The Chicago Syndicate: John Gotti
Showing posts with label John Gotti. Show all posts
Showing posts with label John Gotti. Show all posts

Monday, March 25, 2019

Anthony Comello, Suspect in Murder of Mafia Boss Frank Cali, Looking at Death Penalty from the Mob

It’s Mob Justice 101, and there are no appeals: The unsanctioned killing of a Mafia boss carries the death penalty.

The longstanding organized crime maxim is bad news for the life expectancy of Anthony Comello, the suspect jailed in the Staten Island shooting death of Gambino family head Frank (Frankie Boy) Cali.

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“He must know his life is worth nothing,” said one-time Bonanno family associate Joe Barone. “He doesn’t have a chance in hell. It’s a matter of time. Even if the wiseguys don’t get him, he’ll get whacked by somebody looking to make a name.”

Comello, 24, remains in protective custody in a Jersey Shore jail, held without bail in the March 13 slaying of Cali outside his Staten Island home. Cali was shot 10 times in what initially appeared to be the first hit of a sitting New York mob boss since the execution of his long-ago Gambino predecessor Paul Castellano.

Veteran mob chronicler Selwyn Raab, author of the seminal Five Families: The Rise, Decline, and Resurgence of America's Most Powerful Mafia Empires,” said retribution might not occur instantly. But Comello’s best-case scenario is a life spent looking over his shoulder. “Very simply, the old rules in the Mafia are you don’t let somebody get away with something like this," said Raab. “As long as the Mafia exists, he’s in danger. And it’s not just the Gambinos — anybody from any of the other families could go after him. If they get an opportunity to knock him off, they will."

Even the Cali family’s initial refusal to share security video with the NYPD was consistent with the mob’s approach to crime family business.

“That’s a big message: We’ll take care of this ourselves,” said Barone, who became an FBI informant.

The Castellano murder, orchestrated by his Gambino family successor John Gotti in December 1985, led to a trio of retaliatory killings sanctioned by Genovese family boss Vincent (The Chin) Gigante.

The Greenwich Village-based Gigante was outraged that Gotti ordered the hit without his approval. The murders were spread across five years and meant to culminate with the killing of Gotti, who instead died behind bars after his underlings were picked off.


  • Victim No. 1, dispatched by a Brooklyn car bomb, was Gambino underboss Frank DeCicco in April 1987.
  • Castellano shooter Eddie Lino became Victim No. 2 after a November 1990 traffic stop on the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn. Unfortunately for him, the officers involved were the infamous “Mafia Cops” — who killed the mob gunman for a $75,000 fee.
  • And finally, Victim No. 3: Bobby Borriello, the driver and bodyguard for the Dapper Don, murdered April 13, 1991, in the driveway of his Brooklyn home.


The mob doesn’t always get its man. Notorious informants like Gotti’s right-hand man Sammy (The Bull) Gravano and Henry Hill of “Goodfellas” fame bolted from the Witness Protection Program and survived for decades.



Gravano, whose testimony convicted Gotti and 36 other gangsters, walked out of an Arizona prison one year ago after serving nearly 20 years for overseeing an ecstasy ring. Hill died of natural causes in June 2012 at the age of 69, although not all are as fortunate.

Lucchese family associate Bruno Facciola was executed in August 1990, with a dead canary stuffed in his mouth as a sign that he was an informer — and a warning to other mobsters.

Thanks to Larry McShane.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Anthony Comello Arrested in Murder of Frank Cali, Mafia Hit May Have Been Domestic Violence Beef Instead

The mafia didn’t kill Gambino boss Francesco “Franky Boy” Cali — a twentysomething Staten Island hothead with a personal beef did, police and sources said Saturday.

Anthony ComelloAnthony Comello, 24, a non-mobster who works odd construction jobs, was named as the suspect who blasted at least ten slugs into Cali, 53, on the street outside the boss’s brick mansion.

It was the first assassination of a New York City mob boss since an upstart John Gotti had Gambino boss Paul Castellano whacked outside Sparks Steak House in 1985.

Investigators quickly feared a mob war in the making.But they now believe a personal dispute was to blame — over a woman in Cali’s family, according to multiple law enforcement sources.

The nature of the dispute was not immediately clear. But sources said Cali — who helmed a family notorious for gambling, loan sharking, and its deadly trade in heroin and oxycodone — thought Comello was trouble, sources said.

Cali didn’t think Comello was worthy of associating with a woman in his family, the sources added.

At a press conference Saturday afternoon, Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea announced Comello’s arrest, but said such issues as motive and possible accomplices were still under investigation.

“Everything is on the table at this point,” he said. “The investigation continues.”

Thanks to Larry Celona and Amanda Woods.

Potential Hit Man in Police Custody in the Shooting of Frank Cali, Reputed Godfather of the Gambino Crime Family #Breaking

New York City detectives have a 24-year-old man in custody related to the shooting death this week of reputed crime boss Francesco "Franky Boy" Cali.

"The investigation is still in progress and an arrest has not yet been made," NYPD Assistant Chief Patrick Conry wrote in an email.

Conry said the 24-year-old was taken into custody early Saturday, but he did not say where. More information is expected to be released Saturday afternoon.

Citing "sources familiar with the investigation," NBC 4 New York reported the 24-year-old was arrested in Brick, New Jersey.

Cali, 53, died at a hospital after being shot multiple times in the torso in front of his home at 25 Hilltop Terrace in Staten Island. Police found Cali wounded after receiving a 911 call reporting an assault in progress about 9:15 p.m. Wednesday.

Federal prosecutors have referred to Cali in court filings as the underboss of the Gambino family, saying he was connected through marriage to the Inzerillo clan in the Sicilian Mafia.

Multiple press accounts since 2015 said Cali had ascended to the top spot in the gang, although he never faced a criminal charge saying so.

His death marks the first killing of a New York City boss in more than 30 years, according to reports. Former Gambino head Paul Castellano was famously killed in 1985 outside a midtown Manhattan steakhouse in a hit ordered by John Gotti, who seized control of the family.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Frank Cali, Reputed Gambino Crime Boss, Shook Hands with Mafia Hit Man before Getting Whacked

Details continue to emerge as the investigation advances in the murder of a reputed Gambino family mob boss outside his Staten Island home, the first such incident in New York in three decades.

Multiple police sources say that whoever shot Francesco "Frankie Boy" Cali drove up to the mobster's Hilltop Terrace home in the Todt Hill section, came to a stop, and then gunned the engine in reverse, crashing into Cali's parked Cadillac SUV.

