Site Search

Entire (RSS)
Comments (RSS)

Archive Calendar

May 2022


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Special Report

Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman is’s Fed Of The Year For 2021

By Allan Lengel

Every year federal law enforcement agents and officers put their lives on the line.

Officer Eugene Goodman on Jan. 6 (Screenshot from video)

With that in mind, we can think of no better person to give the Fed of the Year Award for 2021 than Eugene Goodman, the veteran U.S. Capitol Police officer who faced an angry mob on his own in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and managed to lure the rioters away from the Senate chamber at great risk to himself. It’s the selflessness that represents the best in federal law enforcement.

It’s the first time since we began giving out the award in 2008 that it is going to a federal police officer rather than a federal agent or prosecutor.

Jan. 6 stands as a shameful stain on American history. But from that comes the pride many Americans feel for the heroics of Eugene Goodman. The U.S. Senate certainly felt that pride, adopting a resolution in February awarding Goodman the Congressional Gold Medal.

Previous recipients of the Fed of the Year Award include: Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald (2008):  Warren Bamford, who headed the Boston FBI (2009), Joseph Evans, regional director for the DEA’s North and Central Americas Region in Mexico City (2010);  Thomas Brandon, deputy Director of ATF (2011); FBI agent John G. Perren, who was assistant director of WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) Directorate (2012); David Bowdich, special agent in charge of counterterrorism in the Los Angeles FBI Field Office(2013);  Loretta Lynch, who was U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn at the time (2014); John “Jack” Riley,  the DEA’s acting deputy administrator (2015); D.C.  U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips (2016); Joe Rannazzisi, a retired DEA deputy assistant administrator (2017); Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (2018); DEA agent Joe Piersante (2019) and Geoffrey S. Berman, the ex-U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York (2020).

Book Excerpt: I Reported to the FBI in Detroit, Then Jimmy Hoffa Disappeared

The writer, an FBI agent for 31 years, retired as resident agent in charge of the Ann Arbor office in 2006. The following is the first chapter in his book, “FBI Case Files Michigan: Tales of a G-Man,” published by The History Press. It’ll be released Feb. 21 and can be pre-ordered or found at local bookstores June 21.  

By Greg Stejskal

New agent training is conducted at the FBI Academy, a sprawling complex located in the backwoods of the Quantico, Va., Marine Corps Base, about 40 miles south of Washington, D.C. My class’s new agent training was 14 weeks long, and at about the 12th week, we were told what our first office of assignment would be. Mine was Detroit—little did I know that it was to be my only office.

There was some trepidation, as neither my wife nor I had ever been to Detroit and didn’t know anyone there. Detroit is one of 56 field offices or divisions of the FBI in the United States, and Detroit Division’s territory covers the entire state. There are branch offices that are called resident agencies (RAs) spread across the state in Grand Rapids, Lansing, Flint, Ann Arbor, Marquette and several other cities.

My training ended in June 1975, and later that month, I reported to the Detroit field office. Not wanting to be late on my first day and being unfamiliar with Detroit, I got up extra early and drove to the office. I was in the office around 6 a.m. The only other people in the office were the night supervisor, an agent in charge of the night shift and a few support people.

Jimmy Hoffa and Frank Fitzsimmons in 1965 (Photo: Walter Reuther Library, WSU)

(There is a skeleton staff in field offices 24/7. This was more important before the advent of computers and cellphones.) The night supervisor was an old-timer who regaled me with stories from his career in the bureau.

Since I was about two hours early, I was able to have a long conversation with the night supervisor before going to the front office to officially report to the special agent in charge (SAC). Each field office has a SAC, except the exceptionally large offices that are run by assistant directors.

The SAC of the Detroit office was Neil Welch. Welch was notorious in the bureau. He was known for trying to maintain his field office’s independence from FBI headquarters (FBIHQ), and because of that, there were those at FBIHQ who viewed Welch as a rogue SAC. Welch’s investigative priority was organized crime (OC), which, at that time, meant the La Cosa Nostra (LCN) or Mafia. He established the first FBI surveillance squad that was primarily tasked with collecting intelligence on the Detroit Mafia “family” (more about that in chapter 4). Later, Welch was the assistant director in charge of the New York City field office. The NYC office prosecuted some major OC and public corruption cases under his leadership. (The Abdul Scam, or ABSCAM, case was one of his cases. The movie American Hustle was loosely based on the ABSCAM case.)

Welch was not known for his warm personality. When I was ushered into his office, he was reading the newspaper, and I am not sure he stopped reading to welcome me. He told me that because I was a new agent, I would be assigned to the fugitive squad. He did pay me what I took to be a compliment by saying that he hoped to have me work OC once I was more experienced.

