Robert Mueller's Russia Probe
By J. R. de Szigethy
Many Americans, in order to understand the current drama regarding Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, are looking back to similar cases, notably those of Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, as well as the Iran-Contra affair. However, several investigations involving the American Mafia, some going back to the 1940s, have forever changed the manner in which Federal Prosecutors and members of Congress conduct their investigations, interact with members of the Media, and disseminate information regarding their investigations to the public. Herein lies an examination of those Mafia cases and their lasting impact on America's legal profession.
In January, 1998 Federal Prosecutors in Manhattan unveiled a 72-Count Indictment against John “Junior” Gotti, the son of the imprisoned Gambino Family Godfather, centered on charges related to income tax evasion. One of the Prosecutors in the case was Vincent Heintz, on loan to the Feds from his position in the Bronx District Attorney's Office. By the following year, however, Heintz had been fired from the Federal probe while being investigated by the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility for leaking law enforcement information to a crime reporter. The story appeared in the New York Observer in February, 1999, which quoted a local crime reporter who revealed that the Heintz case had resulted in a new climate in which Prosecutors no longer carried on conversations with reporters, however trivial, in fear that such interactions could be twisted into allegations of Prosecutorial Misconduct. (1)
The Observer story also noted how the Heintz case had impacted relations between the Media and the office of Special Counsel Kenneth Starr, who was then targeting associates of President Bill Clinton. Members of Starr's team of Investigators and Prosecutors were under attack for allegedly leaking information to the Media. However, by that time it had become common for unscrupulous criminal lawyers to leak information themselves to the Media and then immediately falsely accuse Prosecutors of having leaked that very information. This led to the practice of a member of law enforcement using an intermediary to leak information to the Media instead of doing so directly.
That template continues into this very day. In his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee in June, 2017, fired FBI Director James Comey admitted he leaked to the Media via a friend at Columbia University a memo detailing a conversation he alleged he had with President Trump in the Oval Office in the hopes that this would instigate the appointment of a Special Prosecutor.
Some Republicans in Congress are claiming that there exists an anti-Republican bias within the FBI as well as the Mueller team, even though Mueller himself is a lifelong Republican. It was Mueller who removed from his team FBI Agent Peter Strzok, after an internal review revealed troubling, politically-charged communications between Strzok and FBI Lawyer Lisa Page, an Adviser to FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. Some of these communications occurred on company time and involved government electronic equipment. Mueller's team also found evidence that suggested Strzok and Page were leaking information to the Wall Street Journal as well as seeking contact information for a New York Times reporter. Communications between the two also revealed Agent Strzok's hostile attitude towards the New York Post and Fox News. The two often made comments to each other supportive of Hillary Clinton as well as negative comments regarding her opponent Donald Trump. (2) Strzok has also been revealed to have been responsible for re-wording a narrative draft by then-FBI Director Comey which allowed no charges to be filed against Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton regarding her mishandling of classified information while serving as Secretary of State. (3)
Anti-Republican bias in the FBI is nothing new. In 1992 FBI Agents in New York targeted Guy Molinari, the Republican President of the Borough of Staten Island. Molinari had previously served 6 years as a United States Congressman and was succeeded by his daughter Susan, who was the Keynote Speaker at the 1996 Republican Convention. Molinari's office was investigating a Federal legal case related to the growing problem on Staten Island and throughout New York City; the trafficking of drugs in neighborhood bodegas, mostly by illegal aliens. While a large number of these illegal alien drug dealers were from the Dominican Republic, a growing number were from Middle Eastern countries, including Yemen. These illegal aliens represented a multi-billion dollar industry which had a corrupting influence throughout the city. Minority communities were particularly impacted, with over 2,000 murders a year during that time in New York City.
The New York Post and New York Daily News were at the forefront of reporting on these new crime gangs, which included important work by Al Guart of the Post, and Mike McAlary, who worked for both newspapers. Guart spent several years investigating illegal activities inside the Bodegas, which included drug trafficking, the selling of untaxed cigarettes, stolen coupon fraud, and other crimes, and discovered that some of these illegal aliens were from Middle Eastern countries who were sending proceeds from their criminal activities to Islamic terrorist organizations, including the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas. Guart also revealed that associates of the blind Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman were also involved in this racket, which funded the first bombing of the World Trade Center. (4)
At one point during Molinari's investigation, Molinari was informed by a woman who had provided information to his office that FBI Agents had attempted to recruit her in a scheme to have her wear a wire on Molinari and entice him to make statements that could discredit his investigation. However, the Informant they chose, Alma Camarena, who had served as a Police Officer in her native Puerto Rico, refused to go along with the set-up, and blew the whistle on this operation. A furious Molinari eventually took this story to the Media, entitled: "Guy Molinari Fumes: FBI Tried to Set Me Up!" "It’s outrageous!" Molinari said. "If they will do this to me, an elected official, I hate to think what they might do to a member of the general public!" Molinari reported these FBI Agents to the Office of Professional Responsibility. After a 9 month investigation, the Feds responded with a letter to Molinari that included the following: “While it appears that on August 28, 1992 the Agents discussed with Camarena the possibility of her wearing a wire in some type of covert action against you, and that she agreed to do so, the idea was not endorsed by the Agent's Supervisor and was flatly rejected by Department of Justice attorneys.” (5)
Alma Camarena went on to perform important undercover work for a different U. S. Agency. Camarena was one of several prominent FBI Whistleblowers to emerge in the 1990s, along with FBI Agent Fred Whitehurst, and later, Agents John Roberts and Colleen Rowley.
In 2006, the Federal Courthouse in Brooklyn was the setting for one of the most stunning cases of police corruption in American history; the case of the “Mafia Cops,” 2 NYPD Detectives who committed multiple crimes, including murder for hire, on behalf of Lucchese Mafia Family figure Anthony “Gaspipe” Casso. One landmark precedent set during this trial was the partnering of the son of one of the Defendants, Lou Eppolito, Jr., with this reporter, in covering the trial as journalists. Detective Eppolito had enjoyed some success as an author and screenwriter, a talent his son inherited. Lou, Jr., however, did not share his father's hobby of keeping snakes as pets, nor his father's other hobby; murder for hire.
Another precedent in this case was set as a result of a ruling by the Judge, Jack Weinstein, post-conviction, regarding the 5-year Statute of Limitations on RICO charges. RICO stands for “Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act,” a Federal law enacted in October, 1970. The author of this law was G. Robert Blakey, who had been one of the Federal Prosecutors hired by Attorney General Robert Kennedy in the early 1960s in Kennedy's assault on the American Mafia. After Kennedy's murder by a Palestinian illegal alien Blakey worked with the Senate Government Relations Committee in drafting this legislation. The statutes provide lengthy prison sentences for those convicted of participating in a racketeering conspiracy. However, the RICO statutes were not fully applied until the 1980s, most notably by Rudolph Giuliani, the Prosecutor in the landmark “Commission Case Trial,” which targeted the leadership of New York's 5 Mafia families, including Carmine “The Snake” Persico, Godfather of the Colombo Mafia Family.
During their trial, one of Caracappa's criminal lawyers, Rae Koshetz, tried at length to persuade Judge Weinstein that even if the 2 cops had in fact committed the 8 murders they were charged with, they could not be charged in a RICO case for those murders because they happened outside the 5-year Statute of Limitations for a RICO Count. (In State Court, there is no Statute of Limitations on murder.) Weinstein did not accept this argument – at the time. The Mafia Cops were convicted of 8 Counts of murder, including that of a young Brooklyn man who was murdered in front of his family on Christmas Day, 1986 in a case of mistaken identity. However, Judge Weinstein stunned followers of the case by himself overturning the convictions based upon the alleged problems regarding the Statute of Limitations post-conviction. It turned out that this was a brilliant strategic move on the Judge's part. This decision allowed the government to retain the Defendants in prison while it was the government itself that Appealed this decision to an Appeals Court. A 3-Judge Court later re-instated the convictions, ruling that the racketeering enterprise consisted of the 2 Police Officers, and that their accomplices varied as they relocated from New York City to Las Vegas. Basically, the 2 cops were the racketeering enterprise and carried that with them wherever they went.
