Previously unknown details about historic criminal cases -- including the Lindbergh Baby kidnapping and the infiltration of the Al Capone gang -- are revealed in thousands of pages of investigative files found in the crawlspace of a New Jersey home.
The original documents were inherited by physician Marty Dolan, who tells his family’s story on the latest Strange Inheritance with Jamie Colby. The episode premieres Monday, Feb. 12, at 9 p.m. ET on the FOX Business Network.
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The boxes of files were compiled by Dolan’s great uncle Mike Malone, a career Internal Revenue Service agent who died in 1960. They collected dust for 25 years until they piqued Dolan’s curiosity.
“I didn’t know what they were about, because I was young when he passed away,” says Dolan, who recalls his uncle as a mysterious figure. “He’d show up periodically to visit my grandmother. He had deep-set eyes. He had this fedora and overcoat, even in the summer.”
Dolan thought the files just contained boring audit reports. Then he noticed one titled, “Regarding Alphonse Capone,” and another, “Kidnapping and Murder of Charles Augustus Lindbergh Jr.”
Pre-Google, Dolan found it impossible to dig up details about mysterious Uncle Mike. Even a private detective didn’t help.
“No one could give me a feel for what I had,” Dolan tells Colby in the program. “It was a dead end.”
So he shelved the documents -- for what turned out to be another 26 years. Then in 2011, retired from medicine, he resumed his research project.
Now the internet provided some leads. Dolan learned that during the 1920s and 1930s, Uncle Mike worked for an obscure division of the U.S. Treasury Department, formed in 1919, known as the “T-Men.” The unit gained a powerful crime-fighting tool after the Supreme Court held in 1927 that income from illicit activity was taxable. That gave the IRS legal means to bust up criminal organizations that didn’t declare profits from bootlegging, gambling, prostitution and extortion.
Retired IRS special agent Paul Camacho says the T-Men weren’t as famous as the “G-Men” of the FBI because “they didn’t talk about what they did, but just went from one case to another.” He says the one-of-a-kind documents Dolan inherited are a “total bonanza” to researchers.
They reveal Malone infiltrated Capone’s organization by posing as a Philadelphia gangster on the run named Mike Lepito.
“He had the whole setup done, from the fedora to the double-breasted suits to the silk underwear, even with the initials ML on it,” Marty says.
Malone ended up living in Capone’s Chicago headquarters, the Lexington Hotel, secretly collecting evidence that the gangster was making a lot more money than he declared on his taxes.
Malone helped take down other crime bosses, too, like Waxey Gordon and Nucky Johnson, whose stories were adapted by HBO in its series “Boardwalk Empire.”
Malone also played a key role in solving the “Crime of the Century” – the 1932 kidnapping and murder of the 20-month-old son of hero pilot Charles Lindbergh -- and left behind about 80 pages of daily investigative memos. The documents include details about Lindbergh’s diet, how out of agony he stopped shining his shoes, and how he took a machine gun to meet a hoaxer claiming to know the kidnappers.
“That’s completely unknown to history,” says Robert Zorn, one of the world’s leading experts on the case. “These are the kind of details that put you on the ground with Lindbergh as he’s wrestling to solve this problem. I positively guarantee that this will forever change how this story will be viewed.”
Malone and the T-men convinced Lindbergh to pay the $50,000 ransom in rare gold certificates and documented bills, allowing investigators to painstakingly track every dollar that was spent.
That forensic accounting -- detailed in one of Malone’s files -- helped authorities apprehend Bruno Richard Hauptmann, who was found guilty of kidnapping and murder and executed 1936.
Dolan now hopes his strange inheritance will help him honor his distant uncle.
“He put in 47 years of service to his country at great risk to his life with great honor to his country,” say Dolan, who is lobbying to get Uncle Mike a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom.