Nick Pileggi, author of "Wiseguys"
In the course of my life in the streets, I have had some friends, who, while they did some bad things…okay, a lot of bad things (after all, they were mobsters), did some really dumb things that resulted in their deaths. You probably won’t recognize their names, but they were here…and, as I look back on memories, I remember them to you.
But Gawkie had two major problems. First, he was terrible at sitdowns with other mob guys. To me, he had an uncanny ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. He knew it too, and sometimes begged off with a feigned illness, so someone else could represent his side, and was usually surprised if they won. More important, and ultimately deadly, he was scared to death of his bosses. He’d actually get physically sick…no faking…if he got called downtown by higher ups. Then he screwed up and got in trouble…the kind of trouble, drug selling trouble, that mandated a death sentence for anyone in the crew. He had befriended a drug dealer in prison, who offered him a deal when they both hit the streets. No one, not even yours truly, knew what he was up to. When the arrest came, no one could be more shocked than I was that he would take a chance like that. Once the arrest came, he knew his fate. Was he worried about dying? No. What worried him was that if he were killed and his body was made to disappear, his family’s properties and cash that they put up for his bail would be forfeited. Now he had real pressure from the Feds too, since he already owed parole time. Couldn’t rat; couldn’t hide. What to do, what to do? Gawk decided that the best thing was to go to a McDonald’s parking lot pay phone, call some friends, then blow his brains out with a .357 Magnum on the spot. Dumb. Discretion dictates that I can’t tell you what he should have done, but that wasn’t it. He even left a note that blamed FBI pressure for his suicide. Honorable in a way that went far beyond the call of mob duty. Just a dumb thing. R.I.P. Gawk.
As I said, Hickey was a smart guy. He had been involved in the case where Vatican banker Maurice Sindona got fleeced of millions of the Roman Church’s money. He took off for the West Coast, where he could enjoy life while those back East were making excuses why they couldn’t go to a strange place and dispose of him without getting caught.
Then Hickey got dumb. The same homesickness that brought him back from Argentina after five years afflicted him. When he got a message that all was forgiven (the oldest trick in the book), he came back to N.Y. Dumb. R.I.P. Hickey.
These are unsung anti-heros. They were bad guys in a time when it was made easy to be a bad guy by bribe-taking police and judges. As Michael Corleone reminded a Senator in Godfather II, "We’re all part of the same hypocrisy." Don’t misunderstand, I cannot and will not defend the bad things they did, and, believe me, they did a lot, but, in their own way each had a human side to the people who knew them intimately, including me. To us, they were also funny guys, tough guys, standup guys, sometimes sad or tormented guys, and good friends. Each died because they did something dumb. R.I.P. guys.
end - Good Friends Who Did Dumb Things
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Other Features by this author:
To Mob Wannabes:
As someone who lived most of my life in organized crime, trust me, guys, there’s nothing left to wannabe.
Fooled you, huh? You thought I was talking about illegals crossing the Mexican border.
The Best True Mob Story
In the case of traditional organized crime, you're watching American history unfold.
Sonny Girard, a former mobster, decided to have his protagonist be caught between three agencies: the GRU (Soviet Military Intelligence), the FBI, and…you guessed it…the mob.
SONNY GIRARD BIOGRAPHY:
Though born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Girard spent most of his formative years in the Red Hook and Navy Yard sections of South Brooklyn. Making little use of an IQ of close to 150, he instead chose to follow the path of the only people in that desperately poor neighborhood who seemed to have money: "wiseguys."
By the time a three-and-a-half year undercover operation by New York’s Organized Crime Control Bureau, targeted at Sonny Girard, was culminated with the arrest of seventeen, Girard was characterized by the New York Post as "…a middle echelon member" of one of New York’s five mob families. As a result of the arrest, Girard was sentenced to three years in State Prison, which he served to maximum time in Sing Sing, Dannemora, Downstate, and Arthurkill.
In 1985, Sonny Girard was convicted of racketeering, under the RICO statute, by Rudolph Giuliani’s office, and was sentenced to seven years in federal prison. During that term, which he also served maximum time on, Girard became interested in writing. Along with another inmate, who had sold a manuscript to a major publisher, Girard helped form a fiction writers’ workshop. It was during that time that Girard completed his first novel, BLOOD OF OUR FATHERS (Pocket/Simon & Schuster, hardcover, June, 1991; softcover, May, 1992).
Due to his experience in and ability to communicate about organized crime, the author has been in demand from various television shows and newspapers as an expert on various crimes, including organized crime activities. He recently appeared on Fox Network’s "National Enquirer T.V.," to analyze the authenticity of HBO’s hit show "Sopranos," Fox News Channel’s "The Edge," with Paula Zahn, to discuss John Gotti’s legacy, and "The O’Reilly Factor," regarding the disappearance of Chandra Levy, and ABC’s "Politically Incorrect," with Bill Maher, for "Mob Week." He was also called in to consult with the screenwriter of record on "Mickey Blue Eyes," starring Hugh Grant, Jeanne Tripplehorn, and James Caan. Italy’s RAI T.V. has done a biographical piece on Girard, as have Italian national newspapers "Corriere Della Sera" and "Il Tempo."
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