Tag: Mafia

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

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

scarpaThis book is not by any means, an investigative report into Scarpa’s activities.  For the full story on his crimes, relationship with the FBI and its aftermath, the best book that comes to mind is Peter Lance’s ‘Deal With The Devil‘ which chronicles Scarpa’s working relationship with the bureau which spanned several decades.   This is his daughter Linda’s story infused with the recollections a few selected family members and a friend of the family.   The book serves as her journal of what life was like under the roof of the feared mobster whose name sent chills down the spine of many.  Similar to Albert DeMeo, Phil Leonetti and Anthony Colombo,  Linda’s story reveals the ugly and tragic truth of life in a mafia family.   And what we learn through Linda is that no one escapes that life unharmed in some sort of way whether it’s mentally, physically or emotionally.  Prison, murder and other acts of violence become routine occurrences, leaving the surviving family members to grieve for those lost in street wars and deadly encounters of other sorts.

Scarpa, like most other mobsters, did protect his family from the life he led up to a point.  And as we see with Linda, as she ages and learns more about the streets and the life her father has chosen, the stark reality of “the life” hits home awakening her to the bitter truth surrounding the nature of her father’s business.  She is frank with what she knew and what she felt and through her words, we are to see the level of dysfunction plaguing their social circle resulting in a deadly web of violence.  And as the internal struggle for power escalated into an all out war, she is forced to confront even more, the knowledge that her father has murdered men and will murder many more before his own demise from AIDS related complications in June, 1994.

A good portion of the book is narrated by Linda’s mother, “Big” Linda, Scarpa’s widow. And through her recollections, we learn about the true nature of the relationship between Scarpa and the FBI.  A valuable asset during the civil rights era, Scarpa never received pubic credit for his role in breaking those cases, but Linda sets the record straight as she traveled with him on more than one occasion.   And sadly, he was left out of the movie “Mississippi Burning” due to the highly sensitive nature of his working relationship with the bureau.  Former FBI Agent Lin DeVecchio was charged with being complicit in murders carried out by Scarpa, but was acquitted on all charges.  The nature of his relationship with Scarpa came under close scrutiny and in this book, that topic is also discussed freely by both mother and daughter.  It is left up to the reader to decide the level of DeVecchio’s complicity in Scarpa’s activities.

This story by his daughter is moving and filled with all of the elements that could make a modern-day gangster film.  Marriage, divorce, mistresses, money, power and violence all make an appearance throughout the book.  But the one thing that stands out is that nothing is glorified.  There is no glamour or gloating and she is pointedly clear that there are no winners.   What is left are her, her mother and other relatives trying to put their lives back together and even though more than 20 years have passed, their lives continue to be in need of repair.  For some, that healing may never come and others go on trying to live the best life that they can.  Her father is long gone as is her brother Joey, tragically murdered himself on the same Brooklyn streets his father once ran.  For Linda, life will never be the same again and through this, she shares her story to inform others of the risk taken by a life of crime and violence and reminds us that not only do our actions affects us, but they also can affect everyone around us even after we’re long gone from this earth.

ISBN-10: 0786038705
ISBN-13: 978-0786038701

Biographies

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

scarpaOn June 4, 1994, Greg “The Grim Reaper” Scarpa died of AIDS related complications at the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minnesota.  The former mobster is known as one of the most feared killers in mafia history.   Joseph Valachi is thought to be the first made member of a La Costra Nostra family to shed light on the dark secrets held by the mafia.  Following Scarpa’s death, it came to light that he had been an informant for the FBI as early as 1953 preceding Valachi by ten years.  Unlike Valachi, he never testified and while an informant he continued to operate on the streets of New York with sometimes very deadly consequences.  From all accounts, he took part in or played a supporting role in dozens of murders, some of which remained unsolved.   His son, Greg Scarpa, Jr., is still incarcerated but has renounced his former life as a mobster and continues his quest to have his conviction reviewed and his jail time reduced.  I was previously familiar with the author Peter Lance, having read his book ‘A Thousand Years For Revenge’ as a sophomore at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.   This book on Scarpa came as a recommendation from Amazon and I jumped at the chance to read this engaging and shocking expose.  And while the cover of the book is highly enticing on its own, what’s contained is the pages of this book is nothing short of mind-boggling and will make you question everything you thought you knew about the trials and convictions of mobsters, most notably, John Gotti, Vic Orena, Sr.,  Sammy “The Bull” Gravano and Anthony “Gaspipe” Casso.  And next to Scarpa, Casso figures prominently throughout the book and his relationship with the government is just as fascinating.

