FBI agent’s behavior during Las Vegas corruption probe led to inquiry - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

FBI agent’s behavior during Las Vegas corruption probe led to inquiry

LAS VEGAS —  The Baltimore Post-Examiner sent the following media request last week to the FBI Las Vegas Division and the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada:

Las Vegas Township Judge Melanie Andress-Tobiasson was meeting with Special Agent Kevin White starting in 2017 and according to Tobiasson she was providing information to White relating to police corruption.

Connie Land, the mother of Sydney Land, who was one of the victims in a 2016 Las Vegas unsolved double homicide, was approached by Tobiasson in 2017 and asked to turn over all documents in Mrs. Land’s possession relating to communication between Land and LVMPD homicide detectives, among others. Tobiasson claimed those records were being requested by S/A White. Is that indeed true and were those records turned over to White and now in the possession of the FBI?

Las Vegas Judge Melanie Andress-Tobiasson

The Baltimore Post-Examiner also knows that the FBI was investigating allegations that Tobiasson offered a bribe to Aryanne Zappia. During that investigation, the FBI took possession of a cellphone that belonged to Connie Land and that phone was in the possession of the FBI for several months. What is the status of that investigation? Is Tobiasson facing criminal charges/indictment?

We also have information that leads us to believe that S/A White met with Aryanne Zappia and used the name of “Jason,” when he introduced himself to Zappia. Is it FBI policy for agents interviewing a person to use a false name? Is White currently an active agent and is he still employed with the FBI?

The Baltimore Post-Examiner was informed that another agent, Richard Smith, had asked Aryanne Zappia, a recovered addict, to immerse herself back into the drug culture and work as a confidential source for the FBI. Is it FBI policy to take a person who is a former drug user, now reformed and moving on with her life, and ask her to go back into a world they had left behind?

What is the status of the ongoing corruption probe into the LVMPD or maybe a better question would be, is such an investigation completed and indictments forthcoming?

The FBI did not respond. The US Attorney’s Office replied, “Thanks for the questions. We do not confirm or deny ongoing investigations.”

We published the first part of the interview with Zappia last Monday. The following are more excerpts from the Baltimore Post-Examiner’s exclusive interview with Aryanne Zappia:

Aryanne is told to talk to the LVMPD Criminal Intelligence Division

Zappia: I don’t know who to trust. I call  (Detective) Greg Flores and I tell him everything, from the beginning to the end of the communication with Melanie and why I stopped talking to him, the doubts and what she said. He tells me, “Ary, Ary, Ary. Stop telling me all of this. I’m going to bring this to the Criminal Intelligence Division. I’m going to give them your phone number, don’t tell me anything else. When they call you, they’re good guys, they’re Mark and Mike, you can trust them, tell them everything, do not talk to me anymore about anything that involves the judge, since she has referenced me.”

I was like, “So I can’t talk to you about it.” He’s like, “It’s not that you can’t talk to me about it, I don’t want you to talk to me about it because this is going to start an investigation. She talked to a victim in an open crime that is supposed to be testifying and she has put a doubt in your mind to testify.”

So he tells me he doesn’t want to hear anything else and when these people call me, to talk to them and I can trust them.

Zappia: Now we’ve opened up this criminal intelligence investigation and I meet with them, twice. Once at a Starbucks and once at a park. It’s a black guy and a white guy, they’re partners Mark and Mike and the only questions they asked me.

BPE: And these guys are Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department detectives with the Criminal Intelligence Division?

Zappia: Yes.

BPE: OK, go ahead.

Zappia: This is now the end of October [2017]. So we open this investigation and we start talking. The only questions they asked me are about Judge Tobiasson, I mean they get a little bit of back history with my case with Frost and everything, but they don’t they don’t go too far into it. Their main concern is Judge Tobiasson. We begin talking and, the first time we met was like three hours and they asked me if I would be willing to provide them every text message encounter that I had with Judge Tobiasson and I said absolutely. You can have everything. I explained to them that she had advised us to get burner phones, that none of the contacts was on our personal cellphones, that the three of us had burner phones and that’s how we all communicated because that was Judge Tobiasson’s recommendation that we have these burner phones.

BPE: When you say we, the three, who are we talking about now?

Zappia: Me, Connie [Land] and Judge Tobiasson.