The taxpayers of New York City via the City paid out over $18 million to settle the lawsuits filed by the families of those murdered by the corrupt Police Officers. (1) Brooklyn resident Barry Gibbs, who spent 18 years in prison after Detective Eppolito framed him for a murder he did not commit, received $9.9 million dollars in his lawsuit. (2)
So what does the saga of the Mafia Cops have to do with the Mueller probe?
What it means is that Mueller could charge just 2 people as the core of a racketeering enterprise. Other accomplices could be added later in Superseding Indictments. The extra prison sentences the RICO statutes provide could, for younger Defendants, essentially amount to a life sentence, a strong motivation to coerce such targeted individuals to co-operate with the probe. Two of the Prosecutors Mueller has chosen for his team, Greg Andres and Andrew Weissmann, have extensive experience in successfully prosecuting Defendants under the complex RICO statutes. RICO statutes are the perfect compliment for crimes involving the laundering of money through banks and real estate transactions.
In a new book out on the first year of the Trump Administration, former Trump Adviser Steve Bannon praises Andrew Weissmann, calling him the “Lebron James of money laundering investigations!” Bannon left his job at the White House in August, 2017. It has been reported that Bannon was forced out by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. General Kelly had been given that position with the mission to stop the leaking of information from the White House to the Media. (3) While leaks of information to the Media can cause embarrassment for any Administration, a leaker could just as easily leak information to a member of America's law enforcement community, with potentially serious legal consequences.
With the dawn of the 1990s a “Mob War” erupted between rival factions battling for control of New York's Colombo Mafia Family. The war pitted members aligned with Godfather Persico against supporters of UnderBoss Vic Orena. At least 11 people, including one innocent bystander, were murdered during this war. Responsibility for investigating these crimes fell to the Organized Crime Task Force, a select group of FBI Agents and NYPD Detectives with an expertise in the actions of the American Mafia. However, all of the Federal Prosecutions that resulted from these investigator's efforts would be tainted, many fatally, due to an FBI scandal beginning to unfold that was decades in the making.
The scandal had it’s roots in the Federal prosecution of the Mafia that began when Robert Kennedy became Attorney General in 1961. Among the Agenda of his brother who appointed him, the new President, was to force into retirement the Director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover. Hoover was a lifelong criminal who routinely blackmailed politicians in order to retain his power. He was also an avowed racist, and refused AG Kennedy's encouragement to hire African-Americans as FBI Agents. (1) Hoover, however, was still revered by many Americans for his early career taking down well-known gangsters. As the American Mafia was growing exponentially during the 1930s, Hoover claimed it did not exist, a position Hoover would maintain until the mass arrests by the local cops of Mob figures who assembled at a meeting in Apalachin, New York in November, 1957. Many historians believe that the American Mafia possessed evidence used to blackmail Hoover into ignoring them. Thus, the FBI Director, whom his third in command Agent William Sullivan would refer to as “the greatest blackmailer of all time!” was himself the victim of blackmail. (2)
By the time he became Attorney General, Robert Kennedy had already made a name for himself as a strong antagonist against organized crime. In 1957 Kennedy was chosen as the head attorney for the U. S. Senate's Select Committee on Improper Activities in Labor and Management. This Committee investigated the Mafia's stranglehold on the organized Labor movement, then at the height of it's representation in America's workplace. Organized labor had also been compromised by the international Communist movement, thus making these investigations a matter of National Security as well.
Kennedy's Congressional Committee was itself the offspring of an earlier Committee, the Senate Special Committee to Investigate Crime in Interstate Commerce, which ran between 1950 to 1951. More popularly known as the Kefauver Committee, this Committee was formed by members of two Senate Committees, the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce. The Kefauver Committee was a national sensation, broadcast into the living rooms of millions of American citizens via the new technology of the day, television. Anyone connected to this Committee became a national celebrity.
Robert Kennedy became the star of the successor of that landmark Committee. In one classic moment during the Committee's televised hearings in June, 1959, Kennedy taunted Chicago Godfather Sam Giancana:
Kennedy: “Would you tell us if you have opposition from anybody that you dispose of them by having them stuffed in a trunk? Is that what you do, Mr. Giancana?”
Giancana: “I decline to answer.”
Kennedy: “Would you tell us anything about your operations or will you just giggle every time I ask you a question?”
Giancana: “I decline to answer.”
Kennedy: “I thought only little girls giggled, Mr. Giancana.”
In an era when the American people looked to Hollywood actors such as John Wayne and Gary Cooper as role models, Robert Kennedy, in that one moment, taunting a dangerous murderer, demonstrated how a real-life Prosecutor could be the quintessential all-American hero.
8 months later, entertainer Frank Sinatra introduced a young woman, Judith Campbell, to Robert Kennedy's brother John, then running for President. One month later, Sinatra introduced Ms. Campbell to Sam Giancana. (3)
Complying with AG Kennedy's directive to aggressively investigate the American Mafia, Hoover's Agents discovered that Judith Campbell had a relationship with Godfather Giancana. Hoover also discovered that in a one-year period between 1961 and 1962, Ms. Campbell had placed 70 phone calls to the White House. On March 22, 1962, Hoover, at his insistence, met with the President and the Attorney General in the Oval Office. It was there that Hoover revealed his evidence the FBI had compiled regarding Ms. Campbell's mutual relationships with both the President and the Godfather. After that meeting, President Kennedy had one final telephone conversation with Campbell that afternoon, never meeting with nor speaking to her again. There would be no further efforts by the Kennedy Administration to coerce Hoover to retire. This was not the first time that Hoover had blackmailed the Kennedys; evidence of this is to be found in “Re-Claiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy,” the definitive book on this subject by former Prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi. One thing Prosecutors must be able to do is to investigate and understand criminal conspiracies so that they can explain such plots to the average American juror. Bugliosi accomplished this in his successful prosecution of cult leader Charles Manson and his followers who conspired to commit a series of random and sensational murders in the hopes that a result would be further nationwide social unrest during the troubled late 1960s. In his book on the President's murder Bugliosi utilized investigative methods inherent to Prosecutors. The book is 1612 pages long with the source notes appearing separately on a compact disk. Bugliosi analyzed every known conspiracy theory regarding this assassination and determined that none of them were valid. The Prosecutor's conclusion was that despite the numerous and various enemies of the President, Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assasin who acted alone. (4)
However, in the course of his investigation, Bugliosi discovered one of the most consequential conspiracies in American history; a conspiracy between FBI Director Hoover and his associates to spy on thousands of American citizens and collect negative information on them for the purposes of blackmail. Bugliosi discovered how Hoover sent the infamous poison-pen letter compiled at FBI Headquarters to the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the one-year anniversary of the President's murder. The date chosen by Hoover's gang could have just been a coincidence, or it could have been intentionally chosen as a subtle reminder that what happened to the President on that date a year earlier could just as easily happen to the Reverend. Whatever was the case, the authors of that letter made it clear that they wanted Dr. King dead. The letter attempted to blackmail Dr. King into committing suicide, otherwise more damaging negative information would be made public far worse than that on the copies of tapes included in that envelope of Dr. King's private conduct with his associates. Many of these recordings were made in hotel rooms that Dr. King used as he and his associates traveled across America seeking equality for all. Hoover sent the letter and the secret tapes to Dr. King knowing that his wife opened and sorted his mail.
