Showing posts with label John Gotti. Show all posts
Showing posts with label John Gotti. Show all posts

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.
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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.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Al Capone's Diamond Pocket Watch Sold for Over $84K at Gangsters, Outlaws & Lawmen Auction

Al Capone's diamond-studded, platinum pocket watch went for $84,375 during an auction Saturday featuring other artifacts that belonged to some of America's most notorious gangsters.

Al Capone Diamond Pocket Watch


Capone's watch as well as a musical composition he handwrote behind bars in Alcatraz were among the items up for bid in the "Gangsters, Outlaws and Lawmen" auction by RR Auction, an auction house headquartered in Boston. The auction was held Saturday afternoon at the Royal Sonesta hotel in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Capone, who was born to Italian immigrants in New York City, headed a Chicago-based crime empire during the Prohibition era that raked in millions of dollars through bootlegging, gambling, racketeering and other illicit activities. He was dubbed Scarface by the press after his face was slashed during a fight, a nickname he apparently disliked.

"Unlike his more maligned moniker of ‘Scarface,’ Capone preferred that those closest to him call him by ‘Snorky,’ a slang term which meant ‘sharp’ or ‘well-dressed,'" according to a description accompanying Capone's watch on RR Auction's website.

According to the auction house, the rounded triangular pocket watch was personally owned and used by Capone. The timepiece is on its original chain made of 14-karat white gold. The exterior of the case features 23 diamonds shaped to form Capone's initials, "AC," which are encircled by 26 additional diamonds. Another 72 diamonds circle the watch's platinum face and gold-tone impressed numerals.

Online bids for Capone's watch had surpassed $17,000 prior to the live auction Saturday afternoon. Experts estimated the item would sell for more than $25,000, according to RR Auction.

A musical piece entitled "Humoresque," written in pencil by Capone when he was incarcerated in Alcatraz in the 1930s, was also up for grabs. The musical manuscript shows Capone's softer side, containing the lines: "You thrill and fill this heart of mine, with gladness like a soothing symphony, over the air, you gently float, and in my soul, you strike a note."

Experts estimated the sheet will sell for over $20,000, according to RR auction. it went for $18,750.

Also up for auction was a letter written by gangster boss John Gotti, two life-size death masks of gangster John Dillinger, a brick from the scene of the 1929 St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, and jewelry that belonged to infamous crime duo Bonnie and Clyde.

Thanks to Morgan Winsor.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Scores: How I Opened the Hottest Strip Club in New York City, Was Extorted out of Millions by the Gambino Family, and Became One of the Most Successful Mafia Informants in FBI History

A gay man who created New York’s most notorious den of heterosexuality . . . an anxious, anything-but, hard-boiled lawyer who became one of the most successful undercover mob informants in history.

In this hilarious and fascinating account, Michael Blutrich takes you inside star-studded 1990s New York, mafia sit-downs, and the witness protection program.

Meet Michael D. Blutrich, founder of Scores, the hottest strip club in New York history. A resourceful lawyer at one of the city’s most respected firms, Blutrich fell into the skin trade almost by accident, but it was his legal savvy that made Scores the first club in Manhattan to feature lap dances and enabled him to neatly sidestep a law requiring dancers to wear pasties by instead covering their nipples with latex paint. Soon Scores, the club Howard Stern called “like being in a candy shop,” was a home away from home for everyone from sports superstars and Oscar-winning actors to pop singers and political notables alike.

The catch? The club was smack dab in John Gotti’s territory, and the mafia wanted a piece of the action. The Gambino family doesn’t take no for an answer . . . and neither, as it turns out, does the FBI. In his memoir, Blutrich recounts in detail how his beloved club became a hub for the mafia, and how he found himself caught up in an FBI investigation, sorely struggling to juggle roles of business owner and undercover spy.