BPE: OK, go ahead.

Zappia: And so she had told us that they were listening to us, and they were monitoring our cellphones and they were tracking our locations and they couldn’t do that on these burner phones. So Connie actually purchased mine, I didn’t have the money to do so. Connie purchased them at Target, these little burner phones and that’s how the three of us communicated. The only communications that were on those phones was the communication amongst us three and (FBI Special Agent) Kevin White had also sent text messages. The phone call log, there was no recorded phone calls between us, but the proof of the phone calls were on the call log, so I provided all that to them. Then they asked me, in the second time we met at Starbucks, and by they I mean Mark and Mike, they asked me…

BPE: Excuse me, do you know their last names?

Zappia: No I don’t. I don’t remember.

BPE: Just for clarification here. You told them, did you tell them at that time that you had spoken to FBI Special Agent Kevin White?

Zappia: Yes.

BPE: And what did you say. What was their reaction to that?

Zappia: When I originally told them, I still at this time did not know that Kevin White’s name was Kevin White. I was still under the impression that his name was Jason. So when I explained to them that I met with the FBI agent named Jason because that is the name he provided me and I explained to them what the conversation entailed, but they told me they would look into who he was because they’re not able to just off the name Jason, you know, who the hell I spoke to.

And they asked me a few separate times am I certain he was working for the FBI and I said he did flash a badge, but I didn’t hold it in my hand, examine it, he flashed it real quick, put it away and then he told me that his identity is supposed to remain a secret and that’s why he works for the FBI. And again, I don’t know anything about it, so I assumed that to be the truth and nothing short of the truth. So, he was my very first encounter with the FBI.

So, I meet with them I tell them everything that Kevin White at that time I believed to be Jason, but Kevin White had said. What Melanie Tobiasson had said. I provided them the text messages, provided them the phone calls, provided them at that time the exact hour of the meeting at Starbucks, the exact hour of the meeting at the sushi restaurant with the judge and how all the conversations went, everything that was said, etcetera, etcetera.

Then we met again about four or five days later at the Starbucks and we hash out basically everything that went on. Now they have the text messages. They ask me are you sure his name was Jason, and yes, he told me his name was Jason and they both looked at each other and wrote it down in their little notebook pad and they didn’t say anything more about it.

So they asked me if I would be willing to do a polygraph test. And I said, “What is that?” They told me that it was a lie detector test and I told them yes, I will do a polygraph test and they said OK, when can you do it. I said I work these days, I’m off on this day, I can, I didn’t have a car, I can get dropped off and picked up from the polygraph test by Connie. And they said OK. We scheduled it for a day I was off, I don’t remember exactly what day it was. I met them at the location on MLK, Metro building, and was after hours about 6, 7, 7:30 at night. Connie dropped me off. Her and my son sat in the car in the parking lot, I went inside, and they pissed me completely off.

Nehemiah Kauffman and Sydney-Land (Screenshot)

During the polygraph test, the questions they asked me were about Shane Valentine. They asked me if the person I had contact with was Judge Tobiasson. Very basic questions and then they ended the polygraph test. I went off on them, I told them, I said you are not trying to solve this, you’re on the judge’s side, you didn’t ask me a thing, not a single question about what she said about Sydney. You didn’t ask me anything about what she said about my sister. You didn’t ask me anything that had to do with anything that involved anything important, you just asked me basic questions about stuff that’s irrelevant. I went outside, and Connie can tell because they walked out, I was still cussing them out. “Well you passed the test, you passed the test,” they said. You didn’t ask me anything that had anything to with a damn thing and you’re going to let her get away with it. That was the last thing I ever said to them. I told them I will never meet with you again. You’re not doing everything you can, and this is another bullshit runaround thing that I’ve had to do so you guys can sweep this under the rug, and Connie was in the car when I was freaking out. That’s it. I was so pissed, I knew they didn’t care. I’m not saying she’s wrong for anything she’s done but there is things she has done and done that are wrong.

Shane Valentine (Screenshot)

BPE: We’re talking now about the two Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Criminal Intelligence detectives, Mark and Mike?

Zappia: Yes. Criminal Intelligence, Mark, and Mike.

BPE: Have you ever contacted them again or that was it?