Bugliosi's book also revealed the existence of the “JFK Dossier,” which contained over 600 pages of information compiled over several decades on the Kennedy family. The JFK Dossier even included allegations of espionage thrown in for good measure. In order to justify his FBI Agents' spying on JFK during his career as a young man working for the Office of Naval Intelligence, Hoover ordered his Agents to investigate the background of Kennedy's romantic interest Inga Arvad, a news reporter who was an alumnus of New York City's acclaimed Columbia University School of Journalism. FBI Agents discovered that a few years earlier Ms. Arvad had interviewed Adolf Hitler at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. With no more evidence than this, Hoover designated Arvad a “Nazi Spy” as predication for the FBI's electronic surveillance of Kennedy, which included the planting of microphones in a bedroom in which the young Navy Ensign and his girlfriend were captured on tape in what should have been private encounters that the Federal government had no business in monitoring.
The FBI began compiling the JFK Dossier back in the 1940s, over 70 years ago. Yet, this Dossier is eerily simliar to a Dossier compiled in 2016 during the Presidential Election campaign. The infamous file now known as the “Steele Dossier” was compiled by a retired British spy, containing still-unverified information obtained from Russian government operatives. The FBI hired Steele during the compiling of this Dossier, which was funded in part by the Democratic National Comittee and the Hillary Clinton for President Campaign. (5)
In the JFK Dossier, it is alleged that the future President was compromised by his sexual relationship with an alleged German spy. In the Steele Dossier, it is alleged that future President Donald Trump was compromised by his alleged sexual relationship with Russian prostitutes acting as Russian spies. While the relationship between John F. Kennedy with Inga Arvad has been corroborated, no evidence has emerged over 7 decades that Ms. Arvad was a spy for one of America's most hostile enemies at that time. In both cases, the FBI used unsubstantiated allegations to launch a Counter-Intelligence operation for reasons that are now known to have been self-serving to the FBI. Why the Steele Dossier is particularly disturbing is the fact that over 4 decades after the death of J. Edgar Hoover, Hooverian tactics are still being practiced by bureaucrats at the top level of the Bureau for partisan political reasons.
It was the former Director of the FBI, James Comey himself, who, testifying before Congress, called the Steele Dossier “salacious and unverified.” “Salacious” refers to behavior attributed to Trump in the Dossier which is at odds with the behavior of a man who has a well-documented disdain for shaking hands with people in the belief that he will contract from them a microbe which can cause a disease. Such a person does not engage in the behavior ascribed to Trump in the Steele Dossier.
And, as the former owner of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan, Donald Trump must have been aware of that Hotel's long and storied history as a destination for FBI Agents and Informants, most notoriously including FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover himself. Armed with that knowledge, Donald Trump would have known that the activities of any foreign national inside a Moscow Hotel would certainly be monitored by Russian Intelligence. In 2014, Chinese investors purchased New York City's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, which had been for many years the residence of the U. S. Ambassador to the United Nations, as well as the Hotel of choice whenever the President of the United States visited New York. In 2015 the United States government removed the U. N. Ambassador's residence from that hotel, in the certain belief that the Chinese government would install electronic eavesdropping equipment throughout the building. (6) Also that year, President Barack Obama did not stay in the Waldorf during a visit to New York, ending a tradition going back decades. (7)
In addition to compiling a Dossier on President Kennedy and Reverend King, the FBI also compiled a Dossier on Frank Sinatra. In 1998 the FBI, responding to a Freedom of Information Act Request, released numerous of it's files on Sinatra. In a memo from FBI Assistant Director J. P. Mohr to Clyde Tolson dated September 7, 1950, Mohr revealed that Sinatra was seeking to work as an FBI Informant. (8) Hoover and Clyde Tolson turned Sinatra down – at least for that moment.
Hoover's turning of AG Kennedy's Directive to investigate the American Mafia into a further opportunity to compile information to blackmail the Kennedys was a tribute to Hoover's considerable intellect. That same devious mind would also turn Kennedy's Directive in the opposite direction, as evidenced by a program Hoover invented which would corrupt the FBI to it's very core; the “Top Echelon” program, by which the FBI would secretly recruit members of the Mafia as “Informants.” One of the first to be recruited was Greg Scarpa, to be followed years later by the equally-dangerous murderer and drug dealer Whitey Bulger. A quarter of a Century later, Scarpa was being “handled” by a single FBI Agent, Lindley DeVecchio of the Organized Crime Task Force. (9) In addition to Scarpa's drug dealing, which would eventually cost one of his son’s life and another son’s freedom, Greg Scarpa infamously told an Associate that he stopped counting the numbers of his murder victims once he passed the number 50. (10)
It was the recruitment of another Colombo drug dealer and murderer as an FBI Informant, Salvatore “Big Sal” Miciotta, that would result in a Detective on the Organized Crime Task Force being falsely accused of leaking sensitive law enforcement information to the Colombo Family. Miciotta was recruited in 1993 under very mysterious circumstances that were not properly documented, as required by Justice Department regulations. Not only is it standard procedure for Agents to file such reports, it is also in the best interest of the Agents involved, as citations and promotions in their careers often result from such prized recruitments. Thus, what actually transpired during the first weeks of the flipping of Big Sal is not fully documented. The Feds in Brooklyn at that time, however, were desperate. They knew someone on the Task Force was leaking sensitive, law enforcement information to the Colombo Family. In one incident, Greg Scarpa learned his son Greg, Jr. was about to be arrested by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Greg, Jr. promptly went on the lam, hiding out in Florida. A Court document in the Eastern District identified Agent DeVecchio as the likely person who leaked that information to Scarpa. (11)
After Sal Miciotta began talking to FBI Agents he claimed to know who the person was leaking information from the Task Force. "Big Sal" claimed that information from the Task Force made it's way from Task Force Detective Joe Simone to a man named Phil Ciadella, whose Uncle Armando “Chips” DeCostanza was a member of his crew. Simone and Ciadella were coaches of a Pee Wee League football team on which their sons played. Ciadella was also a coach at a local school upon which a son of Simone played. (12)
Joe Simone was qualified in part for membership on the Organized Crime Task Force because he lived in a neighborhood of Staten Island where many of the local household providers were either Police Officers, Firefighters, or members of the American Mafia. Social situations often arose which provided Simone with the opportunity to attempt to develop information and potential Informants from such local residents, just as the FBI itself pursued. Also, as a concerned parent, Detective Simone used the resources available to him to perform background checks on every adult who interacted with the kids on the two football teams his sons played on. Simone would frequently visit Ciadella's house, where the two would often discuss strategy for upcoming football games or watch football games on television. Ciadella's parents also lived in that house, with Ciadella's mother a neighborhood favorite for her cooking skills, which attracted numerous visitors. Through this arrangement, Simone sometimes obtained first-hand and second-hand hearsay relating to the Colombo Family, some of which was verifiable and actionable. Simone knew DeCostanza because he tried to “flip” him after his arrest in March, 1992 during the mob war on a weapons charge. DeCostanza declined Simone's offer, and it's likely he informed Miciotta of this. That would explain how Miciotta knew of Simone and his connection to his crew member's Nephew when, a year later, Miciotta sought his “get-out-of-jail-Free card.”
Around 6 months after DeCostanza's arrest, Coach Ciadella phoned Coach Simone and invited him over to his house in regards to the football team Simone's son played on. Upon arrival, Simone was angered to find more than one Colombo Family member there. Detective Simone accused the “Wiseguys” of trying to set him up, and demanded that one of them, Bobo Malpeso, drop his pants to show he was not wearing a wire. Malpeso complied. Detective Simone then berated Ciadella for putting him into such a situation without his knowledge and exited the house. As he was leaving, one of the Mobsters tried to shake Simone's hand, and Simone says he refused. In that hand, according to Simone, was either a white piece of paper or an envelope. Detective Simone would later testify in his Departmental Trial that he reported this incident to 3 members of the Task Force. Simone also claimed he gave Ciadella's name and phone number to FBI Agent Chris Favo for a more comprehensive background check. Agent Favo would later testify that he advised Simone to end his relationship with Coach Ciadella. (12)
10 months later, Coach Ciadella again invited Coach Simone over to his house. Before Simone arrived, Sal Miciotta and Chips DeCostanza showed up. Miciotta had told the Feds that at the end of the meeting the year previous what was offered to Simone was an envelope with $1,500 inside. Miciotta claimed that Simone accepted the bribe. This didn't make any sense; the FBI would corroborate that Simone was upset with Ciadella over the previous incident and expressed his concern he was being set-up. If Detective Simone was concerned he was being set-up, would he then nevertheless accept a bribe, and in front of several witnesses?
