Category: Organized Crime

cops2On October 18, 1986, Betty Hydell answered the doorbell and her home and was confronted by a police officer looking for her son James.  She politely told him that Jimmy not home and she did not know his exact whereabouts.   At the time, she had no idea that she would never see her son James again.  Several hours later,  he was picked up by two men in what appeared to be an unmarked police car. However, he never arrived at the local precinct and no record was made of any arrest.  It was if he simply vanished into thin air and to this day, his body has never been found.  It became one of the many cold cases on file in Brooklyn South.  His brother Frank, had is own encounters with the two and on one occasion Betty even confronted the officer looking for him as she drove her car past his unmarked vehicle.  Frank was later murdered April, 1998 after visiting a gentleman’s club in Staten Island, New York.

On November 6, 1990, Edward Lino, a capo in the Gambino Crime Family, was shot execution style as he sat behind the wheel of his car after being pulled over on the Belt Parkway in South Brooklyn.   Lino’s death became a cold case until it was learned that he was pulled over by two men in what appeared to be an unmarked police car.   A photo of Lino slumped over in his car shows the execution style murder in graphic detail and for some, brings backs memories of the days when mobsters were killing each other across New York City with reckless abandon. Hydell’s disappearance and Lino’s murder remained cold cases for many years and no one then could have imagined that they would both come back to haunt those involved and help reveal one of the biggest scandals in the history of the New York City Police Department.

But who were the two men in what appeared to be an unmarked police car?  Their identities nearly remained a secret for good if not for a book and a television appearance on Sally Jessy Raphael.  Former NYPD Detective Louis Eppolito had written about his life on the force and his family background, appropriately titled ‘Mafia Cop’.  He had starred in Hollywood films, including a bit part as “Fat Andy” in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas (Warner Bros., 1990).   On that fateful day of his television appearance, Betty Hydell was one of millions of viewers watching the former detective promote his book.  I can only imagine the shock on her face as she watched the television screen listening to the former detective who once came looking for both of her sons. For NYPD Detective Tommy Dades, this was a major fire among the smoke that surrounded Eppolito and his former partner, Steven Caracappa, who died on April 8, 2017, while incarcerated in Butner, North Carolina.  Dades’ investigation, supported by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, opened up Pandora’s Box, revealing a cast of characters who conspired to commit crimes that many thought to be unthinkable.

Michael Vecchione is a senior figure in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office, and at age 63, continues to serve the City of New York.  He and Dades go back a long way and when it became apparent that two cops had gone rogue, both knew that this case would be one they would never forget.  This is their recollection of the development of the case and how and why it was then taken over by the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.  The story at first resembles an intricately woven puzzle with each piece coming into the picture as the story moves forward.   And as each revelation comes to light, I was  as shocked and confused as Dades and Vecchione were then.  But the seduction of the case keeps them lured in and both are determined to do whatever they can to bring down the two corrupt cops who had since retired and moved to Las Vegas. But this was no ordinary cold case and it quickly became apparent that there was far more than meets the eye.

It should be noted that this is not the story of the lives of Eppolito and Caracappa.  While the authors do provide some background information on them, they never go into extensive detail but provide the information when necessary to the narrative at hand. This is the inside story of the case to bring them to prosecution, a case which almost completely fell apart after a District Court Judge reversed his own ruling. At times the story seems surreal as we meet mobsters Anthony “Gaspipe” Casso and Burt Kaplan, who died in July, 2009.  And like a Hollywood production, the story takes off as the mobsters reveal staggering numbers of robberies and murders.   But the cream of the crop were their tales about the cooperation and services of two NYPD Detectives.  To most people, the story seemed absurd and I remember reading about the trial in the newspapers.  Hardly anyone though that two cops could have been pulling off hits for a crime family and shaking down criminals.  But the truth is that we had seen it before with the corruption scandal of the 90s, Michael Dowd and through the testimony of Frank Serpico.  But what was horrifying is that Eppolito and Caracappa had been accused of taking the corruption to a higher and far more deadly level.  In short, this was a whole other ball game and both the Brooklyn DA and U.S. Attorney’s office knew this to be a cold hard fact.

