Pascucci talks tough as the 'Gripper's Cop'

July 14, 1996|By Scott Higham | Scott Higham,SUN STAFF

"The Manhunter," by John Pascucci with Cameron Stauth., Pocket Books. 368 pages. $23.

Listen up, you mutts and pukes. I'm going to review this book, and you'd better pay attention. Or I just might have to twist the law a little and smash your face with a flashlight. Or beat you senseless with the butt of a Colt .45 pistol.

Just like they did in the glory days of law enforcement, when Ronald Reagan ruled the land, Ed Meese stayed one stutter-step ahead of the law, and a man named John Pascucci tracked down famous fugitives and other perps for the U.S. Marshal's Service.

Had enough? You ain't read nothing yet.

This latest autobiography from the front lines of cops and robbers is filled with language straight from the mutts and pukes who rule street. That's right. Mutts and pukes, Pascucci calls them. It's also littered, page by page, with the F word, the S word and every other deletable expletive a street slug can

conjure up. Connecting the curses are sentences that are so stunted and filled with so much bravado, they would make beat cops demand their money back.

Pascucci also violates the No. 1 rule of story-writing: Show, don't tell.

He tells us all about his exploits, but he rarely lets the remarkable stories speak for themselves, or his pen pal Cameron Stauth doesn't anyway. It's too bad. Working for the top ranks of the U.S. Marshall's Service, he helped track down some of the world's most wanted men.

Pascucci found Christopher Boyce, the U.S. traitor whose exploits were documented by the movie "The Falcon and the Snowman." He hunted Nazi Bohdan Koziy, the so-called child killer of the Ukraine. He tracked down CIA turncoat Frank Terpil. He discovered that Nazi Josef Mengele was not alive and well in South America, as so many Nazi hunters suspected.

But all of the cursing, stunted writing and self-congratulatory bravado detract from the narrative.

So do Pascucci's musings about being "the Gipper's cop," bending the law and breaking heads because then-Justice Department chief Ed Meese would have wanted it that way.

Instead of paying attention to his readers, Pascucci seems more interested in cutting an image for a made-for-television movie that might pay homage to his life, an updated Kojak on the set of "Miami Vice."

He portrays himself as a smart, out-of-control investigator, a pot-smoking, Vette-driving, Dylan-quoting, Meese-worshiping hot shot. His exploits are interesting. But there's a problem: Pascucci isn't.

There's another problem.

Pascucci's story doesn't have a happy ending. He was booted from the U.S. Marshal's Service after he was charged in 1989 with extortion - for demanding $5,000 from a businessman's wife to remain silent about an affair she was having.

Wonder what the Gipper thought about that?

Scott Higham covers federal courts and federal law enforcement agencies for The Sun. Previously, he was a reporter for the Miami Herald.

Pub Date: 7/14/96

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