As his life spiraled out of control, Blutrich would face the loss of almost everything dear to him. But whether marching a line of topless strippers as human exhibits into a trial to save the club’s liquor license or wearing wires to meetings with armed gangsters, he never lost his sense of humor or his nerve. In Scores: How I Opened the Hottest Strip Club in New York City, Was Extorted out of Millions by the Gambino Family, and Became One of the Most Successful Mafia Informants in FBI History, Blutrich finally tells all—from triumph to betrayal—in his own funny, self-deprecating voice.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Top 10: Gangsters

If you browse around your local video store, you'll notice dozens of films about the Mafia. Witness the popularity of Goodfellas, The Godfather, Casino, and Bugsy. Why have so many films been made about these tough-guy hooligans? Because men have a fascination with gangster culture and organized crime. But who are some of the most notorious gangsters of all time?

To make the list, gangsters must have had a significant impact on the Mob thanks to the way they did business. They must have done most of their business in America, their legacy must have stood the test of time, and they must have had a significant impact on pop culture.

Honorable Mention
Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel (1906 - 1947)

Benjamin Siegel was born in Brooklyn in 1906 and soon associated himself with fellow Jew Meyer Lansky. After running contract killings for Murder, Inc., Siegel -- who was nicknamed "Bugsy" because of his unpredictable nature -- went in cahoots with Lucky Luciano and his newly organized Syndicate. But killing for Luciano earned him enemies, and in the late '30s, he was forced to escape to Los Angeles, where he had lived glamorously with movie stars.

He then discovered the gambling laws of Nevada. "Borrowing" millions from the Syndicate, he established one of the first casino hotels in Las Vegas, the Flamingo. But the resort was losing money, and when it was discovered in 1947 that he had stolen money from his friends, he was killed.

Featured in: The best portrayals of Siegel are in Warren Beatty's Bugsy  (1991) and The Marrying Man (1991) with Armand Assante.

Number 10
Vincent "The Chin" Gigante (1928 - 2005)
Born in New York in 1928, Vincent Gigante was quite a character. He dropped out of high school in the ninth grade and started boxing, winning 21 of 25 light-heavyweight bouts. By the time he was 17, he had turned to crime to support himself, which resulted in seven arrests before he was 25.

Gigante's first significant act as a gangster and member of the Genovese family was an attempt to kill the powerful Frank Costello, but Gigante's bullet missed the target. Nevertheless, he continued to climb the ranks within New York's Genovese organization, eventually becoming a capo and consigliere in the early '80s.

Then, when Mob boss Tony Salerno was convicted, Gigante became the main man. What makes Gigante so memorable is his 30-year ploy of acting insane. After he successfully averted prison in the late '60s by employing psychiatrists to testify to his insanity, he took it upon himself to continue the act; throughout his career, he was often seen walking around the streets of New York wearing a bathrobe. For this reason, he was nicknamed the "Oddfather" and the "Pajama King." Imprisoned for racketeering, he finally admitted in 2003 that he was not crazy.

Gigante died in prison on December 19, 2005 due to heart complications. The Gigante family and his lawyer, Flora Edwards, filed a federal lawsuit regarding the lack of health care that Vincent received while in prison. Vincent was scheduled for release in 2010.

Featured in: Gigante was a character in the made-for-TV film Bonanno: A Godfather's Story (1999) and served as inspiration for an episode of Law & Order.

Number 9
Albert Anastasia (1903 - 1957)
Born in Tropea, Italy in 1903, Albert Anastasia was still a teenager when he came to America. Involved in the docks operations in Brooklyn, Anastasia was sent to Sing Sing Prison for 18 months for the murder of a longshoreman; the mysterious deaths of witnesses led to his early release. Albert Anastasia (aka "Lord High Executioner" and "Mad Hatter") was known as a killer, a reputation that led Joe Masseria's gang to recruit him. Anastasia was also extremely loyal to Charles "Lucky" Luciano, who had plans to rule America's crime world. Anastasia had no problem betraying Masseria -- by being one of four people sent to kill him in 1931 -- when approached by Lucky Luciano.

