November 2019

Featuring Lana Rhoades

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MiPorn: The FBI, The Mob & XXX

For every undercover government agent, there comes a time when it’s clear that the jig is up. For Pat Salamone that moment came in 1978, when gangsters drove him out to the Florida Everglades, put a gun to his head and made him start digging his own grave. Salamone had been investigating connections between the porn industry and the Italian mob as part of the most radical and dangerous operation the FBI had ever instigated. Now it seemed his mission was about to come to an abrupt and violent end. This is the story of Operation MiPorn.  

Before he became Pat Salamone, he was Pat Livingston, a bright-eyed and enthusiastic file clerk who joined the FBI in 1964. A staunch believer in truth, liberty and the American way, he had a likable character and was good at talking out of his ass when he had to. This made him perfect undercover material. Seven years later, after months of intensive federal training, Livingston became a special agent. He was transferred to Detroit with his wife Vicki, where they met another young couple, Bruce and Pam Ellavsky. The four became neighbors as well as firm friends, and their lives would be intertwined from that moment on as Operation MiPorn threw the agents into an undercover nightmare from which they never truly escaped. 

Livingston’s rare ability to go unnoticed while undercover brought him a string of successful missions in those early days at the Bureau. He spied on Jane Fonda as she gave anti-Vietnam speeches in ’72. He investigated KKK-inspired school bus bombings and an incident in which a principal was tarred and feathered. He was damn good at his job, and it didn’t go unnoticed by his superiors, who moved Livingston to the hijacking and major thefts division. Here he made a huge sting in ’75, when he sourced thousands of stolen cases of beer.

Next up was the Tigertown stolen goods investigation, in which Livingston was arrested while working undercover. This could have been a disaster, as a detained FBI agent can rarely declare his status for fear of jeopardizing the mission. Livingston managed to talk his way out of a charge, saving the entire project. He had an astute gift of gab, a confident and smooth kind of guy who could forcibly negotiate deals and make people around him feel at ease. The Tigertown bust made him a hotshot on the force, and his bosses had something huge lined up for him. 

The FBI offices in Miami were teeming with activity in ’77, when Livingston moved down there with his family. Smuggling, extortion, dealing, terrorist fears, prostitution and organized crime were rife in the Sunshine State. The Feds certainly had their hands full. Florida in the ’70s was one of the only regions in the U.S. in which representatives from all the major crime families had a presence, and everyone wanted the biggest slice of the pie.

The porn industry was booming. A radical outburst of sexual expression and revolution had resulted in pornography’s expansive growth, and it terrified the powers that be. What pissed the conservatives off even more was learning how much money it generated. Adult bookstores and peep show booths littered the country, no longer limited to the sleazy hub that was Times Square. Their trade was legal, and therefore hard to bust, but the FBI had been keeping a close eye on the entire industry since the early ’60s. They knew that mob money was involved. They just couldn’t prove it. Links had been established, but nothing solid had been unearthed. Something needed to be done.

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