Steve Castelletti loves the thrill of the chase.
For the past two seasons that has meant working as the Peoria Rivermen equipment manager and watching the AHL club battle its division rivals in an annual playoff race.
But there was a time when the only thing Castelletti helped put on ice was some of America’s most wanted criminals.
The 54-year-old from the New York borough of Brooklyn was a U.S. Marshal for 21 years before he retired to pursue his hockey career.
The resident of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was assigned to the fugitive investigations division — chasing criminals on the most-wanted list, a la Tommy Lee Jones of movie fame — and also had a stint watching over participants in the Witness Security Program.
Castelletti was part of a federal team of agents that captured Luke Helder, the notorious Mailbox Bomber, in a high-profile case that drew national media attention. Helder planted pipe bombs across the country in an effort to create a “smiley” face on the map of the United States, based on the explosion sites. He was arrested May 7, 2002, in Nevada.
“It’s never a solo effort. It takes teams of agents and agencies working together to track a fugitive, and I was proud to be part of the team that worked on that one,” Castelletti said. “You work on mulitple cases at a given time, follow whichever trail is hottest.
“I’ve been on task forces that took me to Costa Rica, Bosnia, England and all over the U.S. chasing fugitives. I loved it.
“Witness protection was a challenging assignment, too. A lot of times you’d listen to these people talk about the things they did, they’d tell you things, horrible things, and you’re thinking, ‘I have to protect this guy?’ ’’
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