was too early to tell if any of these cases were related to the murders of four Cuban exiles and the attempted murder of three others in the past two years.

In addition to the three arrested in Little Havana last night, federal and local officials were questioning several others in connection with the bombing wave, and said further arrests were expected later today.

FBI agents Metro and Miami police said the arrests of the three in the 3400 block of SW 8th Street resulted from a stakeout that followed a six-month surveillance of a suspected terrorist group.

The FBI identified the suspects as Antonio Raphael de la Cova, 25, of 960 SW 42nd Ave; Blas Jesus Corbo, 21, of an unknown address; and Gary Edward Latham, 22, of 1721 NW 15th Vista, Boca Raton.

They were nabbed after 25 officers from the three agencies had converged upon the scene at 1:30 a.m. while maintaining strict radio silence.

Miami police said the suspects drove to the 3400 block of SW 8th Street and parked their car. Officials said de la Cova got out carrying a small length of pipe packed with dynamite, while Corbo and Latham remained in the car.

As de la Cova walked along the block - composed of stores at the street level with offices on the upper floors - FBI agents and police sprang out of hiding and converged on him.

De la Cova, police said, dropped the bomb in the doorway of a TV appliance store. One police source said the actual target was an "adult book store" and mini-movie establishment at 3458 SW 8th St., but a press conference later in the morning, police spokesmen said they are not positive of the intended target.

Within minutes after the bomb was found, Tom Brodie, head of the Metro bomb squad and one of the nation's leading experts in the field, was at work disassembling it.

"The way we figured it," said one of Brodie's associates at the scene, "Tom had only a minute or so to defuse the bomb. He took it apart right then and there."

Police cordoned the block while detectives combed the area using a metal detector to locate scraps of possible evidence.

The wave of bombings date back to January 1975. There have been 47 bombs that have exploded and 33 that didn't. Federal officials have made no arrests in those cases and frequently blamed the "lack of co-operation" of the Cuban community.

Last December seven bombs exploded in a 24 hour period, one at the Miami police department, another in the State Attorney's office, and others at federal buildings.

The men arrested today were charged under both federal and state laws.

De la Cova was described by neighbors as a quiet, self-effacing man who frequently ran short of money, drove a battered old Volkswagen and a motorcycle, and taught at Inter-American Military Academy, a private elementary school in Little Havana. A secretary at the academy, at 3525 NW 7th St., said de la Cova had worked there but "left three of four months ago."

Latham was said by the FBI to be student at Florida Atlantic University.

His mother, Mrs. John Latham, said her son was a physics major at Boca Raton University and had a 4.0 grade average. "We're baffled," she said. "My son was the quiet type, the kind who just went off to his room and studies." She said he had no involvement in radical politics.

Corbo was studying at Miami-Dade North Community College. Police gave his address as 660 Collins Ave. but the owners of an apartment building there said he had never heard of Corbo. All three suspects are single.

"The surveillance has been going on since last November," a Metro source said today. "Last night, based on certain activities, it became apparent that some kind of a bombing attempt would be made within a few hours.

"The surveillance was stepped up but the exact target did not become known until shortly before the attempt was made. However, we had time enough to move the FBI agents, the Metro Organized Crime detectives and the Miami police into position, and at 1:30 a.m., the suspects showed up and we grabbed them."

A number of other persons were picked up and questioned by the FBI and two of them were taken to the FBI headquarters on Biscayne Boulevard. Their identities were not immediately disclosed.

The structure housing the apparent target of the bomb is an L-shaped, two-story building, with offices above the stores, on the south side of SW 8th Street. In the block of stores, most of which cater to a Latin clientele, are a printing shop, a mini-market, a party service, a physician's office, a beauty shop, an income tax service, the TV appliance store and the adult book store.

Just hours before the arrests, U.S. Sen Lawton Chiles had criticized the FBI in a speech in Miami for its failure to quell terrorist activities in Miami. Chiles could not be reached this morning for comment on the arrests early today.

Chiles also visited Emilio Milian, the news director of radio station WQBA, who last week had both legs blown off by a bomb. Milian is at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Copyright (c) 1976 The Miami News

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Miami News, May 6, 1976, "Chiles Criticizes FBI Inaction Here" by Louis Salome

U.S. Sen. Lawton Chiles has criticized the FBI for failing to halt the wave of terrorist murders and attempted murders that has gripped Miami for two years.

Just hours after his speech, the FBI, Miami and Metro police arrested three men and detained two others for questioning about bombings.

In his speech in Miami last night, Chiles urged the creation of a special FBI task force to combat the terrorist activity.

Federal agents today indicated the people being held were among a group of men who have been under surveillance since November.

The Lakeland Democrat said he met recently with Deputy U.S. Attorney General Harold Tyler in an attempt to get Tyler to persuade U.S. Attorney General Edward Levi to create the beefed-up task force in cooperation with local law enforcement officials.

Chiles said he expected to get Levi's response very soon. While in Miami, Chiles said, he hoped to meet with U.S. Attorney Robert Rusk about the problem.

"For the period of time this has been goig on, we ought to be seeing some action and results," Chiles said.

He said it is no longer good enough for the FBI and other law enforcement agencies to say they have ideas about who's behind the violence but can't prove it.

Chiles made the comments while on his way to visit Emilio Milian, the news director of radio station WQBA, who last week had both legs blown off by a bomb.

"It's been going on for a long period of time," Chiles said of the bombings and shootings.

"When a newsman is a victim apparently because he spoke out against terrorism, the community needs to see some action."

There have been seven assassinations attempts - four of them successful - here in two years, all of them apparently related in some fashion to anti-Castro Cuban politics.

After a series of bombings last December, the FBI and local law enforcement agencies formed a task force which resulted in the indictment of Rolando Otero, who has fled the country.

The FBI, however, is directly involved only in bombings, not shootings, and official meetings of the task force have become less frequent in recent months.

Chiles said the FBI has not added any agents to work on the cases, at least to his knowledge.

"I don't think they (the FBI) have the kind of force operating here that they have in New York and Chicago to combat terrorism," Chiles said.

"The total community needs to speak out and make clear we are not going to be intimidated. The total community needs to condemn the action and show this is the American way."

Copyright (c) 1976 The Miami News
The Miami Herald, May 6, 1976, Letter to the Editor "For 'Liberty'... Terrorism?"

It is almost impossible to comprehend how the minds of these bomb throwers and planters work.

For "Liberty" they try to destroy someone?

For "Liberty" they attempt to silence by hideous means those in the community who disagree with them?

For "Freedom" they would run the risk of crippling or maiming or murdering innocent individuals?

How little sensitivity they must possess. How small a portion of them must be given over to the decisions of right or wrong.

I am sickened and revolted by revolutionaries who try to impose the greatest tyranny of all on our community; the utter disregard and lack of respect for the sanctity of human life.

I sincerely hope that none for a minute think that their activities reflect in any way on the 99.99 per cent of our Latin community that has given us so much and abides with and loves the law.


Copyright (c) 1976 The Miami Herald