Undercover Cop: How I Brought Down the Real-Life Sopranos [NOOK Book]

Overview


One moment, New Jersey state trooper Mike Russell was working undercover, playing the role of an up-and-coming mobster hoping to infiltrate a Mafia family crew. The next, he was lying facedown in an alley after being ambushed and shot in the back of the head by a mobster over a dispute.

 

Russell miraculously healed, and rather than press charges, he maintained his cover. Soon he had a stroke of good luck when he saved a man from an attack by two street thugs. The man he ...

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Undercover Cop: How I Brought Down the Real-Life Sopranos

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Overview


One moment, New Jersey state trooper Mike Russell was working undercover, playing the role of an up-and-coming mobster hoping to infiltrate a Mafia family crew. The next, he was lying facedown in an alley after being ambushed and shot in the back of the head by a mobster over a dispute.

 

Russell miraculously healed, and rather than press charges, he maintained his cover. Soon he had a stroke of good luck when he saved a man from an attack by two street thugs. The man he saved turned out to be Andy Gerardo, one of the ranking captains of the Genovese crime family. Quickly earning the trust of his new friend, Russell would orchestrate one of the biggest Mafia takedowns of all time.

Urged by his police handlers, Russell used his cover story---an ex-cop fired for excessive force who now made his living from an oil-delivery business---and street skills to assimilate into the Genovese crime family in New Jersey, ultimately leading to more than fifty arrests of mobsters, corrupt prison officials, and even a state senator. Straddling the thin line between collecting evidence and participating in the very crimes he was leaking to the cops, Russell consistently placed himself at risk—especially when his police handlers disregarded his wishes and his well-being, conducting premature raids on the gangsters. With his marriage suffering and his family in danger, Russell took extraordinary steps to ensure his financial security and safety, demanding better terms from the police and allowing a film crew to document the final moments of the epic bust for a documentary that was later sold to HBO.

A real-life version of The SopranosUndercover Cop immerses readers in the colorful yet harrowing trials of a standout cop who faced the mob on his own terms, crippled organized crime in New Jersey, and forever redefined undercover law enforcement.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Billed as a true-crime version of The Sopranos, the story of Russell’s violent life as an undercover cop cum trusted associate of the Genovese crime clan in Newark, N.J., has more plot twists than the acclaimed TV series. In fact, Russell predates Tony Soprano and company by a longshot—he was the subject of an HBO documentary that aired in the late ’80s, and his is a thrill-a-minute tale. Within the first 20 pages, Russell’s taken a bullet to the head, fended off a would-be corpse robber, and stumbled out of an alley to find help. Soon after, he returns to the tough work of weaseling his way back into the arms of the Mafia. Written in a street-savvy style reminiscent of Elmore Leonard and Mario Puzo, the nail-biting narrative moves from one crisis to another as Mikey Ga-Ga—his nom de guerre—infiltrates a profitable crew while rubbing shoulders with capos and bosses, all under intense mob scrutiny. Russell’s bravery and professionalism—along with some crucial surveillance—eventually led to the busts of more than 50 “wiseguys” and public officials. This tell-all page-turner is all the better for being true. 8 pages of b&w photos. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
“The book is a whirlwind of suspense, violence and moral ambiguity. The daily grind that reveals the inner workings, language and codes of the mafia are perhaps its most fascinating feature. It feels real, like The Sopranos, but it is both more thrilling and terrifying than any TV show could hope to be.”

—MrPorter.com

“Russell details his encounters with many notorious figures in New York’s ‘Five Families’ and provides a good sense of the nitty-gritty tradecraft involved in undercover investigations.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Billed as a true-crime version of The Sopranos, the story of Russell’s violent life as an undercover cop cum trusted associate of the Genovese crime clan in Newark, N.J., has more plot twists than the acclaimed TV series. In fact, Russell predates Tony Soprano and company by a longshot—he was the subject of an HBO documentary that aired in the late ’80s, and his is a thrill-a-minute tale. Within the first 20 pages, Russell’s taken a bullet to the head, fended off a would-be corpse robber, and stumbled out of an alley to find help. Soon after, he returns to the tough work of weaseling his way back into the arms of the Mafia. Written in a street-savvy style reminiscent of Elmore Leonard and Mario Puzo, the nail-biting narrative moves from one crisis to another as Mikey Ga-Ga—his nom de guerre—infiltrates a profitable crew while rubbing shoulders with capos and bosses, all under intense mob scrutiny. Russell’s bravery and professionalism—along with some crucial surveillance—eventually led to the busts of more than 50 “wiseguys” and public officials. This tell-all page-turner is all the better for being true.”