The force of the impact knocked the license plate off the SUV and seemed to investigators to have been done intentionally in order to get Cali's attention.

Once Cali came outside the home, sources said, video showed the two men talking and then shaking hands. Apparently Cali sensed no danger, because he turned his back on his killer to put the license plate inside the rear of the SUV.

That's when the gunman took out a 9mm handgun, held it with two hands -- as if he was trained, the sources said -- and opened fire.

The video is said to be grainy and has not been released because the suspect's face cannot be seen. The NYPD is continuing to canvass the neighborhood in search of clearer video.

Cali's wife and child were in the home at the time, which sources say is a highly unusual circumstance in the lore of organized crime -- which, in its heyday, followed certain rules that kept targets from getting whacked in front of their families.

Eyewitness News obtained Cali's mugshot from 2008, when he pleaded guilty in an extortion scheme involving a failed attempt to build a NASCAR track on Staten Island. He was sentenced to 16 months behind bars and was released in 2009. It is believed he took the reins of the notorious Gambino crime family in 2015.

Mob experts have been wary about possible conflicts erupting in the crime family, particularly after the brother of former Gambino boss John Gotti recently was released from prison. Gene Gotti is a reputed captain.

They say the type of hit -- at his home, with no real attempt to hide what happened -- suggests that it was a message killing. The question for detectives is what type of message was being sent.

This is the first time a reputed mob boss has been killed in New York City in more than 30 years.

The last Mafia boss to be shot to death in New York City was Gambino don Paul Castellano, assassinated outside a Manhattan steakhouse in 1985 at the direction of Gotti, who then took over.

Cali kept a much lower profile than Gotti.

With his expensive double-breasted suits and overcoats and silvery swept-back hair, Gotti became known as the Dapper Don, his smiling face all over the tabloids. As prosecutors tried and failed to bring him down, he came to be called the Teflon Don.

In 1992, Gotti was convicted in Castellano's murder and a multitude of other crimes. He was sentenced to life in prison and died of cancer in 2002.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Francesco "Frank" Cali, Reputed Gambino Crime Family Boss, Shot to Death Outside His Home

A reputed New York crime boss was shot and killed outside his home Wednesday night.

Francesco "Frank" Cali, 53, was found with multiple gunshot wounds to the torso in the borough of Staten Island, the NYPD said.

A law enforcement official confirmed that Cali was a high-ranking member of the Gambino organized crime family and is believed to be the acting boss.

Police are searching for a pickup truck that fled the scene, NY Police Chief of Detectives Dermot F. Shea said. No one has been arrested and the investigation is ongoing.

Cali was home with family members when the truck hit a car outside the residence, Shea said. It's "quite possible" that the incident was staged to draw Cali outside and into a confrontation with the suspected shooter, he said.

About a minute into the confrontation, the suspect pulled out a gun and began shooting at Cali, Shea said. When Cali tried to take cover behind his car, the pickup truck drove into it and "rocked" it significantly, possibly damaging the truck, Shea said.

Medics arrived at the scene and transported Cali to Staten Island University Hospital North, where he was pronounced dead.

Cali had been considered a unifying figure in the years after then-Gambino boss John Gotti, "Dapper Don," was convicted of murder and racketeering in 1992 and sent to prison for life. Unlike the well-dressed Gotti, Cali kept a low profile.

Cali was the first New York crime family boss shot in 34 years, according to WPIX. In 1985, Paul Castellano was shot dead as he arrived at Sparks Steakhouse in Manhattan -- a killing organized by Gotti, authorities said. Gotti, who then assumed control of the family, reportedly watched the action from nearby with his eventual underboss, Sammy "Bull" Gravano. But Gravano would eventually testify against Gotti, leading to Gotti's 1992 conviction in five murders -- one of several major convictions that thinned the Mafia ranks in the 1980s and '90s.

Cali was an associate in the Gambino family, according to court documents, when he was indicted in 2008 with more than two dozen other Gambino members for a range of alleged crimes.

Later that year, he pleaded guilty to extortion conspiracy related to the planned construction of a NASCAR speedway on Staten Island -- a plan that eventually was scrapped.

Authorities alleged Cali and others arranged, through force and threat of force, to receive cash payments from someone who had worked on the project.

Cali was sentenced to 16 months in prison and was released in 2009.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Mob Hit on Rudy Giuilani Discussed

The bosses of New York's five Cosa Nostra families discussed killing then-federal prosecutor Rudy Giuliani Mob Hit on Rudy Giulani Discussedin 1986, an informant told the FBI, according to testimony in October of 2007, in Brooklyn state court. But while the late Gambino crime boss John Gotti pushed the idea, he only had the support of Carmine Persico, the leader of the Colombo crime family, according to the testimony.

"The Bosses of the Luchese, Bonanno and Genovese families rejected the idea, despite strong efforts to convince them otherwise by Gotti and Persico," said an FBI report of the information given by informant Gregory Scarpa Sr.

Information about the purported murder plot was given to the FBI in 1987 by Scarpa, a Colombo captain, according to the testimony of FBI agent William Bolinder in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn.

Bolinder was testifying as a prosecution witness in the murder trial of ex-FBI agent Roy Lindley DeVecchio, who handled the now deceased Scarpa for years while the mobster was a key informant. Prosecutors contend that DeVecchio passed information to Scarpa that the mobster used in killings.

In his testimony, Bolinder described the contents of a voluminous FBI file on Scarpa, who died of AIDS in 1994.

In September 1987, DeVecchio reported that Scarpa told him that the five mob families talked about killing Giuliani approximately a year earlier, said Bolinder. It was in September 1986 that Giuliani's staff at the Manhattan U.S. attorney's office prosecuted bosses of La Cosa Nostra families in the so-called "Commission" case.

The Commission trial, a springboard for Giuliani's reputation as a crime buster, resulted in the conviction in October 1986 of Colombo boss Carmine Persico, Lucchese boss Anthony Corallo and Genovese street boss Anthony Salerno. Gambino boss Paul Castellano was assassinated in December 1985 and the case against Bonanno boss Philip Rastelli was dropped.

The purported discussion about murdering Giuliani wasn't the first time he was targeted. In an interview in 1985 Giuliani stated that Albanian drug dealers plotted to kill him and two other officials. A murder contract price of $400,000 was allegedly offered by convicted heroin dealer Zhevedet Lika for the deaths of prosecutor Alan Cohen and DEA agent Jack Delmore, said Giuliani. Neither Cohen nor Delmore were harmed.

