MANTUA, Ohio — Bernie Kosar, the heralded former Browns quarterback, is offering to employ and house a convicted Cleveland mobster who is seeking freedom after 38 years in prison, court records show.
Kosar has written a letter offering his support for the release of Kevin McTaggart, who served as a top lieutenant to mobster boss, the Irishman Danny Greene, and later was connected to underworld boss Angelo Lonardo.
At age 26, McTaggart was convicted in 1983 for taking part in the ruthless killings of six people and the trafficking of large amounts of drugs worth millions of dollars every year.
Now 64, McTaggart is seeking his release from his life-long prison term through U.S. District Court Judge John R. Adams. The request was made earlier this year and no decision has been made.
McTaggart, however, has gotten a wide and unique array of support - the FBI agent who investigated the mob, the federal prosecutor who convicted him and the warden who has managed his incarceration.
Now, a Cleveland sports legend has joined in. Kosar’s connection to McTaggart is unclear. He was not available for comment Monday.
In his letter filed in U.S. District Court, Kosar said he believes McTaggart is reformed and worthy of a second chance. He said McTaggart could live on his expansive property in Mantua and work as his property manager, an arrangement he called a “win-win.”
“I am well aware of the circumstances of his incarceration and believe that after over 38 years in custody he has paid his debt to society,” Kosar wrote.
“I firmly believe in giving deserving people a second chance in life. I feel confident Kevin will continue to live a righteous life, which he has exhibited during his incarceration. I believe he has much he can still contribute to society.”
Kosar said he would “be more than happy to have Kevin McTaggart, upon his release from prison, live with me in the guest house” and serve as a property manager. He said the 3-acre property is often busy with contractors and other workers.
In addition to Kosar, Rocky River Municipal Court Judge Donna Congeni Fitzsimmons, who served as an assistant U.S. attorney that won McTaggart’s conviction along with underboss Angelo Lonardo and three other notorious gangsters, is urging his release. She wrote:
“In truth I can conceive of no individual who personifies the heart and essence of this social and behavioral reality more powerfully than Mr. McTaggart,” she wrote earlier this year. “I retain this belief without a hint or fear of contradiction.”
Last week, retired FBI agent Robert Friedrick, who supervised a special unit that brought down the Cleveland mafia in the late 1970s and early 80s, added his support for McTaggart’s release. He said he has maintained contact with McTaggart over the years and believes he is worthy of release.
“I am fully aware there are no guarantees, but I feel that if he is released he will become a productive member of society, given the few years he has left,” Friedrick wrote.
McTaggart is, according to multiple supporters, a different man from the murderous mobster who killed without emotion, laughing even as a rival’s body was dismembered.
For now, McTaggart remains in federal prison in Milan, Michigan.
“While these years of confinement have been difficult, it has been a journey of reflection, remorse, sorrow, inspiration, discovery, friendship, love, blessings and hard-won wisdom,” McTaggart wrote in court papers seeking his release.
Federal prosecutors have yet to take a stand on his request for release. One woman. whose family was involved in McTaggart's crimes, wrote a letter expressing fear for her life, if McTaggart is released to his brother's home in Northeast Ohio.
FBI and court records say McTaggart was one of the leaders of a Cleveland network that brought LSD, cocaine, PCP and other drugs into the area, grossing $15 million to $20 million every year.
They continued the work of McTaggart’s close friend, some say his cousin, reputed mobster Danny Greene.
They operated through “the use of fear, intimidation, force, violence, and multiple murders,” according to court records reviewed by 3News Investigates.
McTaggart and brothers, Hans “The Surgeon” and Fred Graewe, were “responsible for internal and external security for the enterprise” and did so by “murdering competing drug dealers and suspected police informants.”
Hans Graewe is the only surviving mobster aside from McTaggart. He remains incarcerated.