Edwin Wilson on Wikipedia, or: What Wikipedia Gets Wrong

This post is a footnote to this longer post.

A short note on the two ways an episode is portrayed, to give an idea on how wikipedia gets some very important details very wrong.

In wikipedia, in the Edwin Wilson entry, under “Investigation and Conviction”:

While awaiting trial, he allegedly approached a fellow prisoner and attempted to hire him to kill the federal prosecutors. This prisoner was never questioned by anyone outside the CIA. The prisoner instead went to the authorities and they set Wilson up with an undercover agent. The agent taped Wilson hiring him to kill the prosecutors, six witnesses and his ex-wife. In a subsequent trial, he was sentenced to an added twenty-four years in jail for conspiracy to murder. The voice in the recording was never solidly identified as Wilson’s.

From Manhunt, verbatim, pages 276-277:

Wilson, though, would be tried a fourth time – in New York. In the most bizarre twist of all, Wayne Trimmer, a fellow inmate at the Metropolitan Correctional Center and a government informer, reported that Wilson, while awaiting his Alexandria and Houston trials, had approached him with an extensive hit list of people he wanted killed.

The list had nine targets. Topping it were [government prosecutors] Barcella and Bruce. For their demises, Wilson agreed to pay a quarter of a million dollars each. Others on the list included [Wilson associate] [Ernest] Keiser, [Wilson associate] [Rafael] Quintero, [Wilson associate] John Heath, [Wilson associate] Reginald Slocombe, [Wilson associate] Jerome Brower, [Wilson associate] Edward Coughlin and [Wilson associate] Francis Heydt, the Oklahoma clothing manufacturer who Wilson believed had cheated him on the Libyan uniform contract. The price per head for them was $50,000.

Trimmer, wearing a hidden recorder, got some of the hit list particulars on tape; he also had handwritten notes from Wilson and notes of his own about the victims, with information that only Wilson could have given him. An FBI agent posing as a hired killer was brought into the act. After he said that he had to have a down payment for the first person to be murdered, Jerome Brower, Wilson called Roberta Barnes and said he needed $10,000 for legal expenses. He asked her to have his younger son, Eric, fly up from Washington with the money, which was handed to the undercover agent.

Wilson was transferred to federal prison in Otisville, in upstate New York, where he then conspired with two other convicts, one of whom pretended to be a member fo a vicious natinal gang of curent and former prisoners known as the Aryan Brotherhood, to assassinate Trimmer for $500,000.

There is one error here – the list should be of ten people, including Wilson’s ex-wife.
Manhunt, p.277-278

[Wilson defense counsel Michael G. Dowd] at least got a new count against Wilson – conspiring to obstruct justice by having his former wife killed – thrown out on the grounds that she had never been named as a witness in any of the trials. Wilson supposedly had added her to his hit list so he wouldn’t have to share his assets in a final divorce settlement. Still, he got twenty-five years for his multiple murder plots.


During the time Edwin P Wilson was in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York, when his rage against Barcella peaked, he had also arranged to give $50,000 to a professional killer named William Arico, then being held at the center awaiting extradiction for a murder he had committed in Italy.

Arico was planning an escape. Wilson made arrangements with Diane Byrne [Wilson employee at London office, general secretary, and communications link among his various enterprises] in London to pass the money to Arico’s wife at a Heathrow Airport hotel. Byrne, who knew her only as “J.” had handed over the cash in English pounds.

Arico, along with two accomplices, did try to escape down sheets tied together from an upper floor of the center. The first man landed safely and Arico had only six feet to go when the third, an overweight Cuban drug dealer, started too soon, caught his belt buckle in the sheets after coming out a window and plummeted on top of Arico, surviving himself, but squashing Arico to death in the process.

Wilson, when confronted by these facts, denied that Barcella had been the intended target. The money, he said, was “only a loan.”

A smaller note:

Civil Action

Wilson filed a civil suit against seven former federal prosecutors, two of whom are now federal judges, and a past executive director of the CIA. On 29 March 2007, U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal dismissed his case on the ground that all eight had immunity covering their actions.

The suit was against eight individuals, who were either prosecutors or Department of Justice employees at the time of Wilson’s trial, as well as Charles Briggs, former executive director of the CIA.

The defendants were: Delwen Lowell Jensen, a former Assistant Attorney General; Stephen Trott, also a former Assistant Attorney General; Mark M. Richard, a former Deputy Assistant Attorney General; Lawrence Barcella, a former Deputy Chief of the Major Crimes Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia; Theodore Greenberg, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; James L. Powers, an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas; Daniel K. Hedges, a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas; and Charles A. Briggs, a former Executive Director of the CIA.

The suit was dismissed on the grounds that the relevant convictions were not invalidated by state tribunal, reversed on direct appeal, expunged by executive order, or called into question by issuance of writ of habeas corpus; statute of limitations; prosecutorial and witness immunity (Wilson v. Barcella).

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