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

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

What Happened To Gennaro Colombo? #McMillionsHBO

Audiences watching HBO's new docu-series "McMillion$" may be astounded by the breadth of the conspiracy to defraud McDonalds of tens of millions of dollars –– while others may be more drawn to the colorful cast of characters who make up the scheme.

One of such these characters would be Genarro Colombo, who played a key role in helping fraud mastermind Jerome Jacobson pull off the $24-million scam of the Monopoly promotion game.

McMillions on HBO: FREE Sneak Peek.

Although Jacobson kicked off the scheme by stealing winning game pieces from his workplace and distributing them to friends and family, authorities alleged his connection with Colombo helped him take the scheme to another level –– especially aided by Gennaro's connections to an infamous Mafia family active in New York City: The Colombo Crime Family.

The Colombo Family is one of New York City's "Five Families," vast criminal enterprises which were established by the Mafia in 1931, according to The New York Times. The Colombo Family is the youngest of the five organizations and was responsible for dozens of murders and criminal rackets in the NYC area for decades. The family was started in 1928 by importer Joe Profaci and quickly rose to become a feared presence in the underworld – with hands in various criminal enterprises like extortion and protection rackets, an historical overview of the Family from The New York Post reported.

Colombo's membership in the Family is confirmed by his wife Robin and his brother Frank Colombo in the documentary. Robin talks about his connections to a godfather named "Uncle Dominic" who was served as Gennaro's main point of contact with the Colombo organization and who helped Gennaro find various jobs and cons to work on.

The Family itself was also known for various colorful gangland figures like “Crazy Joe” Gallo, who kept a mountain lion in his New York apartment, the Post reported, and Gregory “The Grim Reaper” Scarpa, an informant and hitman who the FBI believes killed perhaps over 100 people according to investigation records.

Gennaro's family insists he was also something of a lively figure in his field of work. "Take Marlon Brando and Joe Pesci and put them together ... you'd probably end up with my brother," Frank Colombo recounted about Gennaro in the documentary. Giving further thought to the subject, Frank later describes his brother as a mix between Al Capone and Rodney Dangerfield.

In 1995, Gennaro meets and forges a partnership with Jacobson, The Daily Beast recounted. He was allegedly referred to Jacobson's scheme to fix the McDonalds Monopoly game by his connections in organized crime. "Uncle Dominic" was the person who linked Gennaro to Jacobson, according to Frank. But Robin also tells the filmmakers that Dominic died soon after allegedly linking the two men together –– dodging a question on how Dominic died. Likewise, it is not made clear if Uncle Dominic is a pseudonym for some other figure of prominence in the Colombo organization.

After linking up, Gennaro helped Jacobson establish a network of "recruiters" to pass along the winning Monopoly pieces he was stealing from his workplace, according to The New York Times.

In exchange for finding recruits to claim the prizes, Jacobson and his associates like Gennaro would take a cut from these recruits. Robin recounts that her husband flew around the country picking the winners and Frank recalling that his brother would create various agreements depending on the prize amount, usually involving upfront payments for the winning piece.

Frank describes his brother as having a vaguely threatening aura that helped him compel his recruits to follow his commands. One of the winners, Gloria Brown, recounts how Gennaro even pressured her into taking out a new mortgage on her house in order to get upfront money for the winning game piece. "My life was in danger," Brown said. "I almost felt kidnapped."

Though even Gennaro himself stepped into the spotlight by using a stolen game piece to "win" a Dodge Viper.

Reporter Jeff Maysh had even uncovered an old McDonalds commercial featuring Colombo touting a win for a new car –– arraigned by Jacobson. The advertisement is also featured in "McMillion$."

His wife Robin said in the documentary "that commercial ... that almost cost him his life" going on to describe him as a "ham."

The series itself helps accentuate Gennaro's larger-than-life personality by talking about into his management of a night club known as the Church of The Fuzzy Bunny – at first a gentleman's club that he then attempted to turn into a religious establishment that prominently featured scantily clad women.

Robin explains she met Gennaro in 1995 and "the chemistry was crazy," she told the filmmakers –– describing the marriage as a rebellion against her "strict" family while displaying her excitement in talking about Gennaro's ties to organized crime.

However, Robin contends that Jacobson is the true "Uncle Jerry" that was behind the scam – after briefly confusing the documentarians while frequently using "Uncle Jerry," to refer to Jacobson, and Jerry, referring to her husband. But Gennaro himself would not ultimately be around for the collapse of the scheme. Just three years after meeting Jacobson, Gennaro would be involved in a horrific car crash in Georgia that sent him into a comatose state. Doctors turned off his life support two weeks later, according to The Daily Beast, and Jacobson soon moved on to find new accomplices.

More of the story will be illuminated in HBO's "McMillion$," which is currently airing on HBO.

Thanks to Connor Mannion.

Friday, March 08, 2019

Carmine the Snake: Carmine Persico and His Murderous Mafia Family

Carmine “the Snake” Persico has been identified by the FBI and the Justice Department as the longtime head of the New York Cosa Nostra Colombo crime family.

Although incarcerated in 1987 due to his conviction in the 1986 famous Mafia Commission federal RICO caseCarmine the Snake: Carmine Persico and His Murderous Mafia Family, he reputedly still runs the Colombo crime family from prison. He made his name in the Profaci crime family as part of the hit team that shot and killed mob boss Albert Anastasia in a New York barbershop in 1957.

Anastasia, known as “The Mad Hatter” and “The Executioner,” was the co-creator of Murder Inc., the notorious enforcement arm of organized crime in New York in the 1940s. A famous photo was taken of the slain Anastasia, lying dead next to a barber’s chair as detectives look on.

In 1961, during a conflict between the Gallo crew and Joe Profaci, the Profaci crime family boss, Persico switched sides and attempted to strangle and kill his friend and fellow hit man Larry Gallo, which earned him the nickname “the Snake.” The attempted strangulation in a darkened bar was fictionally re-created in “The Godfather, Part II.”

Frank DiMatteo, who describes himself as a mafia survivor and previously wrote “The President Street Boys: Growing Up Mafia,” offers a “street level” view of the Colombo boss in “Carmine the Snake: Carmine Persico and His Murderous Mafia Family.” Michael Benson, a true crime author who wrote “Betrayal in Blood,” is the co-author of this book.

As Mr. DiMatteo notes in the book, his mother knew Persico when they were teenagers in Brooklyn, and his father was a bodyguard and driver for the Gallo brothers. He grew up in Brooklyn around the Gallo crew and heard numerous stories about Persico.

