October 2017 (updated)|
A True Story about a Secret Service Agent
and His Investigative Experiences to Include His Battle with the New York Mafia!
By Nino Perrotta
Nino Perrotta is a highly accomplished law enforcement professional with more than 23 years of experience in military, security and protective services, with expertise in threat analysis/mitigation, physical and facility security, major event logistics and VIP travel. Nino has successfully conducted complex criminal investigations both domestically and abroad. He has a proven track record and ability to liaise with diverse stakeholders across agencies and countries.
In September 2014, Playboy Magazine did an exclusive expose on my prepaid calling card investigation which occurred in the mid 1990’s. Although the story had some great highlights, there were a few key investigative points that were not completely conveyed and Dual Mission sets the record straight. Nonetheless, at the time, I was so excited that they were writing a story about my work as a Special Agent, I didn't bother to push back...It was an honor to have a major magazine write about my work.
I wanted to set the record straight regarding the my personal challenges as a young rookie special agent who was completely dedicated to working criminal investigations in New York City for an agency; the United States Secret Service for which its primary mission was protecting the President of the United States. I also wanted to explain the great work we accomplished during a period of time that was never to be recaptured due to the changing events which took place by the horrific terrorist acts of September 11, 2001.
So with a great deal of perseverance and commitment, I embarked on making cases wherever and whenever possible. The investigation into low-level mobsters and associates of the Gambino Crime Family started with my contributions as a task force member to the New York State Organized Crime Task Force. A few years later when asked to re-join the team as a Secret Service agent, the focus was on John Gotti "junior" to include an unknown fraud he and others committed. These accomplishments were a wish come true since as a young child I dreamed about being a mob buster. I believe this desire arose from my personal encounter and exposure to certain elements of La Cosa Nostra at my parent’s deli business which left a bitter taste.
Dual Mission weaves the reader from my time in Sofia, Bulgaria fighting Russian and Bulgarian organized crime to my mom and dad's "Salumeria" Deli to various cases along the way. The main point of the book are the daily challenges I faced striking the right balance to accomplish the dual mission of the Secret Service. You cannot do both protection and investigations, missions of the Secret Service at the same time successfully. Many on the job may want you to believe it is possible and I am telling you it cannot be done. Today more than ever before given the advancement and propensity of cybercrime and financial fraud across borderless transnational arenas, one cannot be a “jack of all trades” and expect to successfully conduct investigations and do protection without compromising one for the other.
Dual Mission provides the inside look at what really happened during the Gambino crime family investigation that basically started as a low level gambling case focused primarily on a target known as Lenny Minuto. Lenny was a Lucchese crime family associate. In 1993 there was a great deal of “fall out” regarding corruption within the boxing world and at the time the Gambino’s had a tight grip on the sport and they had interest in regaining that hold.
Initially after the U.S. Secret Service unsuccessfully tasked two seasoned agents to look into the new fraud evidence provided by the New York Organized Crime Task Force member and retired NYPD Sgt., Ercole “Echo” Guadioso. Echo was a mentor of mine, called me in confidence and asked me once again to persuade the New York Field Office of the Secret Service in allowing me to handle the investigation. He wanted me back on the team and on the case. In addition, both Vince Heintz as well as Echo wanted the Secret Service to join them in the battle against organized crime.
Within a short period of time on the job, the New York Field Office’s top brass were already looking at me as a “up and coming” star and with that credibility in place, I was able to successfully walk in to my immediate supervisor’s office, the Assistant to the Special Agent in Charge Marty Walsh and successfully pitch the case. Walsh allowed me to run with it. Walsh was a great man who had trust in me ultimately giving me the green light to proceed and I honestly never looked back.
Within months the evidence that Echo wanted me to look into was unraveled and I had basically recreated the fraud scheme. I identified and interviewed witnesses and simultaneously provided the U.S. Attorney’s Office the necessary support to other elements of the case. I knew every part of the case and recall a day when Special Assistant United States Attorney Vince Heintz’s keen eye spotted Gambino soldier Craig DePalma driving away from Federal court house while under house detention. Heintz realizing that DePlama was not heading immediately began to follow him. Within seconds after Vince briefed me of the situation I ask for assistance from SA Michael Breslin who was in close proximity to Vince and with Michael’s help we successfully located DePalma with little surprise he was meeting with a construction owner and other mob associates. In fairness Heintz later admitted that he had called the FBI to assist and they regrettably declined stating they would need to get approval to activate a surveillance team.
Later in the investigation when I placed my focus on Denny McLain, it was clearly obvious from months of interaction with Denny, that the man was a career fraudster and that he had intentionally “busted out” his company, Tel Central Communication. McLain who was already serving federal time claimed he was ready to give up on members of Cosa Nostra to include John Gotti “Junior” and folks like Genovese crime family Alphonse “Allie Shades” Malangone. Denny’s intent was to satisfy the mobsters with their bust out scheme since they had the distribution muscles. However, through intercepted conversations it was apparent that Denny continually intentionally failed to properly equip his firm to successfully commit the large scale fraud the mafia had wanted to execute. So although they had busted MCI and other telecommunication carriers for millions of dollars in a short period of time, Gotti and other mobsters had all the intentions to do far greater damage for starters with Gotti’s card; the Liberty Tel and others already in the pipe line.
When Conetco went bankrupt late in 1996, it left WorldCom with more than a $94 million in unpaid invoices. So within basically 6 months the mob realized that with fake excuses how they made bad business decisions, they were able to muddy the waters. McLain employed this tactic with quite success, accusing the carriers of over billing. Now what the mob didn’t realize was that as they were scheming, they were being recorded by OCTF.
At the time, Brooklyn federal grand jury was investigating the alleged fraud and later this was folded into my investigation. We knew from “sources” that the firm was tied to a Gambino crime family now headed by Gotti “Junior”. Other reputed Gambino mobsters tied to the firm include Joseph (Joe the German) Watts and John (Jackie the Nose) D'Amico, sources say.
The prepaid calling card case evidence and cooperating witnesses to include the wiretaps would have buried the New York mob. During the plea deal, due to restitution both Gotti Sr. and his son junior, were not going to allow the Gambino’s to plea to the phone card scam. This was fine with me since if it weren’t for the 1995 wiretap affidavit that I swore too Gotti “Junior” he would never have been indicted in 1998.
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