The Grenada Revolution Online

Elmer Eugene Zeek (1930- )
(alias John Clancy)

A man who made himself known in Grenada as 'John Clancy' showed up in Grenada during the years of the Gairy regime.

Along with Zeek, landing in a private Lear jet on 1 January 1974 at Pearls airport with forged immigration documents, were Karl Korte and Julie Mueller with "two huge Rottweiler dogs." Mueller had posed as Zeek's wife at the racetrack. Richard Palletto showed up with the boat about one month later. All three people of the group had assumed fake names, it is claimed. A different account relates that "Dominick (Dickie) Palletto" was along with the aforesaid party on the Lear Jet arrival. Korte later claimed he was forced to leave the U.S. for Grenada because the others felt he might, under pressure, reveal their fugitive location.

One source assumes Elmer Eugene Zeek, Jr. was born on 7 January 1930 in Orange County, Texas. That birth information is different from the information on a 1973 United States FBI Wanted poster where Zeek is reported to have been born April 30, 1930 in Montville, New Jersey. One source puts Zeek as originally from Baltimore, Maryland, but that information could have been a catch-all location for a horse-training career.

The "Wanted By FBI" poster also notes " . . . portion of right little finger missing." The poster also cautions: "Zeek reportedly carries a .38 caliber Smith and Wesson Model 36 pistol at all times. Consider armed and dangerous."

Men of Zeek's kind often find a path in the Caribbean that frees their activities up, so to speak. And Zeek was one of those men - white bucks and all.

On the other hand, men of Zeek's kind have lives that are often surrounded by astounding rumor, hearsay and falsehoods. The exotic aura of "money men in paradise" exudes interest, talk and excitement.

In fact, Zeek was indeed wanted in the United States by the Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI] for 'Fraud By Wire'. This fact was checked by journalist Alister Hughes who produced an extract from a letter of 11th March 1976 from the Chargé d' Affaires of the United States Embassy in Barbados. The extract reads:

Attached for your information are two copies of a poster prepared and distributed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and stating that a Federal warrant for Zeek's arrest was issued on January 14th 1974, at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

A Federal warrant was officially issued charging Zeek with "Fraud by Wire (Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 1343. He was supposedly wanted by the FBI for absconding from the United States with a million dollars. It was said Zeek was wanted by both the authorities and the underworld. His money came by way of bank fraud [cashing bad checks] and New Jersey race-track betting, it is reported. And it is said Zeek fled to Grenada with those millions of US dollars in cash.

Elmer Eugene Zeek
United States FBI Wanted Poster, 5 March 1974 - appreciation to Angus Martin

For a personal tales and information about Zeek and race-track life, link to Zeek Story I and Zeek Story II. One correspondent's memories are written at Karl Korte.

Zeek, as "John Clancy" visited Grenada in 1973, and was resident there by January 1974. 'Wife' Nancy [Mueller] and "John Clancy" showed up in Grenada, along with Karl (Chuck) Korte, Zeek's personal jockey. About one month later by boat, according to one account, along came a 'brother' —–one Richard (Dickie) Dominic Palletto of the Italian underworld who went by the name of "Frank Clancy".

"Dickie" Palletto, born in 1930, was supposedly called 'Frank Clancy' in Grenada and supposedly married one of Gairy's personal secretaries, [private], on October 13, 1974. This secretary left Palletto early 1977. In the United States, Palletto was still married to his wife who ran a restaurant in Chinatown on Manhattan where it is said Palletto had provided two hit men with guns to kill Mafia crime boss Joey Gallo in 1972.

The official report of Palletto's death at age 47 appeared in the Grenada Death Register #1639; recorded death date of 05/5/77 - found dead in his swimming pool. Dr. Dennis J. Radix certified the post-mortem cause of death as "Acute Coronary Thrombosis, Ischemic Heart Disease", and the then-known supposed reasons were that he had a "cramp", or was shot in the head.

His Grenadian wife arranged the funeral. 'Dickie Palletto' was buried at the Windsor Forest public cemetery following Roman Catholic rites from the Windsor Forest RC Church. 'John Clancy' was a pallbearer and approximately 100 people attended.

According to the New York Times, 'Frank Clancy' who was found dead in 3 feet of water in his swimming pool in Grenada on May 5, 1977, was indeed Richard Palletto, suspected, but never charged, by the FBI of being the man who provided guns for the slaying of "Crazy" Joe Gallo in a Mafia gun feud early in 1972. Palletto's bigger fear was Gallo family reprisals.

"Frank Clancy" and "John Clancy" were known as the "Clancy Brothers" on Grenada, although many had been under the impression that Karl Korte was "Frank Clancy".