The fugitive squad was a great learning ground. The investigations were relatively simple—tracking down fugitives. At that time, the FBI had broad authority to arrest various categories of fugitives who were wanted for violating federal laws. But some of the most interesting and challenging fugitives were those who the FBI called UFAPs (unlawful flight to avoid prosecution). These were fugitives who had been charged by a state for committing serious crimes and then believed to have fled that state to avoid prosecution.

National Case Arrives Quickly

Often, the UFAP fugitives had been charged with murder. (Chapter 3 contains a story about one such investigation.) I had been in Detroit for about a month when, on July 31, 1975, the FBI learned that Jimmy Hoffa (James Riddle Hoffa), former president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, had disappeared the day before. The disappearance immediately drew national attention. In investigations of this nature, there is usually a short window of opportunity. 

Greg Stejskal

All available Detroit agents, including me, were called in to aid in the investigation. Hoffa was last seen in the parking lot outside the Machus Red Fox restaurant, and his car was found there. The Machus Red Fox was in Bloomfield Township, a suburb in Oakland County, north of Detroit.

In what is termed a “neighborhood investigation,” the area in and  around the restaurant was flooded with agents trying to find witnesses who might have seen something. Agents talked to employees and customers at the restaurant. It was difficult to identify many of the early afternoon customers from July 30, as many had paid with cash. Some were known to the employees or had made reservations. (Credit card use was not as prevalent in 1975. I have often thought that we might have had more success had there been cellphone GPS data available or the now seemingly ubiquitous security camera–recorded images.)

Six people had seen Hoffa in the parking lot, and five of the six talked to him. Hoffa never intended to go into the restaurant, and he apparently did not. The restaurant required a jacket and tie, and Hoffa had not brought either with him. One witness saw Hoffa talking to three men in a car, and another witness saw him get into the backseat of the car. The car was described as a maroon Lincoln or Mercury, and the witnesses thought this activity occurred between 2:30 and 3 p.m.

It was also established that Hoffa had called home between 2:15 and 2:30 p.m. from a pay phone outside of a hardware store next to the restaurant and asked his wife, Josephine, if Tony Giacalone had called. He told his wife that he was supposed to meet Tony Giacalone at 2:00 p.m. but that he had not arrived. It was estimated that Hoffa had left the parking lot in someone else’s car between 2:50 p.m. Jimmy Hoffa (left) and his Teamster vice president, Frank Fitzsimmons, at a rally for striking
truck drivers in 1965.

 At Hoffa’s home, a note was found on his desk that read, “TG—230pm Wed 14 Mile Tel Fox Rest Maple Road.” (The time on the note was probably a mistake, as Hoffa told several people that the meeting was at 2:00 p.m.). A rudimentary timeline had been established, and we knew who set him up and why. What we did not have was any evidence of a murder, and there was no body. There’s a legal axiom that a murder cannot be proved without a body. That is not always true, but it almost always is.

After the initial investigation, it became a more traditional investigation, involving fewer agents interviewing Hoffa’s family, associates, friends, enemies and informants. A federal grand jury was used, and between September and December 1975, ninety-five individuals appeared before it.

Of these individuals, twenty-two exercised their Fifth Amendment privilege and refused to testify. The people who refused to testify were either known LCN members or Teamster officials—or both. The two original case agents were Robert “Bob” Garrity and James “Jim” Esposito, both seasoned OC
agents. They understood the dynamics of the relationship between the Teamsters and the Mafia and how it came to be.

Jimmy Hoffa was working as a truck driver in Detroit when, in 1931, he helped organize a strike of loading dock workers who off-loaded the trucks that delived produce to Kroger Grocery and Baking Co. in Detroit. Around that time, Hoffa joined the International Brotherhood of the Teamsters (a term originally used for wagon drivers). The Teamsters Union was established for truck drivers and other workers in the trucking industry.

After joining the Teamsters, Hoffa became an organizer for the union and began his meteoric rise within it. He became president of Teamsters Local 299 in Detroit. In 1957, Hoffa became the national president of the Teamsters and was primarily responsible for making it the most dominant
union in the country.

Hoffa and The Mob

Hoffa also developed a symbiotic relationship with the Mafia. Initially, the Mafia connection was concentrated in Detroit, but it involved nationwide activity. As an interconnected nationwide organization, the Mafia provided Hoffa and the Teamsters with muscle and entrance into various businesses, like construction and trash hauling. In return, Hoffa gave the Mafia access to the Teamsters’ large pension fund. The Mafia used this access to invest in casinos and hotels in Las Vegas, using front people so as not to disclose their involvement. These extremely profitable investments resulted in lucrative returns for both the Mafia and the Teamsters.

