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

Monday, December 31, 2012

Marilyn Monroe: FBI Redactions Removed

Mention Marilyn Monroe or even the initials MM and certain thoughts come to mind: provocative, sexy, the Mob, JFK. Since her controversial alleged suicide that many believe was a Mob hit (including yours truly), the Hollywood persona we know as Marilyn Monroe radiates more star power than it did when the brainy blond bombshell was alive.

Now the FBI has removed dozens of redacted names from the famous one's FBI file. Once believed to be a member of the Communist party, Monroe was under heavy FBI scrutiny for many years prior to her death in 1962.

Perhaps new evidence will help clear up the theories surrounding Monroe's death. Even her coroner, the respected LA medical examiner, Thomas Noguchi, believed more would unfold when the complete FBI files were made public.

Read on for the latest:

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Strategic Media Books
Crime Beat Radio Show


Crime Beat
: Issues, Controversies and Personalities from the darkside on Artist First World Radio Network is pleased to announce its forthcoming schedule for January 3, 2012, through February 28, 2013. Topics covered include Gangster Squad, Noam Chomsky, Human Trafficking, Skinheads, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, J. Edgar Hoover and the Mob. Here is the lineup:                              

  • January 3 — Paul Lieberman, author of Gangster Squad, which is the inspiration for the movie by the same name, starring Sean Penn. See
  • January 10 — Phil Leonetti and Scott Burnstein, Authors of Mafia Prince: Inside America’s Most Violent Crime Family and the Bloody Fall of La Cosa Nostra. See
  • January 17 — Robert Lombardo , author of Organized Crime in Chicago: Beyond the Mafia. See
  • January 24 — Gill Revill, author of Mafia Summit: J. Edgar Hoover, the Kennedy Brothers and the Meeting that Unmasked the Mob. See
  • January 31 — Noam Chomsky, world renowned activist will discuss the U.S. election and crime issues See Lois Banner, the author of Marilyn: The passion and the Paradox, will discuss Marilyn Monroe, the Mob and the Rat Pack. See
  • February 7 — Jack Cole, co-founder  of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and longtime undercover narcotics officer, will discuss the War on Drugs.  See
  • February 14 — JJ Leyden Skinhead Confessions: From Hate to Hope. 
  • February 21 — Norma Ramos, Executive Director, Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, and Stella Marr, Founding member of The Survivors Connect Network. See
  • February 28 — Greg Kading, author of Murder Rap: The Untold Story of Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur. See (Command Appearance).

On the air since January 28, 2011, Crime Beat is a weekly hour-long radio program that airs every Thursday at 8 p.m. EST. Crime Beat presents fascinating topics that bring listeners closer to the dynamic underbelly of the world of crime. Guests have included ex-mobsters, undercover law enforcement agents, sports officials, informants, prisoners, drug dealers and investigative journalists, who have provided insights and fresh information about the world’s most fascinating subject: crime.

Crime Beat is currently averaging 130,000 listeners plus each week, and the figure is growing. Crime Beat is hosted by award-winning crime writer and documentary producer Ron Chepesiuk ( and broadcast journalist and freelance writer Will Hryb.

Ronald Herd I1, the popular Internet radio host and regular listener of Crime Beat, said: "Crime Beat sounds like an organized crime greatest hits collection...I am loving it!" Tom Hart of Atlanta, Georgia, writes: “I am a BIG fan of your show and enjoy the variety of guests you have on your show. “Keep up the good work.”  Carolyn Yarema of Toronto, Canada writes, "fabulous program guys' ... my husband Chi Chi and I never miss the show."

Crime Beat airs weekly every Thursday at 8 P.M. EST on the Artist First World Radio Network at

To contact the Crime Beat radio program for interviews, e-mail or call 803-366-5440.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

See ya backstage!



You’ve heard the buzz and yes, it’s going down … You will no longer have to be on a list to hang out backstage. See ya @BackstageBarLV.

LAS VEGAS – Backstage Bar & Billiards Lounge, the first of several unique entertainment experiences created by Hollywood/Las Vegas nightlife impresarios Ava Berman and Big Daddy Carlos, will open at 601 Fremont St. in fabulous downtown Las Vegas. The private grand unveiling for selected media and guests will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 28, with the grand opening to the public the same night.

