Episode 198: James Gagliano – Going Undercover, Living the Dream

Retired agent James “Jimmy” Gagliano served in the FBI for nearly 25 years. During his FBI career, Gagliano worked organized crime, was a member of the Hostage Rescue Team (HRT – the FBI’s elite counter-terror unit), participated in numerous overseas deployments, and lead the FBI New York Office SWAT Team. In this episode of FBI Retired Case File Review, James Gagliano reviews his early days in the FBI and his training and assignments as an undercover agent (UCA). He shares stories about those who inspired him, including FBI TV characters, mafia underboss, Sammy “The Bull” Gravano, who he “babysat” during a protection detail, and FBI UCA legends Joe Pistone and Joaquin “Big Jack” Garcia, and explains why he left the undercover program.

Later, Gagliano headed up a Safe Streets Task Force. His last two Bureau assignments were as the acting Legal Attaché in Mexico City and as the Chief of Staff/Special Assistant to the Assistant-Director-in-Charge of the FBI’s New York Division. Since retiring, he has become a sought-after speaker on the topics of “Leadership” and “Combating the Gang Culture” and is a law enforcement analyst on CNN. We discuss the responsibility of being an FBI “influencer.”

Jimmy was previously interviewed on Episode 064: James Gagliano – Drug Gangs, Safe Streets, and Basketball.

Special Agent (Retired)

James Gagliano

2/10/91 – 12/31/2015








“The most important thing about undercover work is not getting out of your comfort zone, what you have subject matter expertise in, so you don’t come across as someone who just learned what you’re pretending to be.”—James Gagliano

The following is an article written by James Gagliano about his time working undercover:

CNN Opinion – 2/7/2020:  I became an undercover FBI agent after watching one on TV

Virginia driver’s license in the name of James Gagliano’s UCA persona, James Falcone.







A mugshot of James Gagliano, taken during one of his undercover assignments.



As a law enforcement analyst on CNN, Gagliano provides insights on police matters and crisis events.












Jimmy wrote a chapter on empathy for the textbook, The Art of Investigation, which examines the qualities required to be a professional, thorough, and effective investigator.














Jerri Williams

View posts by Jerri Williams
Jerri Williams, a retired FBI agent, author and podcaster, jokes that she writes about the FBI to relive her glory days. After 26 years with the Bureau specializing in major economic fraud and corruption investigations, she calls on her professional encounters with scams and schemers to write police procedurals inspired by true crime FBI cases in her Philadelphia FBI Corruption Squad crime fiction series featuring flawed female FBI agent Kari Wheeler. Jerri’s FBI for Armchair Detectives nonfiction series enables readers to discover who the FBI is and what the FBI does by debunking misconceptions about the FBI in books, TV, and movies. Her books are available as ebooks, paperbacks, and audiobooks wherever books are sold. She’s also the host of FBI Retired Case File Review, a true crime podcast with more than 300 episodes available on all popular podcast apps and YouTube.


  1. Valerie O'ConnorMay 1, 2020

    Dear Jerri
    Thank you for these podcasts. I love listening to them as I walk around my neighborhood every day during these awful pandemic times.

    1. Jerri WilliamsMay 1, 2020

      They’re the perfect distraction!


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