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The FBI makes every effort to hide the identities of its confidential underworld informants, even long after the informants have passed away. Unlike the famous Joe Valachi and other Bureau cooperating witnesses, who exchange public testimony for government protection, confidential informants continue in their dangerous underworld roles while secretly feeding information to investigators.

In reports, the FBI refers to its informants only by code numbers. Before any reports are made available to the public, revealing details about the informants are deleted. But subtle clues to their identities may remain within the text.

For years, Toronto-based crime historian Edmond Valin has been combing through publicly available information, including declassified files of the FBI, for these clues. He has shown a remarkable ability to discover the identities of some of the most important and most secret Mafia turncoats by comparing seemingly insignificant details from different documents.

Valin has consented to allow the American Mafia history website to publish a collection of his ground-breaking articles online. These articles, grouped under the heading of “Rat Trap,” deal with informants from major U.S. Mafia organizations, including the Chicago Outfit, the Philly Mob, the Bonanno Crime Family and the Gambino Crime Family. Six articles are in the collection at this time, and more are on the way.

Valin’s often shocking conclusions are painstakingly defended through document citations (many of the related documents can be accessed online through links provided in the articles’ endnotes).

Visit Edmond Valin’s Rat Trap articles.

‘Rat Trap’

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The website recently added a collection of articles by writer (and history detective) Edmond Valin.

Based in the Toronto area, Valin’s specialty is deducing the identities of confidential underworld informants through clues left in government documents, such as FBI files, and other sources. We are calling the article collection, “Rat Trap.” At the moment, there are three articles, and we hope to add more soon.

Valin’s articles all provide source citations. And we have tried to include web links to online source material and book purchase sites whenever possible.

Click here to check out the Rat Trap articles on the site.

I’m very pleased to announce that Edmond Valin has provided the American Mafia history website with a short article discussing a 1960s-era informer within the Bonanno Crime Family of New York. That informer provided law enforcement with a good deal of background information on crime family members during the period of the so-called “Banana War.” Edmond Valin argues that crime boss Joseph Bonanno’s son Salvatore “Bill” Bonanno was the informer. (Click here to read the article.)

Bill Bonanno
Bill Bonanno

I agree with Valin’s assessment and actually reached the same conclusion through some independent research. I found it interesting that the initial claim that Joseph Bonanno was kidnapped by Buffalo boss Stefano Magaddino reached law enforcement and the media at approximately the same moment, in December 1964. At that time, Bill Bonanno was leading a shrinking group of Bonanno loyalists against the interference of Magaddino and the Mafia Commission.

The story of Magaddino’s involvement in the alleged kidnapping (I am one of those who believe the kidnapping was staged by Bonanno, by the way) was first mentioned in a column by Hearst newspaper personality Walter Winchell. (Winchell is believed to have had a role in leading Lepke Buchalter to the FBI a generation earlier.)
After just a few days, Joseph Bonanno’s attorney William Maloney confirmed the Winchell report, citing details provided to him in a telephone conversation with Bill Bonanno.

(BTW: Maloney really stuck his neck out for the Bonannos, and he probably regretted doing so. When Joseph Bonanno reappeared a year and a half later than Maloney told law enforcement he would, he did so with brand new legal counsel. Maloney no longer represented the crime boss.)

We are indebted to Justin Dugard for purchasing, editing and contributing to The American Mafia website the October 14, 2008, federal court testimony of Stefan Cicale. Cicale was the government’s key witness in the racketeering/murder trial of Bonanno Crime Family associate Joseph Young.

Cicale’s direct examination testimony is broken up into three web pages for ease of use. A subject¬†index will be added in the near future.

Joseph Young was convicted of the gruesome 2005 murder of Robert McElvey at the historic – and allegedly haunted – Kreischer Mansion on Staten Island (see photo). Cicale was charged as an accomplice and decided to cooperate with federal investigators.

The testimony can be accessed through the website’s Articles menu or through this direct address:¬†http://mafiahistory.us/a020/f_young.html