Publishers Weekly

“Nobody did undercover better than Mike Russell. His story is grittier than The Sopranos, more volatile than Goodfellas. A must read.”

—George Anastasia, author of The Last Gangster and The Goodfella Tapes

“Mike Russell is one tough cop. This book is a great read.”

—the late Henry Hill, subject of Wiseguy, the basis of Scorsese’s Goodfellas

“Wonderful details. A bizarre world depicted with such accuracy that several times it made me laugh out loud. A very good read.”

—Robert Daley, former Deputy Chief of Public Information (DCPI) of the NYPD, author of Prince of the City and Target Blue

“What a nail-biter! Forget the Sopranos, real-life or otherwise. If you're a fan of Donnie Brasco because it actually had a good guy — the undercover cop — then this book's for you.  Some of Mike Russell's story is so pulse-pounding that the only reason I could read it was, he lived to write the book so it must've turned out okay. This is the story of a cop who really knows, co-written by an ex-cop who can really write. I couldn't put it down.”

—SJ Rozan, Edgar award winning author of Ghost Hero

Kirkus Reviews
Memoir of infiltration of the New Jersey Mafia, told with bluster and bravado. In 1982, Russell--who co-authored this book with Picciarelli (co-editor: Bronx Noir, 2007, etc.)--was a state trooper trying to infiltrate organized crime in Newark, when a dispute over a pilfered briefcase led to Mafia associates shooting him in the head. His superiors realized his survival enhanced his undercover credibility, so they directed him toward an ambitious plan: pose as "owner of a small oil-delivery business and try to work my way into the good graces of the Gambino or Genovese crime families." Having learned that "getting close to the wiseguys required that you be subtle," he ingratiated himself with a Genovese captain. Known to the gangsters as "Mikey Ga-Ga," Russell soon began working for "made member" Joe Zarra, "a greedy bastard [who] would want to capitalize on my earning possibilities." The strict Mafia hierarchy of autonomous "crews" made Russell's brazen undercover work easier; he even opened an office next to Zarra's social club, allowing him to record the crew on audio and video. This proximity led to numerous close calls, on top of Russell's concern that Newark's mob-connected cops might finger him. The stress actually forced him to resign from the investigation, yet he soon returned as a civilian contract employee, ultimately earning his supervisor's accolade: "One lone Irishman took down an entire Mafia crew." The book's strength is its specificity: Russell details his encounters with many notorious figures in New York's "Five Families" and provides a good sense of the nitty-gritty tradecraft involved in undercover investigations. Yet, the plausible narrative is undercut by Russell's braggadocio: He so often portrays the mobsters as stupid, and his own perfidy as overt, that he never really seems to be in danger. Will satisfy true-crime readers interested in the grimy realities behind Mafia glamour and undercover work.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781250021113
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 8/6/2013
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 322
  • Sales rank: 81,025
  • File size: 847 KB

Meet the Author


MIKE RUSSELL spent twenty years in law enforcement and is currently the president of Mob Cop Productions, making films and other media about what he knows best. He lives in Delray Beach, FL.

PATRICK W. PICCIARELLI, a Vietnam vet, spent twenty years in the NYPD and is a licensed private investigator and adjunct writing professor at Seton Hill University. The author of Jimmy the Wags, My Life in the NYPD, he regularly contributes to Hardboiled magazine, among others. He lives in Monessen, PA.

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Read an Excerpt

The true story of a New Jersey State Trooper's infiltration of the Genovese crime family and how he decimated the organization

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 9 )
Rating Distribution

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(7)

4 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 2, 2013

    A very entertaining page-turner type of story. Not your typ




    A very entertaining page-turner type of story.

    Not your typical boring cop on the beat story. GREAT BOOK! I recommend this book to everybody.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2013

    Newark

    I've been there and I recognize the names of some of the mobsters in this book. Book is genuine. I really liked it. It is a worthy addition to any true crime / Mafia library .

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2013

    Great read it made me laugh out loud and was a page-turner!Loved

    Great read it made me laugh out loud and was a page-turner!Loved it!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2014

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2014

    <_>

    <_>

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2014

    News from auther of cat undercover

    Im not making it any more and i cant do paragraphs because. Well lets just say hat I cant do the spacy thing below the delete button (sorry I forgot it's name)

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 20, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Loved It

    Great, Good against Evil

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2013

    BS

    Almost nothing in this book is true. Its laughable he got a book deal in the first place. Any person with knowledge of LCN knows this guy is a schmuck

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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