“The Impact of Such a Thing Would Be Phenomenal”

Shawn Francis Peters

in The Catonsville Nine

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199827855
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199950140 | DOI:
“The Impact of Such a Thing Would Be Phenomenal”

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All of the prisoners at Lewisburg and Allenwood were aware of the presence there of Jimmy Hoffa, the Teamsters leader who had been convicted of jury tampering, attempted bribery, and fraud. Although Hoffa and his lieutenants exerted enormous influence among the prison population, the congenitally suspicious labor kingpin generally distanced himself from inmates who weren't part of his inner circle. But the Berrigans, Hogan, Mische, and Melville were different—they were fellow Catholics, and Hoffa seemed to think that they all were political prisoners. Hoffa took a particular interest in the welfare of Phil Berrigan. Not long after the Baltimore priest arrived at Lewisburg, Hoffa arranged a meeting in which he offered his assistance. But even with Hoffa's protection, Berrigan could not escape discord at Lewisburg. The worst of his woes arose from dealings with a fellow inmate named Boyd Douglas. Douglas approached most of the Baltimore-area draft protesters and told them that he enjoyed a range of special privileges at the prison and offered to smuggle out letters for the men. Most of the men smelled a setup, but Berrigan took the bait. Despite his friends' warnings, he began using Douglas to communicate with friends and confederates outside the prison walls. More a con artist than a committed activist, Douglas surreptitiously copied many of the documents he passed between Berrigan and his supporters outside Lewisburg, and he eventually turned them over to the FBI. It was through Douglas's cooperation that the federal government was able to arrest Dan Berrigan on Block Island and put an end to his time as a fugitive.

Keywords: Phil Berrigan; Dan Berrigan; Jimmy Hoffa; Boyd Douglas; FBI; Teamsters; Catholics; Block Island

Chapter.  7576 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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