As if the 1968 Olympic Games were not in enough trouble, a Texas grand jury has returned a series of indictments that could have a jarring effect on the financial health of the U.S. team and on the confidence of those who contribute to it. The indictments charge a petite 27-year-old Dallas woman, Joyce Ann Dodson, with embezzling $72,000 and various properties that were donated to the U.S. Olympic Committee. Henry Wade, the Dallas County district attorney who received international attention for his investigation of Lee Harvey Oswald and his role as prosecuting attorney at the Jack Ruby trial, suspects the total of vanished Olympic money may be far more than that. "We have no way of knowing as yet how much money might have been collected in the Southwest," Wade says. "I shudder to think what the sum could be."
Oddly, there might not have been an investigation of the missing Olympic funds except for the naivet� of a young lawyer. Last winter Wade's office got an anonymous phone call with the tip that a large part of the money contributed to the Olympic fund had been diverted into someone's pocket. "We don't have much use for anonymous phone calls," says Wade, a big white-haired fellow who chews tobacco and spits into the wastebasket. "If the call had gone to an experienced man on my staff we might have ignored it. The caller wouldn't give his name, and we had no complainant. So it figured to be a crank. But the phone call was answered by a new assistant district attorney who didn't know any better. He immediately wrote to the U.S. Olympic Committee in New York and discovered that there really was a lot of money unaccounted for."
The fund-raising arrangement between the Olympic Committee and Joyce Dodson began sometime in 1966 when the woman and a male associate, Joe William Tate, went to New York with the proposition that their public-relations firm—then called Law-Mears Associates—help raise Olympic money in the Southwest. Ordinarily the USOC depends for its funds on volunteer drives by groups like the AAU, NCAA and NAIA. But the Southwest had been notably poor territory for Olympic soliciting, and the USOC had once before used a Dallas public-relations firm, Orville McDonald and Associates, to appeal for money.
The Olympic officials—including Executive Director Arthur G. Lentz—were led to believe that Joe William Tate and Joyce Dodson had the support of Lamar Hunt, wealthy Dallas sportsman who was originator of the American Football League, is owner of the Kansas City Chiefs football club and the Dallas Tornado football (soccer) club, part-owner of the Chicago Bulls of the NBA and a backer of a professional tennis tour, among other things.
In fact, Tate had once worked for the Newton Agency, a Dallas advertising firm that had acted as a house agency for the Hunt Oil Company. "I can't say I have never met Joyce Dodson or Joe Tate, because I might have encountered them at a party or someplace," Lamar Hunt says. "But I wouldn't know either of them if they walked into the room. I'm ashamed to say there has been quite a bit of taking for granted in this affair. When Dodson and Tate came to me, I assumed that if they represented the Olympic Committee, they must be all right."
The use of Hunt's name was magic. So on Oct. 4, 1966 Douglas F. Roby, president of the USOC, wrote a letter granting Law-Mears Associates, of which Joyce Dodson was chairman of the board, the right to collect Olympic funds in Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and New Mexico. "We are especially pleased to know that your organization, in the true spirit of the Olympic Movement, has agreed to render this service without compensation to you," wrote Roby. "It is understood, however, that approved out-of-pocket expenses, other than payment of salaries, will be allowed." That sentence, discounting the word "approved," apparently gave Miss Dodson the peg upon which she subsequently operated. On Oct. 10, 1966 J. Lyman Bingham, director of fund raising for the USOC, followed with a "To whom it may concern" letter authorizing Law-Mears Associates to represent the Olympic Committee.
Had the USOC not taken Joyce Dodson at face value and had thoroughly investigated, it might have found that she had been in several financial jams in Dallas. According to Wade, a Dallas businessman had rescued her from $2,000 worth of bad debts. She has a record of what Wade calls "excessive" traffic violations. She is a short, well-built, seductive brunette with rather prominent teeth. Chief Assistant District Attorney Bill Alexander, who was also one of the prosecuting lawyers at the Ruby trial, described her as "a country-looking girl who seems to have a way with men."
Joe Tate was known around town as a promoter. One of his promotions involved the promise of a chartered DC-7 to fly Dallas Cowboy fans to a football game in New Orleans. After the fans had waited for hours at the airport, Tate produced an old DC-3 and had to leave a number of people behind.
After the meeting in New York a USOC representative opened an account at the National Bank of Commerce in Dallas in the name of the Olympic Committee. Only the Olympic Committee treasurer could make withdrawals from that account. However, without the knowledge of the Olympic Committee, Miss Dodson also opened an account at the Southwest Bank and Trust Company in Irving, a Dallas suburb where Clint Murchison Jr. is planning a new stadium to house his Cowboys.
Miss Dodson and Tate began organizing committees throughout their five-state area. They gave Lamar Hunt the title of chairman of the Southwest Olympic Sports Committee and sent out solicitation letters over his signature. Another wealthy Dallas resident, Troy Post, who recently sold his Greatamerica holding company (which has Braniff Airways among its assets) for $500,000,000, was appointed to head a different committee. Hunt's committee raised $25,570 and Post's came up with $11,248. Some of their donors sent money from as far away as Chicago.