Who is Michael Riconosciuto? A Figure at the Intersection of Conspiracy and Crime

Michael Riconosciuto

Michael James Riconosciuto, born around 1947-48, cuts a complex figure in American history. Touted as an electronics and computer expert, his life became entangled with the Inslaw Affair, a legal battle with explosive allegations against the U.S. government. 

Let’s delve into Riconosciuto’s story, exploring his claims, legal troubles, and the lingering questions that surround him.

From Electronics Whiz to Alleged Government Insider

Born in 1947 or 1948, Riconosciuto’s early life remains shrouded in some mystery. However, his expertise in electronics and computers is well-documented. 

By the 1980s, he found himself embroiled in the Inslaw Affair, a legal battle between Inslaw, Inc., a software company, and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Inslaw accused the DOJ of stealing its software, PROMIS, and manipulating it for clandestine purposes.

Riconosciuto emerged as a key figure for Inslaw. He claimed to have been involved with modifying PROMIS, supposedly installing a “backdoor” that allowed for government surveillance. He provided an affidavit to Inslaw detailing these alleged modifications and faced threats from a DOJ official, according to his testimony.

Getting Riddled into Controversies

Riconosciuto’s claims sent shockwaves through the Inslaw Affair. However, his credibility came under scrutiny. He admitted to involvement in arms dealing and drug trafficking, later receiving a 30-year sentence on methamphetamine charges. A Congressional investigation found him to be an unreliable source, casting doubt on his allegations about PROMIS.

Despite the questions surrounding him, Riconosciuto’s story added a layer of intrigue to the Inslaw Affair. His background in electronics and his willingness to challenge the government narrative resonated with some. However, the lack of concrete evidence to support his claims left many unconvinced.

Arrest and Imprisonment

In early 1991, shortly after his affidavit for Inslaw, Riconosciuto was arrested. The government charged him with methamphetamine possession and distribution. He maintained that his arrest was retaliation for his involvement in the Inslaw case, but this claim was never substantiated.

Riconosciuto’s legal battle focused on the legitimacy of the search warrant used for his arrest. He argued that the warrant was based on false information, but his appeals were unsuccessful. He served a significant portion of his sentence before being released in 2017.

Lingering Questions and the Legacy of a Complex Figure

Michael Riconosciuto’s story remains a source of debate. While some believe he was a whistleblower targeted by the government, others view him as a convicted criminal whose claims were self-serving.

The truth likely lies somewhere in between. Riconosciuto’s criminal activities cannot be ignored. However, the possibility that his expertise was used or misused by others cannot be entirely dismissed.

The Inslaw Affair itself remains unresolved. While the government settled with Inslaw out of court, questions about the true nature of PROMIS and its potential misuse linger. So, it’s safe to say that a lot of the questions are left unanswered.


Michael Riconosciuto’s life serves as a cautionary tale. His expertise was undeniable, but his criminal activities overshadowed his claims. The Inslaw Affair, with its allegations of government misconduct, further complicates his story.