Many of us would like to believe that the effort to bring the deadly duo to justice was the result of a concerted effort by law enforcement. But as the authors point out, this was far from the case and almost from day one, a web of suspicion developed as the FBI and U.S. Attorney began to see the payday in prosecuting the two cops.  At that point it was game on and the cat and mouse spectacle between the State and the Government bordered on the unbelievable. They pull no punches in this book and lay out the case from start to finish.   And while the government did get a RICO Act conviction that was later affirmed by an appeals court, the case nearly crumbled under its own weight.  But the justice system worked as it was designed giving prosecutors the victory they desired.  Today, Eppolito and Casso are still alive but will both spend their last days in prison.   We can only guess as to how many more crimes occurred that were never revealed.  Those are secrets that all of them will undoubtedly take to the grave.  But this book by Vecchione, Dades and Fishers, gives us an inside look into what might possibly be a black hole of crimes between mobsters and law enforcement that have escaped prosecution. In fact, the crimes that are revealed are so mind-boggling that I found myself not wanting to put the book down at times because I could not wait to see where the investigation would lead next.

In the end, the prosecutors and cops scored a victory,  but on personal levels, many sacrifices were made and these are also revealed in the book, showing the human and personal side of the major players.  Their lives are not glamorous and in fact, during the case, they would each go through their own personal dramas that might have pushed others over the edge. Incredibly, the remain dedicated to the case while trying to save marriages, professional relationships and even their sanity while the work on bringing two of their own to justice.  Today as they look back on the case, I am sure they will smile with satisfaction at having achieved justice for Betty Hydell and the families of the other victims of the killer combination of gangster and cops. Eppolito has maintained his innocence from day one, even in the face of overwhelming evidence.  As he sits behind bars, I can only assume that he has pondered his past and how it shaped the future he his now living.   He will take many secrets with him to the grave but he and Caracappa will forever be known as the mafia cops. This is a story of crime, dishonor and the prevail of justice in the City of New York.

ISBN-10: 073228533X
ISBN-13: 978-0732285333

Organized Crime

massinoOn July 10, 2013, the Hon. Nicholas G. Garaufis of the Eastern District of New York ruled that former Bonnano Crime Family boss Joseph Massino was to be released from federal prison after serving only 12 years of a life sentence.  He will be monitored regularly for the remainder of his life. The ruling was based on Massino’s prior cooperation as a government witness.  To date, he remains the only mafia boss to have become a testifying witness for the U.S. Government. This is the story of his rise to fame and his downfall in a life of organized crime in the five boroughs of the City of New York.

Similar to other books on the legendary crime figures, the story begins in New York City in 1943 when Massino is born into an Italian-American family.  Raised in Maspeth, Queens, his life of crime began in his teen years paving the road for future endeavors.  However it is time as a member of the Bonnano Crime Family that would later be the focus of an unrelenting number of criminal investigations. Crittle does a masterful job of putting together the details of the infamous murders that occurred, including the murders of the three capos (Alphonse “Sonny Red” Indelicato, Dominick “Big Trin” Trincera and Philip Giaccone) as portrayed in the hit film ‘Donnie Brasco’, starring Al Pacino and Johnnie Depp.  As the tension in the book builds, we learn about several more murders including those of  Dominick “Sonny Black” Napolitano, Cesare Bonventre and Gerlando Sciascia, whose murder earned Massino a possible sentence of death if convicted.  The reader may recall Napolitano as the mafia captain who was taken to task over the infiltration of the organization by F.B.I. agent Joseph Pistone.  He is portrayed in ‘Donnie Brasco’ by actor Michael Madsen. The film was fairly accurate but several liberties had been taken by the filmmakers, most notably the insinuation that Lefty is called to this death.  In reality,  Benjamin “Lefty” Ruggiero survived the Pistone episode and died of cancer on November 24, 1994.

