Myer Rush

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The front page of the Toronto newspapers for the 28th day of February 1967, told of the increasing tensions between Israel and its neighbors, with Israel defending itself with tanks against Syrian provocations. Another article told of the increasing number of American youth flowing into Canada, and in particular, Toronto, because of their distaste for the war in Vietnam. In another article, there was an astonishing story:

Toronto stock promoter, Myer Rush, free on bond to prepare his defense against Attorney’s Office charges of a $100-million stock fraud, was severely beaten at about 2:00 A.M. during the night by two men wielding baseball bats. Rush, who amazingly had his faculties to talk to reporters in the morning, stated that two men entered his bedroom and began to beat him across the arms, legs, and head. He required seventy-five stitches to the skull. When asked to conjecture as to whom might have done this and why, Rush stated, “They didn’t want to kill me. If they had wanted to kill me, they easily could have done it. Obviously, somebody who has something to hide in this $100-million stock-fraud mess, is trying to knock me silly, that’s all; they’re afraid, that’s all.”

Rush said he had never seen the attackers before. The article continued that when told that he was lucky to be alive, Rush answered, “It would take more than baseball bats to knock me out of the box.”

If the plan had been to weaken the body of Myer Rush, his attackers had succeeded. Myer had suffered a left leg broken in three places, a left elbow shattered, several broken ribs, and severe blows to the head. But if the goal had been to weaken his mind, to instill fear, to get him out of town and out of position to defend himself, and possibly name the names of important people with important things to hide, they did not succeed.

After a short stay in the hospital, Myer returned to his North York home to continue building his defense. Prior to the incident, Myer had discovered a prominent Toronto attorney, Victor Ligier, who was positive he could build a case to prove that Myer Rush was a corporate genius, a man whose very willpower could ignite sparks of growth and productivity in areas of the world ripe for investment. He would show that Mr. Rush was victimized by his own trusted employee, namely Marshall Brigand who, through his own fear and greed, became intimately involved with the underworld. Ligier had begun unraveling Brigand’s underworld connection when the baseball-bat beating occurred. Now, a few weeks after the beatings, Myer returned to his attorney to continue building his defense. The secretary to Mr. Ligier had received instructions to tell Mr. Rush that he had dropped the case, and that a full refund for the advanced payment would be forthcoming. “The fuckin’ asshole, the scared son of a bitch, that dirty coward, they got to him and he’s a scared son-of-a-bitch,” Rush cursed as he slammed the door behind him. It was clear that Rush needed an attorney who couldn’t be intimidated. He needed a guy who was hungry, smart, and yet too stupid, to be intimidated.

He found a half-pint Jewish guy, John Feldon. Feldon had an office across the street from the old City Hall. He was somewhat of a Marx Brothers look-alike: bushy eyebrows, large nose, balding head that crowned a frame of about five-foot-five. Feldon was four generations removed from a rabbi, his great, great, great grandfather had taught the Talmud in Poland. A rabbi had sent Myer to Feldon because he felt Feldon both needed the work and was very intelligent. Feldon had apparently done some good work for one of the synagogues. Signing on with Feldon, Myer’s first task was to dress the guy up a little bit since he wore a suit that Myer’s father, Abraham, might have stitched together ten years ago. Myer went out with his new attorney and bought him four new suits. Feldon was now on the case and in true rabbinical spirit, he would do his best for Mr. Rush. It became obvious to Feldon that Marshall Brigand was being protected by government authorities, and as he studied the case, putting two and two together, it became increasingly clear that Brigand was either a member of the underworld or worked very closely with them. It then became very likely that, if Brigand was being protected by authorities, there might be a turn-the-other-cheek relationship between authorities and the underworld. Myer, it seemed, was the one caught between “the devil and the deep blue sea.” Feldon was now as sure as he was short that if the Canadian government authorities did not know exactly who broke into Mr. Rush’s home with baseball bats, they at least knew of the event prior to its happening.

And, indeed, Feldon was right on track, for the detectives to whom Boggs had relegated the task of mentally and physically hobbling my uncle had deferred to Brigand for his choice of the “professionals.” It had been done in such a way that it would come out of Brigand’s pocket and no one else’s. Brigand found himself in a very strange position of being a police informant and a conspiratorial “hit man.” It would be impossible to trace that baseball-bat beating any further than Brigand—no one in their right mind would believe Brigand over Ontario authorities.

Toronto authorities had intimidated Rush’s first attorney, Ligier, off the case. Due to the long convalescence they were anticipating, these same authorities didn’t expect Rush to be doing much in the way of preparing a defense. It would be an open-and-shut-case: throw a public defender at him and lock him away for twelve years while in the midst of his recuperation. A few preliminary hearings were all that would be necessary. But they got much of what they didn’t expect. Not only had Myer healed rapidly, but he had also hired an attorney who couldn’t be intimidated. This attorney was a major thorn in their side; he was stretching the preliminary hearings on and on and had begun to prepare for a major court case at the expense of the Canadian government. He was orchestrating a public outcry, beautifully using the power of the press to question the ability of the government to protect its citizens from baseball bat beatings. No suspects had been rounded up in the incident, and the police were saying that they were without any clues. The public would stand for only so much of that before starting to rally behind that man, Myer Rush, the police were intent on putting away. Using this wisdom, Feldon was beginning to succeed in making his man appear a victim. Thus the authorities had to act, and act quickly. They couldn’t have headlines appearing, such as this one:

Something had to be done. As far as the authorities were concerned, Rush could not possibly have had enough wits about him to positively identify his attackers. But they should at least show that they were trying. They would become so brazen as to actually include one of the original attackers in the lineup. When Myer refused to identify the man, they would then tell the public that their chief suspect had not been identified by Rush, and that due to his state of mind, being beaten near death, he would never be able to identify anybody. Myer was called down to the Central Station for the lineup. One of the men who had actually broken into his home and beaten him with a baseball bat stood fourth from the right. Myer stood behind a glass in a darkened room and was told by a police detective that one of the chief suspects in the case was in the lineup. It was a daring move for Boggs to take, but after all, he had nothing to lose.

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