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THE CABAZON NATION, JIMMY HUGHES AND RIVERSIDE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY ROD PACHECO

By Virginia McCullough, September 30, 2009

Evangelist Jimmy Hughes, the suspect in the 1981 triple execution that occurred at Fred Alvarez’s home in Rancho Mirage, will fight extraction from Florida, The Desert Sun announced today.  His next court date has been set for October 28, 2009 at 9:00 am in the Miami-Dade County, 11th Judicial Circuit Court, Miami, Florida.  The victims of the June 29, 1981 murders were Cabazon tribal leader Fred Alvarez, 32, Patty Castro, 44, and Ralph Boger, 42.

The Riverside Press-Enterprise published an article by reporter Mike Kataoka on March 28, 1985 that outlined Jimmy Hughes’ interaction with the Cabazon tribe.  According to Wackenhut Corporation Executive A. R. Frye, “Jimmy Hughes was the ‘lead security official’ representing the Cabazons in the Wackenhut/Cabazon Joint Venture” formed between the Cabazons and the Wackenhut Corporation of Florida.  Wackenhut was often referred to in various media reports as the “CIA’s CIA”.  A.R. Frye acted as the liaison between Cabazon Manager “Dr.” John Philip Nichols and the huge security corporation.  The joint venture was entered into April 1, 1981 and terminated on October 1, 1984.

During the months of April and May 1981 intense negotiations took place between Cabazon Manager Nichols and various individuals in both the United States and Canada regarding the control of Indian land to be used for the manufacture of weapons, exploration of gas and oil, casino operations and various other business ventures.  On May 25, 1981 A. R. Frye wrote a 5-page inter-office memo addressed to R. E. Chasen, S & S Group of Wackenhut, that detailed a trip report Frye took with Nichols and Peter Zokosky during which they explored the possibilities of weapons deals on Indian land.

On April 15, 1981 a two-page report from John Paul Nichols, Project Manager and son of “Dr.” Nichols, details the employment by the Cabazon Bingo Parlor of Rocco Zangari who was involved in organized crime.  Fifteen days later a room receipt from Caesars Palace in Las Vegas shows that “Dr.” Nichols and Jerry D. Amaniera stayed the night in Room 495, possibly exploring casino possibilities for the Cabazon Business Committee.

A time line created by Peter Zokosky and now in possession of the Riverside Sheriff’s department states that James “Jimmy” Hughes, now 52, was hired to be head of security for the Cabazon Arms in April 1981.  Hughes was 27-years-old.

During the early months of 1981, disagreements between Cabazon Vice Chairman Fred Alvarez and Cabazon Manager Nichols continued to grow.  In the later part of April and throughout May, Fred Alvarez entered Nichols’ offices at night and discovered the many entangled business arrangements controlled by the Nichols family and determined a great deal of money was being drained from the Cabazon coffers.  Alvarez also liberated countless documents that detailed everything from the control of the reservation itself to the transfer of tons of gold.  The paperwork clearly spelled out the deals and the people who were involved in making the deals.  The Cabazon nation was a pawn in an international power game.

On June 5, 1981 the Sacramento Bee reported that Fred Alvarez asked the Daily News for help alleging mismanagement of Cabazon funds by the Nichols family and Alvarez' saying that his life was in danger.  Just days later Alvarez told a reporter, “As I speak to you, I am a dead man.” The bodies of all three victims were found in the backyard of his home on Bob Hope Drive on July 1, 1981.  It was the day that Fred Alvarez was going to meet with an attorney to turn over the documents exposing the alleged fraud.

On September 1, 1981 Cabazon business manager John P. Nichols wrote to Washington D.C. Attorney Glade F. Flake, “The “Show and Tell” equipment show is proceeding well with regard to Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Columbia and Venezuela (about which we have some questions). The places, of course, which are most sensitive, are Guatemala and El Salvador.” There was now little dissent on the Cabazon reservation and business was proceeding as usual.

On September 10, 1981 the infamous night vision demonstration took place at the gun range at Lake Cahuilla.  John Hauser of the Desert Sun reported:

One man firing was John Philip Nichols, consultant to the Cabazon Indians in Indio. Another was rumored to be Pastora, otherwise known as Commander Zero, an anti-Sandinista rebel who broke with the new Nicaraguan government after helping to overthrow Dictator Anastasia Somoza in 1979.