Crittle appropriately named the book for Massino is considered to the be the last of the old-school mafia bosses.  However his decision to cooperate with the government was an act unfathomable in the minds of mafia figures and law enforcement personnel.  The author follows Massino’s trial and the sequence of events that lead to the aging gangster switching sides.  The story takes on a life of its own as we witness a level of devastation within the ranks of the mafia never before seen.  The last don’s fall from power and grace is yet another example of the precariousness of life in organized crime.  Many of the characters in the book are either deceased or incarcerated and today they represent an era long gone in American history.   There was a time when the Italian-American mafia controlled nearly all parts of New York and was feared and glorified throughout the country.  Massino’s conviction and defection pushed the organization past the point of no return.

Fans of true crime novels will readily welcome this addition to their libraries.  Crittle takes us back into time in an era where the streets of New York City were filled with mafia figures larger than life such as John Gotti, Paul Castellano, Carmine Galante and Aniello Dellacroce among others.  The younger generation of today are largely indifferent to the mafia.  The mafia rarely makes headlines but remains firmly implanted in the memories of mature readers who lived during the times explored in the book.  For some of them, Joey Massino truly is the last godfather.

ISBN-10: 0425209393
ISBN-13: 978-0425209394

Organized Crime

DutchmanOctober 23, 1935- Arthur Flegenheimer, better known as Dutch Schultz, is gunned down with two of his associates at the Palace Chop House in Newark, New Jersey. Schultz was mortally wounded as he stood in front of a urinal in the men’s restroom.  He survived for another day before dying on October 24, 1935 at the age of thirty-three.  Today, the Palace Chop House is gone, having been demolished to make way for additional parking spots.  Already a legend in the making, Schultz’s murder catapulted him to the top of the list of legendary crime figures during the era of prohibition.In the thirty-three years that he spent on earth, he gained fame, infamy and a legacy that remains in place to this day.  But who was the real Dutch Schultz and why was it necessary to have him murdered?

Paul Sann (1914-1986), a former editor for the New York Post,  examines the Dutchman’s life in this investigative report that is the definitive account of the death of Arthur Flegenheimer.  Schultz never wrote an autobiography or kept a personal journal like the majority of crime figures from his era.  His story is put together by court records, testimony of those who either knew Schultz or dealt with him [personally and various other sources of information.   And the image that we come to see is of a life nothing short of complex and tragic.  Known on the streets and in the media as the Beer Baron of the Bronx, he gained infamy as a suspect in the murder of several people, most notably Vincent “Mad Dog” Coll, a former partner turned mortal enemy.  The two waged an intense turf battle that ended with Coll being shot at least fifteen times inside a phone booth in front of 312 West 23rd Street on February 8, 1932.  Although Coll was retired effective immediately, Schultz had another enemy, one that would bring his downfall and unknowingly play a part in his murder, former Governor of New York, Thomas E. Dewey. Dewey, then former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, gained notoriety for his efforts at fighting organized crime and the conviction of Charles “Lucky” Luciano in 1936.  The no-nonsense attorney became the Dutchman’s biggest obstacle and threatened to end his career permanently.  The events that unfolded as these two titans clashed is stuff of underworld lore and critical to understanding Schultz’s tragic end in Newark.

In the aftermath of his murder, law enforcement had no positive identification of his murderer and it would be many years before the identity of his killer became known as Sann shows us.  As we learn the true story of his murder, we also see the many enemies that surrounded Schultz with a vested interest in his elimination.  The Dutchman was close friends with Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky and other top members of what was called “The Syndicate”.  And like many of those mobsters and other outlaws of the era such as John Dillinger and George “Babyface” Nelson, he found himself on J. Edgar Hoover’s most wanted list.  When he muscled in on the Harlem number rackets he earned a lifelong nemesis in Stephanie St. Clair, the top female and African-American crime boss in New York City at the time.  Never known to be afraid of violence, stories of the Dutchman’s short temper and eagerness to use a firearm helped to cement his legacy as one of the toughest Jewish gangsters in New York City history.

