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

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THIEF! character, Vince Eli

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

MORE of Slick's Q & A: The Answers

I'm a day late (if anyone's noticed.)

Here are the answers to Slick's Q & A:

Q: What separates a professional gambler from an amateur? A: When you can quit your day job and gamble full time with always something to fall back on.

Q: Is there a dealer's union in Las Vegas? A: A few casinos weak unions exist, but the casinos are trying vigorously to keep unions from forming. Check out this link for more complete information:

Q: Where did the saying "Bet your bottom dollar" come from? A: In the 18th Century, poker players stacked silver dollars instead of chips. When a guy wanted to bet everything, he "bet his bottom dollar," meaning the whole stack down to the last dollar.

Q: Who made "The buck stops here" a household phrase? A: Harry Trueman, an avid poker player, kept the saying on his desk.

MORE of Slick's Q & A

Test your knowledge on the following:

Q. What separates a professional gambler from an amateur?
Q. Is there a dealer’s union in Las Vegas?
Q. Where did the saying “Bet your bottom dollar” come from?
Q. Who made “The buck stops here” a household phrase?

Answers will appear by Thursday, Sept. 24.

Monday, September 14, 2009

TERRORIST VIOLENCE - Coming to a town near you

Let's hope these
horrific photos are
never repeated.

The following email came from a most reliable source. Open your eyes, Americans. They won't do it the same way twice:

Juval Aviv was the Israeli Agent upon whom the movie ' Munich ' was based.. He was Golda Meir's bodyguard - she appointed him to track down and bring to justice the Palestinian terrorists who took the Israeli athletes hostage and killed them during the Munich Olympic Games.

In a lecture in New York City a few weeks ago, he shared information that EVERY American needs to know -- but that our government has not yet shared with us.

He predicted the London subway bombing on the Bill O'Reilly show on Fox News stating publicly that it would happen within a week. At the time, O'Reilly laughed and mocked him saying that in a week he wanted him back on the show. But, unfortunately, within a week the terrorist attack had occurred.

Juval Aviv gave intelligence (via what he had gathered in Israel and the Middle East) to the Bush Administration about 9/11 a month before it occurred. His report specifically said they would use planes as bombs and target high profile buildings and monuments. Congress has since hired him as a security consultant.

Now for his future predictions. He predicts the next terrorist attack on the U.S. Will occur within the next few months.

Forget hijacking airplanes, because he says terrorists will NEVER try and hijack a plane again as they know the people onboard will never go down quietly again. Aviv believes our airport security is a joke -- that we have been reactionary rather than proactive in developing strategies that are truly effective.

For example:

1) Our airport technology is outdated. We look for metal, and the new explosives are made of plastic.

2) He talked about how some idiot tried to light his shoe on fire. Because of that, now everyone has to take off their shoes. A group of idiots tried to bring aboard liquid explosives. Now we can't bring liquids on board. He says he's waiting for some suicidal maniac to pour liquid explosive on his underwear; at which point, security will have us all traveling naked! Every strategy we have is reactionary.

3) We only focus on security when people are heading to the gates.. Aviv says that if a terrorist attack targets airports in the future, they will target busy times on the front end of the airport when/where people are checking in. It would be easy for someone to take two suitcases of explosives, walk up to a busy check-in line, ask a person next to them to watch their bags for a minute while they run to the restroom or get a drink and then detonate the bags BEFORE security even gets involved. In Israel, security checks bags BEFORE people can even ENTER the airport.

Aviv says the next terrorist attack here in America is imminent and will involve suicide bombers and non-suicide bombers in places where large groups of people congregate. (I. E., Disneyland, Las Vegas casinos, big cities New York, San Francisco, Chicago, etc.) and that it will also include shopping malls, subways in rush hour, train stations, etc., as well as rural America this time (Wyoming, Montana, etc.).

The attack will be characterized by simultaneous detonations around the country (terrorists like big impact), involving at least 5-8 cities, including rural areas.

Aviv says terrorists won't need to use suicide bombers in many of the larger cities, because at places like the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, they can simply valet park a car loaded with explosives and walk away.

Aviv says all of the above is well known in intelligence circles, but that our U. S. Government does not want to 'alarm American citizens' with the facts. The world is quickly going to become 'a different place', and issues like 'global warming' and political correctness will become totally irrelevant.

On an encouraging note, he says that Americans don't have to be concerned about being nuked. Aviv says the terrorists who want to destroy America will not use sophisticated weapons. They like to use suicide as a front-line approach. It's cheap, it's easy, it's effective; and they have an infinite abundance of young militants more than willing to 'meet their destiny'.

