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William G. Hundley
Hundley (1977)
Hundley (1977)

William George Hundley
(1925-08-16)August 16, 1925
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

Reared in Brooklyn, New York City
Died June 11, 2006(2006-06-11) (aged 80)
Vienna, Fairfax County
Residence Suburban Washington, D.C.
Alma mater Fordham University School of Law
Occupation Attorney
Spouse(s) Roberta Inglis "Bobbie" Hundley (died 2005)

William Grover Hundley
Barbara H. Ruffino of Alexandria
John Hundley
Richard Hundley
Mary H. Maddox

James Hundley
For the American artist in Austin, Texas, see William Hundley.

William George Hundley (August 16, 1925 – June 11, 2006) was an American criminal defense attorney, who specialized in the representation of political figures accused of white-collar crimes. Earlier in the 1950s and 1960s, as a United States Department of Justice attorney, he became known for the prosecution of racketeering figures. He once encouraged narcotics dealer and loan shark Joseph Valachi to outline for public consumption the structure of the then secret Mafia or Cosa Nostra.[1]


Hundley was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and reared in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. His father and two brothers were engineers, but Hundley chose the law for his career because he said that he lacked talent in mathematics.[2]

Hundley served in the United States Army during World War II as a machine-gun sergeant during the Battle of the Bulge. He took part in the capture of a German radio station and won in the field the Bronze Star.[3] He graduated in 1950 from the Fordham University School of Law in New York City.[1]

Hundley and his wife of forty-six years, Roberta Inglis "Bobbie" Hundley, who died in 2005, had six children, William Grover Hundley of Culpeper, Virginia, Barbara H. Ruffino of Alexandria, Virginia, John Hundley of Centreville, Virginia, Richard Hundley of Bethany Beach, Delaware, and Mary H. Maddox and James Hundley, both of Reston, Virginia.[1]

Legal career

In 1951, Hundley joined the internal security division of the Justice Department in the administration of U.S. President Harry Truman. He once said that J. Edgar Hoover, a Washington, D.C. native and the first director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, kept alive the concern over communist infiltration into the government because Hoover's "informants were nearly the only ones that paid the party dues."[1] Hundley prosecuted violators of the Smith Act of 1950, which set criminal penalties for those seeking to overthrow the U.S. government. He went after thirteen Puerto Rican radicals who shot up the United States House of Representatives in 1954.[2]

In 1958, Hundley was named chief of the organized crime and racketeering section of the Justice Department. Three years later, he obtained the conviction of Justice J. Vincent Keogh of the New York Supreme Court for illegally attempting to influence a U.S. District Court judge regarding a case involving bankruptcy fraud. In 1961, newly installed United States Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy became Hundley's boss. Hundley advised Kennedy to beware of his prosecution without sufficient proof of crime against Jimmy Hoffa, long-time president of the Teamsters Union. When Joseph Valachi decided to cooperate with the Justice Department, Hundley became the mobster's protector. "We'd put dark glasses and wigs on him and take him to the Roma restaurant. He was a hell of a guy. ... My days with Valachi convinced me that the Cosa Nostra was the most overrated thing since the Communist Party."[1]

In 1966, Hundley and Plato Cacheris left the Justice Department to establish together a private practice. Hundley was a friend of another criminal defense lawyer, Edward Bennett Williams, who provided the two with an overflow of his clients. Williams also owned the Washington Redskins, Through this connection, Hundley became briefly a special assistant to National Football League Commissioner Pete Rozelle. At the NFL, Hundley's chief responsibility was to prevent scandals involving gambling. For a time, Hundley was also a partner of Robert S. Strauss, the Texan who later was the chairman of the Democratic National Committee.[1] In 1977, Hundley said that he had "spent fifteen years trying to put people in jail and the next ten years trying to keep them out."[2] At the time, he had scarcely begun his long-standing criminal defense practice.[3]

Hundley represented later Attorney General John Newton Mitchell in the Watergate affair. Martha Mitchell wanted her husband to blame all of his legal problems on President Richard M. Nixon, a stance which would undermine Hundley's proposed strategy to defend Mitchell,[1] who was nevertheless convicted of obstruction of justice, perjury, and conspiracy and imprisoned.[3] The pressure on the Washington jurors to convict Mitchell and other Watergate figures was overwhelming in Hundley's words: "Can you imagine a jury in the District of Columbia coming back and acquitting on Watergate? It's pretty incomprehensible."[2] Hundley said that "showcase" hearings are unjust to the accused.[2] Hundley said that he was "much more comfortable keeping people out of jail than putting them in."[1]

Hundley won an acquittal for Claude Wild, Jr., a lobbyist for Gulf Oil, who was accused of making illegal payments to members of Congress. In the insider trading case against Michael Milken, Hundley obtained the dismissal of charges against another junk bond trader, Warren Trepp. He failed to prevent the conviction of the late Republican Governor Arch A. Moore, Jr., of West Virginia on corruption charges. He represented Democratic former Governor Marvin Mandel and Mandel's aide, W. Dale Hess, in their legal troubles too.[1]

Hundley defended Tongsun Park, a South Korean businessman, in the congressional bribery scandal known as BriLab. This assignment required Hundley to come to Monroe, Louisiana, in 1979 for the trial of the government's case against former U.S. Representative Otto Passman, the largest recipient of Park's largess. Though he had been unseated in the 1976 primary election, Passman won acquittal through the hiring of the prominent defense attorney Camille Gravel.[4] Hundley represented Vernon E. Jordan Jr., an African-American lawyer who was accused of cover-up in connection with the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky affair.[1]

Hundley and Cacheris dissolved their firm after nineteen years, and Hundley joined the international firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. He was particularly known for his ability to determine a client's honesty. He was also known for his humor. When Watergate trial Judge John J. Sirica, ordered spectators not to laugh as the White House tapes being played, Hundley quipped, "Judge, how do you feel about crying?"[3] He joked too of a "Hundley Wing" at the federal prison in Allentown, Pennsylvania, the residence of some of his clients who were convicted and imprisoned.[3]

Hundley died at the age of eighty of liver cancer at his home in Vienna in Fairfax County, Virginia.[1]


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 Adam Bernstein (June 14, 2006). "Lawyer William G. Hundley, 80". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 21, 2015. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 "William Hundley", defense attorney", Minden Press-Herald, Minden, Louisiana, November 30, 1977, p. 2
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 "William Hundley, 80, Lawyer for the Famous, Dies". The New York Times. June 13, 2006. Retrieved June 21, 2015. 
  4. Billy Hathorn, "Otto Passman, Jerry Huckaby, and Frank Spooner: The Louisiana Fifth Congressional District Election of 1976", Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association, LIV No. 3 (Summer 2013), pp. 341–342

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