The Chicago Syndicate: Greg Scarpa Jr.
Showing posts with label Greg Scarpa Jr.. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Greg Scarpa Jr.. Show all posts

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sandra Harmon's "Mafia Son: The Scarpa Mob Family, the FBI, and a Story of Betrayal"

Book ‘Em is an exciting new feature on Crimesider. Every week we interview a top true-crime author to get the story behind their story.

For our first week, we spoke with journalist and bestselling author Sandra Harmon, whose new book, Mafia Son: The Scarpa Mob Family, the FBI and a Story of Betrayal, tells the story of Greg Scarpa, Jr., a hardened criminal and former Mob “wiseguy,” who, according to Harmon, became a jailhouse spy who gave the FBI information that might have averted the tragedy of 9/11, if only the Feds had listened.

In her book, Harmon details how she gained inside access to both Mob and law enforcement figures and became a trusted confidante to an unrepentant mob killer turned FBI informant.

Harmon told Crimesider about the dangers of reporting on the Mob, the FBI's missed opportunities to prevent 9/11, and the intriguing sex life of one of the mob's most dangerous men.

What drew you to this story?

Harmon: Although I had never before written about crime - my biggest bestseller was “Elvis and Me,” written with Priscilla Presley - I became intrigued by the twisted and sometimes tragic tale of the Scarpa family.

Gregory Scarpa, Sr. was a mafia kingpin, so addicted to violence and murder that he was nicknamed The Grim Reaper. But Scarpa had hubris; he played both sides of the fence. For the thirty years he was leading a crew of fifty mobsters in a life of crime, he was also a top echelon informant for the FBI. For decades, his intimate relationship with his “handler,” the much publicized former FBI agent Lin DeVecchio, protected Scarpa and granted him a virtual license to kill, which he did, quite often, and always with obvious relish.

I learned about the extraordinary love affair between Greg Sr. and a woman named Linda Schiro. Although married to others, they raised a family together and remained “intimate” – demonstrating such deep and obvious love for each other and devotion to their family – that I wondered how they could have led such a heinous, amoral existence.

Then, I learned of Linda’s fondness for “threesome’s,” and Greg Sr.’s total acceptance of another man sharing their bed for fifteen years – Larry Mazza, a man who rose in the mafia to become Greg’s right hand man - at the same time sleeping with his boss’s mistress – often with all three in the same bed. Why would this psychopathic killer allow another man in his bed? Did he love Linda so much that he would do anything to make her happy? Or did he do it for himself? I admit I was intrigued. But intrigue is not enough for me to take up the long and arduous task of writing a book. What first pushed me forward was the need to uncover what I believed was the corrupt and self serving relationship between Greg Sr. and Lin DeVecchio. Ultimately, I became so involved in the story that I sent an affidavit to the Brooklyn District Attorney, which, in part, resulted in Lin DeVecchio being indicted on four counts of murder. In fact, I became so embroiled in the story that I was actually subpoenaed by both the prosecution and the defense to tell all I knew, and was forced to hire a first amendment attorney to protect my journalistic rights. It was a great eye-opener for me about all aspects of the “crime community,” the bad guys and the supposed good guys as well.

What’s the most compelling or surprising aspect of this story that you can reveal?

Harmon: The most compelling and surprising aspect of this story is that of Gregory Scarpa Jr., who was a promising young athlete until, to please his Machiavellian father, he entered the family business and became a mobster. In the late 80’s, he was betrayed by Greg Sr., who sacrificed his son to save himself from prison.

After a decade in federal prison, and awaiting a new trial, Greg Jr. was moved to the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City and placed in a cell next to Ramzi Yousef, architect of the 1993 World Trade Bombing. Greg made a deal with the government to get information from Yousef in exchange for leniency. A year later he furnished the feds with detailed intelligence on what would eventually result in the September 11th attacks. But incredibly, Gregory’s desperate warnings were both ignored and buried; he was sentenced to 40 years to life at the ADMAX Prison in Florence, Colorado. There, he would supply the FBI with intelligence on Oklahoma City bomber and fellow prisoner Terry Nichols. Again his contribution was ignored, and Gregory remains at ADMAX, where he believes he will one day be murdered.

Is there a hero?

Harmon: If there is a “hero” in MAFIA SON, it would have to be Gregory Jr., who is by no means “heroic.” He was a mafia capo who has admitted to murdering 26 people. However, he did risk his life to gather incredibly accurate intelligence which might well have averted 9/11 and the death of over 3,000 people had the federal prosecutors, including Patrick Fitzgerald, and Valerie Caproni, not put their careers first and justice second, which they continue to do to this day.

Do you ever worry that your reporting puts you in any danger?

Harmon: Before the indictment against DeVecchio, I never personally felt in danger, even though I am a woman alone who was investigating the highest level of corruption in many areas of government. But after I submitted that affidavit to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office in which I attested to a murder which Linda Schiro had discussed with me -- a crime allegedly involving DeVecchio, and the details of the affidavit were leaked to the press -- all hell broke loose, with stories in major newspapers naming me specifically as the instigator of the DeVecchio investigation. This led to months of my being threatened by Mafia types, intimidated by the FBI, ridiculed in local newspapers for lacking the journalistic credentials of a “real crime writer,” denigrated in cyberspace (with the greatest venom generated on a website known as the “Friends of Lin DeVecchio,” and denounced in a book by a former undercover FBI agent. I was also warned that in all likelihood my phone line had been tapped, and that certain terrorist factions – through contacts in federal custody – had gained access to my address and phone number; as a result, I was encouraged to exercise extreme caution in all correspondence. I have also been threatened with nine lawsuits from different characters I write about in the book.

Do you ever have nightmares because of this case?

Harmon: I don't have nightmares, but sometimes I have trouble falling asleep because I worry about which character from MAFIA SON, who is pissed at me because they don't like what I wrote, will next show up in my life and attempt to intimidate me.

Thanks to Barry Leibowitz

Monday, May 25, 2009

Mob Mull Threatens Lawsuit Over "Mafia Son"

The star witness in the ill-fated case against FBI supervisor Lindley DeVecchio is trying to cash in on a new book about the case -- claiming the author used her story without giving her a cut.

Mob moll Linda Schiro -- whose testimony in 2007 was supposed to bring down DeVecchio for allegedly colluding with her murderous boyfriend, Gregory "The Grim Reaper" Scarpa -- has fired off several letters threatening a lawsuit against Sandra Harmon, author of "Mafia Son: The Scarpa Mob Family, the FBI and a Story of Betrayal."

"You had an agreement with Linda Schiro regarding a significant amount of material that you have included in the Work," wrote Schiro's lawyer, Quinn Heraty, in an e-mail dated last January.

Harmon met with Schiro years ago, but no book came of their interviews.

Thanks to Alex Ginsberg

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Can Mobster Anthony "Gaspipe" Casso Answer a Mystery Around the French Connection Case?

In prison, far from the Brooklyn haunts where his name was scrawled in blood, Anthony Casso stews. He stews over old vendettas. He stews over betrayals of the flesh — heart problems and prostate cancer.

Mr. Casso has served 15 years at a “supermax” prison in Colorado. And Mr. Casso, the once fearsome underboss of the Lucchese family who is now serving multiple life sentences amounting to 455 years for murder, stews over his secrets: unsolved crimes that, he says in an outpouring of letters, he is eager to help close if only he could show the authorities where the bodies are buried (especially if it entails a trip outside the gates).

“I would go out there in a heartbeat,” Mr. Casso said on Friday in a telephone call to a former detective seeking the mobster’s help in clearing his own name. But as much as he hopes for a taste of freedom, or a reduction of his sentence, prosecutors question what his information may be worth and what perils may lie in reopening contact with an antagonist some compare to the fictional monster Hannibal Lecter.

Dangling as a prize is the answer to one of New York’s most scandalous mysteries: how 400 pounds of heroin and cocaine, much of it seized in the so-called French Connection drug bust in 1962, were spirited out of the police property vault for resale back on the street. By the time the record theft was discovered in December 1972, the drugs — then valued at $73 million — had been replaced with flour and cornstarch.

Who committed the deed? There were four narcotics detectives,” Mr. Casso wrote the former detective, Pat Intrieri, in October, amplifying information he offered in his 2008 biography, Gaspipe: Confessions of a Mafia Boss. “One worked inside the property clerk’s office.” One, he added, was later shot to death; Mr. Casso said he remembers where the gun was thrown. But Mr. Casso, 66, whose mob nickname was Gaspipe, says he is having trouble with exact locations. So, naturally, he would like to get out, if only for a day, to be helpful. Or at least win some leniency along the lines of a plea deal he says the government reneged on: six and a half years in prison.

