Every now and again Gang Land learns of a scam that makes it tough
to decide whether to cheer for the perp or the victim. This one's a
prime example: A Harvard graduate who is an heir to the Vanderbilt
and Whitney fortunes got taken to the cleaners for more than
$800,000 by a wannabe wiseguy from Brooklyn who never made it out of
It turns out that for all his book learning and upper crust
upbringing, John LeBoutillier was the perfect mark for longtime
Colombo family associate and convicted murderer, Frank (Frankie Blue
The Boot, as he called himself when he was swept into Congress on
the coattails of Ronald Reagan in 1980 as a 28-year-old hotshot from
Nassau County, always knew it all. Voters quickly saw their mistake,
and bounced him two years later. But the conservative pundit, who
still calls himself the Boot, has never looked back, or doubted
himself, even when he should have.
Sources say that Sparaco was able to fleece LeBoutillier out of so
much cash because The Boot knew he was right about a conspiracy
theory that virtually everyone else believes to be wrong: That
American POWs from the Vietnam War were and are still being held
captive in the former Soviet Union and Southeast Asia decades after
the conflict has ended.
Frankie Blue Eyes, whose decision to cooperate with the FBI after
serving 17 years behind bars was disclosed by Gang Land early this
year, has admitted that he conned LeBoutillier by pretending to use
bogus contacts he claimed to have with imprisoned Russian gangsters
to obtain information about American POWs.
"It was a scam from day one," said one source.
Sparaco, 55, has been imprisoned since 1993, when he was arrested
and charged with being a murderous loyalist for imprisoned-for-life
mob boss Carmine (Junior) Persico during the bloody Colombo war that
left 12 dead and numerous others wounded from 1991-to-1993.
Sources say that since Sparaco began cooperating, the FBI has
recovered about $40,000 in cash and another $100,000 in other
valuables from safe deposit boxes that were controlled by Frankie
The LeBoutillier scam was first disclosed in January when Charles
Giuga, a Brooklyn florist, was arrested and charged with helping
Sparaco rip off $18,500 from LeBoutillier last fall for supposed
information that 70 to 75 American POWs were being held in Belarus,
a small Eastern European country that borders Russia. But the
$18,500 was just a slice of the cake, Gang Land has learned.
Contacted in January, LeBoutillier declined to say how much money he
had spent in his quest over the years, but confirmed that for about
ten years he had been using Sparaco as a go-between in an effort to
obtain information about missing American military personnel.
Back then, he was convinced he got quality for his dough: "I know I
never paid any money to Frank," he told Gang Land. "I paid the money
to try and get information from the Russian mob about the POWs."
Actually, to keep the scam going, Sparaco supplied LeBoutillier
over the years with a steady stream of "information" in letters from
Russian gangsters. The letters, however, were composed by Frankie
Blue Eyes and mailed to "Congressman John," sometimes by Sparaco and
other times by Giuga.
pleaded guilty to fraud charges and was sentenced to probation in
July. Court records show that Giuga's role in the scheme was to
re-type draft letters that Frankie Blue Eyes sent to him, making
sure to correct Sparaco's misspellings and punctuation.
Giuga, who all told, made less than $10,000 for his efforts, was
ordered to pay $91,000 in restitution. That rubs his attorney Mathew
Mari the wrong way, but the lawyer remains optimistic that Brooklyn
Federal Judge Carol Amon will rectify that injustice when - and if -
Sparaco is ever charged with the LeBoutillier ripoff.
"It seems patently unfair to have the errand boy on the hook for
$91,000 when Frank Sparaco took down 98.5 per cent of the money,"
said Mari. "But Judge Amon indicated that if Sparaco were indicted,
she would revisit the situation and adjust the restitution."
Meanwhile, LeBoutillier, who opined about the national debt in his
latest post on his blog, "Boot's
Blasts," has apparently gotten the message that Frankie
Blue Eyes owes him big time for playing him for the fool, and he
would like to get his money back.
Gang Land could not reach the Boot, but he's gone typically
top-shelf in his choice of a lawyer. Ex-organized crime-buster and
defense lawyer to the stars Thomas Puccio told Gang Land that he has
"made an application to the U.S. Attorney's office to have my
client's money returned to him."