Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Former FBI agent calls informant who helped convict mafia leaders a friend

A former FBI agent says he considered his star Mafia informant a friend and did not investigate when this informant let him know he had killed a rival mobster. Lin DeVecchio, who once headed the FBI's Bonanno and Colombo anti-crime squads in New York, makes these revelations in an interview with CNN'sAnderson Cooper.
The story offers a rare look into the relationship between law enforcement and informants and will be broadcast on "60 Minutes" this Sunday, May 22 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
DeVecchio says that his top echelon informant, Greg Scarpa, a made member of the Colombo crime family, provided valuable information that helped investigators in the famous Commission case that took down some of the Mafia's top leaders. But DeVecchio's handling of Scarpa - who was so deadly he was known on the street as "The Grim Reaper" - became the center of a major scandal. DeVecchio was charged with murder by the Brooklyn district attorney in 2006, but a key witness in the case was discredited and the charges against DeVecchio were dismissed.
DeVecchio has just published a book called "We're Going to Win This Thing," in which he argues he was wrongly accused and unfairly maligned.
In his interview with Cooper, DeVecchio says that he and Scarpa were friends. "His career and his life and his milieu that he worked in was so different than mine, that it was fascinating to me to learn about that,'' he says. "I liked the guy...I'm not ashamed of that. [It] doesn't mean I condone what he did," DeVecchio tells Cooper. "It was a friendship, absolutely."

DeVecchio also tells Cooper that during one of their meetings Scarpa let him know that he had killed another mobster. "There was a body found in Brooklyn one day. I said 'Who did the work?'"
DeVecchio recalls asking Scarpa. "And he smiled. That smile told me he did it," says DeVecchio. "He gave me that knowing look, like, 'I did it. You know I did it and I'm telling you I did it but I'm not telling you I did it in words.'" Cooper asks DeVecchio if that was something he would follow up on and investigate.
DeVecchio replies: "No...I mean, as callous as that may sound, the person was dead. It's not going to bring him back."
Ellen Corcella, a former federal prosecutor who worked with DeVecchio's unit, believes knowing that kind of information and not acting on it is unethical. She says agents are supposed to shut down their informants and start investigating them if they know the informants are actively committing murder.
"When is it valuable enough information that you let people continue to kill other people on the street?" asks Corcella. "It became more valuable to him to have this informant on the street than it was to pursue other law enforcement goals."
Cooper asks DeVecchio whether he thinks he came close to crossing the line in his handling of Scarpa. "Yeah, sure. I got close to it. I freely admit that," says DeVecchio. But he argues that was his job: "I got close to members of organized crime so we can eliminate them," he tells Cooper.



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