Covert: My Years Infiltrating the Mob

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In a riveting page-turner, NBA referee Bob Delaney reveals the clandestine life he led before becoming one of professional basketball’s most respected officials.

Soon after joining the New Jersey State Troopers in 1973, Delaney was offered a tantalizing undercover assignment: to infiltrate the Mob. And so he became Bobby Covert, the president of Alamo Trucking, a fully-operational business used by law enforcement ...

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Covert: My Years Infiltrating the Mob

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Overview

Featured on ESPN, NPR and CNN

In a riveting page-turner, NBA referee Bob Delaney reveals the clandestine life he led before becoming one of professional basketball’s most respected officials.

Soon after joining the New Jersey State Troopers in 1973, Delaney was offered a tantalizing undercover assignment: to infiltrate the Mob. And so he became Bobby Covert, the president of Alamo Trucking, a fully-operational business used by law enforcement as flypaper for snagging wise guys. While wearing a wire, Delaney dealt daily with mobsters who modeled themselves after their on-screen counterparts (at the height of The Godfather’s popularity), and even crossed paths with Joe Pistone, the real-life Donnie Brasco. After three tense years playing a role in which a single slip could cost him his life, Delaney had gathered enough evidence to convict more than 30 members of the Genovese and Bruno crime families.

Struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder from the strain of his undercover life, Delaney began officiating high school and intramural basketball games as a way to rebuild his life, eventually working his way up to the NBA, where he has been a referee for over two decades. This is his amazing true story.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

NBA referee Delaney's fascinating account of his prior life as a New Jersey state trooper who infiltrated organized crime will be a must-read for those drawn to Joe Pistone's similar account in Donnie Brasco(or the movie adaptation starring Johnny Depp). In 1975, Delaney was a relative novice in law enforcement when he was tapped by a superior to help build cases against major Mafia families by creating and running a fake business, Alamo Trucking. With the aid of St. Petersburg (Fla.) Timessportswriter Scheiber, Delaney captures perfectly the daily routine and perils of undercover work, and describes the psychological challenges he faced during the three years of Project Alpha: "The granite foundation of my self-image... had given way to shifting sands of doubt and worry." While less heralded than Pistone's work, Delaney's achievements-which yielded multiple convictions of members of the Bruno and Genovese families-were significant precursors to the Feds' massive 1980s assault on La Cosa Nostra. Becoming a basketball referee after these proceedings was a return to an early passion of the high school all-state forward and captain of his college team-but the fear, he says, still comes back sometimes. 8 pages of b&w photos. (Feb. 5)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Delaney, who has been an NBA referee for almost two decades, tells of the nearly three years he spent, while a New Jersey state trooper in the mid-1970s, posing as Bobby Covert, president of a trucking company set up for the sole purpose of observing the Mafia. With the assistance of an informant wise to the ways of the mob, Delaney/Covert so successfully ingratiated himself with a wide array of mobsters that more than 30 were convicted on the basis of information he gathered. Delaney offers a compelling account of a nerve-racking double life in which one slip could result in death, but equally compelling is his recall of his reactions in the operation's aftermath: relief at it ending, giving way to guilt at having ratted on some gangsters with whom he had actually become friends, followed by fear for his life, and then actually missing the rush of doing undercover work. ESPN has bought the movie rights, so there should be ample demand. Recommended for all public libraries.
—Jim Burns