Today it’s hard to picture the lawlessness that once existed on the streets of New York City.  But at a time not more than 100 years ago, the streets of New York ran red with blood as gangsters traded lead cutting each other down and waged gun battles with cops. Organized crime ran hundreds of rackets and corruption was rampant throughout the city. Mobsters, police and elected officials worked in tandem as everyone received their share of the proceeds.  Crusaders such as Thomas E. Dewey, Fiorello La Guardia and Lewis J. Valentine, the former Police Commissioner, are a few of the colorful figures who joined in the effort to restore prestige to the City of New York and in the process bringing and end to the careers of those such as the Schultz.  If you’re a fan of the old stories of the prohibition era gangsters, follow Sann as he steps back in time into the underworld full of characters such as Al Capone, Frankie Yale, Johnny Torrio, Salvatore Maranzano and the late Schultz.  The book is an engaging account of a pivotal moment in the criminal underworld of New York City.

ISBN-10: 098843010X
ISBN-13: 978-0988430105

Organized Crime

16057485-_uy200_January 26, 1962, Naples, Italy – Salvatore Lucania, also known as Charlie Luciano and Lucky Luciano, dies of a massive heart attack at Naples Airport at the age of 64.  The aging mobster had suffered several recent heart attacks and had arrived at the airport to meet film producer Martin Gosch, who was to adapt a screenplay of the legendary mobster’s life.  Luciano had resided in Italy since February, 1946 when he left New York Harbor for the last time.  The terms of his parole, granted after lending his help to the allied effort in World War II, required that he leave the United States and never return. Tragically, it wasn’t until death that he was allowed to come home when he was interned at St. John’s Cemetery in Middle Village, Queens, New York.

Luciano never wrote an autobiography and it is for this reason I’d like to point out that this is not his autobiography.  This book is based on notes from the conversations that Gosch (1911-1973) had with Luciano before his death during the years 1961-1962.  Gosch has long been deceased.  Richard Hammer is still alive and has commented on the criticism that the book received. He admits that the originals of the notes are no longer in existence and much of what Luciano said is hard to verify.  With that in mind, I think it is wise to remember that the book is a look at this life but not a word for word autobiography.   And since Luciano is also deceased, he is unable to verify its contents.  But I think on the whole, the book is a good look into the New York underworld of that era and the major players.  The major events in the book are true and have been well documented. The smaller day-to-day events, transactions are thoughts alleged to have come from Luciano himself are sometimes questionable.  Do I believe that all of the statements attributed to Luciano are true? No, but I do believe a large number are probably accurate.

It would have been great if Luciano could have either written this himself or given his approval but since neither is possible, this is the closest we have to any type of statement by Luciano about his life aside from the postcards, letters and other miscellaneous documents in his writing that are currently in existence. Mafia bosses have rarely written or verbally told their life story with the exception of Joseph Bonanno who broke from the norm publishing a book of his life in the mafia. But what we do know is that Luciano was in negotiations to have a movie based on his life produced.  His untimely death canceled any possible deal and the project has been lost to history.

His role in the reorganization of the American mafia can never be understated but it can be overstated.  To many he is the man who built the modern-day mafia but to others, just a smaller part of a big effort to change the  direction of organized crime in the United States.  Here is and his story is left up to the reader to cast judgment.  Frank Costello, Meyer Lansky, Bugsy Siegel, Thomas Dewey and all of the big names from the era make an appearance in the book resulting in an engaging tale that pulls the reader in from start to finish.  But it is important to remember that sometimes the line between fiction and non-fiction can become slightly blurred. Nonetheless, it’s a good look at the legendary figure.

