Episode 021: John Ligato – Mob Guys and Strip Clubs


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

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 Comment

  1. carcan pascalMarch 22, 2018

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


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