When Harold Nichols, Bob Arnold and I were assigned to help the F.B.I. work on uncovering the theft of casino money from Las Vegas, we had an unconnected assignment for a while. Because the original microphone was placed because of a valid threat to Carl Spero’s life, we were part of a team that was to either interrupt a future attempt or catch them in the act. In other words, we were to keep him alive. He had survived one attempt and was paralyzed from the mid chest area down. Carl was tough and he continued his own criminal operation which included a conspiracy to kill Nick and Carl Civella and Tuffy DeLuna.
Carl lived on a small farm in rural Clay County. We would sit in a field and wait for him to leave. To follow a guy, you get in a place to see him leave and have other crews covering the possible main roads out. In this case we left someone in Kearney, MO to see if he went to I-35 and south into Kansas City. Then we have crews go ahead and wait at possible exits, like into downtown or east onto I-70. One of our early attempts found him staying on I-35 and exiting onto Rainbow in Kansas. We followed him into a parking lot on Rainbow, close to KU. He went inside and we waited. When he left, I went inside to see what he had been doing and I found a dialysis clinic. Oh, yeah he lost his kidney function in the previous attempt on his life.
One time he was back at the joint, the Virginia tavern, where he and his brothers were attacked and a shotgun blast cut his spinal cord. We saw a known mob associate cruising around the place. He soon disappeared. We found a pay phone and called into the wire room (place where the wire taps are monitored). We learned this guy was calling Cork Civella from a pay phone. He told Cork that Spero was all alone at the Virginian. Cork asked, “Are there any agents around?” The guy replied,”No!” Cork Replied, “Well that just means they are there somewhere.” But, shorty after they sent in the A-Team to check it out. About an hour later, we saw another car cruising the bar and Carl was still inside. One of the guys could see Tuffy DeLuna was a passenger. We called into the F.B.I. office. We were ordered to move in closer and to not let them get inside to kill Carl while we were watching. Well, once we moved in closer, I remember a car with three occupants started following me! I drive east on Admiral Blvd to Paseo and then south. I was cool, reporting to the others that I was being followed. But, I was a bit nervous. I know in my rational brain that Mob guys want nothing to do with cops, but the fear is always that they think the undercover is a member of the Spero crew protecting him. At 12th and Paseo, the car pulled up next to me and I looked over to see Tuffy Deluna looking at me and smiling. He gave me a slight nod and they hightailed it out of the area. I felt a bit of relief. We were trying to get marked units in to stop them but they slipped away.
This was winter and the Bureau rented a four-wheel drive Bronco. A few years later, I had an informant tell me a story. He was a professional car thief. He said he was drinking with Spero at the Red Apple strip club in Kansas. Carl offered him a thousand dollars to go steal a Ford Bronco that was parked in the Red Apple parking lot. I guess Carl thought that would be funny. The Bronco was in the parking lot and some of us were inside to see what he was doing. We did not look at the strippers, I swear.