Zappia: Well I did reach out to them and ask them, we had text conversations, are there any updates or any new information, is there anything happening with this.   They said we’re still going through all the information and finding out if there’s anything criminal.

BPE: And at this time were you only talking about the attempted bribe that Judge Tobiasson did with you, we’re not talking about the homicide, right?

Zappia: No. I’m talking about the bribe.

BPE: OK. I want to get something straight here. Did you ever take money from the judge?

Zappia: No. No, I did not.

BPE: OK, go on.

Zappia: She did pay for my drink at the sushi restaurant, it was all on one bill so I guess that could technically be considered talking money, but she never handed me money, she paid for the entire thing, I had a coke to drink.

BPE: Go ahead Ary.

Zappia: Connie and I get in contact with Richard Smith from the FBI, Connie and I get in contact with [FBI Special Agent] Vinitha Pandy, we meet with her, we give her all the text messages, we run the story by…

BPE: How did you get in touch with her?

LVMPD HQ

Zappia: I never ever personally got in touch with any of the FBI or anything, they are all points of contact from Connie. I have never reached out or known how to talk to any of these people. Connie met with Vinitha and then I guess Vinitha wanted to meet with me after Connie had initially met with her, I went and met with her. Then after the meeting with Vinitha, I guess Vinitha then sent Connie to Richard Smith, who then Connie met with Richard Smith, I think a few times before I ever even contacted him. But before he wanted to contact me, I met with him once at the FBI building, we go over everything.

BPE: Where was that at?

Zappia: I can’t remember where it was. Went inside the FBI headquarters met with him and his partner, don’t know his partner’s name and he’s extremely tall, maybe 6’9, young, my age probably.

BPE: Who Richard?

Zappia: No, not Richard Smith, his partner. A tall young guy. Meet with them, go over everything that the case is and Melanie, Sydney [Land], Anthony [Galasi], my sister, go over everything we just went over, and he tells me, wow this is a lot of information can we meet again. I said yeah absolutely. He said OK I want you to come back here, I’ll let you know when. We’re supposed to meet the end of October of 2018 and he cancels for whatever reason and then he tells me I want to meet you November 2 at 11 a.m., that’s my son’ birthday so if we’re going to meet, not to be rude but it’s my child’s birthday, I’m not going to spend all day with the FBI, which is my son’s birthday. I will come but I want it short, sweet and to the point. We can meet again for a longer appointment at another time. He said it will only take an hour and in fact, it was only an hour. We did meet we went over Sydney and the judge and that was it, clarifying questions, that was it and I left.

BPE: And what was this agents name?

Zappia: Richard Smith.

BPE: You met him at FBI headquarters so he’s obviously an agent right?

Zappia: Yes, he was an FBI agent for sure. He actually put his badge down and let me hold it, look at it, very much so, Richard Smith of the FBI.

BPE: Did Kevin White know; did you talk to Kevin White about the bribe with the judge?

Zappia: No, because I hadn’t been bribed yet.

BPE: Because of what?

Zappia: No. I hadn’t been bribed yet, I hadn’t met with Melanie yet.

BPE: So Kevin White didn’t know anything about the bribe from you?

Zappia: No, he didn’t know anything about the bribe because I didn’t know anything about the bribe. I met him the day before I met Melanie.

BPE: OK.

Zappia: So we go over everything and I move to [redacted]. Now we get to the end of November, nothings come of anything. Beginning of December I move to [redacted] with my son. He [Smith] calls me a couple times when I’m out there asking a couple of questions, just really the same questions went over every time I met with him, nothing more. Then he tells me he has some new information that he wants to go over and wants to meet in person. I tell him I’m not going to be in Vegas, so now January of 2019. When I get back into town if you want to pick me up from the airport, we can meet and talk. OK great, let me know when you land.

Now we’re in January of 2019, getting pretty up to date, and your article comes out. It’s your article with Melanie, more specific with the police corruption from her eyes.

BPE: Right, the interview with her.

Zappia: The interview, yes. And the article throws me for a complete loop. Not only does she reference me, she doesn’t put my name in there. I know she’s referencing me because I am his only other stepdaughter.

BPE: Right.

