When Women and Children in "the Life" Lose Someone

Louie Milito, whacked by long-time friend Sammy Bull.
Don't know if many of you watched the video clip I posted of Diane Sawyer interviewing Sammy Bull back in 1992. I viewed it -- well, listened to it -- several times, and listened closely. I must admit I thought Sammy made some good points about a lot of topics, not just John Gotti.

Some of the families of his victims were also on the show -- the Militos most prominently. They rode the "Sammy is a rat who killed my father/husband" train all the way to the station, and I found myself oddly unmoved by them.

 Ms. Sawyer deftly pointed out to the wife and daughter that Louie -- who had been a good friend of Sammy's and whom Sammy had admitted killing -- as a made member of the Mafia would have had to kill people, too, if so ordered. In fact, he was in on one of the hits Sammy exposed (one wonders how many he successfully withheld, and we don't mean the Ice Man's bullshit). Diane hedged it, by saying Louie "was there." The Militos who seemed to know everything about Sammy and the Mafia were suddenly quiet. "I don't know anything about that." "Where did you hear that?"

It is hard to summon much pity for the families of murdered mobsters, because you have to wonder how many notches the so-called victim had on his own six-shooter.

Of the "19" Sammy killed, he actually only killed one. He oversaw the hit teams who took out the other 18. I am relying on some info I obtained regarding mobsters who are cellmates of Gravanos. (I honestly don't feel like combing though 19 hits to see who pulled the trigger, as if that much detail is even available.) He is years into a 20 year sentence for dealing E. Apparently, some Colombos picked on him because he " hadn't been good enough to get into their family" and the Gambinos had to take him in. I find that hard to believe.
Up until the Gottis, the Gambinos were "it" in the Mafia; the largest, richest most powerful family in the mob. The Colombos are known mainly for violence, and for having a large number of blood relatives in the family.

Kenny "Kenji" Gallo, in his book "Break Shot," describes his life of crime, which involved a long stint with the Colombo family. He became an informant, and toward the end of his mob career was working directly for Manny Garofalo, who was involved in union rigging and some 9/11 scams, which had made him a millionaire many times over.

"In addition to being the most murderous of New York's storied 'Five Families,' the Colombos are also the closest to being an actual family," Kenji Gallo writes. "Many Colombos are related by blood or marriage, with the crime family's leadership generally hailing from an insular circle of intermarried Brooklyn families... All of the Colombo bad apples tend to fall from the same family tree. Other wiseguys often called the Colombos 'inbred,' a diagnosis that fits many of the cross-eyed, evolutionary-chart escapees I worked with..."

So moving to the Gambinos from the Colombos -- step up or step down? I'd say a step up. But that's me.

I am getting side-tracked. The issue that the "victims" families were concerned about had to do with Sammy's light sentence -- but first and foremost the book he had written with famed author Peter Maas, now deceased. Maas also "co-wrote" another book about the Mafia, "The Valachi Papers."

The Militos and other families wanted a piece of Gravano's profits. Now, if Louie Milito had not been a mobster, had not been willing and able (and likely) to himself take lives, I would agree with them 100%. But considering all the facts, it seems to me they see in Gravano's book a chance to pull their own racket -- skim money off the proceeds. In other words, get money for nothing, which is really kind of what the mob is all about.

Which brings us to Karen Gravano, and her book.
From SILive.com: "When Karen Gravano’s tell-all about her life growing up in a fast-living mob family on Staten Island is published on Valentine’s Day, it will be nothing short of heartbreaking for the families of the victims of her father, the notorious hit man and turncoat Salvatore (Sammy the Bull) Gravano.

"At least two families of the 19 people Gravano was accused of murdering during his mob reign of terror are asking the office of the Arizona attorney general to go after the royalties from “Mob Daughter.” [Guess which two. The story doesn't really say, though we are led to believe it is the Garafolos -- not Garofalo, you figure it out! -- and who else but the Militos.]

"They say the borough mob princess, whose cringe-worthy exploits are tracked by millions of fans of the VH1 hit series “Mob Wives,” should not be profiting by telling their painful stories.

"'It’s harrowing to hear Karen Gravano boast week after week on her reality show, ‘Mob Wives,’ that violence is ‘in my bloodline,’ Laura Garafolo wrote in a letter to the Arizona attorney general, according to a published report."

Later on in that story: “She doesn’t know what she’s talking about. She was only 13 when her father did what he did and my husband disappeared,” incredulous Linda Milito told the Advance when news of the book deal came out.

If you are in the mob and the boss orders you to kill, you kill or you die. I know there is talk that some hits, like Milito's, enriched Gravano, providing him with a motive to kill some victims. And he indeed was the driving force behind making Gotti decide to whack some people -- but Gotti was boss. To say that Sammy killed whoever he wanted and Gotti had no control, says that Gotti was not a strong boss of the Gambinos. And while Gotti has been criticized for a lot of things, no one has ever accused him of that.

As for Karen's book, it's her life, her story. Whatever she earns from it, she should keep. And let the families of the dead mobsters write their own books -- that's the way you cash in on mob connections. In fact Milito already wrote one, "Mafia Wife," in 2003.

In the first paragraph of the prologue she writes that it is late at night and she is in bed and her husband, Louie, is not home. "For all I know he could be out in New Jersey shooting some guy in the back of the head."

How quickly we forget.