In addition to his questionable relationship with the Mafia, some of Hoffa’s other union-related activities were illegal. In 1967, Hoffa was sent to prison on federal charges of fraud, bribery and jury tampering. Hoffa was forced to cede the Teamsters presidency to his handpicked vice president, Frank Fitzsimmons. Even in prison, Hoffa retained his popularity with much of the Teamsters’ rank and file. He also continued to wield some control over union affairs. On his release from prison in 1972, Hoffa began a campaign to regain control of what he regarded as his union. But Frank Fitzsimmons did not want to step down. He had gained some autonomy by being elected as president in his own right while Hoffa was in prison; also, his Mafia sponsors were comfortable with having the much-more-malleable Fitzsimmons in charge.

As Hoffa’s frustration grew, he started making not-so-subtle threats that he would expose the Mafia-Teamsters financial relationship. It is suspected that Hoffa orchestrated the bombing of Fitzsimmons’s son’s car in the parking lot at Nemo’s Bar on July 10, 1975. Fitzsimmons and his son Richard were in Nemo’s when the car bomb exploded. Nemo’s was located a few blocks from the old Detroit Tiger’s stadium, and it was a few blocks farther from Teamsters Local 299, Hoffa’s and Fitzsimmons’s home local.

Nemo’s was a regular hangout for Teamsters officers. (Coincidentally, it was also frequented by FBI agents, especially on Fridays after work.)

If Hoffa was responsible for the bombing, it is not clear whether he intended to kill Fitzsimmons or just warn him. On July 26, Anthony “Tony” Giacalone and Vito “Billy Jack” Giacalone, both capos (short for caporegime, or captain) in the Detroit Mafia family, met with Hoffa at his residence in Lake Orion. Tony Giacalone was the primary Mafia liaison with the Teamsters. It is not known what was discussed at this meeting, but it presumably involved Hoffa’s desire to regain control of the Teamsters and the threats he had made.

Anthony Giacalone (left) and Vito Giacalone

Another meeting was scheduled for July 30. Hoffa believed he was to meet with Tony Giacalone—and possibly others—outside the Machus Red Fox. We know that Hoffa was there at the appointed time, but Tony Giacalone was not. Giacalone made a considerable effort to make sure people knew he was at the Southfield Athletic Club (several miles from the Machus) on the afternoon of July 30.

After Hoffa was seen getting into the backseat of a car in the restaurant parking lot, it is not known what happened to him. He was most likely killed and his body destroyed as quickly as possible. The Mafia was particularly good at making people disappear, but this was probably the most prominent,
well-known person they had ever eliminated. The probable motive for Hoffa’s murder was his threat to expose the Teamster-Mafia relationship.

The FBI’s investigation continued for years after Hoffa’s disappearance. In 1982, Hoffa was declared legally dead.

Although no one was ever charged with his murder and his body was never found, there is relative certainty about who was involved in the murder and why it happened.

Body Disposal

The Mafia was successful in eliminating a threat to their very lucrative relationship with the Teamsters and the union’s pension fund. The Mafia must have known that killing Hoffa would result in tremendous investigative pressure, which it did. The mob probably thought that by disposing of Hoffa’s body in a way that it could never be found, limiting the number of people who had knowledge of his murder and practicing omerta, the Mafia code of silence, they could weather the resulting investigation. To that extent, they were successful, but their goal of retaining access to the Teamsters pension fund was short-lived.

The FBI investigation of the Hoffa disappearance resulted in scrutiny of the corruption within the Teamsters. Ultimately, the Teamsters were temporarily placed under federal control, and many of the union’s officers were convicted of labor racketeering–related charges, including Frank Fitzsimmons’s son Richard, who had become the vice president of the Detroit Local 299. (Ironically, Jimmy Hoffa’s son, James P. Hoffa, ultimately became the national president of the Teamsters after the union was substantially purged of corruption.)

Between 1996 and 1998, the hierarchy of the Detroit Mafia family were prosecuted and convicted for violations of the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO). Some of the predicate acts that established a RICO case involved the Detroit family’s “secret” acquisition of casinos in Nevada. In the 1960s and 1970s, those acquisitions used money from the Teamsters pension fund. The hierarchy included both Tony and Vito Giacalone.

Vito Giacalone pleaded guilty before the trial. Tony Giacalone, who had previously been convicted of tax evasion in 1976, never stood trial due to severe medical problems. He died from heart failure in 2001.

© 2021, Greg Stejeskal

Book Excerpt: ‘Capturing the Unabomber’

Jim Freeman is the former special agent in charge of the San Francisco Office. Terry D. Turchie is the former assistant special agent in charge, UNABOMB Task Force. Donald Max Noel is a former supervisory special agent on the UNABOMB Task Force. The book is published by the History Publishing Company. It’s available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other outlets.

By Jim Freeman, Terry D. Turchie and Donald Max Noel

Five days after the Oklahoma City bombing, on April 24, 1995, a small mail truck pulled away from the Sacramento
offices of the California Forestry Association or CFA. Among the carrier’s mail delivery was a package wrapped in brown paper with a mailing label addressed to William N. Dennison, President of the CFA. However, Mr. Dennison was no longer associated with the CFA, so a clerical employee routinely placed the package on the desk of his successor, Gilbert Murray.