John Clancy/Eugene Zeek, a former horse trainer, lived in houses with a security fences and guard dogs - on Ft. Jeudy, Lance aux Epines, and Calivigny. The home on Lance aux Epines was reported, in 1976, to be constructed of fieldstone. He initially drove a silver-blue Chevrolet Malibu and later was known to drive a white Lincoln Continental.

Under the name 'John Clancy', he [and his 'brother Frank'] got busy and established a lobster trade, a Freeport enterprise, the Patio Bar and the New Island Night Club and the Love Boat. J. Angus Martin reports the restaurant at the then Drive-In Cinema was run by Clancy who introduced American-style pizza to Spice Islanders.

Zeek/Clancy also owned what was known as Clancy Island (Leggo-Beast Island). It is said Clancy Island was Calivigny Island. On the other hand, it is said the Love Boat discotheque was called Clancy Island.

A supermarket opened at the Grenada Yacht Services [GYS], along with a 'variety' store. Construction began August 1975 and was completed in October 1975. Each store hired its own staff, and was not part of the Grenada Yacht Services.

Zeek leased land from Grenada Yacht Services and operated a nightclub called 'The Patio'. He also was involved in the lobster trade, using Bequia fisherman, selling to Trinidad which some people said caused a shortage of lobsters in Grenada and the subsequent price rise to $3.00/lb.

Clancy did not get beyond the scope of the New Jewel Movement. In the New Jewel of Friday, 6 June 1975 the page 8 article was titled "Clancy TRAP 'im!!"

Fancy Clancy has Gairy well trapped. When he bought his Mercedes-Benz, Gairy wasn't too jealous . . . After all Leo had one, and the Cadillac was longer and wider! Clancy in the meantime found Dr. Noel was fresh enough to buy one too, so old Fancy quickly sold out to Dr. Radix and contacted his 'Family' in New York.

In no time down came a Lincoln Continental Mark IV 1975 (460 V-8 engine) with its power steering, power windows, 6-way power bench seat, power this and power that . . . . costing $19,000.00 (U.S.).

Everyone knows that some money must be passing under the table for Fancy to get all those investment rights in the island; he applied for citizenship, but so far no one in External Affairs knows of official acceptance of his application - only Lucifer. So Fancy-man hunts lobsters (which he says he does in 'the deep' so as not to affect Grenadian fishermen . . . but we know better) and controls charter-yachting, together with his several night clubs.

Lucifer cannot allow his 'share' of this millionaire's wealth to pass out of his hands, so he made a private deal with Fancy to have the Lincoln Continental brought into the country duty-free. This means for Government revenue 35% + 15% of the original cost (55% of $38,000.00 E.C.) being thrown away!

Gairy took the matter to Cabinet and of course everybody kept quiet, nodding their heads in agreement. But when they got outside all man jack went to have a private drink to voice their opinions. Derek [Knight] Vex, George vex, Hop-and-Drop vex . . . tout mon, but they dare not tell Gairy "Boo".

Gairy would like to make Fancy pay the duty, but he well trapped . . . he just won't get his 'cut' from the investments. Clancy of course doesn't know it yet, but next time there is an official Government function, Gairy will pretend that something is wrong with the Cadillac and ask for a borrow of the Lincoln - you know how he like white long cars!!

It is time that our economy deals with less 'conspicuous consumption'. It is time that those extra-long and extra-wide cars be banned from this country; the more these luxury items are bought, the more money leaves Grenada . . . the poorer we become.

[NOTE: The article is not signed. Bet the writer was York Marryshow.]

In December 1975, Clancy started the Freeport Corporation, not far from his office at Grenada Yacht Services. The shareholders of this corporation include two employees, Dennis Ross and Sheila LaQua. Two price structures on goods that were sold were (1) duty-free benefit to tourists, and (2) reasonable prices for residents. At this point, Zeek was known only to outright own a restaurant, 'The Patio' nightclub, and a yacht charter service.

Writer Kenneth Labich in GEO Magazine of May 1980 describes Zeek in this manner:

"He was a large man with a winning smile, a bodyguard and $1 million in cash, which he had managed to wheedle out of Syndicate loan sharks and various New York banks.

A lot of people wished to speak to Clancy about his accounting procedures, but in exchange for an occasional $25,000 gift, Gairy granted him a kind of asylum.

The problem was that Clancy found it hard to maintain a low profile.

He leased an oceanfront mansion, had a large white Lincoln Continental flown down from the States and was fond of distributing $50 tips to waiters and bellhops.

One day, Clancy's bodyguard [Pellato] was found floating in a swimming pool with a bullet in the back of his head.

Another time, two bulky fellows with guns in their pockets were stopped on the way to Clancy's house from Pearls Airport.

Gairy deported them--after receiving another handsome gift from Clancy.

What with Gairy's periodic squeezes, Clancy eventually began to run short of money.

At that point, rumors spread that the prime minister, aware of the situation, was setting up a deal to turn Clancy over to a New Jersey mob figure.

