What motivated Helen Horvath/Kelly to cooperate with the defense? In her statement to Levy, her motive was “to tell the absolute truth of what I know” in the hope of reversing what she characterized as “a miscarriage of justice.” Corroborative of this motive were Horvath/Kelly’s extraordinary efforts to contact the defense, all made at a time when she was still in police custody as a material witness and was, for that reason, beyond the direct influence of Luciano or his agents.
On June 9, 1936 – two days after the jury’s verdict, and nine days before Luciano’s sentencing – Levy received a telephone call at his office in Mineola, New York from a man named Marr claiming to have in his possession a letter from prosecution witness Helen Kelly. Levy dispatched his associate Harold Weil to Queens in order to meet with Marr. The handwritten letter, scrawled on the front and back of an envelope, would become defense exhibit as part of Luciano’s motion for a new trial. It read:
My name is Helen Kelly. I am a Dewey witness. I have some important information which I believe could help to clear C. Lucky. The evidence against him from N. Presser + T. Jordan + M. Harris was perjured. I can swear to that. I should be glad to testify for him at the appeal if it could be held over until the case against Gypsy Tom Petrovich is over and I am released. I shall call Geo. Morton Levy’s office Tuesday evening about 5 or 6 p.m. Please believe I am sincere in trying to help Charlie Luciana [sic]. I can’t stand seeing a man go to jail on perjured evidence without a fair trial.
For Charlie’s sake please don’t tell Dewey about this. I’d do time if he found out I got in touch with you people.
Please don’t notify Dewey. It would mean big trouble for me.
That the Kelly letter did, in fact, come into Levy’s possession in precisely this fashion is proven by, among other records, a memorandum to his file that Levy dictated on June 9, 1936, immediately following his conversation with Marr.