At this time, Anastasia started taking on hits for the Murder, Incorporated outfit in New York, and in 1944, he became the leader of the murder squad. Although Anastasia was never prosecuted for any killings, Murder, Inc. was responsible for between 400 and 700 murders. In the '50s, he became the leader of the Luciano family, but Carlo Gambino wanted the job. Though the murder is officially unsolved, many believe that Gambino had Anastasia killed in a barbershop in 1957.

Featured in: Albert Anastasia was a prominent character in Murder, Inc. (1960), a gangster film starring Peter Falk and Howard Smith (as Anastasia), as well as in The Valachi Papers (1972) and Lepke (1975).

Number 8
Joseph Bonanno (1905 - 2002)
Born in 1905, Joe Bonanno grew up in his native Sicily and became an orphan at the age of 15. He left Italy due to the fascist power of the Mussolini regime and made a brief stopover in Cuba before moving to the United States when he was 19. Joe joined the Mafia as a way to prevent Mussolini from taking over Sicily. Nicknamed "Joey Bananas," he joined forces with Salvatore Maranzano. Before Luciano killed him, Maranzano created The Commission, the ruling body over Mafia families in the entire country.

Bonanno stepped up and took over one of these families. He became powerful in New York with cheese factories, clothing businesses and funeral homes, which were a terrific way to dispose of bodies. But plans to eliminate all the rival families turned against him and Bonanno was kidnapped for 19 days until he agreed to retire. In 1965, he initiated the Banana War to settle scores, but he retired for good soon thereafter due to bad health. Never in his life was he convicted of a serious offense.

Featured in: Two cable movies have been made about the crime legend: Love, Honor & Obey: The Last Mafia Marriage (1993) with Ben Gazzara and Bonanno: A Godfather's Story (1999) with Martin Landau.

Number 7
Dutch Schultz (1902 - 1935)
Arthur Flegenheimer, later known as Dutch Schultz, was born in the Bronx in 1902. As a teenager, he held up crap games to impress his boss and mentor, Marcel Poffo. At the age of 17, he did some time at Blackwell's Island (now known as Roosevelt Island) for theft. With prohibition in full swing in the 1920s, he realized that money was in bootlegging. A ruthless man, he would kill whenever his temper flared, which helped keep his competition in line.

He had a part in the founding of the Syndicate, but soon Luciano and Capone became his enemies. In 1933, the law wanted to shut down Schultz, so he went into hiding in New Jersey, which left his New York territory free for a takeover; Luciano seized the opportunity. Schultz made a comeback in 1935, but members of Albert Anastasia's crew killed him in a restaurant men's room before he could do any damage.

Featured in: Dustin Hoffman was memorable as Dutch Schultz in Billy Bathgate (1991), but Tim Roth was even better in Hoodlum (1997). Other movies featuring Schultz include Gangster Wars (1981), The Cotton Club (1984) and The Natural (1984).

Number 6
John Gotti (1940 - 2002)
In the wake of the great gangsters who ruled New York, John Gotti had his work cut out for him. Born in Brooklyn in 1940, he was always quick with his fists and it was his life's dream to become a wiseguy. By the age of 16, he had joined a local street gang known as the Fulton-Rockaway Boys. He quickly became their leader, stealing cars and fencing stolen goods. In the '60s, he began associating with Mafia hoods and hijacking trucks. In the early '70s, he became a capo for the Bergin crew, a part of the Gambino family. Extremely ambitious, Gotti started to deal drugs, which was forbidden by family rules.

As a result, Paul Castellano, the Boss, wished to expel Gotti from the organization. In 1985, Gotti and his guys killed Castellano outside a steakhouse and Gotti took over the Gambino family. No matter how many times the authorities tried to indict him for being the most powerful criminal in New York, the charges were always dropped. Because of this -- and the fact that he dressed well and loved media attention -- he was nicknamed "The Dapper Don" and "The Teflon Don." He was finally convicted for murder in 1992 and died of cancer in prison in 2002.