It was common to receive mail addressed to his predecessor, so Mr. Murray casually leaned over and picked up the package. He tore at the bindings to open it while unaware that a subtle sequence had begun inside a carefully crafted wooden box. A wooden dowel dislodged and dropped to release a spring-loaded switch that brought its two metal posts into alignment…a jolt of battery current rushed to overcome an ultra-thin wire initiator that instantly overheated and sparked…detonating a cache of explosive powders with a powerful blast sending projectiles of shrapnel on their deadly course. Mr. Murray was killed from massive and severe trauma. Minutes afterward, Terry was paged on the office intercom for an urgent phone call. It was SAC Ross in Sacramento. His voice
was controlled but shaken.

“Terry, we’ve had a bombing up here. Everything about it looks like the Unabomber. I need help as soon as you and Jim can get it to me.”

Terry promised that help was on the way and then put a call out for FBI Supervisor Patrick Webb to call into the SAC’s office. Pat Webb supervised a squad of counterterrorism agents in San Francisco and was a trained bomb expert who was intimately familiar with UNABOM crime scenes. Webb called just as Terry arrived and I put him on the conference speaker to update him on what had happened.

Terry spoke first. “Pat, I’m here with Jim. There’s a bombing in Sacramento at the California Forestry Association. I just got off the phone with Dick Ross and he’s closed down the crime scene. The president of the CFA was killed while unwrapping a package that was delivered in today’s mail.”

“We need you up there right away.” I added. “Our Evidence Response Team will meet you there. Dick Ross has asked for our help, so meet him at the crime scene and let us know what you need.”

Webb had worked on last year’s bombing in Tiburon and he was the right man for the job. With emergency lights flashing, he crossed the Bay Bridge and sped off toward Sacramento on Interstate 80.

When Webb arrived, Dick Ross and several of his agents were assembled with members of the Sacramento Police Department at a make-shift command post in a nearby fire station. Webb briefed them on the unique characteristics of the Unabomber’s devices and then accompanied a team of investigators into the CFA office for a preliminary look while awaiting arrival of the Evidence Response Team.

Mr. Gilbert Murray’s mutilated body remained where he had fallen. Lying about were scraps of the package. The walls remained intact, but pieces of broken furniture, wood splinters, and metal slivers were scattered over a wide radius. They were shocked at the deadly effects of what looked to Web like the Unabomber’s most
powerful bomb to-date.

Webb observed the telltale signs of the Unabomber—brown wrapping paper glued to a wooden box, filament tape securing the package, and batteries that were stripped of their outer surfaces. And Webb knew with a certainty after he came across a certain cross-pinned metal end plug matching one he had seen at another crime scene.

He went outside and phoned in his report. “I’m sitting on the curb in front of the California Forestry Association building with Dick Ross. He said to say thank you.”

Then Webb quietly described what he had seen and said the words we were expecting—”it was the Unabomber.”
“Okay. Keep the crime scene locked down until our Evidence Response Team arrives,” Terry replied.
Late the following day reports began to arrive of four handwritten letters the Unabomber had mailed and timed to arrive on the day after the murder of Gilbert Murray. And for the second time a letter was directed to Warren Hogue at The New York Times:

“This is a message from FC, 553-25-4394…
We have no regret about the fact that our bomb
blew up the “wrong” man, Gilbert Murray,
instead of William N. Dennison, to whom it was
addressed…It was reported that the bomb that
killed Gilbert Murray was a pipe bomb. It was
not a pipe bomb but was set off by a homemade
detonating cap…. The people we are out to get are
the scientists and engineers, especially in critical
fields like computers and genetics…. The FBI has
tried to portray these bombings as the work of an
isolated nut. We won’t waste our time arguing
about whether we are nuts, but we certainly are
not isolated…. Clearly, we are in a position to do a great deal of damage. And it doesn’t appear
that the FBI is going to catch us any time soon.
The FBI is a joke.”

Each letter was postmarked at Oakland. Two of these letters carried personal threats to recent Nobel Prize winners in scientific fields, Richard J. Roberts and Phillip Sharp. The other letter taunted a previous victim, Dr. David Gelernter who had been severely injured by a mail bomb that exploded the previous year in his office at Yale University. In a new touch of distain for the FBI, the return address of the Gelernter letter was Ninth St. and
Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20535; the location of the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building.

“People with advanced degrees aren’t as smart as they think they are. If you had any brains you would have realized that there are a lot of people out there who resent bitterly the way techno-nerds like you are changing the world and you wouldn’t have been dumb enough to open an unexpected package from an unknown source.”

