True crime author Dennis N. Gifffin and high-profile private eye Vito Colucci, Jr., both now Las Vegas residents, teamed up to write Rogue Town, from Houdini Books. It is the astounding tale of the crime and corruption that abounded during Colucci’s days as a cop in Stamford, Connecticut. Street crime and organized crime flourished back in the 1970s, but who would have thought that one of the biggest challenges involved the police department itself?
After he advanced from street patrol to the Narcotics Squad, Colucci became now-retired Stamford PD Captain Joseph M. Ligi’s partner. Ligi was also his cousin. Later he worked as an undercover Organized Crime Investigator. There were plenty of rumors circulating at that time and the honest cops were pretty sure several crooked cops were at the heart of the corruption. That’s one of the things that makes Colucci’s story a little different than the “good guys” chasing after the “bad guys”—the fact that so many of the bad guys were cops who were drug dealers, murderers and gangsters.
One of his own supervisors ordered a hit on him because he was getting too close to the truth. Fortunately, it was unsuccessful or we would not be able to read this fascinating story. Paces that normally come to mind when talking about cities steeped in organized crime and corruption are New York, Chicago, L.A., Las Vegas and the like. What a shock to find out that Stamford, Connecticut was right up there with the best of them.
As Angela Carella (Stamford Advocate newspaper) said, “I knew at the age of 14 that if your bookie was having “legal” problems, you could still play the numbers by going to the front desk at police headquarter and asking for Officer Hogan.” Incidentally, Hogan was behind the attempt to blow Colucci away.
Colucci told me that when young investigative reporter Anthony R. Dolan came to town and joined the Advocate, there was finally a dedicated crusader in town. His articles delved into the corruption that ran rampant in the civic community and the police department and won him a Pulitzer Prize. Griffin said, "Besides this book being about Vito, we wanted to write about Dolan's involvement and the threats on his life. It was important to weave in how he was involved in this story in a major way."
Colucci fed him lots of information on an anonymous basis via telephone when he was on Narcotics and when working undercover, but was unaware that several other honest cops were doing the same. He says some of Dolan’s articles revealed facts and situations that he was not even aware of until reading about them in the Advocate. Despite that, others on the force speculated that all of the information Dolan got was coming from him.
This is a book well worth reading. As each new leaf peeled away and the amazing story unfolded, all I could do was shake my head at the audacity of some of the cops and the volume of crime in that city and no one willing to do much about it. I kept turning the pages to read more. No wonder Colucci was elated when Dolan came to town, even though they did not actually meet in person until years later. Dolan was someone who gathered all the incriminating evidence and used his columns as a weapon against crime.
Late mobster Henry Hill, the original Goodfella, wrote, “When organized crime controls the police department, they control the entire city. Vito Colucci, Jr. is the real deal.”
Colucci has been a high-profile private investigator for the past 22 years, and these days you can hear him on his own radio show Crime Time and shows like 48 Hours, MSNBC, CNN Headline News and more as an expert consultant and commentator. He was a featured speaker at the first World Investigator's Conference in Las Vegas in 2005.
Author Morgan St. James has written more than 500 articles about the craft of writing and people in the publishing industry for Examiner.com over the past years. As Las Vegas Women Democrat Examiner, she looks at the political arena from both sides and supports women's rights. Visit her website,www.morganstjames-author.com and her blog for more information.
Her two recently released books are Who's Got the Money?, a funny crime caper about government embezzlement inspired by real experiences is available at most online booksellers in trade paperback and Kindle editions, select Barnes & Noble locations, or can be ordered from local bookstores. Confessions of a Cougar, a memoir about three adventurous weeks in England, is available at online booksellers, also available in all digital formats including Kindle and Nook, or order at your favorite bookstore.