Continuing rumors had Zeek connected with Robert Vesco who was living at the time in Costa Rica. After a couple of visits to St. George's, Vesco was considering moving to Grenada. Vesco was in the thick of his financial dealings having fled the US in 1973, accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission of looting $250,000 from Investors Overseas Services.

The Attorney General and Director of Prosecutions of Grenada Desmond Christian took action on 16 March 1976. He advised Eric Matthew Gairy, the Prime Minister, that charges were going to be laid against Zeek/Clancy et al by his office.

According to Hughes in his report "Violations of Human Rights in Grenada" the following happened:

In spite of the clear discretion given to Christian by the Grenada Constitution Order 1973 to lay these charges, Prime Minister Gairy, acting under Section 86 of the Grenada Constitution Order 1973, represented (among other things) to Governor General Sir Leo DeGale that Christian should be removed from office because he had taken action against Zeek.

Following his Desmond Christian's suspension 7 May 1976, the Guyanese national, Christian, was refused re-entry to Grenada on 3 August 1976 and issued a deportation order.

Journalist Hughes pasted photos in a 7 August 1976 supplement to the Grenada Newsletter. One photo shows Christian being told, upon arrival at Pearls, that he is a "prohibited alien." Zeek remained on the Spice Isle. See the photo in Gillian Walker's tribute

An article in the New York Times of 12 December 1976, by James Tuite states:

To summarize, Elmer Eugene Zeek, is on the lam, protected momentarily by Grenada's lack of extradition laws covering his alleged crime [fraud by wire].

It is reported that by February 1979, Elmer Eugene Zeek, known to Grenadians as John Clancy, was joined in Grenada by the three adopted Grenadian children (two girls, Veron and Edlin, and one boy, Carlisle) of Mrs. Nancy Clancy. The children attended Westmorland school and lived in Lance aux Epines.

By February of 1979, a personal secretary of Zeek, [private], had traveled to the United States to escort the children back to Grenada. Speculation was Mrs. Clancy [who was in the United States with the children] got into trouble with the US Federal authorities and the children were brought back. This story is not confirmed or corroborated.

Life for Zeek/Clancy tumbled on a downward spiral. Zeek supposedly ran out of money. He sold his luxury yacht to someone in the Virgin Islands. His lobster trade failed and eventually Zeek sold out his duty free enterprise, the Grenada Freeport Limited. His only nightclubs were the New Island Night Club and The Patio Bar.

Nevertheless, Prime Minister Gairy's 57th birthday party, 18 February 1979, was not to be missed at Mount Royal, nor was another Saturday night at Gairy's nightclub, the Evening Palace.

One story says Clancy left Grenada by speedboat 14 March 1979, the day after Gairy's overthrow. He was also rumored to be on one of the British Virgin Islands.

Another line has Clancy in the custody of the People's Revolutionary Government [PRG] and used as a pawn in an extradition exchange for Gairy.

At a rally across the street from the United Nations on 17 March 1979, Grenada's then Permanent Representative at the United Nations Kendrick Radix made a remark that 'there are criminals wanted by the FBI living in Grenada. Maybe we can make an exchange.' Radix was surely referring to the 'criminal dictator Eric Gairy.' It is alleged the PRG eventually did offer to make such a swap for Gairy and also in the Wardally-Humphrey case; these offers were declined, according to U.S. sources.

Other possible exchanges of 'criminals' were bandied about. One of the 'criminals' was Elmer Eugene Zeek/John Clancy. Another 'criminal' of the People's Revolutionary Government (PRG) was the American Mary Andrews.

Other rumors have Zeek fleeing the country 26 July 1979 with 'Chuck' Mueller [perhaps Korte?] when he commandeered a yacht with two men on board (one an American Peace Corps worker named Donald Ross Ives; the other a Customs Officer with the Police Department named Paul John). Since Clancy let his two Rottweilers loose on board with raised lips, according to the story, the men made the run to Union Island, St. Vincent at top speed.

Three men - (1) James Ross McComish, a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) official attached to the PRG Ministry of Agriculture; (2) Ives, who was also worked in the Agriculture Ministry, and (3) police officer John were charged with conspiracy to aid and abet Clancy and Mueller in evading Grenadian income tax.

Elmer Eugene Zeek (alias John Clancy) disappeared off the map of Grenadian history. Imprisoned in the United States upon his return for a couple of years, Elmer Eugene Zeek supposedly died in 1993; supposedly, as there are a couple of confirming reports he remains alive, living in Florida. If he was, indeed, born in 1930 and is still alive, he would be in his late 80s in 2019. Please notify if you have different information or additions.

Zeek Story I
Zeek Story II
Karl Korte

Much about Zeek is hearsay and old talk, and what is written above may be erroneous.

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