Other tidbits offered by Scarpa to DeVecchio involved an allegation of law enforcement corruption within the Brooklyn district attorney's office, said Bolinder. In 1983, stated Bolinder, Scarpa reported that an NYPD detective assigned to the Brooklyn district attorney's office (then led by Elizabeth Holtzman) had been taking money to leak information to the Gambino and Colombo families. A spokesman for current Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes said no investigation was ever done about the allegation.

Scarpa also reported to DeVecchio that top Colombo crime bosses suspected the Casa Storta restaurant in Brooklyn was bugged because FBI agents never surveilled the mobsters when they met there. The restaurant was in fact bugged, government records showed.

Thanks to Anthony M. Destefano

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Griselda Blanco: The Cocaine Queen

Griselda Blanco grows up in the suburbs of Medellin, surrendered in the prostitution which she was prey at the age of 12. At the age of 18, she met her first husband, Carlos Trujillo, who made her three children before throwing out her. She returned on the sidewalk before knowing the man who would change her life, Alberto Bravo. Together, they emigrate to New York. (Griselda Blanco: The Cocaine Queen (AT THE PRICE OF BLOOD) (Volume 3))

In the American metropolis, they dashed into the traffic of cocaine. Griselda and Alberto imported several kilos of white powder every week which they sold to a kingpin of the American mafia. John Gotti, the mafia Godfather, contacted Griselda so that supplies him the goods. The spouses Bravo organized the delivery of these goods based on their Medellin childhood friends. Their business became so important. But the demand kept growing.

They had set up a high-tech industry to supply their customers. Other friends of Medellin came into play, including the notorious Pablo Escobar Gaviria, who were given the manufacturing and delivery to United States. The business worked perfectly until the day where the DEA agents put an end to the traffic of the Bravo couple. Griselda and Alberto had to leave the North American territory. She never forgave him this error. Because American authorities had been warned by the Colombian police which noticed the excessive lifestyle of Alberto Bravo and put him under surveillance.

Annoyed by the excesses of her husband, she decided to kill him. Griselda Blanco became them the leader of a new network, settling in Miami to sell his white powder. It was the beginning of the time of Miami Vice. One day Griselda Blanco, the same day, escaped an arrest and a murder attempted. She took refuge at her mother’s, Ana Lucia, which live in Los Angeles. She had quiet moments with her mother and her son, Michael Corleone. But Robert Palombo, the DEA agent who had failed to arrest her in New York, found her trail and arrested her in the bungalow where she lived. She was incarcerated in the prison for woman of San Francisco. Over there, she met a boy who had her great admiration, Charles Cosby. Became lovers, she made him her representative outside of the prison. But her right-hand man of Miami, Jorge Riverito Ayala, was arrested by the police. And to escape from the prison, he began to speak.

The American authorities had their information. Griselda Blanco was extradited towards Florida, where she was judged for murder, but during the trial, Charles Cosby revealed to the judge having had sexual relations with a secretary of the Prosecutor. The judgment, which had to be a mere formality, turned in a fiasco. Therefore, the judge negotiated with lawyers of Griselda to put an end to this trial, which took a bizarre turn. Griselda Blanco was extradited to her country of origin, Colombia. She was sixty years old.

Griselda settled down in Medellin in the chic area of El Poblado where she had bought a villa in a secure subdivision. It was for her, the only way to escape from those who wanted her dead. She lived there for several years before being shot to death on September 3, 2012 by two men circulating on a motorcycle and who put two bullets in the head. Griselda Blanco was almost 70 years old.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Last Rites for the Mafia? Fughedaboudit!

We were a little too quick on the trigger to give traditional organized crime its last rites. And why not?

Over the past 20 years, armies of Goodfellas have ratted out their fellow mobsters. And the men who stuck with omerta? They’re in jail or rotting in a graveyard.

In some U.S. cities, the mob is nothing more than a bunch of old boys playing pinochle, kibitzing about the good old days. But from the 1920s to the 1980s, the mob was “bigger than U.S. Steel” in the words of underworld sage, Meyer Lansky. As American as apple pie.

Two stories over the past week ended the fiction the Mafia is toe-tagged in the morgue.

First, New York’s Five Families were abuzz — and somewhat fearful — at the release of Gene Gotti.

You know the name. The 71-year-old younger brother of John “The Teflon Don” Gotti was sprung after a 29-year jolt in the big house.

What law enforcement insiders told the New York Post is that it’s taken the Gambinos and others 20 years to recover from the disastrous John Gotti years. That era kicked off with a spectacular rubout of Gambino mob chief Paul “Big Paulie” Castellano in front of Manhattan’s Sparks Steakhouse in 1985.

John Gotti brought a lot of unwanted attention to the crime empires and the downward spiral began.

That meant heat and the late 20th-century implosion of the Mafia as we once knew it. But like the Viet Cong, just when you think it’s over, they pop out of a bush and put a cap where the sun don’t shine.

Gene Gotti’s return would set back the clock of criminality. “The Gambinos are running smoothly – gambling, pills, construction unions, etc.,” one law enforcement official told the New York Post. “The last thing they want is someone to put them back in papers and on TV.”

And it’s not just the American Mafia’s Big Apple heartland showing new signs of life.

In Canada, it appears a bloody, old-fashioned gang war is unfolding from Montreal to southern Ontario.

The latest salvo was a classic gangland-style hit on Hamilton real estate broker Albert “Al” Iavarone, 50, shot to death in the driveway of his Ancaster home two weeks ago. Iavarone didn’t have a criminal record and wasn’t a member but as mom cautioned, “careful of the company you keep.”

That emerged on Thursday as Hamilton cops announced they had made an arrest in the 2017 murders of mob prince Angelo Musitano and veterinary assistant Mila Barberi. Musitano had reportedly found God and had long gone straight. Barberi picked the wrong boyfriend, Saverio Serrano, 41, the son of mob figure Diego Serrano. He was wounded in the Vaughan attack.

Cops say Iavarone was close to two of the accused killers. Very close to one.

Police have repeatedly alluded to a power struggle among the established Calabrese clans in the GTA and newer ‘NdrĂ ngheta upstarts. And there will be blood.

“Many ‘Ndrangheta cells in GTA and Italy are involved in a violent fight,” Dubro said.

“This is a big story of a major and very deadly Calabrian mob fight for coke territory and power in GTA/southern Ontario.”

Dubro adds that it’s all connected. He suggested an Iavarone relative may have pulled the trigger on Ang Musitano and it’s payback on drugs and a personal beef.

“There’s lots of moving parts in this mob war — a complex cast of characters from the GTA, Italy, USA, Mexico and Canada.”

