From The Streets Of Woodhaven To The Gilded Halls Of Mar-a-Lago: Update On John Alite

How did former Gambino associate John Alite make it inside Donald J. Trump’s gilded Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, long enough to be photographed alongside the former president? 

John Alite and Donald J. Trump
Just two guys from Queens chatting.

He didn’t need a gun. Rather, one of his close friends—Brazilian businessman Pedro (Peter) Alberto Leite, president of Hichens, Harrison & Co., who is a years-long member of Mar-a-Lago—brought him in as a guest.

“He’s a good friend of mine,” the Palm Beach-based investment banker said of Alite. Leite grew up in New York and knew Alite “for a long time.” About five years ago, the two renewed their friendship and have grown closer.

“People love John,” he said. “John is the poster boy for turning yourself around. He does charity work, gives speeches, and his knowledge is vast.”

“John,” he noted, “has paid for his crimes. Now he is going out of his way to give back.”

Alite visited Mar-a-Lago—which since September 2019 has been the primary residence of the former president and his wife Melania—multiple times over the past two years, Leite confirmed. This blog has seen some confirmation in the form of numerous photographs, as well as a brief video of John huddled in one-on-one conversation with Trump.

“I love Trump,” John said. “I like his policies.”

Alite, who has been out of prison for about a decade now, takes offense at the notion that there’s something wrong with a former president/current candidate for the presidency being snapped in a photograph with him.

Alite says that the mob is part of his past and that he is no longer a criminal.

“I am a different man since I’ve been home.” Alite said.

Alite says his transformation to legitimate life was already well underway when he was still in a Florida prison finishing his sentence. He mentions a letter written by former Obama AG Loretta Lynch that detailed how he saved the life of a prison guard after the guard was jumped by a lifer known as the “Band-Aid Bandit.” Rafael Angel Rondon earned the bizarre cognomen for the bandage he always wore on his face to hide a mole that could have rendered him easily identifiable. He and his crew heisted at least 39 banks from Sarasota to Gainesville, Florida, from 2000 through 2006, taking nearly $1 million. In June 2007, the serial bank robber was sentenced to more than 149 years in prison.

“I jumped in,” Alite said “because the guard was a veteran. I respected him. He was handling himself pretty good and didn’t really need my help.”

Mar-a-Lago member Peter Leite got Alite inside
Alite with Peter Leite.

As for what he and Trump discussed in the video (ambient noise renders the dialog mostly inaudible), John noted that at the time of the visit, he was involved in a documentary film about drug addiction called Kensington in Crisis, which refers to the Philadelphia neighborhood that is the epicenter of the city’s drug trade. 

Trump “was talking to me about aggressive actions he could take to stop illegal drugs from getting into this country.”

Battling illegal narcotics trafficking—specifically fentanyl—has become an urgent and very personal mission for Alite since the overdose death of his daughter last summer.

Alite and Donald Trump both come from Queens—but vastly different parts. The former president lived in Jamaica Estates with his family—first in a five-bedroom Tudor house (until age 4), and then a 23-room home (until age 13, when he was sent to military school). Jamaica Estates is an affluent community brimming with stately homes where the streets are a little wider and lined with trees. In a 2015 interview with the New York Times, Trump called Jamaica Estates “an oases” that "was safe” and “very family oriented,” compared to other “parts of Queens” that “were rough.” Alite hails from one of those places, called Woodhaven. 

After departing prison more than a decade ago, Alite, 60, initially focused on notching his place on the historical true crime map—specifically, as an associate of the Gambino crime family in the latter years of the Gotti regime. With the onset of COVID-19 in March 2020, he extended his platform from books and social media to podcasting—to advocate against street life in all its forms.

His strategy has evolved and now features a major focus on illicit fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine. A fentanyl dose as tiny as three grains of rice can be lethal if one doesn’t already have an opioid tolerance. Dealers lace drugs like cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine with synthetic fentanyl to cheaply bulk up the wares and boost the high. This quickly strengthens the addiction of their customers, provided it doesn’t kill them first. And it is killing many of them first: Ingesting the covert mixture of fentanyl with their drug of choice is killing addicts and recreational drug users all over the country, sparking a full-blown crisis in the United States, and it's poised to get exponentially worse: dealers have begun bulking up their illicit fentanyl with the animal tranquilizer xylazine. As per a recent New York Times story, "xylazine causes wounds that erupt with a scaly dead tissue called eschar; untreated, they can lead to amputation. It induces a blackout stupor for hours, rendering users vulnerable to rape and robbery. When people come to, the high from the fentanyl has long since faded and they immediately crave more." Horrifyingly, since xylazine is a sedative, the standard opioid overdose reversal treatments such as Narcan are rendered ineffective.