And for the first time, the Unabomber alluded to an offer “to desist from terrorism,” but only if future conditional instructions were carried out to publish a manuscript: “This is a message from the terrorist group FC…In a letter that we sent to the New York Times at the time of our bombing at the California Forestry Association, we offered to desist from terrorism if a manuscript we were preparing were published in accord with certain stated conditions.”

Theodore Kaczynski (FBI photo)

The murders of Gilbert Murray in Sacramento and Thomas Mosser in New Jersey affirmed that we faced a new and devastating threat—the Unabomber now possessed a lethal weapon that was easy to mail and capable of being placed in victims’ homes and offices without undue suspicion. Personally, I welcomed the news to expect an upcoming manuscript. The more he writes, the more we learn. Perhaps this new-found urge to communicate could be the beginning of the end. A crushing pressure to stop the Unabomber weighed heavily on the FBI at all levels, but nowhere more intensely than at the UTF.

As the days and weeks progressed there was an expectation that another bombing was imminent. We were determined to invent new methods that would work in unique ways, but our immediate challenge was the deluge of potential suspects being generated by the increased public concern and awareness after the Mosser and
Murray murders. More than ever, there was an urgency to grasp the proverbial needle from the haystack—find the one legitimate name from the thousands and thousands of potential suspects in an inventory that was growing larger and faster than ever.

“Terry, how far in the future is that magic moment that you’re working toward?” I asked hopefully. Terry picked up on the topic immediately. “The workload is going through the roof. I like that your media talks are keeping the
public informed and motivated to call-in with reports of possible suspects, but we’re barely keeping up. There’s also the issue of staffing up for computer-driven data comparisons. We’re close, or at least on the right track to achieving a drastically narrowed down suspect list.”

“You have my undivided attention. What’ve you got?” “It has been a start/stop process of big obstacles and small
victories. But progress, nonetheless.” Terry read an example from his notebook:

“For a test run, I asked for a list of names of male students and faculty at Northwestern University in 1978-79; and then which of those people showed up in Utah in 1980-1982 with a Utah driver’s license, vehicle registration, property record, or University of Utah affiliation or had a similar affiliation at UC-Berkeley in the early

“No kidding” I said. “How big is that list?” “That first data run was modified somewhat and the result found dozens of individuals who were at Northwestern in 1978 who then transferred or moved to the out-of-state universities in
Utah or Northern California that were targeted or visited by the Unabomber between 1981 and 1985. We looked at those names and eliminated all of them quickly enough as suspects, but we’re finding that there is a surprising mobility of people between these areas. The biggest limiting factor is not having a reliable age range of the Unabomber. The project team looked at the likeliest age possibilities first and expanded through them all.”
I considered the possibilities with some skepticism but remained hopeful.

“Conceptually, that’s a good start. But there are so many variables in addition to the estimated age of the Unabomber. He might have attended Northwestern in 1978, or maybe he attended a neighboring school, or was a contract employee on campus without appearing on any university rolls. There’s a lot more to do if this is going to work.”

This led to another of our brainstorming sessions with productive ideas flying back and forth. Together, we took a stab at broadening the data search substantially:

At its core was the collection of large chunks of geographically
viable individuals in Chicago—i.e., males in age-based tranches
who were affiliated with one of the bomb-targeted universities in
Chicago in 1978 or 1979; and all similar individuals identified by
driver’s license data as residing in the surrounding areas during the same two years.

We were of a mind that the Unabomber’s name just might appear as a needle in that extremely large haystack. If that was indeed the case, we should be able to extract it by gathering similar data from locations in Utah and Northern California and cross-checking those lists with the Chicago data file. At the very least it would narrow the scope to a list of target-rich suspects and allow us to focus our agents on those with high potential. The Utah
and California schools would be the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Brigham Young University in Provo, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of California at San Francisco.

And the big payoff for eliminating or validating a suspect as the Unabomber would be the litmus test of matching a suspect’s whereabouts against the timeline of the Unabomber’s known whereabouts on specific dates and places when he personally mailed or placed his bombs at target locations. It felt good to speak in positive concepts of what might be possible and not always be reacting to the Unabomber but grabbing the reins for control. I committed to Terry that I would call Deputy Director Bill Esposito to give him the details of our computer project and request a boost of UTF personnel and computer resources to get it done.

Perhaps another answer would come from Quantico. Our longstanding request for supplemental behavioral support from Quantico was finally acted upon. FBI Special Agent Jim Wright, our contact at the National Center for Analysis of Violent Crime, came to the UTF with a rookie profiler in tow named Jim Fitzgerald, who had been a Philadelphia police officer before becoming an FBI agent. His boyish appearance and soft-spoken manner concealed a
gruff and seasoned street cop interior.

