Official: Prosecutors Ready To Withdraw Corruption Case Against Former FBI Agent
Thursday, November 1st 2007, 7:15 am
News On 6
NEW YORK (AP) _ The interview was done for a book that was never published. But a decade later, the shelved project may sink what authorities billed as one of the worst law enforcement corruption cases in U.S. history.
Prosecutors were expected to tell a judge Thursday that they are withdrawing murder charges against ex-FBI agent Lindley DeVecchio because of glaring discrepancies in accounts given by their star witness, mob moll Linda Schiro, a law enforcement official said.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision had not been formally announced. The Brooklyn District Attorney's office declined comment.
If the charges are dropped, it would mark a stunning collapse of the case against DeVecchio in the middle of his trial. He is accused of providing a mob informant with information used in four Mafia slayings.
A 1997 interview of Schiro became the focus of a legal fight Wednesday when defense attorneys announced they had subpoenaed tapes of the question-and-answer session, hoping the tapes would undermine her crucial testimony against DeVecchio.
If the tapes indicate Schiro perjured herself, prosecutor Michael Vecchione said, ``We are prepared to do what would be reasonable, and that would be to dismiss this case.''
Prosecutors and defense attorneys listened to the tapes behind closed doors in an effort to determine how damaging they would prove to the prosecution's case. Schiro had been expected to undergo a second round of cross-examination, but court was canceled for the day.
Defense attorney Douglas Grover predicted the tapes would fully discredit Schiro and vindicate DeVecchio, who has consistently declared his innocence.
``We're just thankful that it's all come out,'' he said.
The interviews were conducted by reporters Tom Robbins and Jerry Capeci. Robbins revealed their existence in a Village Voice piece published Wednesday.
``One thing is clear: What Linda Schiro is saying on the witness stand now is not how she told the story 10 years ago concerning three of the four murder counts now at issue,'' Robbins wrote in a story headlined ``Tall Tales of a Mafia Mistress.''
Schiro's daughter, also named Linda, said Wednesday her mother did not want to comment but her testimony had been truthful.
Her mother wasn't under oath when she spoke to the reporters and ``was under no obligation to tell the truth,'' the daughter told the New York Post. ``What she says in court in front of a judge is the truth.''
Prosecutors claim DeVecchio was plied with cash, jewelry and hookers by Schiro's boyfriend, mob killer-turned-informant Gregory Scarpa, in return for confidential FBI intelligence that was then used to kill four suspected informants or rivals in the Colombo crime family in the late 1980s and early '90s.
In her testimony, Schiro, 62, said she would regularly sit in on weekly meetings between DeVecchio and Scarpa, who died in prison in 1994. She also said she overheard the agent warn her boyfriend about potential rats and rivals in a power struggle within the Colombo family, including the four murder victims.
But the Village Voice reported that in the 1997 interview, Schiro linked DeVecchio to only one of the slayings in the indictment. When asked about one victim, she insisted the agent had nothing to do with it.