“Some men’s lives are measured by wealth and power. By that standard, Carmine John Persico, Jr. is a very successful man. His blood family is estimated to be worth upward of $1 billion,” the authors write in the beginning of the book. “Even allowing for inflation, he became one of the richest gangsters ever. His superpower was instilling fear. He made many thousands afraid, and they paid to stay safe.” But as the authors also point out, Persico’s life from street kid to mob boss might best be measured by the pain, suffering and death that he caused.

“Using a combination of brashness, cunning, and an appetite for extreme violence, Carmine Persico rocketed from gangbanger on a Park Slope, Brooklyn street corner to boss of the Colombo crime family, where he reputedly became the longest-reigning godfather in modern Mafia history — mostly from behind the bars of a federal penitentiary,” the authors tell us.

The book covers in detail the internecine mob war between the Gallos and the Profaci crime family, with each faction murdering and attempting to murder each other. The Gallo crew put a bomb in Persico’s car, but the detonation failed to kill him. The war ended with Profaci’s death and the murder of Crazy Joe Gallo in a restaurant.

Joseph Colombo, once a Profaci captain, later took over the organization and renamed it the Colombo crime family. Persico became a Colombo captain and later the boss of the crime family.

The book also tells of a Persico enforcer whose story would be unbelievable if told in a novel or film. The authors tell us that as Persico was heading to prison he chose Gregory “The Grim Reaper” Scarpa as his battle leader. Persico’s man was a mass murderer and a sociopath. “He was nuts, thought he was James Bond, and told his kids that he worked for the government.”

In a sense it was true, as the Colombo hit man was a longtime FBI informant. From the 1960s on he was involved in extortion, murder and other crimes. He told his fellow mobsters that he enjoyed killing people. “Scarpa’s actual cooperation with the U.S. Government went at least as far back as 1964 when the feds used him to help solve the ‘Mississippi Burning’ murders of three civil rights workers in 1964,” the authors inform us. “Somewhere there is a tape of Scarpa cajoling a KKK member to disclose where the bodies are buried.” And by cajoling, the authors write, they mean he beat the KKK member and stuck a gun in his mouth. Scarpa later died from AIDS.

The story of Carmine Persico, the Gallo brothers and the internecine mob war has been covered previously in several books, including a fine satirical novel, “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight,” by Jimmy Breslin.

“Carmine the Snake,” written in a conversational style with street vernacular and sprinkled with Frank DiMatteo’s personal anecdotes and reminiscences, offers another look at the infamous crime boss.

Thanks to Paul Davis.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Mob Hit on Rudy Giuilani Discussed

The bosses of New York's five Cosa Nostra families discussed killing then-federal prosecutor Rudy Giuliani Mob Hit on Rudy Giulani Discussedin 1986, an informant told the FBI, according to testimony in October of 2007, in Brooklyn state court. But while the late Gambino crime boss John Gotti pushed the idea, he only had the support of Carmine Persico, the leader of the Colombo crime family, according to the testimony.

"The Bosses of the Luchese, Bonanno and Genovese families rejected the idea, despite strong efforts to convince them otherwise by Gotti and Persico," said an FBI report of the information given by informant Gregory Scarpa Sr.

Information about the purported murder plot was given to the FBI in 1987 by Scarpa, a Colombo captain, according to the testimony of FBI agent William Bolinder in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn.

Bolinder was testifying as a prosecution witness in the murder trial of ex-FBI agent Roy Lindley DeVecchio, who handled the now deceased Scarpa for years while the mobster was a key informant. Prosecutors contend that DeVecchio passed information to Scarpa that the mobster used in killings.

In his testimony, Bolinder described the contents of a voluminous FBI file on Scarpa, who died of AIDS in 1994.

In September 1987, DeVecchio reported that Scarpa told him that the five mob families talked about killing Giuliani approximately a year earlier, said Bolinder. It was in September 1986 that Giuliani's staff at the Manhattan U.S. attorney's office prosecuted bosses of La Cosa Nostra families in the so-called "Commission" case.

The Commission trial, a springboard for Giuliani's reputation as a crime buster, resulted in the conviction in October 1986 of Colombo boss Carmine Persico, Lucchese boss Anthony Corallo and Genovese street boss Anthony Salerno. Gambino boss Paul Castellano was assassinated in December 1985 and the case against Bonanno boss Philip Rastelli was dropped.

The purported discussion about murdering Giuliani wasn't the first time he was targeted. In an interview in 1985 Giuliani stated that Albanian drug dealers plotted to kill him and two other officials. A murder contract price of $400,000 was allegedly offered by convicted heroin dealer Zhevedet Lika for the deaths of prosecutor Alan Cohen and DEA agent Jack Delmore, said Giuliani. Neither Cohen nor Delmore were harmed.

Other tidbits offered by Scarpa to DeVecchio involved an allegation of law enforcement corruption within the Brooklyn district attorney's office, said Bolinder. In 1983, stated Bolinder, Scarpa reported that an NYPD detective assigned to the Brooklyn district attorney's office (then led by Elizabeth Holtzman) had been taking money to leak information to the Gambino and Colombo families. A spokesman for current Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes said no investigation was ever done about the allegation.

Scarpa also reported to DeVecchio that top Colombo crime bosses suspected the Casa Storta restaurant in Brooklyn was bugged because FBI agents never surveilled the mobsters when they met there. The restaurant was in fact bugged, government records showed.

Thanks to Anthony M. Destefano

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Mafia Hit Man's Daughter

“A riveting look at life inside a Mafia familyThe Mafia Hit Man's Daughter.”—New York Times bestselling author George Anastasia

The Mafia Hit Man's Daughter.

The world called him a killer. She called him Dad . . .

“We were always worried. Always looking over our shoulders . . .”

Linda Scarpa had the best toys, the nicest clothes, and a close-knit family. Yet classmates avoided her; boys wouldn’t date her. Eventually she learned why: they were afraid of her father.

A made man in the Colombo crime family, Gregory Scarpa, Sr. was a stone-cold killer nicknamed the “Grim Reaper.” But to Linda, he was also a loving, devoted father who played video games with her for hours. In riveting detail, she reveals what it was like to grow up in the violent world of the mob and to come to grips with the truth about her father and the devastation he wrought.