ISBN-10: 1936274574
ISBN-13: 978-1936274574

Biographies Organized Crime

WestiesIn New York City history, the Italian-American mafia has always captured the public spotlight in regards to organized crime headlines.  The five families, filled with larger than life characters, captivated the American public becoming glorified in films and music.  But at one time in New York City, in a small neighborhood known as Hell’s Kitchen, the Irish mafia controlled the streets. T.J. English takes us back in time to when Hell’s Kitchen was one of the most dangerous parts of New York City.  Today the area has changed substantially.   The faces have changed and the area once known to harden criminals, has seen a surge in gay and lesbian residents.  The bars are still there but the area has become a focal point for New York City nightlife.  The violence is long gone but some of the remnants from the past will always remain.

As we follow English back in time, we are re-introduced to the many notorious figures of the era and bear witness to the development of the racketeering,  loansharking and homicides that became staples of the neighborhood.  All of the major players are here, including Paddy Dugan, Mickey Spillane and even the Italian gangsters from Brooklyn such as Roy DeMeo, Paul Castellano and Nino Gaggi,   Drugs, money, sex and violence are all here making the novel feel like something Martin Scorsese would have brought to the silver screen.    Similar to ‘The Departed’ and ‘Goodfellas’, the fast life and hard fall for Featherstone, Coonan and company reminds the reader of the stark reality of life on the street where friends become enemies and enemies become acquaintances. The dark and seedy underworld rises to the surface, brought to life by English showing us the gritty scene that once existed in the island of Manhattan.

Similar to the story of Henry Hill, Sammy Gravano and Phil Leonetti, Featherstone also becomes a testifying witness and it is towards the end of the book, that the Vietnam Veteran and former street hustler makes a claim for redemption, helping the authorities to close homicide cases and break the Westies gang permanently. Now a member of the Witness Protection Program, Featherstone cooperated on the book and his participation gives the book an added touch of authenticity.   And as we make our way to the epilogue, we learn the fate of the major figures throughout the book.

Featherstone and Coonan will never again walk the streets of Hell’s Kitchen together as they once did.   Coonan will spend the rest of his life in prison and Featherstone has no desire to return to his old haunts.  Their lives are no longer in NYC, but their past lives remain a permanent part of New York City history and time where there was much more to the name Hell’s Kitchen that most wanted to know.

ISBN-10: 0312362846
ISBN-13: 978-0312362843

Organized Crime

s-l300June 28, 1971-Joseph Colombo, the charismatic leader of the Italian American Civil Rights League and head of the Colombo crime family is shot and gravely wounded during a Unity Day rally in Columbus Circle.  He lingers in a coma for 8 more years before dying on May 22, 1978 in Blooming Grove, New York.  His assassin, an African-American man from New Brunswick, New Jersey  named Jerome Johnson, was shot and mortally wounded himself. The official story is that Johnson was a crazed gunman possibly acting on the orders of Colombo’s rival, Crazy Joey Gallo.  Gallo, a Colombo associate, is known for his hair-trigger temper and blunt manner of speech.  Gallo denied being behind the murder and maintained that position up until the time of his own murder on April 7, 1972 as he dined at Umberto’s Clam House in Manhattan. The motive behind Colombo’s murder was never discovered and his murder is essentially a closed case.  But upon deeper inspection, we come to see that when examined thoroughly, the facts surrounding the case cast serious doubt on Johnson’s means and motives.   Colombo’s son Anthony and Don Capria have reexamined the late Colombo, Sr.’s life and death in this gripping investigative report that is bound to leave the reader with more questions than answers.