“Triple B” is part upscale billiards lounge and part rock ‘n’ roll museum and homage to subculture that will be open 7 days a week and will feature some of the world’s biggest DJs as well as live musical acts. Backstage Bar & Billiards’ name originates from literally being backstage to the adjoining Fremont Country Club, a premier music venue slated to open at the 601 Fremont St. building in early 2013.

DJ Lethal (Limp Bizkit, House of Pain) and Las Vegas icon DJ Scotty Boy are part-owners and will have residencies. DJ Lethal will spin First Fridays and Scotty Boy will host after-hours on a rotating basis.

Among Triple B’s eclectic d├ęcor will be custom furniture by rock outfitter Anvil Cases, collectors’ items from some of the most famous concerts in the history of rock ‘n’ roll and the “turntable library” covering eight decades. In addition, DJ Lethal has collected and contributed a half-million dollars’ worth of memorabilia and legendary concerts will be shown on a “Smorgasbord” of visual formats, showcased by an 8-foot-by-20-foot movie screen theater behind the bar.

“The state-of-the-art DJ stage will feature a bookcase backdrop housing 30,000 pieces of vinyl as a library for all DJs to use,” Ava Berman said. “We’ll also have the only exclusive VIP room in the downtown entertainment district for our celebrity and special guests to use for private parties and events.”

The Triple B will give everyone the chance to feel like a rock star without having to be on the VIP list. … See ya backstage.

Follow @BackstageBarLV on Twitter and “like” Triple B on Facebook.
Don't miss exclusive MOB SPEAK interview with Big Daddy Carlos coming soon.

Monday, November 12, 2012

More on the enigmatic Marilyn Monroe

Everything surrounding the icon Marilyn Monroe seems to attract interest among young and old. A new book on MM is the topic of Crime Beat Radio's upcoming show. Read on for details.

Marilyn Monroe Discussed on This Week's Crime Beat Radio

On November 15th, Lois Banner discusses her book on Marilyn Monroe, "Marilyn: The Passion and the Paradox" on Crime Beat Radio

Crime Beat is a weekly hour-long radio program that airs every Thursday at 8 p.m. EST., on the Artist First World Radio Network at

Crime Beat presents fascinating topics that bring listeners closer to the dynamic underbelly of the world of crime. Guests have included ex-mobsters, undercover law enforcement agents, sports officials, informants, prisoners, drug dealers and investigative journalists, who have provided insights and fresh information about the world’s most fascinating subject: crime.

Monday, October 29, 2012

When Crack was King

“The city ain’t been the same since then. Especially, with that bitchass Rayful telling. It almost seems as if he made it a fad. I definitely blame him for that.” The DC Hustler

“He’s the Babe Ruth of crack dealing,” US Attorney Eric Holder said at the time and when a detective tried to serve him with a grand jury subpoena in connection with a shooting Edmond arranged to meet the detective at a certain time on a street corner. “Exactly at that time, Rayful pulled up in a white stretch limo with a driver,” the detective reported. And city educators knew about Rayful too. “The youth of this city know more about Rayful Edmond than great civil rights leaders,” a District high school teacher complained and she was right. The man who was so fresh he got 3 haircuts a week and who 20/20 called the $300 million dollar man has gone down in infamy. His story, one of brutality, power, money, murder and betrayal deserves its place in the annals of black American gangsters. And here it is, straight from the penitentiary, The Rayful Edmond story, uncut and uncensored.
They called Rayful Edmond the 300 million dollar man. He was the king of cocaine in our nation’s capital in the mid to late 80s and he ushered in the crack era in Washington DC, turning the streets of the Chocolate City into a much deadlier place. Instead of remaining a street star forever and elevating to a place in the pantheon of gangster legends Rayful tarnished his legacy by turning government informant after he was incarcerated at USP Lewisburg. By continuing to flood the capital’s streets with cocaine, even after he was put in prison, his epitaph was written and on the headstone it read Rat. Still in the chronicles of gangster lore he holds a place as one of the most notorious and infamous to ever do it in Washington DC. Read his story of extravagance, drug dealing escapades, unlimited cash flow and unbridled gangsterism. This is the Rayful Edmond story as told by members of his crew and others that were there in the era.

