The FBI's Most Wanted Agent

When Jerry Sullivan was arrested for criminal behavior, he chose to blame an unexpected source: the FBI

Having to deal with men like Del Gaudio took its toll on the unstable Sullivan, his psychologist testified. He was deeply paranoid and had dreams of killers stalking him. One psychiatrist, Richard Seely, testified that Sullivan even developed posttraumatic stress disorder from his time undercover.

The agent wouldn't go undercover for another nine years, but it didn't keep him from cracking up, especially after a friend of his was killed when a residential street in Dade County suddenly turned into a deadly battle zone.

On April 11, 1986, two FBI agents were killed, five were injured, and two bank robbers fatally shot during a gun battle near Sunniland Shopping Center in Dade County. It was one of the bloodiest days in FBI history. Agent Ben Grogan, one of those gunned down, was a good friend of Sullivan, who was transferred to the Miami office after Shockwave. Hanlon was one of the injured: He was shot several times and helplessly watched Grogan die.

Sullivan wasn't there when Grogan died. He didn't hear the gunshots, much less feel them ripping through his skin. But the killing of 53-year-old Grogan had a terrible impact on him. Reminiscent of his crying spells as a youth, Sullivan got into a habit of getting drunk at home until he began crying about Grogan. Then he'd get into his car in his closed garage and repeatedly play an audiotape of a telephone call then-President Reagan made to Grogan's wife. Sullivan also taped a television movie based on the shootout and, in a state of depression, watched it over and over again before his wife finally threw the tape away. At about this time, his brother nicknamed him "One More," because he never seemed to stop drinking.

Finally, in 1992, Catherine called Michael Smith, her husband's FBI supervisor and close friend, and told him Sullivan was an alcoholic and desperately needed help. Sullivan was placed in a rehabilitation program and stopped drinking. His new compulsion was FBI work.

"I went back to work and busted my ass and eventually received exceptional performance ratings," Sullivan told Ryan. "They told me I was working too hard."

A year after he returned from rehab, an informant told Sullivan about a bookmaking group in Hallandale that he said also ran rackets involving corrupt police and drug trafficking in Chicago and the Dominican Republic. The informant told Sullivan that the group, allegedly led by Gambino crime-family associate Auggie Corrao, was betting with Illinois congressman Dan Rostenkowski.

Sullivan did something he never should have done, something his supervisor, Smith, knew was dangerous and never authorized -- yet, curiously, didn't stop.

Sullivan went undercover again.
"Following Sullivan's intervention for alcohol abuse in '92, and the fact that Smith and Sullivan have known each other for quite some time, it was Smith's intent as a supervisor not to allow Jerry to participate in undercover activity," testified Agent Alexis Vazquez, who investigated Sullivan after the arrest. "... It was my understanding from our interview of Smith that he was basically admonishing Sullivan from participating in undercover activity."

The FBI has a policy that forbids alcoholics to do undercover work, but Sullivan pushed on in the investigation anyway, continuing unimpeded in his undercover role, as he played the part of "Jerry Cunningham," a "two-bit thief." And he was allowed to do so virtually without supervision. He started gambling, and "I knew right away that I was hooked," Sullivan told Ryan. "I wasn't drinking, but I was getting the same type of euphoria from betting sports."

In April 1994 he requested $1000 in FBI funds to gamble with two Mob associates. Smith, despite his supposed concerns, approved it. Had someone been monitoring Sullivan's investigation, the fiasco that culminated in Sullivan's arrest might have been avoided entirely. Sullivan was sloppy -- his own undercover recordings with bookies showed that he was making bets long before he requested official permission to gamble. But nobody at the FBI ever listened to his tapes. Supervisors never made Sullivan transcribe them, although doing so was one of his duties.

"There is a high likelihood that someone would find out that Jerry Sullivan had been gambling before he was authorized to do so, right?" Sullivan attorney Mark Schnapp asked Vazquez in court.

"If those tapes had been reviewed, yes."
"Now, wouldn't Mr. Smith, who was so concerned about Agent Sullivan being in an undercover capacity at all, wouldn't he have listened to the tapes?"

"Not necessarily."
The FBI's Brian Jerome says Sullivan largely did his uncover on his own -- without permission or knowledge of Smith or the rest of the FBI. But neither he nor anyone else at the FBI can adequately explain why, then, Smith had approved the gambling. Sullivan says that the undercover work he did on the Corrao case was known and approved by his supervisors.

Ryan, the psychologist, wrote in court reports that the FBI should have been monitoring Sullivan much more closely after his alcoholism was made known. Psychologists who deal with addicts know that they often trade one addiction for another, and the lack of followup for Sullivan constituted a "vast deficit in the procedures," Ryan wrote.

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