“An amazing story of jealously, duplicity, hatred and betrayal.”—Sal Polisi, author of The Sinatra Club

“Touching, shocking, revealing—Linda Scarpa’s memoir is more than a mob book; it’s a family book.”—John Alite, subject of Gotti’s Rules

 “An edge-of-your-seat page turner—jaw-dropping, raw, and real.”—Andrea Giovino, author of Divorced From the Mob

Thursday, December 10, 2015

My Daddy was a Mafia Killer!

A beautiful Mafia princess is breaking the underworld code of silence to reveal the violent hell of being raised by a ruthless hit man — who would pound her boyfriends to a pulp and rub out any man who disrespected her!

As a kid growing up in New York, Linda Scarpa had no idea her father Gregory “The Grim Reaper” Scarpa was the Colombo crime family’s most feared and vicious enforcer. But when she started dating, Linda learned the truth the hard way!

In her book “The Mafia Hit Man's Daughter,” Linda, now 46, details how her father and his wiseguy pals tracked down her first boyfriend, Greg Vacca, after she came home from a date stoned on marijuana.

“They just friggin’ pulverized me,” said Greg, who wound up with a broken nose, a concussion and two fractured ribs. “My head was so swollen, I looked like the Elephant Man.”

Daddy’s wrath proved more deadly after cab driver Jose Guzman attacked Linda when she was 16. “He ripped my shirt open,” recalled Linda. Scarpa and his crew tracked down Guzman and shot him. Afterward, Scarpa told his daughter he’d actually saved other girls from being raped.

If “you hurt his family or anyone he cared about” or violated Mafia rules, “it was his job to bring you death,” said Linda. But sometimes Scarpa — who stopped counting his murders after he iced his 50th victim — landed on the wrong side of a gun.

Once, Linda and her 8-month-old son were caught in a shoot-out as “men in black ski masks” opened fire on her father’s car and hers while they were pulling out of the family’s driveway. A gunman stopped the onslaught when he saw the baby in Linda’s car. “You saved my life,” the unharmed Scarpa told his daughter.

However, his luck didn’t last. He was eventually convicted of a slew of crimes and died in jail in 1994.

His son, Joey, was whacked by rival racketeers in 1995, said Linda.

“I’ve often thought about the people my father murdered and the families he destroyed, and it’s very painful and disturbing,” Linda wrote. “I knew what that felt like because my brother was murdered, too!”

Friday, August 02, 2013

Tomorrow, @PeterLance to Discuss #DealwiththeDevil at @TheMobMuseum, Details Greg Scarpa Sr.'s Relationship with the #FBI

On Saturday, Aug. 3, award-winning author Peter Lance will deliver a presentation and sign his book, “Deal with the Devil” at The Mob Museum, the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement. His presentation, to be aired as part of C-SPAN-Book-TV regular programming, will take place at 1 p.m. with the book signing scheduled to follow at 2:30 p.m.

Since 2001, Lance has been writing investigative books regarding the FBI’s counter-terrorism and organized crime track records. He is a five-time winner of the News & Documentary Emmy award and recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism award. In addition to “Deal with the Devil,” Lance has written three books for HarperCollins regarding international terrorism and the Green Berets.

Lance’s book details how the government’s relationships with organized crime went all the way to the Kennedy presidency. In more than four decades as a violent gangster, Gregory Scarpa, Sr., served only 30 days in jail during the years when he was "closed" as an FBI source. For more than 30 of those years, a series of FBI agents intervened to keep the so-called Mad Hatter on the street. But that was not the most disturbing aspect of Scarpa's relationship with the government. In light of the 1,150-plus pages of the recently accessed FBI files on Scarpa, Sr., Lance argues the FBI's very playbook against La Cosa Nostra was defined and shaped by what the elder Scarpa fed them-particularly in the years from 1961 to 1972, when J. Edgar Hoover himself was on the receiving end of 34's Airtels. Drawing on secret FBI Airtels never before seen outside the Bureau, it is revealed how Gregory Scarpa, Sr., then a young capo for the Profaci crime family, led J. Edgar Hoover himself into the inner sanctum of the underworld. Once that alliance began, there seemed to be no turning back for the Bureau.

"They enlisted a hyper-violent killer to stop much less capable murderers," says Ellen Resnick, defense attorney, whose work helped expose this unholy alliance. "It was the ultimate ends-justify-the-means relationship."

The event is free with Museum admission but reservations are encouraged and may be made by calling (702) 229-2734 or via

Monday, June 24, 2013

Deal with the Devil, FBI's Secret Relationship with Mafia Killer Gregory Scarpa Sr on Crime Beat Radio

On June 27th, Peter Lance discusses his book, Deal with the Devil: The FBI’s Secret 30-year Relationship with a Mafia Killer. Margaret McClain, Special Correspondent, reports on the Bulger trial.

Crime Beat is a weekly hour-long radio program that airs every Thursday at 8 p.m. EST. Crime Beat presents fascinating topics that bring listeners closer to the dynamic underbelly of the world of crime. Guests have included ex-mobsters, undercover law enforcement agents, sports officials, informants, prisoners, drug dealers and investigative journalists, who have provided insights and fresh information about the world’s most fascinating subject: crime.

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

Friday, July 25, 2008

Did Mobster Gregory Scarpa Beat and Threaten a Witness for the FBI to win a KKK Murder Conviction?

Edgar Ray Killen, 84, was convicted in 2005 of ordering the Klan killings of the trio 41 years earlier, a crime that was dramatised in the film Mississippi Burning.

His lawyers have appealed against his life sentence for triple manslaughterMississippi Burning, citing new evidence that the FBI used Gregory Scarpa - known as The Grim Reaper - to put pressure on Klan members to reveal where the bodies had been hidden.

The lawyers also say that his conviction was tainted by the fact that a defence lawyer in a previous trial over the killings in 1967 was an FBI informant who had been providing prosecutors with information about the defence case. The court transcript from 1967 - in which Killen was acquitted on civil rights charges - was allowed to be used in the later trial because many of the witnesses had since died.

Rob Ratliff, Killen's lawyer, said the evidence included crucial information from a Klan member who revealed where the bodies had been buried. It was now clear that the informant had been kidnapped by Scarpa and an FBI helper, and subjected to "typical Mafia-type behaviour", he said. The "behaviour" may have included a severe beating but certainly included death threats to his family and having a gun barrel inserted into his mouth, he added.

Killen's lawyers argue that his rights to a full and fair trial, and the right to confront witnesses against him, have been violated.

If the 1967 trial had known that the location of the bodies had been discovered unlawfully, it would not have been allowed as evidence, said Mr Ratliff.