“I was real jazzy. I’m like let’s try to have a lot of class.” Rayful Edmond
“They said he had fags up in the limo.” Da Kid from SE
“I made between 35 to 40 million easy.” Rayful Edmond
“They said slim had some rather homosexual tendencies.” The DC Hustler
“Just having a lot of street knowledge and being honest and putting a lot of work into it.” Rayful Edmond on building his crack empire
Get ready for imprisoned author, Seth Ferranti's latest  coming out soon from Gorilla Convict Publications. For more info check here:

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Rap Sheet - The Quarterly Newsletter of Strategic Media Books

October 2012
SMB Contracts with National Distributor

SMB has contracted with the Cardinal Publishers Group, a national distributor, to help our company’s product line reach a wider and a national audience. “Cardinal has a dynamic sales force and we have some great books coming out,” said Dimas Harya, SMB’s Chief Technology Officer. “Our relationship will help move us in the right direction and lead to some great things happening.”

Frank Matthews Documentary Wins Awards

The Frank Mathews Story documentary has won awards since its release last March 1. The documentary won the Silver Ace award at the Las Vegas International Film Festival (June 2012), received honorable mention at the Philadelphia International Film Festival and Market (June 2012 and was selected to be screened in the competition part of the Harlem International Film Festival (September 2012. The documentary was co-produced by SMB and August Studio Media. The documentary is now being distributed internationally. The Frank Matthews biography, which will be published by SMB, will come out in late May 2012.

SMB in the News
SMB authors continue to make news. Mark Silverman, David Aikman Scott Deitche, Pat O’Connor and Mickman Gourdine appeared on such show as Nig Blend Radio, Prison World, IRE Radio, Artist First, Dr. Alvin’s radio show and Crime Beat, Burt Burl Outlaw Radio, among others.

Crime Beat Radio Show Big Hit Internationally

Sponsored by Strategic Media Books and launched in January 2011, the Crime Beat Radio Show on the Artist First World Radio Network now averages more than 150,000 listeners in 130 plus countries per show. Recent guests included Frank Calabrese, Jr. who discussed his life and book, Operation Family Secrets: How a Mobster’s Son and the FBI Brought Down Chicago’s Murderous Crime Family; Susan Burke, attorney representing the female military rape victims in their case against the U.S military discusses recent developments; Julia Davis, a former Customs and border protection agent and a national security whistleblower will discuss her case against the Department of Homeland Security and national security issues; Mara Shalhoup,  journalist, will discuss her riveting book about Big Meech and the Black Mafia Family; and Paula Todd will discuss how she tracked down an elusive serial killer and discovered a mother of three. Gangsters Inc did an in-depth profile Crime Beat’s show hosts Ron Chepesiuk and Willie Hryb. Go to this link. All shows are archived for 24-7 listening.

Forthcoming SMB Titles

Titles to be published into the winter of 2013 include: Justice Denied by Mel Ayton,Gorilla Convict: The Prison Writings of Seth Ferranti by Seth Ferranti, Wild Times on Skidaway Island by Karen Dove Barr and Black Celebrity Scandals by Scott Wilson and Ron Chepesiuk

SMB Launches Gangland Mystery Series

The series will examine some of the biggest mysteries in crime history. Some of the topics to be investigated include the deaths of Jimmy Hoffa, Pablo Escobar and Marilyn Monroe. Four books in the series will be published in the fall of 2013. More on this series later.

Looking for authors

Please contact us if you got a proposal for a book that fits our mission: to publish books on true crime, crime fiction, terrorism, espionage, international relations and southern interest and culture. Please go to for guidelines and for examples of books that we have published.

Three Questions with Mel Ayton, SMB Author

This fall, SMB will publish Mel Ayton’s Justice Denied:
SMB: Why did you decide to write Justice Denied?

MA: I was a former resident of the island between September 1971 and December 1973 and I was employed by the Bermudian Prison Department. During my time there I got to know the two men who were tried and convicted for the assassinations of the police chief and Governor. Although there were suspicions others were involved in the assassinations no one was ever brought to justice. Around 12 years ago I left teaching to write full time. After two of my books were published I decided to research the Bermuda assassinations in an effort to discover if the whole truth had been told. To these ends I was given access to the Scotland Yard murder files.

SMB: What is the book about?