Zappia: Besides Frankie. She mentions allegations of my step-dad feeding women to pimps and you know what your article says about the corruption and these things and references Sydney. Now I’m super confused because now I see Kevin White’s name and I know is the FBI agent that I had met with and that all this stuff is coming full circle for me and I’m so confused. So I decide I’m not going to meet with him. Screw him, screw the FBI.

BPE: You knew Kevin White to be Jason. At what time did you know Jason was Kevin White, the real name?

Zappia: I knew that I had met with Kevin White the day of my preliminary hearing with Frost, and Greg Flores told me his name was Kevin White.

BPE: OK.

Zappia: After being able to do line-up pictures, they showed me four sheets of paper, they had multiple…

BPE: Who were they, who showed you a line-up?

Zappia: I don’t remember who they were, they were separate agents, I don’t remember their names. They sat in the room with me…

BPE: FBI agents?

Zappia: Yes.

BPE: What month are we talking about when they did the line-up?

Zappia: The beginning of November of 2017.

BPE: So, 2017 FBI agents have you do a line-up for what purpose?

Zappia: They have to properly identify Jason in the pictures because again, he told me his name was Jason. They showed me four pages of pictures and all the guys, I’m not even kidding you, in these lineups, they really looked identical. Like if I didn’t know who he was, I would easily confused him with every picture in there with him. The all looked so similar. Jason has a very distinct face or Kevin White, so I pointed out. And I guess word of mouth got to Greg Flores because he told me that morning in the courtroom that it wasn’t Jason, after the line-up that identified Kevin White.

BPE: But the FBI never told you that, only Greg Flores told you that?

Zappia: No. The FBI never told me his name, only Greg Flores did.

BPE: Okay, what was the FBI’s concern, was that this guy Jason may have not been an FBI agent?

Zappia: Yes, that was their concern because the name I was given was Jason.

BPE: Did the FBI say anything to you like he should have given you his real name, any reason why he was using Jason?

Zappia: No.

BPE: OK.

Zappia: They never told me, and Greg Flores never told me anything. Criminal Intelligence later told me that they don’t believe his name was Jason and that if his name wasn’t Jason then he needed to, then it was wrong of him to not properly identify himself because that is not standard FBI protocol.

BPE: That’s true, that’s correct.

Zappia: That what Criminal Intelligence told me, but Criminal Intelligence did not tell me that his name was Kevin White, they just told me that they didn’t believe that his name was Jason. This was after I did the line-up, and that him telling me his name was Jason, and if he is in fact, and they never confirmed or denied that it was the person until Greg Flores told me it was the person. They never confirmed or denied that it was him. But after the line-up and I was able to identify the same person multiple times kind of confirmed for them that it was not Jason, but Kevin White.

BPE: Did anyone else since that time tell you, any FBI agent, tell you anything about Kevin White, his status or anything, did they say anything was going on with him?

Zappia: Richard said that Kevin White was no longer in the FBI.

BPE: He said what?

Zappia: He said that Kevin was no longer a member of the FBI.

BPE: Richard Smith told you that?

Zappia: Richard Smith. Yes, Richard Smith told me that.

BPE: When did he tell you that?

Zappia: When we met at FBI headquarters.

BPE: And what month was that again?

Zappia: November 2.

BPE: Of last year.

Zappia: Of 2018, yes.

BPE: So, November 2018, Richard Smith…

Zappia: I think I heard from somebody else that he’s in a different division, but Richard told me that he didn’t work for the FBI.

BPE: That he no longer works for the FBI or he never worked for the FBI?

Zappia: No, that he no longer works for the FBI.

BPE: No longer works for the FBI, well that’s real interesting. OK, let’s go back to Richard Smith, going up to January you said.

FBI agent asks recovered addict to purchase drugs and ‘get back in the game’

Zappia: January I come back to Vegas on January 25th, I come back at some point in January, and I come back, and he [Smith] was supposed to pick me up at the airport, but again it’s not him flaking on me it was, I told him no. It was the 25th, so I came back the 25th, and I told him not to pick me up that I had a ride and that I wasn’t going to meet with him. He tried calling me, I didn’t answer. Fast forward to maybe the 28th or the 29th he calls me. Connie called me shortly after he had called me because I had texted Connie. So, he calls and then Connie calls, and I say Richard Smith just called me I’m on the phone with Richard, she says put it on speaker I’m coming right over. She comes over and I hung up on him made it sound like I dropped the phone. He tried calling me back, but I waited until Connie got here.

