"I thought it was Rubin Carter,"
says Bello on tape

How Carter describes the crucial recording
... and what the recording actually contains

Published in 1975

Herald-News Staff Writer

How did Alfred Bello identify Rubin "Hurricane" Carter and John Artis?

Carter says their names were "implanted" in Bello's mind by Lt. Vincent DeSimone of the Passaic County prosecutor's office. That just isn't so, police say.

During his recent interview with The Herald-News, Carter made several references to the interrogation of Bello in October 1966. Bello was questioned by DeSimone and Paterson detectives Donald LaConte and Robert Mohl.



CARTER; "... DeSimone started off by saying, "Well, Bello, let me tell you. I believe that Rubin Carter and John Artis committed this crime. ... I believe that."

HERALD-NEWS: "DeSimone actually said that? It's on the tape?"

CARTER: "Yes. It's on the tape. It's clear. 'I believe.' He re-emphasized that. 'I believe that these two animals committed this crime."

According to a transcript of the interview, DeSimone made no such statement.

The first mention of Carter occurs when DeSimone says, "Now, I recall, I recall that at the time when we first questioned you, you mentioned Rubin Carter specifically. You said Rubin Carter was the boy." DeSimone was referring to previous informal interviews days before in which Bello had first identified the men.

DeSimone later says that he believes the Lafayette Grill shootings, in which three whites were killed by two blacks, were in retaliation for a killing earlier that same evening, in which a white killed a black.

"I firmly believe that these men went in there (the Lafayette Grill) simply for the reason of revenge because there had been a shooting earlier," DeSimone said. "All right. Now listen to me, Al. Listen carefully. I firmly believe that these men didn't go anywhere near the register because they ... just wanted to get even. You understand what I mean?"



Carter claims that various deals were made between DeSimone and Bello, who has a long criminal record, and then:

CARTER: "After that went on for about 45 minutes in the tape ... that type of questioning, that line of implanting what he wanted Bello to say in Bello's mind, Bello finally said, 'Well hell, why not, why shouldn't they pay for it, yeah. It was Rubin Carter and John Artis." And the tape went off and that was the positive identification."


In the transcript, Bello tells of hearing the shots fired, confronting two men in front of the bar and thinking they were detectives.

BELLO: "They were laughin', you know, talkin' loud and then..."

DeSIMONE: "Yeah."

BELLO: "...An' I thought that I had seen this one man, I thought it was Rubin Carter."

Bello was within 15 feet of the men, according to the transcript, and when he realized they weren't detectives, he turned and ran. He describes the men and their clothing and DeSimone shows him a photograph.

DeSIMONE: "Now, insofar as face, if I show you a photograph -- I show you a photograph now of John Artis. Now this makes him appear quite light because of the photo."

BELLO: " It's possible. It's possible, but, uh, I'm not actually sure."

MOHL: The point is this: Do you know Rubin Carter or not? I mean from prior, prior to this incident, have you seen Rubin Carter?

BELLO: "Uh, no. Prior to this on the street?"

MOHL: "Yeah. Anywhere. ... Do you know Rubin Carter? I mean do you know Rubin Carter when you see him. I mean can...."

BELLO: 'Well, I know Rubin Carter. Yeah. Yeah sure."

MOHL: 'Well, I mean, can you tell, uh, the lieutenant whether that was Rubin Carter or wasn't Rubin Carter?"

BELLO: "Well, it was Rubin Carter, as far as I know, or his brother." (he laughs)

DeSIMONE: "There's no question in your mind that Rubin Carter ..."

MOHL: "See this is, you're still, uh, shaky an' (unintelligible)."

BELLO: "Oh, well, you see when the police came back with 'em he (Carter) was dressed the same way an' everything. You know what I mean? So in my mind I know it had to be him. It, it was the same person I had seen come around the corner."

DeSIMONE: "Now you can honestly say that this was the man that you saw runnin' aroun' the corner?"

BELLO: "Yes."

DeSIMONE: "There's no question about that. Now in regard to John Artis, the other one, you likewise saw him. In your mind, can you honestly say that that was the man that was with him, with Rubin Carter?"

BELLO: "Yes."

DeSIMONE; "In other words, in your mind it was definitely Rubin Carter an' John Artis who came aroun' the corner on that morning."

BELLO: "Yes."


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