The FBI has always declined to comment on whether Scarpa was involved in the case. Scarpa was a senior member of the Colombo crime family and an FBI informant for three decades.

Killen's lawyers officially requested on Thursday that the FBI hand over its files relating to Scarpa and to the defence lawyer, who was named as Clayton Lewis. Lewis, the former mayor of Philadelphia, is also now dead. "If it's OK to torture witnesses to get a conviction against Killen, then it's OK to torture witnesses to get a conviction against anybody," said Mr Ratliff.

Scarpa's involvement in the investigation had long been rumoured but was confirmed last year by a New York judge who had seen his FBI file while trying an unrelated murder case involving the mobster's former FBI handler.

The judge said: "That a thug like Scarpa would be employed by the federal government to beat witnesses and threaten them at gunpoint to obtain information regarding the deaths of civil rights workers in the south in the early 1960s is a shocking demonstration of the government's unacceptable willingness to employ criminality to fight crime."

Linda Schiro, Scarpa's former girlfriend, said a few months ago that she had accompanied him to Mississippi in 1964. She said she believed he had been brought in because J Edgar Hoover, the FBI chief, was under heavy pressure to get results in the case.

She told ABC's Eyewitness News: "When we we walked into the hotel, I saw a bunch of guys and I saw Greg wink, and he says, 'Those are FBI agents'."

"We went up to the room, knock on the door, an agent came in and handed him a gun."

Mississippi Burning alluded to the FBI's use of nefarious tactics, introducing a black FBI agent who is brought in to rough up witnesses when conventional methods fail.

Thanks to Tom Leonard

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Carlos Marcello, New Orleans Mafia Don, Played Roll in JFK Assassination According to Lawsuit by Forensic Intelligence Analyst

A New Jersey paralegal with a longstanding interest in government corruption filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department and the F.B.I. on Monday, seeking the release of the full case file on a murderous Brooklyn Mafia informant — papers she believes may shed light on the possible involvement of a dead New Orleans crime boss in the killing of President John F. Kennedy.

The lawsuit, filed in Federal District Court in Washington by the paralegal, Angela Clemente, asks the Federal Bureau of Investigation to make public any documents it may still hold related to the mobster, Gregory Scarpa Sr., who for nearly 30 years led a stunning double life as a hit man for the Colombo crime family and, in the words of the F.B.I, a “top echelon” informant for the bureau.

In her suit, Ms. Clemente asked the bureau to release all papers connected to Mr. Scarpa (who died of AIDS in 1994 after receiving a blood transfusion), especially those related to Carlos Marcello, a New Orleans don suspected by some of having played a role in the Kennedy assassination on Nov. 22, 1963.

Ms. Clemente filed a Freedom of Information Act request for Mr. Scarpa’s file in April, and the F.B.I. acknowledged her request in a letter on June 9, saying that bureau officials would search their records for relevant papers. Ms. Clemente’s lawyer, James Lesar, said that the F.B.I. had not yet told her if it would release the file or not, but that under federal law, a lawsuit can be filed compelling the release of records 20 working days after such a letter is received.

John Miller, a spokesman for the F.B.I., did not return phone calls on Monday seeking comment on Ms. Clemente’s suit. Dean Boyd, a Justice Department spokesman, said officials would review the suit and respond if needed in court.

In pursuing the Scarpa file and its potential to flesh out Mr. Marcello’s possible role in the Kennedy killing, Ms. Clemente is following a trail blazed in part by G. Robert Blakey, a professor of law at the University of Notre Dame who also served as the chief counsel and staff director to the House Select Committee on Assassinations, which from 1977 to 1979 investigated the killings of President Kennedy and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

While the Warren Commission said there was no link between Mr. Marcello and the president’s death, Mr. Blakey’s report to the House was considerably more circumspect, saying the F.B.I.’s “handling of the allegations and information about Marcello was characterized by a less than vigorous effort to investigate its reliability.”

Ms. Clemente is in possession of several heavily redacted papers from the Scarpa file, which suggest, however vaguely, she said, that Mr. Scarpa, who spied on numerous gangsters for the F.B.I., may also have spied on Mr. Marcello.

Professor Blakey, reached by phone at his office at Notre Dame on Monday, said he had seen the papers, adding that no matter what the unredacted versions might eventually reveal, he was convinced that he should have seen them 30 years ago, while conducting his Congressional investigation. “The issue here is not what’s in them,” Professor Blakey said, “so much as that they seem to have held them back from me. I thought I had the bureau file on Marcello — now it turns out I didn’t, did I? So I’m not a small, I’m a major, supporter of what Angela is trying to do.”

Ms. Clemente, 43, often refers to herself as a “forensic intelligence analyst.” She has been researching Mr. Scarpa for nearly a decade as part of a broader project on the improper use of government informants. The Brooklyn district attorney’s office has said her work on Mr. Scarpa was instrumental in helping the office file quadruple murder charges against Mr. Scarpa’s former F.B.I. handler, Roy Lindley DeVecchio.

The charges against Mr. DeVecchio were dropped midtrial in October when Tom Robbins, a reporter for The Village Voice, suddenly showed prosecutors taped interviews he made years ago with the main prosecution witness, Mr. Scarpa’s mistress, suggesting that she had changed her account and damaged her credibility.

Faced with the sudden demise of years of investigative work, Ms. Clemente went back, she said, to the redacted papers she already had. She said she was intrigued, after additional study, to discover references to Mr. Scarpa’s apparent involvement in F.B.I. projects in New Orleans in the late 1950s and early 1960s — well before his publicly acknowledged role in helping the Kennedy administration learn the whereabouts of three slain civil rights workers by traveling to Mississippi to threaten a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

She said the F.B.I. had fought her “tooth and nail” in her efforts to obtain the full Scarpa file for Mr. DeVecchio’s trial. The F.B.I. did not return phone calls seeking comment on that allegation as well. “And that,” she said, “is what really piqued my curiosity.”

Thanks to Alan Feuer

Friday, December 07, 2007

Lin DeVecchio to Return to Court?

Former G-man Lindley DeVecchio may return to court as a defense witness for Colombo crime boss Alphonse (Allie Boy) Persico, the Daily News has learned.

DeVecchio, 67, was cleared last month of orchestrating four gangland murders with informer Gregory Scarpa after a key witness was snared in a web of lies.

Defense lawyer Sarita Kedia wants to call the retired agent as an organized crime expert Monday to testify about the bloody Colombo war of the early 1990s. Scarpa was aligned with Colombo boss Carmine (The Snake) Persico - Allie Boy's father - against a rival faction.

