Longform

Smoke and Mirrors

Page 9 of 11

"For the job," Gonzales said.
Haro tried to backpedal, saying his partner had just quit.
"Why don't you take Cordova?" Gonzales asked.
Haro quietly agreed.

"Anytime you have a military man, and I'm a military man, you follow orders," Haro says now. "You know they're wrong, but you've been given an order, and like so many people in history, you follow them. The order Corky gave me, there was no way to get out."

On the morning of September 17, Gonzales visited the station again. He pulled the Thunderbird into the service bay and asked Haro to close the garage doors. Then Gonzales produced ten oversized sticks of black military-grade dynamite.

"Why did you bring these here?" Haro asked.
"I didn't think you had anything," Gonzales said. "So I brought some for the job tonight."

Strange, Haro thought. Gonzales would not have forgotten the earlier delivery--he was trying to raise the pressure. Still, Haro stalled until late that afternoon. He told Cordova and Quintana to steal the cars, plant them by the King Soopers in the Alameda Shopping Center and Children's Hospital and meet at his house.

But before the rendezvous, Haro says, he tried to call the whole thing off. He phoned the Crusade member who'd sat in on the meeting that August day but could not reach him. He called Gonzales twice but couldn't reach him, either. He even drove by the Gonzales house, but no one was home. Seeing no other option, Haro decided to go through with it.

"I could have walked away, but walked away as what?" he says. "A branded man? I'd lose face or whatever. It was something I didn't want to do, but there I was. It was a mess I got into that I couldn't get out of."

He met Cordova and Quintana at his home and asked his wife to visit her mother. After she left, they made the bomb. Around 9:15 p.m., Haro told Quintana to go home and stay home. Then he drove Cordova to the stolen Plymouth on Alcott and Cedar and ordered Cordova to put the bomb inside and drive.

"But that's not the way it's supposed to be," Cordova said.
"But that's the way it's going to be," Haro replied.
Looking back, Haro doesn't think he would have delivered the bomb. He probably would have told Cordova to find an empty lot where the Plymouth could explode without hurting anyone.

But it was too late. As Haro wheeled around his Olds, two unmarked sedans raced toward him. Eight officers and federal agents surrounded him with guns drawn. He was yanked from his car, thrown down and handcuffed. One officer pressed a boot heel to his head. No one read him his rights, he says, and Cinquanta threatened to shoot him in the head. While he lay on the asphalt, bruised and bleeding, Haro felt strangely calm.

"It was relief," he recalls. "I didn't get killed. No one else got killed. To be honest with you, it was a feeling of relief."

PART FIVE: WHODUNIT
In 1987, Corky Gonzales had a heart attack, wrecked his car and suffered permanent head injuries that impair his memory and reasoning ability. He no longer grants interviews, rarely speaks publicly and cannot directly answer Haro's claims.

But his eldest son, Rudy Gonzales, has read Haro's book and spoken about it with his parents. "He's just slinging mud and throwing crap," Rudy Gonzales says of Haro. "And he didn't even do that well. That book is a disservice to anyone who can read. It's such a weak literary attempt, I call it a comic book. It took me 45 minutes to read it. And I did that on the toilet."

In February, Rudy Gonzales wrote to Haro's publisher, Dorrance Publishing of Pennsylvania, and demanded it stop printing and distributing Ultimate Betrayal. The book is libelous, he said, adding that a lawsuit might be forthcoming. The vanity publisher--who was being paid by Haro to print the book--complied.

The book is the culmination of a ten-year attempt by Haro and his cronies to tarnish his father's legacy, Rudy Gonzales says. Haro and other disgruntled ex-Crusade members have paraded the same list of accusations before the FBI, the IRS and the Denver district attorney. Each time they came up empty, so they waited to write the book until Corky was unable to respond.

"I call them a bunch of bitter old men who have nothing better to do than try and ruin the lives of others," he says.

Although Rudy Gonzales refutes almost everything else in Haro's book, he cannot say one way or the other whether his father planned the bombing and ordered Haro to participate. Although his mother denies it, he also doesn't know if his father told Haro to give a police informant grenades, supplied Haro with dynamite or stood on hand while the plan unfolded. Rudy Gonzales was a boy when all of this happened, and his father never discussed it with him.

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Harrison Fletcher