Mob mistress Linda Schiro captivated a packed courtroom in Brooklyn today with her testimony that an FBI agent regularly supplied her gangster boyfriend with information that was used to kill people.
The 62-year-old prosecution witness, a longtime belle of deceased Colombo crime family captain Gregory "The Grim Reaper" Scarpa Sr., described three decades of sitting in on mob meetings where murders and other crimes were plotted and discussed.
Schiro also testified that Scarpa, a government informant, supplied his FBI handler Lindley DeVecchio with wads of cash, jewelry, and other gifts at twice-weekly meetings at her home.
Sitting in the kitchen at two of her homes in the Bensonhurst neighborhood of Brooklyn, DeVecchio either gave his approval or assisted Scarpa with information that was used by the mobster to kill four people, according to Schiro.
Schiro also gave her own version of the notorious story that Scarpa was paid by the FBI to coerce a Ku Klux Klansman into revealing the burial site of three slain civil rights workers in 1964. According to Schiro's testimony, she and Scarpa flew down to Mississippi, where an FBI agent handed an inch-thick wad of money and a gun to the mobster. While she waited in their hotel room, Scarpa tracked down a Klansman who sold TVs and bought a set from him before sticking a gun in his mouth and getting him to reveal the location of the graves.
She described Scarpa's 30-year relationship with the bureau, including his meetings with a previous FBI handler, Anthony "Nino" Volano, during the 1970s. The relationship was a contentious one and Schiro claims that the mobster once punched a drunken Volano in the face and threw him out of his home.
Scarpa got along much better with his next FBI handler, according to Schiro.
On Sept. 25, 1984, Schiro says, DeVecchio was told by Scarpa that a fellow mobster's girlfriend might be ratting him out. The FBI agent responded with a smirk, "You know you have to take care of this or there'll be a problem," Schiro testified.
Mary Bari, the stunning mistress of Colombo family underboss Alphone (Ally Boy) Persico, was lured to a job interview at a bar, where she was shot and killed by Scarpa. Her body was dumped in the street close to Schiro's home, to the consternation of Schiro.
Soon after, DeVecchio dropped by the house and told Scarpa with a laugh, "Why didn't you just bring the bodies to the house, it was only two blocks away?"
Two years later in March 1986, Scarpa told DeVecchio that one of his crew, Dominic "Joey Brewster" DeDomenico, was committing burglaries unsanctioned by the mob, abusing drugs and becoming a born-again Christian, and asked him to find out more information, according to Schiro.
She testified that DeVecchio came back and told Scarpa that he was right about DeDomenico doing drugs, telling him, "You gotta take care of this guy before he starts talking. We can't keep a guy around like that or he'll end up talking. We gotta take care of this."
The following year, DeDomenico was shot and killed by Scarpa's son, Gregory Scarpa Jr., according to the father's account.
In late May 1990, DeVecchio told Scarpa that Schiro's son Joey was about to be ratted on by Joey's close friend Patrick Porco, according to Schiro. When Joey disputed the allegation, Scarpa told him, "Where this came from, Joey, it's high up."
On Memorial Day, Porco was found shot dead -- once in the mouth, a mark that signified him as a rat.
When Schiro's son found out about the murder, he broke down in tears and mourned for days, she said. Scarpa told DeVecchio about the teenager's reaction, prompting the FBI agent to quip, "Better he cries now than he goes to jail."
On May 22, 1992, Schiro said, an enraged Scarpa told DeVecchio about a fellow mobster who was starting rumors that Scarpa was an informer. "I need you to find out exactly where he lives and what time he leaves in the morning," Scarpa demanded, according to Schiro.
DeVecchio responded, "I'll take care of it," and soon brought the mobster a slip of paper listing the address and morning routine of Lorenzo Lampasi, testified Schiro.
Lampasi was murdered in his driveway on May 22, 1992 at 4 a.m., the time that he left his home every morning.
At one of their next meetings, Scarpa told a smirking DeVecchio, "That was good information," according to Schiro.
Eventually, the FBI started to form its own suspicions about DeVecchio, who headed the bureau's task force on the Colombo crime family. Scarpa was arrested and thrown in jail, where he died of AIDS contracted from a blood transfusion.
And, as part of an internal investigation, the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility started to seek out Schiro to ask her questions about the DeVecchio-Scarpa relationship.
She said she immediately told DeVecchio and claims he responded, "You know, Linda, you don't have to talk to them, you can tell them to go f--- themselves."
Although she told investigators about some of Scarpa's gifts to DeVecchio -- including an antique brooch for the agent's mother, a Cabbage Patch doll for his daughter, a tray of eggplant parmesan and a bottle of wine -- she neglected to mention the murders out of loyalty to DeVecchio.
At the end of the afternoon, DeVecchio's team began their cross-examination, poking holes in Schiro's credibility.
Lawyer Douglas Grover questioned Schiro's claim that Scarpa had never been paid by the FBI except during his mission to Mississippi. He unveiled her 1998 affidavit to the grand jury in the trial of Scarpa's son, Gregory Scarpa Jr., in which she recounted that DeVecchio gave Scarpa "substantial payments" throughout 1980s.
Also, Grover questioned why Schiro had until today neglected to tell investigators about Scarpa's gift of a bottle of wine, even during her questioning by OPR investigators. Stammering in her defense, she recounted how she was asked whether she cooked lasagna for DeVecchio.
"Lasagna? No, I said it was eggplant parmesan. That's what I made good. Eggplant parmesan."