TOO TOUGH TO DIE: Down and Dangerous with the U.S. Marshals by Robert Sabbag

TOO TOUGH TO DIE: Down and Dangerous with the U.S. Marshals

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Informative but overworked account of the modern-day United States Marshals Service, by Sabbag (Snowblind, 1990--not reviewed). Established in 1789, the Marshals, Sabbag tells us, were mandated to handle prisoners, serve the legal process, and keep order in the federal courts. Their mission has since expanded to include capturing federal fugitives and conducting the Federal Witness Protection Program. This little-understood program, involving lifetime identity changes for the protected, is extensively covered here, although Sabbag fragments his description across three chapters and mixes in biographies of various deputy marshals and other, nonwitness, cases they recall. A deputy, we learn, may be assigned to a witness's family as his permanent duty, which may last for years. Also, protected witnesses who commit crimes are not immune from prison: They are guaranteed only security, even if it means doing an entire sentence in lock-down. Sabbag has interesting cases to relate but affects a grandiloquent style that strangles his action-oriented accounts: Agents chasing a fugitive kick open a door--and the event takes the author a paragraph to tell: ""Oboyski opened the door with his foot and a unit of energy equivalent to what was later determined to be some function of his 235 pounds multiplied by the speed of light squared...,"" etc. More interesting are sketches of stings in which marshals make counterfeit promotional mailings to last-known addresses of fugitives, offering gifts to be claimed in person. In one sting, 96 felons are nailed when they show up to claim tickets to a Washington Redskins football game. There's much fresh material here, but it needs to be teased out from a difficult text.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1992
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster