[Note: Newsmakingnews.com publishes the following accurate transcript of a KNBC-TV broadcast, to assist deaf/hard of hearing and visually impaired. Published here for educational reasons only.]
Title: Suspect Arrested in Triple Murder Had Been Given Immunity
Subtitle: With investigative help from victim's daughter, authorities no longer believe Jimmy Hughes was completely truthful with his account of being the bagman for a purportedly approved covert operation.
by KNBC TV, LOS ANGELES © 2009 Patrick Healy reporting, date: November 2009
JIMMY HUGHES: (Note: Video of him as a young man) One day in particular, uh….
PATRICK HEALY: Jimmy Hughes as he appeared a quarter century ago, a government witness protected by immunity from prosecution. And this is Jimmy Hughes now in custody awaiting extradition to be prosecuted for the very same triple murder. Authorities say he forfeited his immunity.
JOHN POWERS: There’s a lot of things that have been said about this case that are not necessarily true. I believe we have sufficient evidence to bring a case against Jimmy Hughes.
PATRICK HEALY: Cold case Detective John Powers renewed the Riverside Sheriff’s investigation a year ago. Rachel Begley has been living with the case 28 years. Ralph Boger, one of the three victims, was her father.
RACHEL BEGLEY: I started growing up and when I was about fifteen or sixteen,, I think, is when it really hit me that nobody was…. I didn’t know. They were doing something. It was just that I just didn’t know what they were doing. I just didn’t have answers that I needed .
PATRICK HEALY: The questions go back three decades when the doors to gambling had just opened for Indian tribes and the Cabazon band started a new casino near Indio. Chopper riding Fred Alvarez served as the vice Chairman. Begley’s Dad Ralph Boger was the casino manager.And management of the tribe’s business affairs was taken over by a man with a murky past – John Nichols discovered to have connections to organized crime figures like Rocco Zangari and involvement with international arms dealing reaching up to the Contras. In 1981 found the bodies of Boger and Alvarez and friend Patty Castrol were found on the patio of Alvarez’s home all shot in the back of the head. A week before Boger had a talk with his daughter.
RACHEL BEGLEY: My dad had taken me out for ice dream and he told me there were some thing going on at the reservation that were not good things. And talking to a thirteen year old he used that terminology. He told me that there were bad guys there and that him and Fred were trying to stop them.
PATRICK HEALY: The investigation initially focused on people known to the victims. Jimmy Hughes told authorities that it was an ordered assassination, that he was only the bagman. This is how Hughes put it when we interviewed him back in 1985.
JIMMY HUGHES Nichols told me that the hit on Alvarez was authorized back to government covert action.
PATRICK HEALY: Hughes told us back then that Nichols had ordered a hit on him. The California Attorney General had taken over the case and convened a grand jury. This is how a then young PATRICK HEALY summarized the sigtuation
PATRICK HEALY: (As young PATRICK HEALY) Inside the Riverside County courthouse, all these revelations are now being digested by the grand jury. Members are taking their time with the investigation and the State Department of Justice agrees there’s no need to hurry, if and when indictment are issued it knows where to find John Philip Nichols. Patrick Healy, News 4, Riverside County.
(AS PATRICK HEALY, NOW) As it was the grand jury never did return indictments. Rachel Begley went on with her life, and then all the questions came back.
RACHEL BEGLEY: I was just doing a random search online for family members over an argument with my husband and ran across a couple of books that I saw some of the things that were said about the murders and I had no idea that any of this stuff had ever happened or that any of these things that were being written about were even true and I actually started out very angry about it and I thought somebody was trying to make money off my dad’s murder and that’s what got me started looking into all of this .
PATRICK HEALY: In the intervening years Jimmy Hughes had become a minister ad founded a ministry operating in Honduras, Central America. Occasionally he returned to the states. Last year Begley learned Hughes would be attending a conference in Fresno She decided she would try to talk to him.
RACHEL BEGLEY: I thought maybe he was just witness because of what he said and then I started looking into, you know, some of the background and some of the documentation back in the day that his name was listed on, and I saw a deeper connection
JIMMY HUGHES: Nobody knows my situation. Nobody knows the debt that I have.
PATRICK HEALY: Accompanied by the son of Fred Alvarez and a video camera, Begley indeed walked up to the lectern and confronted Hughes. As it was the video malfunctioned, but you can hear Hughes.
JIMMY HUGHES: I want to forget about my past because it was so awful and scary in my past. I don’t live there anymore.
RACHEL BEGLEY: I hoped for him to actually tell me the truth and I was actually hoping that he would actually say “sorry” for his involvement and he refused to do so .
JIMMY HUGHES: I want nothing to do with that. Screw the FBI. Screw the police. Screw everybody else in my past. I don’t care about my past.
RACHEL BEGLEY: The thing that really got me aware that there was more of a role with him is when I confronted him.
PATRICK HEALY: Begley brought what she had to the sheriff and detective Powers was assigned to look at the case.
JOHN POWERS: Rachel managed to find a lot of information on her own during the murder investigation that she brought forward to me and assisted me in turning over new stones and knocking on some new doors and gathering more information in this case.
RACHEL BEGLEY: He’s been great . Once he got on the case, me and him started working together and I’m very very grateful to the Sherriff and the entire department for standing behind him during the investigation.
PATRICK HEALY: Neither would discuss the evidence uncovered but they believe Hughes got his immunity under false pretenses.
RACHEL BEGLEY: And the immunity was contingent on if his story checked out.
PATRICK HEALY: Detective Powers got a murder warrant and when he learned Hughes would be travelling through Miami airport last month, he arrested him there.
JOHN POWERS: He is fighting the extradition so we’re working at the paperwork and we’re confident that we’ll be bringing him back here to California very soon..
PATRICK HEALY: The warrant mentions other possible suspects.
JOHN POWERS We are continuing to gather additional information about potential other suspects involved in this.
PATRICK HEALY: So was the triple assassination a covert operation, an organized crime hit? Rachel Begley is still not prepared to say what she thinks. But she’ll never forget that talk with her dad a week before he was slain.
RACHEL BEGLEY: Looking back on it, I can see that ,you know, he had some kind of fear for him to even say that to me.