Giuliani Was on Two Mafia Hit Lists, He Says

Rudy Giuliani, who hosted AMC's Mob Week special, has said that dealing with Mob bosses was "very, very exciting." And, by the way, he has been on not one, but two Mafia hit lists, he says.

"You know, they threatened to kill me twice," Giuliani said. "When I was first starting they put out an $800,000 contract to kill me, the Sicilian mafia did.

"And then I was U.S. Attorney for five and a half years. I was at the very end, just about to leave, and Carmine Persico (de-facto boss of the Colombo crime family, currently serving life imprisonment) put out a contract for only $400,000 to kill me.

"Come on, five and a half years of work and my value gets cut in half?" Giuliani quips at the falling price of the bounty on his head.

We well know it is not fact that the mob does not kill law enforcement officials. Recent history is littered with examples. Joel "Joe Waverly" Cacace (born April 9, 1941) was acting head of the Colombo crime family. He won't see daylight again, having been convicted of numerous crimes, including murders.

On Dec. 18, 2008, Cacace was charged with ordering the 1997 murder of NYPD officer Ralph Dols on Aug. 25, 1997, because the Latino cop had had the temerity to marry Joe Waverly's ex-wife. And lending at least some credence to Giuliani's story, in early 1987, imprisoned Colombo boss Persico ordered Cacace to kill William Aronwald, a federal prosecutor. Persico believed that Aronwald, who had helped prosecute Persico, had been disrespectful to him.

On March 20, 1987, hit men sent by Cacace for Persico shot and killed Aronwald, only the wrong one: They killed William's father, a lawyer in his own right, in a case of mistaken identity.

Then there is the departed Costabile "Gus" Farace Jr. (June 21, 1960, Bushwick, Brooklyn - Nov. 17, 1989, Bensonhurst, Brooklyn), a low-level criminal with the Bonanno crime family who murdered a federal DEA agent in New York City, one Everett Hatcher, who was working undercover when he met his fate at Gus's hands. The mob took care of its own in this case, before the DEA could rain a shit storm down on their heads.

Federico "Fritzy" Giovanelli (March 1932), a caporegime in the Genovese crime family, was charged with the murder of Anthony Venditti, an undercover NYPD detective, but he was eventually acquitted after two trials ended with deadlocked juries. ("Fritzy" is the radio star on WMOB; click the link and give it a listen if you want to laugh your ass off.)

So the mob has killed law enforcement agents of various stripe, and doubtless, I am missing other examples.

Ironically the issue of whether law enforcement could be punished in any way was an early problem the newly formed American Mafia had to deal with. Thomas Edmund Dewey (March 24, 1902 – March 16, 1971), the 47th Governor of New York (1943–1954) and one of the early "mob busters," had set his sights on gangster Dutch Schultz, whom he had battled as both a federal and state prosecutor.

Schultz proposed murdering Dewey to take the pressure off. However, New York crime boss Lucky Luciano and the Mafia Commission decided that Dewey's murder would provoke an all-out crackdown. Instead, they had Schultz killed. (Luciano may have come to regret that decision, however, after Dewey framed him -- it is widely believed today -- and sent him to Dannemora, which seems to have been renamed Clinton Correctional Facility today.)

Now, it would seem quite possible that the Mafia may have gone after Giuliani when he was a nobody, but when he became the famous mob buster in the Dewey tradition, there was a lot of light on him. Still, Junior may have been crazy enough to propose taking Rudy out. He tried to take out another prosecutor -- why not Giuliani? What did Junior really have to lose, serving a life sentence, anyway?

Giuliani is certainly a prosecutor that many a mob boss no doubt would have liked to have taken out. In the Mafia Commission Trial (Feb. 25, 1985–Nov. 19, 1986), Giuliani indicted 11 organized crime figures, including the heads of New York's Five Families, under the RICO act. Time magazine called this "Case of Cases" possibly "the most significant assault on the infrastructure of organized crime since the high command of the Chicago Mafia was swept away in 1943," and quoted Giuliani's stated intention: "Our approach is to wipe out the five families."

Eight defendants were found guilty on all counts and subsequently sentenced on Jan. 13, 1987, to hundreds of years of prison time. Such infamous mob figures as Tony Ducks, Fat Tony and, of course, Persico felt the brunt of the prison time, though the first two died relatively soon and Persico is still tending to his garden in the prison yard today. (Gambino boss Paul Castellano would've joined them had not an ambitious capo named John Gotti staged a power coup, resulting in Paul's death on a midtown Manhattan sidewalk. Maybe Gotti did him a favor.)

Former mob associate Sonny Girard is not totally buying Giuliani's story -- and he has a more creditable opinion than me or any pundit for that matter.

"I don't believe for a second that Junior had a 'serious' hit on him; maybe a little mouthing off and blowing off some steam, but that's it," says Girard, who operates the website Sonny's Mob Social Club, which is worth a visit. He is also a published author and he sells his novels from the site.

He adds, "The Italian immigrants are another story. They have a tradition of murdering those law enforcement people who give them a hard time. Prime examples are the assassinations of Sicilian prosecutors Paolo Borsellino and Giovanni Falcone.

"Luciano set a terrible precedent for the future of the mob when he didn't let Schultz kill Dewey. He could have turned a blind eye to Dutch's desire to kill Dewey, then killed Dutch and put out the word that, 'We don't kill law enforcement people and will avenge the death of any one of them killed by any of our people.'

"In other words, 'We'll avenge you AFTER you're dead. Don't want to die? Ease up. Do your job, but don't make personal vendettas against any of our people.' Prosecutors and FBI Agents bleed and feel fear like everyone else. I guess Luciano didn't read The Prince by Machiavelli."

Well, we know Sonny certainly read The Prince!