The FBI Agents handling Sal Miciotta believed his unlikely claim, and presumed that if Simone had in fact accepted that bribe he would take another, and so Miciotta was sent to offer a bribe to Simone and secretly record their conversation. However, instead of hooking up Miciotta with a “Body Mike,” or wire that transmits the conversation to an outside recording device, the FBI Agents gave Miciotta a small tape recorder. As instructed by the FBI, Miciotta turned on the tape recorder and recorded his rehearsed conversation instructing his subordinate DeCostanza to give him money to offer to Simone as a bribe when he showed up.
From the transcript:
Miciotta: I need a little information. I wanna find out what the fuck they're gonna do with this case here. You know, I'd do the right thing. I'll take care of him.”
DeCostanza: “He (Simone) don't want nothin'.
Miciotta: “I'm glad to give him a coupla dollars.”
DeCostanza: “You don't have to give him nothin!”
DeCostanza knows Simone better than Miciotta does; he knows that Simone can't be bribed. Simone doesn't want money; he wants Information.
At that point, Miciotta turned off his tape recorder, knowing Simone was going to turn down his bribe offer. Miciotta had to come up with a “Plan B,” and quickly, as Detective Simone was due to arrive very soon. In Simone's visit to that house a year earlier under similar circumstances, an angry Simone had quickly walked out, with very little exchange of conversation with the Mobsters present. Miciotta had to offer to Simone very quickly what he wanted, Information, something actionable that would entice him into further conversation. Miciotta did just that upon Simone's entry, offering up a piece of information that inexorably grabbed his attention. It was one of the most stunning and shocking admissions by a member of the American Mafia that had no known precedent, a game-changer that could make a career for a member of law enforcement such as Simone: Sal Miciotta ratted out his own son to Simone, telling him that his son was on the lam in Florida because he was wanted by the NYPD for assaulting a Seminary student who was a Priest in training.
This was incredible; a member of the American Mafia telling an NYPD Detective where to find his own son who was wanted by the NYPD.
The history of the American Mafia is ripe with incidents of such treachery, where one “Wiseguy” turns against another. The turning of Sammy “The Bull” Gravano against his Godfather John Gotti is one classic example. But what Detective Simone had witnessed was virtually unprecedented in American Mafia history; a Mafia thug throwing his own son “under the bus!”
It gets worse; what Miciotta DIDN'T reveal to Detective Simone was that it was HE who had instigated the assault on the Seminary student, it was HE who had broken the young man's arm. And, what Simone also did not know was that Miciotta had committed this crime while an employee of the FBI. FBI Agents and Federal Prosecutors already knew of Miciotta's assault on the young man, which had occurred earlier that month.
Innocent of all of this, Simone couldn't wait to report this stunning information to the Task Force, which he said he did; if Sal Miciotta would rat out his own son, then that made Miciotta a likely candidate to “flip” and become an FBI Informant or Co-operating Witness who could help law enforcement dismantle the Colombo Mafia Family. If Miciotta would give information to law enforcement regarding his own son, then he would likely give such information on everyone in the Colombo Family, up to and including Godfather Carmine Persico. Helping to recruit such an Informant could be the crowning achievement to cap Detective Simone's 22 year career as he approached his retirement.
Unfortunately, Joe Simone, not being corrupt himself, was unaware of how corrupt the FBI had become, unaware that Sal Miciotta was already an FBI Informant, being used by the FBI to frame Simone for crimes committed by others. There was just one small problem in this case for the FBI; Miciotta's tape, in which DeCostanza revealed Simone could not be bought, and Miciotta's subsequent refusal to tape record Simone's interactions with him.
Miciotta told the FBI Agents handling him that despite all of this, Detective Simone did accept his bribe money. Did they believe this? If they did, logic would suggest that if Simone would take one bribe he would take another, and to conclusively prove Simone's guilt all that would be necessary was for Miciotta to go back to Simone and offer another bribe, but this time wearing a transmitter that would not allow Miciotta the option of stopping the recording of their conversations. There was a big problem with this scenario, however; the FBI planned to use Miciotta as a key prosecution witness in upcoming trials related to the Colombo Family War. If, on a third proposed bribery attempt the tape showed Miciotta had lied about the second incident he had refused to record, which would have corroborated Miciotta's claim that Detective Simone had taken a bribe on the first bribery attempt a year earlier, then the Feds would lose an important “Witness” in those war trials. The FBI chose not to take such a risk.
In the early morning hours of December 8, 1993, FBI Agents congregated in the darkness outside the modest home Simone and his wife were raising their 5 kids in. On any day Simone would receive the final paperwork of his retirement package that would seal a 22-year career that had netted him 22 Police Department commendations. It was Agents of the FBI that stormed into the Simone family's house to take the Detective away as his terrified wife and kids looked on. Simone was taken to the FBI office in lower Manhattan. For 3 hours Joe Simone spoke to the FBI Agents – without lawyering up – knowing there had been some sort of terrible mistake made by the FBI. Simone also offered to submit to a polygraph examination, an offer which the FBI refused. Detective Simone was then arrested, taken away in handcuffs, and accused of accepting a bribe from Sal Miciotta.
During his debriefings, Miciotta confessed to his role in 4 murders. One murder plot involved an attempt to kill Joseph Peraino and his son in 1982, as the Colombo Family fought over the enormous profits generated by the porn film "Deep Throat," which was produced and distributed by the Perainos. In the crossfire between Miciotta, his accomplice, and the Perainos, a retired Nun doing her laundry in an adjacent home was killed by a stray bullet. (13)
In October, 1994, the Federal trial of Detective Joe Simone began. Perhaps the most dramatic part of the trial came when attorney John Patten, in a stroke of attention to detail worthy of Perry Mason, scrutinized the physical condition of documents the FBI submitted which they claimed supported their allegation that Joe Simone had taken money from the Mob. Patten noted that the holes left on the documents from a stapler did not match up – that one of the pages had been replaced with another AFTER Detective Simone’s arrest.
Then there was the matter of a phone call that the Feds claimed Simone dialed from his phone at Task Force headquarters in Manhattan to the beeper of a Colombo Family member. The person who made that call punched the numbers “6-6-6,” which the Feds claimed was Simone's signal for the mobster to contact him. However, on the day of that call, Simone was with his family 158 miles away in Wildwood, New Jersey. Someone, most likely an FBI Agent, made that phone call in an attempt to frame Simone. Over 2 years after Simone's trial, the landmark New Yorker report on Greg Scarpa and his handler Agent DeVecchio was published. In that report it was revealed that whenever Scarpa succeeded in committing a murder during the war, Scarpa paged a Colombo leader with the Satanic number “6-6-6!” (9)
One day during Simone's trial his brother discovered that the Feds had quietly reassigned FBI Agent Lindley DeVecchio to a position within the Drug Enforcement Administration while under investigation for allegedly leaking law enforcement information to his FBI Informant Greg Scarpa. FBI Agent Chris Favo, Simone's immediate supervisor, was forced to confirm this during his testimony.
One juror told the press their Verdict was unanimous and immediate, and after just two hours of deliberations, Joe Simone heard the jury’s decision; Not Guilty on all charges. His wife in tears, Simone stated: “I was always a good cop and did my job well!” (14) Ten of the twelve jurors stood outside the Courthouse in the cold October rain to meet with and console Joe Simone and his family.