MA: My book is the first full account of the 1972/1973 assassinations. During the 1970s a black power organization in Bermuda conspired to bring about social change “by any means necessary”, including assassination. Justice Denied points the finger of guilt at a black power militant I call the ‘Third Man’. For the first time evidence is provided which proves the ‘Third Man’ controlled the convicted assassins. I also name the Bermuda businessman, a convicted drug dealer, who assisted the black militants in financing their political aims through drug deals and bank robberies. The real story, which is provided in this book, was whitewashed by consecutive Bermudian Governments in the interests of racial harmony.

SMB: What do you hope readers will get out of it?

MA: For readers interested in history - 1960s-style American Black Power militancy was both tragic for the islanders caught up in the violent events I write about and also harmful to Bermuda’s aims of racial co-existence. Over time the history of the assassinations became a myth. And what people believe happened will unfortunately enter into the culture and memories of generations to come. For true crime readersthe book offers a story centered on politics, murder and racial strife in the setting of a paradise island 500 miles off the coast of America.

Excerpt from Seth Ferranti’s Forthcoming Gorilla Convict: The Prison Writings of Seth Ferranti
In the belly of the beast a convict’s tattoos can define him. Being sleeved out or tatted up is a sign of respect or a mark of belonging. In the pen dudes wear their territorial and gang affiliations on their sleeves. Their street names are proudly emblazoned across their stomach or backs, as are their girl’s names, the joints they’ve done time at and the number of years they’ve spent inside. Like a mural depicting history a convict’s life can be dissected by checking out the ink on his body. In the nether world of corruption and violence convicts take their tats seriously.
Homies mark themselves accordingly, and they’re not looking for no jive ass sucker to put some inferior work on their skin because tattoos are permanent. There’s no laser removal in the joint. And you better be sure you belong to whoever’s sign you’re wearing. Don’t be putting no clover leaf tattoo if you’re not a real AB, because you will get fucked up. And dudes have been bodied for less than some bad ink. It’s like penitentiary veteran and jail house tattooist Chuck says, “In this environment, if your work isn’t stellar or near perfect, a dissatisfied customer is apt to stab you in the fucking neck rather than withhold payment, or report you to the better business bureau.”
And Chuck should know. He’s done 16 plus years in prison……


That’s it, folks!

Be Good and Work Hard

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Marilyn Monroe: Death by Murder

Mob Speak reveals its final take on MM's notorious death.

To recap: William "Slick" Hanner (now deceased) whose book Thief I wrote, had a close boyhood friend, Leroy Smolen (also deceased.) Leroy worked with a guy M_____ for many years after meeting M_____ in the joint. Leroy was a completely standup guy, never one to bullshit. In Slick's words, "M____ put Leroy in charge of the mobrun whorehouses on Manheim Road once they got out. Funny thing about Leroy, he wasn't the smartest guy in the world but he knew how to keep his mouth shut."

After years of pulling jobs together, M____ told Leroy about his role in Marilyn Monroe's murder which Leroy passed on to Slick. This happened long before Sam and Chuck Giancana's book Double Cross hit the stands. The book described the doping of Marilyn, etc. in much detail, which accurately duplicated M____'s account...that several of Sam Giancanna's hitmen killed the sexy star because she was getting ready to make public info about the mob and JFK and RFK, both of whom she had affairs.

Slick met M____ on several occasions that are mentioned in Thief on pages 65 and 244. The later alludes to the murder of Marilyn.

Of the volumes written on the topic, our extensive research brought up some pretty fantastic theories about MM's death. Along with the book Double Cross, the 2 sites below corroborate Slick's info that Leroy passed on to him:

Check out former Mob Speak posts on the topic: Aug. 14, 2011, Oct. 23, 2011 and July 31, 2012.

