Mob mistress won't face perjury rap

February 4, 2009 6:12:35 PM PST
A mob mistress suspected of lying on the witness stand last year at the murder trial of a former FBI agent will not face perjury charges, a special prosecutor concluded Wednesday. Linda Schiro had been the star witness against Lindley DeVecchio, testifying in Brooklyn that the ex-agent had a hand in four gangland murders. But a judge threw out the case in the middle of the trial after two reporters surfaced with a decade-old taped interview showing that back then Schiro implicated DeVecchio in only one murder.

Retired Judge Leslie Crocker Snyder, appointed to weigh possible charges against Schiro, found in a report that the tape "is not sufficient proof of perjury." Though the witness made conflicting statements, a full review of the case "does not yield sufficient proof of the falsity of her trial or grand jury testimony," she wrote.

In sparing Schiro, the special prosecutor also renewed questions about the relationship between Schiro's married boyfriend, gangster-turned-informant Gregory Scarpa, and DeVecchio, his FBI handler. She suggested in an addendum to her report that there still might be "probative evidence that the FBI ... knew that Scarpa was ordering, or committing, numerous murders and nevertheless allowed him to continue his status as a top echelon FBI informant."

DeVecchio and many of his retired colleagues have vehemently denied he leaked inside information to Scarpa, a ruthless mobster known as The Grim Reaper who died in prison in 1994. A Department of Justice internal investigation found no reason to prosecute DeVecchio, who retired to Florida in 1996.

But in March 2006, Brooklyn prosecutors announced DeVecchio's indictment on four murder counts, alleging Scarpa plied the agent with cash, jewelry, liquor and prostitutes in exchange for confidential information on suspected rats and rivals in the late 1980s and early '90s.

The trial reached its unexpected conclusion last fall after Schiro finished her first day of testimony and veteran reporter Tom Robbins came forward with recordings made in 1997, when he and fellow journalist Jerry Capeci interviewed her for a never-published book. Her account "was so disturbingly different, we couldn't sit on it," Robbins said at the time.

Prosecutors said they had no choice but to ask for a dismissal since Schiro was the lone direct link between DeVecchio and the murders.

State Supreme Court Justice Gustin Reichbach agreed but said the evidence showed the FBI had violated its own rules by turning a blind eye to Scarpa's deeds.

"In the face of the obvious menace posed by organized crime, the FBI was willing ... to make a deal with the devil," Reichbach said. "At best, the FBI engaged in a policy of self-deception, not wanting to know the true facts about this informant-murderer whom they chose to employ."

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