The next Colombo War Trial that year featured Defendants William “Wild Bill” Cutolo and 6 members of his crew who faced racketeering murder charges. Andrew Weissmann was one of the Prosecutors. In that trial, Sal Miciotta admitted under cross-examination that FBI Agents gave him permission to continue his loan sharking and extortion rackets while he worked secretly for the FBI. Miciotta confessed to his assault of the Seminary student and also admitted he gave his brother $10,000 which he used to buy 150 pounds of marijuana while working for the FBI. (15) The Defendants in the Cutolo case claimed they were only acting in self-defense against a renegade FBI informant/Mafia hitman, Greg Scarpa. As in the Simone trial the jurors did not believe Micciotta and Acquitted all Defendants on murder and weapons charges.
Only then did the Feds in Brooklyn re-assess the status of Miciotta. In April, 1995 Miciotta pleaded Guilty to the assault on the Seminary student. He was also only then charged with gun possession while a member of the Witness Protection Program. This information, which could have been used to impeach the credibility of Miciotta, had been withheld from the Attorney for Joe Simone and the Attorneys for the Cutolo crew. For his allegations against Joe Simone and members of the Colombo Family, the U. S. taxpayers paid Big Sal $94,000. (16)
In May, 1995 Vic and John Orena and 5 associates went on trial on racketeering murder conspiracy charges relating to the Colombo Family war. In her opening arguments Assistant U. S. Attorney Ellen Corcella admitted to the jury that FBI agent Lin DeVecchio had an unusual relationship with crime boss Greg Scarpa and leaked confidential information to him. Defense attorneys argued that their clients were only acting in self-defense against a renegade FBI agent and his Mafia hitman Informant. FBI agent Howard Leadbetter testified that he and agents Chris Favo and Jeffrey Tomlinson reported to their superiors that Agent DeVecchio had tried to obstruct a probe of Scarpa. Favo told the Court that he was convinced DeVecchio had committed crimes by leaking information to Scarpa. Colombo capo Carmine Sessa told the Court he too knew that DeVecchio was giving information to Scarpa.
The jurors Acquitted all defendants on all charges and demanded of the Prosecutors why it was DeVecchio had not been indicted for murder. Juror #186 told the New York Daily News, "Something like this really knocks the credibility of the FBI. If the FBI's like this, society is really in trouble!" (17) Another juror told Newsday that it was apparent that DeVecchio and Scarpa had started the Colombo Family war. "It was a bit scary that the FBI was feeding information to someone so deadly.” Yet another juror stated: “ It was him (Scarpa) who made it seem a war was going on!" (18)
Another juror told the New York Times that he was disturbed by 4 missing pieces of evidence in the case. “Missing photos of a supposed shooting attempt on Scarpa taken by the police or the FBI. A missing revolver that was thrown out a window by Mr. Scarpa. A garbage bag found when the FBI did an early morning raid on Victor Orena Sr.'s house on Long Island. It supposedly contained guns.” (19) Outraged jurors also spoke to Defense Attorneys, including Jerry Shargel. “The jurors were all just absolutely shocked by the relationship between DeVecchio and Scarpa,” Shargel told the New York Post. (20)
On May 15, 1996 the New York Post revealed that Agent DeVecchio still had access to classified documents, despite the Court testimony of his own Agents that he had given secret information to the Mob. The information became public as part of attorney Jerry Shargel’s efforts to win a new trial for Victor Orena, Sr., the jailed former head of the Colombo Family. (21) When at last Shargel got his chance to cross-examine DeVecchio during the Hearing to determine whether Orena would receive a new trial, DeVecchio repeatedly invoked his right under the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination. In February, 1997 DeVecchio again testified in a Hearing for a new trial for Orena, but this time under a grant of Immunity, which required him to answer all questions. DeVecchio responded over 20 times with the answer, "I don’t recall!"
In 2004, Judge Jack Weinstein ruled on an Appeal by attorneys for Vic Orena and Pasquale Amato in regards to their conviction for the murder of Thomas Ocera during the Colombo Family War. Representing the U. S. Attorney's Office in this matter were Prosecutors George Stamboulidis and Andrew Weissmann. Gregory Scarpa, Jr. had testified that his younger brother Joey and their father had planted guns under the porch of the house of a friend of Orena's as part of a plan to frame Orena for a murder that Scarpa had actually committed. Among those it was proven Scarpa had murdered during the war was Vinnie Fusaro, whom Scarpa shot from behind with a shotgun while Fusaro was stringing Christmas lights outside his Brooklyn home. Judge Weinstein ruled, however, that he found Scarpa, Jr. to be “not credible” and dismissed the Appeal.
Two people who did in fact find Scarpa, Jr. to be credible were Forensic Intelligence Analysts Dr. Stephen Dresch and Angela Clemente. The investigation by Ms. Clemente and Dr. Dresch regarding the framing of Detective Joe Simone had naturally led them to investigate Greg Scarpa, Sr. and his son. Although Scarpa, Jr. had not been convicted of murder, but rather drug trafficking, Scarpa had been sent to Supermax, America's most secure underground prison. As in the case of Anthony Casso, this was the Feds' attempt to discredit and literally “bury” someone who had information the Feds wanted to keep secret.
It was there at Supermax that Scarpa, Jr. began to interact with Terry Nichols, who had been convicted for his role in the bombing of the Federal building in Oklahoma City. Scarpa learned from Nichols that there was a cache of explosives buried beneath his former house in Kansas that were extremely dangerous. Although Timothy McVeigh had claimed that he and Nichols had acted alone in their domestic terrorist attack that killed 168 people, Nichols revealed to Scarpa that anti-government anarchists who traveled in their circles could potentially find the explosives and use them against government targets.
