Columns & Stories]
Woody, Mia and Frank Maco
The Litchfield County state's attorney thought he'd seen it all - and then
he ran into Mia Farrow and Woody Allen.
BY ANDY THIBAULT
Connecticut Magazine, April 1997
Frank Maco might just as well have been Zelig, the Woody Allen character who appears out of nowhere in the maelstrom of historic events.
A career civil servant, Maco made his mark in the state criminal justice system by grinding out cases and staying out of the limelight.
Early on, he became known as a quiet but effective crime fighter.
As a young prosecutor in the 1970s, Maco tried cases before Judge Nicholas Cioffi in Bridgeport.
"Frank is very reflective, extremely reflective," says Cioffi, the former Superior Court judge and public safety commissioner. "He's a very
calm, level-headed guy. He's not flashy, but he surely gets the job done;
his style is not to become the focal point, but just to present the case to
Nevertheless, Maco has been in the international spotlight for nearly five years, ever since he began directing the child abuse
investigation of Woody Allen. Now the Litchfield County state's attorney faces possible suspension or disbarment for his handling of the case. It's
a situation - the celebrities, the tabloid media, the controversy - seemingly at complete odds with his upbringing and his early career. And
now it just may do him in.
Frank S. Maco, now 50, grew up on Bridgeport's East Side. He moved to Stratford as a 9-year-old, to the house where his parents, now in their
70s, still live.
His father Frank J. Maco, a member of the famed Blue Devils 88th Army infantry division, raised his son on sports and history.
"He acquired a sense of history by living it; the Blue Devils invaded Italy a full month before Normandy," Maco says of his father. "My
dad wanted to impress this sense of history upon me." Like many teen-age boys of the 1950s and '60s, young Maco idolized Mickey Mantle and John F.
"Say what you will about President Kennedy, given the recent revelations about his character," Maco says, "he got people like me, and a
lot of my generation, to say, 'Hey, look, let's get involved in public service - that's not a bad life.' Some say we were the last generation
that had heroes."
Maco still treasures his correspondence, in 1966 and 1967, with then U.S. Sen. Robert Kennedy. As president of Fairfield University's
College Democrats, Maco had invited the New York senator to speak on campus. Kennedy could not make it to Fairfield, but he wrote Maco two kind
Pictures on the recreation room wall at Maco's parents' house trace his career, from his swearing-in as a prosecutor in 1972 and as Litchfield
County state's attorney in 1988 all the way up to the Woody Allen case. His dad also keeps a series of scrapbooks from first grade to Maco's visit
to President Kennedy's grave.
"It's like therapy for me," says the elder Maco, who retired after 30 years as a factory foreman and has worked the last 20 as a deputy
sheriff in Bridgeport Superior Court.
Father and son have worked the court system simultaneously. "He gets to see, day in and day out, people I grew up with in the system,
lawyers and cops," says Maco of his dad. "He enjoys that."
Maco's mother Theresa, known to her friends as Tess, is the consummate old-style mother who insists on dinner at the table on time.
"She wants her family to be healthy and strong - that's what her whole life
has been," he says.
Maco, his wife of 24 years Nancy Lou, and their teen-age son Frank Jr. live just a few miles away in Stratford. "My parents and I have been
exceptionally close, and that's the toughest part about going through what
I've been going through."
Maco is now in his 25th year as a prosecutor in Connecticut. After Bridgeport, he served as head of the racketeering unit for the chief
state's attorney's office. Along the way Maco drew the notice of the late
state Supreme Court Justice T. Clark Hull, who recommended him for a post as a state's attorney. "He is the smoothest prosecutor who has ever
appeared before me," Hull said.
Among Maco's early triumphs was the arrest and conviction of Edward Palmer, a man who became known as Bridgeport's bumper rapist.
It was December of 1980. The women of Bridgeport dressed like men and drove with dogs in their cars. They carried knives and unlicensed
"The word was out," says retired Bridgeport police inspector Anthony Fabrizi. "Women were in a panic because there had been nine known
attacks by this guy."
