New light is being shed on the murder of Tampa police officer Richard Cloud who was killed in 1975, including who did it and why.
According to former mobster Angelo Bedami, Cloud was killed because he had information on he and his brother, and was going to testify against them.
Cloud, a former sergeant in the Tampa Police Department, was an organized crime investigator for the federal government, and was a thorn in the side of Florida mobsters.
Bedami, who ran a drug smuggling operation through Florida with stolen planes that were then crashed into the gulf to hide evidence, said that his cousin Manuel Gispert and friend Vic Acosta were likely the ones responsible for the murder. Though they were indeed charged later for their involvement, the details and motive were unclear until Bedami shed further light on the incident in his book, Who Are These Guys? Tampa’s Underground Airline, which confirmed the theory that the hit was to protect Bedami and his brother.
Bedami swears that he did not know about the hit in advance. “When you do something like that, the less people that know, the better,” he said.
Ken Larsen, a former detective who worked undercover for Cloud, did not believe that Bedami was ignorant.
“If Angelo Bedami tells me it’s Tuesday, I’d check the calendar,” Larsen said. “Angelo was a street hoodlum who was lucky enough to have a father who was loved by Santo Trafficante. That’s why Cloud is not alive today.”
Bedami came from a criminal background; his father was a hitman for the Trafficante family – a powerful crime family in Florida’s criminal underworld from the 1950s to the ’80s.
Cloud, on the other hand, was a staunch defender of justice, and aggressively fought organized crime. When he became aware of problems in his department related to police corruption, and asked the Florida Department of Criminal Law Enforcement to investigate, and was eventually promoted to sergeant of the vice squad’s narcotics division.
Cloud would often go to Tampa’s assistant U.S. Attorney Bill James to get cases prosecuted, and was successful in putting criminals in prison.
After trouble within the department, Cloud was dismissed and linked up with federal agencies to fight organized crime in Florida. The hit was put on him when he agreed to testify at the retrial of Bedami’s brother who was charged with counterfeiting.
Because the Bedami brothers were highly respected individuals in the crime world, it was dangerous to cross them. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Cloud was well-recognized by mobsters due to a photo of Cloud with undercover detectives that leaked to the mafia.
On the hit list with Cloud was also U.S. Attorney James, Cloud’s personal attorney, and two businessmen who refused to sell their liquor licenses to the mafia.
There were several assassinations attempts against these individuals, including three blown up cars, and several drive-by shooting attempts, but all of them failed. Eventually, Acosta and Gispert paid escaped convict Benjamin Gilford to assassinate Cloud, and provided him the gun. Gilford shot Cloud on his doorstep while pretending to be a delivery man.
Justice was eventually served. Gilford pled guilty to the murder and committed suicide in his cell before he was sentenced. Acosta was also arrested in 1977, but overdosed on sleeping pills in his cell while awaiting trial. As for Gispert, he was sentenced to 60 years in prison for his involvement in the murder, and died while in prison.
The Tampa Police Department posthumously reinstated Cloud to his former position.