Featured in: He was played by Anthony John Denison in the made-for-TV movie Getting Gotti (1994) and by Armand Assante in the HBO event Gotti (1996). Other TV movies featuring him include Witness to the Mob (1998) with Tom Sizemore and The Big Heist (2001).

Number 5
Meyer Lansky (1902 - 1983)

Born Maier Suchowljansky in Russia to Jewish parents in 1902, Lansky moved to New York when he was 9. He met Charles Luciano when they were just schoolboys. Luciano demanded protection money from Lansky, and when he refused to pay, the two boys fought. Impressed by Lansky's toughness, Luciano befriended the younger boy and the two remained lifelong friends. Lansky also met Bugsy Siegel when he was a teenager, and the three formed a powerful partnership. Lansky and Siegel formed the Bug and Meyer Mob, which became Murder, Inc.

Lansky's primary order of business was money and gambling, and he had operations in Florida, Cuba and New Orleans. He was an investor in Siegel's Las Vegas casino, and he even bought an offshore bank in Switzerland that was used for money laundering. A financial genius, he codeveloped the National Crime Syndicate and the Commission. But business is never personal, and he approved the murder of his best friend Bugsy Siegel when Siegel was unable to produce profits for the Syndicate. Even with a gambling racket in operation across the planet, Lansky never spent a day in jail.

Featured in: Not only did Richard Dreyfuss give a powerful performance in HBO's Lansky (1999), but the character of Hyman Roth in The Godfather, Part II (1974) was loosely based on him as well. The role was also played by Mark Rydell in Havana (1990), Patrick Dempsey in Mobsters (1991) and Ben Kingsley in Bugsy (1991).

Number 4
Frank Costello (1891 - 1973)
Francesco Castiglia was born in 1891 in Italy and moved to the United States with his family when he was 4. He changed his name to Frank Costello when he joined a street gang at age 13. After numerous petty crimes landed him in prison, he became best friends with Charlie Luciano; together, they dealt in bootlegging and gambling. Costello's strength was his position as a link between the Mob and politicians, especially the Democratic Party's Tammany Hall in New York, which enabled him and his associates to pay off certain officials.

Following Luciano's arrest, Costello became the man in charge, and he solidified and expanded the operation during this time. A power struggle between him and Vito Genovese (who served as Underboss) erupted in the '50s, and Vincent Gigante tried to kill Costello. Eventually, Costello grew tired of the gangster life and retired, but not before framing Genovese and Gigante for a drug bust. He died peacefully in 1973.

Featured in: The man was best portrayed by James Andronica in the 1981 miniseries The Gangster Chronicles, by Costas Mandylor in Mobsters (1991), by Carmine Caridi in Bugsy (1991), and by Jack Nicholson in The Departed (2006). (The author is actually incorrect about Jack Nicholson playing the real Frank Costello in The Departed. Only the character name was in common with the real Frank Costello. Nicholson's character was mostly based upon another gangster, Whitey Bulger.)

Number 3
Carlo Gambino (1902 - 1976)
Carlo Gambino came from a family that had been part of the Mafia for centuries in Italy. He started carrying out murders when he was a teenager and became a made guy in 1921 at the age of 19. With Mussolini gaining power, he immigrated to America, where his cousin Paul Castellano lived. He became a thug for different New York families until he joined Lucky Luciano's crew.

After Luciano was extradited in the '40s, Albert Anastasia took over. But Gambino thought it was his time to shine and had Anastasia killed in 1957. He appointed himself Boss of the family and reigned with an iron fist over New York until his natural death in 1976.

Featured in: Al Ruscio played him beautifully in the TNT movie Boss of Bosses(2001). Other "Gambino" appearances include the made-for-TV movies Between Love & Honor (1995), Gotti (1996) and Bonanno: A Godfather's Story (1999).

