Scandals, Secrets & The Mob
Nearly forty years ago, Vito Colucci Jr. of the Stamford Police Department was almost murdered by Sgt. Albert “Duke” Morris as Colucci backed his car out of his grandfather’s driveway. It wasn’t the first time he’d receive a death threat.
In Rogue Town, Colucci’s account of corruption in Stamford, readers will discover a city quite different from the Gold Coast gem they live in today. It was “a crazy era,” the author says, “but Stamford, at night, was quiet.” However, underneath the mellow façade lay organized crime, and atop the criminal food chain perched Lt. Larry Hogan, Colucci’s superior, and Morris, Hogan’s enforcer. “There were so many dollars bound up with city contracts and kickbacks,” Colucci says. “Stamford was a totally corrupt city; I can’t even say ‘partly.’ ”
Still, the story is dimly recalled, even now. “Most of the younger generation today have no idea what was going on then,” Colucci says. “Even older people have said that. Their bottom line with the book is: ‘I didn’t know the extent of it.’ ”
Were it not for Anthony R. Dolan’s reporting, it might have stayed buried. In the book’s foreword, Dolan relates how Stamford’s “classic matrix of organized crime and municipal corruption in eight city departments” had developed. Beginning in 1974, in roughly seven-dozen articles for The Advocate (for which he would win the paper’s only Pulitzer), Dolan traced the corruption that Colucci had been working to bring to light. “The unique thing about my situation is I wore a wire and put in a fake resignation,” Colucci notes. “And I went out on the street as a disgruntled ex-cop, and became like a sounding board for people who would give me information.”
This was part of the plan concocted by Stamford’s then new, hardline Police Chief Victor I. Cizanckas to flush out the city.
Dolan’s career trajectory relates a more national story: He went on to become President Ronald Reagan’s head speechwriter (coining the phrase “Evil Empire”), and as a result of meetings with administration officials about Stamford’s situation, the Presidential Commission on Organized Crime arose.
There will be a Rogue Town sequel, detailing the time after the book’s events, but for now, Colucci has been contacted by Hollywood, and a film or TV adaptation is, perhaps, in the offing.
More important, though, was simply telling his story. “I’m having a ball seeing this book do so well,” he says. “It’s near-and-dear to my heart; I almost died for it. It’s in the history of Stamford, its dark past.”