“Of course he’d like to get out — he’s serving 55 million years,” said Michael F. Vecchione, chief of the rackets division in the Brooklyn district attorney’s office. Like other prosecutors, Mr. Vecchione has little stomach for Mr. Casso. But without any promises, he has arranged to visit Mr. Casso on Tuesday at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, N.C., where he has been undergoing cancer treatment, although it would take corroboration far beyond the mobster’s word to make any case.

“I bet you when the state guys come, they don’t know half the things,” Mr. Casso said on Friday to Mr. Intrieri, who relayed his remarks to The New York Times.

There is little chance that Mr. Casso, now 15 years behind the stoutest walls America can contrive, will ever see his release — not after pleading guilty in 15 murders and being tied to some 22 others.

He has also been accused of plotting to kill a federal judge and prosecutors, and violating the terms of his agreement to turn informant as one of the highest-level mobsters ever to flip — becoming the only major Mafia defector to be thrown out of the federal witness protection program.

Mr. Casso has also waffled on whether he corrupted an F.B.I. agent and hired two New York City police detectives, Louis J. Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, as mob assassins. The former detectives are to be sentenced on March 6 on racketeering charges.

If, moreover, he still wonders why the authorities are leery of his offers, Mr. Casso may have provided the answer to his biographer, Philip Carlo. In his 2008 book, “Gaspipe: Confessions of a Mafia Boss,” Mr. Carlo, a longtime friend of the Casso family, outlined several of the mobster’s escape schemes, including the planned ambush of a van carrying him back from court after his capture in New Jersey in 1993.

“He’s where he should be,” said Gregory O’Connell, a former federal prosecutor in Brooklyn who initially interviewed Mr. Casso with his late partner, Charles Rose, and called him “the most treacherous sociopath we ever dealt with.”

But a man can dream, and for Mr. Casso, that means being back once again in the Brooklyn sunshine, pinpointing old Mafia execution grounds and the watery grave of a murder weapon. Not rising at 5 a.m. every day to meticulously clean his cell in a federal “supermax” prison in Florence, Colo., that also houses the likes of the Unabomber, Theodore J. Kaczynski; the Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols; and such fellow mobsters as Gregory Scarpa Jr. and Salvatore Gravano, known as Sammy the Bull.

“I think he got a raw deal,” said Joshua L. Dratel, the latest of Mr. Casso’s many lawyers. Mr. Dratel said Mr. Casso was “poor at playing the system” and threatened major cases by exposing Mr. Gravano and other government witnesses and federal agents as liars. Mr. Casso has long claimed that the records of his F.B.I. debriefings, never made public, would show that the government covered up his warnings of moles in its ranks and that to get out of their plea deal with him, prosecutors used other Mafia turncoats as witnesses instead.

Perhaps Mr. Casso’s staunchest pen pal is Mr. Intrieri, 79, a onetime decorated New York detective lieutenant who was convicted of tax evasion in 1976 in the aftermath of the French Connection drug thefts. Mr. Intrieri, who has drafted a memoir asserting his innocence, saw new information on the case in Mr. Carlo’s book and said he found Mr. Casso’s accounts of unsolved crimes credible.

“He wants to get out a little bit, I guess; he’s going stir-crazy,” Mr. Intrieri said, after getting more than a dozen phone calls from Mr. Casso in recent weeks. “But his goal is a sentence reduction.”

The drugs at the core of the mystery — popularized as “The French Connection: A True Account of Cops, Narcotics, and International Conspiracy” in a 1969 book by Robin Mooreand an Academy Award-winning film that followed two years later — were secreted in compartments in a 1960 Buick loaded aboard the liner United States sailing from Le Havre, France, to New York. The car and its 112 pounds of heroin were later claimed by a Lucchese family underling, Patsy Fuca, who, as it happened, was being tailed by a pair of dogged New York narcotics detectives, Eddie Egan and Sonny Grosso.

The drug bust in January 1962 was widely hailed as a record. But the heroics proved short-lived. In six thefts between March 1969 and January 1972, someone signing the register as Detective Joseph Nunziata, a member of the narcotics bureau’s widely corrupt special investigations unit, and using fictitious badge numbers, removed the French Connection drugs along with another 300 pounds of heroin and cocaine from the police property vault at 400 Broome Street (now a New York University dorm).

Handwriting analysis and a discovered fingerprint never established that Detective Nunziata actually signed the police register. But eight months before the thefts were discovered, Detective Nunziata, charged with corruption in an unrelated case, was found shot to death in his car. It was ruled a suicide.

Mr. Moore, the author, wrote that as far back as 1967, he and Detectives Nunziata, Egan and Grosso joked about stealing the French Connection heroin.

Many suspects emerged, including Vincent Papa, a major drug dealer; Frank King, a retired narcotics detective and private eye working for Mr. Papa; and Mr. Intrieri, who upon his retirement had joined Mr. King as a bodyguard for one of Mr. Papa’s sons — “the biggest mistake of my life,” Mr. Intrieri now says. (Mr. Papa’s lawyer was overheard on a wiretap asking Mr. King, “Do we have anything to worry about the handwriting analysis?”) After providing what he thought was confidential information on four corrupt narcotics detectives, Mr. Papa was stabbed to death in prison.

Also under scrutiny was Vincent Albano, another former narcotics detective, who had served under Mr. Intrieri and had survived a mysterious hail of bullets in 1969, only to be slain in 1985.

Thomas P. Puccio, then a Brooklyn federal prosecutor, focused on Mr. King and Mr. Intrieri, but failed to tie them to the drug thefts. Mr. Puccio charged them instead with tax evasion for unexplained income, winning convictions and five-year sentences for both, along with three years for tax evasion by Mr. Albano. But the case remained a puzzle, Mr. Puccio conceded in an interview. “We never really conclusively solved it,” he said.

Still indignant over his conviction more than 30 years later, Mr. Intrieri — who held 15 police citations for bravery and valor — saw in Mr. Carlo’s book that Mr. Casso had named Mr. Albano and a mob associate as two of the French Connection thieves. The book related how Mr. Albano had been shot to death in Brooklyn in 1985, and how Mr. Casso had supplied the gun and helped dump the body on Staten Island.

Mr. Carlo, in an interview, said Mr. Casso had told him Mr. Albano had conceived the drug heist and asked Mr. Casso how to carry it out.

Mr. Intrieri, in his own manuscript, “The French Connection: The Aftermath,” told of running into Mr. Albano several times over the years — including in 1980 while Mr. Albano was casing a Queens bank — and said that Mr. Albano had laughed at hearing that Mr. Intrieri was a suspect in the drug thefts.

By opening an exchange of letters with Mr. Casso — a correspondence that grew to include this reporter — Mr. Intrieri elicited other details, and other crimes.

Mr. Casso offered details of the 1986 car bombing aimed at John Gotti that killed his Gambino family underboss, Frank DeCicco; the killing of a Russian mob associate, Michael Markowitz, in 1989; and the apparently unreported killing of a Jewish drug importer near Mr. Albano’s office around 1980, among other crimes.

Officials at the Federal Medical Center in North Carolina did not respond to repeated requests to interview Mr. Casso by phone.

“I’ll be here awhile receiving treatments for prostate cancer,” Mr. Casso wrote Mr. Intrieri in December. “Just my luck.”

As for the gun that killed Mr. Albano, Mr. Casso supplied a hand-drawn map with imperfect punctuation showing, he said, where it had been thrown: “Its in Sheepshead Bay.”

He also sketched a site where, he said, another mob victim was buried, calling it: “Drawing for the Colombians remains.”

Mr. Intrieri said that his follow-up inquiries gave credence to Mr. Casso’s information and that it was worth giving the old mob boss a chance to hand prosecutors new evidence. “I sincerely believe that until he goes to the site, he won’t remember,” Mr. Intrieri said.

Thanks to Ralph Blumenthal

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A Mafia Mistress' Tale Tales

Linda Schiro, the key prosecution witness in the startling murder trial of former FBI agent R. Lindley DeVecchio, took the stand Monday, and it was hard not to find her deadly story convincing.

In a soft voice and a strong South Brooklyn accent, Schiro, 62, nervously but soberly laid out how Lin DeVecchio had regularly visited the homes she shared in Bensonhurst with the love of her life, a swaggering Mafia soldier and secret government informant named Greg Scarpa Sr. On four of those visits, Schiro said, DeVecchio had provided Scarpa with the lethal information that her gangster lover then used to murder four people.

To hear Schiro tell it, there wasn’t much difference between the gangster and the FBI agent. “You know, you have to take care of this, she’s going to be a problem,” she quoted DeVecchio as saying prior to the 1984 murder of a beautiful girlfriend of a high-level member of Scarpa’s Colombo crime family who was allegedly talking to law enforcement.

