Born to the Mob: The True-Life Story of the Only Man to Work for All Five of New York's Mafia Families

Born to the Mob: The True-Life Story of the Only Man to Work for All Five of New York's Mafia Families

by Frankie Saggio, Fred Rosen
     
 


Frankie Saggio reminisces about the era of true wise guys like his Uncle Philly —a contemporary of Al Capone. After all, it was Frankie's uncle who "taught him the value of a dollar and how to steal it from someone else." Uncle Philly was from a day when being in a mafia family meant being bound by blood and honor, not like modern day families whose only…  See more details below

Overview


Frankie Saggio reminisces about the era of true wise guys like his Uncle Philly —a contemporary of Al Capone. After all, it was Frankie's uncle who "taught him the value of a dollar and how to steal it from someone else." Uncle Philly was from a day when being in a mafia family meant being bound by blood and honor, not like modern day families whose only concern is money. For Frankie, the only way to avoid the modern mob treachery is to avoid getting involved with any single mob family, working "freelance" for all five. Frankie can do this because he is one of the biggest earners in the business, pulling down millions and kicking a share upstairs to the bosses. Though he fights the decision, Frankie is tied by blood to the Bonanno family, Uncle Philly's family, and current home to Philly's murderer. Soon after joining the Bonannos, Frankie narrowly escapes an assassination attempt and is busted for a major scam. With little choice, and even less loyalty to the Bonannos, Frankie turns himself over to the Feds on the one condition that he will tell the feds everything, but will not squeal on his own relatives.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The apparently insatiable public appetite for insider stories from the world of organized crime gives Saggio's dramatized third-person narrative, co-written with true-crime veteran Rosen (Lobster Boy), a built-in audience, but don't expect another Wiseguy or Donnie Brasco. Saggio, a federally protected witness following his cooperation against his former partners in crime, relates a familiar, clich d tale without offering much new. While his schemes involved mail fraud scams and stock manipulation rather than violence, more detailed and better-written accounts of mob infiltration of Wall Street have appeared recently (e.g., Gary Weiss's Born to Steal and Salvatore Lauria's The Scorpion and the Frog). Purple prose ("With a crackle of gears, the bus descended to hell") mingled with blatant errors (the underboss, not the capo, is "one rung below boss"; Rudy Giuliani never prosecuted John Gotti) and "revelations" that are not news (Carmine Galante's assassins have been publicly named before) add up to a disappointing by-the-numbers story. The few touches of humor-Saggio refers to the mob's ruling body, the Commission, as the "Justice League" and compares his life to that of Harry Potter-don't make Saggio, who comes off here as greedy and conscienceless, any more endearing. Readers with a background in law enforcement will dispute Saggio's accusation that FBI undercover agent Joe Pistone was complicit in three murders and that the FBI let those hits go forward. (Mar. 11) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Saggio, now residing in an unknown location under the federal government's Witness Security Program, tells all in this interesting but unevenly written memoir of the Wiseguy life. Growing up under the wing of his uncle, "Philly Lucky" Giaccone (a member of the Bonanno crime family), Saggio was initiated early into the ways of the Mafia. When he was 17, Uncle Philly was killed, and Saggio became a "freelance" mobster, going on to work for all five of New York's crime families. Ultimately busted for his operation of a phony pay-phone scam, Saggio made a deal with the federal government to inform on the Mafia in which he had traveled so widely. The story is told in the third person, but large parts are made up of direct quotes from Saggio, often breaking the flow of the book and making it slightly disjointed. Not for the faint of heart, given the superfluous use of strong language, this is an optional purchase for the true-crime collections of large public libraries or wherever Mob tell-alls are popular.-Sarah Jent, Univ. of Louisville, KY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An organized-crime figure specializes in financial shenanigans as intricate as any imaginable. No goomba-come-lately, Saggio was a fourth-generation member of an extended Mafia family. Here, with his first-person account buttressed by crime journalist Rosen's narrative, Saggio explains why he chose to operate independently: "I didn't want anyone bustin' my balls. . . . If I wasn't with any crew, I could move around and not answer to anyone." He made money and paid the vig to whoever controlled the turf-and what a turf it was, from drugs to cigarettes to car thefts, but most fascinatingly on Wall Street, where Saggio figured out how to "get a hook into a firm, bring the wiseguys in, and the exploit the situation." This involved IPO scams like dumping stocks after an early purchase. "I had a vice president at Chase Manhattan Bank and a vice president at European American Bank who would handle my accounts and transactions personally," the mobster boasts; Paine Webber and Shearson Lehman also figured in the equation. But Saggio's independence required an exquisite appreciation of balance and a knowledge of who was who within the five New York crime families. ("Patty and his brother Joey were with Roy DeMeo, who ran a crew for Nino Gaggi, a skipper with the Gambinos.") His connections were always in flux-now with the Columbos, now with the Luccheses, the Genoveses, the Bonannos, the Gambinos-and when Saggio eventually ran afoul of the truly nasty Tommy D., he turned to the witness protection program, which comes across as a deeply amateurish operation. The everyday lawlessness and violence here is omnipresent; there's no running, no hiding, no avenue of escape from Mob influence, andlaw-abiding readers may feel as though a rasp is being drawn across their foreheads. If what Saggio says is true, and there's little reason to believe it's not, readers are advised to think twice before their next flutter on an IPO.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781560255598
Publisher:
Running Press Book Publishers
Publication date:
06/15/2004
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
478,035
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.67(d)

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