John Christopher, FBI, Tony Centracchio John discussed on Reveal
That they were shocked to suddenly learn that the man that they've been fighting for six years was working for the FBI. We say this why we couldn't get any help. Get any help with it. They knew all this was going on all alone before we even begin to fight for in the reason why we couldn't get any Justice for anything because it was Oliver for me. And they knew it from the very beginning. We just figured that John Christopher had that concrete pal there. He was making money off of it. And that's the purpose of what civil shovel. That was my first thing what is civil shell. And they said, oh, you did dumpsite the Christian John Krystal Gladys Woodson the block club president and north Mondale told me that she and her neighbors were collateral damage. They'd been used they were never able to get traction fighting John Christopher, and now they could see why he had to have begging, you know, 'cause people that we will contact and seem to you know, was pushing it on the not answering forever. One in north Lonsdale whose children had been hurt whose property had been damaged whose neighborhood had been disrespected. This was a huge breach of trust this people asthma attack, the people that own own oxygen machines that we have few people to move out of the neighborhood just moved because they could no longer stand the dust and stuff the news about operation, silver, shovel seemed to confirm what they'd been saying for years about the government's neglect of their neighborhood because this face the fact they wouldn't have put that up in the white community. Not at all. John didn't have to be allowed to still have that dumb 'cause you had ammunition to use against him. What about John Christopher me? What happened to him? When the whole thing broke when operation silver shovel was revealed. Well, even though John Christopher had agreed to wear a wire for the FBI and had become the centerpiece of major undercover investigation his participation was not actually like a get out of jail free card. He did not have a deal with the FBI for full immunity. So FBI agent. Jim Davis told me that at the beginning of the investigation. He had worn John Christopher not to do anything illegal that wasn't part of the investigation. And I would just try and reassure them and say, look, if you're straight with us, you know, if you continue to do what we're asking you to do, you know, if you stay out of trouble, you're going to be okay. But John Christopher did not hold up his end of the bargain while the investigation was going on while he was cooperating with the FBI. He was still committing other crimes and he went behind the bureau's back in other ways. So for example, at the same time operation silver shovel was going on the FBI was also looking into this illegal gambling operation run by an alleged mob. Boss named Tony Centracchio John referred to him as his uncle Tony. And that was a problem for me because we had a wire Tony. The wire was a video camera hidden in the ceiling. Of Tony Centracchio office. And every time John went into see him. We were recording John in primarily criminal conversations. Would you was adding to the mounting evidence? That we going to have to present against him at the end of this case, it's not totally clear. What John Christopher was doing there because he was never charged in this illegal gambling case, but him showing up on another investigations wire meet things really complicated for Jim Davis and his fellow agents. I would have liked to have said John stay away from uncle Tony's office. But I can't tell John that we have a wire and uncle Tony's office. John Christopher also neglected to file his federal income tax returns in nineteen ninety two and ninety three. I know it seems so mundane, but ultimately this is why he went to prison. John Christopher was sentenced to thirty nine months in prison. But he was never forced. To clean up the dumps or provide restitution to anyone in north Lonsdale. And then after he got out of prison, he disappeared. Again. Maybe for good this time. You mean he's been gone for like twenty years. Nobody knows where he is. Did you try and track him down? Yeah. I've been looking John Christopher for almost three years trying to figure out what happened to him after he got out of prison because he co-operated with the FBI he could not safely returned to his old life or even be in Chicago without FBI protection. So I looked for him everywhere. I could think of an Al I just found nothing. Eventually I learned the FBI had set him up with a new name and a new social security number and a new life. And that there was this FBI agent in Saint Louis who might have all that information. So I asked if he would talk to me, and if not if you would. Pass john. Christopher message for me. And this was the response. I got from the FBI's public information officer. Hi, robyn. It's Rebecca ESPN. I spoke if he agent, and he says that he. I guess MVP for the force. Not surprisingly, she declined to participate. Again, he says it is his responsibility to protect your source that he hopes that you understand that. So thank you very much and let me know giving a question. Even after all this time, it appears that the FBI is still protecting John Christopher what about all the trash. He left behind. I mean, the dump itself what happened to it? Well, when the feds wash their hands of this problem and said by by Chicago, and with all the intense public scrutiny and the national media coverage that operation silver shovel had garnered the city finally stepped in and started awarding contracts to companies who could hall all this rubble away. Remember the lot were mount Henry once stood spanned twenty one acres and the mountain itself was six stories tall. So these cleanup contracts, we're going to be really big and really lucrative. The cleanup had just started in January nineteen ninety six when the Reverend Jesse Jackson stopped in. We have the right to remove the degree in our community because I was going to be a good lucrative job for someone to have the job. So Reverend Jackson the civil rights activist and to candidate for president. And I come to Chicago in the nineteen sixties his rainbow push coalition is headquartered here and the way Jackson tells it when he first learned about operation, silver shovel. He realized that this cleanup presented a unique opportunity. John Christopher had dumped in a black neighborhood, and he had helped take down black politicians, but someone was going to get paid to clean up. The dumps and Jackson wanted the city to hire black owned trucking firms to do it. That was resistance because. Those who use these jobs were demanding their right to get them. We demanded the right to circumvent the system so Reverend Jackson mounted a major protest to backup. His demands we organized the trucks and the land removers on the frigid Saturday in early February nineteen Ninety-six dozens of diesel trucks and bulldozers plastered with signs that said things like we want our fair share and hire us to clean up. The dumps all these trucks lined up in a convoy and headed for north Lonsdale. Full.