He also says the next level of terrorists, over which America should be most concerned, will not be coming from abroad. But will be, instead, 'homegrown' - having attended and been educated in our own schools and universities right here in the U. S. He says to look for 'students' who frequently travel back and forth to the Middle East. These young terrorists will be most dangerous because they will know our language and will fully understand the habits of Americans; but that we Americans won't know/understand a thing about them.

Aviv says that, as a people, Americans are unaware and uneducated about the terrorist threats we will, inevitably, face. America still has only a handful of Arabic and Farsi speaking people in our intelligence networks and Aviv says it is critical that we change that fact SOON.

So, what can America do to protect itself? From an intelligence perspective, Aviv says the U.S. needs to stop relying on satellites and technology for intelligence. We need to, instead, follow Israel's, Ireland 's and England 's hands-on examples of human intelligence, both from an infiltration perspective as well as to trust 'aware' citizens to help. We need to engage and educate ourselves as citizens; however, our U. S. government continues to treat us, its citizens, 'like babies'. Our government thinks we 'can't handle the truth' and are concerned that we'll panic if we understand the realities of terrorism. Aviv says this is a deadly mistake.

Aviv recently created/executed a security test for our Congress, by placing an empty briefcase in five well-traveled spots in five major cities. The results? Not one person called 911 or sought a policeman to check it fact, in Chicago, someone tried to steal the briefcase!

In comparison, Aviv says that citizens of Israel are so well 'trained' that an unattended bag or package would be reported in seconds by citizen(s) who know to publicly shout, 'Unattended Bag!' The area would be quickly & calmly cleared by the citizens themselves. But, unfortunately, America hasn't been yet 'hurt enough' by terrorism for their government to fully understand the need to educate its citizens or for the government to understand that it's their citizens who are, inevitably, the best first-line of defense against terrorism.

Aviv also was concerned about the high number of children here in America who were in preschool and kindergarten after 9/11, who were 'lost' without parents being able to pick them up, and about our schools that had no plan in place to best care for the students until parents could get there. (In New York City, this was days, in some cases!)

He stresses the importance of having a plan, that's agreed upon within your family, to respond to in the event of a terrorist emergency. He urges parents to contact their children's schools and demand that the schools, too, develop plans of actions, as they do in Israel .

Does your family know what to do if you can't contact one another by phone? Where would you gather in an emergency? He says we should all have a plan that is easy enough for even our youngest children to remember and follow.

Aviv says that the U. S. government has in force a plan that, in the event of another terrorist attack, will immediately cut-off EVERYONE's ability to use cell phones, blackberries, etc., as this is the preferred communication source used by terrorists and is often the way that their bombs are detonated.

How will you communicate with your loved ones in the event you cannot speak? You need to have a plan.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Sonny Girard Interview

Born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, ex-mobster Sonny Girard spent most of his early years in the Red Hook and Navy Yard sections of South Brooklyn. He chose a path that offered a way out of his dirt poor existence—the lucrative life of the “wiseguys.” Serving the maximum time in Sing Sing and other NY state prisons for his role with one of New York’s five mob families was only a beginning for Sonny’s life of crime. Photo: Sonny is second from the right.

In 1985, Sonny was convicted of racketeering under the RICO statute by Rudolph Giuliani’s office, which led to another stint doing maximum time (7 years) in federal prison. It was during this incarceration that Sonny took up writing and penned his first novel, Blood of Our Fathers, 1991, Simon & Schuster followed by Sins of Our Sons. Girard is also author of Snake Eyes about a hedonistic bookmaker. A fourth book is in the works.

Girard, a savvy and knowledgeable ex-mobster, has the knack of communicating intelligently about his life in organized crime. These qualities make him a sought-after guest on TV shows such as ABC’s Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, Fox News Channel’s The Edge with Paula Zahn and as a consultant on the movie Mickey Blue Eyes with Hugh Grant and Jeanne Tripplehorn. More recently Girard appeared on Fox’s National Enquirer TV, analyzing the authenticity of HBO’s hit The Sopranos.

The above was taken from an interview which appeared on and has been edited for space by Mobwriter.

That’s only the tip of the iceberg with regard to Sonny’s multifaceted life of crime and beyond. In order to get a better idea of what makes Sonny tick, I studied his Web site, Sonny’s Mob CafĂ©,, and listened to several online archived radio interviews.

Intrigued, I contacted Sonny and asked him if he’d do a Q & A on Mob Speak. Much of what I learned about Sonny will become evident by reading the interview that follows. I purposely avoided the more mundane topics and picked others that give a better insight into this complex and principled man. My questions are few. I hope the answers will be long.

MOBWRITER: What’s obvious from my research about you is that you’re an intelligent guy with a broad perspective of life—a Renaissance Man—to be sure. So I’m gonna jump right to something that’s been nagging me. You claim to be an “unmade” made guy and dismiss the notion that a guy’s made for life as a myth. Can that really happen? Did you actually quit the mob?

SONNY: Occasionally, one friend or another will call to complain that some documentary or book got something wrong. My answer is always, “Aren’t they supposed to?” One of those things they get wrong is that you can’t get out. Yes, it’s rare and not the rule, but it does happen. One old man I knew was shot when his bosses, the Mangano Brothers disappeared. When he left the hospital, he made a deal to save his life: his “badge” would be “put on the shelf,” as long as he participated in no mob activities. He became a successful restaurateur for the rest of his days, without ever getting involved in an outside deal. I went through a discussion that sort of landed me on the “injured list.” I gave my word to stay on the legal side of the line and, if I decided to return to the street life, would go back on the active roster. While my old pals are still my best pals, I’ve stayed out of action.

MOBWRITER: It’s evident to anyone who seriously studies your comments that you hate snitches. Sounds like a lot of guys want to protect snitches on the premise that they’re making money together and they believe the guy won’t rat them out. Eventually, many of these guys get stung by the snitch.

William Slick Hanner (whose story I wrote) told me how little he thought of Frank Cullotta for ratting out Frank’s boyhood friend, Tony Spilotro, to the Feds. Slick said snitches are the lowest of the low. In your opinion, is there ever any justification for snitching?

SONNY: I could have saved a number of years in prison if I’d believed there was justification to rat others out. All those who do snitch make excuses, but I know better. Henry Hill, for example, told Nick Pileggi about how everyone turned on him and threatened his life, leaving him no choice. Hill was always a scumbag. When he had a bar on Queens Boulevard, no one liked Hill, but they respected Paulie Vario, who loved Hill like a son. They used to say, “You respect a dog for his master,” when referring to Hill. I didn’t see that in “Goodfellas.” Did You? Finally, he ratted Paulie out for getting him a no show job to get out of a halfway house. Paulie died in prison because of it. All the rats are pretty much the same. They’ve decided to transfer the punishment for things they did from them and their families to others and their loved ones.

On the other hand, I have seen two instances where I could understand the guys who became rats. One was the guy who sent “Crazy Joe” Gallo to prison for extortion. He was not a tough guy, but a millionaire businessman, Teddy Moss, who stepped over the line into illegal deals. One of Joey’s guys told Joey about Teddy, and that if Joey pressured him, the businessman would come to him, they’d have a meeting, and Teddy would come up with money that he’d share with his boss. Everything went as planned until Joey, not satisfied with the gentle extortion, smacked Teddy and read him the riot act. Scared, the businessman had nowhere to go except to the cops.

The second was Tomasso Buscetta, the Sicilian Mafioso who ratted out everyone in the Pizza Connection case. In a way that is uniquely Sicilian, his enemies slowly tightened a noose around him, executing those friends and relatives of his, and saving him for last. Finally, alone in South America and captured by Italian authorities, Buscetta broke. Do I think he was justified? Of course not, but, with an American mobster’s sensibility, think that his enemies played with fire too long, and left themselves open to his turning bad. To me, he fell apart like a prizefighter who’s had his body broken down with shots and just about gives up without a final blow. They should have rid themselves of him early on. Who knows, maybe they enjoyed the game?

MOBWRITER: On your blog you devote quite a bit of space to addressing misconceptions about the mob. For instance, you say cosa nostra (our thing with no name) was made into the more popular concept of La Cosa Nostra by Joseph Valachi. And thereafter it is always used in its capitalized form as the official name of the mob. You seem to feel this new usage is a negative or false usage from the original?

Like everything else in this world, the way in which words are used is constantly evolving. Like it or not, that’s life. If we go back even further in the Sicilian history books and elsewhere for that matter, we see many more examples of words which have been “bastardized” and evolved into new meanings. Therefore, can’t one say that there is no such thing as a “pure” language? Please comment.

