Immunity? For What, Again? E-mail
Written by APB Staff   
In the movies you frequently hear the phrase, "No one is above the law."

It's a nice idea. But what if you are local law enforcement and the suspect is a paid informant for the Feds?

Anyone familiar with the sordid tale of Boston mob boss Whitey Bulger can tell you that these kinds of arrangements can get people killed.

But there are other cases of a lower profile that, while not as deadly, can be every bit as frustrating for a police officer trying to bring a protected informant to justice.

Meet Josef Franz Prach von Habsburg-Lothringen, the Prince of Austria. If that fake name is too much of a mouthful, try using the suspect's real name - Josef Meyers.

Meyers, and his alter ego Prince Lorthringen, are jet setters, spending time in the most exclusive social circles of high society.

The "prince" has been known to take meals while under the watchful eyes of his several bodyguards. He's also known to prance about in a cape, according to his neighbors in Manhattan's trendy Soho district.

In the real world, Meyers is a former mental patient, hustler, and onetime accused cocaine dealer who grew up in a broken home in Beverly Hills, Michigan. Like a lot of confidence men, Meyers changed his name in midlife and left his first wife and children for a second wife and children. He didn't divorce the first wife, he just left.

Here's the kicker - the "prince" is actually the king of deadbeat dads in the state of Michigan. Meyers owes more than $250,000 to his first wife, whom he never divorced.

Warrants have been issued for his arrest on child neglect charges, but he continues to elude capture or prosecution.

We wouldn't want the Bureau to lose such a valuable asset over something like law enforcement, or at least that seems to be the thinking at the FBI.

Prince was, and may
still be, a high-level
informant for the FBI, according to law enforcement officials, court records and correspondence from the Department of Justice revealed in a recent story in the Detroit News.

Meyers is a case study in the seedy world of the federal informant.

"I think the term con man applies here," Sgt. Matt Norman of the OaklandCounty Sheriff's Dept., who has pursued the Prince in vain, told the News in a recent interview.

"He's got a dozen aliases. He works for the FBI. And we can't touch him. I called the FBI a couple times on this and they never returned my calls. I mailed them a wanted poster. Nothing. Normally if a guy is working for the government we can put a withholding order on his paycheck. But obviously we can't seem to do that here."

Born in Beverly Hills in 1960, Josef Meyers' criminal record is the size of a long novel.

Shortly after he turned 21, Meyers attacked his mother, after which he was committed to the Clinton Valley Center.

In 1987, he was arrested in a raid in Livonia, during which police confiscated two kilos of cocaine and an automatic weapon. Meyers was not convicted.

It was about this time that he began working as a top-level confidential informant for the FBI, according to federal documents. He started going by comic-book monikers like "The Prince", "Meyeransky" and "Rockefeller."

He also began speaking with an over-the-top German accent.

"The FBI called me after that coke bust and asked if I thought Meyers would make a good informant," said Rocky St. Jean, a retired Beverly Hills cop who had numerous run-ins with Meyers, including the episode with his mother.

"I told the guy I wouldn't trust a bonehead like Meyers to take out my garbage."

The FBI disagreed and apparently started using Meyers as an informant. But they won't say what he does or did in that capacity for the FBI.

Whatever he did must have really impressed his handlers.
Meyers walked out on his family in late 1993 after his wife gave birth to their son Franz, and missed the baptism.

But Franz's godfather was there - Richard Mazzari. Mazzari's a retired FBI agent who was von Habsburg-Lothringen's case handler.

Department of Justice guidelines forbid agents from socializing with confidential informants.

In a letter to the court, the U.S. Department of Justice confirmed that while in the employ of the FBI during the ‘80s and ‘90s, Meyers "sold counterfeit goods; committed extortion; beat up at least one individual; used narcotics and assisted in the collection of debts owed from the sale of narcotics."

It is unclear if The Prince is still an employee of the FBI.

"I can't comment at all on anything like that," Special Agent Theodore Cicioppi of the FBI's New York office told the Detroit News.


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