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Exhibit Map
Charles A. Levine
1 Introduction
2 The Songs
3 A Hero Is Forgotten
4 Hunted by the FBI
NPR Documentary
Levine and His Flying Machine, the documentary about the first transatlantic airplane passenger. (RealAudio, 12:29 min.)  


EXPLORE
EPHEMERA
Highlights from Levine's FBI file.  

READING
Levine's complete FBI file. (PDF download, 17.4MB)

Levine's obituary from the New York Times, Dec. 18, 1991.
 


Hunted by the FBI

Fifteen years after his tungsten smuggling conviction, Levine still owed the lion's share of his $5,000 fine. In 1952 the Justice Department sought to ascertain whether the cash was recoupable.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation operative assigned to the case picked up Levine's scent in the shadowy world of New York rooming houses and dubious businesses. But laying hands on the former flier proved far more difficult. Levine had become a ghost, resurfacing sporadically among acquaintances to make a pitch or borrow a few bucks and then disappearing for days, weeks, or years at a time.

No one, not even Levine's daughter, knew where he lived or how he survived. Those who saw him remarked on the shabbiness of his suit and his evident lack of money. There was hardly a soul to whom he didn't owe money. According to his notes, the FBI agent had trouble believing that Levine "was at one time a prominent newsworthy individual."

After evading the FBI for 26 months Levine was finally discovered in April 1956, thanks to a tip from a former business associate seeking revenge for an unpaid loan. But the task of catching Levine was still easier than getting him to cough up, and in 1958 the FBI closed the case without recovering a penny.

Although the FBI ultimately failed in its mission, the paper trail it left behind illuminates an otherwise obscure chapter in Levine's drawn out fall.

Having finally hit rock bottom, Charles A. Levine stayed there for the remaining days of his life. He breathed his last on Dec. 6, 1991, cared for by an older woman who had picked him up off the street some 30 years earlier, having vaguely remembered his name from headlines of yore.

 

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