Mob Speak welcomes comments.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Crime Beat Radio


Strategic Media Books


August, 2012—Crime Beat: Issues, Controversies and Personalities from the Darkside on Artist First World Radio Network is pleased to announce its forthcoming schedule for August 9, 2012, through October 11, 2012. Topics covered include The Chicago Outfit, Whitey Bulger, rape in the U.S. military, corruption on Wall Street, hunting an elusive serial killer, and more. Here is the lineup:
August 9, Frank Calabrese, Jr. discusses his life and book, Operation Family Secrets: How a Mobster’s Son and the FBI Brought Down Chicago’s Murderous Crime Family. Read more.
  • August 16, Susan Burke, an attorney representing female military rape victims in their case against the U.S. military, discusses recent developments. Read more.
  • August 23 Julia Davis, a former Customs and border protection agent and a national security whistleblower, discusses her case against the Department of Homeland Security, as well as national security issues. Read more.
  • August 30, Mara Shalhoup, journalist, discusses her riveting book about Big Meech and the Black Mafia Family. Read more.
  • September 6, Paula Todd discusses how she tracked down an elusive serial killer and discovered a mother of three. Read more.
    Also, Dr. Michael Stone, world renowned forensic psychiatrist, will profile alleged mass murderer James Holmes and the Aurora, Colorado massacre. Read more.
  • September 13, Carl Gibson, founder of US UNcut discusses corporate greed, Wall Street crimes and Occupy Wall Street movement. Read more.
  • September 20, Comedian Jerry Castaldo discusses his fascinating memoir Brooklyn New York: A Grim Retrospective. Read more.
  • September 27, Margaret McLean, a former prosecutor, discusses writing crime fiction and her latest book, Under Oath. Read more.
    Also, author Mike Rizzo discusses his research about organized crime in Buffalo. Read more.
  • October 4, Thomas Foley and John Sedgwick discuss their explosive book, Most Wanted: Pursuing Whitey Bulger, the Murderous Mob Chief the FBI Secretly Protected. Read more. Also Mike Rizzo discusses organized crime in Buffalo. Read more.
  • October 11, In a command appearance, Robert K. Whitman, former FBI agent discusses his book, Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World’s Stolen Treasures. Read more.  

On the air since January 28, 2011, Crime Beat is a weekly hour-long radio program that airs every Thursday at 8 p.m. EST. Crime Beat presents fascinating topics that bring listeners closer to the dynamic underbelly of the world of crime. Guests have included ex-mobsters, undercover law enforcement agents, sports officials, informants, prisoners, drug dealers and investigative journalists, who have provided insights and fresh information about the world’s most fascinating subject: crime.

Crime Beat is currently averaging 130,000 listeners plus each week, and the figure is growing. Crime Beat is hosted by award-winning crime writer and documentary producer Ron Chepesiuk ( and broadcast journalist and freelance writer Will Hryb.
Dr. Michael H. Stone of New York City, world famous forensic psychiatrist and author of the spine chilling book, titled 'ANATOMY OF EVIL' writes "I really enjoy being on your program and look forward to discussing the lives of serial killers in future broadcasts".

Carolyn and Chi Chi Yarema of Toronto, Canada, write, "You two guys from the East End of Thunder Bay click like 'champagne glasses'... Your Crime Beat show is a must to listen too... great show!".

Crime Beat airs weekly every Thursday at 8 P.M. EST on the Artist First World Radio Network at

To contact the Crime Beat radio program for interviews, e-mail or call 803-366-5440.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Marilyn Monroe...hotter than ever...a victim of murder?

 (AP Photo/Courtesy Running Press)
The icon known as Marilyn Monroe was neither dumb nor blond. She allegedly had affairs with countless men including both JFK and RFK as well as major mob big shots.The following story sums up this sexy, troubled and often misunderstood celebrity:

In his new book, Marilyn At Rainbow’s End: Sex, Lies, Murder And The Great Cover-Up, published by Blood Moon, investigative reporter Darwin Porter describes in detail how the "hit" took place. Read this for more:

Mob Speak reveals it's final take on MM's notorious death In a soon-to-appear post. One of Slick Hanner's cronies with inside information insists it was a mob hit. Check out former Mob Speak posts on the topic Aug. 14, 2011 and Oct. 23, 2011.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Occasionally Mob Speak recommends a great read. If you've wondered what it's like to be a blackjack card counter this book is for you. Beyond the famous book Bringing Down the House and movie 21 that exposed blackjack card counting to the public, author Nathaniel Tilton shares secrets of that controversial world never before spelled out. The Blackjack Life is set for release August, 15, 2012.

Amazon has this to say:

The first blackjack book that Huntington Press has been excited by enough to publish in a half-decade, The Blackjack Life really does bring something new, and relevant, to the table.