More than 45 years have passed since Colombo’s murder, but his life remains one of the most intriguing of the 20th century.  On the streets of New York, he was known to law enforcement as a high-ranking member of the American Mafia.  But at home, he was simply known as dad.  The father of several children, Colombo is examined here as a husband and father as Anthony travels back in time recalling all of the fondest memories from the time spent with his late father.  The Colombo we see here is far removed from the mafia boss described in police reports and FBI files.  Fiercely protective of his family, reputation and heritage, he took the unprecedented step of picketing the FBI offices after being subjected to surveillance and harassment by the bureau.  And in his effort to redeem the image of Italian-Americans, he created the organization that was unrivaled in its size and popularity in New York, the Italian-American Civil Rights League.   Colombo continues to stand out as the most unusual mafia chieftain of all time.  And to this day, his act of picketing the FBI offices has yet to be matched by any other mobster.  But his popularity and actions did not go unnoticed and came with a steep price.  And as his son Anthony shows us, the FBI and local police never let up on their crusade to put Colombo behind bars for good.  And his relationships with other mobsters were either positive or negative depending on the situation.

The strongest part of the book is the relationship between father and son.  As I read this book I continued to recall the story of Albert DeMeo as he talks about his father Roy in ‘For The Sins of My Father‘.  Spending the majority of their time in upstate Blooming Grove, the relationship between the two was strong, sometimes tense but ultimately full of love and unconditional loyalty.  One might expect the book to contain confessions from Anthony about his father’s criminal escapades. But here, like in DeMeo’s book, that isn’t the case. Insulation of the family from the streets was routine practice by many mobsters and Colombo was no different.  Those looking for a smoking gun about Colombo’s street activities won’t find it here.  This book is purely about Colombo as the family man, center of law enforcement investigations, civil rights activist and tragically, murder victim.   Following his death, the Colombo family eventually became embroiled in an internal civil war that left dozens of mobsters dead as Vic Orena and Greg “The Grim  Reaper” Scarpa lead internal rival factions that caused the streets of Brooklyn to run red with blood.  Today, the family’s name is hardly mentioned at all and Colombo remains a figure of a distant and forgotten past.  But at one time in New York City’s history,  his name was the talk of the town.

 

Organized Crime

chin2On December 19, 2005, Vincent “The Chin” Gigante, died at the age of 77 at the Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri.  The late mafia boss gained notoriety on the streets of Little Italy as he walked about in a bathrobe speaking incoherently to himself and those around him.  He became known in the media at the “Oddfather”.  His death marks the end of an era as the late Gigante is considered to be among the last of the old-fashioned Mafioso who controlled the streets of New York City.  The former boxer, trigger man and boss remains a legend in organized crime history.

But just who was the true Vincent Gigante? And what really went on behind the bathrobe and mystifying ramblings?  Larry McShane, a writer for the NY Daily News, presents to us an inside look into the life of one of the most intriguing mob bosses to have ever lived.  Based on interviews with those who knew him, including his younger brother Father Louis Gigante, court records, investigation records and testimonials of mafia members,  McShane has composed a definitive account of Gigante’s life from his beginnings on the lower East Side all the way to his final confession that his “demented” state was an act to throw off authorities.  And what has resulted, is an incredible life story of a complex character committed to the life of La Costra Nostra.

Before reading this book, I had little knowledge of Gigante’s vast family, including several siblings and the two women in his life with whom he created two separate families while at the same time, ruling a Mafia family with an iron fist.  The careful don evaded conviction through several decades due to impeccable street smarts and a cloak of privacy that confused and threw off investigators for years before the final curtain call.  Once a confederate of such names as Lucky Luciano, Frank Costello and Vito Genovese, the late Gigante was a walking history book having witnessed some of the most important events to have taken place within the American Mafia.  And even among some of the most hardened members, his name evoked fear and images of murder and other acts of vengeance.

