American Conspiracy: The Octopus Murders. Michael Riconoscuito
American Conspiracy: The Octopus Murders. Michael Riconoscuito in American Conspiracy: The Octopus Murders. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2024

If you’ve watched American Conspirayc: The Octopus Murders on Netflix, you’re probably wondering about Michael Riconosciuto. What happened to him after the events of the series? Where is he now? Is he okay?

We asked director Zachary Treitz for answers.

What Happened to Michael Riconosciuto After The Octopus Murders?

According to Treitz, the 75-year-old electronics expert is currently living on the West Coast and continues to be in contact with executive producer and lead investigator Christian Hansen. And no, he hasn’t been murdered by any shadow government assassins. At least not yet.

“He seems to be okay,” Treitz tells MovieMaker. “It’s always hard for me to say how Michael’s doing. He lives in a state of constant stress and adrenaline. So how he’s doing compared to me? Probably not as well. I mean, it’s a very intense, heightened life that he lives that my art could not handle. So I don’t know. I think he’s alright.”

Quick recap: The Octopus Murders four-part docuseries delves into a never-ending web of conspiracies surrounding a theory developed by late reporter Danny Casolaro in the early 1990s. His theory was that there is a powerful and secretive criminal shadow network helmed by eight high-ranking former intelligence officials, including George Bush Sr., whose tentacles extended into all branches of world government.

Casolaro called it “The Octopus.” Some people believe he was murdered because of what he knew.

Michael Riconosciuto first popped up in Casolaro’s research during the Inslaw Inc. case. Inslaw was an information technology company that sold a software called PROMIS to the Department of Justice in the 1980s. But Inslaw was never paid the millions it was owned by the DOJ, so co-owner Bill Hamilton decided to sue. He won the case, but the judgment was later overturned.

Also Read: American Conspiracy: The Octopus Murders Director on Unpacking a Never-Ending Web of Conspiracies: ‘You Can’t Close This Door’

In 1991, Riconosciuto signed an affidavit explaining his role in installing a “back-door” into the PROMIS software that he says allowed the U.S. government to secretly spy on other countries who had bought the PROMIS software.

Riconoscituo says that he was threatened by a Justice Department official for speaking out, and a week later, he was arrested on drug charges, which he denies. He sat in prison for 26 years. The DOJ closed the Inslaw case in 1994.

Three decades later, The Octopus Murders hears directly from Riconosciuto following his release from prison in 2017. He explains that he fears that what happened to Danny Casolaro will happen to him. Treitz confirms that after Riconosciuto was released from prison, he missed his probation hearing out of fear that he would be assassinated by U.S. intelligence officials, who he believes are after him.

The CIA did not respond to MovieMaker‘s request for comment regarding accusations against the organization in the docuseries.

“He went back to jail because he didn’t show up to the probation hearing. So he was taken back up to Washington [state] and he sat jail for months,” Treitz says. “There was a hearing in front of, amazingly, the same federal judge that sentenced him originally 26 years earlier. And I think the judge said, more or less, ‘This dude served a long, long time. Hopefully you won’t do any more criminal stuff.'”

Michael Riconosciuto was ultimately released and has been out of jail ever since, Treitz says.

“Michael spent about a third of his life in prison. The numbers are really scary and shocking. Imagine that amount of time,” Treitz says.

Although he and Hansen have sometimes doubted what Riconosciuto told them about The Octopus conspiracy, Treitz says the computer expert has been right about many details.

“Michael has told us a lot of things over the years, and as you see in the movie… more things that he told us turned out to be true than I ever expected. So when he talks, he talks in extremely long paragraphs with footnotes of footnotes, and names and all kinds of stuff. He said a million things. Like, yes, he’s told us all kinds of things that happened,” Treitz says.

But he’s still waiting for Riconosciuto to make good on his promise to reveal the truth after the docuseries comes out.

“It simply takes almost years to decipher everything… it’s part of, I think, the larger idea of Michael, and a lot of these people, to keep this thing going, keep playing the game. He just keeps telling us a lot of different things, but there’s never been a sort of like, Okay, you guys, you did it. It’s coming out. Now, I can sit you down on Oprah’s couch and we can like talk. There’s been none of that. Well, maybe that’ll happen after it comes out.”

Main Image: Michael Riconosciuto pictured in American Conspiracy: The Octopus Murders.