Three former Drug Enforcement Administration agents have filed suit against the producers of the movie "American Gangster," saying that the film made them into criminals and did not truthfully show their role in the arrest and prosecution of infamous Harlem drug dealer Frank Lucas.
The former agents charge that the film slandered them and made the untruthful claim that Lucas' "collaboration led to the convictions of three quarters of New York City's Drug Enforcement Agency." They are seeking $55 million in damages. They also want a statement from NBC Universal telling "the truth" about the agency's role in taking down Lucas.
Dominic Amorosa, the lawyer who filed the case, led the prosecution team that won the convictions of Lucas and 18 cohorts in a 1975 federal trial in New York City. Amorosa says that not a single cop was put behind bars by Lucas' testimony.
"He (Lucas) cooperated very substantially, no question about it," Amorosa told the New York Daily News. "But not against officers of the law. He cooperated against his competitors. When you say three-quarters of DEA agents were convicted, you are committing an egregious error and you're going to pay for it."
NBC Universal's lawyers have dismissed the case as nonsubstantial. "The corrupt law enforcement officers portrayed in the film are specifically identified as members of the New York City Police Department and the film refers to their subsequent prosecution by the federal government," NBC Universal attorney David Burg said in a letter to Amorosa. "The film in no way charges or even insinuates wrongdoing on the part of the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration."
A plaintiff in the suit, retired DEA agent Jack Toal, 75, told the Daily News he worked closely with Lucas in the prosecution of 75 drug dealers but, "No law enforcement officer was ever prosecuted because of Lucas and no law enforcement officer was ever investigated because of Lucas."
The lawsuit charges that the movie says that Lucas worked closely with New Jersey narcotics cop Richie Roberts to win convictions against corrupt cops.
"The movie is riddled with falsity…not a single special agent or employee of the New York City DEA, or officer of the NYPD was convicted as a result of the so-called collaboration of Lucas and Roberts," the suit says.