Although the FBI had searched Nichols' house and not found the hidden explosives, Clemente knew from prior dealings with Scarpa, Jr. that he had provided accurate and verifiable information to her, therefore she had to consider his information credible. Clemente shared this information with two members of Congress she had previously worked with, Democrat William Delahunt and Republican Dana Rohrabacher. (22) Nichols' house was subsequently searched and the explosives were found and removed. Scarpa Jr. received a sentence reduction for revealing this threat to the public safety and Angela Clemente had further secured her reputation for being one of America's top crime investigators. (23)
Scarpa, Jr.'s work as a non-government Informant in the Nichols case furthers his credibility regarding his allegation that his father and brother participated in the framing of Vic Orena and Pasquale Amato for a murder his father actually committed. Scarpa's courage to challenge his own father's criminal actions is rare in the American Mafia, Lou Eppolito, Jr.'s previous teaming with this reporter being one other rare example. John “Junior” Gotti is another, as is William Cutolo, Jr. In 1999, “Wild Bill” Cutolo suddenly disappeared and was presumed murdered. The likely suspect in this case was Allie Boy Persico. Cutolo, Jr. then made a gutsy decision; he would co-operate with the FBI, wear a wire for them, and obtain incriminating evidence to bring his father's murderers to Justice. Cutolo, Jr. did just that, and in 2007 Persico and John DeRoss were convicted of Cutolo, Sr.'s murder, even though his body had not yet been found. In regards to his father's 2 murderers, Junior had this to say: “You made two mistakes: you killed my father and you didn't kill me!” (24)
The case of FBI Informant Greg Scarpa, Sr. framing a man for a murder he himself committed is not unprecedented: in 1965 Vincent Flemmi, a Mafia hitman in Boston already being protected from prosecution because of his status as an FBI Informant, murdered a local man, Edward Deegan. His accomplice in this murder was Joe “The Animal” Barboza, who would be recruited by the FBI in 1967. The Boston field office quickly sent a memo to Director Hoover correctly identifying the murderers of Deegan. Instead, 4 men who had nothing to do with the murders, Joseph Salvati, Peter Limone, Louis Greco, and Henry Tameleo, were railroaded in a Court trial, during which Joe Barboza falsely testified against them. Barboza then became the first person to enter the “Witness” Protection Program. Relocated to California, Barboza then murdered a man in Santa Rosa. Barboza was murdered on the streets of San Francisco on February 11, 1976. Barboza's story is to be found in a report adopted by the House Government Reform Committee in 2003. (25)
2 of the men wrongly convicted for the Deegan murder died in prison. 3 of the Defendants were sentenced to Death in the electric chair but escaped that Fate only because the Death Penalty was invalidated in Massachusetts in 1970. For many years, the innocence of these men was championed by radio journalist Dan Rea. Salvati spent 30 years in prison before he was released. Finally, in 2002, the House Government Reform Committee held public hearings on this case. Said Chairman Dan Burton, a Republican Congressman from Indiana: “For decades, Federal law enforcement did terrible things up in New England, and they were successful in covering it up. The FBI knew Barboza was lying, and they covered it up!” In 2007, U. S. District Judge Nancy Gertner adjudicated in a Federal lawsuit that the FBI was "responsible for the framing of four innocent men" and ordered the payment of $101 million in damages to Salvati and Limone, as well as the surviving family members of Louis Greco and Henry Tameleo. (26)
In 2006, a Federal Judge awarded $3.1 million to the family of John McIntyre, a commercial fisherman in the Boston area murdered by FBI Informant/drug dealer/hitman Whitey Bulger in 1984. McIntyre had provided information to the FBI regarding an attempt to smuggle weapons to the Irish Republican Army. Instead of acting on this information, FBI Agent John Connolly leaked the information to FBI Informants Whitey Bulger and Stephen Flemmi who lured McIntyre to a house where he was tortured for several hours before he was shot and killed. Flemmi admitted to this during his own testimony. Lawyers for the U. S. government had argued unsuccessfully that the government could not be held accountable for the actions of it's employees. (27)
Agent Connolly was convicted in 2002 on racketeering charges regarding his handling of Informants Flemmi and Bulger. In 2005, Agent Connolly was Indicted for the murders of businessmen Roger Wheeler in 1981 and John Callahan in 1982. FBI Agent Paul Rico was also Indicted for his role in the murder of Wheeler. Appearing before the House Government Operations Committee in 2001, Congressman Christopher Shays blasted Agent Rico for his apparent lack of remorse in the Salvati case. A defiant Rico replied: “What do you want, tears?” (28) Agent Rico died in 2004 before his murder trial.
In 2008 Agent Connolly was convicted on murder charges in Florida and is currently serving a 40-year sentence. Testifying against Agent Connolly was his former FBI Supervisor John Morris, who admitted taking $7,000 in bribes from Whitey Bulger. (29)
Another troubling case involved Anthony “Gaspipe” Casso of the Lucchese Mafia Family, who entered the Witness Protection Program in 1994. Once he began co-operating, Casso was interviewed by several Federal Prosecutors as well as FBI Agents. One of Casso's allegations was that he and former Gambino Family Underboss Sammy “The Bull” Gravano had trafficked drugs. This was a bombshell allegation on Casso’s part that could have enormous repercussions. Gravano had been instrumental in the conviction of Gambino Godfather John Gotti and other members of the Gambino Family. During his testimony in one trial, Gravano stated: “Our policy was against drugs.” (30) In the Gotti trial, one lawyer accused Gravano of abusing anabolic steroids. (31) While it was unlikely that Casso's revelations regarding Gravano would result in Gotti’s conviction being overturned, Federal Prosecutors were planning to use Gravano as a Witness in an upcoming prosecution of Genovese Family Godfather Vincent “Chin” Gigante.
Author Philip Carlo offered up his own version of the flipping of Casso in his biography on the mobster. According to Carlo, Casso first claimed that a corrupt FBI Agent had leaked information to him. The FBI Agents interrogating him allegedly were furious over this claim regarding an Agent they personally knew. Casso then began to offer up evidence on his use of 2 corrupt NYPD Detectives who helped him commit murders. (32)
One story that Gaspipe offered up was quickly determined to be not credible; Casso claimed that Sammy Gravano orchestrated the knife stabbing assault on the civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton, which occurred during a protest demonstration in Bensonhurst, New York, the very heart of Gambino Family territory in January, 1991. (33) That story was re-visited by the Media in 2014, when Reverend Sharpton was revealed to have worked as an FBI Informant in the 1980s, secretly tape-recording on behalf of the Organized Crime Task Force Mafia associates he encountered in the professional boxing and music entertainment industries in which Sharpton was involved. Despite numerous FBI documents to the contrary, Sharpton has always denied working as an Informant for the FBI. Sharpton's information allowed predication for a wiretap on a Genovese Family gangster, Federico Giovanelli, who, along with 2 Associates, were involved in the fatal shooting of a Task Force member, Detective Anthony Venditti in 1986. Venditti's partner Detective Kathleen Burke was also shot but survived. The wiretap on Giovanelli's phone helped the Feds to establish that Genovese Godfather Vincent “Chin” Gigante was in fact faking mental illness as a ploy to delay his prosecution. Federal Prosecutors George Stamboulidis, Andrew Weissmann, and Daniel Dorsky used such evidence to secure Gigante's conviction in Brooklyn Federal Court in 1997. (34)
2 years earlier, Andrew Weissmann had accused Sal Miciotta of Perjury and other crimes in a letter to Brooklyn Federal Court Judge Eugene Nickerson regarding his upcoming sentencing of Miciotta. However, Big Sal seized on the opportunity for one more chance to obtain a ‘get-out-of-jail-free card;' Miciotta reported to the Feds that while they were incarcerated together Casso bribed prison employees to smuggle contraband to him. Gaspipe then assaulted Miciotta once he found out that Miciotta had ratted him out. Thus, once again Sal Miciotta told Federal Prosecutors what they wanted to hear. (33) Miciotta was released from prison and relocated to Canada. The co-operation agreement with Casso was revoked and Casso was sent to Supermax.
Anthony Casso would later be corroborated in his claim that Gravano trafficked drugs. In February, 2000, Sammy Gravano was arrested for running a multi-State drug trafficking ring out of his Arizona base. The drugs were sold primarily to kids in Junior and Senior High schools. Also arrested were Gravano's wife, daughter, son, and several associates who belonged to a Neo-Nazi gang calling themselves the “Devil Dogs.” When arrested, Gravano was found in possession of anabolic steroids, which was the preferred drug of the Devil Dogs. (35)
Prosecutors in Brooklyn then had the task of sentencing Gravano on the Federal charges. However, Gravano asked his lawyer to remove one Federal Prosecutor from this process. That Prosecutor was Andrew Weissmann, whom Gravano claimed in Court papers was his “Attorney, protector, and friend,” and that a “relationship of deep trust and confidence” had arisen from their work together to put away Godfather Gigante. (36) Gravano received a 20 year prison term and was sent to Supermax, where Anthony Casso and Greg Scarpa, Jr. were also imprisoned. On May 15, 1996, over the objections of Federal Prosecutors in Brooklyn, Anthony Casso testified before a U. S. Senate Subcommittee investigating Russian organized crime in America. (32)
As the 1990s were coming to a close, Sal Miciotta became the target of investigation by Forensic Intelligence Analysts Dr. Stephen Dresch and Angela Clemente. What Analysts such as these do is examine and analyze documentary evidence in order to make determinations that are considered an expert opinion. Stephen Dresch served as an economic adviser to several Presidents in the 1970s and 1980s. One of Dr. Dresch’s most successful determinations came in the late 1970s, when he published a position paper claiming that the economic model of Socialism as being practiced by the Soviet Union was unsustainable and would eventually collapse. Dresch’s findings would be proven correct, and today offer explanations as to the troubled economies of Cuba, North Korea, and Venezuela.
