FBI's Deal with Scarpa: Who Got Better Bargain?

From US News and World Report:

Confidential informants give law enforcement and intelligence agencies insight into notoriously impenetrable organizations. But what is the cost of that access? In "Deal with the Devil: The FBI's Secret Thirty-Year Relationship with a Mafia Killer," investigative reporter and former ABC correspondent Peter Lance exposes the questionable alliance between the bureau and Gregory Scarpa Sr., dubbed the "Grim Reaper."

Using thousands of pages of previously secret law enforcement documents [Ed. note: Angela Clemente, forensic investigator, got these documents herself via the FOIA; I don't believe she is fairly credited for this act], Lance exposes the extent of Scarpa's crimes and the FBI's protection of him. Lance recently spoke to U.S. News about Scarpa's career, why the bureau protected both Scarpa and his FBI handler, and the consequences of that relationship. Excerpts:

How bad was this character, Gregory Scarpa Sr.?

He was the most vicious killer in the history of La Cosa Nostra [the Mafia]. I'll give you a quick rap sheet on him. He had a $70,000-a-week drug operation; he was the largest trafficker of stolen credit cards in the New York tri-state area. He had an international auto theft ring. He had about $2.5 million on the street as a loan shark. He had a bank robbery crew that would steal up to $13 million on a given weekend, and he was an epic hijacker. He stole like 1,000 cases of Cutty Sark [whisky]; he stole gold bullion and precious jewels. He trafficked negotiable bonds with half-million-dollar face values. He counterfeited stocks certificates. So he was a Medellin cartel-level earner, and he told his killing partner Larry Mazza that he stopped counting after 50 murders.

Did he serve time in prison?

No, he did 30 days in over 40 years of murder and racketeering, largely because he was protected by the [FBI]. As early as 1960 he was opened as an informant and then briefly closed, and then by 1962, a year and half before [Mafioso turncoat] Joe Valachi sang to the [McClellan Committee Senate hearings on organized crime], Scarpa was opened as a top-echelon criminal informant, and all of his debriefing memos went directly to [FBI Director] J. Edgar Hoover and every director up to Louis Freeh, who came in when Scarpa was closed. So the brass in Washington had some idea of who he was, but they had no idea, frankly, of how hyperviolent he was. I documented 26 separate homicides from 1980 to 1992.

Was the information the FBI got from Scarpa worth keeping him on the streets?

Well, that's the argument of [former FBI agent] Lindley DeVecchio, Scarpa's last contacting agent. In his book "We're Going to Win This Thing," DeVecchio calls it the championship season because Scarpa did provide much of the probable cause for the Title III wiretaps, which resulted in the conviction of Carmine Persico from the Colombos, Tony Corallo of the Lucchese family, and Tony Salerno of the Genovese family. So the feds would argue that the deal with the devil was worth it. When you consider the entirety of murder and mayhem – the number of people he killed and the amount of money he made (in fact, I calculated he was paid over $1 million in 2013 dollars in taxpayer money), the question is: Was it worth it? In my opinion, absolutely not. There's no doubt that Gregory Scarpa Sr., the killing machine, got the benefit of the deal with the devil.

Are there parallels between Scarpa and the Whitey Bulger case recently in the news?

Absolutely, although this is the Whitey Bulger story on steroids. Whitey was convicted a few weeks ago of 11 murders that were a result of intelligence leaked to him by John Connolly, his contacting agent. Connolly is doing life, and Bulger is going to do life. When [Scarpa's contact agent] DeVecchio was indicted for four counts of homicide in 2006, the feds went out of their way to protect him. The thought was if DeVecchio gets convicted, then those cases related to the Colombo [family] war, perhaps even the Mafia commission cases, will unravel. They protected him at all costs.


  1. I if not mistaken, the FBI has changed it's policy on letting informants commit crimes while cooperating with them. For example, Reynald Marangi had a deal but blew it.At the time, I think they thought the information he provided was so valuable to them that they just looked the other way. Also he was thinning the herd for them so to speak. My problem with that is that innocent people on the fringes of mob activity wound up severely injured or dead. That, to me, is bad practice, illegal, and inexcusable. They should have at least kept a tight leash on him.

  2. I am going to look into Marangi for a story - please email me anon9/17 if you have more info for me

  3. Anon 9/17,
    He admitted to the Feds that he accepted $48,500 in loan shark payments while he was working for them. He would shut off his wristwatch wire while meeting with other mob members he was supposed to record so he could conduct business and/or pass along messages/ information to them. Prosecutors and agents decided he was a liability and "fired" him. He is one of the reasons Tommy Shots beat 6 murder indictments.

  4. Ed,
    Not to mention...he filed paperwork trying to get the 48 grand back from the feds after giving it to them eventualy. He also was giving Tommy Shots wife $600/ week as a stipend...this money coming from extortion rakets he ran while working for them. He is a double crosser for sure. Once his wife found out he was cooperating with the feds, she left him and wants the bond money back she put up.

  5. Marangi I assumreyou are referring to...

  6. Yes. The point I'm trying to make is that the government has set the bar very high for their informants...not to conduct any type of illegal activity while working for them( since the Scarpa days). On the other hand anyone who is pinched and makes bail is assumed to possibly be an active snitch...since those guys don't really trust anyone but themselves. Also they must make the appearance that they are still part of the family and are required to conduct business as usual or else they run the risk of raising suspicion among other members and the boss. Ultimately no one cooperates because its the right thing to do but, to save their own skin and protect their families from retribution. It's a tough spot to be in but I question Marangi's overall character and trustworthiness no matter what side your on. Everyone I think has figuered this out...and he's paying for it. Hector Pagan is another douche bag...and the list goes on and on. What ever happened to keeping your mouth shut? living and dying by the sword?

  7. I'm desperately looking for any write ups/ stories on the recent passing of Joseph " Joe Saunders" Cammarano at a federal medical facility as reported by Jerry Capeci...can't find anything in the NYC papers. Have any ideas? He was stand up and goes way back in the Bonnano family. Interesting history about him and the guys he ran with.

  8. Greg scarpa was a ruthless killer and a rat that was working for the Feds for 40 years of his life. He watched his wife big linda get fucked by other men. His daughter little linda follows in her mothers foot steps. Mother like daughter. / little linda shop lifts food and clothes in stores. She too is a low life like her father. Linda, you will never be a mob wives. Carla will slap you in your face again. All linda scarpa does is talk shit on people. She is a lowlife. The apple don't fall far from the tree.


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