Two of the women were attacked after their cars were struck in the rear, leading police to brand the culprit the
bumper rapist. The rapist wore a mask and blindfolded his victims. Obstacles to solving the case
seemed insurmountable. But Fabrizi developed a plan with then assistant state's attorney Frank Maco: Two Bridgeport police officers, a
husband-and-wife team, would be set up in a car as decoys.
Palmer took the bait, rear-ending someone he thought was just another woman driver. But when he approached the car with his gun exposed,
the male officer hidden in the back seat shot at him, prompting an exchange
of gunfire. Cops were later able to trace the bullets Palmer fired to a gun he stole from a University of Bridgeport security guard.
"Frank made sure we didn't have any entrapment problems," Fabrizi says, "I wanted to kill the guy, but Frank said, 'You can't do that, Tony;
we'll salt him away forever.'"
Maco told Superior Court Judge Martin Nigro, "This man should never be allowed to live outside prison walls." Nigro obliged.
Palmer received the longest sentence in Fairfield County history: a minimum of 77 years in prison, and a maximum of two life terms plus 57
When Maco arrived in Litchfield in 1988 as state's attorney for Litchfield County, the Northwest Corner seemed more like the Wild West than
a retreat for New York artists and literary types.
Roy Duntz laughed after he burned down the Salisbury town garage in 1982 to cover the theft of some chainsaws. Why not? He had the closest
thing to diplomatic immunity in Northwest Connecticut. The shield was his
older brother Richard - known to police as the cocaine kingpin of the region in the 1980s - who intimidated law enforcement officials and
Richard Duntz had escaped jail time despite being convicted of shooting out the window of a state trooper's house.
"He always walked and he was feared by everyone," says James Hiltz, a retired state police lieutenant who headed the Major Crime Squad in
western Connecticut. "But Frank stood up to him."
Before Maco could put Roy Duntz in jail for the garage fire, Duntz burned down the Salisbury Town Hall. His accomplice in the town hall
torching, Earl Morey II, confessed to the crime, but he was so scared of Richard Duntz, he asked police to "slap him around so he would look like he
was beat up" and forced to confess.
Morey's fears were well grounded. On Oct. 23, 1986, Richard Duntz shot him three times in the back of the head and killed him. Maco
convinced a jury in 1990 that Richard Duntz executed Morey for daring to cross him by linking his brother to the town hall fire.
Roy Duntz was sentenced to 25 years for the town hall fire; Richard Duntz was sentenced to 60 years for the murder of Earl Morey.
"Lawlessness can be put down if good people come forward and testify," Maco said after convicting Roy Duntz the first time.
Richard Duntz gained a retrial in 1994 because of errors by the trial judge in admitting some of the evidence. Duntz was convicted again,
by Maco's assistant, David Shepack, and died in jail.
Maco had planned to handle the retrial himself. But he was forced to withdraw from the case on May 6, 1994. Woody Allen had seen to that.
The Mia Farrow-Woody Allen relationship first exploded in January 1992, when Farrow found photos of her adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn,
posing naked in Allen's New York City apartment. Later that year, in August, Allen was accused of molesting and sexually assaulting his
7-year-old adopted daughter, Dylan, at Farrow's Bridgewater home.
Initially, the complaint was filed with New York authorities, but they took
no action. Paul Williams, a Caseworker of the Year for New York City's Human Resources Administration, tried to bring the case to Family Court
(against the orders of his superiors) and was fired for "unethical conduct." Seven months later he was reinstated as a supervisor, a position
he still holds.
Maco first learned of the case in August 1992 when he got a call at home from a prosecutor in his office, David Shepack. On vacation, Maco
initially thought Shepack was harassing him with a bad joke.
Then, about a week later, Allen held a press conference at a New York hotel announcing that he was the subject of a child abuse
"I told the state police to acknowledge that there is an investigation, but to make no further comment," Maco recalls. "We didn't
identify the nature of the investigation or any of the possible charges."
