MANHATTAN (CN) — Incarcerated next to two of the nation’s most notorious terrorists, the Colombo crime family’s Gregory Scarpa Jr. turned jailhouse canary twice in his decades of lockup, but only one of his songs hit a true note.
Before his 1988 arrest on racketeering and narcotics offenses, 65-year-old Scarpa was a Colombo family capo, short for caporegime, which translates roughly to captain in Italian.
An initial 20-year sentence put Scarpa in New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center next to Ramzi Yousef, who was being tried for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Though Scarpa tried to get a sentencing break for assisting the government in the Yousef case, he faced new charges instead. The judge who rejecting Scarpa’s motion agreed with prosecutors that Scarpa and Yousef colluded with each other to perpetrate a scam on the government.
Judge Reena Raggi, now on the Second Circuit but with the District Court at the time, tacked an additional 40 years onto Scarpa’s sentence, but the ex-capo had another chance to make amends inside Colorado’s ADX Florence, a federal prison known as the “Alcatraz of the Rockies.”
Keeping an ear on his fellow inmate Terry Nichols — the domestic terrorist serving 161 consecutive life sentences for helping bomb the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City — Scarpa had another tip for the FBI.
In 2005, Scarpa claimed that Nichols hid a cache of bomb components a decade earlier in his house in Herington, Kansas, that he planned to use for another attack in the near future.
Scarpa failed a polygraph that the skeptical FBI wanted him to take to verify the information, but the mafioso persisted, contacting Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican, who urged federal agents to follow up on the investigation.
Agents found the hidden cache in Nichols’ home that year on March 31.
Now dying in prison with stage IV cancer, Scarpa petitioned the court for mercy in return for his assistance.
Finding him an “extraordinarily model prisoner” last year, U.S. District Judge Edward Korman shaved 10 years off Scarpa’s sentence, making release by 2027 possible.
“A modest sentencing reduction to an incarcerated defendant who has provided evidence that explosives were left by a domestic terrorist in a residential area is necessary to encourage others to come forward,” Korman wrote.
But the Second Circuit found Thursday that this reasoning would reward Scarpa’s other lies.
“Such fraudulent cries of ‘Wolf’ not only cause them is allocation of government resources, but they also make less likely an appropriate government response if the man who cried ‘Wolf’ subsequently sounds an alarm that is genuine,” U.S. Circuit Judge Amalya Kearse wrote for a three-person panel.
The 24-page opinion also calls it “a legitimate government objective to deter such fraudulent proffers, rather than to encourage them by indicating that, so long as a genuine alarm is sounded eventually, the former parade of frauds is forgiven.”
U.S. Circuit Judges Robert Katzmann and Debra Ann Livingston joined the opinion.
Scarpa’s attorney Georgia Hinde declined to comment.