Dr. Dresch and Ms. Clemente shared their findings with the House Government Reform Committee, earning the praise of members Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican, and William Delahunt, a Democrat. Delahunt then forwarded their Colombo Family report to the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office. In 2006, that office Indicted FBI Agent Lindley DeVecchio on charges that he assisted Greg Scarpa in the commission of 4 murders. One case involved a young woman, Mary Bari. Greg Scarpa had learned that Bari, a former girlfriend of “Allie Boy” Persico, was giving information about Persico to the FBI. At that time in 1984, Allie Boy was on the lam in Florida and Scarpa feared that Bari's information might lead to his whereabouts. Thus, on September 25, 1984, Scarpa lured Bari to his Brooklyn headquarters, the “Wimpy Boys Social Club,” under the guise of offering employment to her as a Waitress. Once inside, Greg Scarpa, Jr. wrestled Ms. Bari to the floor while his father shot her three times in the head with a handgun. According to Scarpa, Jr., one Colombo Associate involved was so troubled by Scarpa, Sr.'s depravity that he expressed this concern: “We're probably going to Hell for this!” (37)
The one person that Dr. Dresch and Ms. Clemente did not interview for their Analysis was Greg Scarpa's common-law wife Linda Schiro. The Prosecutor in the DeVecchio case used Ms. Schiro as his primary Witness before the Grand Jury that Indicted Agent DeVecchio. Upon reviewing the evidence in this case, this reporter determined that Ms. Schiro had credibility problems; essentially, her story about DeVecchio had changed over time. Eight months before Agent DeVecchio's trial began, this reporter published “A Troubled Prosecution” as part of my on-going series following this and related cases. In that report I predicted that the case would fall apart during trial due to the credibility issues of Ms. Schiro. That is exactly what eventually happened and the Judge in the case appointed a Special Prosecutor to determine if Schiro should be charged with committing Perjury on the Witness Stand.
The Special Prosecutor chosen was Judge Leslie Crocker Snyder, who determined that Schiro should not be charged with Perjury. However, Judge Snyder used her written report in this matter to blast the Prosecution of Detective Joe Simone, stating that Simone had been made the “Scapegoat for the misconduct of others . . . which warrant further investigation by an appropriate agency or some other investigative body!” One such “Agency” could be a Special Prosecutor, whereas an “Investigative Body” could be a Congressional Committee.
Detective Simone did not get either. Instead, he received an NYPD Departmental Trial where a Judge in that case, despite acknowledging the Perjury of Sal Miciotta, nevertheless ruled that Simone had not adequately reported a bribery attempt and thus recommended to the Police Commissioner that Detective Simone be fired and denied the Pension he had worked for 22 years to obtain. That was the action taken by the new NYC Police Commissioner Howard Safir. The Judge in Detective Simone's Departmental trial, Rae Downes Koshetz, was the same criminal lawyer who would later argue in Brooklyn Federal Court that the “Mafia Cops” Eppolito and Caracappa should not be convicted of 8 murders they committed because the Statute of Limitations for RICO murders had expired.
The decision by Federal Prosecutors in Brooklyn to discredit and remove from the Witness Protection Program Anthony Casso effectively shut down investigations into Casso's allegations that he bribed the Mafia Cops to commit murders for him. This allowed the Mafia Cops to live a life of luxury in retirement for 10 years in Las Vegas. It was a retired NYPD Detective, Tommy Dades, however, working in the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office, who opened his own investigation regarding the murders committed by Eppolito and Caracappa. As Dades' evidence was nearing the point where the 2 corrupt Police Officers could be Indicted on State murder charges, Federal Prosecutors in Brooklyn appropriated the case from the State. Some would use the word “stolen.”
Covering organized crime trials can be a frustrating experience for crime reporters. A journalist's job is to simply uncover the Truth. Truth, however, is hard to find inside many Federal and State Courtrooms. Such reporters expect criminals and their criminal lawyers to lie. What is not expected is for Prosecution Witnesses to lie, especially with the knowledge and encouragement of Prosecutors. This crime – yes, Perjury is a crime – is so pervasive and accepted in the American Judicial system that perpetrators have a special name for it: “Testi-Lying!” Police Officers commit this crime. FBI Agents commit this crime. FBI Informants commit this crime. Career criminals commit this crime. All do so knowing that the Prosecutors on whose behalf they tell these lies are not going to charge them with Perjury. Such is the unchecked power of Prosecutors, which can easily be abused.
Also frustrating to crime reporters are Departmental Trials, often referred to as a “Kangaroo Court.” One example from 1985 is particularly telling; the Departmental Trial of of Detective Lou Eppolito. In 1984, authorities in New Jersey raided the home of Rosario Gambino, a heroin dealer. Inside they found photocopies of the NYPD file on Gambino. It was clear to the authorities that Rosario Gambino had bribed a crooked cop in order to obtain that file. An investigation revealed fingerprints on the pages belonged to Officer Eppolito. Born in 1948 to Ralph “The Loanshark” Eppolito, his Uncle James and cousin Jim-Jim were also members of the Gambino Mafia Family. Despite the evidence against Eppolito, the Judge in the case Acquitted him. (38) The murder of an innocent young man on Christmas Day would be one consequence of sending Lou Eppolito back onto the streets of New York City, carrying with him a Badge and a gun.
Rosario Gambino's name would be back in the news one more time. On his final day in office, President Bill Clinton issued 140 Presidential Pardons, many of them controversial. Among those Pardoned or Commuted in his final days were; fugitive financier Marc Rich, whose wife had made substantial contributions to the Clinton Library and Mrs. Clinton’s Senate campaign; cocaine trafficker Carlos Vignali; 2 members of the Weather Underground terrorist organization; former Democratic Congressmen Dan Rostenkowski and Mel Reynolds; former Secretary for the Department of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros; and former Republican Governor of Arizona Fife Symington III.
President Clinton had also been approached by his brother Roger Clinton, who was seeking a Pardon for his prior cocaine distributing conviction. But Roger Clinton lobbied for something else; a Pardon for convicted heroin trafficker Rosario Gambino. Gambino was an illegal alien from Palermo, Sicily who was deported back to Italy in 1962, but, like many illegal aliens, he returned to the United States once again to continue his lucrative criminal career as a drug dealer. Gambino then opened a succession of pizza parlors in and around his base of operations in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. By the 1980s this racketeering enterprise was worth one billion dollars. In 1984 Rosario Gambino was convicted of heroin trafficking and sentenced to 45 years in prison. (39)
Despite the efforts of Roger Clinton, President Clinton did not Pardon Rosario Gambino. The President did, however, Pardon his brother. Gambino was released from prison in 2006 and deported as an illegal alien back to his native Italy, where he also faced drug trafficking charges.
So: what, one may ask, does the sordid history of the FBI and the Colombo Mafia Family have to do with the Russia probe being run by former FBI Director Robert Mueller?
The answer is there are many in the legal, journalism, and related professions who have serious concerns regarding the integrity of those involved in the Mueller investigation. While it is re-assuring that Mueller himself removed FBI Agent Peter Strzok from his team, at least one other currently on his team has a history of allegations of Prosecutorial Misconduct.
That person is Andrew Weissmann. Angela Clemente has been investigating Prosecutorial Misconduct on the part of FBI Agents and Federal Prosecutors involved in the Colombo War trials for over 2 decades. After several years of research by Clemente and her partner, Dr. Stephen Dresch, both Analysts began co-operating with members of the House Government Reform Committee in 2002. Clemente continued this work after the death of Dr. Dresch in 2006. In 2012, Clemente filed a report with Senator Chuck Grassley of the Senate Judiciary Committee, providing evidence that Prosecutorial Misconduct occurred in the trials of Joseph and Anthony Russo and Joseph Monteleone, Vic Orena, Alphonse Persico, Michael Sessa, and Detective Joe Simone. Clemente followed-up that report with a meeting on August 26, 2013 with officials of the Department of Justice’s Inspector General's office, along with Clemente’s attorney Jim Lesar and retired NYPD Captain Bill Plackenmeyer.
