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Finding Gary, Part 2

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And Krugh's actions may have helped seal Gary Weaver's fate.

Unbeknownst to Krugh, Combs was already working as an informant for DEA agent B.J. Church, who is now retired. Church remembers when Combs told him about Krugh and a couple of smugglers named Sandini and Micelli. The DEA agent quickly realized that Micelli was really Dan Mitrione. "We hit on Mitrione and then said, 'Oh my God, this guy's an FBI agent,'" Church recalls of the case.

He and other agents notified the FBI of their suspicions that Mitrione had gone bad, but the bureau ignored them. "There was some resistance from the FBI," Church puts it diplomatically.

When Combs and Krugh realized they were both working cases against each other for different law enforcement agencies, they got together and had a laugh. Then Combs persuaded Krugh to join him in ratting out Sandini and Mitrione. On December 6, 1983, Krugh met federal agents in Fort Lauderdale. He later said he knew when he did this that Sandini and Mitrione, who he still didn't know was an FBI agent, would "fry."

Church remembers Krugh as a shaky and deceitful witness who was terrified that Sandini would find out and have him killed. In an attempt to head off Sandy's anger, Krugh took a calculated risk: He told Sandini that he'd spoken with Church but said he'd told the DEA agent nothing to incriminate Sandini or Mitrione.

Apparently, the DEA was particularly porous when it came to sensitive information. The smuggler Hagerman also learned that Krugh had snitched to the DEA. A mysterious figure who was never indicted in the Airlift case, Hagerman set out to destroy Krugh by calling the BSO's Brennan and telling him about the illicit cocaine-hauling the pilot was doing.

Sandini, Mitrione, Hagerman -- the list of Krugh's enemies was growing. And that didn't even count the Colombians who'd been ripped off.

When Krugh made his fateful visit to Church, Gary was in the Bahamas living in the home of a mysterious man named Jeff Fisher. There, Gary was a sitting duck. On December 9, 1983, just three days after Krugh snitched to the DEA, Gary vanished.

On April Fool's Day 1984, Sandini looked at Mitrione at the Pompano Harness Track and shoved a stack of 35 hundred-dollar bills across the table. The air was thick with paranoia.

"You got nothing to worry about," said Sandini, who was drinking heavily that night.

Mitrione, sitting next to his wife, hurriedly picked up the cash and put it in the breast pocket of his jacket. The former FBI agent believed his partner was making reference to the DEA case. Both men were afraid the other was going to snitch. Sandini's voice turned cold: "That and a quarter will get you a cup of coffee."

To Mitrione, the words signaled that his partner was turning against him, that he couldn't be trusted.

It was the last time the two men would talk. Two days later, a powerful plastic explosive device was found under Sandini's car after he drove away from the Pompano track. Had the bomb detonated -- and the lead BSO investigator on the case, Dennis Regan, said it was an incredible stroke of luck that it didn't -- hundreds of people might have been killed. Regan could find only one viable suspect: Mitrione.

The former FBI agent had an obvious motive, and his far-flung alibi didn't hold up. While Mitrione claimed he was staying alone in an empty house in Fort Myers when the bomb was discovered, a witness said she saw Mitrione near the Pompano track that night. Investigators also found that a call placed the same night from a Broward County convenience store had been charged to Mitrione's calling card.

The day after the bombing, the former agent claimed that he drove aimlessly through the Everglades, planning to commit suicide. Why? Because he believed the bombing would be pinned on him. He said he pulled over in the swamp and passed out after putting the end of a gun in his mouth. When he came to, he checked himself into a mental hospital.

Regan said making a case against Mitrione was made impossible by the fact that the FBI wouldn't cooperate with him. The bureau, he said, ignored his requests to share information and seemed intent only on protecting its former employee.

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman