FBI Ordered to Cough Up Outdated Mafia Docs

     (CN) – The FBI must give a terminally ill mafia expert the name of a special agent allegedly involved in agency corruption, and other related information, a federal judge ruled.
     Forensic analyst Angela Clemente sued the FBI on July 21, 2008, alleging that Special Agent Lindley Devecchio and others helped cover up murders and other violent crimes committed by agency informants, like Colombo family capo Gregory Scarpa.
     Clemente has spent the last decade researching the FBI’s relationship with Scarpa, aka “The Grim Reaper” or “The Mad Hatter,” who served as an FBI informant since 1961.
     Devecchio was charged with aiding and abetting four murders in 2006, but the judge dismissed the case after finding that Scarpa’s former mistress lacked witness credibility.
     After Clemente requested an unredacted copy of the FBI’s file on Scarpa under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman directed the agency to supplement its Vaughn index of about 192 sample documents.
     U.S. District Judge Barbara Jacobs Rothstein deemed the FBI’s search adequate in 2012 but directed the agency to reprocess the 1,153 pages.
     Meanwhile another Washington, D.C-based federal judge heard Clemente’s request to expedite a 2011 FOIA request she made for records pertaining to Scarpa.
     U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan noted earlier this year that Clemente is running against the clock for the information because doctors tell her she is unlikely to receive a life-saving liver transplant on time.
     Clemente did not receive any files until June 2013, and although the FBI first said it had 1,420 responsive pages, it later identified about 30,000 additional documents.
     Hogan’s January decision granted Clemente’s request for the FBI to increase its customary FOIA release rate of 500 pages per month to 5,000 per month, in light of her ill health and the public importance of her research.
     Rothstein, the judge on the 2008 case, granted the FBI partial summary judgment Monday.
     “Here, plaintiff raises the same arguments that this court has thrice addressed and rejected; the court declines to address those arguments yet again,” Rothstein wrote.
     Citing findings by U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman, the first judge on the case, Rothstein said that the content of some records supports “the FBI’s assertion that they were created for law enforcement purposes,” and thus exempt from disclosure.
     The FBI must supplement its Vaughn index, however, to clarify its attempt to ascertain the life status of those whose information it redacted from the responsive documents, the ruling states.
     “While this court finds that these individuals have a substantial privacy interest here, such an interest may be diminished if the individuals are deceased,” Rothstein wrote. “The court is unable to appropriately balance the privacy interest at stake against the public interest in disclosure until this court knows the life status of the affected individuals.”
     The FBI must disclose “names of an FBI support employee and a third party who are still living and continue to maintain a privacy interest,” the judge ruled.
     “Given the facts of this particular FOIA request – namely that plaintiff implicates FBI agents in wrongdoing and that the document in question dates back to 1965 – this court finds that the public’s interest in disclosure outweighs the FBI agent’s privacy interest,” Rothstein wrote.
     The FBI has 30 days to supplement its affidavit, according to the ruling.

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