HomeLatest NewsDEA Turncoat: Ex-Agent Embroiled in Massive Drug and Sex Trafficking Scandal

DEA Turncoat: Ex-Agent Embroiled in Massive Drug and Sex Trafficking Scandal

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Former Drug Enforcement Administration agent Joseph Bongiovanni faces federal bribery allegations after he was accused of accepting more than $250,000 to protect the mafia and also to aid drug traffickers in conducting their operations in New York.

This month, the former agent began his trial and could spend the rest of his life behind bars. This courtroom drama features tales of racism, deception, and an egregious breach of trust.

They alleged that behind the facade of a veteran U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent was a turncoat who had been bribed by the Buffalo Mafia. He offered an “umbrella” of protection to cover for a sex trafficking strip club and helped a high school English teacher with connections keep up his marijuana-growing side business.

In a federal case that began earlier this month, prosecutors painted Bongiovanni in a racist light. They claimed he had raped his colleagues by opening fake files, and encouraged them to spend more time investigating Blacks and Hispanics instead of Italians. After he was unmasked by authorities in 2019, he retired quickly and deleted his phone.

Joseph Tripi, Assistant U.S. attorney, told jurors that “sometimes the DEA gets it wrong.” He was able to manipulate everyone because in law enforcement there is an inherent level of trust. He did it while being watched by supervisors who were under-supervised.”

Tripi described Bongiovanni, as a “greedy racist” who used his position to enrich him and protect Italian suspects.

The former DEA agent was charged with 15 counts, many of which were based on his relationship with Peter Gerace Jr. the owner of Pharoah’s Gentleman’s Club located in Cheektowaga. Gerace is accused of running a drug and sex trafficking operation. Gerace has ties to the Buffalo Mafia, according to reports. Louis Selva will be a key witness in the prosecution case. He was Bongiovanni’s childhood friend.

The prosecutor stated that it was Selva, who approached Bongiovanni about a formal agreement with the drug trafficking group. This arrangement would have put the former DEA agent on a monthly retainer of $2,000, which grew to $4,000, and eventually amounted to upwards of $250,000. Selva knew of Bongiovanni’s financial problems and cocaine consumption, so he was comfortable bringing up the idea.

Ronald Serio will also be a key witness. Although he has never met Bongiovanni, prosecutors claim that he provided the money for Bongiovanni to pay his monthly retainer to cover the drug trafficking organization.

In his opening statement to Joseph Bongiovanni’s trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Tripi stated that the case was about a dishonest special agent who broke his oath to enforce drug laws in this country in exchange for bribes of up to $250,000 in payment.

Two co-conspirators are now cooperating witnesses for the government.

Tripi told his jury that “two of the people you will hear from are Lou Selva and Ron Serio.” These are people who have intimate and inside knowledge of the way this conspiracy was carried out. Their testimony will provide an inside view of how a Buffalo, N.Y. drug trafficking organization recruited and bribed a DEA agent, causing him to become a dual agent, in violation of his sworn oath.

Bongiovanni’s case isn’t isolated; it is symptomatic of a larger problem of criminality and corruption plaguing the DEA. A federal jury convicted in 2023 two former DEA officers of bribery.

The trial will not only bring to light the alleged wrongdoing of Bongiovanni but also put the DEA in a more scrutinizing position. This case could expose even more corruption among DEA agents.

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