Number 2
Charlie "Lucky" Luciano (1897 - 1962)

Salvatore Lucania was born in Sicily in 1897, but his family moved to New York nine years later. At a young age, he became a member of the Five Points gang, in which Al Capone also received his education. Five years after establishing an empire based mostly on prostitution, Luciano controlled the racket all over Manhattan. After a failed but brutal attack on his life in 1929, Luciano started planning the National Crime Syndicate, an extension of Salvatore Maranzano's Commission, with Meyer Lansky.

They eliminated the competition, and by 1935, Lucky Luciano was known as the Boss of Bosses -- not just of New York City, but of the whole country. He was arrested and sentenced to 30 to 50 years in 1936, but was let out on parole in 1946 on the condition that he be deported to Italy. He had so much power that U.S. Navy intelligence sought his help when the Allies were set to invade Italy during World War II. He died of a heart attack in 1962.

Featured in: Christian Slater played him in Mobsters (1991), as did Bill Graham in Bugsy (1991) and Anthony LaPaglia in the TV film Lansky (1999).

Number 1
Al Capone (1899 - 1947)
If there ever was a gangster who earned the No. 1 spot, it is Al Capone. Alphonse Capone was born in 1899 to Italian immigrants in Brooklyn, New York, where he got his start in street gangs. He then joined the Five Points gang and became a bouncer. It was during these days that a series of facial wounds earned him the "Scarface" nickname. Capone moved to Chicago in 1919 and quickly moved up the Mafia hierarchy while working for Johnny Torrio (Capone became Torrio's protege).

It was the time of the Prohibition, and Capone ran prostitution, gambling and bootlegging rings. In 1925, at the age of 26, Capone took over after Torrio was wounded in a gang war. Known for his intelligence, flamboyance and love of public attention, Capone was also known to be very violent; his role in the orchestration of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre in 1929, in which key rival gangsters were murdered, proves this. In 1931, Federal Treasury agent Eliot Ness arrested him for tax evasion.

Featured in: Many movies have been made about Capone, but the most famous are probably The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (1967) with Jason Robards, Capone (1975) with Ben Gazzara and The Untouchables (1987) with Robert De Niro.

Thanks to Matthew Simpson

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Sinatra Club: My Life Inside the New York Mafia

The Mob was the biggestThe Sinatra Club: My Life Inside the New York Mafia, richest business in America . . . until it was destroyed from within by drugs, greed, and the decline of its traditional crime Family values. And by guys like Sal Polisi.

As a member of New York’s feared Colombo Family, Polisi ran The Sinatra Club, an illegal after-hours gambling den that was a magic kingdom of crime and a hangout for up-and-coming mobsters like John Gotti and the three wiseguys immortalized in Martin Scorsese’s GoodFellas—Henry Hill, Jimmy Burke, and Tommy DeSimone. But the nonstop thrills of Polisi’s criminal glory days abruptly ended when he was busted for drug trafficking. Already sickened by the bloodbath that engulfed the Mob as it teetered toward extinction, he flipped and became one of a breed he had loathed all his life—a rat.

In this shocking, pulse-pounding, and, at times, darkly hilarious first-person chronicle, The Sinatra Club: My Life Inside the New York Mafia, he paints a never-before-seen picture of a larger-than-life secret underworld that, thanks to guys like him, no longer exists.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Victoria Gotti's Long Island mansion and Her Sons Auto Parts Store Raided by Feds

Victoria Gotti, daughter of Gambino Family crime boss John Gotti and star of reality TV show 'Growing Up Gotti,' had her home raided by federal agents Wednesday.Her sprawling mansion in Old Westbury, Long Island, was visited by IRS agents executing a search warrant obtained from Brooklyn US Attorney’s office.

At the same time, just after dawn, the Queens auto parts store run by her sons was also raided, dnainfo reported.

This Family of Mine: What It Was Like Growing Up Gotti.

The reason why Gotti's mansion - featured heavily in the show - and the parts shop, located on Liberty Avenue near Sutphin Boulevard in Jamaica, were raided isn't yet known.