Dead? Not by a long shot.

Thanks to Brad Hunter.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Gene Gotti, Brother of Mafia Godfather John Gotti, to Be Released from Prison

If the late John Gotti’s long-jailed brother finds the 21st-century Mafia unrecognizable later this month, he knows where the blame lies.

Gene GottiGene Gotti, behind bars since 1989 for running a multi-million dollar heroin distribution ring, is set for a Sept. 15 release from the Federal Correctional Institution in Pollock, La. The Long Island father of three, now 71, wore a white jogging suit and cracked wise about his upcoming prison time when surrendering in the last millennium at the Brooklyn Federal Courthouse.

Back in the ’80s heyday of his immaculately-dressed older brother and the Gambino family, FBI bugs captured Gene discussing topics from drug dealing to hiding illegal cash to changes in mob hierarchy.

The recordings of the Gambino capo and his mob associates became the first damaging domino to fall for the family in 1983, setting in motion the demise of their criminal empire.

What remains is a faint whisper of the roar that followed the ascension to boss of John (Dapper Don) Gotti, who took over after ordering the Dec. 16, 1985, mob assassination of predecessor “Big Paul” Castellano — in part to save his smack-dealing sibling’s life.

“What is Genie coming home to?” mused one long-retired Gambino family hand and Gotti contemporary. “There’s nothing left.”

When Gene Gotti started his 50-year prison bid, George H.W. Bush was in year one at the White House, an earthquake rocked the Bay Area World Series and the lip-syncing duo Milli Vanilli topped the charts.

Gene Gotti was convicted at his third federal drug-dealing trial, with jury tampering cited for a mistrial in the first one and a hung jury in the second. He and brother John were also cleared in a 1987 federal racketeering case where a juror was bribed.

Angel Gotti, Gene’s niece and the daughter of John, expects her uncle to find his footing in freedom.

“My uncle has been away 29 years so I'm sure he will be spending all his time with his wife, kids and grandchildren,” Angel told the Daily News.

Gene became one of five Gotti brothers to embrace “The Life” of organized crime. Though John emerged as the top gun, Gene earned his own spurs and became a valued mobster.

“He was a bona-fide wiseguy,” said ex-FBI agent Bruce Mouw, former head of the agency’s Gambino squad. “He wasn’t there because of his brother. He made it on his own.” But bona fide wiseguys are hard to find in 2018. Big brother John is dead 16 years, and sibling Peter appears destined to die behind bars, too. John’s namesake son Junior Gotti quit the mob after doing time for a strip club shakedown; he then survived four prosecutions that ended in mistrials. The Gotti crew’s Bergin Hunt & Fish Club in Ozone Park, Queens, is gone, replaced by the Lords of Stitch and Print custom embroidery shop.

Even the Mafia “brand” is down: The recently-released movie with John Travolta playing the “Teflon Don” grossed a mere $4.3 million — hardly “Godfather” numbers.

“The American Mafia has a recruitment problem: Who the hell wants to be a member?” said mob expert Howard Abadinsky, professor of criminal justice at St. John’s.

The new generation is filled with wanna-bes “who have either seen too many Mafia movies or losers who do not have the smarts or ambition for legitimate opportunity,” he added.

The older generation was not always a Mensa meeting, either — and Gene Gotti was Example A.

By the early 1980s, Gene was partnered with pals John Carneglia and Angelo Ruggiero in a lucrative heroin operation that ignored a Mafia edict against dope dealing. Gambino boss Castellano imposed a death penalty for violators, worried that drug convictions with lengthy jail terms provided an incentive for mobsters to rat out the family’s top echelon.

Gotti and his cohorts not only ignored the decree, they were caught discussing their drug dealing on an FBI bug planted in Ruggiero’s home. “Dial any seven numbers and it's 50/50 Angelo will pick up the phone,” a disgusted Carneglia later observed of his chatty cohort.

For Mouw, the recordings that led to Gene Gotti’s August 1983 arrest altered the landscape for the feds and the felons under their watch. “Without those conversations, a lot of things could have changed,” he said.

Instead, Castellano was soon pressing the Gotti faction for the damning tapes turned over by prosecutors as part of pre-trial discovery. The boss’ demand was greeted with excuses and delays, until Castellano was whacked 10 days before Christmas outside a Midtown steakhouse.

Decades later, it’s too late to change anything — including Gene’s decision to reject a plea deal that might have freed him after just seven years in prison.

“His brother John said no,” recalled Mouw. “He and Carneglia, they would have been home 20 years ago.”

The past is the past. What does the future hold for Gene Gotti?

“That’s the big question,” said Mouw. “Are you going to retire and enjoy your grandchildren? Or are you going to get active, and return to jail?"

Thanks to Larry McShane.

Friday, August 24, 2018

As 2 of His Most Trusted Advisors Face Jail Time, Some Say @RealDonaldTrump Sounds Like Crime Family Mob Boss John Gotti

Following the conviction of two of his top lieutenants, Donald Trump has adopted the gangster parlance of another New Yorker famously terrorized by Robert Mueller: John Gotti. “I know all about flipping, for 30, 40 years, I’ve been watching flippers,” Trump explained in an interview with Fox News that aired Thursday, referring to the deal his former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, cut with federal prosecutors this week. “If you can say something bad about Donald Trump and you will go down to two years or three years, which is the deal he made, in all fairness to him, most people are going to do that,” he told Fox host Ainsley Earhardt, who appeared to be trying her best to maneuver the president toward more advantageous talking points. Instead, Trump lashed out again and again at those he has described as “rats” for speaking with federal law-enforcement officers about the conduct they witnessed in the course of his 2016 campaign.

If the White House was at all concerned about the president of the United States emulating La Cosa Nostra, they did nothing to stop Trump from happily publicizing his remarks on Twitter, where he shared multiple clips from the interview. In perhaps the most revealing moment, he suggested that cooperating with prosecutors should itself be made a crime—and that anything his former associates are telling Mueller about him are lies to save their own skin. “I have seen it many times,” he continued, leaning in toward Earhardt. “I have had many friends involved in this stuff. It’s called flipping, and it almost ought to be illegal.”

