Feature Articles

November 2007

License to Kill:

Greg Scarpa and the FBI

By J. R. de Szigethy

Part Six: The "Mistress of Manipulation"
* * *

     The murder case of retired FBI agent Lindley DeVecchio has been rocked from it�s outset by one shocking development after another; thus, it was no surprise to anyone following this saga when the ultimate shocking development occurred; the dismissal of the case by Brooklyn Judge Gustin Reichbach. From the beginning, both Prosecutors and Defense attorneys agreed on one thing; that the case hinged on the testimony - and credibility - of one person, that being Linda Schiro, the Mistress of FBI Informant/Colombo Family hitman Greg Scarpa Sr.

     The investigation by the Brooklyn District Attorney�s office began after two Forensic Intelligence Analysts, Dr. Stephen Dresch and Angela Clemente, turned over their findings after investigating for several years the case of Scarpa and his FBI handler agent DeVecchio. The two interviewed dozens of witnesses, most of them members of the law enforcement community, in addition to the painstaking review of thousands of documents, most of them relating to the Colombo Family war that raged from 1989 to 1992. However, the one person NOT interviewed was Linda Schiro. Clemente has stated she never met with, spoke to, or e-mailed Ms. Schiro. (Nor, for the record, has this reporter.)

     The Brooklyn D. A.�s investigators, however, did speak with Ms. Schiro, who linked through her allegations agent DeVecchio to four murders that Scarpa had committed. Schiro�s Grand Jury testimony was key to the indictments handed down against DeVecchio. From the beginning, DeVecchio�s attorneys insisted that Schiro had concocted her allegations in order to obtain a �book deal� on her life with one of the most prolific murderers in the history of the American Mafia. After numerous legal maneuverings and delays, the trial finally proceeded in mid-October, a year and a half after DeVecchio�s indictment.

     The trial began with the testimony of FBI agents who worked with DeVecchio during the Colombo Family war who were convinced that DeVecchio was leaking secret, confidential law enforcement information to his Informant Scarpa. Next came mob associates Carmine Sessa and Larry Mazza, neither of which could pin definitive evidence on DeVecchio in relation to the four murders he was charged with.

     Then came the woman everyone had been waiting for, Linda Schiro. Schiro�s testimony started out as a blockbuster, confirming reports that she had accompanied Scarpa to Mississippi in 1964 when FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover ordered the New York office to send hitman Scarpa to solve the case of three missing civil rights activists murdered by the Ku Klux Klan. Scarpa solved the case by threatening to murder a witness who knew where the bodies were buried. From that moment on, Scarpa was protected by the FBI for decades in his life of crime, indeed possessing a �license to kill.�

     However, as information about Schiro began to emerge in Court proceedings, a disturbing picture was formed of a woman who used her beauty and sexual prowess to manipulate those men in her life whom possessed whatever young Linda desired. Linda was just a teenager when she embarked one night on an excursion to a Brooklyn nightclub, where she eyed the dangerous hitman Greg Scarpa. Linda asked Scarpa to dance and spent the rest of the evening turning on her considerable charms. When Scarpa asked for her phone number she declined to give it, demanding instead his own, which he turned over, despite the fact that he was married.

     Scarpa�s lust for murder was equaled by his lust for Linda. The two soon became lovers, but Linda wanted more; she wanted Scarpa�s children, and since he couldn�t divorce his wife, young Linda found another man to victimize by the name of Charlie Schiro. Linda married Mr. Schiro, taking his name, and producing two children with his surname before the he realized those children were not his. This would not be the last time that Linda Schiro created a �love triangle� with herself comfortably in the middle.

     By 1979, after living with Greg Scarpa for over a decade, the manipulative Linda was ready for a new love triangle, this time drawing into her web a young man who knocked on her front door one day to deliver groceries. Linda invited the young man, Larry Mazza, into her home and the two began a passionate love affair that lasted several years. One day Larry knocked on the door and Greg Scarpa answered, who also invited him into their home. Soon, Scarpa was seducing young Larry into becoming a "made" member of the Colombo Family, which meant he would, among other things, have to commit at least one murder. Mazza committed several murders with Scarpa before his mentor known as "The Grim Reaper" died of AIDS in 1994.

