John Alite Unrestrained: In Mafia International, Former Gambino Associate Tells His Own Story

"Johnny Alite went to jail. In jail he met people from Philadelphia and Atlantic City. He (wound) up hanging out with the New Jersey mob, then came to Florida. He stole all these businesses from every person. You think he would give me a penny? He didn't give me a quarter; not a penny, not one red cent. Not one red cent did I get. And I swear that on my other arm, that I should lose the use of it. Not one red cent..."--from the 2006 opening statement of Gambino capo Ronnie One-Arm Trucchio on trial in Miami for racketeering and extortion....

In 2015, Gotti's Rules, written by George Anastasia, hit bookstores to tell the inside story of Gambino enforcer John Alite, who was once a close associate of John (Junior) Gotti, who he later testified against. Now, Mafia International lets John Alite tell his story in his own words. (It is not a comprehensive autobiography however.)

Mafia International,

Since Gotti's Rules, John Alite has been a steady presence on the blogosphere. Using social media platforms, websites, and podcasts, Alite has built a huge base of tens of thousands of followers. (We have interviewed John multiple times and have written numerous stories about him: See end for brief list.) One thing is certain: Whether you love or hate him, you could never accuse John Alite of being boring. (Or shy. As he always used to say: "I'm not a shy guy.")

Gotti's Rules: The Story of John Alite, Junior Gotti, and the Demise of the American Mafia, written by New York Times bestselling author George Anastasia, is based on documentation and interviews, including with experts. Gotti's Rules uses John Alite to tell a larger story about the generational decline of the Gambino crime family under John and then John Junior Gotti.

Mafia International, which focuses on John Alite and his life and crimes with the New York mob, is like a collection of highly engaging blog stories.
The book, coauthored with Louis Romano, is a brisk read that we enjoyed. 

Mafia International is not a conventional Mafia memoir. (See Giovanni's Ring: My Life Inside the Real Sopranos for a recently released conventional Mafia memoir written by an undercover FBI agent who infiltrated the DeCavalcante crime family in New Jersey.) It consists of short stories that are written as dialogues between John and Louis, with Louis asking the questions. The book touches on different episodes in John's life, including his encounters with other mob figures such as former Gambino capo Ronnie One-Arm Trucchio, now serving life in prison. 

The book also includes stories told by Mafia figures like Ronald Turchi, Jr., son of the former ranking Philadelphia wiseguy, who knew John Alite when he was in the life

Alite has been doing podcasts for more than a year, for much of the time with Gene Borrello as the Johnny & Gene Show. Alite has done hundreds of podcasts by now, based on our rough estimate (many of the podcasts clock in at around an hour). Alite knows how to tell a story, and it comes through in the book.

The book includes the hyperbolic personal observations for which John is by now well known:

"Most of the made men under (John Gotti) Senior’s reign were useless idiots. Those men weren’t capable of doing anything, and the Gotti faction would eventually pay with their lives for not retaliating when they should have. They would pay the price in history for being weak."

(Notice the use of the qualifier Most at the beginning of that sentence.)

Coauthor Romano is awestruck by Alite, which lends itself to some amusing, self-deprecating moments in the book.

But first, who the --- is Louis Romano?

Romano, 70, is retired from the oil industry and is a prolific author with 15 published novels under his belt. His overriding fictional themes have to do with Albanian mobsters and pedophile serial killers.

He met Alite to discuss a possible film about his book BESA, about a fictional street war between the New York crime families and members of the Albanian mob. 

Why the Albanian mob, we wondered. It's not because he is Albanian.

"I am Italian, Sicilian – the Albanian mob is very vicious – they don’t play. I was in the oil industry and sold to Albanians – and I got fascinated by their culture. Sicilians have a vendetta society – so do the Albanians, where it is blood for blood, with feuds going on for generations. BESA is an Albanian's word of honor, their BESA, is the pride that has made their clans fearless fighters for centuries."

While they discussed a possible role for John in the BESA film, John approached Romano about writing a book.

"John goes on at warp speed. I took notes in my own shorthand – and then John sent me some tape recordings of what he did. He has a photographic memory. He remembers the dates and names of everyone (we can vouch for what Romano says here). John is the kind of guy – he is such a charming guy – everyone falls in love with him. He would meet me there and we would spend hours and hours. He's captivating."

Author Louis Romano
Mafia International coauthor Louis Romano.

Romano touches on some of the challenges that animate John in his post-mob life.

"He made millions a month," he said, noting Alite once had more than $35 million in equity. "Now you are not making shit. How do you go from that life – and then turn around and say I have to scratch for a living?