Trump’s casual admission that he has had “many friends” involved in flipping, or being flipped on themselves, is the sort of thing that would, in another era, shock Republicans and generate weeks of controversy. Instead, party leaders are largely excusing the president’s criminal idiom as just more locker-room talk. “Eight years ago to 10 years ago, Trump was not what I consider to be a pillar of virtue,” Orrin Hatch, the second-highest-ranking official of the U.S. Senate, told The New York Times on Wednesday, after Cohen testified that Trump had directed him to break the law by facilitating hush-money payments to two women who allege they had affairs with the future president. “I think most people in this country realize that Donald Trump comes from a different world. He comes from New York City, he comes from a slam-bang, difficult world.” Trump’s prolonged campaign to tar the Justice Department (often with sarcastic quotation marks around the word “Justice”) has itself been tacitly adopted by all but a few outspoken G.O.P. leaders.

On the campaign trail, Trump’s rough reputation as a brash Manhattan real-estate magnate was part of his appeal. More recently, however, the seedier side of his playboy lifestyle has overwhelmed the gilded facade: associations with criminals and con men, payoffs to women, out-of-court settlements, non-disclosure agreements. Trump’s hard-core fan base appears to be giving him a pass—the interview with Earhardt itself epitomized the casual indifference with which Fox News has treated the majority of the president’s scandals. Trump’s allies in Congress, however, sound increasingly worried that the appearance of criminality surrounding the president’s inner circle—and his tacit support of their behavior—will hurt the party’s chances of holding onto the House in November. The Times reports that “Publicly and privately, Republicans conceded that the guilty pleas did not look good and were not optimal heading into the midterm election—especially as the party struggles to keep its hold on the House.”

Still, as the Times notes, Republican lawmakers aren’t doing much about the convictions, or Trump’s Goodfellas-inspired response, other than to distance themselves from his most overt indulgence of white-collar crime. (On Wednesday, Trump called Manafort “brave” for refusing to “break” under pressure.) “It is bad news for the country, bad news for these people involved who either pled or were found guilty,” Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama told the Times, but said he didn’t want to get too involved while he focused on appropriation bills: “I don’t know other than what I read and see.” Senator Lindsey Graham described his “No. 1 goal right now” as to “keep doing my day job” and let Mueller do his.

For now, Republicans are pinning their hopes on the ability of the Trump-media industrial complex, namely Fox News, to keep the heat off Trump while helping to discredit Mueller’s investigation into the president. Trump himself seems to be betting on the booming economy as a firewall in November. “I don’t know how you can impeach somebody who’s done a great job,” Trump told Earhardt. If he were impeached, he argued, “Everybody would be very poor.” But the president’s habit of talking like a mafioso isn’t doing the party any favors. When asked Thursday whether he agreed with Trump that flipping should be illegal, Texas Senator John Cornyn—a former state Supreme Court justice and attorney general—perfectly encapsulated how the G.O.P. has found itself boxed in by the president’s “slam-bang” understanding of law and order. “Uh, I have to think about that a little more,” Cornyn told reporters on Capitol Hill. “That’s uh—I’ve never heard that argument before.

Thanks to Tina Nguyen.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Is the Gotti Movie the Worst Mob Movie of All Time or are Critics Trolls Hiding Behind a Keyboard?

As of late Tuesday evening, “Gotti” had achieved something truly remarkable.

The movieGotti Movie, a biopic tracing the life of crime lord John Gotti that stars John Travolta and Kelly Preston, joined the ranks of “Look Who’s Talking Now!,” “Highlander II: The Quickening” and “Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol” by earning a zero percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

That means not one single critic recommended the movie.

Watch the Gotti Movie Trailer.

As reviews continue to roll in, that number might be subject to change. But the harshness of these reviews won’t:


  • “I’d rather wake up next to a severed horse head than ever watch ‘Gotti’ again,” Johnny Oleksinski wrote in the New York Post, calling it “the worst mob movie of all time.”
  • “He may have been a murderer, but even Gotti deserved better than this,” Brian Tallerico wrote for RoberEbert.com.


Rather than dispute the reviews, the marketing team behind “Gotti” has leaned into them with a new ad — and blasted film critics with insults along the way.

The movie tweeted the ad from its official account, with the caption “Audiences loved Gotti but critics don’t want you to see it … The question is why??? Trust the people and see it for yourself!”

The ad itself mixes scenes from the movie along with a voice-over that says, “We’ve never been under this kind of scrutiny” and “You fight until you can’t fight no more. Never back off. Ever.”

Then a crowd chants: “Gotti! Gotti! Gotti!”

Subtle, no?

Meanwhile, “AUDIENCES LOVED GOTTI,” flashes across the screen in giant block letters, followed by, “CRITICS PUT OUT THE HIT. WHO WOULD YOU TRUST MORE? YOU OR A TROLL BEHIND A KEYBOARD.”

First things first: Evidence highly suggests that audiences do not “love” or even like “Gotti.” To begin with, it made a mere $1.9 million in its first weekend. Compare that to “Tag,” which opened the same weekend and garnered $14.9 million or the “Incredibles 2,” which earned $182.7 million.

Secondly, it has a dismal 5.1/10 rating on IMDb, about the same as the aforementioned “Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol.”

The only evidence to suggest the movie is any good is the Rotten Tomatoes user-generated audience score, which sits at 71 percent as of Tuesday evening. That’s shockingly high, considering the other ratings. Also high is the number of users who reviewed it: 6,974. That’s only about 700 fewer people than reviewed “Incredibles 2,” even though the Pixar cartoon earned almost 20,000 percent more at the box office.

This led Mashable to wonder if the movie is getting fake reviews, sort of the inverse of when hundreds of thousands of Internet trolls from Reddit and 4 Chan gave negative ratings to the female reboot of “Ghostbusters.” (Rotten Tomatoes told Mashable that the reviews are by “real users,” as opposed to bots.)

For what it’s worth, Gotti’s son John Gotti, Jr., who is portrayed in the film by Spencer Lofranco, seemed to enjoy it. He told the New York Post that he would give it a seven out of 10, even thought Travolta “doesn’t have my father’s natural swagger.” He also wishes it was longer, making him (probably) the only person to feel this way.

So, let’s assume the movie isn’t very good. Whether there was anything to suggest this might be the outcome depends on how rose-tinted your glasses are.

The movie was directed by Kevin Connolly, who you likely know not as a film director but as E, the most mature character in HBO’s “Entourage,” a celebration of bro-culture centered on four womanizing man-children in Hollywood.

Connolly hasn’t done much directing before. He helmed two episodes of his show, including one titled “Porn Scenes from an Italian Restaurant.” He’s also directed a few indie films. The most prominent two are 2007’s “Gardener of Eden” and 2016’s “Dear Eleanor.” Neither received enough professional reviews to earn a Rotten Tomatoes score, but they both earned about a six out of 10 from users on IMDb.

