Ex-Mob Wife Husband Hector Pagan Has "Money To Invest Once (He's) Out," He Tells Potential Penpals

People can change, we believe.... A person guilty and convicted of a crime, even murder, can become someone who would never commit that crime again.
Hector Pagan
Hector Pagan

American society at large disagrees with that basic premise. Consider: Those convicted of certain crimes (not only murder) get mandatory sentences that surpass the average human lifespan. In many instances such lifelong sentences may seem more than warranted. But occasionally, considering variables such as mitigating factors, especially with first-time offenders, such sentences could seem unfair.

Consider: Law enforcement generally investigates a crime by?

In a murder case, among other things, they  generally do so by interviewing people close to "the victim." If you are among those who knew the victim and you have a criminal record (especially a felony record) detectives will only grudgingly leave you alone  after you've passed the lie detector test and your solid alibi proved unbreakable despite their best efforts, and they have another better suspect....

It Takes A Certain Someone To Wear A Wire On Their Father-In-Law
Hector Pagan, ex-husband of Mob Wife Renee Graziano, doesn't seem like a good candidate for a positive, life-affirminging transformation, meaning from evildoer to law abider, and certain morsels we noticed in a personal ad he posted online seem to lend weight to that assessment.

To wit (we bolded lines for emphasis):

 I’m 52 years old and I’m in prison for the charge of murder. I grew up in a mafia infested area in Brooklyn, New York. Things there that were normal to us were not so normal to the average Joe; people in the mob killed and were killed on a daily basis. From a young age I was a score guy. We held up big drug dealers. To be honest with you, I loved my job and the rich lifestyle that came with it. The downside of this is I’ve been in and out of prison since 1988, once the Feds got hold of me they never let me go. I now come to a time in my life where I want to be and stay free.

I have some money to invest once I’m out. I want to possibly live in North Carolina and have a family. If I don’t have any more kids I’m fine with that, I already have two grown boys. I don’t do drugs and I drink a little bit. I write this letter to gain some friends. I’ve been feeling lonely and far away from the real world you live in. I was on a reality show called Mob Wives. I had lots of people around me then, but now I feel alone.

I like to write, so I saw Write A Prisoner and I thought that was for me. I will respond to every letter no matter how crazy yours may be.

Pagan flipped against Graziano's father, TG (who was shelved over the show). That was the least of his crimes, in our book.

A well-known gangland character who appeared on "Mob Wives" during the 2010 and 2011 seasons, Pagan was the "star" witness against Richard Riccardi and Luigi Grasso, who were convicted for the murder of James Donovan, whom Pagan himself had shot.

Pagan testified at trial against those two in March 2014. The Daily Beast noted at the time: "The fury and shame that the other people he had ratted out in unrelated cases--including his father-in-law, reputed Mafia capo Anthony Graziano—had actually been a major story line on Mob Wives.

"As a result, this is the first trial in history where the government sought to keep the jurors anonymous not only to ensure their physical safety, but also to protect the jury from (God forbid) ending up on a reality TV show."

(The judge for that case was John Gleeson, the former prosecutor who in 1987 joined then-Assistant U.S. Attorney Diane Gicalone in being the first to prosecute the flamboyant boss of the Gambino crime family, John Gotti. The two put on a valiant effort in the very same courthouse though they lost because one juror was bribed. The case also is infamous for the extreme abuse directed at Gicalone by the defense, as well as her shortsighted tactic of outing Gambino associate Willie Boy Johnson as an informant, which got him killed -- allegedly at the hands of Thomas (Tommy Karate) Pitera, though he was acquitted of that murder at trial.)

Journalist Michael Daly eloquently noted  of the trial: "During... testimony, and while the bloody crime scene photos were flashed onto the courtroom screen, the reality of the mob was personified by the murdered man’s sobbing daughter. She had a small box of tissues when she returned... and she sat in the front row holding it along with a holy card bearing her father’s picture."

Riccardi and Grasso, found guilty, were sentenced to more than 35 years in prison each.

Grasso, who was a cousin of ‘Mob Wives’ star Big Ang, had even saved a suicidal inmate's life in a courthouse holding cell before an appearance on a weapons rap. Grasso's actions were lauded by no less than a Manhattan judge.

The distressed suicidal inmate, who was never identified by officials, had fashioned a noose from a T-shirt and was hanging from the top bar in the pens of Manhattan Criminal Court at 111 Centre St. when the brawny mobster literally leaped into the air to save him, according to witnesses.

Grasso still got a 35-year sentence....

Pagan basically helped put away his cohorts for murder, when the original plan was for a heist. It only became a murder case because of a decision Pagan alone had made during the Gravesend heist, which netted the trio $50,000 apiece.

It galls many what Pagan has seemingly gotten away with: shooting a man to death for no apparent reason (the victim, Luchese associate James Donovan, had dropped the cash and was running away when Pagan fired the fatal shot, which nicked the femoral artery) and then ratting out the other two members of the robbery team and testifying against them for the murder.