"Gotti’s Rules is an  excellent read about his life with Gotti Senior, what life was like growing up as a kid with his father. Mafia International is about what he did with the bad people around him – who works for him, who he worked for, what they did to stab and beat people. It goes into how the international drug trade works – I wasn’t aware of how much weight he (meaning John Alite) had sold – millions upon millions upon millions of dollar. He amassed a ton of wealth. He had an estate in Vorhees, NJ. He built houses for his wife and sister on the property -–which had a seven city-block driveway leading to the estate. The homes were lavish, with basketball courts."

"John is a brilliant guy – no matter what he would’ve done in life he would’ve been successful. He was going into the financial world (as a profession), but they said they can’t hire him because they discovered he had a police report."

In the beginning of the book, Romano writes about the time he met Alite at his country club White Beaches in Haworth, NJ, to discuss the movie based on BESA:

I selected a semi-circular, high-backed leather and rich mahogany appointed booth not far from the long, crowded bar.

To look like a writer, I wore a black golf shirt under a maroon sports jacket and jeans. John came in wearing a tight black leather jacket over a tighter white button-down shirt and black pants. His shirt had the first few buttons opened, exposing his firm, buffed chest and a tattoo that crawled up to his tanned neck.

After ten minutes, I could no longer suck in my gut, and I just let my belly flop over my belt.

John gave me a rapid-fire soliloquy on the many crimes he committed while in the mafia, the horrific jails he did time at in Brazil, and what led him to cooperate with the federal government.

John recognized someone at the bar and just gave them a cold stare.

At that point, I realized if anyone was going to put a hit on John, I would be shot and killed.

“John, I have to ask you a question.” “Sure, Lou.”

“Aren’t you ever worried about anyone from the mob, like the Gambinos or someone, walking in and…you know…?”

He flashed his pearl-white teeth and got serious.

“They have to worry about me. I did all the work, and they know what I’m capable of.”

At that moment, I knew he was the baddest, toughest, most fearless man I would ever meet in my entire life.

Mafia International also is filled with stinging observations about the traditional mob as seen through the lens of social media. John seems to be addressing the people he has met on, say, Twitter or in the comment section of a blog. See the following:

"What people could never understand or see was the behind-the- scenes of our lives and who we really were behind closed doors. They had no realization of what had become of the mafia. People think when they hear “made guy” or “captain” that it is someone of high stature, but the ‘70s and ‘80s are gone. We are now a far cry from Fat Andy Ruggiano, captain of the Gambino family, who was made by men like Albert Anastasia. Ruggiano was made alongside Carlo Gambino and Albert Anastasia, true gangsters, real Cosa Nostra."

"Nicky Corozzo was a captain with us. Johnny Alite was associated with John, Jr. Tony C was a captain with us. Joe (Massino), he was a boss of the Bonanno family..."

The book is at its best when it focuses on some of the people Alite was around.

"I first met Ronnie One-Arm through my cousin, with whom he had once dated. He was called Ronnie One-Arm because he had an accident as a child and lost the use of his arm. Ronnie had a reputation of being dangerous in his younger years from a couple shootings he did, but that’s really all he did. Ronnie was not the dangerous or aggressive man people thought he was. He was only feared because of his earlier reputation.

"Ronnie would become a captain for the Gambinos. He wasn’t good at being able to make a dollar, mainly because he was a degenerate gambler. Therefore, Ronnie had attached himself to me because I gave him the opportunity to make money with me."

Most would wonder, what the hell was a capo doing giving an opening statement... When Trucchio was on trial for racketeering and extortion in Miami in 2006, he had to represent himself for a few days. His New York lawyer (Joseph Corozzo Jr.) was stuck in a trial up north.

Trucchio's opening statement included, "The truth of the matter is, John Alite is a thug" and "Johnny Alite went to jail. In jail he met people from Philadelphia and Atlantic City. He winded up hanging out with the New Jersey mob, then came to Florida. He stole all these businesses from every person. You think he would give me a penny? He didn't give me a quarter; not a penny, not one red cent. Not one red cent did I get. And I swear that on my other arm that I should lose the use of it. Not one red cent..." Trucchio mentions John Alite lots in what was a lengthy, repetitive diatribe against the Feds, his alleged cohorts, and seemingly anything else that floated into his mind....

Ronnie One-Arm (Trucchio)
John Alite has much to say about Gambino capo Ronnie One-Arm. 

In Mafia International, Alite lets it all out (writing this book was good therapy for John, I can tell): "It was when Ronnie One-Arm made his opening statement in court that he broke the code of silence. Regardless of if anyone had given him permission to, our laws were our laws, and he was not allowed to admit to the existence of the mafia, but he did. He also wasn’t allowed to admit positions held within the mafia, which he also did, revealing the fact that he was a captain in the Gambino family. Those very two things made him a rat.

"He ratted on Vincent Asaro, a captain from the Bonanno crime family. He testified against him for being in control of a crew of guys called the Young Guns, who had committed countless robberies and murders. Vinny Asaro was charged, too, in connection with the famous Lufthansa heist, along with his close friend, Jimmy Burke. Ronnie One-Arm also wasn’t supposed to blame other made members, and he did that in his opening statement.