She had the agent, a smirk on his face, talking the same way in 1987 about a drug-addled member of Scarpa’s crew. “You know,” Schiro said DeVecchio told Scarpa, “we gotta take care of this guy before he starts talking.” The crew member was soon dead as well.
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When Supreme Court Justice Gustin Reichbach called the first break of the day, reporters polled one another as to whether this crucial witness was believable. “If I was him,” said one old hand, pointing at the defendant, “I’d be getting on the A train right now, headed for JFK and a plane someplace far away. He’s dead.” A veteran reporter sitting next to him nodded in agreement.

The first time I heard Linda Schiro, she also sounded convincing.

That was 10 years ago, when Schiro sat down to talk with me and Jerry Capeci, then and now the city’s most knowledgeable organized-crime reporter. But the story she told us then is dramatically different from the one she has now sworn to as the truth.

Which puts us in no small bind.

The ground rules when we spoke to Schiro in 1997 were that the information she provided would only be used in a book—not in news articles. She also exacted a pledge that we would not attribute information directly to her. And in a cautious but not unreasonable demand for a woman who spent her life married to the mob, she required a promise—however difficult to enforce—that we not cooperate in any law-enforcement inquiries stemming from said book’s publication.

Sadly, no book ever emerged. The law-enforcement inquiries, however, did. They have taken on a life of their own, and it is Schiro, having shed her former concerns about confidentiality, who has now become the cooperator.

In the eight days of testimony before Schiro took the stand, a parade of mob cooperators and investigators testified about their suspicions concerning DeVecchio’s and Scarpa’s relationship. A trio of FBI agents said they believed that their colleague had steadily tilted in Scarpa’s favor, possibly passing crucial information to him. But suspicion is all anyone offered. Not a single witness, prior to Schiro, was able to put the former agent in any of the four murders for which he was indicted more than a year ago. That’s Schiro’s task. The D.A.’s case appears to rest on her.

If convicted, DeVecchio, 67, faces life in prison.

Those are the kind of high stakes that take precedence over contracts and vows of confidence, no matter how important they may be to the business of reporting, and regardless of how distasteful it may be to violate them. The threat of a life sentence trumps a promise.

Lin DeVecchio may be guilty, or he may be innocent. But one thing is clear: What Linda Schiro is saying on the witness stand now is not how she told the story 10 years ago concerning three of the four murder counts now at issue.

Schiro told us then, as she did the court this week, that Scarpa hid nothing from her, letting her share in both his Mafia secrets and his precarious position as an FBI informant. In the 1984 murder of Mary Bari, the glamorous young woman who was dating a Colombo crime family figure, Schiro told how Scarpa and his gang had lured her to a mob social club and then shot her in the face. She told the ghoulish story—one she later learned was apocryphal—about how a pet boxer had sniffed out an ear from the victim that, unbeknownst to her killers, had been shot away during the grisly murder. But Schiro said she knew little as to the why of the slaying.

“All I know is they had word she was turning; she was gonna let information out,” Schiro told us then. Back then, she made no mention of DeVecchio at all in connection with the slaying. But in court this week, she said the one who claimed that Mary Bari was an informant was DeVecchio, describing her as “a problem” to be “taken care of.” After the murder, she testified, DeVecchio had returned to the home she then shared with Scarpa on Avenue J and joked about the way Bari’s body had been dumped just a couple of blocks away.

“Why didn’t you just bring the body right in front of the house?” she said DeVecchio laughed to Scarpa.

Schiro said in our interviews that, as far as she knew, DeVecchio had nothing to do with the 1987 murder of a longtime Scarpa pal, a Colombo soldier named Joe DeDomenico, who went by the nickname of “Joe Brewster.”

Scarpa, she said, was so close to DeDomenico that he had been the best man at DeDomenico’s wedding and had stood as godfather to his friend’s son. But by 1987, Schiro told us, “Joe Brewster had started getting a little stupid.” She recalled a visit by DeDomenico to the couple’s home. “He was kind of drooling,” she said. “He was starting to use coke.” Schiro told us that Scarpa was also disturbed because he had asked his friend to “do something”—an unspecified crime—and been refused by DeDomenico, who said he was becoming a born-again Christian, an awkward creed for a mobster.

“Yeah, Greg had him killed,” Schiro said, naming Scarpa’s son Gregory Jr. and two of Scarpa’s crew members as the assassins. “They told him he had to go someplace, and they got all dressed up and they killed him.”

That interview took place on March 1, 1997, the day after agent DeVecchio had himself been forced to take the witness stand in Brooklyn federal court, where he was grilled by attorneys for a pair of Colombo crime family members seeking to have their convictions overturned. Their claim was that they were the victims of the FBI’s misbehavior with Scarpa, its prized informant.
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Brewster’s name had been raised by one of the defense attorneys, who asked DeVecchio if he’d ever given Scarpa information about him. DeVecchio angrily denied it.

Having heard that exchange, we asked Schiro whether Lin DeVecchio had had anything to do with the death of Joe Brewster. She seemed briefly confused by the question. “No,” she said. “He never met Joe Brewster.”

Schiro said then that she had been puzzled, along with members of Scarpa’s crew, at Scarpa’s insistence that his old friend had to go. “I liked Joe Brewster too. I couldn’t understand. Bobby and Carmine couldn’t understand,” she said, referring to a pair of Scarpa’s cronies, one of whom, Carmine Sessa, testified last week in DeVecchio’s trial.

Most of our conversations with Schiro were tape-recorded. Some tapes have long since gone missing. Audibility is a problem in others. But the conversation about the murder of Joe Brewster has survived. So has Schiro’s story about another killing, that of Lorenzo Lampasi, a Colombo soldier gunned down by Scarpa and his gang during the crime family’s bloody civil war in the early 1990s.

Lampasi was murdered at 4 a.m. on May 22, 1992, just as he was leaving his Brooklyn home to go to work at the school bus company he operated with another Colombo wiseguy. The D.A. has charged DeVecchio with tipping Scarpa to Lampasi’s schedule and whereabouts.

On the witness stand Monday, Schiro said that was exactly what had happened. She said that Scarpa had been furious about a note Lampasi had sent him, one that said “there was talk on the street” that Scarpa was an informant. “This fucking Larry Lampasi,” she quoted Scarpa as telling DeVecchio, “he started rumors I am an informer, that I’m a rat.”

She said Scarpa asked DeVecchio to find out “exactly where Lampasi lives and what time he leaves in the morning.” A few days later, she testified, the agent returned with the information. “I was in the kitchen, and Lin gave him the address and told him he leaves the house at 4 a.m.” The agent had also filled in the gangster, she testified, about a balky gate that Lampasi had to open and close.

After Lampasi’s murder, she testified, DeVecchio had returned to the house, that same smirk on his face. “That was good information,” she said Scarpa told his FBI handler.

In 1997, however, Schiro repeatedly insisted to us that DeVecchio had nothing at all to do with the Lampasi homicide. Schiro raised the subject herself back then. “There’s another thing too, with Larry Lampasi,” she told us. “See, when Lin is right, I give him right. He didn’t tell Greg about Larry Lampasi.”

What had happened, she explained, was that she and Scarpa had been at a family dinner in New Jersey in late 1991. “I think it was around Thanksgiving,” she said. Whenever the date, the dinner was hosted by Scarpa’s sister. At the table, Scarpa’s niece Rosemarie, a school bus driver, had complained to her powerful uncle that Lampasi was treating her badly.

“And I remember we were there, and she was crying to Greg they are giving her these crazy routes in bad neighborhoods,” Schiro told us. Lampasi wouldn’t let the niece, who lived on Staten Island, take her bus home with her, she said. “And she told Greg the times he gets in, the times he leaves. And Greg said, ‘I’ll take care of it for you.’ ”

As Schiro put it, Scarpa later “did what he did.” With Lampasi out of the picture, the new manager of the bus company gave the mobster’s niece what she wanted, Schiro said. “She does the best neighborhood in Staten Island. And she takes the bus home. So that Lin didn’t do,” Schiro told us. She added: “I know that for a fact.”

So this man died because of a fight over a job assignment? Schiro said that was beside the point. At the time, Scarpa was suffering from AIDS, which he contracted after receiving tainted blood in a transfusion. “Greg’s attitude at this time,” she told us, “was he was going to fuck everybody. He don’t give a fuck who he kills.”

But DeVecchio had nothing to do with it, she insisted. “We were sitting there when she told Greg all about Larry Lampasi,” she said. “Lin did not tell.”

A week later, we raised the Lampasi murder again after his name came up in a court hearing. Had she ever heard anything about a note that Lampasi had supposedly sent Scarpa, one that accused Scarpa of being a rat? “No,” she said. “I told you about Greg’s niece.”