Kirkus Reviews
Delaney chronicles his three years as an undercover agent, their difficult aftermath, and his professional rebirth as an NBA referee. In 1973, the author followed his father into the New Jersey State Police. He climbed the ranks from rural police officer to state trooper and in 1975 was recruited for Project Alpha, a joint FBI/State Police operation investigating the Jersey mafia. Assuming the name Bobby Covert, he pretended to run a sham company called Alamo Trucking, through which he and mobster-turned-whistleblower Pat Kelly tried to ensnare the bad guys without getting found out-or rubbed out. Delaney lived to testify against many of the mobsters rounded up by Project Alpha and at later Senate hearings on waterfront corruption. He found re-entry into conventional law enforcement difficult, however, and had some turbulent years before molding himself into a respected NBA referee. A solid yarn spinner with a fine eye for detail and an excellent memory, Delaney makes his memoir read like a novel. The experiences he describes bear obvious similarities to those of Joe Pistone, who infiltrated New York's Bonnano crime family under the name Donnie Brasco (later the title of Pistone's book and a subsequent movie); in fact, the two men met after their respective operations were over. But Delaney's Jersey-eye-view of his life in and out of the force-and on and off the basketball court-is distinctive enough to make comparisons irrelevant. NBA followers looking for dirt on Shaq and Kobe will be disappointed; the author devotes only one chapter exclusively to his NBA years. But those who appreciate a good Cosa Nostra story, and crime buffs in general, will find much to enjoy in this energetic,often humorous and always entertaining memoir. A slam dunk, a bull's eye and any other glowing Mafia or basketball metaphor you can think of.
From the Publisher
“Delaney’s story. . . becomes more intense than overtime in the playoffs.”—Boston Globe

“Delaney’s heroic performance during his perilous assignment represents the finest traditions of the New Jersey State Police. My father, the first superintendent of the New Jersey State Police Department, would have been proud of him.”—General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, U.S. Army (ret.)

“[F]ascinating...a must-read...”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A slam dunk, a bull’s eye and any other glowing mafia or basketball metaphor you can think of.”—Kirkus

"Gripping...Fans of such undercover-themed books as Donnie Brasco, or organized-crime exposés like The Valachi Papers, will devour this one.”—Booklist

The Barnes & Noble Review
It was easy enough to turn off the TV after an hour of watching restaurateur Artie Bucco get pushed around by beefy fellas back when The Sopranos was on, but it's a little more uncomfortable to read about the same kinds of goings-on in Bob Delaney's fascinating chronicle of his life undercover as a mobster back in the mid-'70s. Even with all the dated James Bond hidden-microphone tricks, the constant bullying of various hoods, and the endless array of Mob names (Pappy, Lucky, Fat Anthony, Johnny Dee, Charlie Cup of Coffee, et al.), what may be the most fascinating section of the book is Delaney's re-entry into the real world after three years of living as a mobster. The massive arrests have been made, the court gavels have been pounded, but the still-young Delaney feels guilt for turning in friends and a resultant psychich tumult: "The granite foundation of my self-image preceding my undercover assignment had given way to shifting sands of doubt and worry," he writes. It's enough to finally send him back onto the basketball courts that he loved as a kid, back where he can lose himself fully in a different set of rules that take him to the top of that field as an NBA ref, where he finds a way to live with the conundrum of being a man with a price on his head who travels from one massive arena to the next each night. Be glad he's chosen to take that risk as well as tell his tale. --Mark J. Miller
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402754432
  • Publisher: Union Square Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/2008
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Bob Delaney
Bob Delaney

Bob Delaney was a highly decorated New Jersey state trooper and is currently an NBA referee and speaker who talks about coping with post-traumatic stress, leadership, and teamwork. He lives in Tampa, Florida. Dave Scheiber is a journalist and TV correspondent. He lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. They are the coauthors of Covert: My Years Infiltrating the Mob.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 24 )
Rating Distribution

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(19)

4 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 24 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2008

    AWESOME READ!!!!!

    Great book!!!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2008

    A True Crime 5*

    True crime at its best. Delaney captures every moment of his undercover assignment for the NJ State and Feds. His story is a tribute to crime fighting. He has been on CNN to tell the scope of the operation. Project Alpha is A+

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2008

    Covert: My Years Infiltrating the Mob

    Loved this story about an undercover cop now turned basketball official who gathered evidence against the Genovese, Bruno and other crime families - and somehow survived to tell his story.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2008

    Covert: My Years Infiltrating the Mob

    A friend recommended Covert, and I was fascinated by the real life mafia story behind this charismatic author/NBA basketball official.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 13, 2010

    Interesting New Jersey behind the crime scenes

    I enjoyed the book (I am originally from Jersey City) because of the local nature of the undercover work that Delaney was involved in that later became our local news. I have seen Delaney referee at many NBA games in Florida over the years, but did not know his background. He certainly has led a less than boring life!