Author Nathaniel Tilton was just a regular guy with a regular job when he read Bringing Down the House and decided he wanted to do what the players in that book did. A journey through the inner world of card counting, the lessons of teamwork, and the clandestine pursuit of beating the odds, in The Blackjack Life Tilton relates the story of his personal journey through the smoke-filled casinos in which he and his playing partner gambled, to the seedy backrooms that he hoped he would never see. More than just wins and losses, The Blackjack Life is about the growth of a man who discovered himself through the unlikeliest of places – the world of professional blackjack -- and who now shares his informed view of the opportunities that still exist for skilled players and what it’s really like to travel that road today.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Part III: Supreme, Crack, Hip-hop & 50-Cent

Jay-Z & Supreme

Part III of a 3-Part Series
We take up again with Seth Ferranti, author of The Supreme Team: The Birth of Crack and Hip-hop, Prince's Reign of Terror and the Supreme/50-Cent Beef Exposed.

MS: Do you think Supreme and his gang believed they could outsmart the system or just accepted that death or prison was the price one paid?

SF:  I would say a lot of dudes know that death and prison are the eventual outcomes when they get involved in the drug game but to them it seems that is the acceptable eventuality. I am sure they know they will only beat the system for so long but like I mentioned in one of the previous answers when you start beating cases left and right you might get caught up in the God complex and start believing your own press clippings. The ego is a terrible thing in situations like these which leads to blind spots that can keep these guys delusional in a way. But in another way I give them the ultimate respect and props because they remain who they are and they hold true to their ideals and their way of life even in the face of tremendous adversity. So in a weird or twisted kind of way they do have their own unique sense of honor and I would say their own unique sense of fate too. Because they have to know that they are going down but they do it anyway. To live big for that moment and in that minute they will do whatever it takes and pay whatever price. It is the ultimate live fast, die young attitude that these dudes embody. The epitome of who and what they are and the things they will do to maintain their reputation is truly gangster because to me being gangster is about having ideals and morals and sticking to them even if in society's sense they are twisted. That is why I call dudes like Supreme and Prince gangsters. Because they stuck to what they believed in. They lived by a code and never gave in or sold themselves short no matter what the situation. So maybe in all actuality they thought they could beat the system for a while but deep down inside they must have known they were living on borrowed time and in essence they were cool with that.

Al Pacino as Scarface
MS: You state, “Scarface made selling drugs seem cool and lucrative. It romanticized the dope game while glamorizing it and led a whole generation of youth astray. In reality that movie corrupted the whole black community.” As powerful as it was, can one movie really have that much of an impact on a whole generation? Tony Montana wasn’t even black. He was Cuban, a Latino.

SF:  I think so, the impact that movie had on hip-hop and the inner-city is undeniable. Tony Montana wasn't black but the black community identified with him. He was a man that came from nothing and rose to the top of the dope game. Dudes in the inner-city saw that and they thought hey I can do that too. Why not? It’s really not about being black or white or Cuban or whatever, in the end it’s about the haves and the have not's. If 10% of the population in this country have all the money and all the power then in essence we can all be Tony Montanas in a sense. It's like a ghettoized version of the American Dream. Kids in the ghetto don't grow up thinking they can go to Harvard but they do think they can be Tony Montana. Why? Because they see the local drug dealers who have that Scarface aura and get that Scarface respect and to them that is obtainable. All the rest is foreign to them. A lot of kids from the inner-city see the dope game as the way out. It is sad but it is the truth. I believe that movie had a tremendous impact on a whole generation of wanna be hustlers. Tony Montana made the drug game seem cool and glamorous. And the dudes that were running the drug trade in New York were the guys who the rappers emulated and wanted to be with, so it all goes back to hip-hop, which is a microcosm of black culture in a way.

MS: A few pages later you say that Preme was successful in merging blacks and Latinos, something that had been unheard of before. Why hadn’t it happened before, especially considering that the two groups had much in common?