It’s possible, as prosecutors have suggested, that Linda Schiro previously hid her knowledge of DeVecchio’s role in these murders simply because she was frightened of him. The agent is a big man who served 33 years with the bureau, where he made powerful friends. Moreover, DeVecchio had already escaped punishment after an internal Justice Department probe of his handling of Scarpa. But if she was scared of him—and she never said so on the stand Monday—Schiro showed no sign of it in 1997. When she talked with us about the FBI agent, she sounded unconcerned. “I was friendly with Lin,” she said at one point. She even put him in lesser crimes, claiming that Scarpa had sometimes passed cash to DeVecchio and, on one occasion, gave the agent a couple of baubles from a jewelry heist. And if fear made her hide the agent’s role in the murders of Bari, DeDomenico, and Lampasi, it seems strange that she didn’t hesitate at the time to put DeVecchio directly into another murder, that of Patrick Porco, the teenager who had been her son Joey’s best friend until Greg Scarpa decided he was a threat who needed to stop breathing.

On the witness stand Monday, Schiro said she has told the sad story of Porco’s murder—and DeVecchio’s role—to several writers. “It’s because I love Patrick,” she said. “He was like a son to me.”

Porco was just 18 when he was shot to death on May 27, 1990. His mistake had been to spend the previous Halloween cruising the Bensonhurst streets in a white stretch limo with Joey Schiro and two other pals. Along the way, they’d been pelted with eggs by a rival gang of kids. The teens decided to imitate their adult role models. They returned with a shotgun and blew away a 17-year-old standing on the steps of Our Lady of Guadalupe Roman Catholic Church.

Greg initially ordered Joey and his friend to get out of town, sending them to a New Jersey farm owned by relatives. Bored, the boys returned to Brooklyn. Police soon brought Porco in for questioning about the homicide.

Last week, at the DeVecchio trial, a prosecution witness named Rey Aviles, who was present at the Halloween shooting, testified that it was Porco himself who told Joey Schiro and his old man about his encounter with the cops. But Linda Schiro told us in 1997—and testified on the stand this week—that the information came from DeVecchio. “Lin called, he said the kid was going to tell the detectives what happened,” Schiro told us. She remembered that the agent was unusually secretive. Usually, she said, DeVecchio was willing to chat on the home phone with his informant. This time, Schiro said, he insisted that Scarpa call him back from an outside line. “I drove him to the pay phone,” Schiro said. They used what she said was a special, untraceable number to call DeVecchio. “Greg got back in the car and told me that this kid Patrick was going to rat on Joey,” said Schiro.

Scarpa initially wanted one of his crew members, a man named Joe “Fish” Marra, to do the job on his son’s friend. But Joe Fish’s car broke down, and Schiro said Scarpa didn’t want to waste any time. He ordered Joey, along with Schiro’s cousin, John Sinagra, to do it themselves.

Schiro said Joey pleaded with his father. “Joey was saying, ‘Dad, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Patrick wouldn’t do that.’ ”Schiro said Scarpa refused to listen. She said Scarpa slammed his hand on the table. “Joey, listen what I’m telling you,” she quoted Scarpa as saying.

When her son came back home after the murder, she said, he told his father that he’d pulled the trigger. “But I don’t know if Joey had it in him to do that,” she said. “They left his body by the Belt Parkway.”

After the slaying, Schiro said, her son stayed in his room, refusing to go to the wake. “Joey was sick about it,” said Schiro. “He loved the kid.” Scarpa, however, ordered Linda to go. “I says, ‘I have to go to the wake?’ Here I am, sitting in the funeral parlor, and the mother comes out—she knows how close [her son] was to Joey—and she’s hysterical, crying. I get the chills just thinking about it.”

On the witness stand, Schiro added a chilling coda to the story when she testified that DeVecchio had later brushed off Scarpa’s lament that his son was inconsolable over his friend’s murder. “Better he cries now than he goes to jail,” Schiro said the agent replied. Despite our questioning, she somehow never mentioned that memorable comment to us.

Greg Scarpa Sr. died in prison in 1994, jailed for his participation in multiple murders during the Colombo civil war. Ravaged by AIDS, the body that federal prison authorities sent home to Schiro weighed just 56 pounds.

Nine months later, her Joey was dead as well, murdered in a drug deal gone wrong.

According to the D.A.’s office, it was the cop who solved that case, Detective Tommy Dades, who eventually convinced Linda Schiro to finally tell about how the FBI agent who was supposed to be harvesting secrets from his top informant traded back murderous secrets of his own.

At the trial’s opening, DeVecchio’s defense attorneys, Doug Grover and Mark Bederow, offered their own explanation for Schiro’s decision to talk. They said she’s trying to sell a book.

Thanks to Tom Robbins

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Earlier Attempts to Report Lin DeVecchio's Alleged Crimes

Posting an email that we received from former FAA agent, Rodney Stich. Mr. Stich was an air safety inspector-investigator with the FAA and is now an author and activist against corruption in government.

To Chicago Syndicate:

In 2002, Gregory Scarpa Jr signed a book contract with former federal agent Rodney Stich, after which Scarpa provided Stich with information about the murders perpetrated by FBI supervisory agent DeVecchio. Also providing Stich with information about DeVecchio was former FBI agent and highly decorated Vietnam War veteran Richard Taus who worked under DeVecchio and who discovered corruption associated with the White House, the arming and funding of Iraq during the 1980s, and the involvement of a CIA proprietary in the New York Area.

About this time, the House judiciary committee was conducting hearings into the murders involving FBI agents in the Boston office involving Whitey Bulger. Having this information, I contacted members of the congressional committee investigating the FBI conduct, informing them that I was a former federal agent and that I was in contact with a former Mafia member and a former FBI agent and had insider information about murders involving an FBI agent in the New York office, and if they would contact me I would put them in contact with these sources.

Despite the gravity of these matters, not a single recipient of those letters contacted me. Several years later, a Brooklyn district attorney filed murder charges against DeVecchio that could have been filed years earlier if members of Congress had not covered up.

In an attempt to circumvent the cover-ups on this matter, I published a non-profit book called FBI, CIA, the Mob, and Treachery.

Among the internet sites that address this matter are the following examples:

* www.defraudingamerica.com/FBI_murderous_culture.html
* www.defraudingamerica.com/fallen_heroes.html
* www.defraudingamerica.com/fbi_justice_department_corruption.html

Of possible interest to you were my letters in 2002 to members of the House Judiciary Committee trying to put them in contact with my two sources, the former FBI agent who worked under DeVecchio, and Gregory Scarpa, Jr., who send me letters describing the murders in which he and his father were involved with DeVecchio. The letters are located at the following web site: www.defraudingamerica.com/letter_list_congress.html.

At that site, look at the letters in 2002 and 2003, for the people to whom I sent letters offering to provide the names of my two contacts.

Although this indifference, or aiding in cover-ups of criminal activities, is serious, it is only one instance where over a period of many years, starting while I was a key federal aviation safety agent, I sought to report hardcore corruption that was causing or enabling a steady series of air tragedies and other tragedies to occur. I learned about these matters either from my official duties, or from the dozens of insiders who came to me over a period of years after reading my books or hearing me on radio and TV.

We have a culture where no one does a damn thing unless it personally affects them.


Rodney Stich

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Accused of Helping the Mob, FBI Agent Gets His Day in Court

The rumor was explosive, hard to believe: Gregory Scarpa Sr., a ruthless Colombo crime family capo known as the Grim Reaper, was receiving tips from a mysterious source inside law enforcement, a man he called “the girlfriend.”

The confirmation was devastating: Prosecutors working to cripple the family in the mid-1990s said that the source was their own Roy Lindley DeVecchio, a Federal Bureau of Investigation supervisor, the man assigned to lead the Colombo investigation.

In May 1995, an assistant United States attorney, Ellen M. Corcella, was prosecuting a murder conspiracy case on the brutal war for control of the family. She practically begged jurors not to be distracted by the role prosecutors said Mr. DeVecchio played.

“He’ll get his day in court,” Ms. Corcella told the jury.

Though Ms. Corcella lost that case, her prediction eventually came true. More than a decade later, Mr. DeVecchio arrived in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn yesterday for a trial on murder charges. By the account of state prosecutors, he traded information with Mr. Scarpa from 1980 through 1993, directly causing four Mafia killings and failing to stop several others.

Mr. DeVecchio tried several legal maneuvers — including claiming immunity from prosecution as a federal agent — but each failed, and he appeared in court yesterday in a drab gray suit, ragged crew cut and crinkled features, watched from the gallery by rows of agents dressed nearly identically.

Prosecutors say Mr. DeVecchio accepted cash, wine, the services of a prostitute and jewelry stolen from bank safe deposit boxes. They say he billed the federal government for more than $66,000 in payments to Mr. Scarpa, then kept the money himself. But his greatest rewards were the least tangible, prosecutors say: Through years of handling his prized mole, Mr. DeVecchio grew his legend in the annals of law enforcement.

