ABC news correspondent Lance (Triple Cross: How bin Laden's Master Spy Penetrated the CIA, the Green Berets, and the FBI, 2009) delivers an exhaustive examination into the life and crimes of Mafia capo Gregory Scarpa Sr. and his questionable decadeslong relationship with the FBI.
The author reveals that Scarpa, a notoriously violent killer, received tens of thousands of dollars from the FBI for feeding them information that would help indict several of his rival gangsters. Yet despite his claims that he had killed more than 50 people, Scarpa never spent more than 30 days in jail. In addition, writes Lance, Scarpa was known to J. Edgar Hoover and was recruited to assist the Feds when their methods failed—most notably, in the “interrogation” of a Mississippi Ku Klux Klan member who was involved in the murder of three civil rights workers in 1964. But Lance is most interested in the relationship that developed between Scarpa and his handler, Agent Lindley DeVecchio. He asserts that over many years, DeVecchio supplied classified information to Scarpa, which in turn led to the deaths of several of Scarpa’s adversaries. DeVecchio was eventually indicted on multiple counts of murder, although the case was dropped before the trial concluded. Lance delves into the details of the trial through newly released court records to prove DeVecchio’s involvement in Scarpa’s nefarious activities. The book is extensively researched, using personal interviews, letters, court documents and declassified FBI files. At more than 600 pages, it could use some editing, however, especially toward the end, when Lance attempts to connect the story of Scarpa and DeVecchio to larger issues of international terrorism.
It’s often difficult—if not downright overwhelming—to keep track of the many players in this story, but aficionados of Mafia history and those concerned with FBI corruption will find this thorough investigation satisfying.