Reported by Jack Cloherty, Pierre Thomas and Jason Ryan:
FBI files released today reveal that long-time Beatle John Lennon and his family were targeted in a $100,000 extortion plot in 1977, three years before Lennon’s murder. “WE ARE THE TERRORISTS THE FALN PUERTO RICAN INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENT,” a letter dated Nov. 29, 1977, announced. “This letter is a positive (THREAT) to your life. …”
The letter demanded that Lennon leave $100,000 in “a strong package” with the ” clerk” by the front entrance of “Dakota House,” in New York City, where Lennon, Yoko Ono and their son lived at the time. It was the first in a series of letters – all in fractured English – that threatened the singer and his family with kidnapping or death if the demand for $100,000 was not met.
“You have exact nine day’s from (sic) the date of this letter to decide & to get the money,” the letter instructed. It also warned Lennon not to contact the FBI or the police, “So don’t try to play any trick to us because we are good preparedly for it.”
An internal FBI memo also released today shows Lennon did, in fact, go to the Bureau.
“On December 1, 1977, John Lennon, member of the Beatles rock group, advised he received a special delivery letter,” the FBI memo said. “The letter threatened Lennon and his family and demanded $100,000 to be ready by December 9, 1977.”
That Lennon turned to the Bureau for help is a bit ironic, since the singer had complained in the early 1970s that the FBI had tapped his phones and followed him, and been actively trying to get him deported because of his work as a peace activist.
Lennon did not comply by the Dec. 9, 1977, payoff deadline, so the would-be extortionists sent him another letter, on Dec. 19.
“On Dec. 9,” it said, “at 11 p.m., your building was surrounded by 23 armed man’s of our troop, it was just for in case of any ambush.” The letter says the extortionist even called Lennon’s apartment at 12:15 a.m., “and we spoke to (DELETED) for about two minutes, she try to sell us a story, but we are grownup people and we didn’t buy it.”
Curiously, however, the extortionists close the letter not with more threats but by saying ,”This is Christmas time, do your normal life, don’t be afraid is no body outside looking for you, on this you can have our trust.”
There was more correspondence, with additional threats, primarily suggesting that Lennon or a family member would be kidnapped or killed if the demands were not met. But in the end, nothing happened. T
The FBI today cannot say whether the Lennon extortionist had ever been identified or arrested.