Terry liked that he was quiet and soft-spoken while Max was pleased to find a street cop turned profiler. Kathy liked him because—as she said later— “he’s easy to look at.” Fitzgerald said he only wanted to support the UTF and be a
team player. At our next UTF leadership meeting, we heard a report from lead Postal Inspector Don Davis. One hundred fifty postmasters and supervisors had been briefed regarding the Mosser and Murray package characteristics and his postal inspectors had prepared a training video for employee viewing at every post office. Davis felt it was possible that they could identify the post offices where the package bombs had been mailed.
Terry’s eyes lit up.

“What if we put twenty-four-hour camera surveillance at those locations? Maybe we can catch the Unabomber
in action if he uses them again.”

Davis responded quickly. “I’ve already checked, and we don’t have the equipment or money to make that happen.”
I agreed to add that item to my pending phone call to Deputy Director Esposito to see if the Bureau would pay for the camera surveillance at key postal facilities in the Bay Area. And if we were lucky enough to intercept a bomb in the mail, could the FBI find a way to safely dismantle and preserve it for evidence? When I completed the call to Esposito, I found him receptive to supporting each of my requests.

However, in UNABOM, good news is often fleeting and that was soon the case. I received a very disturbing call late in the day from the San Francisco Chronicle. It was about a new threat. I immediately put out a locate call for Terry to return to the office garage where I would meet him. We arrived there at nearly the same time and I told him, “The
San Francisco Chronicle received a letter from FC, and they want us to come there to speak with executive management. It involves a threat to harm an aircraft in flight.”

At the the Chronicle, the managing editor turned over a letter that bore the address of Frederick Benjamin Wood, 549 Wood Street, Woodlake, CA 93286. We saw the crude attempt at humor in the wording of the return address — an acronym for the FBI and more examples of the Unabomber’s fascination with “wood.” It was not funny and the letter inside was even less so.

“The terrorist group FC is planning to blow up an airliner out of Los Angeles International Airport some time during the next six days.

Ex-U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman Named Fed of the Year for 2020

By Allan Lengel

These have been extraordinary times for people working for the Justice Department. Standing for what’s right in the Trump era has often come with consequences.

Former U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman.

Geoffrey S. Berman, the ex-U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, knows that as well as anyone. Berman oversaw the office when it was investigating President Trump’s allies. In June, Trump fired him after Attorney General William Barr shamefully and unsuccessfully tried to persuade him to step down.

To his credit, Berman agreed not to fight his dismissal after Barr agreed to name Berman’s handpicked deputy, Audrey Strauss, someone with a great deal of integrity and experience, as the new U.S. Attorney. These days, not everyone has the backbone to stand up for what’s right.

To that end, we salute Geoffrey Berman and select him as the Fed of the Year for 2020.

Previous recipients of the Fed of the Year award include: Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald (2008):  Warren Bamford, who headed the Boston FBI (2009), Joseph Evans, regional director for the DEA’s North and Central Americas Region in Mexico City (2010);  Thomas Brandon, deputy Director of ATF (2011); John G. Perren, who was assistant director of WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) Directorate (2012); David Bowdich, special agent in charge of counterterrorism in Los Angeles (2013);  Loretta Lynch, who was U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn at the time (2014); John “Jack” Riley,  the DEA’s acting deputy administrator (2015); D.C.  U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips (2016); Joe Rannazzisi, a retired DEA deputy assistant administrator (2017); Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (2018); and DEA agent Joe Piersante (2019).

Joe Piersante of the DEA Named Fed of The Year for 2019

By Allan Lengel

Joe Piersante in 2010.

DEA agent Joe Piersante has been named’ Fed of The Year for 2019.

Piersante, who retired this month in Detroit, took a different path in his career, and showed remarkable resolve. He joined the Detroit Police force and then the DEA in 1997. He spent the next decade in Arizona battling drug traffickers.

In 2011, he was as part of an elite  Foreign-deployed Advisory Support Team (FAST), a commando-style squad that battled terrorist organizations that trafficked drugs to support their efforts.  While raiding a bazaar in Afghanistan, gunfire broke out and he ended up getting hit in the head by an armored-piercing round. He was wounded and left legally blind.

He eventually returned to the DEA, where he began talking to groups on behalf of the agency about the dangers of drugs and helping addicts with treatment strategies. He also talked to people about putting their lives on the line for their country.

He finished his career in the Detroit office, sometimes taking an Uber or getting rides from co-workers to carry out his duties.

In 2015, Piersante became the first DEA agent to receive the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom, the civilian equivalent of the Purple Heart award for injuries sustained in combat.

“Joe embodies what our agency is about, the core mission, to go wherever we have to go to attack organized crime and go after trafficking organizations,” said Jack Riley, the agency’s deputy administrator in an interview with Bloomberg in 2016 . “It really means something that he stuck around, that he continues to work. He embodies the fighting spirit. He never quits.”

