Louis Ferrante began hijacking delivery trucks at age seventeen, and New York's infamous Gambino crime family took notice. By twenty-one, Ferrante's Mafia connections had enabled him to pull off some of the most lucrative heists in history. But betrayals by close friends brought Ferrante a slew of federal indictments, and he would spend the next decade as an inmate in some of America's most notorious penitentiaries—with ample time to ponder life's essential questions: Who am I? What makes me this way? Do I have a purpose?
In the prison library he embarked on an extraordinary journey of the mind that took him from history to philosophy to major world religions, from the art of writing to the law. And after successfully appealing his own conviction—in a case now cited in courtrooms across the country—Ferrante walked away from prison a writer and a profoundly changed man.
Unlocked is a remarkable memoir of personal transformation—a true story that is shocking, brutal, inspiring, and unforgettable.
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About the Author
Louis Ferrante was born and raised in Queens, New York. Unlocked is his first book.
Read an Excerpt
The Life and Crimes of a Mafia Insider
I Like Burgers and Fries
I leaned down, dropped a knee into his chest, and pressed my gun into his forehead right between the eyes.
"Don't kill me, I have a wife and kid."
"Do what I say an' you'll see 'em again."
He was large, big-boned, had a red beard, like a lumberjack. He was six inches away from death, the length of my gun barrel. If he flipped out, or my finger twitched, I'd have a dead body under me.
"It's a robbery. I want your truck, not your life."
"No!" he screamed. "I don't wanna die!"
He knocked the back of his head against the metal floor and swung his meaty arms, batting at the gun. His knuckles grazed my chin. I pushed his arms away, then jammed the barrel of the gun into his mouth. "You don't wanna die, huh? Then shut the fuck up!"
He shook his head. His teeth scraped against the steel, his lips sealed around the muzzle. He had to taste the weapon to know he didn't like it.
I let the steel sit between his teeth. When I pulled the gun back, he looked disappointed. The gun controlled him. He didn't trust himself to behave without it. I think he wanted me to shove it back in his mouth, to save his life.
"Don't . . . shoot . . . me," he gasped. His coffee breath blasted me in the face. He was afraid to turn over, afraid I'd finish him off execution style.
"Do as I say an' you'll be home for dinner."
He twisted his broad shoulders in the cramped aisle, squeezing his eyes shut.
Once he was on his stomach, I reached into my jacketpocket and pulled out a roll of duct tape.
His wide back stretched his Snearco Tool shirt as he wrapped his hands around the back of his head. I didn't tell him to do this; either he'd seen it on TV or was shielding himself from a bullet.
"Put 'em behine your back," I said. "An' press your wrists together."
I placed my gun on a shelf against the wall. I spun the tape around his wrists, then tore it with my teeth.
He let out a long breath and lay still. He wanted to live.
I lifted his head off the floor by his hair, taped his mouth, then gently lowered his head to the side so he wouldn't crush his nose.
About an hour before I grabbed this guy, my crew and I had parked on a street lined with auto body shops. We smoked cigarettes and told jokes until this poor stiff swung his tool truck up onto the curb and parked.
His sliding passenger door was open, like most delivery trucks during the summer.
"I got this," I said to my friends as I jumped out of the car.
I felt a rush of adrenaline. The driver was alone, busy with paperwork when I climbed the steps on the passenger side.
"Can I take a look around, I wanna buy some tools."
He was startled at first, but quickly relaxed, probably hoped to open a new account.
"Sure," he said.
I looked down the narrow walkway. Giant toolboxes weighing a ton and standing as high as my chest sat along the walls. On the racks above me were ratchets, screwdrivers, hammers, and wrenches. The toolboxes were worth five to ten grand apiece; everything in the truck was worth over a hundred.
I pointed to tools, asked some prices.
When he looked away for a second, I whipped out a big bright .357 Magnum and pointed it at his head.
I don't know if he fell to the floor before or after I ordered him to lie down, but I stood over him as he looked up at me.
After I taped him up, I went to the doorway of the truck and waved to my friends, then went back to work.
I lifted him to his knees.
The name tag stitched into the chest pocket of his shirt read "Matthew."
"Matty," I said, "don't be afraid. I only want what's in your truck. This shit's insured, no?"
I knew it was, but wanted to reassure him that he was losing nothing.
He nodded. Sweat ran down his freckled forehead.
"We're gonna take the truck somewhere, then let you go. We'll call the cops, tell 'em where we leave ya, okay?"
The Catalano brothers climbed aboard. Chucky jumped behind the wheel and started the engine while Freddy stared at the tools.
I slid by Freddy to greet Chucky up front.
"Lift your ass." I pushed Chucky forward and pulled a red pillow out from under him as he took us into midday traffic.
"Gimme a hand," I said, sliding by Freddy again. He followed.
"Listen, Matty, we'll be on the road awhile. We're gonna prop ya up against the back door. I'll stick this cushion unda ya, so you don't break your ass on the bumps."
Freddy and I lifted Matthew and dragged him to the back, where we put him on the pillow.
Once under way, driving on noisy, congested streets, I pulled the tape off Matthew's mouth. Red bristles from his beard stuck to the glue.
"I saw a bottled water up front," I said. "Wanna sip?"
"Please," said Matthew, calmer now.
I put the bottle to his mouth so he could drink, then snatched a promo towel off a rack, wet it, and wiped down his face. I squeezed some drops over his head.
"Thanks," he said.
"No problem. Listen, Matt, there ain't gonna be nothin' left but a tin can when we're done wit' this thing. Anythin' you need, personal shit?"
"The pictures pinned to the visor, my wife and kid, can you put them in my shirt pocket?"
Up front, I looked out at the road. Cars, cabs, and buses wove in and out of lanes around us. Cops didn't know what we were up to, even as we drove alongside them. I patted Chucky on the shoulder, admiring his cool behind the wheel.Unlocked
The Life and Crimes of a Mafia Insider. Copyright © by Louis Ferrante. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.