Maco refused to talk about specifics of the investigation, limiting his comments to elements that have made their way into the public record.
Interviews with dozens of law enforcement officials and mental health professionals familiar with the case, as well as a review of court
documents and other records, show the range of the case against Allen.
On Aug. 4, 1992, a babysitter claims she saw Allen kneeling in front of Dylan, who was sitting on a couch in the den of the Bridgewater
home. Dylan was wearing a dress, but no underpants. She stared blankly at
the TV screen. The babysitter told authorities she noticed that Allen's head was between the girl's legs, very close to her crotch.
Over the course of the following 13 months, Dylan would tell her mother, psychologists, doctors, social workers and police that Allen
touched her - with the tip of his right index finger - several times that day.
After the couch incident, the child's account has Allen taking her up to the master bedroom and into a crawl space for some father-daughter
time to play with a train.
"He put his finger in my vagina. He made me lay on the floor all ways, on my back, on my side, my front. He kissed me all over."
"I didn't like it," she continued. "Daddy told me not to tell and he'd take me to Paris, but I did tell."
Police found hair fibers in the crawl space consistent with Allen's, but forensic specialist Dr. Henry Lee, chief of Connecticut's
state crime laboratory, believes the evidence could not conclusively place
Allen in the attic.
"We found hair in the attic, but what does it prove?" Lee says. "It doesn't necessarily prove guilt."
Woody Allen would rebuff efforts by Connecticut state police and Paul Williams of New York to interview him. Just a few weeks after the
Aug. 4 incidents, Allen tried to set preconditions for an interview with the state police. One of the preconditions was that any statements made by
Allen could not be used to impeach him. The state police did not comply.
Allen's lawyers also asked Maco to be present for his statement. Maco declined, fearing he would then be a witness and have problems if he
took the case to court.
Then on Jan. 6, 1993, Allen appeared at the state police barracks in Litchfield for a three-and-a-half-hour interview. He denied assaulting
Dylan. He denied ever having been in the crawl space.
But Allen did say he might have reached into the crawl space on occasion, either to grab one of the children or to give them a soda. State
police reminded Allen that to reach into the crawl space, he would have had
to enter a small closet first. Allen vehemently denied entry to the crawl
But when state police told Allen they had taken fingerprints from the crawl space, he said it was possible that his prints would be found
there. State police characterized Allen's statements as inconsistent.
During the Allen investigation, Maco received a warning from a high-ranking state police official.
"He [Maco] was told," says a retired officer, "that the Allen people were hiring private detectives to try to get some dirt on us."
One of their key targets was Sgt. John Mucherino, a primary investigator for Maco. They wanted to know if Mucherino was a drinker or a
gambler, if he had any marital problems.
Allen's private detectives were compartmentalized, hired by different lawyers and subcontractors working for him, police say. The
private detectives included former FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration
agents, even former state cops who were friends with Mucherino.
One private investigator says he met with Allen's top criminal lawyer, Elkan Abramowitz. "Abramowitz had an aura about him; he was very
charismatic," the detective said. "I worked for Woody Allen, but I have a
The detective said he alerted Mucherino to the nature of the inquiry, then he filed a report and received a substantial fee.
Abramowitz has denied meeting with private detectives on the case, although he acknowledged 10 or more worked for Allen. "We didn't go into
any kind of smear campaign against the police," he says.
The prying took its toll on Maco. "It was after that that I saw a big change in him," says investigation team member Frank D'Amico, a retired
police officer. "He was tense for a long time. He just took more precautions with everything he did."
"They were just trying to disrupt the case. We all know today, in light of O.J., that if you have nothing to go on, you go after law
D'Amico says the Allen team played a number of dirty tricks. Other law enforcement officials suspect that they had something to do with the
false rumor that a top police investigator on the Allen case was trying to
sell a videotape of Dylan to the tabloid media.
The state police immediately began an internal affairs investigation of this trooper, who was cleared. Former Chief State's
Attorney Austin McGuigan said the allegations had to affect "the investigator's ability to do his job."
