by Brian Hartz & Tom Gratz
Harley C.I. is the story of two police detectives and a prolific, violent gang of burglars they investigated and brought to justice. Based in Fort Wayne, the seat of Allen County, in northeast Indiana, Sgt. Tom Gratz and Cpl. Dan Eddy began tracking the gang in September 1993. By March 1994, they’d arrested seven of its members. Known as the Wells Street Gang, the burglars operated with impunity throughout the state of Indiana, committing several burglaries per week. Gratz and Eddy broke up the ring with the help of detectives from neighboring police departments and an ex-con turned confidential informant (C.I.) nicknamed “Harley.”
The Wells Street Gang, though, was secretive and elusive. Gratz and Eddy desperately needed someone to infiltrate it if they wanted to bring the burglars to justice.
Despite, or possibly because of, his many flaws, Harley would be the break the detectives sought to turn around their stalled investigation of the notorious gang of burglars. Harley infiltrated the ring by becoming close to one of its leaders, a man named Larry Ashe. An ex-con himself, Harley was a natural fit with the other criminals in the Wells Street Gang, and could talk himself out of — and into — any dicey situation. As a C.I., Harley was good, but he could also be big trouble for Sgt. Gratz and the other detectives who handled him. Gratz worked hard to keep Harley in line, on the wagon, and out of the hospital. Thanks to his criminal background, reputation as a con artist, and colorful personality, he continually flirted with disaster. In essence, he was the classic smooth talker who knew a little about everything and could talk his way out of tight jams. What he didn’t know was the degree to which the Wells Street Gang would test those abilities.
The struggle would nearly kill him.