The parts shop used to belong to Gotti's ex-husband, Carmine Agnello.But he gave it up after serving nine years in prison on racketeering charges, separating from Victoria and moving to Cleveland.

The shop is now run by their three sons, Carmine, John and Frank Gotti Agnello.

All three sons, and their mom, were featured in 'Growing Up Gotti,' which ran from 2004-2007 on A&E.As well as her TV appearances, Victoria Gotti also wrote a series of thriller novels in the 2000s.

Victoria Gotti dumped Agnello 12 years ago after he was exposed for cheating on her with his Queens secretary - and was also convicted of racketeering.

Gotti: Rise and Fall.

John Gotti shot to fame in the late 1980s when he was given the nickname 'The Teflon Don' because of his ability to beat various rap sheets.He was also known as the 'Dapper Don' because he always appeared immaculately dressed in expensive suits in public.

Gotti became head of the Gambino family - one of five families which traditionally dominated the Mob in New York - in 1985 after ordering a hit on his boss, Paul 'Big Paul' Castellano. Castellano and his chauffeur were gunned down outside Sparks steakhouse in midtown Manhattan. Gotti apparently watched the hit go down from a car parked across the street.

Gotti was never brought to book for the Castellano murder and was acquitted of other crimes in two separate trials, both of which were surrounded by rumors of jury tampering and intimidation.

Eventually in 1992 Gotti was convicted under the new RICO laws - designed to target mafia bosses - and jailed for life without possibility of parole for racketeering and murder.

James Fox, director of the FBI in New York FBI, gloated: 'The Teflon is gone. The don is covered with Velcro, and all the charges stuck.'

Shadow of My Father.

Gotti continued to run the Gambino family from prison until his death in 2002 and was succeeded as boss by his son, John 'Junior' Gotti, who claims to have since quit organized crime. 

In August John J Gotti, 23-year-old son of Victoria's brother Peter, was charged with selling prescription drugs, including oxycodone.

And that same month it emerged that a biopic - 'The Life and Death of John Gotti' was in production, with real-life couple John Travolta and Kelly Preston as the senior Gotti and his wife.

Thanks to James Wilkinson and Chris Summers.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Gotti's Rules: The Story of John Alite, Junior Gotti, and the Demise of the American Mafia

From the New York Times bestselling author of Blood and Honor: Inside the Scarfo Mob--The Mafia's Most Violent Family, and The Last Gangster—“one of the most respected crime reporters in the country” (60 Minutes)—comes the sure to be headline-making inside story of the Gotti and Gambino families, told from the unique viewpoint of notorious mob hit-man John Alite, a close associate of Junior Gotti who later testified against him.

In Gotti's Rules: The Story of John Alite, Junior Gotti, and the Demise of the American Mafia, George Anastasia, a prize-winning reporter who spent over thirty years covering crime, offers a shocking and very rare glimpse into the Gotti family, witnessed up-close from former family insider John Alite, John Gotti Jr.’s longtime friend and protector. Until now, no one has given up the kind of personal details about the Gottis—including the legendary “Gotti Rules” of leadership—that Anastasia exposes here. Drawing on extensive FBI files and other documentation, his own knowledge, and exclusive interviews with insiders and experts, including mob-enforcer-turned-government-witness Alite, Anastasia pokes holes in the Gotti legend, demystifying this notorious family and its lucrative and often deadly machinations.

Anastasia offers never-before-heard information about the murders, drug dealing, and extortion that propelled John J. Gotti to the top of the Gambino crime family and the treachery and deceit that allowed John A. “Junior” Gotti to follow in his father’s footsteps. Told from street level and through the eyes of a wiseguy who saw it all firsthand, the result is a riveting look at a family whose hubris, violence, passion, and greed fueled a bloody rise and devastating fall that is still reverberating through the American underworld today.

Gotti's Rules: The Story of John Alite, Junior Gotti, and the Demise of the American Mafia, includes 8 pages of black-and-white photographs.


Crime Family Index