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Pete Brewton ALAN POGUE NTERVIEW Pete Brewton Editors’ Note: Former Houston Post investigative reporter Pete Brewton was interviewed in his home in west Austin by Texas Observer Editor Louis Dubose and Associate Editor James Cullen on November 24. Brewton, who is attending law school, is not currently working on another book but continues to receive tips and leads on the S&L story he began at the Post. His comments were not edited but were cut for space considerations. His book , The Mafia , the CIA and George Bush, was published, shortly before the presidential election by S .P.I ., a small New York publishing house. This is almost a book about Walter Mischer. Yeah, it could have been titled Walter Mischer. But who would know that, other than political people in the know in Houston. But Walter Mischer is the main character in the book, no doubt about that. How long had you been working in Houston before you realized how much a player, or how powerful he was? I started reporting in Houston in 1977 and I went over to cover Harris County and the Commissioners Court in 1978.1 was there three years. And while I was covering the Harris County Commissioners Court for the Houston Post, the name started popping up. You could tell by talking to, primarily, aides of commissioners of the county judge, who talked about Walter Mischer and his power and influence and how he was behind things, pulling strings, influencing developers on who to contribute to and brokering deals and making deals and making sure that the developers got taken care of…. You take him from the streets of Houston, to Honduras, to the Big Bend and down to and to Belize. Could you tell me a little about that? Yeah, you know Mischer, when I began first looking seriously at Walter Mischer right after the Hermann Hospital Estates scandal, which was in 1985. I covered that for the Houston Post. And Mischer had been on the board of the Hermann Hospital Estates. He’d gotten off in the early ’80s and his son had replaced him. But when Mary Flood and I investigated the Hermann Hospital Estates, we really went back to their history and found Mischer there and his son there now. So we started digging a little bit deeper into Walter Mischer and his son and we ran across a number of people who told me that Mischer was connected to the Mafia. I talked to people in the police department, politicians, insiders, and all confirmed it. Mischer has dealt with the Mafia. Particularly Carlos Marcello, the New Orleans Mafia boss. A very powerful and influential Mafia don. And so Mary and I decided we were going to do a profile of Walter Mischer…. So we interviewed him and I asked him about it, about whether he knew Carlos Marcello. He said he’d met him and Marcello had come to see him and had wanted to buy a couple of motels in Houston. And he didn’t sell to him. But it turned out later that Mischer did a very complicated real estate deal with a guy named John Coil, who is a disbarred attorney … who turns out to be working for the Marcello family…. I started interviewing a lot more cops and doing a lot more research on Mischer and when I started doing the S&L scandal he popped up again. His bank was dealing with Herman K. Beebe. Allied Bank? Yes. Allied Bank was dealing with Herman K. Beebe, a Louisiana associate of the Marcello family. And they were financing deals with Beebe and involved with S&Ls with Beebe. So that was one thing and then the CIA starts creeping up in the S&L stories and the first CIA connection happens to be Mischer’s former son-in-law. Corson? Robert Corson. And the first rabbit out of the box and I’m dealing with Walter Mischer again. And one of my sources, my initial sources on Robert Corson was a guy named Richard Brenneke, who was a Portland, Oregon, arms dealer, a very controversial fellow. I deal with at length in the book. Brenneke said that Corson introduced him to Mischer and that Mischer was dealing with the CIA on a very high level and that Brenneke had flown in to an airstrip in farWest Texas, west of Big Bend, that the CIA was using for guns and drugs trans-shipment. And he said he was told that Mischer controlled it. It was very close to Mischer’s land, although it wasn’t on Mischer’s land. And I checked that out, and that checked out, like Brenneke had told me. And so I started looking [at Belize], because it had come up in a number of investigations I was looking at in Florida. We have some drug smugglers that were trans-shipping through Belize, connected to people who were looting savings and loans. And I remember when Mary [Flood] and I did our profile on Mischer, I had talked to everybody I could about Mischer, and one of his business associates told me about. how they’d bought, Mischer and his partners had bought, 700,000 acres in Belize…. 1 had just sort of written it down and forgotten about it until we get the CIA-S&L connections; then I remembered it. And I remembered that Mischer had worked during World War It down in the Caribbean on a naval base. He had been rejected from military service but he had worked on engineering projects. So the next time I interviewed him, I just asked him whether he’d done business in Latin America and he volunteered this story about Honduras. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15