SF: I think it goes back to the old saying of separate but equal. The way our country is structured society keeps the different groups of people separated. Divide and conquer is the oldest maxim in the book. Our country has a history of pitting ethnic groups against each other. It is a kind of survival of the fittest. That is how the cream rises to the top. And in truth a lot of people are ignorant of so many things. Supreme wasn't, he saw the big picture. He had a vision and he did what he had to do to bring his vision to reality. It’s really a shame he chose the options he did, he could have been a great and charismatic leader for his people and for America. But he chose the path he did and he has become a legend in the process. I didn't make Supreme a legend, his actions and his own environment did. I just carried on the tradition of the storyteller and brought his legacy to the masses in my book. This is not something that hasn't been done before with countless other criminals and outlaw heroes. The line stretches all the way back to Robin Hood and Billy the Kid and all the way up to John Gotti and Pablo Escobar and Supreme and other black inner-city gangsters.

MS: Rookie police officer Byrne’s murder while sitting in a patrol car became a symbol of the nation’s failure in its war on crime, a killing not even perpetrated by the Supreme Team. Yet they were blamed for it. Was that due to the fact that crack was involved and the Supreme Team was synonymous with crack?

SF: The Queens drug dealers had a kind of brotherhood. They called it the roundtable. All the dealers- Fat Cat, Pappy Mason, Wall Corley, Cornbread, Supreme, Prince, Tommy Mickens, Pretty Tony and all their respective crews- put aside any beefs in the name of business. Due to this association all of the dealers from Queens have been blamed and associated for the tragic murder of Edward Byrne. Even though four Bebos are doing time for the murder, all the dealers from that era are associated with it in news reports. The Bebos were Pappy Mason’s crew and Pappy Mason was Fat Cat's enforcer. If you check out photos from the era all of the above dealers are seen partying together at the hip-hop hotspots like Disco Fever. When the murder happened the feds and cops went all out on all the dealers from Queens. They didn't differentiate. The authorities were out for blood and they went after all the Queens drug lords. But without crack none of that happens. In a way crack really destroyed everything for the drug lords, yeah, they made money but the collateral damage was tremendous and they all ended up paying an extremely high cost although not as high a cost as Edward Byrne paid. Before crack a lot of dudes I have spoken to call it the wonder years, but after crack it was all murder, murder and more murder.

SF: Once Supreme was in prison, you say that the Supreme Team under Prince’s management engaged in senseless violence, open-ended free-for-alls ending in murder to a degree that made New York the “murder capital of the world.” How much of a role, if any, did Preme play in all this?

SF: Preme was in prison, so I am sure he did not play a role in all the senseless murders and free for alls. He would have tried to be more diplomatic and stop a lot of that but with the dawning of the crack era maybe even he would have been unable to stem the tide. Crack is a vicious drug and when you mix crack, money and power it is a volatile brew and then add people’s egos to that mix and you get the picture. Some of the dudes in the streets at that time really thought they were Scarface. They were going out with guns blazing. They did not give a fuck. And a lot of these types of dudes were on the team. So who knows if Supeme would have been able to curb the murderous and destructive behavior that a lot of these dudes engaged in? Crack really changed things. So it was not just Supreme not being out there it was a combination of that, Prince's more ruthless style and the cutthroat world that emerged as crack took hold of Queens and the inner cities across the nation. I would say crack made New York the murder capital of the world and it brought the violence to the degree that it got to.

MS: A Supreme Team member said, “If not for the fed case, we would have retired. We would have flipped that illegal money, opened up stuff that could help our people in the neighborhood.” How likely was that to happen do you think? Can leopards change their spots?

SFWithout all the violence and murders I believe it could have happened. The crack era made a lot of things change. Even the big dealers like Fat Cat, who made millions before crack, would have been ok without the violence. But the power started to go to these dudes’ heads and I think the ego maniac aspect of the Scarface movie did too. They saw Scarface and they wanted to be that. They wanted to have that power and with that ego maniacness a kind of craziness came into it. And then you put crack in that mix it was like pouring napalm on an already raging fire. Things exploded and got real chaotic. So without all that they might have been able to go legit. It’s been done before; the Kennedys are a good example of that. This is America so I am sure things like that have happened all the time in our history and in the black community. Most of the dudes on the team were hustlers first and foremost all the other stuff came into play because dudes got sheisty and they had to show that they weren't going for it. If you are righteous and treating people right, in the drug world that is, and dudes get it twisted and come at you wrong, how are you supposed to act? The streets dictate that you fight fire with fire. So that is how sometimes good people do bad things and make bad decisions.

