We have all read stories in the newspaper, and seen segments on the local TV station about Bank robberies, some get a very high profile, others barely make it to the ‘community’ page of your local newspaper. I had the opportunity to talk with two true professionals in the business of boosting banks, both were members of Organized Crime families. And the takes from the heists were not chump change.

Andrew DiDonato was a soldier for the Gambino crime family, he turned government witness, but found the situation suffocating. He could not even talk to his closest relatives without leaping through federal hoops. Few people understand the Witness Protection Program, he  shared with me, information that few people have ever heard, you can listen to that interview here. Andrew DiDonato made the decision to opt out of the program. He does have enemies, and I am sure that even today there is someone that might want to take a pot shot at him in order to garner favor with the family. I class Andrew DiDonato as a friend, we talk often, but I do not know where he is, and his phone calls are always from a blocked caller ID number.

My second guest was somewhat more mysterious, he goes merely by the name Joe. Joe did admit to me that he also was part of the Witness Protection Program, and I suspect that he has retained his new identity, but I’d bet a dollar it is not Joe! Getting hold of Joe is even more involved than getting hold of Andrew.

To round out today’s panel I invited my good friend Denny Griffin. When it comes to Mob related information, Denny is the ‘go to’ guy.

Andrew DiDonato talked us through his 1996 heist of a bank in New Jersey that resulted in a $500,000 payday. Joe talked about some of hid largest jobs, on of which netted almost $900,000.

What I found interesting was that both Andrew and Joe were very adamant about not using violence while committing these crimes. Rarely was a weapon used, although Joe did admit to once wielding a BB gun, which, as he explained had no gas cartridge or pellets in it.

One question I had was how long does it take to put together a robbery or burglary? The answer to that question surprised me, every job is different, some can be put together in as little as a week, others may remain on the back burner for months or even years. Denny Griffin wanted to know if there was an ideal ‘crew’ size. Again this appears to be a variable, Joe seemed to think that you needed at least three people, Andrew seemed to favor a slightly larger number. There are also economic and security issues. More people means a smaller cut, and the more people that know about the operation the the more insecure it becomes.

We also talked for a while about the significance of the RICO statutes. The government has used RICO with great effectiveness. Through it they have effectively removed the ‘statute of limitations’. In fact they have taken it one stage further, under RICO you can be charged for conspiracies that you personally had no knowledge about when they happened. 20 years later you acquire knowledge, oops you are now sunk. One Gambino family member recently remarked about an ongoing case:

I was 9 years old when this started, yet I am now being charged with it

Towards the end of the program we did switch gears and talk a little about the recent indictments handed down. 14 family members find themselves facing not only RICO problems but also a pesky Underage Prostitution ring rap. Andrew DiDonato and Joe were both quick to point out that in their day the bosses would have shut down that operation before it even got started.

If you missed the live broadcast, you can listen to the recording here.

Simon Barrett

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