Then I called him, put it on speaker, had her sit and listen, and first, he said I thought that I never would hear from you again, he said I was ready to put out an APB, of course, he was joking, not literally, and all of this stuff. How have you been, I’m like oh I’m fine. I said you watch the news, do you read any stories that come out and he’s like that’s a pretty broad question it depends on what news station you’re talking about, what article you’re speaking of? I was like the Baltimore Post, have you read any of that? He said ‘no, never read anything from that Post what is it?’ I said well there’s a 19-page article that just went out about police corruption, FBI corruption, shady cops, a plea deal, a whole lot of stuff, and Judge Tobiasson is the narrator, she’s in this story. I was like, I want you to go and read this story and then call me back and clarify if maybe I’m overreacting, and I know I’m not, but I’m feeding into it with him and he tells me he’ll read it and he’ll call me back.

He’s like, ‘I really want to ask you something, I don’t know how to ask it.’

I told him I don’t trust anybody, I don’t trust you, I don’t trust anybody in the FBI, I don’t trust cops, I don’t trust anybody. I said you know this, I’ve told you before. I don’t trust anybody and now that this Post article came out, I really don’t trust anybody. I really feel like you motherfuckers want to kill me.

And he said ever since Judge Tobiasson had been talking, she’s in a lot of trouble for the way she’s gone about this. I didn’t say anything about it. That’s what he says.

He references Connie and Melanie and how they’re both mothers fighting a police department through the media and their both mothers who want justice for their daughters and I’ve told Connie that I will never tell her how to go about doing whatever it is she wants to do. It’s not my place to do so, she’s a grieving mother.

And then he jumps right in, first he says, ‘I would really like to do this in person, but I can tell you’re not wanting to meet, so I don’t know how to ask it.’

I’m like I have pretty thick skin so anything you ask me, it’s not going to bother me, just go ahead and ask me, and he kinds of backtracks a little bit and he goes into talking about his background as a Spanish teacher and people, a teacher, let him wanting him to make a difference in the world. How he joined the FBI for child crimes and gangs, all these different levels of informants.

I said you want me to be an informant and he said no not necessarily, I don’t want you to wear a wire, I’m not going to have you testify, you would just be a number. What I want you to do is go to your old high school drug dealer and purchase heroin. I actually muted my phone when he said that because I was so dumbfounded that, he knows about my former drug addiction, I was pretty open about my drug addiction, everyone knows I’m a former drug addict. I put it on mute, and I tell Connie, I’m like, what did he just ask me? Am I crazy or did I hear this?

She’s like, ‘Oh my God. We cannot believe this came out of his mouth.”

To reiterate it, I unmute it, I’m like OK, so you want me to go to my old drug dealer and purchase heroin, you want me to buy drugs?

He says ‘yes, in doing so you will not have to testify’ like he’s making it sound like it’s a glorified thing. I don’t have to testify, I’m not wearing a wire, I’m just buying heroin like it’s no big deal, you’re buying heroin you former addict and purchase heroin from not even a big deal drug dealer, from my former high school drug dealer, who, I looked this up on Facebook, he is now dead. He has been dead since 2014, that’s how long since I’ve bought heroin from him, I don’t remember. He died from what I gathered from the Facebook page of a heroin overdose.

(Note: Connie Land confirmed to the Baltimore Post-Examiner that she did indeed hear the conversation between Smith and Zappia that was on speaker. Land bolstered what Zappia told the Baltimore Post-Examiner reference to that conversation.)

He references people like me, how he likes people like me who get out of the game, works to better their life, overcome drug addiction and he says so clearly that ‘I want to work with you.’

I said what I want you to do, is I want you to go read that article [the January 21 Baltimore Post-Examiner story] and give me a call after you read it, because in the article Judge Tobiasson specifically references Sophia, who’s a girl Melanie had told me in the course of October of 2017 when we were talking, that she believed was a police cover-up murder and that they staged her overdose. That’s what Melanie had told me. Now, from my further understanding, it looks like she died in a car accident.

BPE: Right.