After helping supervise the famed Commission Case in the 1980s, when top leaders of the city’s five crime families were jailed, Mr. DeVecchio was honored by the Police Department and called to lecture at training academies.

So to Mr. DeVecchio’s lawyers and supporters, among them five agents who signed for his $1 million bail, the charges unfairly smear an exemplary career. Motivated by political gain, they say, state prosecutors have built a flawed case on the word of Mr. Scarpa’s common-law wife, Linda Schiro, a woman intent on selling her story to publishers.

Yesterday, there was a lot of history in the room, all the way up. The judge overseeing the case, Gustin L. Reichbach, was investigated by the F.B.I. in the 1960s when he was a student at Columbia University.

Despite a warning and a reminder that he could have a jury hear the case, Mr. DeVecchio waived his right to a jury trial and left his fate to a man that his F.B.I. colleagues had once described as a dangerous student protest organizer.

Absent an audience of jurors, an assistant district attorney, Joseph P. Alexis, opened his case with a stark, unemotional recounting of the charges. In a trial expected to last more than a month, he said Ms. Schiro would testify that Mr. DeVecchio had visited her home, taken cash payments and told Mr. Scarpa whom to kill.

The witness list includes several Mafia associates, including Mr. Scarpa’s namesake son, who is in prison for racketeering.

By the prosecutor’s account, Mr. DeVecchio identified informers. “Scarpa used this information,” Mr. Alexis said, “to devastating effect.”

Mr. Scarpa shot Mary Bari, the girlfriend of a Mafia figure who was suspected of crossing Mr. Scarpa, while his son held her down, Mr. Alexis said. Mr. DeVecchio eventually investigated possible informers on request.

“Shockingly, DeVecchio used his F.B.I. resources, looked into the matter and faithfully reported back,” he said.

A lawyer for Mr. DeVecchio, Douglas Grover, said Ms. Schiro’s testimony had been concocted to sell books. Several of the victims, he said, were killed before they ever had a chance to cooperate with the F.B.I.

Mr. Grover said Mr. DeVecchio’s relationship with Mr. Scarpa was proper, required to make big cases against secretive Mafia families. “Gregory Scarpa, as ugly and miserable a human being as he was, a made member of the Colombo crime family, was a top echelon F.B.I. source,” Mr. Grover said.

For Mr. DeVecchio, 67 and retired, the trial will render final judgment on a career marked as maverick from the start.

After joining the F.B.I. in 1965, Mr. DeVecchio worked in New York, a city traditionally unpopular among agents for its weather, cost of living, field office bureaucracy and large, ambitious Police Department. His Italian family background led to assignments investigating the Mafia, supporters say.

Mr. DeVecchio first came to prominence in the early 1980s. Posing undercover as a hit man, he helped convict a former intelligence agent of plotting to kill prosecutors and witnesses.

By then, in the parlance of the F.B.I., he had opened Mr. Scarpa, contracting him as a confidential informer to gather insight on Mafia doings and hierarchy.

Mr. Scarpa was something of a legend himself, a compact, muscular man of 5-foot-10 and 200 pounds. In the 1960s, the F.B.I. engaged him to travel south, meet Ku Klux Klan members and use his powers of persuasion to find the bodies of slain civil rights workers. Back home in Brooklyn he reputedly oversaw Colombo loan-sharking operations, hijackings, weapons sales and killings.

Much of Mr. Scarpa’s reputation derived from an uncanny ability to avoid prison through a series of indictments. In 1993, he finally pleaded guilty to murder and racketeering charges. The next year, at age 66, he died in a prison hospital of complications from AIDS, which he had contracted in a blood transfusion from a member of his crew.

The relationship between Mr. DeVecchio and Mr. Scarpa first drew scrutiny in 1994, when F.B.I. agents voiced their suspicions to supervisors, but an inquiry failed to find enough evidence. Taking the witness stand at a hearing in 1997, he strongly denied giving Mr. Scarpa investigative information.

Still, the accusations persisted, taking the form of defense motions, rumors, Mafia lore and, not least, book proposals. In 2005, state prosecutors got their break from Ms. Schiro, who had lived with Mr. Scarpa for years, bearing sons who followed their father into the Mafia.

By Ms. Schiro’s account, Mr. DeVecchio warned Mr. Scarpa of surveillance, impending arrests and other government informers. Prosecutors accused him of helping Mr. Scarpa kill a teenage murder witness, rivals for power and suspected informers, including a woman who had dated a family consigliere.

In his opening, Mr. Grover said the new charges reprised accusations long laid to rest, tacitly acknowledging the long, strange arc of Mr. DeVecchio’s career at the F.B.I. “Watch this one play out,” Mr. Grover told the judge. “It’s going to be quite interesting.”

Thanks to Michael Brick

Stinky Cheeses

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Ex-FBI Agent Getting Taxpayer Help with Defense Bills in Mob Case

Friends of ours: Colombo Crime Family, Gregory Scarpa

Taxpayers are footing part of the mounting legal bills for an ex-FBI agent accused of helping a Brooklyn Mafia boss commit four murders, the Daily News has learned.

The Justice Department is helping fund retired agent Lindley DeVecchio's defense, which has cost more than $450,000 since his indictment last year by the Brooklyn district attorney's office. "It's an expensive litigation," said DeVecchio's lawyer Douglas Grover, who declined to comment further.

A highly informed source confirmed the Justice Department contributions, saying, "It's on an hourly rate. Not a top New York City rate, more like a federal public defenders' rate."

It could not immediately be determined how much the department is paying.

"There is a process in place by which employees or former [FBI] employees who are the subject of civil litigation or criminal charges can apply for coverage of their legal costs. The recommendation is forwarded to the Department of Justice, where a final determination is made," FBI spokesman John Miller said.

In a case that rocked New York law enforcement, DeVecchio, 66, was indicted last year for providing information on informants and mob rivals to Colombo family boss Gregory Scarpa before the murders. DeVecchio, who spent 33 years as an agent, is also charged with receiving payoffs from Scarpa totaling more than $66,000.

Now dead, Scarpa was DeVecchio's top secret informant for more than a decade, beginning in 1982. The murders occurred during the brutal Colombo family wars of the late 1980s and early '90s.

Grover, DeVecchio and numerous agents who worked with him maintain he is innocent of the charges and that the Brooklyn DA's prosecution is baseless and misguided.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Mafia Victim Not a Rat?

Friends of mine: Colombo Crime Family, Greg "The Grim Reaper" Scarpa

Accused FBI mob mole Lindley DeVecchio, charged with sealing the fate of a Brooklyn teen by tipping off a Colombo crime pal that the boy was about to squeal, had been completely wrong about the 17-year-old's intentions.

Filings in a related case make clear that murder victim Patrick Porco was no rat. "Porco flatly refused to answer the investigators' questions," the court papers reveal.

DeVecchio, a star FBI agent who helped make major cases against the mob in the '80s and early '90s, now stands accused of four counts of second-degree murder for an all-too-cozy relationship with Colombo killer Gregory "The Grim Reaper" Scarpa. Brooklyn prosecutors allege that he thanked Scarpa for the info he got by sending back tips that helped the mobster avoid arrest and whack rivals. DeVecchio has denied any wrongdoing.

In the Porco case, DeVecchio is accused of acting to safeguard Scarpa's son, Joey, from a murder rap.

In the spring of 1990, cops and prosecutors were eager to talk to Porco about a fatal drive-by shooting the previous Halloween. The victim was Dominick Masseria, 17, who was believed to have tossed eggs at the wrong bunch of kids. Porco and Joey Scarpa were in the white limo involved in the shooting.

Just after speaking on the phone with DeVecchio, Gregory Scarpa told his girlfriend that Joey was going to have to kill Porco, prosecutors say. But last week's filings make clear that prosecutors' efforts to find out what Porco knew were going nowhere.

On May 5, 1990, Porco and his sister met with prosecutors and Detective Alphonse Lombardo. "Neither one was willing to talk," the papers reveal. "Inspector Lombardo confronted Patrick Porco with the fact that he was likely to be killed because he was the only witness who could implicate Joey Scarpa.

"Porco started crying, but he steadfastly refused to cooperate."

But even the appearance of cooperation was enough. Porco was found shot dead - once in the mouth, signifying rat - on Memorial Day, 1990.

In 2005, the Brooklyn DA reopened the Masseria case, identifying the shooter as Craig Sobel, 39. The papers revealing Porco's noncooperation were filed in connection with the Sobel case.

