In my previous article talking about this radio program I pointed out that the more I talk to people like Denny Griffin and Andrew DiDonato, the more questions I have on the subject of Organized Crime. The three of us got together yesterday for a 90 minute broadcast. I had my list of questions, and was actually a little concerned that I might not have enough to fill 90 minutes. How wrong I was! I know that I will now have to schedule another program just to deal with the questions that I did not have an opportunity to ask, never mind the new ones from yesterday!

There is a term in film making ‘Treatment’ it is part of the process involved in developing the script, it is a great word. The ‘treatment’ sets the mood and tone for the movie. (This useless factoid I picked up from a screen writer that I know).

When it comes to movies about the American Mafia, or more well known as the Mob, Hollywood has always managed to glamorize it. Sure there is blood, gore and violence, but the mobsters are almost always portrayed in a good light. In fact at this very moment there is a story unfolding in Jamaica. A serious Organized Crime drug lord is being hunted for extradition to the US. His crimes are many, just how many lives he has destroyed through drugs is an unknown, but in Jamaica he is also known for his largess to an area of Kingston, and finding him is no easy task. Locally he is viewed as Robin Hood.

Denny Griffin and Andrew DiDonato are very accommodating people, I am sure that the questions I asked have been asked of them many, many times before. However I do think that yesterday even Denny learned something. I was trying to understand the hierarchy of a crime family. Bosses, Under Bosses, Made Men, Associates, Crews, Foot Soldiers, etc. The organization chart is every bit as complicated as any multinational corporation. An Associate can only become a Made Man after being formally inducted into the family. It appears that this is not an ongoing year round process, it is more like an annual, or bi-annual open enrolment, just like renewing your health insurance!

Later in the program we discussed the recent Gambino family arrests. While being busted on RICO charges is the norm for people suspected of Organized Crime activities, this set of arrests also included charges of running an under age prostitution ring. Both Denny Griffin and Andrew DiDonato admitted they were very shocked at this. The traditional or old school family would never have got involved in something of that nature.

Gambling and loan sharking have long been a mainstay of Organized crime, but do you know how they work? More importantly, do you know how they have been legitimized to the benefit of the State? Off track betting came about as a direct result of Mob activity, and the ‘numbers game’ resulted in the many state supported Lotteries.

Andrew spent time explaining in some detail how both of these schemes worked. Yes they would manipulate the odds, but that is what happens ‘on track’ anyway. Denny Griffin brought up the great story of Lefty Rosenthal, likely the best odds maker of all time. Lefty was a very well respected Mob member, but could not make it to the Made Man level because of his religion. Yes, you heard that right, it is odd to think that religion could interfere with a career in the Mob, but it certainly did.

Andrew DiDonato and Denny Griffin are collaborating on a book, it is scheduled for a fall release, I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Andrew’s involvement with the Gambino crime family will make for a best seller. There is a rumor going around Surviving The Mob is at the ‘galley’ stage, there is another rumor, one is on its way to me! Oh, I can’t wait.

You can listen to the whole program here.

I am also working on some other Mob related stories and programs, maybe we should rename BNN to BBN the Bad Boys Network!

I have spent many hours talking with Andrew DiDonato, Denny Griffin, and some other folks, some ex gangsters, some law enforcement people. I have come to the conclusion that they both have a healthy respect for each other.

More people involved in Organized Crime seem to be reaching out to us. I suspect that we will be doing more programs on the subject.

I also want to point out that Denny Griffin is set to launch his latest project Crime Wire. There is a demo tape that some TV folks are evaluating, a web site, and on Tuesday at 9pm eastern he will be launching the radio project on Blog Talk Radio. His concept is a great one, so many homicides become cold cases, in fact so many homicides are mislabelled. They are suicide, they are accidents. Denny and his team are going to be opening up some cold cases. And you can bet there will be trouble! He has already solved one 27 year old case, and he is just getting started!

Simon Barrett

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