Zappia: But Melanie had told me it was a drug overdose staged by the police department, but it is very hard to find information on Sophia. So she had told me about Sophia and I’m literally telling him, and you can ask Connie, I am terrified for my life. When these stories come out, I have never ever shared my story with anybody, the only people who know my story now is the police department, the FBI, Criminal Intelligence, a judge, anyone who wants to shut me up and knows this story. If something happens say, this is a group of people to look into. They’re all police officers and I’m not saying every police officer is corrupt, I’m not saying the FBI is solely out to get me, but from my own perspective when an FBI agent, who we started out our conversation talking about corruption and Judge Tobiasson and the faults in my case when they “accidentally” let Frost go and cover-ups and things like that, to boil down to out of the blue, to ask me to go and purchase heroin from my former drug dealer, who it sounds like is some kingpin, an El Chapo drug dealer. He was at the same time as me, a 14- year-old selling heroin to the high school kids.

He’s not anything when I knew him in high school, it was a group of us who were doing heroin and he was getting it from his older brother, and he would bring it to school and sell it to us. It wasn’t like we would go to his house like he lived in some mansion and he drove, he wasn’t even old enough to drive. A high school kid who sold heroin to the rest of us little junkies in high school. That’s all it was.

And the other comment that Richard made to me was you were also in the game and he had asked me to, what did he say, he didn’t get to finish all the way because I told him I’m not doing it. He wanted me to go, basically ‘get back into the game and reach out to pimps’ and set them up for the FBI to make a bust on them, is what he wanted me to do.

BPE: Jesus.

Zappia: And I said no, absolutely not because I fought so hard to get away from that lifestyle. I still, I know it sounds crazy, I will be three years sober July 26. I have fought my hardest battle even today; every single day is a struggle and I know it sounds retarded but being a recovering addict is an everyday fight. There are days when I have bad days and the only thing I think about is, if I was high, this wouldn’t bother me. It doesn’t mean I’m out getting high every day, but it is a constant struggle to stay sober.

BPE: Right.

Zappia: So to ask me, a recovering addict, point in saying this is not for pity, you poor thing, my addiction was my own fault, but to ask a recovering addict to put herself in a position to go and purchase a drug that at one point ruined my life. I mean I did ruin it by doing it, but the substance is what had control over me. You want me to put myself in a position where I’m purchasing a substance that you already know because I told you, so it’s not like you’re not aware of it.

You know that substance almost killed me. NARCAN saved my life July 26 of 2016 and you want me to go and do, put myself in a position that I would have heroin in my hand, and I would have to make a fight with myself to not do it even though I’m almost three years sober.

There are people who are 20 years sober and they mess up and their sobriety is gone. You want me, and this is now I’m realizing that there is something so much bigger than what I know, that I’m even aware of going on. There is literally no reason why he would want me to go and do something like that. You’re the FBI. If you want so badly to arrest someone for selling drugs, go after a big-time drug dealer. Not at that time, a 14-year-old kid who was selling heroin to all of his friends because they all did heroin together, a circle of kids who had mutual interest, we were all drug addicts.

Zappia: So for me, the point in talking to you to is, you’re the first person who has actually heard my story from my standpoint, not from everybody else’s. For me, because now it’s gone to the point where they want me to go purchase heroin, I don’t know why they want me to do that. I’m not scared of dying, I’m not scared of any of that, but it puts a fear in my heart of there’s something going on because there really is no reason that they should want me to do something like that unless they’re trying to shut me up.

BPE: I’m going to tell you from working many years ago, I’ve been out of the police business for over 20 years, and I worked many years undercover as a narcotics officer. What he told you to do, if I ever did that when I was a cop, and my supervisors found out about it, I would have been fired. You don’t take a recovering addict or somebody who is fully recovered, and you know their past.

He knew your past, he told you, he knew you were a recovering addict, he knew you were out of the prostitution business and asked you to go back to that life. That is totally out of line, I don’t care if it’s an FBI agent, a DEA agent, a local police officer. If that’s indeed what he told you, that is a disgrace, it’s ethically and morally wrong and it may even be a violation of FBI policy, I’m not too sure.

I can tell you if I did that when I was working undercover, knowingly going after, I know you are a recovering addict and I know you were into the business years ago and I want you to go back into the business and reconnect with your people after I know this person is recovered or trying to recover, I would have lost my job.