Thanks to Alex Ginsberg

Friday, November 17, 2006

Al Qaeda and The Mob

Friends of ours: "Big Paul" Castellano, Gambino Crime Family, John "Dapper Don" Gotti, Colombo Crime Family, Greg Scarpa Jr., Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano, Joseph LaForte

After whacking "Big Paul" Castellano and taking control of the Gambino Family in 1985 John Gotti set up headquarters at The Ravenite Social Club - located on the ground floor of a five story brick building at 227 Mulberry St. in Little Italy. Over the next seven years, the FBI's New York Office (NYO) conducted an around the clock surveillance of the site: taking pictures of The Dapper Don in the street outside the club from a plant or "perch" across the street, bugging his phones and planting dozens of surveillance devices in the building owned by Gambino wiseguy Joseph "Joe The Cat" LaForte.

By 1997 "getting Gotti" became the "top investigative priority" of the NYO and the personal obsession of Special Agent Bruce Mouw who called the Gambino boss as "a stone cold killer." The investigation cost the Feds millions, but during three separate prosecutions in Federal Court "The Teflon Don" eluded conviction. It wasn't until Mouw and the FBI's Special Operations Group (SOG) were able to install mikes in the apartment of Netti Cirelli, who lived upstairs from the club, that they caught Gotti in the incriminating conversations with Sammy "The Bull" Gravano that finally brought him down in 1992. It was a victory that cemented the reputation of the FBI as the law enforcement agency that "always gets its man."

This story is very well known. What's not known -- and will be revealed in detail with the publication next week of my new book Triple Cross -- is that the same New York Office of the FBI - also known as the bin Laden "office of origin," blew an opportunity in the summer of 2001 - to stop the 9/11 "planes as missiles" plot dead in its tracks. How? by merely applying the same dogged surveillance techniques across the Hudson in Jersey City to an al Qaeda hot spot that one former FBI informant had called "a nest of vipers."

The address was 2828 Kennedy Boulevard in Jersey City; the location of Sphinx Trading, a check cashing and mailbox store that does millions of dollars in wire transfers each year between New Jersey and the Middle East. Sphinx was incorporated on December 15th, 1987 by Waleed al Noor and Mohammed El-Attris, an Egyptian. The store was located only four doors down from the al-Salam mosque, presided over by blind Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman (OAR). Rahman runs like a hot circuit cable through the epic story of FBI failures on the road to 9/11.

Convicted by former Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald in 1995 along with 9 other members of a "jihad army" for seditious conspiracy, OAR was the leader of the hyper-violent al Gamma'a Islamyah (Islamic Group) responsible for the Luxor Massacre in 1997. He was also spiritual head of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) the terror group headed by Osama bin Laden's number two: Dr. Ayman al Zawahiri. Not only was the Sheikh's cell responsible for the first attack on the WTC in 1993, but the 1998 African Embassy bombings and the October, 2000 attack on the U.S.S. Cole were committed in his name. OAR was so important to the al Qaeda leadership that the infamous Crawford Texas, Presidential Daily Briefing of August 6th, 2001 referenced a 1998 intelligence report of a plot by bin Laden to hijack planes to free him. A similar report was contained in a PDB to Bill Clinton in 1998. So the NYO "office of origin" had good reason to focus on the dingy gray three-story building at 2824 Kennedy Boulevard that also housed what the Feds called "The Jersey Jihad Office."

Paul Fredrick MenStyleOne of the most astonishing revelations in my five year investigation into the FBI's handling of the war on terror was that Bureau agents knew as early as 1991 that Sphinx Trading was the location of a mailbox used by El Sayyid Nosair. A Prozac popping Egyptian-born janitor, it was Nosair who spilled the first al Qaeda blood on U.S. soil on the night of November 5th, 1990 when he gunned down Rabbi Meier Kahane, founder of The Jewish Defense League. Nosair had been trained by the principal subject of Triple Cross: Ali A. Mohamed, an ex Egyptian Army Major who had by then succeeded in penetrating the CIA in Hamburg Germany in 1984. Then after slipping past a Watch List and entering the U.S. a year later, Mohamed enlisted in the U.S. Army where he reached the rank of E-5 and got himself assigned to the highly secure JFK Special Warfare Center (SWC) at Fort Bragg, N.C. -- the advanced training school for officers of The Green Berets and Delta Force. It was members of Mohamed's radical Egyptian Army unit who had gunned down Anwar Sadat in 1981 and his C.O. at Bragg likened the chances of an ex-Egyptian Army officer with that kind of pedigree ending up at the JFK SWC with winning the Powerball Lottery.

On weekends Mohamed would travel up to New York and stay with Nosair -bringing along TOP SECRET memos he'd stolen from the SWC including the location of all Special Operations units worldwide - a treasure trove of intel that made its way to the al Qaeda leadership. On four successive weekends in July, 1989, during the tenure of Bush 41, Ali's trainees drove out from the al Farooq Mosque on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn (another OAR venue) to a shooting range in Calverton township on Long Island. There they spent hours firing AK-47's, handguns and other semi-automatic weapons. How do we know this? Because every weekend these "M.E.'s" or "Middle Eastern" men as they were known in Bureau speak were photographed by the Special Operations Group, the same unit that "Got Gotti" at the Ravenite Social Club.

Of the Ali Mohamed trainees photographed by the FBI half an hour above the Hamptons that hot July of '89, three were later convicted in the WTC bombing, Nosair, was convicted in the Kahane assassination and a third U.S. Black Muslim was convicted with the Blind Sheikh and Nosair in the plot to blow up the bridges and tunnels into Manhattan in 1995. Billed as the Day of Terror case, it was presided over by U.S. Attorneys Andrew McCarthy and Patrick Fitzgerald. As proof of their awareness that OAR's "jihad army" was an effective al Qaeda cell, Fitzie, as he was known, named 173 unindicted co-conspirators including Osama bin Laden, his brother-in-law Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, and Ali Mohamed - who by now was operating a sleeper cell in Silicon Valley. Also named on that list was Waleed al-Noor the co-incorporator of Sphinx Trading - proof that the Feds still had the Jersey City mailbox store on its radar.

What isn't known and will be revealed for the first time in Triple Cross was that Ali Mohamed had been acting as an FBI informant on the West Coast since 1992 - a year before the WTC bombing carried out by the same cell members he'd trained. More amazing, the revelation that in 1993 Ali had confessed to his hapless West Coast "control" agent John Zent that he was working for bin Laden and had helped set up al Qaeda training camps for jihadis in Khartoum. He'd also admitted that he'd provided al Qaeda members with anti-hijacking and intelligence training in Afghanistan.

If anyone in the bin Laden "office of origin" had been inclined to connect the dots, that single statement to a Special Agent in the San Francisco office should have set off alarm bells at 26 Federal Plaza - home of the FBI's NYO. But it didn't. Worse, when Mohamed was captured by alert Royal Canadian Mounted Police operatives in 1993 while attempting to smuggle al Qaeda terrorist into the U.S. from Vancouver, it was Special Agent Zent who vouched for Ali - effectively springing him from the custody of the Mounties.

After that, on the orders of Mohamed Atef, al Qaeda's military commander, Ali went to Nairobi where he took the pictures of the U.S. Embassy that bin Laden personally used to locate the suicide truck bomb that exploded five years later in August 1998. Along with simultaneous truck bombing in Tanzania 224 people died and 4,000 more were injured.

Using evidence from the SDNY court cases, interviews with current and retired Special Agents and documents from the FBI's own files, I prove in Triple Cross that Patrick Fitzgerald and Squad I-49 in the NYO could have prevented those bombings - not just by getting the truth from FBI informant Ali Mohamed, but by connecting him to Wadih El-Hage, one of the Kenya cell leaders. How would the Feds have done that? Easily.

They'd had wiretaps on El-Hage's Kenyan home since 1996. In August 1997, a year before the bombings, Special Agent Dan Coleman (of I-49) had searched El-Hage's house where he'd found Ali Mohamed's U.S. address and phone number. In fact, Fitzgerald himself had a face to face meeting with Mohamed in Sacramento, California in October 1997.

At that meeting Mohamed boldly told Fitzie that he "loved" bin Laden and didn't need a fatwa to attack the U.S. This "stone-cold" killer who had moved bin Laden and his entire al Qaeda entourage from Afghanistan to Khartoum in 1991 and trained the Saudi Billionaire's personal bodyguards in 1994 - then told Fitzgerald and other I-49 FBI agents including Jack Cloonan that he had dozens of al Qaeda sleepers that he could make operational on a moment's notice and that he himself could disappear at any time.

Then, After Mohamed walked out on him, Fitzgerald turned to Cloonan and declared that Ali was "the most dangerous man" he'd ever met and insisted, "We cannot let this man out on the street." But he did and ten months later in August, 1998 the bombs went off in Africa - delivered by another cell that Ali had helped train. It took Fitzgerald another month before he arrested Mohamed on September 10th bringing his 14 year terror spree to an end.