The WSJ even covered the case in a report, noting it was a "rare and risky legal strategy" used by prosecutors; it was called: Testifying down.

"This is, generally speaking, the opposite of how cooperating witnesses work. Usually, legal experts said, the goal is to get those witnesses to admit to wrongdoing, cooperate with the government and to walk the investigation up the ladder, obtaining evidence against leaders or those potentially engaged in more serious crimes. In exchange, on the recommendation of prosecutors, cooperators typically end up serving reduced or no prison time."

Also coming into play in Pagan's case is the "felony murder rule," as my Friends of Ours colleague noted: "If a murder is committed in the commission of a felony, then everyone involved with the underlying felony are legally responsible for the attendant murder regardless of whether they had any involvement in taking the life."

In testimony, Pagan noted that he had begun committing crimes when he was 13.

He met the defendant Grasso some months before the murder.

“I told him I did scores, sold some pot, gambling stuff like that,” Pagan testified. “He said he had a couple of scores lined up.”

“Can you explain to the members of the jury what a score is?” the prosecutor asked.

“Robbery,” Pagan said.

He reported that he and Grasso subsequently kept in touch via cell phone. Pagan said he had two.

“One for street activity, one for family,” he said. “One was under my name, one was under nobody’s name.”

Pagan said that he subsequently also met the defendant Riccardi, who joined him and Grasso in robbing a pot dealer.

“The plan was to go by the house and wait for the guy and when he goes in, pop his door and rob him,” Pagan testified.

A while later, the three met at a Brooklyn Dunkin’ Donuts. Pagan climbed into Grasso’s white Toyota and headed for a supermarket parking lot facing an auto body shop. Pagan said Riccardi arrived in his black Mercedes and walked over to the Toyota.

“What did he carry with him?” the prosecutor asked.

“A bag with guns in it,” Pagan said. “We took what we wanted. I had a 9-milimeter. I think the rest were .38s.”

Pagan said he briefly exited the car to buy a bottle at a liquor store.

“Just to cool things off,” he testified.

“Did you drink the liquor?” the prosecutor asked.

“A little bit,” he answered.

Pagan said they soon after saw a luxury car pull up the auto body shop across the street. Grasso was at the wheel.

“Ronnie said, ‘There he is,’” Pagan testified.

Donovan was making one of his regular stops in a business where he cashed checks for a two percent fee. He was just climbing out of his car when Pagan and the others pulled up.

Pagan said that his job was to hold Donovan at gunpoint while Ronnie grabbed the money.

“I put the gun to him and said, ‘Stay right here,’” Pagan told the jury. “He wiggled away from me and started running. I shot him.”

Pagan and the others drove off.

“There really was no getaway plan,” Pagan testified.

He said that one of the others claimed to have shot Donovan.

“I said ‘No, you didn’t, I did,” Pagan recalled.

In a Brooklyn basement, they counted their take and it came to some $200,000.

“Ronnie took the guns,” Pagan testified. “He said he was going to melt mine.”

Pagan reported that Ronnie later told him that Richie had been blabbing about the killing.

“I said, ‘You should kill Richie,”” Pagan said, explaining to the jury, “He’s going around saying things that should not be said.”

The prosecutor then led Pagan through a recounting of his decades-long life of crime. Pagan said he had been an associate of the Lucchese crime family until he became engaged to Renee Graziano. Her father was reputedly a capo in the Bonanno crime family.

“He said, ‘If you’re going to do that we have to transfer you,’” Pagan told the jury.

Pagan was then associated with the Bonanno crime family as he settled into a life of robbery, extortion, beatings, kidnapping and drug dealing.

Pagan said the day then came when, by chance, he saw his wife’s car parked by the side of the road with nobody inside. She then pulled up in a vehicle with another man.

“I started shooting at him,” Pagan testified.

The man survived. Pagan and Renee subsequently separated and reunited several times, once during an episode of Mob Wives, when he told her he had been shaken on hearing she had nearly died while undergoing plastic surgery. She asked if it was because he loved her or because he was in love with her.

“Both,” he told her.

“For years I’ve be in love with you, only you,” she told him.

The final break seems to have come when she learned that he had turned informant, or what he calls “an associate of the government,” rather than face a lengthy prison term for the armed robbery of a card game. He had even worn a wire when speaking with her father, who had subsequently been indicted for extortion.

At one point, Pagan’s handlers instructed him to put on his wire and pump a hoodlum of his acquaintance for information about the Donovan murder. Pagan employed the opposite of a typical reality TV strategy by steering the conversation away from any dramatic revelations. But Pagan figured it was just a question of time before the feds heard his name in connection with the killing.

“There was already an investigation going around,” Pagan testified. “I figured if I’m in this already, I might as well go all the way.”

Pagan said that he confessed to the shooting and cut a deal. He now testified that there had been one primary requirement on his part.

“Just to, uh…” Pagan began.

Pagan choked up and paused. His voice caught as he continued.

“…just to give information.”

He had shown no emotion at all earlier, when describing how he killed Donovan.