THIEF! The Gutsy, True Story of an Ex-Con Artist

  • Stay tuned for THIEF! book signings, media interviews and other THIEF! events
  • Media Reviews posted periodically
  • Mobwriter comments on true crime events and books

THIEF! character, Vince Eli

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Tony Borsalino & the Hooker

Some of you may know that Tony Borsalino figured prominently in last year's Chicago Outfit trial dubbed "Family Secrets." He's the guy who was ordered to hit Tony Spilotro back in the 1980s, but Borsalino refused.

Well, Slick said that in the 1950s he was staying at the Lido Hotel in Miami Beach. One day he and Tony Borsalino were having lunch at the famous Wolfie's Restaurant when a hooker approached Tony. He told her he was kinky and would like to slap her around a little.

She asked, "How long?"

"Till I get my money back," he said.

She disappeared fast.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Don't Let the Bedbugs Bite

Slick & our friend, Tony Montana, were at a Borders book signing today reminiscing about the old days in Chicago. They both laughed at how normal people woke up to an alarm clock. But Slick, Tony and many other poor folks woke up to biting bed bugs. They wondered how many people experienced the same thing?

P.S. Tony added, "And when one bedbug died, a million came to the funeral."

Sunday, February 17, 2008

NEW YORK POST review by Cherie Rohn

The following review appeared today in the New York Post:


February 17, 2008 -- "If you don't have anything . . . get out." That's sage poker advice, especially if you're addicted to online poker and staying in means you lose everything you care about.

"Does it strike me as odd that I'm turning down four- and five-thousand-dollar assignments," asks author Martha Frankel, "so I can win 85 bucks on Wednesday? No, it doesn't strike me as odd at all."

One word describes Martha Frankel's memoir "Hats & Eyeglasses": Fearless. Frankel writes about her life as if she were Indiana Jones stepping out over bottomless space. Make no mistake. Fearless in this case means powerful, even uplifting and funny.

The title refers those times "when you're playing cards and losing so bad your ship is sinking. All that's left on the water's surface are your hat and eyeglasses," Frankel explains. The metaphor also highlights Frankel's downward spiral into online poker addiction. Frankel uses her finely-honed humor to cut through the crap. Nothing is sacred, least of all Frankel. "I slept around, drank too much, took drugs with names I couldn't even pronounce and felt my life slipping away."

She has the guts to bare all in part because she's grounded by the love and encouragement of her Jewish friends and family - a colorful mish-mash of die-hard gamblers and lovable eccentrics like Aunt Tillie, who "taught us to say s - - - and never tired of hearing us try to use it in a sentence."

While other young girls played canasta and sewed a running stitch, Frankel learned to read the Daily Racing Form from her father. Her world revolved around daily doubles and bookies, eventually paying off with winnings of thousands of dollars.

By her mid-40s, Frankel was a highly-respected celebrity interviewer commanding serious money from major magazines. Enter the friendly neighborhood poker game. Obsessed with winning, she spent days on end dealing out hands on her couch, and then playing anywhere she could find action. She became so good that Frankel started beating the guys in her poker group and beyond.

But she apologized for winning. Like many women, Frankel was programmed to please the men around her, "make them feel comfortable and not threatened." There's a lesson here more women could learn: "There are no sorrys in poker." When Frankel put friendship aside and went for the jugular, she earned the respect of the men around her, especially the ones she beat.

But Frankel's downfall came from another medium where "cleavage and attitude" had no effect: an Internet site called Paradise Poker. After years of racking up thousands of dollars in debt, she finally called Gambler's Anonymous with less than $60 in her pocket. She mustered the courage to come clean to close friends and family who had no inkling of her decades-long addiction. But rather than telling them, she sent the "Hats & Eyeglasses" manuscript to do the explaining. She expected angry retorts but instead they showered her with words of comfort and expressed sorrow for her ordeal.

Her husband Steve Heller remains somewhat in the background, yet was clearly supportive of his independent, life-on-the-tilt wife. We learn a lot about Frankel from the way she tells Heller in a letter that accompanied the manuscript "This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do." The admission of her addiction proved cathartic. Now she was able to forgive herself.

Frankel shows us the tender underbelly of her struggle with personal demons that "twist your insides and make sanity fly out the window." We root for her not because she asks us to, but because Martha Frankel reeks of chutzpah and owning up. By so doing, she achieves her "hat trick" - love, self-worth and redemption. No apology necessary.

Cherie Rohn is the co-author of "THIEF! The Gutsy, True Story of an Ex-Con Artist."

And here's the link to the NY Post Website:

Thursday, February 14, 2008

More on Credit Fixers

Speaking of fixing poor credit, a bit of research brought up a Website that covers the topic quite thoroughly. It also tells the reader what to look out for with bogus offers to fix poor credit:

And get this...there's even a CD for sale on that claims to help you fix poor credit. Only problem? The author reviews her own product, giving it 5 stars, the highest rating! She just blew her credibility in my book.

Ex-Con Artist, Slick, Almost Conned!

Slick was to appear in a Chicagoland TV commercial touting a company that helps people with poor credit. The owner of the company (whose name will remain unmentioned) said he would fly Slick to Chicago and put him up in a hotel while shooting the commercial at the Drake Hotel.

Slick kept calling the guy to finalize the deal, but the man never returned Slick's calls. Smelling a rat, Slick decided the whole thing was a scam to relieve another anonymous person, an investor, of his cash.

Lesson learned: Always check out who you're dealing with before you make any deals.

Is Breaking the Mob Impossible?

Read this interesting editorial published today in the New York Post called "Breaking the Mob." It states why closing down the mob is a near impossible task. Here's the link:

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Slick Pics

A professional photographer (whose name escaped Slick) caught him on camera the other day at the Stratosphere.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


I don't want to give away too much, but a new Meyer Lansky bio written in part by Lansky's daughter and confidant for the last 10 years of his life is in the works. It will set many Lansky misperceptions straight and refute downright lies that have worked their way into the huge body of Lansky publications since Lansky's death in 1983 at the age of 80. I guarantee that it will surprise many.

No date yet, but stay tuned to Mob Speak in the months to come. Where do I get my information, you might ask? Luckily, I'm editing the book.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


It's been a while since I plugged a book. Well, here's one you won't want to miss. Rick Porrello's Superthief - A Master Burglar, the Mafia and the Biggest Bank Heist in U.S. History, hit bookstores in 2006.

Famed author and FBI agent Joseph "Donnie Brasco" Pistone called Superthief "...a well-written, fast-paced and insightful look at an historic crime rarely attempted."

Superthief also won ForeWord Magazine’s Second Place True Crime spot at its 2006 Book of the Year Awards. And Midwest Book Review said "Superthief is to be given high praise and very strong recommendation...” The title has also been optioned for film.

These reviews barely scratch the surface. If you want a more in-depth take on Superthief, please check out Rick's famous Website, where yours truly interviewed Superthief himself, Phil Christoper, while serving time in Elkton Federal Correctional Institution in Ohio. BTW, he's still incarcerated. Here's the link:

Happy reading.