Monday, March 27, 2006

Retired F.B.I. Agent Is Accused of Helping in Mafia Murders

Friends of ours: Colombo Crime Family, Bonanno Crime Family, Gregory Scarpa Sr., Joseph "Joe Brewster" DeDomenico, Nicholas Grancio
Friends of mine: R. Lindley DeVecchio, Larry Lampesi

A grand jury in Brooklyn has accused a retired F.B.I. agent of helping a Mafia killer and bureau informant murder or help murder at least three people, a law enforcement official with knowledge of the indictment confirmed yesterday.

The murder indictment in Supreme Court names R. Lindley DeVecchio, a career investigator and onetime head of the bureau's Colombo and Bonanno families squads. He led a government surveillance team during a bloody mob civil war in the 1980's. That war left at least 10 men dead and 14 wounded.

Mr. DeVecchio, 65, reached yesterday by telephone at his home in Sarasota, Fla., denied any wrongdoing and referred all further questions to his lawyer, Douglas Grover, who said the district attorney's case against his client was "complete nonsense."

"I'm going to bang the table" in court on Monday "and get a copy of the indictment," he said. Mr. Grover, a former federal prosecutor with the Organized Crime Task Force, added: "It's common for an indictment to be filed and sealed and kept secret until prosecutors make a decision as to how they want to deal with the arraignment. But it's uncommon to leak it to the press."

Starting in 1982, Mr. DeVecchio began grooming Gregory Scarpa Sr., a captain and an assassin for the Colombo crime family, as a mole for the F.B.I.

According to the still-sealed indictment, the law enforcement official said, Mr. DeVecchio, while an F.B.I. agent, provided information to Mr. Scarpa, who in 1984 killed Mary Bari, who had dated a mobster and become a bureau informant.

The indictment also charges that Mr. DeVecchio provided information that helped Mr. Scarpa assist in the 1987 killing of Joseph DeDomenico, a mobster also known as Joe Brewster, as well as in the 1992 death of Larry Lampesi, a mob associate.

Mr. DeVecchio had also been investigated in the death of a fourth person, Nicholas Grancio, a Colombo family captain. It is not clear if that case is addressed in the indictment.

In 1992, a hit team organized by Mr. Scarpa pulled alongside Mr. Grancio's car and killed him with a shotgun blast. Investigators wondered whether Mr. DeVecchio had withdrawn F.B.I. agents from the scene, making the murder possible.

In 1993, Mr. Scarpa pleaded guilty to murder and racketeering charges. He died of AIDS a year later in a prison hospital at age 66 after contracting the virus that causes it from a blood transfusion.

The indictment of Mr. DeVecchio was reported yesterday in The New York Daily News and The New York Post. Details of his possible indictment were also reported this month by Jerry Capeci, a longtime reporter on organized crime, on his Web site, GangLandNews.com.

Mr. DeVecchio's lawyer, Mr. Grover, said that Mr. Scarpa was interviewed in prison by the F.B.I. and was asked specifically whether Mr. DeVecchio was his source. "Scarpa said no," Mr. Grover said.

Mr. Grover described Mr. DeVecchio as a friend who had become a client and who had testified or worked in many organized-crime cases while Mr. Grover was a federal prosecutor.

Contrary to some press depictions of his client as a hermit, Mr. Grover said, "Lynn is not a recluse. He lives in a house in Florida. He has a significant other. He is retired from the F.B.I. but still works for a living, and he travels to New York on occasion. And I have seen him socially."

Thanks to Anthony Ramirez

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