Gregory Scarpa, Sr. (May 8, 1928 – June 4, 1994) also known as "The Grim Reaper", was a soldier for the Colombo crime family and an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). He was the brother of Colombo crime family mobster Salvatore Scarpa and father of Gregory Scarpa Jr.. During the 1970s and 1980s, Scarpa was the chief enforcer to the fierce Colombo leader Carmine "Junior" Persico.
Gregory was born to first generation emigrants from the impoverished village of Lorenzaga, of Motta di Livenza, Veneto. A career criminal, Scarpa was a Caporegime in the Colombo crime family, as well as the proprietor of the Wimpy Boys Social Club. Scarpa was involved in gambling, loansharking, extortion, narcotics and murder. Many of the highest ranking members of the Colombo crime family today were members of his crew.
Relations with the FBIEdit
Gregory Scarpa was an FBI informer for three decades. Scarpa's son, Gregory Scarpa Jr., has claimed that Scarpa had illegal dealings with his FBI agent, Lindley DeVecchio, in which DeVecchio would receive cash, jewelry, and other gifts. According to Scarpa Jr.'s account, DeVecchio would in return then provide information to Scarpa that was used to kill people who had fallen out of favor with the Colombo family. Scarpa Jr. was himself an FBI informant and in prison at the time he made the allegations; DeVecchio has officially been cleared of wrongdoing by the Justice Department.
In 2008 Scarpa's name was included in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court suggesting that the FBI had failed to turn over key information provided by Scarpa regarding Carlos Marcello, the New Orleans Mafia boss, and Marcello's suspected involvements in the assassination of President Kennedy.
In a Brooklyn court in 2007, the former girlfriend of Scarpa testified that at the request of former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, Scarpa was paid by the FBI to force a Klansman into revealing the burial site of three slain civil rights workers in the Southern United States. Allegedly, Scarpa flew to Mississippi, where an FBI agent handed him some money and a gun. Scarpa tracked down a Klansman (Lawrence Byrd) who sold TVs and bought a set from him before forcing him to reveal the location of the graves at gunpoint.
This testimony contradicts evidence from journalist Jerry Mitchell and Illinois high school teacher Barry Bradford, who claim that the informant who revealed the location of the bodies was highway patrolman Maynard King, who gave the information willingly to FBI agent Joseph Sullivan.
On November 18, 1991, supporters of Victor Orena attempted a hit on Greg Scarpa Sr. in Brooklyn as he drove his daughter and granddaughter home. Hitmen ran from their vehicles with guns drawn and converged on Scarpa's car. But Scarpa hit the accelerator and made a run for it, crashing into anything that got in his way. A few bystanders were injured, but Scarpa and his loved ones escaped unharmed.
While married to his wife Connie, Scarpa had a relationship with Linda Schiro that lasted more than 30 years. Schiro married another man while having two of Scarpa's children, Joey and Little Linda.
Gregory Scarpa Sr. died on June 4, 1994 while in prison. The cause of death was AIDS contracted from a blood transfusion in 1987.
Scarpa allegedly acquired the disease from his associate, Paul Mele, who was one of a group of family members and friends who donated blood to Scarpa following an emergency ulcer surgery in 1986. Scarpa later settled the case with the doctor and hospital involved.