"By the time Ronnie One-Arm took the stand, I was in a Brazilian prison fighting to stay alive. I actually gave Ronnie permission to say I was in a drug business because if Ronnie beat the case, that meant they couldn’t extradite me back to the United States."

As for the Corozzos, a family with a Cosa Nostra lineage, Alite notes, "Gotti Senior didn’t particularly care for Jo-Jo or his brother, Nicky. They didn’t like Jo-Jo because he wasn’t a street tough guy, but he was a money maker. Gotti looked down on people who were just money makers. Jo-Jo wasn’t a tough guy never did any type of violence; he was 5’5” and 150 pounds. It didn’t stop him from getting made, though. He would become the consigliere to the Gambino family. He just wasn’t a tough guy; he never did anything.

"Gotti didn’t like Jo-Jo’s brother, Nicky Corozzo. He wasn’t liked because he beat Senior with a telephone receiver as they were growing up into the mafia world. Nicky would later become the acting boss of the Gambino family. Nicky was a throwback gangster from the days of Andy Ruggiano. He was raised by Fat Andy Ruggiano, and he was straightened out by him as well."

We've also written about that old fight between John Gotti and Little Nicky, which happened one night in the 1960s in an afterhours club above a car wash on Fulton Street. Anthony Ruggiano told us, "When they were all kids — they had a fight in that after-hours club. John Gotti jumped out a window on the second floor. Nicky Corozzo had been hitting him with a payphone receiver. John thought they were gonna kill him."

John Alite in Mafia International continues: "Nicky was a gangster through and through—unlike his brother, Jo-Jo, who was a joke on the street for being in the consigliere position. He had bought his way to that position. Paid Senior to help elevate him within the mob. As we say, “He bought his button.” Of course, Gotti still disliked him, but he liked his money all the way to the bank. Senior had put him on what we call the soft shake."

In one chapter late in the book, we hear the moving words of Ronald Turchi, Jr., who talks about his father and meeting John Alite.  His father was once a high-ranking Philadelphia wiseguy with a golden future, though his path ultimately led to one of the darkest places in Philadelphia, if not on this earth.... Ron Turchi Senior was brutally slain early in the reign of former Philadelphia acting boss Joseph (Uncle Joe) Ligambi. Turchi was found hogtied and shot to death in the trunk of his wife’s car on October 26, 1999. 

Ron Jr. tell us: "I first met Johnny Alite in Atlantic City, New Jersey, at one of the casinos. Johnny knew of my father, Ronald Turchi, who was the acting consigliere to the Philadelphia crime family. My father tried to keep me sheltered from the life as much as he could, but the more he did, the more I wanted to go the other way. The money was too great for me not to be there. Even though my father was a very important man, I refused to ride on the coattails of his name. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the benefits that came with our name. We could walk right into clubs and not wait in long lines. It was like everywhere we went, people would roll out the red carpet, treating us pretty much like movie stars.

"For being a twenty-one-year-old kid in the late ‘80s and having experienced all the money and glam surrounding me, there was no way I was going to choose another path. I was young and impressionable..."

Also genuinely moving is how Ron captures what his friendship with Alite provided (we'd be very interested in reading more about Ron and his life in Philadelphia). "(W)hen I was with Johnny, I felt ten feet tall. He was about five years older than me, and he was strong and confident, yet very humble and cordial. He was always ready to back up his reputation without hesitation, and soon, Philadelphia knew not to fuck with him.

"Looking at him as a whole, no one would think him capable of the things he’d done, but looking deep into his eyes, I could tell he had already lived three lifetimes."

As for meeting Alite, "John had been driving down to Philadelphia more and more, wanting to spread his wings and expand his network further. I was enamored with how many money-making schemes he had going on all at the same time. I would soon find myself immersed in his world. We would prove to become great friends, and we would do a lot of business together over the years, from moving drugs, sports betting, shakedowns, loansharking, to setting up drug dealers and robberies."

Alite and his father met in Allenwood Prison, and then again at a halfway house.

"My father would tell me stories about John and how wild and fearless he was, sometimes fighting against six guys at a time. I’d just shake my head in amazement. John would always look after my father in prison, and the level of trust and respect they had for each other was almost like father and son."

Something about Turchi's anecdote reminded us of something Anthony Ruggiano Junior once told us. 

His father, Fat Andy knew John Alite’s father, Matthew, from when they idled away the days betting their hard-earned dollars at the racetrack, Anthony told us.

Anthony later explained that, "When my father was in jail with Zeke (former Gambino acting boss Arnold Squiteri) and Funzi (soldier Alphonse Sisca), John Alite’s name kept coming up. People would visit and he’d hear about Alite, who he was with and what he was doing. That's how my father heard about John Alite."

Even all those years back, stories about John Alite made the rounds....

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