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Howard Hughes confidant Robert Maheu passes at 90

Aug 6, 2008 8:49 PM

Staff & Wire Reports | Former Howard Hughes confidant Robert A. Maheu died Monday in a Las Vegas hospital of congestive heart failure. He was 90.

Mr. Maheu was the public face of Hughes’ massive corporate empire in the 1960s, a period in which the troubled aviator and one-time Hollywood playboy was increasingly reclusive and dogged by phobias.

Hughes spent the later part of the decade holed up in his Las Vegas hotel suite, while Maheu oversaw his casino and development interests via memo.

Maheu was also an expert in discretion.

He worked for the FBI in the early 1950s and later as a private investigator who counted the CIA among his clients. In 1960, Maheu was enlisted by the CIA to recruit a mobster for a "sensitive mission requiring gangster-type action," according to a recently released CIA dossier known as "the family jewels."

"Fidel Castro is the mission target," the document said.

Maheu later described his role in the Cold War plot in stark terms.

"War will make you do certain things," he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 1997.

Maheu was born in Waterville in 1918. He is survived by his three sons and 10 grandchildren.

For the complete story of Robert Maheu’s life and work in Las Vegas, as well as coverage of his upcoming funeral, check out next Tuesday’s GamingToday.