Alphonse Persico is charged with ordering the 1999 murder of underboss William (Wild Bill) Cutolo as payback for backing the other faction.

In a letter to prosecutors, Kedia said she will question DeVecchio about "the identities, positions and affiliations of certain individuals involved in the war."

It's unclear if prosecutors will try to keep DeVecchio off the stand. "If he's subpoenaed and the government permits him to testify, he will testify truthfully," DeVecchio's lawyer Douglas Grover said.

Thanks to John Marzulli

Charles Tyrwhitt

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Collapse of a Mob Murder Case Against a Retired FBI Agent

In a conference room on the 17th floor of the Brooklyn district attorney’s office, in the winter of 2005, a prosecutor and a detective investigator sat down with a woman they did not trust.

The woman’s name was Linda Schiro, she had been a gangster’s mistress, and she told them a story worthy of the big screen: Right at her kitchen table in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, an F.B.I. supervisor and a notorious Mafia assassin had conspired to commit four long-unsolved murders.

The case was a tempting career-maker, but one with warning signs. Ms. Schiro had already told federal investigators and others of her Mafia life, playing down the role of the F.B.I. supervisor, Roy Lindley DeVecchio.

“We knew what her problems were, and it was important for us to corroborate everything she gave us,” said Michael F. Vecchione, the prosecutor, who is chief of the district attorney’s Rackets Division and keeps an office six steps from the conference room. “And we believed we had.”

But after all the efforts to verify her story, Ms. Schiro’s own words, preserved on 10-year-old cassette recordings, came back to confirm that she could not be trusted.

As the sensational quadruple-murder case based on her testimony was formally dismissed yesterday, the judge denounced the tactics used by the F.B.I. to fight organized crime, Mr. DeVecchio said he would never forgive the Brooklyn prosecutors, and Mr. Vecchione defended his case.

The woman at the center of it all, Ms. Schiro, prepared for possible perjury charges, hiding from the press behind closed doors. “She’s standing by what she said in court 100 percent,” said her appointed lawyer, Gary Farrell. “I understand the inconsistencies, they’re there, and she’s got a plausible explanation.”

Ms. Schiro’s explanation may emerge if prosecutors carry out their pledge to request a special prosecutor for a perjury inquiry. But as the murder case against Mr. DeVecchio dissolved yesterday, the decision to use her testimony came under intense scrutiny.

“The D.A. here did not take the simplest steps to verify what this mercenary and absolutely amoral human being was telling them,” said Douglas E. Grover, a lawyer for Mr. DeVecchio. He called the case “a model of what a responsible prosecutor should not do.”

The charges against Mr. DeVecchio dated to the 1980s and early 1990s, when he oversaw an F.B.I. unit assigned to the Colombo crime family. His primary informer was Gregory Scarpa, a capo. During a war for control of the family, agents working for Mr. DeVecchio voiced suspicions of his relationship with Mr. Scarpa. In trials that followed, prosecutors acknowledged that Mr. DeVecchio had disclosed confidential information to Mr. Scarpa.

In 1994, federal investigators pursuing an internal investigation interviewed Ms. Schiro, who had lived for years with Mr. Scarpa, who died in prison in 1994. Mr. DeVecchio was cleared of wrongdoing and allowed to retire.

Later, Ms. Schiro spoke to authors ranging from a hard-boiled crime writer to a purveyor of romantic advice, generally characterizing Mr. DeVecchio as a friendly, tangential figure in her Mafia tableau.

Dormant for years, the case was passed on to the Brooklyn district attorney’s office by Representative William Delahunt, Democrat of Massachusetts, after a Congressional investigation stalled.

Investigators first focused on the killing of Nicholas Grancio, a capo in the Colombo family. “We were able to dispel the notion that DeVecchio played a role in that homicide,” said Mr. Vecchione, who oversaw the investigation and tried the case. “There were other nuggets out there that needed pursuing.”

Prosecutors visited Ms. Schiro at her home in Staten Island. “The moment that the case first broke open was when Linda gave us these four homicides in toto,” Mr. Vecchione said.

Seeking confirmation, investigators spoke to imprisoned members of the crime family. One, Carmine Sessa, a onetime consigliere, told them Mr. Scarpa had spoken freely about his crimes in front of his mistress.

The prosecutors also spoke to the agents who had raised suspicions about their boss. Special Agent Chris Favo confirmed details of surveillance conducted on one of the slain men, information the prosecutors would accuse Mr. DeVecchio of giving Mr. Scarpa.

When they brought Ms. Schiro to that conference room in the winter of 2005, prosecutors began preparing her for a grand jury, Mr. Vecchione said. They moved her family for protection and began paying her $2,200 a month for living expenses. But in relying on their corroborating witnesses, the prosecutors did little to scrutinize Ms. Schiro’s prior statements.

“The fact is they never told the grand jury that Linda Schiro had made numerous statements for years inconsistent with her recent claims about Mr. DeVecchio’s guilt,” said Mr. Grover, the defense lawyer.

As opening statements were delivered on Oct. 15, the gears that would doom the case locked into place. Because Mr. DeVecchio had waived his right to a jury trial, the legal concept of jeopardy attached, meaning he could not be retried for the four killings in which he was indicted, a court official said. And in the gallery that day sat Tom Robbins, a reporter who would return to court with tape-recorded interviews of Ms. Schiro.

The prosecutor’s emphasis on Ms. Schiro’s testimony, Mr. Robbins has said, led him to revisit the tapes, confirming that she had denied any involvement by Mr. DeVecchio in the killings.

In State Supreme Court yesterday, Justice Gustin L. Reichbach dismissed the charges and ordered the return of Mr. DeVecchio’s $1 million bail, which had been raised in part by his former colleagues in the F.B.I.

A round of applause rose from the gallery. Outside the courtroom, Mr. DeVecchio’s supporters criticized the prosecution. “These people are incompetent,” said Jim Kossler, a retired F.B.I. agent.

Recounting the bureau’s accomplishments against organized crime and the quandaries of handling informants, he added, “They could have indicted me just as easily.”

Mr. DeVecchio, 67, spoke of returning home to Florida to ride his Harley and enjoy retirement. “I will never forgive the Brooklyn D.A. for irresponsibly pursuing this case after being warned by others that this one witness was untrustworthy,” he said.

In his written final word on the case, Justice Reichbach criticized the tactics of the F.B.I. Quoting from Nietzsche, he reminded those involved in the case that “he who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster.”