"The investigation closed down for about 10 days," Maco recalls. "About this time, I was told there was a campaign to disrupt the
investigation and discredit the investigators, being orchestrated out of New York."
"If anyone was watching me or following me," he says, "I'm sure it was one of the most boring assignments they ever had. But just the thought
concerns you, that somebody somewhere might be watching what you're doing after you leave the office."
"The word on the street was, 'Maco's office is beyond reproach, but we have Maco covered.' I took it as someone saying I could have been dirty. That stays in your mind. That made it more important for me to explain my
decision so people would know it was not based on by being dirty, but on a
methodology that is proven."
Woody Allen proclaimed his innocence on the steps of Yale University in March 1993. A panel of experts from Yale, headed by
pediatrician Dr. John Leventhal, concluded no abuse had taken place.
The conclusion itself was an anomaly. The standard practice in the field is to state whether the subject's behavior is consistent with having
suffered sexual abuse.
"Concluding guilt or innocence is not the role of a mental health team - that's for the court," says Dr. Diane Schetky, an associate
professor of psychiatry at the University of Vermont, co-author of the widely used textbook Child Sexual Abuse and co-editor of Clinical Handbook
of Child Psychiatry and the Law.
Maco had commissioned the Yale study with instructions to determine whether Dylan was a viable witness who could stand up in court. He said
that enlisting Yale's assistance was the biggest mistake he made in the case.
"Regardless of what the Connecticut police wanted from us," Leventhal said in an April 1993 deposition, "we weren't necessarily
beholden to them. We did not assess whether she'd be a good witness in court. That's what Mr. Maco may have been interested in, but that's not
necessarily what we were interested in."
Yale, Maco says, "took the case and ran away with it. I gave their report very little weight."
An examination of the Yale report and court documents shows:
· The Yale team used psychologists on Allen's payroll to make mental
health conclusions. "That seems like a blatant conflict of interest; they
should have excluded themselves," Schetky says.
· Custody recommendations were made even though the team never saw Allen and any of the children together. "I'd sure want that information,"
· The team refused to interview witnesses who could have corroborated
the molestation claims.
· The team destroyed its notes. "I don't know why they would," Schetky says. "They shouldn't have anything to hide, unless there's
· Leventhal, the only medical doctor on the team, did not interview
Dylan. "How can you write about someone you've never seen?" Schetky asks.
· The night before Leventhal gave a statement to Farrow's attorney,
he discussed the scenario with Abramowitz, the head of Allen's legal team,
for about 30 minutes.
· The team interviewed Dylan nine times. For three consecutive weeks, she said Allen violated her sexually. In several of the other
sessions she mentioned a similar type of abuse. When Dylan did not repeat
the precise allegation in some of the sessions, the team reported this as an inconsistency.
The nine interviews were "excessive," Schetky says. "The danger is the child feels like she's not believed if she's asked the same questions over
Leventhal himself later admitted, in sworn testimony in the custody case, that he made several mistakes during the course of the investigation. One of those was his false characterization of Dylan's active imagination
as a thought disorder.
In the Yale report, Leventhal cited what he called "loose associations" by the child. He said she talked about looking in a trunk
and seeing "dead heads." When advised that Mia Farrow had a trunk in her attic in which she kept wigs from her movies on wig blocks, Leventhal
acknowledged this was not evidence of a fantasy problem or a thought
The pediatrician also attempted to categorize Dylan's banter as "magical thinking," citing her vivid description of a sunset. However,
after being advised that Mia Farrow described the dark sky upon leaving New
Haven in the evening as "the magic hour," Leventhal said he was "less concerned" about the incident as an example of "loose thinking."
"This guy Leventhal never left his office, never talked to the child, but he gave a wonderful account and said, 'I exonerate you, Woody,'"
D'Amico says. "Boy, I wouldn't want to carry that flag around - 'Leventhal
says I'm OK.'"
A Yale Spokeswoman says the hospital stands by the report and Leventhal's national reputation.
