Go to Homepage   Pete Early and Gerald Shur, WITSEC: Inside the Federal Witness Protection Program

 

Crescent Blues Book ViewsZebra (Paperback), ISBN 0-8217-7215-5

Authors Gerald Shur (credited as the creator and driving force behind the WITSEC) and Pete Early (Shur's ghost writer) present a detailed account of events leading to the establishment of the Federal Witness Protection Program and provide an authentic look at the inside machinations which make the program an outstanding success and an ongoing center of frustration. As a convenient and effective convention, the authors decided to present Gerald Shur's story as a third person narrative and to divide the text into four major sections.

Book: Pete Early adn Gerald SHur, WITSEC: inside the federal witness protection program
The first two sections detail Shur's longtime fascination with organized crime and crime figures, his rise from the son of a New York merchant to a member of the Justice Department and the ultimate establishment of the Federal Witness Protection Program. Two major events during this period became key stepping stones to the creation of the WITSEC. In 1967, Mobster Pascal "Paddy" Calabrese agreed to provide inside information about the Maggadino crime family in exchange for parole and the protection of his son and girlfriend. At about the same time, contract killer, Joseph Barboza, agreed to testify against New England crime boss Raymond Patriarca. Methods and strategies developed during the process of protecting these informants demonstrated the viability of an organized witness protection program.

The third section describes the lifestyle of a family living within the Federal Witness Protection Program. The unnamed family lives a nomadic and ever cautious life. Trying to blend in with their surrounding neighbors, they are subject to sudden moves under federal mandate as agents attempt to stay one step ahead of danger. Long stays in motels under the protective eyes of federal marshals, the inability to form lasting relationships and the need for constant caution wears away at families. This section provides an intriguing yet disconcerting picture of the consequences of entering the program.

The final section of the book, in part, describes an element of the price Shur and his family endured as a driving force behind the WITSEC. Ironically, he became the target of a mob-related kidnap scheme and placed himself and his family under protective services for a time. These chapters also serve to bring Shur's story up to date, including the circumstances behind his receipt of the Attorney General's Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Allusions to the Federal Witness Protection Program appear in many crime novels and dramas, but few really understand the complexity of the endeavor. Readers of true-crime novels may find this book a good choice as a guide to understanding the nuances of the program.

Clint Hunter

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