Jerry Capeci's Ongoing War on Stupidity in Mafia Books

Jerry Capeci
Anthony M. DeStefano runs a blog focused on the Bonanno family. Some interesting content is available there, though he admits he's unable to devote a lot of time to it right now because he's hard at work on his next book, slated for a 2015 release.

The book, by the author of Vinny Gorgeous: The Ugly Rise and Fall of a New York Mobster, King of the Godfathers and Mob Killer, provides a "unique look at organized crime over the years in New York City" and is titled Gangland New York: Faces and Places of The Mob. It will be published by Globe Pequot.

Let's all raise a glass and hope he's friends with Jerry Capeci, who is not very fond of writers who use the name of his long-running, widely acclaimed newspaper column, now blog. Nor writers who get their facts wrong and write a lot of fiction in books billed as nonfiction.

Then again, Jerry seems to be a fair man, and we already know that Tony DeStefano has the chops to write a thoroughly researched, highly accurate and very engaging book, like Jerry.

We think Jerry will give him a pass...we wouldn't put money on it, but we're pretty certain...

Jerry does not take this kind of thing lightly, of course. Consider the case of Ernest Volkman, who "wrote [that] awful book, Gangbusters, which contains so many factual errors you'd need a computer to count them," as Jerry noted in November 1998. Among other things, Volkman also named in that book two Luchese mobsters who had rolled. They had not.

Capeci actually named an award after Volkman, the Volkie. It's not the kind of award I would ever want to win...

Speaking of sheer stupidity, we start our look at the past year by presenting Gang Land's first annual Ernest Volkman award to John Lombardi. The Volkie, we're sad to say, will be an annual award to the so-called journalist who makes the most mistakes and comes up with the most unadulterated drivel in one article, book, or television appearance or who consistently exhibits the wretched and pathetic journalistic non-skills of Ernest Volkman...
Anthony M. DeStefano
Lombardi was the unanimous choice as recipient of the first Volkie for his "Who's The Boss" piece in the Dec. 21-28 issue of New York Magazine.
The overwritten excuse for a magazine article, in true Volkman tradition, contained the prerequisite gigantic blooper. Lombardi included a mobster who died a decade ago, Nino Gaggi, among several Gambino capos who are angry with John Gotti's choice of his son as the family's stand-in leader....

It's enough to make one wonder if Ernie, who is in all those mob documentaries, just makes stuff up as he speaks...

Then there is the case of the book titled Gangland, which was billed as one of those "soon to be a major Hollywood motion picture!"

Capeci wrote way back in October 1993, that he'd warned his readers that a book called Gangland would be coming out and that it had nothing to do with his long-running mob column.

As for the "wanna-be competitor" Jerry unleashed with both barrels, and in that case, he had every right to.

"[The wanna-be's book] belongs either in the consumer fraud section or on the fiction shelves," he wrote. Noting that from its "illogical beginning" to its "outright dishonest ending," the book contains at least 50 factual errors, with one found about every six pages until Capeci gave up counting.

Then, there are about 50 times when the author takes quotes out of context, puts tape recorded remarks in the mouths of the wrong people and "imagines thoughts of people he never interviewed."

Jerry noted that, what really chapped his ass (my phrasing), is the fact that the author knew he would be causing deliberate confusion on the marketplace as he was well aware of Jerry and his much-lauded column, then website.

The author, assumingly in an attempt to make amends, invited Jerry to a pizzeria, Sal's on Second Avenue, where he promptly put the blame on his publisher. Jerry didn't go for it. The book had no credibility, he noted, due to all the errors and attempts to impose drama where there was none.

For example, right at the start of the book, the author notes that the FBI is terrified of John Gotti, and very afraid that they'll never nail him--while in reality, by the time the book's opening takes place the agents were far from scared of John Gotti. In fact, by then, the agents already knew Gotti was a dead duck because they'd already started to record the Gambino usurper's long, rambling discourses--and actually had him on tape admitting to killing three people.

There is a lot of other stuff Jerry highlighted. Such as, while portraying one scene during one trial, the author, who claimed to have read the transcripts of all the Gotti trials (that's about 18,000 pages) so happens to use the very same quotes previously used in another book about Gotti. The one written by Jerry and Gene Mustain.

Finally, I'll point out that one final telling detail that can be found at the end of the gangland book, where the author described all the research he had to do, using secret sources and secret documents, all to find a phone number that was listed in the Manhattan White Pages. Jerry even gives the page number!

And finally to punctuate the end of this story, we note the book was never even made into a motion picture.

DeStefano article in June Penthouse
As for Mr. DeStefano, while laboring on his book, he still  seems to have time to squeeze out an occasional article, such as the current: Penthouse Magazine Story: True Crime.

Volkman also worked with Penthouse... But no! Jerry'll give him a pass -- we're just about damn near certain of that!

And there are some good blog stories up there, as well. A recent blog post about the "Lufthansa Indictment": Anthony M. DeStefano | Lufthansa Heist Indictment:True Crime:

The feds latest indictment of the Bonanno crime family concerning the 1978 Lufthansa Heist appears to involve two key government witnesses--Joseph Massino and his brother-in-law Sal Vitale.

The new indictment accused Bonanno capo Vincent Asaro with involvement in the $6 million grab of money and jewelry at JFK and to build the case against him the FBI cultivated a number of witnesses, among them were two guys listed as "CW-2" and "CW-3".

Based on the court records filed in Brooklyn federal court and the author's own knowledge of events surrounding the Bonanno crime family, CW-2, who is identified as being the boss of the family in the 1990s, is undoubtedly Massino. He is further identified as someone who was convicted in Brooklyn federal court (as Massino was) of racketeering murder, plead guilty to murder in aid of racketeering (as Massino did), and got resentenced for his substantial cooperation with the FBI to about 12 years (another match with Massino). Massino, according to the court records, got some of the jewelry loot taken in the Lufthansa heist....


  1. When it comes to Journalists that write about the Life. Jerry Capeci is like the Pope he is infallible. I am sure people on both sides of the law would agree. Ed aspire to be the fact checker Jerry is and you will have a very successful career. Your friend from T DC4.

    1. I do actually aspire to that. I have modelled my whole approach on Capeci but I simply don't have his access. I need people closer to events (as well as sharp focus on facts). Jerry has editors though and I don't. I'm a one-man band. If I could only get a million pairs of eyes a month I could dedicate 100% to this thing of mine...

  2. I think it's time to write that book. I saw an article where you interviewed an author and asked a great ??? What is the hardest part of writing a book. Do not post his answer. I will reach out soon enough.

  3. What or who does Capeci think he is? He did not "invent" the word; Gangland. As for the legal term it means the "world of organized crime". As for Tony DeStefano's accuracy in his novels? He's right on the mark - EVERY TIME! But there's a difference, DeStefano isn't afraid to go straight to the source for his info either. That's one author that's got some stones!

    1. Jerry is definitely a who - he is the greatest living writer on organized crime. Anyone who reads Jerry's books or DeStefano's books or Volkman's books all know Gangland is the name of Jerry's column. Howard Blum, the author of the book Gangland, apparently knew it was Jerry's brand and deliberately used the name in order to make some people think the book was written by Jerry or someone associated with his column. And this is clearly meant to be a humorous piece. You obviously don't know much about mob writing -- or reading because Scarpo clearly states that "we already know that Tony DeStefano has the chops to write a thoroughly researched, highly accurate and very engaging book, like Jerry."


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