Previous recipients of the Fed of the Year award include: Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald (2008):  Warren Bamford, who headed the Boston FBI (2009), Joseph Evans, regional director for the DEA’s North and Central Americas Region in Mexico City (2010);  Thomas Brandon, deputy Director of ATF (2011); John G. Perren, who was assistant director of WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) Directorate (2012); David Bowdich, special agent in charge of counterterrorism in Los Angeles (2013);  Loretta Lynch, who was U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn at the time (2014); John “Jack” Riley,  the DEA’s acting deputy administrator (2015); D.C.  U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips (2016); Joe Rannazzisi, a retired DEA deputy assistant administrator (2017); Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (2018).

Dan Moldea: On The 44 Anniversary of Jimmy Hoffa’s Disappearance. Here’s What I Think Happened

The writer, a Washington investigative journalist specializing in organized-crime and political-corruption investigations, is a Jimmy Hoffa murder expert. He is the author of “The Hoffa Wars” (1978) and eight other books. Tuesday marks the 44th anniversary of the unsolved disappearance of Hoffa, who wanted to regain the presidency of the Teamsters. 

James R. Hoffa

By Dan Moldea

Jimmy Hoffa disappeared 44 years ago today.

In early August 1975, while serving twenty years at Trenton State Prison for manslaughter, inmate Ralph Picardo received a visit from his accountant, who was accompanied by Stephen and Thomas Andretta, two of the alleged co-conspirators in Hoffa’s murder a few days earlier.  Picardo, who was a close friend of the Andretta brothers, told the FBI in or about November 1975 that he had spent some time alone with Steve Andretta during that prison visitation.  According to Picardo, Andretta had given him a few details about the murder.

Picardo told the FBI that, based on what he had learned from Andretta, Hoffa had been murdered near Detroit in a killing engineered by New Jersey mobster Anthony Provenzano, the Andretta brothers’ boss.  After his death, according to Andretta via Picardo, Hoffa was stuffed into a 55-gallon oil drum, loaded onto a Gateway Transportation truck, and shipped to New Jersey.

Shortly thereafter, Picardo made a deal with federal prosecutors and became the most credible witness about the Hoffa case to date.

When he was asked by the FBI specifically who had murdered Hoffa, Picardo replied that he didn’t know for sure but added that Salvatore Briguglio, Provenzano’s top lieutenant, had earlier received a contract from his boss to kill Hoffa in late 1973 or early 1974.  Provenzano sent Briguglio a note, delivered by his brother, Gabriel Briguglio, asking him to execute the Hoffa hit.

Anthony “Tony Pro” Provenzano

When Picardo was asked by the FBI where Hoffa was taken in New Jersey via the Gateway truck, he again replied that he didn’t know for sure but added that his friends in the Provenzano crew frequently disposed of dead bodies at a landfill in Jersey City, owed by Phillip Moscato, a soldier in the Genovese crime family.

In 1975-1976,  I revealed—in what was my biggest contribution to this case—that a vicious Hoffa rival, Rolland McMaster, was the mystery man behind a series of acts of violence—bombings, beatings, shootings, and general sabotage—directed primarily against Hoffa’s allies in Detroit’s Local 299, the last of which was a car bombing just twenty days before Hoffa vanished.

On the day of Hoffa’s murder, McMaster was with his brother-in-law, Stanton Barr, who was the head of Gateway Transportation’s steel division in Detroit.  Also, one of McMaster’s top goons was Jim Shaw, a long-haul driver for Gateway, who, directed by McMaster, had participated in the earlier anti-Hoffa violence in Local 299.  In addition, on the night before Hoffa’s murder, McMaster and Barr had met with Provenzano at a restaurant in Detroit, according to another federal witness, Donovan Wells, a long-time business associate of McMaster.

Dan Moldea’s book.

Only Person Living or Dead

Notably, I am the only person in the world, living or dead, who has interviewed all of these suspects—the Andretta brothers, the Briguglio brothers, Moscato, McMaster, Barr, and Shaw.  And most of these interviews were recorded.

I also recorded interviews with other persons of interest, including Charles “Chuckie” O’Brien, Hoffa’s “foster son,” and Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, who would later falsely claim to have killed Hoffa.

Confirming that Ralph Picardo “basically had it right,” Phillip Moscato told me—on tape—that he and Briguglio had unloaded the barrel containing Hoffa’s body from the Gateway truck and then buried it at his landfill in Jersey City.

Read more »

Separating Fact from Fiction in the Hit on Mobster Joey ‘Crazy Joe’ Gallo

The author is an organized crime researcher.

By Andy Petepiece

Frank Sheeran

Charles Brandt’s bestselling book, “I Heard You Paint Houses” is the foundation of Martin Scorsese’s new film, “The Irishman.” Brandt conducted many interviews with long-time Teamster Frank Sheeran who claimed he killed Jimmy Hoffa. Among many other crimes that Sheeran took ownership of was the 1972 murder of notorious Mafioso Joseph “Crazy Joe” Gallo. Sheeran lied to Brandt about this event which brings all his other statements into question.

