While FBI Agent David Nadolski risked his career, his informant, Anthony Romano risked his life to quash one of the biggest armed robberies of the twentieth century.
During the 1990’s Boston was a world leader in arts, culture, higher education, and medicine. It was also a world leader in organized crime.
In this exciting account, former FBI supervisory special agent David Nadolski tells the story of an unlikely alliance between two diametrically opposed people—the con and the FBI agent. While investigating a break-in at the Stone Library in Quincy, MA that houses the personal book collection of John Quincy Adams, the FBI gets a call from prison inmate, Anthony (Tony) Romano, requesting to meet with the case agent on the burglary. Romano provides a helpful tip that leads to the apprehension of the thief and the recovery of four priceless, historically significant books. Recognizing Tony’s potential, Nadolski begins to cultivate a relationship in hopes of recruiting Romano as a criminal informant.
Nadolski recruits Romano to play a very dangerous game—infiltrate the Merlino gang, controlled by Carmello Merlino, a career criminal who specialized in bank robberies, armored car robberies, and home invasions. The Merlino gang also became suspects in the largest art theft in history which took place at the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum in Boston and remains unsolved to this day. Romano, a former armed robber, agrees. With sights set on the Loomis Fargo Armored Car Company money vault, located south of Boston, the Merlino gang gets to work. Little did they know, Romano, at great personal risk, was a wearing a wire and recording their planning sessions.
After two years of being joined at the hip and learning to trust each other unconditionally, special agent Nadolski and Romano run a successful criminal investigation and undercover sting operation to catch four dangerous criminals poised to launch one of the biggest armed robberies of the twentieth century.
David Nadolski is a retired supervisory special agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. During his twenty-one year FBI career, Nadolski investigated violent crimes, gang activity, foreign counter-intelligence cases, public corruption, and fraud against the government cases. He was a member of the Boston FBI Evidence Response Team (ERT) and travelled internationally and domestically to investigate terrorist bombings. He retired from the FBI in 2004 and moved to Cape Cod, Massachusetts. He appeared in the Netflix hit series, “This Is A Robbery” plus the WBUR/Boston Globe podcast Last Seen; author Jerri Williams podcast FBI: Retired Casefile Review and Steve Gould’s podcast Things Police See: First Hand Account.
Chapter 1: Bad Choices, Bad Days
Chapter 2: Like Father, Like Son
Chapter 3: The FBI Academy
Chapter 4: Life on the Inside
Chapter 5: Doing My Own Time
Chapter 6: Tunnel Vision
Chapter 7: The Promised Land
Chapter 8: The Library Card
Chapter 9: Paths Converge
Chapter 10: Heartbreak in Cambridge
Chapter 11: Parole
Chapter 12: Undercover and Underdressed
Chapter 13: Stuff is Getting Real
Chapter 14: Getting Wired
Chapter 15: Best Pancakes in Town
Chapter 16: “Stealing” a Van
Chapter 17: The Dry Run
Chapter 18: A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
Chapter 19: Tony’s New Digs
Chapter 20: Team Huddle
Chapter 21: Will She Stay or Will She Go?
Chapter 22: Finding a Steady Rhythm
Chapter 23: On Edge
Chapter 24: Hammer Time
Retired FBI agent Nadolski debuts with a fascinating account of how he worked with Tony Romano, a criminal informant, to foil what would have been “one of the biggest armed robberies of the twentieth century.” …. Nadolski does a fine job dramatizing the high-stakes operation while evoking the camaraderie and humor shared by cops. This is a must for anyone who has ever wondered how the FBI puts together cases using informants.
In this memoir, Nadolski, a longtime FBI agent, describes how he collaborated with Anthony Romano, a former convict, to prevent a major robbery. After Nadolski chronicles his career, he discusses how he first met Romano. Serving time in prison, Romano contacted the FBI with a tip regarding stolen historical books. Later, Romano became more formally involved with the FBI, agreeing to wear a wire and put himself at significant risk to help prevent a major robbery of an armored car depot in Massachusetts. Colorful details of Nadolski’s career capture the excitement of FBI work… Nadolski offers an in-depth perspective on what it’s like for a law enforcement agent to work with a mole, and the highly detailed writing reveals a great deal about the steps the FBI takes to monitor, stop, and prosecute offenders. An insider perspective on law enforcement that may appeal to readers who are particularly interested in the life FBI.
The relationship between David Nadolski and Tony Romano not only led to the recovery of stolen treasures and brought down a notoriously violent criminal gang, it also stands as a testament to the power of redemption. This is an unforgettable true crime story.
An engrossing, exciting read, the kind of complex tale of good guys and bad, of the human condition, that could only be written by someone who was in the mix and knows the characters and the terrain of which he writes. Be prepared to stay up late.
When the cast of characters is a rogues' gallery, the reader needs a reliable narrator. They have that and more in author Dave Nadolski, whose long career with the FBI makes this astonishing account of beating assorted ne'er-do-wells and conmen at their own game read like something out of Dennis Lehane's imagination. Except it's all the more gripping and impossible to put down for being true.
9/8/23, Cape Cod Times: David Nadolski is interviewed for this feature article about the book.