FBI UNDERCOVER AGENT WHO TOOK DOWN TOP GAMBINO MOBSTERS REVEALS HIMSELF FOR THE FIRST TIME, UNDETERRED BY POSSIBLE REVENGE -- "60 MINUTES" SUNDAY
Only the Second FBI Agent in History to Be Offered Mafia Membership,
Jack Garcia Tells How a Cuban-American Fooled the Italian Mob
The FBI agent who infiltrated New York's notorious Gambino crime family to decapitate its hierarchy, bringing down top capo Gregory DePalma and 31 other high-ranking associates, will reveal his identity for the first time in front of millions of television viewers, undeterred by the Mafia's penchant for revenge. Joaquin "Jack" Garcia - a Cuban-American who so fooled the mobsters that he was offered the Mafia's most sacred honor to become a "made man" -- tells his story to CBS News Correspondent Armen Keteyian on 60 MINUTES Sunday, Oct. 12 (7:00-8:00PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
"Why should I be walking around hiding as to who I am? I know there's these safety issues.... I'm [supposed] to be afraid of them?" asks the 390-lb. Garcia, now retired from the FBI after 26 years. "I'm not the bad guy here. I'm the good guy," he tells Keteyian.
How did this Cuban-born good guy convince the Italian bad guys he was one of their own? He went to school, he says, to perfect his undercover character, "Jack Falcone." "[FBI handler] Nat [Parisi] decided to come up with this school that we called 'the Mob School,'" says Garcia. Italian-American FBI agent Parisi taught him how to become an Italian wiseguy. "I shared with Jack my experiences growing up, but he and I were convinced he could pull it off," says Parisi. One golden rule: wiseguys never carry their cash in a wallet but wrapped in a rubber band pulled off a head of broccoli from the supermarket.
Food, it turned out -- its discussion and pronunciation -- was a very big part of the lessons Parisi taught in Mob School, says Garcia. Parisi was right. "A lot of conversations all dealt with food," says Garcia. "�How's your pasta e fagiole?'...Everyone's a food critic in the mob. �Forget about this. Go down the block, this guy makes it better than this guy,'" Garcia recalls. But you had to say it just right to avoid any suspicion. "Being Cuban, I get caught up sometimes...I would say �manicotti.' It's not manicotti, it's �mani-cote'" Watch an excerpt. "I couldn't afford having alarm bells going off," says Garcia. "Unlike...the Sopranos, where [there's] multiple takes, there was only one take."
Garcia burrowed so deeply inside the Gambino family by posing as an investor in a strip club the mobsters were muscling in on in. During his two years working undercover in the case, Garcia collected a mountain of evidence by wearing a wire and by a bugged cell phone he gave De Palma. It was just one gift of an endless stream of luxury "stolen" goods supplied by Garcia to De Palma to lure in the old-school capo. The undercover agent who had a happy-go-lucky style also spoke glowingly to other mobsters to "disarm them." "'Hey, you're looking great today. Where did you get those nice threads...You look like a million dollars,'...I was this big guy with a lot of cash that everybody wanted to be around," he says.
Garcia played more than 100 major undercover roles during his legendary career with the FBI. This one may have been his defining moment. In a conversation Garcia secretly taped, DePalma invited Garcia become a made man in the mob, the highest blessing in La Costa Nostra. "There is only one thing I am pushing to do ASAP, is you -- &*^% everything else," says DePalma on the recording obtained by 60 MINUTES. Says Garcia, "To become a made man. The fact that they allowed an FBI agent to infiltrate their organization...and I'm Cuban born playing an Italian who was able to fool them -- it's an amazing insult to them."