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March 9, 2006
Murder Indictment Of FBI Agent Could Jeopardize Mob Convictions

The New York Sun reports the stunning news that an FBI agent whose investigations led to the convictions of several key Mafia figures may be indicted on murder charges. R. Lindley DeVecchio faces prosecution for passing information along to his contacts in the mob that fingered other informants, leading to their execution, including one woman:

In a case with stunning implications for both law enforcement and some convicted gangsters, prosecutors have decided to seek murder charges against a former mob-busting FBI agent for involvement in at least three Brooklyn Mafia hits between 1984 and 1992, Gang Land has learned.

The Brooklyn district attorney's office has concluded a six-month probe of the scandalous allegations against R. Lindley DeVecchio and will soon ask a grand jury to vote on murder charges against the retired agent, sources said. The move could come as early as today.

According to evidence before the panel, Mr. DeVecchio had no role in the actual slayings but passed along information to his longtime top echelon informer, Colombo capo Gregory Scarpa, knowing that the murderous mobster would use the details to kill his victims, sources said. ...

Victim no. 1 of the ex-G-man's alleged treachery was a beautiful 5-foot, 2-inch brunette named Mary Bari who often hung out with wiseguys. Bari was killed on September 24, 1984, when, according to court records, Scarpa shot her three times in the head as his son, Gregory Jr., held her down on the floor of a Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, social club.

Sources said Scarpa acted after Mr. DeVecchio alerted him that the "dropdead gorgeous" gun moll, who had once dated a Colombo family consigliere, was also a paid informant for the FBI. Mr. DeVecchio had become Scarpa's control agent four years earlier, in 1980, when the agent renewed the gangster's informer status five years after he had been closed. Before that, according to FBI records, Scarpa was an active paid informer between 1962 and 1975, although sources said he began working as a snitch in the late 1950s. He died in 1994.

If the state can substantiate these charges -- and apparently they have pressed for this indictment -- then the FBI will have a major problem on its hands. DeVecchio worked on several major mob cases against the Colombo family in particular. Any evidence associated with his work could be called into question, as the defense would certainly have used this information to cast doubt on his fairness and objectivity. If he took an accessory role in mob hits, then not only is he a murderer by association, but any defense attorney would argue that he would have been very subjective about who got investigated, which evidence got produced, and how his testimony affected his own interests.

At a minimum, we can expect a new round of federal appeals on all of these cases, and if the charges are substantiated, we can also expect the appellate courts to order new trials for any case in which DeVecchio had a significant role. That would probably force the DoJ to completely re-prosecute the spectacularly successful RICO cases of the 1980s and 1990s. It would also call into question the effective strategy of the FBI in infiltrating the Mafia to get the evidence necessary to shut it down. The corrupting influence of the effort could wind up outweighing its obvious benefits.

Let's hope that DeVecchio stayed clean and that the evidence shows that to be the case. If not, we may wind up with a mob nightmare on our hands once again.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 9, 2006 7:00 AM

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