SONNY: Yes, you’re right. The difference is that in this age of mass communication we don’t have the daisy chain that words and terms used to follow and change. It was like whispering something to someone at the beginning of the line and having it change as it’s repeated to those behind him. This was said publicly, on television. No daisy chain. I understand that no one wanted to step forward to correct it, and I don’t care that the world believed the idiot, Valachi. What gets me is that guys in the street, who did not know any better, especially younger mobsters, accepted it. I couldn’t believe it when I heard John Gotti say it was going to remain a Cosa Nostra after he died. It reminded me of a Jersey guy who had his crew play the Godfather theme endlessly on a diner jukebox while he was there. The old days were more gritty; more down to earth.

MOBWRITER: Also on your blog, you talk about a book proposal you’re working on with Meyer Lansky’s nephew, Mark Lansky, about his uncle the so-called “brain of modern organized crime.” Having recently collaborated on a Lansky book with Sandra Lansky Lombardo, Meyer’s only daughter, I learned that Lansky took only a few people into his confidence. Sandra (as well as her husband Vince), was the only family member Meyer trusted. Sandra claims that during the last 10 years of her father’s life, he spent most of his time with Sandra and Vince, dinning at their home many times a week and talking about Meyer’s past. So, with all due respect, where does Mark claim to have received his information? In asking this question, I have no particular allegiance to individuals, only to the truth.

SONNY: Mark says he drove Meyer around during those days, and has introduced me to people who knew him from that time. I will forward your question to Mark and get his response. Mark’s response will appear in a future Mob Speak posting.

MOBWRITER: If there’s one thing you could change about your past, Sonny. What would that be? Or maybe there’s nothing you’d change.

SONNY: After my first book was published, an old friend once asked if I wished I had become an author earlier in my life. I told him no, that I was happy for the life I lived and happy I was out of it. Why the latter? Because I couldn’t stand the unraveling of that life. Yes, we committed crimes, but there was an honorable component early on; an ability to put an umbrella over people and protect or help them with their lives. One friend, Funzi Mosca, told me that when he was young someone in his family had to become a mobster so that their influence would allow the other brothers to have legitimate productive lives and pull themselves out of poverty. It was those ghettos that produced really tough guys who had LOYALTY to each other. Today, when wannabe mobsters grow up in suburban areas, where they do not ever need anyone to get them through life, they have no loyalty to anyone. That’s why it’s so easy for them to rat out others. One of my old pals used to say that everyone could be a toughguy as long as the shoe fit; that it was when the laces got tight that you’d see who screamed. Yes, I would like to change things; I would like to have the world exactly as it was in our “good old days,” but then, I wouldn’t be interviewing for you now, would I?

MOBWRITER: Your interview on Heal Yourself Talk Radio reveals you as a guy who seems to accept your past—the good and bad—with no axes to grind. You say that the world doesn’t necessarily revolve around each of us. And you give examples of how people have pent up anger in them. Now that you’ve gotten the “poison out of your system,” you can laugh many things off. (Please correct me if I have any of this wrong.) You seem to appreciate what you have, especially your grandkids, having seen the raw underbelly of life.

Sensing your humility in that interview, Sonny—and the fact that you have experienced so much—I ask what would you like to accomplish with the remainder of your time on this earth?

SONNY: My humility is built of necessity…and advancing years. I had a drink with a friend, Bobby Pellegrino, who owns Pellegrino’s restaurant, in Deerfield Beach. Bobby Darin’s “Mack the Knife” came on the jukebox. Bobby Pellegrino started complaining about how bad things are today. I told him that instead of complaining, he should realize how lucky we were to have wonderful memories, like Bobby Darin and all things in our lives at that time. I asked what our kids and grandkids would have to look back at with fond memories in thirty or forty or fifty years? Realizing that, I spend my remaining years building memories for my grandchildren. When I have a special or great day with one or more of them, I actually smile inside, knowing I’ve put another memory in the bank for them.

MOBWRITER: Mob Speak would like to get your take on this provocative interview with Sonny Girard. Be sure to check back to see Mark Lansky’s response.

Thanks for your time, Sonny. Best of luck to you and your family.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009


The Associated Press just released the following, dated September 2, 2009:

Philadelphia - A U.S. appeals court upheld an Internet gambling ban Tuesday, rejecting a challenge from an association of offshore bookies that the federal prohibition was too vague and violated privacy rights.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia rejected arguments from Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association in New Jersey, which had filed the lawsuit hoping to legalize online betting in the state.

Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in 2006 to ban online gambling that would be illegal in the state where the individual or gambling business conducts the transaction.

Guess online enthusiasts are SOL for now.