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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Trial Date Set in DeVecchio Trial

From the Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

Federal Agent Charged with Aiding Four Mob Murders
By Charles Sweeney
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

JAY STREET — In a case that reaches into the upper echelons of the FBI, a trial date has finally been set in the murder case against retired agent Lindley DeVecchio — charged with helping a well-known organized crime figure and FBI informant commit at least four murders.

The informant, Gregory “Grim Reaper” Scarpa Sr., was a member of the Colombo crime family, one of the most notorious criminal organizations in the country.

Just over a year after his indictment on four counts of murder, former supervisory agent DeVecchio will finally face trial on Sept. 10, according to state Supreme Court Justice Gustin Reichbach, who set the date during a hearing at Brooklyn Supreme Court on Friday.

DeVecchio is charged with providing Scarpa, and other members of the Colombo family, with information that led directly to at least four murders.

One More Hearing
Before DeVecchio’s trial, defense attorneys will try to have some of the prosecution’s evidence tossed out at a pre-trial hearing set for August 8.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Vecchione, head of the rackets bureau, said the purpose of the hearing is “to determine whether any information was gleaned in various testimony at hearings in which he [DeVecchio] was immunized.”

Vecchione characterized the hearing, which was requested by DeVecchio’s defense attorney Douglas Grover, as “inside baseball,” revolving around arcane legal issues regarding special rules of evidence. The hearing will determine if prosecutors are using any of DeVecchio’s own statements against him, statements he might have made at various federal proceedings for which he had been granted immunity.

Vecchione expressed confidence that the outcome of the hearing would not affect the case against the rogue agent, whose betrayal he has characterized as “one of the worst cases of law enforcement corruption in the history of this country.” Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes called the DeVecchio case “the most stunning example of corruption that I have ever seen.”

Murderous Informant
During his 33-year career as a supervisory agent, DeVecchio was charged with “handling” Scarpa, with whom he had a 15-year relationship as an informant.

Scarpa’s FBI connection traces back to the years when J. Edgar Hoover ran the bureau. His recruitment as an informant came during the FBI’s investigation into the slayings of three civil rights workers in Mississippi in 1964.

DeVecchio is also charged in connection with the murder of Scarpa’s one-time girlfriend, Mary Bari. In September 1984, DeVecchio learned Bari had become an FBI informant. After DeVecchio alerted Scarpa to his girlfriend’s betrayal, Bari was then lured to a Brooklyn nightclub where she was shot to death.

Prosecutors also allege DeVecchio was instrumental in the murder of Patrick Porco, an 18-year-old friend of Scarpa’s son who had witnessed a mob-related murder on a Brooklyn street. After learning Porco had become a cooperating witness in the murder investigation, DeVecchio relayed the information to Scarpa Sr., who then arranged for Porco’s murder.

Two other mobsters were rubbed out based on information DeVecchio allegedly provided to Scarpa, including Joseph Brewster, who was murdered in 1987, after DeVecchio provided Scarpa with information that he was a mob turncoat.

In 1992, DeVecchio allegedly set up mobster Lawrence Lampesi, who became one of Scarpa’s victims during the bloody war for control of the Colombo family after the arrest and imprisonment of boss Carmine Persico.

Defense attorney Grover maintains that an internal FBI probe back in the mid-1990s exonerated DeVecchio, clearing him of any wrongdoing. Transcripts of interviews of Scarpa’s wife by FBI investigators looking into charges of wrongdoing by DeVecchio reveal that she claimed no knowledge of any incriminating details about meetings between the two.

After Scarpa’s prison death from AIDS, Scarpa’s wife, Linda Schiro, changed her tune and took her story to a literary agent in the form of a book proposal that revealed the extent of DeVecchio’s input into various mob rub-outs.

The literary agent got in touch with private investigator Angela Clemente, who had connections with well-known forensic investigator Stephen Dresh. After reviewing the material Clemente presented him, Dresh told the Eagle before his death from cancer last year that he recommended the pair take their findings to a county district attorney.

When presented with Clemente’s findings, Vecchione expressed an immediate interest in the case. After an intensive six-month investigation, a Brooklyn grand jury in March 2006 handed up a sealed indictment charging DeVecchio with four counts of second-degree murder.