Lance does a masterful and mesmerizing job of investigation the government’s relationship with Scarpa and the intelligence he was providing to the FBI.   Receiving intelligence in return from the bureau, Scarpa was given a free pass to continue his criminal enterprise, avoid criminal prosecution and perfect his craft as a stone cold killer making the streets of Brooklyn run red with blood.  Lin DeVecchio, who was his handler, was charged and later acquitted of four homicides related to his relationship with Scarpa. And while he avoided prosecution, this book sheds new light on his actions at the time resulting in even more questions than answers.  DeVecchio didn’t take part in this book and never responded to Lance’s requests for interviews.   Whether his choice to avoid Lance is admission of guilt or a carefully thought out plan of defense is up to the reader to decide.  What is clear from this book is that for 30 years, Greg Scarpa, Sr., enjoyed a privilege seldom given to mafia killers.  Following his death, the fallout from his time as a confidential informant continued for several years.   However, not all of the fallout was negative.  In fact, Lance reveals several important details regarding the war on terror that have a direct relationship with the Grim Reaper himself through his son Greg Scarpa, Jr., and his incarceration with the infamous terrorists Ramzi Yousef and Terry Nichols.  For those who have studied the first World Trade Center bombing and the Federal Building  bombing in Oklahoma, this section of the book will be highly interesting.  When I started reading this I literally could not put it down.   For information on Greg Scarpa, the Colombo Crime Family wars and the government’s fight against and collusion with the mafia, this book is a must read.

ASIN: B009NG0SIG

 

Organized Crime

DeMeo On January 18, 1983, New York City Police Detectives were called to the scene of a grisly murder all too common in the streets battles of organized crime.  An abandoned Cadillac was found with a surprise in its trunk, the body of mobster Roy DeMeo, the homicidal enforcer for the Gambino crime family.  He had been brutally shot several times before his tragic demise.  During his career, it is believed that he participated in dozens of murders, running a modern-day version of Murder, Inc.  His death came as no surprise to some in law enforcement who know very well that many in that life eventually leave it in a body bag.  But for DeMeo’s family, his disappearance and death, shook the family to its core.

Albert DeMeo, his oldest son, stepped into his father’s shoes following the murder and his life changed in ways no one could have predicted.  To the public, DeMeo was a feared mobster whose reputation preceded him but to this family, he was a father and husband who never failed to show his love and teach them the ways of life so that they did not end up in the life that he chose.  Through Albert’s eyes, we see Ray as the stereotypical American father with a wife and three children who lives on a quiet street in an even nice neighborhood.  Albert is aware that his father has a job that is not the standard nine to five but is carefully shielded by his loving father.  After Ray’s death, Albert does not glorify the life or  reveal any smoking guns. But he does recall events involving figures such as Nino Gaggi, Dominick Montiglio, Anthony Senter and Joey Testa.   Senter and Testa became known as the Gemini Twins in mafia circles.

In the beginning, all seems as if there is one big happy family.   But DeMeo’s death changed everything and as Albert tells us, the world turned upside down and those once considered to be Dad’s friends, are seen in a different light as a veil of secrecy develops in the wake of the crime. And it is here that the story changes pace as the fallout begins.  Albert finds himself in the cross hairs as the Mafia wants to see what he knows about the organization and the police want to know what he has to tell about his father’s associates.  He becomes a pawn on a chessboard as two titans wage their war against each other.  The tug of war that ensued would have profound effects on DeMeo and his revelations about the effects on his personal life are eye-opening and tragic.

With this intimate account of his life as a Mafia child, DeMeo joins the group of authors who have published their memoirs that tell the story of life under the roof of an organized crime figure.  And what is clear from his words and theirs, is that life as a Mafia child is exciting as good times come and money flows in but at some point, things inevitably change, typically for the worse and the family is left to pick up the pieces.  In this story, DeMeo picks up the pieces as best as possible but not even he can overcome the adversity that stared the family in the face in the wake of the demise of one of the Mafia’s most prolific killers.

ASIN: B000FC1I4K
ISBN-10: 0767906896
ISBN-13: 978-0767906890

 

 

 

Biographies Organized Crime

LeonettiMarch 21, 1980-Philadelphia mob boss Angelo Bruno is shot to death while sitting in the front passenger seat in a car in front of his house.  The ruling commission in New York appoints Philip “Chicken Man” Testa as the new boss and Nicodemo Scarfo as the underboss.   Less than a year later, Testa himself is murdered when a bomb explodes under his front porch.  After meeting with the commission, Scarfo becomes the new boss and his reign would prove to be the deadliest in the family’s history.  Guided by paranoia and a never-ending thirst for blood, Scarfo weaved a path of destruction that would bring down not only himself but nearly the entire organization before being arrested and convicted due in part to the testimony of his nephew and former underboss Philip Leonetti.  Leonetti, whose defection is perhaps the biggest in mafia history, gave testimony that sent dozens of mobsters to prison and played an indirect role in the conviction of the teflon don himself, John Gotti.  Scarfo continues to serve out his sentence at the Federal Medical Facility in Butner, North Carolina with a projected release date of January, 2033 when he will be 103 years old. Now in his mid-eighties, his life is far removed from his days running the streets of Philadelphia and Atlantic City.

