The Real Robert “Tosh” Plumlee

On January 28, 1996 Robert Plumlee sent Bob Vernon an e-mail which stated in part:

"I made peace with my enemies and went back to work as a pilot until the Contra thing blew up and I testified three times to the Senate and the Congress. That testimony is classified top secret, committee sensitive, today. Someday it will be declassified and then I'll talk some more.”

Mr. Plumlee’s file is declassified so let us look at it.

Early Life:

Mr. Plumlee was born November 25, 1937 in Panama, City Florida, the son of William W. and Margaret Morgan Plumlee. At some point the family moved to Dallas, Texas and resided at 3509 Lexington Avenue.

Robert attended North Dallas High School and dropped out in the tenth grade. As will be shown later, he developed a knack for forgery. He entered the U.S. Army in March of 1953 and was honorably discharged four months later in July. The reasoning for the honorable discharge was “minority age.” Plumlee succeeded in convincing the Army he was older than his 15 years.

Plumlee the check forger:

Mr. Plumlee comes to the attention of law enforcement on January 29, 1959 (age 22) when he was arrested by the Columbus, Ohio Police Department for “attempting to pass a forged check at Morehouse Fashions.” When interviewed by Lt. Martin Winters of the Columbus check squad, Plumlee “admitted having passed checks in numerous sections of the country.”

Plumlee ups the ante:

During the processing interview, for some unknown reason, Plumlee asked Lt. Winters if he would be “interested in interviewing him regarding possible ITSP (Interstate Transportation of Stolen Property) violations.” He supplements this by claiming “he had flown aircraft loaded with munitions from Florida, to Cuba, in assistance of the Castro rebel movement.” Whether braggadocio on Plumlee’s part or not, the Columbus Police immediately notified the local U.S. Bureau of Customs and F.B.I. office of his claims.

F.B.I. Special Agent Walker conducted a second interview in which Plumlee “signed a statement admitting flying to loads of weapons and ammunition from Florida, to Cuba. He also admitted taking off with a third load; however, he became frightened, turned around, flew back to his takeoff point and deserted the aircraft.”

By March 17, 1959 the Cincinnati office of the F.B.I. became involved in the case. They interviewed Plumlee who was “incarcerated in the Columbus, Ohio Workhouse on forged check charges until May 8, 1959.”                                                                                                     SAC, Cincinnati (105*-new)

Plumlee and Sutor:

At this time the Cleveland F.B.I. was investigating a case of military equipment theft and gun running. The government was looking for Stuart Sutor for theft of government property, interstate transportation of stolen property, and violation of the Federal Firearms Act for theft of 317 weapons, 16 blankets, and 1 carbine rack from the National Guard Armory in Canton, Ohio on October 14, 1958. At some point it appears, based upon Plumlee’s previously claimed knowledge of Interstate Transportation of Stolen Property, the F.B.I. thought Plumlee who went by the aliases William H. Pearson and William J. Payne was also using the Sutor alias.

Over his head:

In my view, all this attention, particularly from the F.B.I., made Mr. Plumlee a little nervous. He began to backtrack. To the Cincinnati investigators he stated he was not a real pilot but had, “a student pilot permit since approximately 1955 and in 1956 prepared a forged commercial aircraft and engineer’s license and certificate using the alias William Pearson, and used these documents to obtain employment with various aviation companies in Florida, Louisiana and Texas.” (Emphasis mine) The report continues:

“While in Miami during 1957 he made several sightseeing trips to Santa Clara and Havana, Cuba, having heard that he might make some money flying munitions to the Castro forces. He stated he made no contacts on these trips and had obtained this information from gossip and talk around the Miami area.” (Emphasis mine)

Sometime in 1957 he met someone named Larry Allen and “it was common knowledge in the Miami area the pilots [including Larry Allen] could make good money by flying munitions to the Castro forces in Cuba.”

“On or about the night of July 5, 1958 Plumlee flew an unloaded DC three twin-engine aircraft from Miami international Airport to one abandoned military airfield at Marathon Island in the Florida keys approximately 125 miles south of Miami. The aircraft had been obtained by [Larry] Alan and Alan accompanied him on this trip.”

