While the gun was discovered in art dealer Andrew Crispo’s 57th Street gallery, and while the man who fired it claimed that Crispo forced the victim to kneel and be shot, and while the shooter’s lawyer claimed, according to the Times, that “his client was drugged and under Mr. Crispo’s control,” and while Crispo had picked up the victim in a bar and provided the cocaine, not only was Crispo not charged in the murder, but he didn’t even testify at the trial. The judge said he didn’t want the needless drama of Crispo pleading the Fifth.
And so Crispo’s involvement in the 1985 execution of a 26-year-old F.I.T. student—who had been shot twice in the back of the head and whose burned body was found in a Rockland County smokehouse, clad only in a leather hood—was never established. It did bring Crispo enough notoriety that another young man came forward, this one a teacher from Montreal, with a tale of being held captive and tortured at the gallery, with Crispo as ringleader. This time, Crispo was charged with kidnapping, sodomy, assault, coercion, and unlawful imprisonment. But in the end, the same man, Crispo’s henchman Bernard LeGeros, took the fall for both cases.
Five months after the murder trial, the invulnerable Crispo was sent to jail—for tax evasion. Released in 1989, he went to jail again at age 55 in 2000, after being convicted of attempted extortion and obstruction of justice. For those eleven straight years of freedom, he continued to be the bogeyman of New York City’s gay world. He was, overtly or abstractly, what was meant when older gay men cautioned younger gay men about Bad Things That Happened when hooking up on phone sex lines or on the street or in hustler bars like Rounds. But none of the stories told ever resulted in the record of the court system. There was always too much that would need to be explained.
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