FBI agent de­liv­ered ran­som in Si­na­tra kid­nap­ping

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - IN MEMORY - By Steve Marble

LOS AN­GE­LES >> Jerome Crowe, a for­mer L.A.-based FBI agent who de­liv­ered the ran­som money in the Frank Si­na­tra Jr. kid­nap­ping and led a SWAT team in the bloody SLA shootout, has died af­ter a long strug­gle with Alzheimer’s dis­ease.

A life­long law en­force­ment of­fi­cer who is cred­ited with as­sem­bling the FBI’s first SWAT team in Los An­ge­les, Crowe died Nov. 26 in Hawthorne, his son Jerry said. He was 93.

Crowe was also a noted firearms in­struc­tor, and the FBI Re­gional Tac­ti­cal Train­ing Cen­ter at the for­mer El Toro Ma­rine base in Irvine was re­named in his honor in 2011.

In 1963, Crowe was hand­picked to take the lead in a case that quickly cap­tured the na­tion’s at­ten­tion — the kid­nap­ping of Frank Si­na­tra’s 19-year-old son.

Si­na­tra, ac­cord­ing to the biog­ra­phy “Si­na­tra: Behind the Le­gend,” had been con­tacted by the kid­nap­pers, who ini­tially seemed un­cer­tain how much ran­som money to de­mand. While Si­na­tra waited, the kid­nap­pers fi­nally set­tled on $240,000.

“What the hell?” Si­na­tra replied. “What kind of fig­ure is that?”

Ea­ger to have his son freed, Si­na­tra pulled the money out of the bank and the FBI pho­tographed each bill. Then, Crowe and the singer set off to make the ran­som drop.

The two were ini­tially told to go to LAX, and then a gas sta­tion, and then an­other gas sta­tion. Fi­nally, they were in­structed to drop off the at­tache case with the cash be­tween a pair of school buses parked out­side a Tex­aco sta­tion. Two un­der­cover agents kept sur­veil­lance from an ice cream truck.

Si­na­tra Jr. was re­leased

quickly and the kid­nap­pers — a trio of out-of-work house painters — were later ar­rested. Most of Si­na­tra’s money was re­cov­ered.

Born Oct. 4, 1924, in Co­coa, Fla., Crowe was the youngest of three chil­dren. He played foot­ball and ran track and field in high school and then fol­lowed one of his brothers into the Army in 1943 dur­ing World War II. He served in Europe and was dis­charged three years later.

Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from Stet­son Univer­sity in Cen­tral Florida, Crowe joined the

FBI and was dis­patched to Seat­tle, where his su­per­vi­sor

was Mark Felt, the ca­reer FBI man who was even­tu­ally iden­ti­fied as The Wash­ing­ton Post’s highly use­ful source “Deep Throat” in the Water­gate scan­dal.

A year later, Crowe was re­as­signed to L.A., where he spent the rest of his ca­reer be­fore re­tir­ing in 1979.

In re­tire­ment, he and his wife, Mar­garita, trav­eled and he chased his pas­sion for deep-sea fish­ing to Hawaii, Mex­ico and Alaska.

Crowe is sur­vived by his wife; sons Bob and Jerry, a for­mer Los An­ge­les Times staff writer; daugh­ter Nancy Schoonover; and three grand­chil­dren.

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