Regardless of the film’s quality, it had an estimated $10 million budget, meaning it’s a box office disaster, which isn’t good for MoviePass — as strange as that might sound. The service’s finance arm, MoviePass Ventures, recently took an equity stake in the movie. It has only been financially involved with one other film: “American Animals.” That movie has an 85 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

So perhaps there’s a bunch of trolls wanting to take down the film. Or maybe it just isn’t very good.

Thanks to Travis M. Andrews.

Official Trailer for Gotti Movie which Earned 0% @RottenTomatoes Score from Critics



Official Trailer for Gotti Movie which Earned 0% @RottenTomatoes Score from Critics


Monday, June 18, 2018

Gotti Movie with John Travolta Gets Whacked by Critics and Public; Worst Movie of the Year?

After an extremely bumpy road into theaters, the John Travolta crime biopic “Gotti” has gotten kneecapped at the box office, earning just $1.67 million from 503 screens.

While almost all of Travolta’s films in the last 30 years have been either in extremely limited release or with screen counts of 2,500 or more, this counts as the worst opening for the actor since the 1991 film “Shout,” which opened to $1.61 million on 968 screens and was considered one of the star’s biggest pre-“Pulp Fiction” flops. But “Gotti” hasn’t been able to find similar success this weekend, posting a per-screen average of just $3,320. Analysts told TheWrap prior to this weekend that “Gotti” needed to make around $3 million — or a $6,000 PSA — to be considered a successful launch.

The Vertical Entertainment and MoviePass Ventures release, starring Travolta as the late Mafia boss John Gotti, had trouble long before is snagged a rare zero percent Rotten Tomatoes score.

With 28 executive producers credited, “Gotti” bounced in and out of the hands of three directors before “Entourage” actor Kevin Connolly seized the project. When Lionsgate wanted to give the film a day-and-date theatrical/digital release, production studio Emmett Furla Oasis Films bought the film back, with Vertical and MoviePass picking up the rights.

MoviePass, the bargain movie ticket subscription service, has a stake in this film as it is trying to prove that it can successfully draw its subscribers to smaller films by marketing to them through their service’s app. MoviePass got off to a good start on this venture with this month’s release of The Orchard’s “American Animals,” which has grossed $760,000 with a maximum screen count of 72.

By comparison, “American Animals” had a third weekend per screen average of $2,871, while the critically acclaimed documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” posted a PSA of $10,253 in its second weekend, earning just under $1 million from 96 screens.

The film over-indexed in New York and Los Angeles, where the distributor focused most of its modest marketing budget and where MoviePass has a large number of subscribers.

Aside from its launch at the Cannes Film Festival, critics had few opportunities to see the film. 23 reviews have been logged on Rotten Tomatoes, all of them negative. While the film’s audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes sits at 79 percent, that big critical goose egg is still on the site’s front page, serving as a potential repellent for moviegoers. And the reviews themselves are pretty ugly too.

“Starring in this mobster biopic that deserves to get whacked is an offer Travolta should have refused,” Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers said in a particularly acidic review. “Insane testimonials from Gotti supporters at the end are as close as this s—show will ever get to good reviews.”
Reviewing the pic for The New York Times, critic Glenn Kenny writes, “That the long-gestating crime drama Gotti is a dismal mess comes as no surprise. What does shock is just how multifaceted a dismal mess it is.”
Jordan Mintzer’s assessment for The Hollywood Reporter cautions, “The film is pretty terrible: poorly written, devoid of tension, ridiculous in spots and just plain dull in others.”

Monday, April 23, 2018

Codes of the Underworld: How Criminals Communicate

Bada-bing. For some people, The Godfather is no mere movie but a manual – a guide to living the gangster's life. They lap up all that stuff about going to the mattresses and sleeping with the fishes. The famous scene in which a mafia refusenik wakes up next to a horse's head may be macabre make-believe, but in some quarters it's treated like a tutorial.

So who are these apparent innocents taking their cues from Hollywood? None other than the mafia themselves, writes Diego Gambetta in his new book, Codes of the Underworld: How Criminals Communicate. The Oxford sociologist offers example upon example of gangsters apeing Francis Ford Coppola's masterpiece – or what he calls "lowlife imitating art".

There's the Don who took over a Sicilian aristocrat's villa for his daughter's wedding – with 500 guests revelling to the film's soundtrack; the building contractors of Palermo who receive severed horse's heads if they get in the mob's way; and John Gotti's former lieutenant, Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano, who confessed that plagiarism ranked among his (lesser) crimes: "I would always tell people, just like in The Godfather, 'If you have an enemy, that enemy becomes my enemy.'"

Yet Mario Puzo, The Godfather's inventor, admitted that he "never met a real honest-to-God gangster", while many of the film's most quotable lines (remember "Leave the gun. Take the cannoli"?) were improvised. So what accounts for its influence not just among the mafia but with Hong Kong triads, Japanese yakuza and Russian mobsters?

Well, strip away the mystique and organised crime is a business – one with big handicaps. It may be called "the Firm", but managing a poorly educated, violent workforce is a challenge, advertising job vacancies only attracts the law, and appraisals for underperforming staff can err on the brusque side. The Godfather and other gangster movies plug those holes, says Gambetta. They give criminals an easy-to-follow protocol and a glamour that serves as both corporate feelgood and marketing tool. Uncomfortable though it may be to acknowledge, the underworld is not above taking its cues from the upperworld.

Thanks to Aditya Chakrabortty

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Mafia Wife: My Story of Love, Murder, and Madness

The seamy world of the Gambino crime family first took book form thanks to notorious turncoat Salvatore""Sammy the Bull"" Gravano, who told his story to Peter Maas for the 1997 Underboss: Sammy the Bull Gravano's Story of Life in the Mafia.

Linda Milito, the long-suffering wife of Sammy's partner Louie Milito (murdered in 1988 under Sammy's orders, Linda maintains, though Sammy""told the feds it was John Gotti's idea""), now tells her own tale of the mob life, as seen from the home front. Hers is not a glamorous account: she documents her husband's rise from a petty crook who robbed pay phones to a""straightened out"" tough who became a captain with the Gambinos.

The grinding monotony and terrible strife of her existence--struggling to make money legitimately while her husband languished in jail, trying to protect her son from bullies, coping with terrible physical abuse--is chilling. The image-conscious""wiseguys"" that formed her social circle (and who are rather hilariously obsessed with The Godfather) become pitiable figures, trapped in a cycle of murder and deceit.

