It takes 40 years to make a Sagamore .... S 6 2022
The Making of a Sagamore
Never Called by His Given Name
Law Enforcement: Self Directed Training
A woman living in the building suggested that he apply to the New York State Attorney General's office as an investigator for the Board of Elections.
He was accepted as a volunteer investigator. After some training, he was issued "Bertha", a four inch .357 magnum. His wife told him not to bring it home. She didn't tell him why. She didn't wish to shoot him with it.
Louis Lefkowitz was then Attorney General. [1957-1978]. He worked out of the World Trade Center office. New York State Investigators were represented by the Teamsters Union. He had to pay weekly dues to serve as an investigator.
He initially worked as an election inspector in the Bronx. He and a partner would visit the various polling places to handle situations and clear up reported irregularities. One election day, at JHS 143 Tetard on Sedgewick Avenue, his partner Butler went into the school to check things out. He saw a man with a drawn gun paralleling Butler's path on the outside of the school. He walked behind the man and when Butler came out the door at the other end, as the man raised his gun to shoot Butler, Mike shot him through the abdomen, blowing him over the fence. He then gave the surprised gunman first aid, saving his life, having already saved Butler's.
The man was amazed that he'd been shot by a "bum". Butler usually wore a three piece suit, black shined shoes and a black trench coat, while he wore a tee shirt, dungaree jacket, jeans, a scruffy brown hat, no socks and slippers. No one suspected they were partners.
After a while, he and Butler were assigned as regular partners. He was charged with keeping Butler out of trouble. He worked mostly undercover, except when working for the Board of Elections. He was frequently loaned out to New Jersey when they needed help. A daily pass got him across the state line with "Bertha".Once, while working undercover on a really sensitive matter, he caught his jeans on a fence, ripping the pants. He went home to change, hidding the jeans in the back of a bottom drawer under other clothes so his wife wouldn't ask him about how they were ripped. They remained there until they moved to New Jersey, a year after he resigned from New York State. It was also the only time he brought "Bertha" home as he knew his wife was at work.
Another time, someone reported seeing a body being thrown off the Pulaski Skyway. Not surprisingly, local police couldn't find anything. The land below the Pulaski Skyway was wetlands, mostly swamps. He was called.
When he arrived, since it was wetlands, he took a stick and began walking, poking the ground as he went. When he felt something different, which meant it might be a body, he reached in, pulled it up, dropped it back on the surface and continued walking, leaving the bodies for others to bag. More than a dozen bodies were found that day.
One day, he and Butler were waiting to testify at the Courthouse at 100 Centre Street. Butler, bored, decided it was a good time for target practice. Butler took out a match box, removed a roach from the box and placed it on the hood of a parked Cadillac. Butler then shot the roach. Unfortunately, even though the car wasn't hit, it blew up. However, Mike recalled seeing three men working on the car just before Butler began target practice. Examination of the car revealed the shot had detonated a bomb underneath the car. Back in the office, Mike described each of the three men and each of the men was recognized by one of the women in the office. All three were in law enforcement. Fortunately, Butler had saved the life of the car owner, a sitting Judge, and received only 30 days suspension without pay for unlawfully discharging a firearm. Mike was commended and the incident was classified. Despite it being a secret with no publicity whatsoever, A/Sgt. D'Amico was soon notorious throughout NYPD, demonstrating, once again, there are no secrets.
Whenever he went to Auxiliary Forces Headquarters in the Queens Courthouse basement on Queens Boulevard, the reaction was always the same. There was only one way in and out, yet the members of the service consistently tried to find another exit. Years later, when his wife was visiting AFS in Queens, she noticed a sudden increase in activity. Sgt. D asked if her husband was coming. She nodded and he said "Watch". The activity tapered off and, as many disappeared except Sgt. D & Lt. A, in walked A/Lt. D'Amico with his associates, smiling and greeting all present. Lt. A came out of his office, smiling, and Sgt. D. chuckled.
While working as a volunteer investigator, he looked for work in security which was hard to find following the NYPD layoffs in 1975. He applied for positions as an armed investigator but there was one obstacle: the required lie detector test.
When he was told to give a false answer, neither the machine, nor its operator, could tell the difference between his false answer and his truthful one. When he was told to say something, he did as he was told, without any emotional attachment. Since they couldn't tell when he was lying, no one would hire him.
He was hired as a guard.
However, he took off Wednesdays so he could look for a better position.
On one assignment, he was scheduled to work days in a Fort Lee luxury apartment building. One day, the Galaxy wouldn't start so he took the bus from the Port Authority in northern Manhattan to Fort Lee, then walked to the building. At the end of the shift, in late afternoon, he walked back to the bus stop. He politely nodded to the well dressed man already waiting there, who nodded in return. They waited for the bus and boarded without ever speaking.
A few days later, as he drove off the George Washington Bridge, he noticed two men in a sedan following him. He stopped at the diner for coffee, as usual, got his coffee, light and sweet, and went on to work. The next day, he saw the same car following him. Again, he stopped for coffee but this time he ordered 2 extra coffees, saying they were for the two men who were coming in after him. The third day, the car was there again. This day, he ordered food for the two men, in addition to the coffees.The fourth day, the same car tailed him. This time, however, when he entered the diner, there was a New Jersey State Trooper waiting for him.
The two men following him were making a scene each day over paying for the food he had ordered for them and management had notified the police. He told the trooper what he knew. The trooper said to order food for the men and go on his way while the trooper waited for the two men. He had fun ordering food that he himself couldn't eat, like lemon meringue pie, and went on to work.
Later, the trooper met up with him to tell him why the men were following him. They were federal law enforcement. He had caught their interest by nodding to the gentleman at the bus stop. The gentleman was a person of interest in an investigation into organized crime.
While working at a certain building in Fort Lee, an interesting pattern of incidents emerged. He worked Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday of each week. On the days he worked, he intercepted all improper acts or apprehended the perpetrators. Because of his alertness, word got around and there soon were no criminal acts while he was on duty. All the incidents were now occuring on Wednesdays.
When the owner of the company, who liked having him on the payroll, went on a world cruise, the one left trmporarily in charge of the company fired him, ostensibly because he refused to work Wednesdays.
He was considered by some to be a major embarassment to the company. They were not able to adequately replace him on his day off.