     Recalling her life with Scarpa on the Witness stand, Linda Schiro admitted she was fascinated by Scarpa�s "work" - Mob talk for Mafia murder - as a Mafia hitman, the death toll being around 20 at the time the two first hooked up. Larry Mazza would testify that Scarpa told him he stopped counting at 50 the numbers of men - and women - he had murdered. In latter years, Scarpa, known also as the "Killing Machine" would signal to his associates that he had accomplished another murder by sending the message �666� to their beepers. One Mafia associate was murdered, apparently for no other reason than that he had become a �born-again Christian.�

     One reporter covering the trial who found Schiro�s testimony disturbing was the Village Voice�s Tom Robbins. Robbins had observed as Schiro had on the Witness stand implicated DeVecchio in all four of the murders he was accused of. However, a decade earlier, Robbins, then at the Daily News, and his fellow reporter Jerry Capeci, had interviewed Schiro, who was trying to get a �book deal� on her life with the Mob. Schiro, however, during that interview, had only implicated DeVecchio in one of the murders and had explicitly excluded the agent from the other three. Clearly, Schiro was either lying then to Robbins and Capeci, or she had lied on the Witness stand in a case that could send the Defendant to prison for the rest of his life. Robbins was then faced with a dilemma; break the sacred journalistic vow of protecting a source�s confidential interview, or remain silent at the risk of a man being convicted on the basis of testimony that was possible Perjury.

     Journalists on occasion are faced with just such a dilemma. One notable example involved the case of Jeffrey MacDonald, an Army physician accused of the 1970 murders of his wife and two young daughters. While facing prosecution, MacDonald sought out best-selling author Joe McGinniss, protesting his innocence. The two then entered into a book deal on his case. However, as McGinniss continued his investigation, he concluded that MacDonald was in fact guilty, the evidence being that MacDonald had been abusing the drug crystal meth, then as now associated with side effects which include impulses upon it�s users to commit brutal and senseless murders. McGinniss proceeded to publish his book, �Fatal Vision,� which became a best-seller which was adapted into a television mini-series. Despite his eventual conviction and incarceration, MacDonald successfully sued McGinniss over breach of contract regarding their book deal.

     Although Tom Robbins never entered into an official book deal with Linda Schiro, his discussions with her regarding a potential book deal were cloaked in the privilege and confidentiality rules of journalism that are the very tenants of his profession, the defense of which many reporters have endured jail terms in order to maintain. Thus, with great reluctance, Tom Robbins concluded that his protection of his conversations with Linda Schiro were negated by her sworn testimony in Court in which her statements were at odds with the statements she made to Robbins a decade earlier. At that point Robbins reviewed his tape-recorded conversations with Linda Schiro and published his account "Tall Tales of a Mafia Mistress" on the Village Voice�s website. The next morning came the moment of reckoning in Brooklyn State Court, when both the Prosecution and the Defense subpoenaed Robbins� tapes. Judge Gustin Reichbach ordered a Court-appointed attorney to immediately consult with Ms. Schiro regarding her potential prosecution for Perjury and Court was adjourned until the next day. However, this reporter couldn�t help but notice a telling action on the part of Prosecutor Vecchione as the proceedings were concluding; Vecchione slowly, methodically, and neatly bound his prosecution files by tying them together with the cords on his accordion file into a simple yet secure bow. It appeared to this reporter that by his simple gesture Vecchione was �closing the books� on this case. The next morning, having heard the tapes that completely destroyed the credibility of his key witness, Vecchione asked Judge Reichbach to dismiss all charges against agent DeVecchio.

     Judge Reichbach did just that, noting that Schiro was the only witness who linked DeVecchio to the charged crimes. However, Judge Reichbach took the opportunity to first praise the courage of the FBI agents who testified against DeVecchio and then blasted the FBI in general for it�s long and disturbing association with Mafia murderers such as "The Grim Reaper" Greg Scarpa.


     If indeed Greg Scarpa Sr. murdered over 50 men and women during his "work" as a Mafia hitman and FBI Informant, the list of all of the names of those victims will probably never be compiled. Scarpa should also be held morally responsible for the murder of his own son, Joey Schiro, who was set up in drug trafficking by his father and was subsequently murdered by rival drug dealers.

     Linda Schiro also leaves behind a list of victims; men she seduced with her looks, her charms, her sexual prowess, or, in later years when those assets had faded, her suspect stories of life as a Mob Mistress. Thus, the list of the victims of Linda Schiro includes her husband, Charlie Schiro, her lover Greg Scarpa, her lover turned Mafia hitman, Larry Mazza, and, two men who may be her final victims, former FBI agent Lindley DeVecchio and Brooklyn Prosecutor Michael Vecchione.

Related Features by this author:

License to Kill: Greg Scarpa and the FBI
Part Five: Giuliani and the G-Man

License to Kill: Greg Scarpa and the FBI
Part Four: No Jury for Agent DeVecchio

License to Kill: Greg Scarpa and the FBI
Part Three: A Troubled Prosecution

License to Kill: Greg Scarpa and the FBI
Part Two: Gangsters With Badges

License to Kill: Greg Scarpa and the FBI
Part One: Reversal of Fortune

Mob War! Part Three: Mob Murders Investigations Continue


J. R. de Szigethy can be reached at: .

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