More than 300 people were tricked into selling $2.3 million in stolen goods to a stock, balding undercover agent known as "Nick the Greek" in the nation's most successful "sting" operation, police said yesterday.
Federal agents and police began a roundup of 284 persons named in 686 indictments.Police were trying to identify another 75 who sold goods to undercover agent Charles D Lowe while hidden mircophones and cameras recorded the deals.
Lowe, telling thieves he worked for the Mafia, opened a bogus typewriter repair shop May 5 as a front for his operation and continued to buy until Oct. 12 when the shop was closed. Authorities then began tracing identities and preparing for the raids.
Engraved calling cards identifying the shop as C. J. & T. and including a phone number and the motto "We Buy and Sell" were circulated through prostitutes.
Although the shops initials stood for Consolidated Telegraph and Typewriter, undercover police secretly referred to it as "Catch Thieves and Thugs."
The suspects came from 10 states and included the son of a city councilman, brothers of two police officers and four state prison inmates who allegedly stole while on job assignments from a minimum security prison. Almost 90 per cent had past criminal records, officials said.
Nashville was the 25th city to host a "sting" operation funded by the Federal Law Enforcement Assistance Administration. Police Chief Joe Casey said the total of arrests was higher than in any of the previous bogus fencing operations.
The stolen goods recovered in Nashville included cars, hundreds of guns, dynamite, a truckload of mufflers, cigaretts, 60 toilet seats in assorted colors and a wide array of other merchandisc.