Retired special agent John Ligato served in the FBI for 20 years. He spent most of his career working organized crime and narcotics investigations. He was also a Bureau pilot for four years. In this episode of FBI Retired Case File Review, John is interviewed about his eight-year role as a deep undercover agent, wherein he operated strip clubs in Memphis to gather evidence against bikers selling drugs and stolen property and in Cleveland in order to infiltrate the mob. His efforts in Cleveland resulted in one of the Bureau’s largest and most significant public corruption cases involving members of law enforcement. John recently released a crime novel—Dirty Boys—about a group of former Marines with roles in law enforcement who uncover a terror plot that cannot be defeated by traditional methods.

Special Agent (Retired)

John Ligato

9/13/1982 – 01/03/2003


JL Head shot











The following links are to newspaper articles about the FBI cases around the country that benefitted from John Ligato’s work as an undercover agent in the role of an owner/operator of strip clubs:

44 Officers are charged after Ohio sting operation

Expert Doubts Philly Mob’s Art Connection (Stolen Lamborghini mentioned toward end of article)



First Photo. Undercover on the Abscam boat off the coast of Miami with Donnie Brasco (sitting) and two Cleveland Wise Guys

John undercover hanging out on the Abscam boat off the coast of Miami with Donnie Brasco, aka Joe Pistone (sitting) and two Cleveland wise guys.











(See Photo with me pecking Marazza’s cheek

John pecking Ronnie Marazza’s cheek. Marazza was a made guy out of the Gambino Family who was coordinating all mob activities in Vegas.











Photo 5 guys sitting around a cocktail table in the topless nightclub I operated. Bruno Malfara and Carlo Garabaldi were with a LCN family in Toronto.

John sitting at a cocktail table with patrons at the strip club he operated as an undercover agent.














Photo (Flower) Myself as John Calabria and Salvatore Vitello

John in his undercover role as John Calabria, the owner of a strip club in Cleveland, with Salvatore Vitello, a made LCN member out of Detroit. It took John two years to gain Vitello’s trust.














New Agents Class (NAC) 82-10 after firearms qualification. John is holding the target, I’m sitting in the front next to classmate Jerry Dove – FBI Service Martyr killed in the 1986 FBI Miami shootout.















John’s novel, Dirty Boys, is about a tenacious FBI agent is forced to operate outside the system to save the country.
















John Ligato.

In the documentary—Against the Odds’ Relives Epic Battles—John talks about how, as a 19 year-old, he participated in the 1968 TET offensive during the Viet Nam war and earned three purple hearts. John Ligato USMC “Pissed off Marine” (video)


















Jerri Williams, a retired FBI agent, author and podcaster, attempts to relive her glory days by writing crime fiction and hosting FBI Retired Case File Review, a true crime podcast available for subscription on iTunes and Stitcher. Her novel—Pay To Play— about a female agent investigating corruption in the Philadelphia strip club industry is  available at


This episode was sponsored by – the only on-line directory made available to the general public featuring “retired” FBI AGENTS / ANALYSTS interested in showcasing their skills to secure business opportunities. Logo




  Jun 11, 2016

Author and Podcaster

1 comment

A real hero of agents like him are doing today’s FBI.

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