On Sept. 20, 1993 state police detective Bea Farleakas and Dylan Farrow sat on the floor of Maco's office, surrounded by stuffed animals.
It was not an unusual scene. Children, sometimes victims, were regular visitors to the office, which is just a few doors from the renowned West
Street Grill off Litchfield's town green.
Joining Farleakas, who was the primary detective in the Allen probe, and Dylan was Michelle Prindle, Maco's secretary. Dylan handed out
the stuffed animals and they played for about an hour.
Maco, D'Amico, and state police Lt. Charles McIntyre looked on as Farleakas, Dylan and Prindle finished their play session. Maco then got
down on the floor and played and talked with Dylan for about half an hour.
"We talked about kid stuff," Maco says. "It was like being with my own kid. We were having fun - until the button was pushed. I tried to
discuss the incident. I saw her saying to me with her blank stare, 'This is the last place I want to be. I can't deal with this. Is this Yale?
What are they doing to me?'"
Maco backed off. "I saw complete withdrawal any time I tried to discuss the incident. This was complete withdrawal and regression. At the
time she was so fragile and damaged I knew she would not be a good witness. I knew she needed healing. I was not going to interfere with her
Days later, Maco held a press conference in which he said state police had compiled enough evidence to charge Allen with a crime, but that
he'd decided not to approve an arrest warrant in order to spare Dylan the trauma of a trial.
Allen objected strongly to Maco's characterization of him as a criminal who would never get to refute the charge in court. So strong were
his objections, in fact, that in October he filed an ethics complaint against Maco with both the Statewide Grievance Committee - a lawyers'
disciplinary group - and the state Criminal Justice Commission, which hires
and fires prosecutors. While the Criminal Justice Commission exonerated Maco that December, the Statewide Grievance Committee voted 6-5 with two
abstentions to investigate Maco for alleged misconduct in his handling of
the case. The vote overturned a ruling by Maco's local committee, which had found in his favor.
Susan Levine of Litchfield, a member of the local grievance committee, recalls the deliberations over Maco's actions.
"We ruled that even though Maco was close to the line, he didn't cross it," said Levine, who is also the top borough official in Litchfield. "We were very surprised when statewide overturned it. Why empower local
grievance committees and then take away the power? If Maco had acted inappropriately, that's the way [our] ruling would have gone. Maybe they
just wanted to see Woody Allen."
Levine's comments were echoed by Superior Court Judge Raymond Norko, who characterized the Statewide Grievance Committee's actions as
"star driven, sloppy and careless."
One of the members of the statewide panel, Bridgeport attorney Daiga Osis, had been an opponent of Maco in a vigorously contested arson
case in Bridgeport - the burning of the Town Fair Tire store on Boston Avenue in the 1980s. Osis had argued an appeal against Maco and lost.
"The name of the prosecutor did not concern me; I have no personal relationship with Maco," Osis says. But she cast what could have been the
deciding vote in the 6-5 decision to investigate Maco. Hiltz, a retired state police lieutenant, called her action "sour grapes" and "payback."
"I did nothing illegal, unethical or immoral," Maco says. "I'll go anywhere to defend that."
These days, Maco awaits the final word from the Statewide Grievance Committee, which could vote to remove him from his job. Maco says he has
rejected offers of a settlement from the Allen camp, which would require him to apologize for his
He credits his family with the support that has enabled him to endure. "I've gained strength from Nancy Lou, from my son and of course,
from Mom and Dad. Whatever strength I have comes from them."
In one particularly intense period, his son Frank Jr., then 9 years old, pulled him through. Allen had branded Maco dishonest and a coward
during press conferences after Maco's announcement that he was closing the
"Frank saw the news article, and all I could do was tell him that given the nature of my business, I'm sure I've been called a coward and
dishonest before, but I don't think I've ever been called both of those at
the same time," Maco recalls. "He laughed, but then he had some fear for my job, so he assured me he had a friend, another young boy whose dad was
in the insurance business. He said, 'Don't worry, Dad, I'm sure we can always get you a job in insurance.'"