Leonetti, who grew up idolizing his uncle while learning the tricks of the trade, has been a long time member of the witness protection program living with a new identity.  And to this day, there remains a contract on his life. This is his story about being a “mafia prince” in the mob and his ultimate decision to defect and testify against his uncle.  Disillusioned by his uncle’s vindictiveness, street life and the murder of his friend, mob captain and son of Philip Testa, Salvatore “Salvie” Testa, his descent into defection came gradually but steady.  And at the very moment when he agrees to be a cooperating witness, he passes the point of no return.  And as we learn about Leonetti and his past, we are exposed to the deadly life on the streets of mafia member.  Leonetti doesn’t ask for forgiveness but he does show gratitude for being given a second chance in life and does attempt to sway young men away from a life that is most often a road to nowhere.

ASIN: B00J1JPTMK

Biographies

LufthansaMartin Scorsese’s classic film “Goodfellas”, the story of the life of Henry Hill (1943-2012) during his time as an associate of the Lucchese crime family, is considered to be one of the greatest films ever made about the American mafia.  Scorsese himself has been quoted as saying it was the film he always wanted to make.  Featuring an all-star cast, his masterpiece took us into the violent and dysfunctional world of organized crime.  As a protegé of Jimmy “The Gent” Burke, Hill moved up the ladder of organized crime reaching his pinnacle when he took part in the planning of the infamous Lufthansa heist at JFK airport.  The heist took place in December, 1978 and cost Lufthansa five million dollars in cash and almost a million dollars in jewels.  A massive investigation was launched by the FBI, Port Authority police and New York City Police Department.  Only one person was convicted for the crime and the money has never been recovered.  In January, 2014, mobster Vincent Asaro was arrested and charged with being part of the heist.  He was acquitted in November, 2015.   This book is a collaboration between the late Hill and author Daniel Simone about the robbery and the personal lives of Burke and his crew.

The secrets regarding the location of the stolen cash went to grave with with the deaths of Burke, Paul Vario, Hill and the other associates who took part in the planning or execution of the robbery.   Asaro’s acquittal served as another dead end in the government’s quest to prosecute those responsible for the heist.   The investigation into the robbery received its first break with the discovery of the fingerprints of Pernell “Stacks” Edwards but was immediately compromised by hidden battles between the three leading investigative agencies.  It was not a team effort and the infighting resulted in investigators from each agency running into walls of silence and misinformation.  The crime pulled in all three agencies because 1) it involved currency stolen from an international air carrier, 2) the crime occurred on Port Authority property and 3) the crime occurred in Queens County even though it was on airport property.

At the top of the list of investigators was the Federal Bureau of Investigation in liaison with former United States Attorney and Boston College alumni Ed McDonald.  McDonald has admitted that Hill never made the best witness and his years of drug abuse had taken its toll on the memory he had left. Others have called Hill a rat, junkie, punk and far worse.  In fact, I have yet to hear anyone who did know him on the streets, speak kindly of him.  But the reality is that he was there and he was a witness to the events that formed the basis of Scorcese’s classic.  And his testimony proved to be beneficial for the U.S. government. Burke and Vario both died in prison as they served out their sentences from convictions based on Hill’s appearances.  Still though, this is Henry Hill and some parts of his story are questionable.  He alleges that an attempt on his life was made on Tillary Street near the Brooklyn Bridge.  There is no credible evidence to back up this claim.    So it is up to the reader to take what he does say at face value and cross-reference the facts.

The book reads like a crime novel and Simone’s writing style is engaging.   In the film, there is a sequence in which the bodies of those connected to Burke began to surface following the robbery.  Their deaths are explained further in the book helping the reader and movie buff to understand why they were eliminated and the reasons behind Burke’s actions.  He unleashed a deadly wave of homicides in the wake of the heist and proved to be just a cunning as any mobster we have ever seen.  Burke has long been deceased and can offer no response in defense. But even if he were alive, I highly doubt that he would have written any type of book regarding his time in the life.   Both he and Vario were considered old-school mafioso who lived by the rules of the game.  And had it not been for the movie, millions of people would have never heard their story.  Hill died on June 12, 2012 at the age of 69 after years of battling heart disease. The remaining secrets have gone with to his final resting place.  But before he died he left behind testimony interviews and this collaboration with Simone.   He may not be the most reliable, but he was the final link to a time in New York City that we will never see again.

ISBN-10: 1493008498
ISBN-13: 978-1493008490

Organized Crime