Brit's Prison Memoir Details Run-In With Sammy Bull

"The first time I discussed business with members of Sammy the Bull’s crew, I brought along one of the notorious Rossetti Brothers, who also worked security for me." --Shaun Attwood, "Hard Time"

Shaun Attwood is a Brit who came to America, Arizona specifically, to seek his fortune and ended up getting busted for selling drugs. He spent a couple of years in one of America’s toughest jails—the one run by who else but the self-described toughest sheriff in America, Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County.

Mobsters, Aryan skinheads, bikers, transvestites and assorted other colorful criminals would soon count among his friends. You probably don't know Shaun unless you have come across his superb blog, Jon's Jail Journal, where he detailed his experiences while on the inside.

May 1, 2011, marked the American debut of his book, "Hard Time: Life with Sheriff Joe Arpaio in America's Toughest Jail ." The excerpt below involves how he brushed up against the crew of Sammy Bull Gravano, who was out in the Midwest starting life over as a pill-pusher.

In the Ecstasy market, I had run-ins with gangsters such as Sammy the Bull, my main competitor

The first time I discussed business with members of Sammy the Bull’s crew, I brought along one of the notorious Rossetti Brothers, who also worked security for me. Outside of the meeting place, Heart 5 in Tucson, I drank some GHB, which had the effect of making me fearless. I said to Rossetti, “While I talk to Spaniard, make sure you’re always somewhere you can pull your gun in case they try to kidnap me. I’m not going to start any shit, but who knows how big a crew he’s with or what might happen.”

“No problem. If they try anything, I’ll open up on the motherfuckers.”

I was at the bar when a six-and-a-half-foot man with blond spiky hair and biceps as broad as my neck tapped me on the shoulder. “I’m Mark, Spaniard’s partner. He wants to see you in the VIP area.”

“OK, Mark.” I shook his hand and followed him.

“Glad you came, English Shaun,” said Spaniard, a well-groomed Hispanic. “Mark, clear that sofa so we can all sit down.”

Mark yelled, “You need to move, so we can sit down!” The people on the sofa jumped up.

To the side of us, Rossetti slipped into the VIP area.

As I sat down between the two of them, the GHB jolted my brain. It made me playful and crazy. Like my grandfather used to do to me, I squeezed their legs just above the knee, and said, “So what’s this all about?”

They were taken aback for a few seconds, then Spaniard laughed, and said in a friendly voice, “Look, we know you’re doing your own thing. You’ve got a lotta people working for you. As do we. It would be best if we worked together rather than be enemies.”

“What’re you proposing?” There are not many things in the world more reckless than an Englishman on GHB, yet I could always negotiate business shrewdly no matter how high I was.

“We’re getting a lotta pills, and we figure we can give you a better price than what you’re paying.”

“You don’t know what I’m paying. I’m familiar with your pills, and I don’t think the quality is there. I’m getting European pills. None of the coloured pills you guys are getting.”

“Who the fuck do you think you are talking shit about our pills?” Mark yelled.

Because of the GHB, Mark didn’t scare me. I viewed him as a monster, but a funny one with a little brain.

“Hey, Mark, calm down,” Spaniard said.

“Do you have any idea who Jimmy Moran is?” Mark said, fuming.

“No,” I said.

“Sammy the Bull,” Mark said. “That’s who we work for. One call to him and we can have you taken out to the desert.”

I was aware of Sammy the Bull from the news. He’d been a hit man for the Gambino Crime Family run by John Gotti a.k.a. “The Teflon Don.” Later on, he became an FBI informant, confessed to killing nineteen people, and helped the Feds put The Teflon Don away for life. Still, looking at those two in their leopard-print polyester shirts, I assumed they didn’t have as much power in Arizona as my associates in the New Mexican Mafia. I glanced at Rossetti. The look on his face said, Should I shoot that lunkhead or what?

Almost imperceptibly, I shook my head at Rossetti.

“There’s no need to say all that,” Spaniard said. “Forgive Mark, Shaun. He gets upset real easy. He’s a bit of a hothead.”

“I have no problems with you guys, but I really don’t care who you work for. You just moved in. Over the years, I’ve made friends with a lot of locals,” I said, playing it like a gangster.

“I hear you,” Spaniard said, implying he knew of my connections. “But what if we can get you a better price on pills, would you be interested?”

“I appreciate the offer, guys, but no thanks. And here’s why: before you guys moved into Ecstasy, the police pretty much ignored us. Now your runners are going around bragging they’re the biggest Ecstasy barons in the world. That’s brought considerable heat to the scene. And I’m not saying this to put you guys down, but to give you a heads-up on what’s happening. Every weekend at the raves, we’ve got undercover cops and vehicles hanging around. We’ve got undercover vehicles taping who’s going in and out of the raves, and driving through the parking lots taping licence plates. It’s no coincidence that the police moved in shortly after you guys. It’s not each others crews we need to beware of, it’s the cops.”

“What about your security team?” Spaniard asked.

“What about it?” I asked.

“Will our runners have problems with your security guys jacking their pills?”

“I don’t want to start a war with you guys. If my security grab someone, and we find out they’re part of your crew, we’ll let them go. Ecstasy’s so hard to get and the demand so high, there’s enough of a market for us to coexist. But if I tell my security not to jack your runners, I don’t expect any problems from you guys for my runners in the Scottsdale scene.”

“Sounds like a good agreement,” Spaniard said, and shook my hand.

Years later, when I became friends with Sammy the Bull’s son, Gerard Gravano, he said he’d headed a crew dispatched to kidnap me from The Crowbar in Phoenix. Wild Man and his girlfriend had fought that night, so we had to leave the club in a hurry. That’s why the Bull’s crew just missed us.