The demonstration also drew Peter Zokosky, former consultant to the Indian-owned Cabazon Arms Co.; Indio City Manager Phil Hawes; Cabazon Tribal Chairman Art Welmas; local developer Wayne Reeder; Nichols’ sons, John Paul and Mark; former tribal security chief James Hughes Jr., and John Van DeWerker, whose Orange County Intersect business then was involved in security services.

The entourage also included Michael Riconosciuto, a high-tech electronics engineer, who said he had been working in a joint business venture with Nichols on various projects, including night-vision goggles.

Things went smoothly for the arms adventures promoted by the Cabazons for awhile, until Cabazon Arms President Peter Zokovsky abruptly resigned his position in November of 1983 “when I became aware of financial irregularities in the reservation’s bingo operation.” Zokovsky said he found ‘irregularities’ and concluded that it was likely ‘funds were being ‘skimmed’ off the top’,” according to an article in the Daily News published on September 28, 1984.

Jimmy Hughes followed suit by leaving the Cabazon bingo operation when it was reported that he “reached a full realization” of what was going on under the Nichols family's control.  At the time Hughes said “he was a management-level employee responsible for security and actively involved in a joint venture project between the tribe and Wackenhut Services Inc.,” according to an article by reporter Mike Kataoka in the September 19, 1984 issue of the Press-Enterprise. According to Peter Zokovsky’s time line “Jim (Hughes) defects to Reeder (G.Wayne)/Mike R. (Riconosciuto)/R. (Robert Booth) Nichols/Sam Cross meeting.  Sam Cross was the Police Chief for the City of Indio, California.

The Daily News, September 18, 1984 article continued:

Zokosky said on April 11, 1984, that he accompanied (Jimmy) Hughes to the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office to discuss the possible criminal activity on the reservation. Assistant District Attorney J. Thompson Hanks would neither confirm nor deny any local investigation based on Hughes’ allegations.

Within a week of that meeting a phone call was received in which a man’s voice said ‘John Philip Nichols had put a “hit” out on Hughes and two others, but the potential killer had turned down the contract.

Zokosky said financial records of the bingo operation showed that $30,000 in cash was withdrawn for unknown reasons around the time of the reputed contract on Hughes. Later, he said, some of that money was used by the Nichols family for extra personal security.”

The Riverside District Attorney’s office had been under the control of DA Grover Trask since 1983;  Mr. Trask succeeded DA Byron Morton who had been in office since the late 1960’s.  DA Morton was in office during the time of the Alvarez executions.  In the middle of July 2004 DA Trask announced his upcoming retirement at the end of his term in 2006.  Rod Pacheco who had been admitted to the California State Bar in December 1983 ran unopposed for District Attorney in 2006 and now holds the office. Pacheco is a former three term Assemblyman.

In a news article published by the Desert Sun on September 30, 2009 it was reported that Riverside District Attorney Rod Pacheco is also a second cousin of murder suspect Jimmy Hughes and that this is the reason that California State Attorney General Jerry Brown is handling the case of extradition for Jimmy Hughes.

It is probably also the reason that the January 15, 1985 Los Angeles Times reported:

The (Alvarez) killings were investigated without success by the Riverside County Sheriff’s office, but official interest in the murders was renewed last year when Jimmy Hughes, a 27-year-old ex-Army Ranger, told authorities that he had been a payoff man in the Alvarez case.

Hughes, security director of the Cabazon band’s casino and bingo operations for four years until early 1984, reported that he had been instructed in Nichols’ presence to take $25,000 to the mountain community of Idyllwild in the summer of 1981 and to give the money to a man there as partial payment for the Alvarez killings.

Hughes was joined by Indio resident Peter Zokosky, a retired arms consultant who had served as a volunteer financial adviser to the Cabazon band, in demanding a renewed investigation into the Alvarez murders.

The Riverside County sheriff’s office and the State Department of Justice responded and started inquiries. But after months without announced results, Hughes went public with his charges last October (1984), than left the state. Zokosky later moved to the Los Angeles area.

Deputy Atty. Gen. Sanford Feldman confirmed in a telephone interview from San Diego on Friday that a special investigations unit of the State Department of Justice is looking into the three murders. But he said, “It (the arrest of Nichols) does not appear to be related to the Alvarez matter.

Jimmy Hughes has been considered a person of interest in the Alvarez executions since shortly after they occurred.  The Alvarez family and sources within the political arena and within local and state law enforcement have told this reporter that is their belief.  Was Rod Pacheco groomed to hold the office of Riverside District Attorney while law enforcement, county and state officials had knowledge that he was a second cousin to suspect Jimmy Hughes?

Virginia McCullough © 9/30/09

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