So, I do not know what’s going on, I don’t have an explanation why this guy said what he said to you.

Zappia: I guess that’s my point in now more so wanting to, I put myself in a vulnerable position because it is not at all that I wanted to protect or maintain this level of, oh I’m perfect, never. I’ve never wanted to do that, but I want for my son’s sake to keep my name as much out of the media as I could. But obviously the way things are going that’s physically impossible and God forbid, and it makes me emotional saying this, I told this to Connie, God forbid something happened. If you have information that could discredit or make a department or person seem shady the easiest thing to do is stage a suicide.

Putting me in a position, the only way my mind is going, and I don’t know it for fact, but the way the last two years have gone, the only people I have been willing to talk to are police officers and FBI agents, and things like that like I told you, and nothing has happened good for me, nothing. I’m not saying that for pity, that’s the truth. There has been no justice, there has been no resolution, there has been no time like I truly can breathe or walk around without needing to look over my shoulder. I don’t mean looking over my shoulder in a literal aspect, I always feel like somebody is watching me and that I’m not safe.

I never feel safe and maybe my not feeling safe has something to do with, no one knows anything from my standpoint except you now. I mean Connie does but no one is going to listen to her either. And that’s the truth. No one is going to listen to a grieving mother. I guess if something ever happened to me and my child was to look on the Internet and I was to never say anything, the only stories my son is going to gather are the stories that everybody else is telling him about me.

BPE: Right.

Zappia: The story that the police department is portraying, the judge, and FBI agents and different stories that would come out. But that wouldn’t be the story I had to say. My son is too little right now for me to sit down with him, explain to him how life has went. So God forbid something happened to me, the way it looks to me they want to put me in a position they could make it either (a) seem like I’m not credible because we have proof she’s buying heroin or (b) have me buy heroin and in hopes I get back on it and overdose me. That’s the only way my mind is going now is that they want to shut me up for good. They believe that I know something, maybe I do, and I just don’t know what that is, so detrimental. I’ve always felt like I’m just one person, that I don’t mean anything when it comes to the bigger picture of things.

But the way that the judicial system has done me to my own case, for everything, just the way I’ve seen life unfold for me, there is no justice for me, and the only thing that’s going to happen is they’re going to kill me. I’m not trying to embarrass myself, but it is an embarrassing thing, but it’s something I did, so if I openly own up to it, I respect myself for doing so. I respect myself for, my own crime and admitting everything that it is, but at least whatever happens, and if nothing ever happens, but if something was to happen, at least my story is out there.

BPE: Right.

Zappia: And somebody besides me knew the truth, and my son would be able to in the future read that, at least I tried to let the world know. It’s a shame that we think that we can trust police officers and we can put our trust in the judicial system, and we would think that the bad guys go away but it’s a shame when the bad guys are the people with the badge.

(Zappia and Land confirmed that the telephone call with Smith as having occurred on January 31, 2019.)

On February 5, Zappia and FBI S/A Smith texted each other. Zappia provided the text messages to the Baltimore Post-Examiner between FBI Special Agent Richard Smith and herself:

Zappia: I was a little taken back by the article and everything involving it. I guess with how wrong the system has done me and being a recovering addict and out of the game for so long, I just feel like putting myself in a position like you have asked me to do, I don’t think it’s something I can consider doing putting myself in a position to mess up my sobriety or ability to stay away from the game. You wanting me to go through my high school heroin dealer puts me in a position to throw my sobriety way. Going around the drugs or the game and giving you the information you want from me isn’t something I am willing to do. I am a straight-A student, sober for almost 3 years and have been a target of the police force and I feel like being an informant, puts me in a spot where people could construe that what I am doing is more than trying to be of help. My only goal is to get justice for Sydney and women like me, not put myself back in the game as an informant. I am sorry but thank you for the offer.

Smith: I never asked you to “go through” anyone. I’m trying to be covert here and texting is anything but. I’m not asking for anything but information. Thought I made that clear. Good luck with your life. This isn’t about news or drama, just helping people. Consider this matter closed.