Thanks to Michael Brick


FBI Made "Deal with the Devil"

A former FBI agent accused of conspiring in a mob murder spree has been cleared of the sensational charges, but the vaunted law enforcement agency received a scathing rebuke from a judge in the process.

In a four-page decision that brought the trial of ex-agent Lindley DeVecchio to a stunning end Thursday, state Supreme Court Justice Gustin Reichbach said the FBI violated its own rules by allowing DeVecchio to court a known killer as an informant for well over a decade.

FBI Seal"In the face of the obvious menace posed by organized crime, the FBI was willing ... to make a deal with the devil," Reichbach said in a hushed Brooklyn courtroom. "At best, the FBI engaged in a policy of self-deception, not wanting to know the true facts about this informant-murderer whom they chose to employ."

The judge also referred to testimony by Linda Schiro, informant Gregory Scarpa's longtime girlfriend, that Scarpa had assisted the FBI in finding the bodies of slain civil rights workers in Mississippi. In 1964, she said, Scarpa shoved a gun into the mouth of a Mississippi Klansman — a threat that persuaded the man to reveal where the trio's bodies were buried.

"That a thug like Scarpa would be employed by the federal government to beat witnesses and threaten them at gunpoint to obtain information ... is a shocking demonstration of the government's unacceptable willingness to employ criminality to fight crime," the judge said.

Prosecutors had built their case on the word of Schiro, a mob mistress since she met Scarpa at age 16. Their hopes imploded Tuesday when two reporters surfaced with decade-old interviews showing that back then, she implicated DeVecchio in only one murder — not the four she testified about under oath.

District Attorney Charles Hynes said Thursday prosecutors would not have brought the case if they had heard the tapes beforehand. "It's that simple. We would not have prosecuted because it would have been so damaging to the central part of our case that it would have been unthinkable to proceed," he told reporters.

The judge threw out the case mid-trial, and DeVecchio walked out a free man to the applause of friends and former colleagues. "After almost two years, this nightmare is over," said DeVecchio, referring to the time since his indictment. "My question is, `Where do I go to get back my reputation?'"

Allegations about leaks from DeVecchio to the ruthless mobster known as "The Grim Reaper" began after Scarpa's 1994 death in a prison in Minnesota. A Department of Justice internal investigation found no reason to prosecute DeVecchio, who retired to Florida in 1996. But in March 2006, Brooklyn prosecutors announced DeVecchio's indictment on four murder counts, alleging the FBI agent had cooperated with the Colombo capo between 1987 and 1992 in exchange for cash, stolen jewelry, liquor — even prostitutes.

It wasn't until Schiro began testifying this week that the case reached its unexpected conclusion. The key prosecution witness was the lone direct link between DeVecchio and the murders.

Once she finished her first day of testimony, veteran reporter Tom Robbins came forward with tapes made in 1997, when he and fellow journalist Jerry Capeci interviewed Schiro for a never-published book.

Her account "was so disturbingly different, we couldn't sit on it," Robbins said outside court after the dismissal.

Schiro now faces possible perjury charges, said Assistant District Attorney Michael Vecchione. Because of the double jeopardy rule that a person can't be tried twice for the same crime, DeVecchio is free and clear of the charges.

A court-appointed attorney for Schiro said she stood by her recent sworn testimony, despite the discrepancies raised by the book interview. "She told the truth in court under oath," said the lawyer, Gary Farrell.

To celebrate the case's collapse, DeVecchio went to Sparks Steak House, the site of a notorious 1985 mob murder. Mafia boss "Big Paul" Castellano was gunned down outside the Manhattan eatery in a hit that eventually led to John Gotti's ascension as boss of the Gambino crime family.

"The food is good," DeVecchio said as he, his wife, lawyers and friends popped a bottle of champagne, according to the New York Post.

Thanks to Tom Hays

The Paragon

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.
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

How to Love a Mobster

Nobody had a ready explanation for the origin of “moll,” the slang term applied to women of the Mafia. In a courtroom filled with marquee crime writers, men identifying themselves as interested parties from Bensonhurst, retired federal agents and at least one éminence grise of the Brooklyn district attorney’s office, the best etymology offered was: “It goes back to the ’20s.”

Still, the morning’s tabloid newspapers had promised a legendary moll in Brooklyn Supreme Court yesterday, and Linda Schiro did not disappoint. As the star witness in the murder case against a onetime Federal Bureau of Investigation supervisor, she entered the courtroom from the back, shielded from the gang of cameramen and photographers staked out in the hall.

Her testimony was billed as the pillar of a sensational trial. The defendant, R. Lindley DeVecchio, has been charged with helping a prized informant commit four killings in the 1980s and early 1990s by revealing confidential information.

The accusations had lain dormant for more than a decade, ever since an internal federal investigation failed to turn up sufficient evidence. Ms. Schiro’s newfound willingness to testify gave state prosecutors the means to secure an indictment.

After two weeks of testimony meant to establish her credibility, Ms. Schiro was finally summoned to the stand yesterday, a sunken beauty in a plain suit and a gold pendant, thinning hair draped to the jaw.

Right away, she began to recount famed passages of Mafia lore from the moll’s vantage. She told of life with Gregory Scarpa, a notorious Colombo crime family capo known as the Grim Reaper, beginning with a trip to Mississippi in the 1960s.

There, she said, Mr. Scarpa began his work for the F.B.I., threatening a member of the Ku Klux Klan with a gun and learning the whereabouts of three slain civil rights workers. Though the tale had made the rounds in published accounts for years, it sounded fresh coming from Ms. Schiro in open court.

After that dizzying start, a prosecutor, Michael F. Vecchione, slowed Ms. Schiro down. Under his questioning, she recounted her path to Mafia association: As a teenager living with her parents, she married a man named Charlie Schiro. “I wanted children, and Greg was married, so I married Charlie,” Ms. Schiro said, adding, “to have Greg’s kids.”

Giving birth out of wedlock, she explained, was considered unacceptable at the time. The marriage ended when Mr. Schiro learned its full dimensions. Ms. Schiro later moved in with Mr. Scarpa, who by all accounts tolerated her affairs, including one with a grocery worker. “I just told Greg there was this really nice delivery boy, and you know.” Ms. Schiro said, her voice trailing off for a second. “We had this relationship where whatever made me happy. ...”

Mr. Scarpa, she said, spoke openly of crimes including murder, loan-sharking and bank robbery, and let her attend meetings with Mr. DeVecchio.