By July of 1959 the F.B.I. had tracked Plumlee to Denver where when interviewed he “furnished substantially the same information as when interviewed at Cincinnati. PLUMLEE claimed he was unable to recall dates and names. He denied all knowledge of any thefts or transportation of stolen property, other than trips to Cuba from Florida, which he made while carrying guns. He denied knowledge of any payoffs to U.S. custom officials in Florida.”

At this point the F.B.I. has the statements of a 22 year old high school dropout and check forger who originally claimed he knew something about the Interstate Transportation of Stolen Property, then couldn’t remember anything, was a pilot engaged in flying munitions from Florida to Cuba but really wasn’t a pilot and utilized a forged pilots license using an alias.

F.B.I. impressions:

In a memo dated August 13, 1959 the SAC, Denver writes the Director, FBI

“It is noted that Plumlee tells a very confusing illogical story with a complete lack of specifics, and that he has indicated that he has in the past used his imagination for the purpose of making his story more believable i.e. in that he has admitted making up names of persons allegedly contacted by him. (Emphasis mine)

Signed –RUC-“

On October 26, 1959 the SAC, Cincinnati (105-1350) writes the Director, FBI (105-76496)

William Robert Plumlee, aka [redacted] but elsewhere Stuart Sutor

TGP** – Conspiracy; Neutrality Matters

“Review of pertinent issues on October 14, 1959 of the Columbus Citizen and the Columbus Dispatch reflect no articles concerning the indictment of Stuart Sutter at Clarksburg, West Virginia, Fairmont, West Virginia or Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.”

James E Light, Columbus, Ohio city workhouse, advised on 10/22/59 he recalls no conversation with the subject regarding the arrest of individuals for gunrunning or TGP [theft government property], while a fellow prisoner of the subject.”

“From a review of results of interview with the subject by the Denver office, it appears at this time that there is insufficient evidence to warrant further investigation under possible FA_ violation.”

In the end the F.B.I. dismissed Plumlee as a person who by his own admission used his imagination to make his stories more believable. But it doesn’t end there. In February of 1996 Plumlee sent the Denver F.B.I. a two page FAX.

“To Director [redacted] and Denver [redacted]

I think you people should know what is coming down the pike, in case there is a bad play from some people I know in reference to the matters I have discussed with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House. Close door testimony 1990 and 1992. I do not want to establish any form of contact with the [redacted] other than this fax. However, I felt I should make some form of contact before the fact just in case something does sour in the next few months. I still like to consider myself is a friend of the [redacted] but sometimes you people make it extremely difficult. The enclosed fax is just in Intel matter that someday may play an important role in one of your investigations.”

The redactions turned out to be the letters F.B.I. This document was discovered as part of the CIA review program with this memo released as sanitized in 1998. The F.B.I. investigated and found “no record of Plumlee or Pearson in our current card files.”


In my opinion Plumlee appears to be a high school dropout and check forger who then forged his pilot’s license. When arrested he made outlandish claims about his knowledge of gun thievery and gun transportation to Cuba. Once he was confused with Sutor he began to back pedal. He suddenly remembered little. I thought it curious a 22 year old with a forged pilot’s license had the ability to fly a DC-3. I realized his flights were with Larry Allen who was probably the true pilot. In the end the F.B.I. dismissed him as someone who made things up and was not to be believed.

In 1996 he was at it again but this time he claimed to be a friend of the F.B.I. and an F.B.I. INFORMANT! The F.B.I. investigated and could find no information on his supposed House and Senate closed door testimony.

It’s not all that bad though – he can always claim his testimony was so explosive it can never be revealed. There will always be some who will support him and claim the real truth has, once again, been suppressed.


*The F.B.I. 105 file prefix is used with Counterintelligence files. The F.B.I. file prefix 100 is used for Domestic Security files

105-76496 is Plumlee’s F.B.I. file held at headquarters in Washington, D.C.

105-1350 is Plumlee’s F.B.I. file that originated in the Cincinnati office.

** Theft of Government Property