Former Fed Confirms Scarpa's Role in '60s Civil Rights Case

It's been confirmed. Gregory Scarpa, Sr. (May 8, 1928 – June 4, 1994), a fiercely loyal capo in the Colombo crime family and a top informant for the FBI nearly the entire time he was in the mob, did indeed help the Feds when he played a pivotal role in solving the 1960s murders of civil rights workers down in Mississippi.

So writes former FBI agent Lin DeVecchio in his ironically titled memoir, "We're Going to Win This Thing." He was the agent under fire for a time for supposedly giving too much information to Scarpa. When a key witness was discredited, the trial was tossed out -- by the D.A., not the judge. We will never know if he was guilty or not.

DeVecchio confirmed the role Scarpa played in finding the three murdered civil rights workers -- a historical moment in the Civil Rights movement on which the film "Mississippi Burning" was based.

"... I learned from a confidential source that in 1964 Top Echelon informant Greg Scarpa was enlisted in a Klan case... The FBI brought Greg Scarpa to the [Klan member involved in the murders considered most likely to turn]." Scarpa "blackjacked" him, and took him to remote cabin, where Scarpa "convinced him to cooperate by putting a gun in his mouth... giving him an option: 'Tell me the fucking truth or I will blow your brains out.'" The Klansman told the truth.

Known as "The Grim Reaper," Scarpa was Colombo boss Carmine Persico's chief enforcer, doling out the proverbial dirt nap to whoever defied the administration before dying of AIDS, contracted from a crew member during a blood transfusion.

In my post about junior hitman John Pappa, who also fought in the war on the same side as Scarpa, I wrote he'd be a great subject for a book or film; Scarpa would be an even better one.

Scarpa, in an interesting tie-in with what former Bonanno boss Joe Massino said on the witness stand during the Basciano trial, also said there was no formal Commission going back to the early 1990s; he said this was a key reason the Colombos went to war when "Little" Vic Orena tried to take over the family from jailed boss Persico. This also is in DeVecchio's book, a must-read for any true mafia aficionado.

Here is a clip from the Curtis Sliwa show in which Lin discusses the book.


  1. capeci broke this story in 93 in his gangland column. DeVecchio reveals the tip of the iceberg on FBI anti social, deviant and illegal behavior. In America law enforcement agencies do not pick sides, nor should they frame people

  2. Yep, Capeci broke it -- but the Feds had never confirmed it until May of 2011; Jerry is a true newshound and breaks just about every great mafia story.


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