The judge overseeing the case, Gustin L. Reichbach, questioned that account. “What was your initial reaction, having grown up in this environment, when he told you he was an informer for the F.B.I.?” Justice Reichbach asked.

Ms. Schiro replied: “He didn’t say he was an informer. He said he worked for the F.B.I. I said, ‘What, do you mean you’re a rat?’ He said, ‘I just work for them.’ So I was surprised at first.”

She told of cash payments to Mr. DeVecchio, supplemented by gifts of wine, jewelry, a Cabbage Patch doll (this was the 1980s) and meals. To prepare for his visits, she said, she would draw the blinds and lock the doors.

In 1984, she said, Mr. DeVecchio identified a woman who had been dating a member of the Colombo family as an informer, prompting Mr. Scarpa to kill the woman. In 1986, she said, Mr. DeVecchio raised concerns about one of Mr. Scarpa’s closest friends, a Mafia associate who had become a born-again Christian. “Lin said, you know, ‘We can’t keep a guy around like this,’” Ms. Schiro said, “‘because he’s going to end up to start talking.’”

After a failed effort to “smarten him up,” Ms. Schiro said, Mr. Scarpa killed that man, too. A similar end befell the best friend of one of Mr. Scarpa’s sons, she said.

During the war for control of the crime family in 1992, Ms. Schiro said, Mr. DeVecchio provided the address of a rival, whom Mr. Scarpa also killed. Mr. Scarpa himself died in 1994 after contracting H.I.V. from a blood transfusion.

In the intervening years, Ms. Schiro passed up several opportunities to recount her knowledge of the killings. Several writers interviewed her for book proposals, and federal investigators questioned her during their unsuccessful inquiry. Until now, Ms. Schiro said, she had kept silent about Mr. DeVecchio.

“If I had a problem, I could always call Lin,” she said, “because he was my friend.”

Thanks to Michael Brick

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Giuliani Jokes About Mob Hit Talk

Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani joked Thursday about reports that New York's five Mafia families discussed, but decided against, killing him in 1986 when he was a mob-busting federal prosecutor.

"That was one vote I won, I guess," Giuliani said Thursday on Mike Gallagher's syndicated radio show.

Giuliani said there have been other contracts for his life, including an $800,000 hit when he was first U.S. attorney. "After 5 1/2 years of being U.S. attorney, they put out another contract to kill me, another group, for only $400,000," Giuliani said. "So I thought, my goodness, my value. If I were a company, my market cap would have been cut in half."

Giuliani told reporters later in Washington he didn't worry much about contracts on his life. "I don't know, go ask the mob, how do I know if the mob really tried to whack me?" Giuliani said, laughing. He added that he knew of two or three plots to kill him but didn't remember the one that emerged this week.

"So there was more than one, but the FBI did a really good job of getting them resolved," he said. "I always felt it was my obligation to kind of put that out of my mind and just do my job."

Before Giuliani became New York mayor, he had a track record of high-profile mob prosecutions. In 1986, Giuliani indicted the heads of the five families. The mobsters purportedly discussed the hit that year.

The details about the plot which never took shape were given to ex-FBI agent Roy Lindley DeVecchio by the late Gregory Scarpa Sr., a capo-turned-informant, according to the testimony of FBI agent William Bolinder during a murder trial in New York.

In testimony Wednesday, Bolinder said that DeVecchio's 1987 debriefing report stated Scarpa told him the late Gambino crime boss John Gotti was for ordering the hit, and had the support of the leader of the Colombo crime family.

However, Bolinder said, the heads of the Bonanno, Lucchese and Genovese groups were against the idea, and it never materialized.

Pure Networks

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Witness Undercuts Prosecution Case Against Ex-FBI Agent

A prosecution witness backfired Tuesday at the trial of disgraced ex-FBI agent Lindley DeVecchio, testifying that a mob killer learned a teen was talking to cops from the rat himself - not the former G-man.

DeVecchio, 67, is charged with getting the teen killed by leaking information to the mob, but Reyes Aviles' testimony suggests the teen got himself killed by blabbing about his chats with police.

Aviles, who was defiant and foul-mouthed on the stand, also hurt the prosecution when he said mob killer Gregory Scarpa had a source in the district attorney's office - suggesting DeVecchio may not have been the leak. The comment was stricken from the record as hearsay and prosecutors refused to discuss it later.

Aviles was brought in to testify about the murder of 17-year-old Dominic Masseria. He was killed after a 1989 Halloween egg fight with Scarpa's teenage son, Joey, his pal Patrick Porco and Aviles.

In May 1990, Porco was whacked after the elder Scarpa - a secret FBI informer - learned he was talking to the cops about the murder and might implicate Joey Scarpa.

DeVecchio, an FBI agent who became close to the senior Scarpa, is accused of prompting the killing by telling the mobster that his son's friend was a snitch.

On cross-examination yesterday in Brooklyn Supreme Court, Aviles testified Porco told the Scarpas he'd chatted with police.

Aviles, 38, an ex-con who did time for his role in the Masseria case, was asked by DeVecchio's defense lawyer how the Scarpas found out that Porco was talking.

"Patrick told me that he had told Joey, and most likely told his father," Aviles said.

DeVecchio's lawyer, Mark Bederow, pounced. "Just so we're all clear, sir, Patrick Porco told you that he had told Joey Scarpa?" he demanded.

"Yes," said Aviles.

Aviles, who was the muscle for Joey Scarpa's drug business, served three years in prison and turned state's evidence.

Gregory Scarpa died in prison in 1994. Joey Scarpa was killed a year later after a dispute over a drug deal.

Bederow's cross-examination of Aviles began with a bang.

Asked about the night of the Masseria murder, Bederow suggested to the witness that "you remember that evening well because you did the most despicable thing you've ever done in your life."

Aviles' reply drew gasps when he crudely suggested he'd had sex with the lawyer's mother.

Thanks to Scott Shifrel and Helen Kennedy

Monday, October 22, 2007

A Story for Martin Scorsese to Bring to the Big Screen

Are you familiar, as the lawyers say, with a man named Alphonse Persico, known as Allie Boy? How about Nicky Black, Wild Bill, Joe Waverly, Joey Brains and Joe Brewster? Or Lawrence Mazza, James Delmasto, John Pate and Carmine Sessa?

If not, good luck following the blockbuster murder case on trial in Brooklyn Supreme Court before a spellbound audience of journalists, promoters, authors, conspiracy theorists, gadflies and some who answer to three or more of those designations. You need a scorecard just to track the players.