The immediate threat to the American people from Ali may have ended, but not his threat to the FBI and the Justice Department. You see, Ali, aka "Amiriki" or "Ali the American," was a one-man 9/11 Commission capable of ratting out the Feds on how he had eaten their lunch for years - how the two bin Laden "offices of origin" in the NYO and the SDNY where Fitzgerald was head of Organized Crime and terrorism - had been outgunned by bin Laden and al-Zawahiri dating back to that Calverton, L.I. surveillance in 1989. Fearful of what he would say if put on the stand and subjected to cross examination by defense lawyers in the upcoming Embassy bombing, Fitzgerald made sure that Ali was hidden away under a John Doe warrant. Finally, by October, 2000 Fitzie had cut a deal allowing the master spy to cop a plea and escape the death penalty.

In the end, Fitzgerald made his bones as the Justice Department's top al Qaeda buster by convicting El Hage and several other relatively minor bomb cell members. in U.S. vs. bin Laden in 2001. But the real "mastermind" of the Embassy bombings skated. Mohamed was allowed to slip into the security of custodial witness protection where he remains today - the greatest enigma of the war on terror.

All of this brings us full circle back to the big question: why should we care. What does it matter if an al Qaeda spy turned CIA asset, U.S. citizen, active duty Army sergeant and FBI informant was able to operate with virtual impunity for years, right under the noses of the best and the brightest in the FBI and DOJ?

Because Ali Mohamed was a metaphor for the dozens and dozens of counterterrorism failures by the NYO and SDNY on the road to 9/11 - while agents in the New York office like Bruce Mouw remained so obsessed with bringing down "The Dapper Don." Worse, at some point - I fix the date in 1996 - the evidence in Triple Cross shows that officials like Fitzgerald began suppressing evidence that might have proven embarrassing to the Bureau.

Much of it was contained in dozens of FBI 302 memos that can be examined by going to my website, www.peterlance.com. This treasure trove of intelligence was passed to the FBI, ironically, by a wiseguy name Greg Scarpa Jr. locked up in the cell next to WTC bomber and 9/11 plot mastermind Ramzi Yousef in the MCC - federal jail in Lower Manhattan. It was Yousef's uncle Khalid Shaikh Mohamed (KSM) who merely executed his nephew's "planes as missiles" plot after Ramzi's capture in 1995.

Among those 302's, a warning in December, 1996 of a plot by bin Laden (aka Bojinga) to hijack planes to free the blind Sheikh - the identical threat warning that was to appear in PDB's to Clinton in '98 and Bush 43 '01. Also, evidence of an active al Qaeda cell operating in New York City in 1996. But all of that intel got flushed by Patrick Fitzgerald and other DOJ officials in order to suppress a scandal in the NYO involved former Supervisory Special Agent R. Lindley DeVecchio. Lin or "the girlfriend" as he was called by Scarpa's father - a notorious Colombo Family killer - had been the target of a 1994 FBI internal affairs (OPR) investigation that threatened to derail the 60 remaining Colombo War cases in the (EDNY) Brooklyn. So, as I reported first in my last book COVER UP, Fitzgerald and other DOJ officials -- including current FBI General Counsel Valerie Caproni - entered into an ends/means decision to discredit the younger Scarpa, bury the Yousef intel (falsely calling it a "hoax" and a "scam') and allowing DeVecchio to retire with a full pension.

They did this after he'd taken "the Fifth" and answered "I don't recall" more than 40 times after a grand of immunity - something that would have landed any other U.s. citizen in jail for contempt.

I'd told that tangled story of "The G-Man and The Hit Man" for the first time in Cover Up published in 2004. A year later, the deputy head of the Rackets Bureau in the Brooklyn D.A's office met with me. Later, armed with evidence supplied by forensic investigator Angela Clemente they empanelled a grand jury. On March 30th 2006 DeVecchio was indicted on four counts of second degree homicide stemming from his alleged "unholy alliance" with Scarpa Sr. But it was the desire by Federal officials in 1996 to bury the DeVecchio scandal and preserve those Colombo War cases that led to their ends/means decision to ignore all of that evidence from Ramzi Yousef to Greg Scarpa Jr. The belief that somehow the Mafia was more of a threat to New York than al Qaeda -- that caused the FBI to let their guard down on the bin Laden threat.

That's the only explanation I've been able to come up with to understand their stunning inability to keep an eye on Sphinx Trading.

There is now little doubt that if the Feds had devoted as much energy to a surveillance of Sphinx as they had to the Ravenite Social Club, they would have been in the middle of the 9/11 plot months before Black Tuesday. Because in July of 2001, Khalid al-Midhar and Salem al-Hazmi got their fake I.D.'s delivered to them in a mailbox at the identical location the FBI had been onto in the decade since El Sayyid Nosair had killed Meier Kahane. The man who supplied those fake ID's that allowed al-Midhar and al-Hazmi to board A.A. Flight #77 that hit the Pentagon, was none other than Mohammed El-Attriss the co-incorporator of Sphinx with Waleed al-Noor - whom Patrick Fitzgerald had put on the unindicted co-conspirators list along with bin Laden and Ali Mohamed in 1995.

How was it that Fitzgerald, the man Vanity Fair described as the bin Laden "brain," possessing "scary smart" intelligence, had not connected the dots and ordered the same kind of "perch" or "plant" to watch Sphinx that the Bureau had used against Gotti? Which "stone cold" killer was more a threat to the security of New York City? The Teflon Don or bin Laden's master spy who cut his deal without giving up those "sleepers" he'd told Fitzgerald about in October of 1997.

Here's an irony in a story pregnant with them:

Patrick Fitzgerald made his bones as a terror fighter by prosecuting U.S. vs. bin Laden, the trial of the African Embassy bombers that he and squad I-49 failed to stop. As a reward he was appointed U.S. Attorney in Chicago and got tapped as Special Prosecutor in the Valerie Plame CIA leak investigation. We now know that even after learning the identify of the Plame leak source -- Bush retainer Richard Armitage - in the early weeks of the investigation, Fitzgerald still subjected the New York Times and Time magazine to a barrage of subpoenas unseen since the McCarthy era - going so far as to force the jailing of ex-Times reporter Judith Miller for 85 days. Until now, Patrick Fitzgerald has been famous for two things: prosecuting al Qaeda members and chilling the press. With the publication of Triple Cross his failure to contain bin Laden's master spy will now be on the record. The book hits the stores on Tuesday, November 21st.

Thanks to Peter Lance

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

"Bizarro FBI" Roots for "Defendant"

When Lin DeVecchio goes to court, he never goes alone.

His lawyers are there, making arguments. The news media are there, taking photographs and notes. His wife sometimes shows up, making small, sorrowful faces as she grips him by the hand. Then there are the men who make a path for him as they escort him back and forth through the crowd. The ones with the gray hair and the jowls, the stern faces and the off-the-rack suits.

Almost from the moment he was charged in March with helping to commit four murders for the mob, R. Lindley DeVecchio has been surrounded by this posse of supporters: retired F.B.I. men who for years were not only his colleagues, but also his friends.

They watch his back. Personally guarantee his million-dollar bond. Solicit money for his legal bills. Scoff at his accusers. Interview — or, some have said, intimidate — witnesses in the case. And at every chance they get, tell whoever cares to listen that Mr. DeVecchio is an innocent man.

Sixty-five years old and retired from the F.B.I., Mr. DeVecchio stands accused in a state indictment of four counts of second-degree murder. The Brooklyn district attorney’s office says he helped an informant in the mob, Gregory Scarpa Sr., kill four times in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, so that Mr. Scarpa could rid himself of rivals and win bloody battles in a war within the Colombo family.

To a federal agent, there is nothing more toxic than a corruption charge — which even by association can ruin a career. And the charges faced by Mr. DeVecchio are radioactive: that he gave secret information to Mr. Scarpa in exchange for $66,000.

Which makes it all the more remarkable that 19 former F.B.I. agents have put their names and reputations on the line to save their troubled friend. These were not the bureaucrats or pencil pushers of the New York office, but its veteran undercover and investigative men. “We’ve all worked with Lin since the early 1970’s,” said Joseph D. Pistone, the real-life Donnie Brasco, who infiltrated the Bonanno crime family as an undercover agent in the 1970’s.

“We’re all veteran street guys,” Mr. Pistone said. “If anyone could smell something bad, it would be us. And with Lin, we never smelled bad.”

The so-called Friends of Lin DeVecchio have a total of 480 years of street experience, give or take a few, and while most spend their time these days on a golf course or at the shore, they remain encyclopedic on the subject of the mob.