Today, the Genovese crime family is far different from under the leadership of the Chin.  The big names are either deceased or in prison and the family no longer has the power it once did.  The RICO act combined with the testimony of cooperating witnesses served as the final nail in the family’s coffin.  But while the family has lost a large portion of its aura, the Gigante name lives on as does the Chin’s legacy.  Some of us will feel that he was nothing more than a street thug who came up with a ridiculous gimmick while others will look back on their time with him and remember a loving relative and good friend.    His past deeds and life aside, he remains a crucial figure in New York City and American history.  For those who are interested in the Italian-American Mafia and the life of one of its most colorful bosses, this book is a must read.

 

Organized Crime

murder machineDeMeo and his crew of psychopathic killers engaged in killing on a scale that rivaled the actions of the former crew of contract killers out of Brownsville, Murder, Inc., during the early half of the 1900s.  And although he’s been deceased since 1983, his name and reign of terror remain legendary in mafia history.  Gene Mustain and Jerry Capeci bring us their account of DeMeo’s reign of terror in this excellent investigative report that gives the full story of the rise and fall of one of the most violent street crews in New York City history.   Carefully researched and aided by firsthand accounts of former associates and witnesses, the duo revisits the past and the early lives of Antonio “Nino” Gaggi, Roy DeMeo and Dominick Montiglio, the only surviving member from DeMeo’s crew.

While society tends to glorify stories about the mob through films and documentaries, this book is anything but that.  What we learn in these pages is that the characters we follow, operate in a completely different world.  The majority have limited education, are prone to acts of violence and often fall victim to the many vices that lie in wait on the gritty streets of the inner city.  Deceit, suspicions, greed and homicidal urges take center stage revealing a complex web that devours nearly all of its participants.  The crimes are grisly and the crew’s “disposal” of bodies borders on the macabre.  The book is not for the faint of heart but it is the definitive account of the murderous reign of one of Brooklyn’s most feared killers next to the grim reaper himself, Greg Scarpa.

Similar to Goodfellas, the stories are entertaining and thrilling, the fallout is tragic and in the end we are able to see the dark side of a life in crime and the many victims, both living and deceased that are created in the pattern of dysfunction filled with the worst traits a person can have.  The authors did a phenomenal job of covering the trials and convictions of the major players.  The private and mysterious Walter Mack also makes an appearance and his role and importance in the convictions is on full display.  And the heroic efforts of the many detectives that spent countless hours in their investigations are rightfully profiled.  Nearly all of the gangsters in the book are gone with almost every single one having met a violent end.  However, their names are still mentioned today and their stories continue to be told.  Their stories are a critical part of the history of New York and will remain with us until the end of time.  For those who enjoy true crime and are fascinated by the inner workings of the American mafia, this book is among the best.

ISBN-10: 0451403878
ISBN-13: 978-0451403872

 

 

Organized Crime

61nm4hsx32l-_sx331_bo1204203200_June 19, 1975-Former boss of the Chicago mafia, Sam “Mooney” Giancana is shot and killed in the basement kitchen of his home in Oak Park, IL.  Giancana had been extradited from Cuernavaca, Mexico and was scheduled to give testimony to the newly formed Church Committee.   Some have speculated that his murder was to silence the old mafioso in the fear that he might reveal an unknown number of secrets about the American mafia and its relationship with the Unites Government.  His death shocks the nation and raises many more questions about the events in Cuba, Chicago and Dallas, Texas.  For several decades, he ruled Chicago with an iron fist and was privy to nearly every major event to occur in the Windy City.