MS: To continue along the previous line, Supreme did his utmost to go legit with his movie, Crime Partners, whose production and distribution were apparently financed legally. He stated, “I just wanted to be a regular person.” Is that to say he was on the straight and narrow? That once back on the streets he had nothing to do with drug dealing?

SFI would say that Supreme was on the straight and narrow but it goes back to the hood and in reality, as outsiders, there are a lot of things we don't understand about the hood. Ok, Preme was going legit but he still had this reputation as a big gangster and ghetto star. He still loved his hood and his people. He still represented for them. So the problem exists because you got all these suckers that are hating on Preme because of his success. They are trying him, disrespecting him, trying to get their own reputation at his expense. So what is the man supposed to do? I mean he is Supreme, he is the gangster legend. So does he revert to form or try to ignore it? That is why when a lot of people make it from the hood they move out of the hood because they are not with all the bullshit. But Preme tried to keep it real, in fact he did keep it real. Too real and now he is paying the price for what he did. But he stood on what he did, he didn't involve anyone else. He took it and kept it moving. That is why he is so revered and why his legacy should be honored. Not because he was a big drug lord or had power or this or that but because he stood on his ideals and didn't cave in the face of adversity. That is what makes him special. I can't say if he never sold drugs again. Who knows? But I do know he was making legitimate strides in a legal venture and due to his status and who he was the feds put a spotlight on him because they felt like he was the one that got away.

MS: Can you give us a short version of the beef between rapper 50 Cent and Supreme? How did it affect Supreme in the long run?

SF50 Cent was a nobody from the South Jamaica, the hood where Supreme is from. Supreme was riding what at the time was the winning horse, Irv Gotti and Ja Rule's Murder Inc. They were the stars, they were on top of the world. 50 Cent was trying to make a name for himself by disrespecting Irv Gotti and Ja Rule. So Preme stepped in, 50 Cent lied to Preme and kept it going and 50 Cent got blasted because of that. In the streets if a man comes to you and says check it out you need to stop doing this I am with these guys so leave them alone and you agree and then go back to doing the same thing the next eventuality due to you breaking your word is that you get fucked up, plain and simple. So 50 Cent broke his word to Preme and he got handled accordingly. Then after that 50 Cent goes on to become the biggest rapper in the world and he puts a lot of stuff in his songs and tells the feds to read my lyrics and he says a lot of stuff in interviews and then Supreme and Murder Inc. end up getting federally indicted and the indictment reads like everything 50 Cent was talking about in interviews and in his songs. So I would say the beef affected Supreme severely. But at the time he had no idea that this dude would blow up like he did. If he would have known he might have handled things differently but hindsight is 20/20.

MS: You state that “Supreme was targeted from the word go…” by overzealous prosecutors. And one of Supreme’s associates observed, “…with the feds it’s like once a drug dealer always a drug dealer.” The question still remains: Was Supreme innocent of the murders they charged him with?

SF:  I believe he is innocent. It just seems kind of far-fetched. He is convicted of murder for hire but there is no evidence, no physical evidence at all. Just the dudes who committed the murders saying Preme paid them $50 grand to do it. But $50 grand for a hit is a lot of money in South Jamaica, Queens. And the dudes who got killed were known thugs and gunslingers who were armed when they were killed. So who is to say that the shooters didn't kill these guys of their own accord and then look to connect Supreme to it when they didn't want to face the consequences of their actions? All this Supreme/50 Cent stuff is big news anyhow and the feds are trying to connect Preme to anything at all resembling a crime. Remember the whole Murder Inc. case started because the feds said Preme gave Irv Gotti the seed money to start Murder Inc., but then several years later when Supreme finally went to trial it changed into a murder for hire case. It just doesn't make sense. It’s like the feds designated a target in Supreme and then put the case together as they went with no real evidence just the dudes who did the shooting saying that Supreme paid them to do it and there was no evidence of that occurring either, just these dudes’ words. And it turns out one of the dudes was a frequent flyer informant. This was the second time he had got busted for something and cooperated with the feds. So it is a kind of far-fetched and crazy situation. I believe he is innocent of the murders they charged him with.


Seth, thanks for your candid, well-researched thoughts. Your book The Supreme Team seems certain to go down as the new standard for all exposes on legendary gangsters.

Author Seth Ferranti with wife Diane


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