Fortunately, their nicknames give them away: All are figures associated with the Mafia, that fetishistically documented secret society responsible for long-ago crime waves, more recent cinematic masterpieces and, above all, an enduring modern marketing bonanza. Some are dead and some are living; in their lives the press loved them all.

These latter days find the waning wiseguys reduced to walk-on roles in an ensemble gathered for the trial of Roy Lindley DeVecchio, a retired Federal Bureau of Investigation supervisor. Mr. DeVecchio, 67, has been charged with helping his prized Mafia informer kill four people in the 1980s and early 1990s. Prosecutors say he disclosed confidential information to set up assassinations.

This contemporary Mafia trial’s more prominent players include a 1960s campus radical turned dapper judge whose taste in courtroom décor runs to the eccentric, an aspiring author planning a book with a self-styled love, dating, sex and relationship coach and an amateur private investigator who was choked (not fatally) in a strange, unexplained attack last year.

The publicity circus surrounding big mob trials was already in full churn last week. Satellite trucks idled on Jay Street. Photographers ascended stepladders to gain some purchase over their rivals. A high school class visited the courtroom on a field trip. Mr. DeVecchio, free on $1 million bond, mingled with his supporters. And tabloid newspapers reflexively chronicled every twist under headlines such as “Weird Mafia Love Triangle” and “G-Man and G-Strings; Plied With Bimbos: DA.”

The basic accusations against Mr. DeVecchio date to the Bensonhurst war for control of the Colombo crime family in the early ’90s, when Mr. DeVecchio led an F.B.I. squad charged with crippling the Colombos. His informer was Gregory Scarpa Sr., proprietor of the Wimpy Boys Social Club and a capo in the family.

After the war ended, federal prosecutors admitted that Mr. DeVecchio had passed confidential information to Mr. Scarpa. Investigators for the Department of Justice failed to turn up evidence to support criminal charges or even disciplinary action, and Mr. DeVecchio soon retired.

In a way, his new trial can be considered the triumph of the hangers-on, the true believers and the Mafia aficionados.

The Brooklyn district attorney’s office has credited Angela Clemente, a single mother from New Jersey, amateur private eye (and victim of that unexplained choking) with research that helped revive the case. The office has also acknowledged the work of Peter Lance, a writer who attends the trial in pinstripe suits, telling anyone who will listen his theories linking the case to global terrorism. But at center stage is the main prosecution witness, Linda Schiro, aspiring author of a book tentatively titled “Marriage, Mafia Style.” Supporting testimony is expected from her son, Gregory Scarpa Jr., who is in prison for racketeering. Mr. Scarpa is a prolific informer who has at times claimed to have the goods on his own father and on Ramzi Yousef, orchestrator of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

Mr. DeVecchio’s defense lawyers speak of a darker side to all this Mafia obsession. Over the years, they argue, Ms. Schiro has tried time and again to sell the story of her life as the common-law wife of the senior Mr. Scarpa, who died in prison in 1994.

With each new telling and each new potential co-author (including the love and dating coach, Sandra Harmon), she has sharpened her portrayal of Mr. DeVecchio. In her evolving accounts, defense lawyers argue, Mr. DeVecchio has gone from a man who met privately with her husband to a man she heard giving orders to kill.

“That’s pure fantasy,” said a defense lawyer, Douglas Grover, in his opening statement. “She’s making it up.”

Prosecutors built the groundwork for her credibility last week with testimony from a Mafia expert and from F.B.I. agents who had worked with Mr. DeVecchio.

The Mafia expert, Sgt. Fred Santoro of the Police Department, seemed well at ease. A product of Bensonhurst himself, he lent the trial an old-time touch by cracking wise on Mafia policies for drug-dealing (frowned upon) and murder (get permission first). The federal agents recounted their suspicions about Mr. DeVecchio’s relationship with his informer.

By the end of the week, a real live Mafia associate cried on the witness stand, to the evident delight of the gallery. The witness, Lawrence Mazza, told of hunting Colombo rivals, armed to the teeth in a frequently repainted station wagon.

The judge overseeing the case, Gustin L. Reichbach, interjected with his own questions. He knew a thing or two about the F.B.I.; its agents had once counted him among the most dangerous protest organizers at Columbia University. When the witness mentioned a newspaper account of one killing, Justice Reichbach offered a qualification.

“Just because it appears in the newspapers,” he said, “doesn’t make it so.”

The writers packed into the gallery laughed and laughed. The judge leaned back in his big leather chair. The scales of justice glowed over his shoulder, in neon, bright red and blue.

Thanks to Michael Brick

Mob Killer Crys on Witness Stand

A stone killer for the Mob, who testified casually about his homicidal jaunts through Brooklyn looking for people to shoot, started crying in court yesterday over his youthful wrong turn into a life of crime.

Tough guy Lawrence Mazza, 46, who was to testify about his gangster boss' ties to rogue FBI agent Lindley DeVecchio collapsed in tears in Brooklyn Supreme Court when he recounted that he spent a year at John Jay College of Criminal Justice studying police science.

"I was planning to follow my father" in civil service, Mazza said, choking up at the thought of his dad, a lieutenant in the Fire Department. "I'm sorry," Mazza told the judge, growing increasingly emotional.

A court officer handed him a tissue. The prosecutor got him a glass of water. But the handsome mobster continued to weep. Finally the judge called a break.

Seasoned court watchers said they'd never seen anything like it.

After recovering his composure, Mazza laid out his remarkable story: how he unwittingly romanced a Mafioso's girlfriend, was befriended by the gangster, shared the woman with him and gradually transformed into a feared killer.

Mazza called his mobster patron, Colombo capo Gregory (The Grim Reaper) Scarpa Sr., "vicious, violent" and a man who "told me he stopped counting at 50" when listing his murders. "He was unscrupulous and treacherous. He was a horrible human being," Mazza testified. "I was his right hand man, very, very close."

He described how, during the bloody Colombo family civil war of the early 1990s, they would cruise the streets of Brooklyn in a station wagon tricked out as a death car, loaded with shotguns, rifles and pistols, with special hidden compartments for the guns.

They wore bulletproof vests, carried rudimentary portable phones and looked for members of the rival Orena faction to blow away.

They rarely missed, he said. "Pretty much, we killed who we shot," Mazza testified.

Mazza, who pled guilty years ago to loansharking, racketeering, four murders and conspiracy to kill four other people, now lives in Florida after spending a decade in jail. He began cooperating soon after his 1993 arrest and has helped the feds with three trials so far.

Thanks to Scott Shifrel and Helen Kennedy


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