Patriot Games

A Right-Wing Ex-Congressman Recruits the Colombo Crime Family to Find P.O.W.'s

Prison records show that Sparaco was steadily moved around after his 1993 incarceration, eventually winding up in Allenwood last year, albeit in a medium-security prison, not the camp-style facility LeBoutillier had sought. Still, Frankie Blue Eyes, according to a friend of the inmate, credited his well-connected friend with his relocation.

A spokesman for the Bureau of Prisons said he couldn't comment on Sparaco's prison transfers or whether the ex-congressman's pleas were heeded or even received. And LeBoutillier said he doubted that his letters had any effect. "I am not terribly popular with this administration," he said. "After all, I accused former president Bush of participating in the cover-up of the P.O.W.'s." In fact the federal government, he said, was actively trying to undermine his efforts to find the P.O.W.'s and was undoubtedly the source behind the leaking of his letters to the Voice.

"This intrinsically proves that there are P.O.W.'s out there," he said. "When the government starts attacking me, leaking out my documents and memos, they must have an ulterior motive. If there are no prisoners, who gives a damn? So why leak my letters?"

The Boot: Right-wing pundit and self-styled P.O.W.-M.I.A. savior John LeBoutillier in his glory years as acongressman from Long Island
photo: Fred W. McDarrah
The Boot: Right-wing pundit and self-styled P.O.W.-M.I.A. savior John LeBoutillier in his glory years as acongressman from Long Island

For Sparaco's part, according to a friend who asked to remain anonymous, the prisoner is not only excited about his mission, but believes it could get him out of jail.

"LeBoutillier promised him he would get a presidential pardon if this comes off; that he'd be a hero," said the Sparaco pal. "He believes in this thing 100 percent."

The Boot denied it. "I always told him anything done to bring home American prisoners would be greatly appreciated by the American people, but I can't imagine a pardon or how to get one. I don't believe he ever said that," he said. And despite the claims in his letter, he said Sparaco has produced no news of missing P.O.W.'s. "The guy hasn't come up with anything," he said.

Sparaco's friend, however, said that the inmate insists not only that the campaign has borne fruit, but that a trio of secret government agents visited the gangster last year in prison, warning him to steer clear of LeBoutillier's wild ideas.

It wouldn't be the first time the crusader has been accused of inflating his claims. A 1993 senate committee investigation headed by war-hero senators John McCain and John Kerry accused LeBoutillier's organization and similar groups of making funding pitches to the public that were "outright frauds."

LeBoutillier said the attack was political, aimed at undermining the P.O.W. effort in order to normalize relations with Vietnam. In a column on last April, the former congressman, who spent the Vietnam years at Harvard, called both senators "liars" and "evil." Of the former pilot who spent six years in a Hanoi cell, he wrote: "To know McCain is to detest him."

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