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Former New Jersey cop Dominick Polifrone posed as a bad guy, to gain the Icemans confidence.

Cold-blooded serial killer Richard Kuklinski (in sunglasses) is surrounded while in custody on Dec. 17, 1986. (N.Y. Post: Arty Pomerantz)

Cold-blooded serial killer Richard Kuklinski (in sunglasses) is surrounded while in custody on Dec. 17, 1986. (

Undercover agent Dominick Polifrone was never more on his guard than during the 18 months he built up a case against the so-called Iceman after all, serial killer Richard Kuklinskis favored method was to use a nasal spray bottle and spritz cyanide into his victims faces.

No matter where I went with him, I wore this leather jacket with a pocket sewn inside containing a small-caliber weapon, recalls Polifrone, who gained his targets confidence and taped dozens of their conversations. I knew that I was somewhere on his hit list. If hed pulled out that nasal spray, Id have to protect myself.

That situation didnt arise because the streetwise New Jersey cop gathered enough evidence before Kuklinski got suspicious. His testimony finally put the gargantuan 6-foot-4 gangland murderer behind bars.

Polifrones role in the story is dramatized in Ariel Vromens new movie, The Iceman, released today. It stars Michael Shannon and Ray Liotta.

The film brought back disturbing memories for Polifrone, now 66 and retired, who was assigned to the case in the summer of 1985.

Ive met hundreds of bad guys, but Kuklinski was a totally different type of individual, he tells The Post. He was coldhearted ice-cold like the devil. He had no remorse about anything.

Polifrone nabbed Kuklinski in a joint operation by the office of the New Jersey attorney general and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The criminal masquerading as a respectable businessman living in suburban Dumont, NJ was a prime suspect in the killing of a mobster whose body was discovered two years after his disappearance.

Kuklinski, who got his nickname because he often froze his victims bodies and then defrosted them, slipped up that time because the medical examiners found ice in the muscle tissue.

Police linked the dead man to Kuklinski, who was implicated in a series of other murders, but the evidence was circumstantial.

We had to get something nobody knew, recalls Polifrone.

In the movie, the sting takes up a small amount of screen time. In real life, Polifrone, who lives in Hackensack, NJ, spent a year and a half posing as a bad guy, to earn Kuklinskis trust.

Meeting in parks and at highway service stations, they spoke about the gruesome murders Kuklinski had committed, including a Mafia hit in Detroit, for which he received $65,000.

There were also statement killings. One mob boss paid him extra to place a dead canary in a victims mouth, as a warning to others.

Another time, Kuklinski joked to Polifrone how he watched one gang member eat an entire hamburger laced with cyanide before he dropped dead.

Recalls the cop: He told me that cyanide normally works real quick and easy, but that this guy has the constitution of a God damn ox, and is just eating and eating.

He said he almost ate the whole burger and then, bam, hes down!

Polifrone knew exactly how to play his role. I laughed, of course, he shrugs. Thats what bad guys do.

Paradoxically, Kuklinski was a committed family man. He led a Jekyll-and-Hyde existence.

He never socialized, gambled or messed around with other women, adds Polifrone. He lived for his wife and kids.

One minute hed be repairing his daughters toys, the next, dismembering a body with a chain saw and stuffing it into an oil drum.

He would come home and completely shut off this murderous component and seek security and love from his family, says Iceman director Vromen. He fulfilled the need to provide for them by killing.

Polifrone finally nailed Kuklinski after tricking him into buying what he thought was pure cyanide. A team of feds and ATF officers arrested him in December 1986.

Twenty-eight years later, he reflects on the man who died, apparently of natural causes, in Trenton Prison in 2006 at age 70. Eyebrows were raised because he was due to appear as a witness at the trial of a Gambino family underboss.

I hope he died a slow death because of what he did to families and individuals, concludes Polifrone. He had no mercy. And if it was foul play, thats OK with me.

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