Judge in Aborted Mob Trial Strongly Criticizes FBI

The Brooklyn District Attorney's Office today withdrew its murder case against former FBI agent Lynn DeVecchio when it was learned that the mob moll, who was a key witness to the agent's alleged role in four hits, had told reporters on tape 10 years ago that the agent had not been involved in at least three of those hits.

But the judge who presided over the case harshly criticized the FBI in his decision for having worse ethics than the mob in using murderous mobster Gregory Scarpa as an informant even as he killed, lied to the government and continued a reign of terror and organized crime.

"I was particularly struck by the testimony of Carmine Sessa, former Consigliere of the Colombo family and multiple murderer, and who testified that when he and his fellow mobsters were discussing the possibility that Greg Scarpa was an FBI informant, they ultimately discounted the idea, reasoning that it was impossible...that it would be antinomic for the FBI, charged with fighting crime, to employ as an informer a murderer as vicious and prolific as Greg Scarpa. Apparently, and sadly, organized crime attributed to the FBI a greater sense of probity than the FBI in fact possessed," wrote State Supreme Court Justice Gustin Reichbach (pictured).

In his four-page decision, Reichbach noted that Scarpa, boss of the Colombo crime family, had over the years provided valuable information to the FBI, but "he also provided to the FBI information that was intentionally deceptive."

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The decision came one day after Tom Robbins, a reporter for the Village Voice weekly newspaper, came forward with tapes recording Linda Schiro, Scarpa's former girlfriend and a key government witness, that showed she had either lied on his tapes or under oath in court.

In yesterday's edition, the Daily Voice, the paper's online companion publication, reported, "In 1997, Robbins and Jerry Capeci, the city's most knowledgeable organized crime reporter, interviewed Linda Schiro, the former companion of Greg 'the Grim Reaper' Scarpa, for a book about her life with one of the mob's deadliest killers.

"In those interviews, Schiro contradicted testimony she gave over two days on the stand when she said DeVecchio had a hand in four mob murders. When she talked with Robbins and Capeci, she said that DeVecchio indeed did have a role in the murder of Patrick Porco, an 18-year-old slain in Brooklyn in 1990. But she told the reporters in 1997 that DeVecchio did not have a role in the three other murders."

As the Daily News put it, "The Tapes May Tell a Different Story." Robbins told the News, "The story that Linda Schiro told us in three of four of the murders is diametrically opposed to the testimony she is giving in court. She's lying to somebody."

In a front-page account in the New York Times today, Michael Brick and Anahad O'Connor reported:

"The lead prosecutor, Michael F. Vecchione, announced the decision to dismiss all charges this morning in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn, where Mr. DeVecchio, 67, was charged with helping a Mafia informer commit four murders in the 1980s and early 1990s. The trial, which began last month, was upended this week after a reporter revealed that he had taped interviews showing that the prosecution's main witness, Linda Schiro, a gangster's mistress, had given varying accounts and had damaged her credibility.

"'Had we been provided with these tapes much earlier in the process, I dare say we would not have been here,' Mr. Vecchione said as he stood before Justice Gustin L. Reichbach this morning. 'The interest of justice at this point requires me to stand before you and ask you on behalf of the district attorney to dismiss or accept the dismissal of this indictment.'"

Still, Reichbach damned the morals and methods of the FBI during the DeVecchio era:

"Not only did the FBI shield Scarpa from prosecution for his own crimes, they also actively recruited him to participate in crimes under their direction. That a thug like Scarpa would be employed by the federal government to beat witnesses and threaten them at gunpoint to obtain information regarding the deaths of civil rights workers in the south in the early 1960s is a shocking demonstration of the government's unacceptable willingness to employ criminality to fight crime. It is redolent of the current mindset of some in the government who argue that the practice of terror and torture can be freely employed against those the government claims are terrorists themselves: that it is permissible to make men scream in the name of national security. These are shortcuts that devalue legitimate police work, their yield is insignificant and the cost to the fundamental values they debase is enormous."

Read Judge Gustin Reichbach full decision.

The FBI said it had no immediate comment, but the agency expected to issue a full reply to the judge's remarks Friday.

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