Undercover Feds and the Mob: Do Rivalries Arise?

REVISED 6/9: I was fully intending to continue working on my stories about Canada and the Combination (no connection) when something else grabbed my attention enough to warrant a change in plan. I started to write that -- and something else got in the way! This is why I'm always behind!

The website FedScoop posted the above video, which includes Joe Pistone and another former undercover FBI agent who worked in Cleveland (David Drab).

Joseph Dominick Pistone, alias Donnie Brasco, (born September 17, 1939), is the former FBI agent who worked undercover for six years infiltrating the Bonanno crime family. He was an FBI agent for 27 years and seems to hold to the adage "never turn down an opportunity to be on television."

The evidence collected by Pistone led to over 200 indictments and over 100 convictions of Mafia members and nearly destroyed the Bonanno family. (I am not sure what those numbers include -- whether they specifically resulted from Operation Brasco or also include subsequent convictions related to the Commission Case and the Pizza Connection trials, among others in which Pistone testified.

However, the Bonanno family also benefited in a key way: When the Mafia Commission Trial took many of the mob's legendary bosses off the street permanently, the Bonanno family's leadership (namely, Joseph Massino) was left alone. This is because the family was dropped by the Commission in large part due to Pistone's handiwork. Massino in fact led a Bonanno resurgence before his conviction in 2004 for ordering Sonny Black Napolitano's death for allowing Pistone into the family. Massino, who has since flipped, claims he ordered Napolitano's murder for other reasons.

Bottom line, Pistone does indeed have bragging rights and there is certainly a reason for him to be eagerly sought by writers and producers of Mafia-related television shows.

At the same time, Pistone seems to appear in nearly every mob show he can since arising from the underworld's depths. Ever since I met and interviewed another former federal agent, I have been wondering why we see so much Pistone and so little of Joaquin "Jack Falcone" Garcia.
Joe Pistone, aka Donnie Brasco
Joaquin Garcia (born 1952 in Havana, Cuba), also known as Jack, Jock, and Jocko, is a retired FBI agent best known for his undercover work infiltrating the Gambino crime family in New York. Garcia is regarded as one of the most successful and prolific agents in the history of the FBI.

In his 26 years of service with the FBI and as an undercover agent in over 100 undercover operations, Garcia is best known for his undercover role as "Jack Falcone," a self-described Sicilian jewel thief and drug dealer from Miami, Florida, who penetrated the Gambino crime family in New York City for nearly three years. The Falcone operation specifically resulted in the arrest and conviction of 32 mobsters, including the top members Arnold Squitieri and Anthony Megale. Jack has since testified in additional trials.

Now, as for this perceived rivalry on which I am speculating here, I must point out that Jack has never discussed any of this with me, and for all I know, his reasons for not appearing on television could be a matter of preference. He doesn't want to participate in the shows. I know Jack, and as I have said before, he is a great guy -- a truly great guy, and talking to him is always a privilege. I've even sought his advice and he graciously provided it.

When he saw my story on him he thanked me. The implied message I got was that he realized I was planning to write multiple follow-ups, and that he did not want me to do that. So, taking the subtext and running with it, I said, "I was planning on doing one more story."

He gave me the verbal equivalent of the silent nod... And the reason for this, I think, is the same reason he's not on all those television shows. He's modest. He likes his privacy and doesn't want to be in the public eye.

So it could be for personal reasons we see so much of Pistone and so little of Jack (I should point out that, of course, there is a wealth of YouTube videos in which Jack appears, and also his excellent book). But I wonder if there is something else going on as well.

Take the video above, for example. As noted, it's about the mob's activities today and stars Pistone and Dab and no one else. Now, the fact that Jack's not in it is fine and completely understandable. But the fact that he doesn't get a single mention, however, is not understandable. Frankly, it's borderline ridiculous, considering the timeliness of the topic.

For the first time I wonder if Pistone is jealous -- not so much of Jack but because Pistone wants to maintain the bright, bold Donnie Brasco legacy. He doesn't want the story of another undercover agent to steal an iota of his thunder. It's like, he's the ultimate undercover agent -- to the extent that no one else is worthy of discussion.

I could be totally offtrack. Mention of Jack could've been edited out. The reporter is not aware of Jack and didn't bring his story up, etc. There are multiple variables. But as a viewer who knows something about this stuff, I wanted to hear from Jack.

Now, in the off chance that I am correct, I think it's kind of silly and wrongheaded. Each of them has an
Jack "Falcone" Garcia
important story to tell, there is no need to take sides. What one did doesn't detract at all from the other's efforts.

You watch the video and be the judge.

How can those who are aware of Jack Garcia and what he did (and Pistone has to be aware of him -- has to!) not notice his absence? Jack would have had much to offer in the discussion about wiseguys today. It's only logical, since he was undercover most recently, from about 2002 through 2005.

Operation Donnie Brasco took place from 1976 to 1981.

Anyway, I am biased; I am friends with Jack and I've never spoken to Joe. I would never turn down an opportunity to speak with him -- don't get me wrong. And I am aware he could be a great guy as much as Jack. I just don't know...

But somehow, I don't think I'd be able to even get in touch with him, much less get him to agree to do an interview with me. (Could that be the simple difference between the two?)

Tomorrow I will publish what I meant to publish today...


  1. 7 9 2 -- that's closest we got

  2. Of course they do something. You're paying for protection. Anybody stupid enough to mess with your business, is going to be in deep shit. That's why most don't mind paying.

  3. Good luck! You too.... At this outdoor German festival thing

  4. Guy, that's a matter of perception. Anyway, just forget I said anything. Joseph Pistone does seem to want to hog all of the spotlight. I watched the video above and it seems he thinks that he still knows everything when the fact of the matter is he's been out of the loop for a while. They didn't even mention the fact that Mafia families now use ruling panels and puppet leaderships in order to deflect attention. They also didn't mention that the old flashy John Gotti and Nicky Scarfo days are gone. Joseph Pistone and this other guy tend to think everything is just the way they left it other than the fact that the Mafia has now went online.

  5. Even the cyber stuff ain't that new

  6. Being in the IT field myself this was very informative information....good job Ed

  7. well edd i was going down theNJTP south bound and passed my three horses i bet 2 4 9 still running lol!!

  8. Ahhh, I get ya..... Glad!

  9. Hi Ed,

    I love that comment : "never turn down an opportunity to be on television..."
    Coincidentally I just borrowed the Donnie Brasco DVD and had to suffer through Joe's droning on about Johnny Depp.

    One thought I have entertained regarding "former" agents is how I'm convinced some of the guys, once they get a certain assignment, slowly morph from law enforcement to planning for the riches of the entertainment industry payout. It's almost like some of them go into the job with that in mind.

    And like you said - Pistone is still beating the dead horse of his moment in the spotlight for what?, 33 years? Hah.

  10. Joy, how are you? I must come clean--Gore Vidal, the great author famously said, "One should never turn down an opportunity to be on television or to have sex" or something like that--so I only used half the quote. Vidal died a few years ago but a film about his life is circulating called "United States of Amnesia" --I highly recommend the film and Vidal himself. His historical fictional works are incredible, especially Lincoln. As to your point, I think what you say is probably true though I'd say more so with the mobsters who flipped. I think they think they'll all write books and films, etc. I think a lot of NYPD detectives play that card when working someone to flip. "You'll get out of this nonsense and become a citizen--hell Hollywood will probably call you!" In fact I KNOW it was done. With the Feds it's a little more complicated. Google Boss of Bosses written by two FBI agents, Kurins and O'Brien, both either quit or were fired from the FBI for writing the book.


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