‘Double Cross’ is the inside story of Giancana’s life by his younger brother, the late Chuck Giancana, Sam’s nephew also named Sam and Bettina Giancana, a published author and recognized expert in the field of organized crime.  The book is written like a novel but it is far from fiction and this story of the mobster who controlled America is one of the most revealing books I have ever read and helps to reader to understand just how powerful the  mafia had become in the United States.   Years before the RICO act was designed and used by prosecutors to break the backbone of organized crime,  the mafia controlled nearly every aspect of American society.  And among these power players was none other than Sam Giancana, whose reach stretched from all corners of the country, countries abroad and even to the oval office.  The son of Italian immigrants learned the tricks of the trade through the hard knocks of life on the gritty streets of Chicago which at the time, was the city known to be a haven for organized crime featuring such characters as Hymie Weiss, Al Capone, George “Bugs” Moran and Dion O’Banion to name a few.   And his stint in Joliet prison served to toughen his character making a more hardened and remorseless gangster.  His brother Chuck, at his brother’s side for most of their lives, recalls their discussion about the events of the day and the secret world of the Syndicate.  And as we listen to Chuck while he tells us what he remembers, we begin to see a very dark portrait of a dangerous, power-hungry, merciless  and intelligent person fully entrenched in the underworld where he would remain for the rest of his life.

When John F. Kennedy’s election campaign began to pick up steam, it became evident that some states would need more attention than others.  An Irish-Catholic had never been elected President and many of the toughest states were Protestant strongholds.   One more than one occasion, it has been alleged that Joe Kennedy bought the election for his son.   We do know that Richard Nixon’s campaign wanted a recount, but their efforts were nipped in the bud by officials in Illinois.   If Chuck’s words ring true and other sources are to be believed, then this book’s revelations about more campaign secrets will serve to undercut all that we thought we knew about past elections.  Those familiar with the Kenned family  and the history of Joe Kennedy’s wealthy empire will be fully aware of the bootlegging of illegal liquor that helped him amass such a staggering fortune.  But what is often unknown, are the deep connections to the Chicago mob all leading directly to Giancana.

After Kennedy took office and made his younger brother Robert Attorney General,  a war was unleashed on the American mafia.   It was a war that Giancana called nothing short of a double cross and the number of victims would be staggering and include the late Marilyn Monroe.   The truth about Dallas is still completely unknown but after reading this book, you might find yourself with more answers than questions and view the crime in a completely different light.

ISBN-10: 1510711244
ISBN-13: 978-1510711242

Organized Crime

MartoranoThe film “Black Mass” featuring Johnny Depp as the notorious Boston criminal James “Whitey” Bulger, took us inside the old Boston underworld and the power struggle between the Irish and Italian organized crime organizations that turned the city into a battle zone.  Bulger’s story, due in part to documentaries, media coverage and books, is well-known. But what isn’t widely known, is the story of the Winter Hill gang’s most efficient and feared killer, Johnny Martorano.  In the film, Martorano is played by actor W. Earl Brown. Howie Carr presents us with this chilling account of Martorano’s early life, his descent into the crime world, affiliation with Bulger, arrest and decision to become a testifying witness against the Winter Hill gang and numerous individuals targeted in law enforcement investigations.  And what he reveals is a gritty underworld full of corruption, drugs, sex, money and murder.  All of the infamous Boston gangsters make an appearance including, Donald Killeen, Indian Al, Wimpy Bennett, Gennaro “Jerry” Angiulo and Tommy King.

Martorano’s life reads like a story straight out of “GoodFellas” or “The Departed” except that this isn’t fiction.   This is the city of Boston, in the 1960s and 1970s and the mayhem that ensued.  The murders are brutal, the crime heinous and nothing is spared in the book bringing home the reality of the streets of Boston during those times.  At some points in the book you may feel as if you’re sitting next to Martorano and the crew at Basin Street South or Chandler’s as they plot their next crime.  As a father of several children by different women, husband, hitman,  loan shark and enforcer, Martorano is a man of many faces able to change from one to the other when necessary and in an instant.  At the time of the publication of this book, Bulger was still at large.  Since then, he has been captured and is currently incarcerated and will spend the rest of his life in prison.  Martorano served 12 years in prison, was released and currently resides in Milford, MA.  His days with the Winter Hill gang are long gone but his reputation and past actions continue to live on as Bulger and the gang continue to be examined in books, films and documentaries.

ISBN-10: 0765332396
ISBN-13: 978-0765332394

Organized Crime