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Former FBI agents rally behind colleague suspected of mob ties

Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK -- Several former high-ranking FBI agents have launched a campaign to help a fellow mob investigator fight allegations that have haunted him for well over a decade _ that he traded deadly secrets with the mob.

Prosecutors were expected to announce an indictment against 65-year-old R. Lindley DeVecchio on Thursday. He surrendered Wednesday night at the Brooklyn district attorney's office to face undisclosed criminal charges. He declined to comment as he entered.

"We all know Lin, and we all know he's not capable of doing these kinds of things," said James Kossler, a former supervisor with the FBI's New York office. "It's so sad it could happen to a guy like this."

Although prosecutors declined to discuss the case Wednesday, authorities have said an investigation revisited DeVecchio's past relationship with Gregory Scarpa Jr. _ a ruthless Colombo crime family captain he had recruited as an informant _ and whether the agent provided information that helped the gangster knock off rivals in the 1980s and '90s.

DeVecchio headed the FBI's Colombo squad while the crime family was embroiled in a bloody power struggle. After Scarpa became an informant, the men became so close the mobster referred to the agent as his "girlfriend" when speaking in code.

If indicted, DeVecchio would "deny the charges in the strongest way possible," said his attorney, Mark Bederow. "He's innocent."

Kossler, former FBI assistant director James Kallstrom, ex-agent Joe Pistone _ known for infiltrating the mob as Donnie Brasco _ and other supporters from the federal law enforcement community have begun raising money for DeVecchio's defense on a Web site.

The site notes that the agent already was cleared in previous investigations, and it attributes the renewed allegations to convicted mob turncoats eager to lie in exchange for leniency.

Federal prosecutors revealed in 1995 that they suspected that DeVecchio provided Scarpa the names of other gangsters cooperating with the FBI. He also was accused of tipping off his gangster friend that the Drug Enforcement Administration was planning to arrest his son and that authorities had bugged his social club.

But the Department of Justice declined to prosecute DeVecchio after an internal probe, and the agent quietly retired in 1996.

Scarpa died in prison in 1994 after contracting HIV in a blood transfusion from one of his crime family associates.

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