ny_dl_mug.jpgI have often laid in bed and wondered what it would be like to be rich. The idea of not having to work is an alluring one. In fact when I entered the work force back in 1973 my intention was to retire a rich man by age 40. Needless to say that did not happen. But the idea of making a huge cash grab is one that many people dream of.

Robbing a bank seems like an easy one. You just walk up to a teller, explain that the bulge in your jacket is not a carrot but a high powered pistol, she fills up your bag with gazillions of dollars and you are set for life. This sounds great, but it is not the way it works. There are a thousand things that can go wrong.

Back in the early 90’s I knew a guy, and he just could not wait to tell me the story, the day before the FBI had knocked on his door “do you know the gentleman in this picture?”. He did, it was his father in law, his wife piped up, yea and that’s the sweater I gave him at Christmas!

They had just fingered what was known as the ‘Hat Bandit’, the guy had hit a number of banks in a part of San Diego, his average take was about $1000, one bank he hit three times!

The Hat Bandit was small fry. If you are going to hit a bank, make it count.

In the summer of 1996 that happened. Gambino crime family foot soldier Andrew DiDonato was on the run. The law was on his scent, and after 6 months of laying low his funds were getting low. Andrew’s style had been to hide in plain sight. This actually makes great sense, you cannot miss the Brooklyn (Mafia) accent.

To keep ahead of the law one needs money and lots of it, so every chance I had to earn I wouldn’t hesitate to lend my skills to whatever job necessary

Andrew DiDonato was not interested in scoring the $1000 like the Hat Bandit. He needed much more. The hit was set on an armored car money drop at a Manalapan, New Jersey bank.

It was not a Gambino sponsored adventure, as best I can tell Andrew DiDonato was using ‘talent’ from other families.

The take from the heist was the price of a Burger King Whopper less than $500,000.

That’s not bad money!

I don’t know the rest of the rest of the story, but I will soon. It was this bank heist that was the leverage that the Feds to put Andrew on the ‘really wanted list’. It might also have been the reason that the Gambino family started to look at Andrew DiDonato as a problem. Had he gone rogue?

There is much more to this story, I plan on talking to Andrew DiDonato in the next few days about this subject.

Although Andrew DiDonato spent some time in the Witness Protection Program and decided to opt out, he is still very concerned about his welfare, and the welfare of his family. I have no phone number for him, he calls me. I have an email address, but it is generic. What kind of life can it be when you are constantly are on the move?

Simon Barrett

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