Who knows better than us, they say, what happened 20 years ago at Carmine Sessa’s bar or at Larry Lampesi’s house near McDonald Avenue in Brooklyn? (Both places will figure prominently at trial.) “We gathered the information,” said James M. Kossler, who from 1979 to 1989 was Mr. DeVecchio’s boss.

Much of that information has been posted on a Web site, www.lindevecchio.com, which attempts to refute the state indictment with transcripts of federal trials and with private F.B.I. reports called 302’s. There is information about how to donate money toward Mr. DeVecchio’s legal expenses. The Web site also levels personal attacks against the state’s lead prosecutor, Michael Vecchione; its chief witness, Linda Schiro, Mr. Scarpa’s former companion; and Sandra Harmon, who is a self-described relationship coach and the co-author with Priscilla Presley of a tell-all book on Elvis Presley, and who had planned to write a book with Ms. Schiro but wrote one instead about Mr. Scarpa’s son.

Mr. DeVecchio’s supporters make no bones about their deep disdain for the Brooklyn district attorney, Charles J. Hynes, who they say considers a good Mafia case to be rounding up gamblers on Super Bowl Sunday. “Here you have a rackets bureau that doesn’t know a thing about organized crime,” Mr. Kossler said. “They don’t know what they’re doing. If they had a track record of making great O.C. cases, fine — but they don’t.”

The bad blood between the state and the F.B.I. goes back many years, to at least 1992, when Mr. Scarpa went into hiding after Brooklyn prosecutors obtained a warrant for his arrest on a gun possession charge. From April to August of that year, court papers say, Mr. Scarpa met or spoke with Mr. DeVecchio seven times, but the F.B.I. neither informed the state of his whereabouts nor arrested Mr. Scarpa.

Jerry Schmetterer, a spokesman for Mr. Hynes, waved off accusations that the office was incompetent. “These people who are making these allegations can’t possibly know the depth of the evidence we have compiled to make this case,” he said.

Part of that evidence is likely to include the testimony of Lawrence Mazza, Mr. Scarpa’s one-time disciple, who has already told investigators that Mr. Scarpa had a friend in law enforcement, whom he used to call “the girlfriend.” Mr. Mazza, who now works at a gym in southern Florida, said that several weeks ago, one of the retired agents paid him a visit. Without saying exactly what happened, he said the agent had tried to intimidate him in connection with the case.

Mr. Kossler scoffed at the charge, saying the former agent had gone to Florida merely to interview Mr. Mazza on Mr. DeVecchio’s behalf. As a witness for the prosecution, Mr. Mazza is of obvious interest to the defense, he said. While the prosecution has said in court that intimidation of witnesses may have occurred, it will not publicly discuss Mr. Mazza’s accusation.

At its core, the DeVecchio case is about the tenuous give-and-take that exists between an agent and a confidential source. Prosecutors say that Mr. DeVecchio abused that give-and-take, giving Mr. Scarpa names and addresses of men who wound up dead.

Mr. DeVecchio has said that in the 12 years he “ran” Mr. Scarpa, he never leaked a secret and never received anything more than a Cabbage Patch doll, a bottle of wine and a pan of lasagna.

As for the Friends of Lin DeVecchio, they maintain it takes a special sort of man to handle Mafia informants. He must speak the language of the street and of the F.B.I. He must appreciate the criminal mind without admiring it. He must be able to cultivate trust among those who trust no one but themselves. “That’s the fine line the agent has to walk — to always remember who he is and who he’s dealing with,” said Christopher Mattice, who served for many years as the F.B.I.’s informant coordinator in New York. “You have to talk the language and make them understand you understand what’s going on.” And most important, he said, you must remember that no conversation between an agent and a mole takes place in a vacuum. Questions fashioned to elicit information give information: If Agent X asks about Gangster Y, it means that he is interested in Gangster Y. If Gangster Y winds up dead, is that Agent X’s fault?

For now, Mr. DeVecchio’s trial is scheduled to open at the beginning of next year, and his federal friends are planning to attend. “The bond is very close,” said Douglas E. Grover, Mr. DeVecchio’s lawyer. “It’s not just that they worked together; it’s like they were in the Army together, like they went through the wars.”

Should things go poorly for Mr. DeVecchio, his supporters will not quit, they say. “We’ll continue to do what we’re doing,” Mr. Kossler said. “We’ll fight this as far as it has to go.”

Thanks to Alan Feuer

Monday, September 11, 2006

Megale Gets Capone Prison Sentence

The sole remaining defendant, Gambino Family associate Louis Natrella

Mob underboss Anthony "The Genius" Megale, a/k/a “Mac,” a/k/a “Machiavelli,” was sentenced Friday in Manhattan federal court to 11 years imprisonment, following his conviction on racketeering and extortion charges. Ironically, he received the same sentence as the legendary Chicago mobster Al "Scarface" Capone.

United States District judge also imposed a term of three years’ supervised release, a fine of $30,000, and ordered Megale to forfeit $100,000, representing the proceeds of his criminal activity.

Megale's sentencing followed his guilty plea on March 30, 2006, to four counts of an Indictment unsealed last year. It charged 32 defendants, most of whom are members or associates of the Gambino Organized Crime Family of La Cosa Nostra, with wide-ranging racketeering crimes and other offenses spanning more than a decade, including violent assault, extortion of various individuals and businesses, loansharking, union embezzlement, illegal gambling, trafficking in stolen property and counterfeit goods, and mail fraud.

As part of his guilty plea, Megale admitted participating in a racketeering enterprise and extorting the owners of a restaurant in Greenwich, Connecticut, a New Jersey trucking company, and a construction company in Westchester County.

As stated in the Indictment, from approximately 2002 until the time of his arrest in late 2004, Megale was the Acting Underboss of the Gambino Organized Crime Family. Megale assumed this position when official Underboss Arnold Squitieri , a codefendant, was elevated from Underboss to Acting Boss. The Gambino Crime Family was once headed by John "Teflon Don" Gotti and Paul Castelano, whom many believe was assassinated by order of Gotti.

The charges leading to Megale's conviction were the result of an almost three-year long investigation that included obtaining court authorization to intercept conversations among high-ranking members of the Gambino Crime Family at several locations in the Bronx and Westchester County, including at the United Hebrew Geriatrics Home, located in New Rochelle, New York. An undercover FBI agent also infiltrated the Gambino Family in the course of the investigation.

All but one of the defendants charged in this case have pleaded guilty or, in the case of Gambino Family Capo Gregory DePalma, been convicted at trial. In the past two weeks, Gambino Family Capo Thomas Cacciopoli, a/k/a “Tommy Sneakers,” Luchese Organized Crime Family Captain John Capra, a/k/a “Johnny Hooks,” and Genovese Organized Crime Family Soldier Pasquale DeLuca, a/k/a “Scop,” have all pleaded guilty in this case.

The sole remaining defendant, Gambino Family associate Louis Natrella, is scheduled to go to trial on September 11, 2006.

Anthony Megale, who was known as "The Genius," began his criminal activity in Stamford, Connecticut. In August 2001, it is believed that Megale became a Capo (Captain) within the Gambino Family and was made acting underboss after Peter Gotti -- son of John Gotti --was arrested on racketeering charges.

During August 2002, a Fairfield County nightclub owner, met with Megale after the nightclub owner had been approached by members and associates of the Gambino Family and another organized crime family who sought to extort payments from him, his associates, and his businesses.

Megale represented to the nightclub owner that he was a top Gambino Family member, that he had met with leadership of the rival organized crime family, and that he had prevented members and associates of the rival family from extorting payments from him.

Then Megale told the nightclub owner that he would have to pay for “protection” in order to ensure the safety of himself, his associates, his property and his businesses. Megale demanded payment of $2000 every month plus an annual Christmas bonus as tribute money.

According to the FBI, for almost two years the nightclub owner was forced to pay protection money to Megale. It is further alleged that Megale threatened the nightclub owner with violence, destruction of property and disruption of his business if and when Megale didn't receive his protection money from the owner.

Thanks to Jim Kouri

Friday, May 26, 2006

DA Scoffs at "Mafia" Fed's Claim

Friends of ours: Colombo Crime Family, Gregory Scarpa

Brooklyn prosecutors yesterday blasted accused FBI mob mole Lindley DeVecchio's claim that he's entitled to a federal trial.

The former G-man, who's accused of helping the Colombo family engineer four gangland rubouts during the 1980s and early 1990s, made his request under a little-used rule that applies only to officials who are engaged in federal duties when the alleged crime occur. But in legal papers, Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes' prosecutors say DeVecchio isn't entitled to the change of venue because gangland killings aren't part of an FBI agent's duties.

"[The] defendant's job as [Gregory] Scarpa's FBI handler did not require him to provide Scarpa with the identities of potential government informants so that Scarpa could kill them," the papers read.

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