Mario Puzo's Brush With The Law

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Mario Puzo's Brush With The Law

Just in time for the posthumous release of "Omerta,"Mario Puzo's final novel, the FBI has released its files on the author, revealing that Puzo--who wrote so knowingly of crime and criminals--was himself the subject of an extensive 1960s bribery probe.

Before "The Godfather" made him famous, Puzo worked nearly 20 years for the Defense Department. During the tail end of that tenure, Puzo (who doubled as a freelance writer) served as an aide to several Army Reserve units, working from an enlistment center near Times Square. The FBI probed whether Puzo took money to get young men into the Reserve, thereby allowing them to avoid the draft and a two-year Army hitch. In the early 1960s, the waiting time for a Reserve slot could approach one year.

Documents show that a Puzo coworker was convicted of taking money from reservists and was sentenced to two years in prison. The investigation into Puzo, opened in late-1961, was not closed until four years later, when the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's office formally declined to prosecute Puzo. Here are some excerpts from the FBI's 1000+ page Puzo file:

Page 1: Probing bribery, fraud against government.

Pages 2-3: Reservist recounts alleged Puzo bribe.

Pages 4-5: An offer they couldn't refuse?

Pages 6-7: FBI interviews "obese," "sloppy" Puzo.

Page 8: After four years, case closed.

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