On the whole, Milito manages to tell her story unflinchingly, without sounding self-pitying, even as she details her mental illness and her current abusive relationship. Collaborator Potterton does an excellent job of keeping the narrative running smoothly, organizing the tangle of names and connections, and maintaining Milito's honest and streetwise Brooklyn voice.

Mafia Wife: Revised Edition My Story of Love, Murder, and Madness.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

The Time My Friend Arrested John Gotti

Like many New Yorkers, I look forward to going to movies over the winter holiday break. So I was disappointed by the delay in releasing what was set to be a big prestige pic — “The Life and Death of John Gotti,” starring John Travolta as you-know-who. Hopefully, the National Enquirer headline “Mob Rubs out Travolta’s Gotti Movie” has it wrong.

As a boring professor, I used to be spellbound hearing stories from a cop friend I grew up with on Staten Island — none more than his tale of once “accidentally” arresting Gotti back in 1984.

Some New Yorkers find Gotti, the stylish “Dapper Don” and Gambino crime family boss, a fascinating, even likeable, character. Legend has it he respected cops and everyday people. But too often, the media glamorizes these gangsters. To their victims and police, they’re lowlifes, and with good reason.

My friend told me how, one more than 30 years ago, his squad car got a radio communication about a three-car collision. At the scene, two of the drivers said the other one was completely uncooperative and staying in his Lincoln Continental.

My cop friend asked him for license and registration. The perp blurted a two-word obscenity at him. Asked to get out of his Lincoln, the perp repeated the curse.

Realizing he was drunk, my friend reached into the car to help get him out — but was met with a kick just missing his groin.

Then, the thug attempted to hit him. My friend blocked the punch, countering his head butt with a right cross and knocking him to the ground, where he was cuffed and arrested for driving intoxicated and resisting arrest.

As soon as the driver was put into the police car and read his rights, he told my cop friend:

“You don’t know who I am. I’m John Gotti and I’m going to kill your mother. Then I’m going to kill you. First I’m going to rape you. Then I’m going to kill you slowly and then they’ll find you stuffed in a trunk in New Jersey. I did hard time for murder. I’ve been sleeping in jail with scum all my life.”

Only then did my cop friend realize his collar was the fortysomething Teflon Don just then approaching full glory, a few years before feds finally made stick charges of murder, conspiracy to murder, racketeering, extortion, loansharking, illegal gambling and tax evasion — not to mention his narcotics trafficking and related activities.

That wasn’t the end of the story. At the station, the desk officer, a lieutenant, asked Gotti, whose face was bleeding, “How did you get in this condition, sir?”

“I slipped and fell.”

The officer interrupted, “He didn’t slip. He resisted arrest and necessary force was used to affect that arrest.”

Gotti screamed, “What did you tell him that for?! That’s between me and you!”

He was searched. His ID confirmed his identity. The funds in his possession were $2,700. He laughed and said, “That’s chump change. I drop more in a crap game than all of you make in a year.”

“What’s your occupation?” my friend asked.

“Plumber.”

“What did you have to eat tonight?”

“The usual.”

“What did you drink tonight?”

“The usual.”

“What’s the usual?”

“You know. Wine, scotch.”

“Where were you coming from?”

“My girl friend’s house.”

At about this time, Gotti got a phone call from one of his lawyers. Gotti told him he was going to another precinct for a Breathalyzer. When the officer and Gotti got to the only facility in the area with an intoxicated-driver-testing unit, Gotti’s colleagues, three large men staring at the situation, were waiting in a black limousine.

My officer friend remembered Gotti “blowing a .27, three times the legal intoxication level.” He failed two tests, got a desk appearance ticket, and was released, eventually plea-bargaining his charges down to minor disorderly conduct and driving impaired violations.

But Gotti didn’t let anything go.

One week later, at approximately 5 a.m., my friend received a phone call at his home from an unidentified male caller.

“Your mother’s dead,” said the voice.

His mother wasn’t dead. That was the last he heard from Gotti’s people. But it still haunts him.

However Travolta portrays the mob boss, that’s the man I will remember: a killer, an intimidator and a thug.

By Stephen Miller.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Biopic #Gotti, Starring John Travolta and Directed by @MrKevinConnolly, Gearing Up for Huge,Wide Release & Awards in 2018

Producers of John Travolta’s “Gotti” have bought back the movie from Lionsgate, which had planned to release the mob biopic on Dec. 15 through its Lionsgate Premiere specialty division.

Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films is expected to begin meeting with other distributors about “Gotti.” The company, which produced the film with Highland Film Group and Fiore Films, exercised a provision in its deal allowing it to buy back the movie from Lionsgate in the hope of getting “Gotti” a wide theatrical release. The Lionsgate Premiere release would have been day-and-date for theatrical, VOD and streaming.

“Gotti” is directed by “Entourage” star Kevin Connolly from a script by Lem Dobbs and Leo Rossi. “Gotti” also stars Travolta’s wife Kelly Prestor, their daughter Ella Bleu Travolta, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Stacy Keach, Chris Mulkey, Lydia Hull and Spencer Lofranco.

Travolta portrays John Gotti, the flaboyant head of the Gambino crime family who spent the last decade of his life in prison before dying of throat cancer in 2002. Preston is starring as his wife Victoria Gotti. Keach is portraying Aniello Dellacroce, the underboss of the Gambino crime family who mentored Gotti. Taylor Vince plays Angelo Ruggiero, a friend of Gotti and caporegime in the Gambino crime family.

Lofranco is portraying John Gotti, Jr., Gotti’s son and eventual caporegime and acting boss of the Gambino crime family before leaving the mobster life behind.

One of the film's executive producers, Keya Morgan, told TMZ the "Gotti" project was originally supposed to be distributed by Lionsgate Premiere ... a branch of the company that handles smaller, niche releases. Morgan says his team believes the movie could do gangbusters in wide release and he even believes Travolta could end up with some hardware on his mantle.

The original distro contract featured a buyback clause, so Morgan and others wired $10 million to prove to LGP they meant business and the company forked over the release rights. Morgan says LGP will profit big-time when the movie comes out.

Travolta's flick was scheduled to hit the screens next week, but Morgan says the new plan is to take it to Cannes or Venice first and then release it in at least 1,000 theaters. The release date is uncertain.

American Gangsters, Then and Now: An Encyclopedia - A Quality Work by @NateHendley

From the James gang to Nicky Barnes to John Gotti, the American gangster has become an iconic outsized American archetype, with the real criminals sometimes rivaling their fictional counterparts—like the Corleones and the Sopranos—for their ability to captivate the public and attain genuine folk antihero status.