On February 16 of this year, Fox News Contributor Sara Carter published a story which contained information from a Decision by Brooklyn Federal Judge Charles Sifton in February, 1997 which ordered a new trial for Joseph and Anthony Russo and Joseph Monteleone. Judge Sifton took this action after finding Prosecutorial Misconduct on the part of FBI Agent Chris Favo, which he termed “outrageous.” Regarding Andrew Weissmann, Judge Sifton denounced “Weissmann’s myopic withholding of information” which Sifton found “reprehensible and subject, perhaps, to appropriate disciplinary measures.” (40 )
As Media outlets continue their own scrutiny of Mueller’s team, the Los Angeles Times is one Media outlet that has been tracking the Media's role in this. (41) Critics of the reporting on Weissmann claim that the motivation here is strictly partisan politics. Defenders of this scrutiny characterize these efforts as that of civil Libertarians who have legitimate concerns about the Abuse of Power by Federal officials. Clemente’s scrutiny of Andrew Weissmann and others associated with him, however, began decades before Donald Trump launched a serious candidacy for President of the United States, decades before allegations of collusion between members of his Election campaign and Russian operatives arose.
Abuse of Power permeates the Russia investigation. It is to be found in the “Nunez memo” from the House Intelligence Committee once it was De-Classified by the White House. That memo detailed the improper methods by which the infamous “Steele Dossier” was used in the application to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to obtain permission to put former Trump campaign member Carter Paige under surveillance. Since the FBI was unable to verify the information in the Dossier, it was accompanied by a Yahoo News story which purportedly corroborated the Dossier. What was not revealed to the FISA Court, however, was the fact that the primary “source” for the Yahoo News story was Christopher Steele. (42)
This is what is called “circular sourcing,” a scam by which a false narrative or “fake news story” is promulgated. One of the most disturbing examples of this had it's resolution in Brooklyn Federal Court. This case began in 1990, when a former DEA Informant, Lester Coleman, conned NBC News, ABC News, and later Time Magazine into running a fake news story which claimed that the CIA and DEA were responsible for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which killed 270 people. Eventually it was determined that “circular sourcing” was used to “corroborate” Coleman's story. (43) In 1997 Coleman pleaded Guilty in Brooklyn Federal Court to 5 Counts of Perjury in his statements to lawyers for Pan Am, who were fighting lawsuits filed by relatives of those killed in the bombing. (44) Coleman was also successfully sued be a Drug Enforcement Administration Agent whom Coleman had falsely accused in his writings. (45) A Libyan spy was eventually convicted in an international Court and Pan Am went out of business after losing the lawsuits filed against the company.
For those reporters who covered organized crime trials in Brooklyn Federal Court beginning in the 1990s, Andrew Weissmann was one of their favorites. Weissmann's gregarious personality was in stark contrast to those Prosecutors who were by tradition much more subdued. One reason a Prosecutor can be popular with reporters is if that Prosecutor leaks information to them. If ever Weissmann leaked information to crime reporters regarding the Colombo Family War prosecutions, including the Prosecution of Detective Joe Simone, then that in itself would not be troubling to this reporter, as long as the leaked information was accurate and was accurately reported by the recipient.
Andrew Weissmann also had the respect of crime reporters because he had the courage to aggressively pursue some of America's most dangerous criminals, a vocation that is not without risk; in 1987, members of the Colombo Family sought to assassinate Federal Prosecutor William Aronwald. In a case of mistaken identity, the Contract killers instead murdered Aronwald's father, a Judge. The two killers were then themselves murdered for botching their assignment. (46) One year earlier, the Organized Crime Task Force lost it's member Detective Anthony Venditti, murdered by 3 Mafia thugs. In 2005, the Feds in Brooklyn revealed a plot by Bonnano Family member Vincent Basciano to murder Federal Prosecutor Greg Andres, who is now part of Robert Mueller's team. (47)
Such are the occupational hazards that Prosecutors face. Theirs can be a lonely and isolated profession. Police Officers, by contrast enjoy the support of a number of national non-profit organizations. The cases of NYPD Detectives Anthony Venditti and Joe Simone and their families have been championed by the non-profit National Police Defense Foundation, among other similar organizations.
As reporters further scrutinize Andrew Weissmann there is evidence to be found in his favor. One such is an August 16, 1994 memo relating to the OPR investigation of FBI Agent Lindley DeVecchio. In that FBI memo, Andrew Weissmann expressed his opposition to Agent DeVecchio's efforts to affect Greg Scarpa's release from his then incarceration. There are probably many other such memos yet to be discovered.
One of Andrew Weissmann's Prosecutions with repercussions to this very day involved Russian immigrant Felix Sater. In 1998 Sater was Indicted by the Feds in Brooklyn for his role in a stock “pump and dump” scam that included members of the Colombo Family. Sater agreed to co-operate with the government and his Indictment was placed “Under Seal,” which kept the charges against him a secret. At her Confirmation Hearings for Attorney General in 2015, Loretta Lynch, who, when U. S. Attorney in Brooklyn oversaw Weissmann and his case against Sater, praised Sater's work for the government. 2 years after Sater's secret work for the Feds began, Indictments were issued for 19 people who were part of the pump and dump scam that netter over $40 million. Among those were Daniel Persico, nephew of Colombo Godfather Carmine Persico, and Edward Garafola, Sammy Gravano's brother-in-law.
Some observers believe it was no accident that Felix Sater then went into business with Donald Trump through a company called Bayrock Group, which included development of the controversial Trump Soho Hotel and Condominium. Was Felix Sater just a “business partner” of the Trump organization, an FBI Spy, or an FBI “Agent Provocateur?”
Some also believe it was no accident when at an airport runway in Arizona Attorney General Loretta Lynch ran into the husband of a woman her office was investigating for mishandling classified information via the use of her private email service. Lynch claimed that she and former President Bill Clinton did not discuss that case, and instead talked about their grandchildren. 8 days later, FBI Director James Comey announced that no charges would be filed against Hillary Clinton, calling her actions “extremely careless.” Those two words had been changed from the original “grossly negligent,” an action which is prosecutable, by FBI Agent Peter Strzok.
In 1961, the FBI hired and protected drug dealer and contract killer Greg Scarpa as an FBI Informant. 35 years would pass before Journalist Fredric Dannen's landmark report on this case. In 1967 the FBI hired and protected drug dealer and contract killer Joseph Barboza as an FBI Informant. 36 years would pass before Congressman Dan Burton of the House Government Reform Committee would offer a public apology to 2 men still living who were wrongly convicted of murder by the Perjured testimony of Barboza. This hearing was made possible by the reporting on this case by radio journalist Dan Rea. In 1975 the FBI hired and protected drug dealer and contract killer Whitey Bulger as an FBI Informant. In 1994, an FBI Agent tipped off Bulger of his impending arrest by Agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration. That same FBI Agent would be later convicted of murder. 16 years would pass before Bulger was arrested and brought to Justice. This case was publicized by radio journalist Howie Carr and Boston Globe reporters Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill, among others. The House Government Reform Committee also investigated this case.
In 1993, the FBI hired and protected drug dealer and contract killer Salvatore Miciotta as an FBI Informant. 25 years have now passed since Miciotta framed Detective Joe Simone for crimes he did not commit. Simone supporters have the right to know the answers to a few simple questions: “What did Federal employees in Brooklyn know about the crimes being committed by Miciotta while working for the FBI, and when did they know it? “What did they do about it?” More importantly: “What did they NOT do about it?”
Despite reports by this reporter, Analysts Stephen Dresch and Angela Clemente, no Congressional Committee has fully investigated the relationship between Sal Miciotta and the FBI, nor Greg Scarpa and the FBI.
How much longer must the family and friends of the late NYPD Detective Joe Simone wait for his full Vindication?
Sourcing for this Feature story include interviews with Detective Joe Simone which began in 1994.
Sourcing also includes interviews with Angela Clemente.
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