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Las Vegas’ First Female FBI Agent Was an Undercover Success

Tall and slim, with long, blond hair, Deborah Richard could look like an expensive call girl or a bag lady. She could wear an auburn wig and heavy makeup and look like a hooker. She could be the perfect ditz or the perfect waitress.

But it was quick thinking that made Las Vegas’ first female FBI agent an undercover success. She started undercover work through assignments at the Huntington Beach Police Department, her first law enforcement job. Once she posed as a model and would-be hooker and convinced a man the wire he felt was a pacemaker. She was in her early 20s at the time.

After the FBI recruited her, Richard came to Las Vegas in 1977 and for two years worked undercover doing surveillance and gathering intelligence in the bureau’s intense effort to indict Tony Spilotro, the Chicago mob’s watchdog in Las Vegas. She was 27 but looked younger.

“A lot of my work was being a fly on the wall,” she said.

She will be on the Mob Museum’s Nov. 7 panel discussing what was real in the movie “Casino” about Spilotro, mob associate Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal and Rosenthal’s wife (and Spilotro’s lover), Geri.

Richard, who has retired to Las Vegas, shocked me Sunday when she said Geri had also been a source for the FBI, which is not the same as a top echelon informant like Rosenthal and didn’t require a paper trail.

Richard knew this because she worked with the late FBI agent Al Zimmerman, who worked with both Rosenthals. Richard said sometimes Zimmerman met with both Rosenthals the same night, without each other’s knowledge.

While preparing for the museum panel, which includes former Mayor Oscar Goodman, she told him Geri was a source for the FBI. He was stunned, she said.

“Both of them?” he blurted out

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