Most experts agree that the Colombo family put out a contract on Joey Gallo. Sheeran’s story was that he was ordered to carry out the hit after running into Gallo at the Copacabana night club in the early hours of April 7, 1972.  Sheeran claimed he knew that Gallo would be in Umbertos restaurant later on and that he had a seating plan of the new joint. These latter two points are outright lies.

On that fateful night Gallo was accompanied to Umbertos by his new wife Sina Essary, her young daughter Lisa, Gallo’s recently widowed sister Carmella Fiorello, associate Peter “Pete the Greek” Diapoulos, and his date Edith Russo.  After the shooting, Sina Gallo and Carmella explained to the police and FBI that they had initially planned to go to Luna’s restaurant but found it closed. They then accidentally came across Umberto’s and decided to go in to eat. (see FBI report NY92-4123)

Peter Diapoulos later confirmed this version in his book “The Sixth Family” on page 143. After seeing a show at the Copacabana, Greek wished to call it a night but, “he (Gallo) …wanted to go to Su Ling’s. It was closed… Then he decided on Luna’s….but it was shut and dark when we drove up.” Diapoulus then explained how they turned a corner and came upon the still open Umbertos. The Gallo party went in much to their later regret. They ended up there by chance.

The versions of Carmella, Sina, and Diapoulos are in accord. There was no way Sheeran would know beforehand they would be in Umbertos let alone have a seating plan of the place.

Brandt either didn’t check the FBI reports on the shooting or chose to ignore them. Instead, he believed Sheeran’s version. This confidence was misplaced.

An FBI report sent to FBI Director Hoover at 10:10 AM, the day of the killing, includes Gallo’s sister’s description of the shooter to the NYPD. “Lone assailant described by sister as white, male, five feet seven inches, Italian, age early forties. ”

According to “top echelon informants” quoted in an April 12/72 FBI memo “…the participants in the gang killing of Joey Gallo were Carmine DiBiase, also known as Sonny Pinto and his close associate (Phil Gambino) …”

An April 13/72 FBI report contains this information, “NYPD has a witness (Carmella Gallo) who stated photo of (the brother) of Vincent Aloi, Acting Boss, Colombo Family, resembles individual who killed Gallo. It is noted that the photo of Carmine DiBiase closely resembles photo of (Benny Aloi)….” Carmella has picked the wrong guy, but this person looked like an Italian and NOT Irishman Sheeran.

Lead Shooter

Peter Diapoulos recognized DiBiase as the lead shooter.  On page 144 of “The Sixth Family” the Greek states, “Just then, at the side door I saw Sonny Pinto. ….Sonny firing shots right for our faces.” Diapoulos knew DiBiase and recognized him immediately. This was NOT Frank Sheeran shooting.

Read more »

Robert Mueller & Rod Rosenstein Named Feds of the Year for 2018

Rod Rosenstein and Robert S. Mueller III

By Allan Lengel

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III have been named’s Feds of the Year for 2018.

It’s the first time since 2008 when the award was first established, that has named two people the recipients of the award.

These are extraordinary times. Not since the White House was occupied by Richard Nixon have we seen the integrity of the justice system challenged in this way.

We’ve seen two Attorney Generals fired along with an FBI director and deputy FBI director. And that’s only in two years.

We’ve seen a president belittle, via twitter and speeches, the Justice Department and FBI.

Under intense pressure, and extremely challenging circumstances, Rosenstein has stood for integrity and undertaken the herculean task of dealing with the White House and maintaining justice at the Justice Department.

It’s been no easy mission, and frankly, something few could pull off and survive.

All that said, it made Rosenstein an obvious choice for this award.

At the same time, Robert Mueller has carried out his duties as special counsel with nothing but class and integrity.

Once again, he too has come under repeated attacks by the White House while carrying out this important mission.

It is his presence in this ongoing investigation as a watchdog of government that has given many Americans renewed faith in our justice system.

It’s an honor to have two public servants as dedicated as these two.

Previous recipients of the Fed of the Year award include: Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald (2008):   Warren Bamford, who headed the Boston FBI (2009), Joseph Evans, regional director for the DEA’s North and Central Americas Region in Mexico City (2010);  Thomas Brandon, deputy Director of ATF (2011); John G. Perren, who was assistant director of WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) Directorate (2012); David Bowdich, special agent in charge of counterterrorism in Los Angeles (2013);  Loretta Lynch, who was U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn at the time (2014); John “Jack” Riley,  the DEA’s acting deputy administrator (2015); D.C.  U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips (2016) and Joe Rannazzisi, a retired DEA deputy assistant administrator (2017) .