Smith: Good luck with your studies and life. Please be assured that you are not anyone’s “informant”, there was no pertinent information shared, and there will be no confusion with anyone. I am not a public kind of professional. I love our community and do my job to the best of my ability for my family too. Good luck with yours. Please forget my name and number and I will do the same. Nothing but the best wishes.

You will hear more about Aryanne Zappia, Connie Land, Judge Tobiasson, the FBI, LVMPD and the unsolved 2016 double homicide of Sydney Land and Nehemiah Kauffman in upcoming Baltimore Post-Examiner stories.

It’s never over until the entire truth is exposed.





About the author

Doug Poppa

Doug authored over 135 articles on the October 1, 2017 Las Vegas Massacre, more than any other single journalist in the country. He investigates stories on corruption, law enforcement and crime. Doug is a US Army Military Police Veteran, former police officer, deputy sheriff and criminal investigator. Doug spent 20 years in the hotel/casino industry as an investigator and then as Director of Security and Surveillance. He also spent a short time with the US Dept. of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration. In 1986 Doug was awarded Criminal Investigator of the Year by the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia for his undercover work in narcotics enforcement. In 1992 and 1993 Doug testified in court that a sheriff’s office official and the county prosecutor withheld exculpatory evidence during the 1988 trial of a man accused of the attempted murder of his wife. Doug’s testimony led to a judge’s decision to order the release of the man from prison in 1992 and awarded him a new trial, in which he was later acquitted. As a result of Doug breaking the police “blue wall of silence,” he was fired by the county sheriff. His story was featured on Inside Edition, Current Affair and CBS News’ “Street Stories with Ed Bradley”. In 1992 after losing his job, at the request of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Doug infiltrated a group of men who were plotting the kidnapping of a Dupont fortune heir and his wife. Doug has been a guest on national television and radio programs speaking on the stories he now writes as an investigative journalist. Contact the author.
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5 Comments

  1. DS Talbott says:

    Ary, I am a 65-yr old woman who has lived in LV since 1969, except for attending college in SLC, Utah for a few yrs. I raised my son as a single mother here in LV and worked hard in my profession in order to do so. (I divorced my son’s dad, who also lives here, when my son was only 1 1/2 yrs old, but his dad never helped me raise our son, financially). I had my “issue with drug addiction” and IT IS a never-ending fight…I hv been clean for 20 yrs, but it will be difficult for the rest of my life. Sorry for the long introduction, but, I wanted U to know a bit abt me bfr I commented on the article I just read on the LV FBI website….Ur article. I AM BLOWN AWAY….by Ur courage, Ur honesty, Ur strength, Ur WINNING battles. I know the story of Frank Serpico and hv admired him for many yrs. His communicating with U like he did says ALOT abt him…and U!!! I thank God for people JUST LIKE U. Esp., in this insane world we live in today. U are AN EXAMPLE to anyone/everyone…and, most assuredly, to Ur son. I will pray for U and Ur son’s safety, happiness and futures. I am graced, just having read Ur article. U are a FINE and OUTSTANDING person. I believe the Lord will watch over U and Ur little boy and I will pray that this terrible ordeal U’ve been thru with the deaths, police corruption, FBI crap, etc., AND the JUDGE…will be resolved, the “bad” people will be punished and U can get on with Ur life…and Ur boy’s life….with great blessing, love and safety…for yrs to come. I am so glad that I hv read Ur article. There shld be MORE PEOPLE, like U, in this world. God bless U and Ur little boy.

    Reply
  2. Doug Poppa says:

    Legendary Retired NYPD Detective Frank Serpico, the first police officer in history to expose widespread police corruption sent the following message in support of Aryanne Zappia:

    What a disgrace. Aryanne is clearly the hero here, not only morally and ethically but courageously.

    There are few people who understand addiction and recovery unless you are a person struggling against the disease. Few people make it. I’ve lost loved ones to both alcohol and drugs. I have attended many meetings as an observer with friends in recovery. Hearing their amazing stories of resistance always impressed me and I have told them what heroes they are to fight, resist and win.

    Common people but outstanding individuals.

    That is why people in recovery should be supported for their courage.

    To be tempted by those in authority is a disgrace. This story tells of what real courage and dignity is all about.

    Yes, I admire Aryanne for her stand. My deepest respect. I can relate to her being let down by the system. Please do tell her so.

    Frank Serpico.

    Reply

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