DEA Agent Accused Of Taking Money From Mafia

A former Drug Enforcement Administration agent stands accused of accepting $250,000 from organized crime figures. Joseph Bongiovanni also allegedly provided protection for a strip club believed to be involved in trafficking.

He is further accused of assisting a high school English teacher in his illegal cannabis operation.

Bongiovanni’s federal trial is underway in upstate New York. He faces numerous charges related to providing what officials termed an “umbrella of protection” for the Buffalo Mafia in exchange for large amounts of cash.

According to the Associated Press, Bongiovanni was never the type of agent to sit behind a desk. He “was raised in a tight-knit Italian American community in North Buffalo” and earned a reputation as a “door kicker” in the agency.

The roots of his alleged corruption were revealed Thursday by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Tripi. He told jurors that Bongiovanni flipped when faced with financial issues from a contentious divorce and a habit of taking luxury vacations.

Prosecutors said the respected lawman arrived at work every day for years with a “little dark secret.”

They charged he received envelopes stuffed with cash for years from mafia sources and covered their tracks by opening phony case files. Bongiovanni is also accused of being a racist, urging colleagues to target Black and Hispanic suspects and stay away from Italians.

The 59-year-old defendant pleaded not guilty to charges of bribery, conspiracy and obstruction of justice. His attorney claimed the case is built on lies that tear apart credibility.

However, it is the latest black eye for the agency that absorbed several in recent years.

Since 2015, at least 16 agents have faced federal charges on everything from drug trafficking and leaking intelligence to accusations involving minors.

At least three former DEA veteran agents are imprisoned for a decade or more, including one who laundered funds for Colombian cartels. He was convicted of spending ill-gotten gains for such luxuries as sports cars and jewels.

These incidents are doubly harmful for the DEA, which must then determine if any cases were tarnished by the misdeeds of its convicted agents.