A detailed compendium of American gangsters and gangs from the end of the Civil War to the present day.

American Gangsters, Then and Now: An Encyclopedia, ranges from Western outlaws revered as Robin Hoods to the Depression’s flamboyant bootleggers and bank robbers to the late 20th century’s drug kingpins and “Dapper Dons.” It is the first comprehensive resource on the gangster’s historical evolution and unshakable grip on the American imagination.

American Gangsters, Then and Now: An Encyclopedia, tells the stories of a number of famous gangsters and gangs—Jesse James and Billy the Kid, the Black Hand, Al Capone, Sonny Barger and the Hell's Angels, the Mafia, Crips and Bloods, and more. Avoiding sensationalism, the straightforward entries include biographical portraits and historical background for each subject, as well as accounts of infamous robberies, killings, and other events, all well documented with both archival newspapers and extensive research into the files of the FBI. Readers will understand the families, the places, and the times that produced these monumental criminals, as well as the public mindset that often found them sympathetic and heroic.

Features

  • Comprises 50 alphabetically organized entries on American gangsters and gangs from the post-Civil War era to the present
  • Offers a wealth of primary sources, including newspaper articles dating back to the 1880s and FBI files obtained by the author
  • Includes photographs of prominent American gangsters and the aftermaths of their crimes
  • Presents a glossary of gangster slang, past and present
  • Provides a comprehensive index

Highlights

  • Spans the whole history of the gangster in the United States, from the post-Civil War era to the present
  • Features the insights and writing skills of an accomplished author of crime books
  • Makes the connection between gangsters from different eras
  • Dispels a number of misconceptions about gangsters and the destruction they cause

Nate Hendley is a freelance writer living in Toronto, Canada. His published works include Greenwood's Bonnie and Clyde: A Biography, Crystal Meth: North America's #1 Drug Problem, Al Capone: Chicago's King of Crime, Dutch Schultz: The Brazen Beer Baron of New York, and Edwin Alonzo Boyd: Life and Crimes of Canada's Master Bank Robber.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Sammy the Bull, Salvatore Gravano, is Released from Prison 5 Years Early

Notorious ​M​afia hit man-​turned-canary Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano has been released from an Arizona prison five years early, according to inmate records.
​​
The ​infamous ​72-year-old mob rat, who ​squealed to ​help authorities bring down “Dapper Don” John Gotti in exchange for a 1991 plea deal, was let out Sept​. 18, Arizona’s Department of Corrections records show.

He’ll​​ remain on federal parole for the rest of his life, as ordered by Brooklyn federal ​Judge Allyne Ross in 2002 when she locked him up.

“I spoke to him,” the aged wiseguy’s daughter, Karen Gravano, ecstatically told The Post. “He is happy to be out after spending the last 17½ years in prison. He’s in good health, great spirits and he’s anxious to move forward with the next phase of his life.”

“There is no doubt I’m extremely happy,” she said. “I’ve been fighting for this day the whole 17½ years that he’s been in prison, so I’m ecstatic it’s finally here.”

Defense attorney Thomas Farinella echoed Gravano’s comments almost exactly, saying his client was “in good health and great spirits” and “extremely happy to be out.” He declined to comment on whether the elder Gravano would settle again in Arizona, or if he would continue sketching — a hobby he picked up while incarcerated.

The former Gambino underboss pleaded guilty to running a nearly 50-person, $500,000-a-week ecstasy ring in 2001, and was sentenced to 20 years behind bars.

That conviction followed a sweetheart deal in which Gravano was sentenced to just five years in prison for an admitted 19 murders — in exchange for helping the feds fell 39 mobsters, including his former boss and pal the Teflon Don.

The turncoat consigliere took the stand and spilled the Five Families’ secrets for five days during Gotti’s trial — and then testified in nine more, putting 39 wiseguys and associates in prison.

At the time, he was the highest-ranking member of La Cosa Nostra to turn fed.

After a short stint in the big house followed by an even shorter one in witness protection, he moved to Tempe, Arizona, and lived under the assumed name Jimmy Moran.

While Gravano was living in Arizona, peddling ecstasy and installing pools, he barely escaped his own killing, when the late godfather’s enraged brother, Peter Gotti, sent a team of hitmen to go find him in the Copper State.

The then-Gambino crime boss ordered the hit in retaliation for his brother’s death from cancer at age 61 behind bars.

His latest bid for early release was in 2015, when Ross declined to shave years off his sentence, citing his “longstanding reputation for extreme violence.”

Thanks to Oli Coleman and Emily Saul.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

DUAL LIVES: from the Streets to the Studio - "Teacher of the Year" becomes Mob Artist

In DUAL LIVES: from the Streets to the Studio, renowned American artist and 3-time national award-winning “Teacher of the Year” Michael Bell has written an inspiring and brutally candid memoir that chronicles his meteoric rise to becoming one of the most highly decorated public school teachers in America, all the while, living out a storied and often controversial professional painting career as “Mob Artist” to America’s most infamous.

Go behind the scenes with his intriguing clientele on how these friendships also fueled his career—from John Gotti to Al Capone’s great-nephew, Dominic Capone to numerous actors from “the Sopranos”, “Goodfellas”, “A Bronx Tale”, and more. Then, take a roller coaster crusade through the ever-changing, volatile landscapes of the art world and a US public education system that has begun placing more of an emphasis on "data mining" than on "building relationships."

This is the ultimate story of overcoming extreme adversity and being a true champion for today’s youth from someone still in the trenches, still at the top of his game. And, in the education arena, Bell has done the unprecedented. His students have earned tens of millions in scholarships; 7 back-to-back NAEA Rising Star Awards in art—an award presented to just one student artist in the entire nation annually; and 8 Scholastic Art National Medalists 3 years straight.

Bell also discusses the impact of his family life on his art—on the tragic stillbirth of his sister; on his lifelong relationship with his Grandmother, Violet, a self-taught artist from Lyndhurst, New Jersey; on his inspiring son, Carmen, (“Lil' C”), and his battles with Autism while on his quest to become a Golden Gloves boxing champion. Then there's Bell's notorious cousin Vinnie, who was part of the longest double-murder trial in the history of the State of New Jersey. Learn how Bell, himself, went from being a troubled youth once facing twenty-years-to-life to saving one of his own students from a similar fate nearly two decades later.

DUAL LIVES: from the Streets to the Studio, is passionately written, and just as courageously vulnerable as the compelling narratives found within Bell’s paintings. So, ride shotgun alongside Michael Bell throughout his meteoric rise across two very different worlds—from the streets to the studio.


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