    If you liked the Sopranos, or the Godfather stories, then you will enjoy this one more because it is true.

    Good read.

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  • Posted June 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Great story

    Very simply. BUY THE BOOK. Someday soon, you'll be going to the movie. It's THAT good.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2008

    Quick read

    I thought the book was completely fascinating and could not put it down. It is so interesting how someone can go from such a hidden life to now refereeing NBA basketball games. Highly recommend.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2008

    Terrible

    I couldn't get through the book, it was terrible. It seems he is a donnie brasco wanna-be with-out the story.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2008

    Covert is a must-read!

    Covert has the perfect combination of gritty crime drama and human emotion. This book is an excellent first-hand account of the undercover experience.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2008

    From Mob to NBA

    I know the author 'Bob Delaney' because he officiates in the NBA and was only slightly aware of his background as a New Jersey State Trooper. This true story goes into detail of his life infiltrating organized crime in one of America¿s largest undercover operations. Even more interesting was the transition from this assignment into his next vocation of officiating LeBron James and Kobe Bryant in the NBA. This story captivated me from the very first page and kept going until the final chapter. An excellent read for anyone.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2008

    A reviewer

    A young New Jersey State Trooper, author Bob Delaney, goes deep undercover in order to infiltrate organized crime at it's highest and lowest level. A true and gritty story that will keep the reader captivated throughout the entire book. Not only does Delaney give a true and closeup look at the mob, but relates how it affected him after working three years undercover. You don't have to be crime drama buff to enjoy this book. It's for everyone. A fantastic read.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2008

    Very good intro to the real personalities of mobsters

    I heard the author speak at a Barnes & Noble in Walpole, Mass. He is a fascinating speaker and has written a good description of the very unglamorous personalities involved in organized crime. This is not a TV movie portrayal of the 'Don' as played by Danny Aiello.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2008

    Covert smash hit AAA+

    picked up my copy of covert last night at nine......finished it at 5 am........wow , fascinating book from page one I could't put it down....forget the sopranos this is the real deal!!!this whole story is 100% true-I know because I lived in west caldwell nj back then and was best friends with pat kelly's family so i saw this thing play out from a different angle. I was inside alamo trucking on communipaw,I have eaten at the bella vita...what bob and pat did takes more guts than you can ever imagine.Its one thing to watch it on tv ...... another thing to sit 2 feet from tino fiumara wearing a tape recorder! All sopranos fans will love this book- this all went down in the same area where the sopranos take place. Thanks bob for all you guys did ,my only regret is losing my good friends the kellys when they were relocated.....

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2008

    Mind Set

    February 8, 2008 The book 'Covert' by Robert Delaney and Dave Scheiber, is an extraordinary story of a 'deep-undercover' New Jersey State Trooper entering the psychic world of 'organized-crime'. This is a well written book driven by anecdotal events describing the personal and emotional encounters witnessed by a dedicated New Jersey State Trooper. It is an honest representation of someone¿s fears and apprehensions as seen by Bob Delaney for taking on an assignment to infiltrate and live with organized crime family members. The authors¿ script an excellent 'self-analysis' of the meetings and incidents with organized-crime members and others throughout the book that allows one to visualize the characters in ¿virtual-reality¿ and beyond knowing their names. It is a book that is recommended for anyone intrigued about what it takes for a police officer to live the life of a 'deep-undercover' agent in a criminal lifestyle, while learning the personal and psychic sacrifices that go with this most dangerous assignment. ¿ Joseph M. Paulillo

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2008

    Honest, fast-paced book

    I'm neither a big sports fan, nor a mob cult type, but I really liked Covert. Delaney's story is honest and thoughtful and a really swift read. Highly recommend it.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2008

    Couldn't put it down - RIVETING!!!

    Much more than a MOB story - it's a life story. As stated in the foreward, it was one heck of a ride!!!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2007

    Covert is Tremendous...

    I enjoyed every word, every chapter. This is a book that most readers will read in one night.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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