Chelsea Alite died of an overdose at age 30 in the summer of 2022
John's daughter Chelsea, who died at the age of 30.

Fueling John’s efforts against illicit fentanyl trafficking is a heartbreaking personal tragedy, the August 18 death of his daughter Chelsea when doctors took her off life support. Four days prior, she unwittingly took a fentanyl-laced Percocet pill. John’s only daughter—the third of his four children—was mother to a 5-year-old son, Brayden, when she died.

“It has only been about six months,” John said. “It still hurts tremendously. Here is where I take my pain at night and try to save some lives.”

The gargantuan pain John now carries every waking moment includes a horrible sense of guilt: When he pled guilty in late 2006 (after he was flown in chains in an FBI jet from Brazil to Florida), the long list of crimes to which he copped (murder, racketeering, kidnapping, armed home invasions, armed robbery) included drug trafficking.

“Every guy I grew up with got into the drug trade. Because we wanted to make money faster,” he said. 

“You didn’t think about what you were doing to people’s lives. As you get older, like anything else, you reflect back and you are ashamed of what you did. You wish you could change it, but you can’t. The only thing you can do now is give a message to the drug dealers that, in the future, you are going to regret it, you are going to lose your life or you’re going to go to jail."

Helping John's campaign against fentanyl (the pharmaceutical version of which is legally prescribed by doctors to treat severe pain, especially after surgery and for advanced-stage cancer) is Philadelphia-based neurosurgeon Dr. Gentian (Genti) Toshkezi, who met Alite about five years ago in Albania where each was visiting. They happened to stay at the same hotel, which is how their paths crossed.

“John is a celebrity in Albania,” Dr. Genti said, adding, “I saw his good side, his heart. It doesn’t matter what his past was. He has become a good person. And that impressed me.”

Dr. Genti became more intimately connected to John after Chelsea's overdose.

Alite And Dr. Gentian (Genti) Toshkezi met in Albania
John with Genti, the neurosurgeon who has been helping his advocacy. 

“John called me in shock (the day she overdosed). I learned what happened. It was not easy for me to separate from the doctor within to tell him the truth.”

“First of all, I got permission to talk to the doctors there. Then I started telling John what the situation was. I told him to be prepared. That was devastating for him. We were in touch every day."

Genti has been accompanying John on media tours to give the medical perspective on how drugs like fentanyl can harm the body and lead to overdose deaths.

“I admire John," Genti said. "He is using his own tragedy to help other people. He has a lot of courage to use what happened to his daughter to help other people. I am a busy man, but I want to help John talk about  overdosing and all the other potential risks related to drugs. I can use my medical background to help him better explain what drugs can do to the body and how an overdose can lead to tragedy."

“He is my best friend,” John said of Genti. “He helps me raise awareness about fentanyl. He helped me through my daughter.”

The antidote to illicit fentanyl is border security, John posits, saying that 40-60 percent of the illicit fentanyl is smuggled into the US through the borders.

Here's where John Alite's Fox News fangs come out: 

“I believe in immigration, but what Biden is doing is making people die and suffer. (His policies) are bringing terrorists into this country, we don’t know where they’re at. They’re spreading COVID, increasing crime.”

“The President is not doing anything to halt the flow of fentanyl into the US. We have open borders, and the drugs are coming in through Tijuana and other places. Everyone is getting paid off, I know how it works.”

He highlights the case of Genaro Garcia Luna as an example of the endemic corruption that he says is harming border security. Luna, Mexico’s former public security secretary, has been on trial in Brooklyn for accepting bribes to protect the Sinaloa cartel. A former cartel member recently testified that he paid Luna millions of dollars to protect massive cocaine shipments as well as the traffickers from raids and arrests.

John Alite and Roger Stone
Yes, John is with the inimitable Roger Stone, longtime Republican trickster.

The other villain in the illicit fentanyl tragedy is China, Alite says.

“China has 165,000 drug labs. They don’t call fentanyl a controlled substance. If they did, they would have to regulate their labs.”

Another topic near and dear to John is Trump’s First Step Act, which allows inmates to petition the courts directly for compassionate release. The law—an effort to improve criminal justice outcomes, reduce the size of the Federal prison population, and create mechanisms to maintain public safety—has provided fortunate prisoners serving decades-long sentences with a pathway to freedom. Except for wiseguys—who so far haven't seen much success with the First Step Act.

When Trump signed it into law in 2018, the First Step Act was hailed as representing a major shift in the GOP’s political mindset to embrace rehabilitation, racial fairness, and second chances versus the prior  Nixonian “law and order” mentality. 

Then COVID-19 arrived, followed by the summer of protests, etc. Today, the GOP has very much reverted to its historical Nixonian mindset and has mostly disowned the First Step Act. Trump rarely mentions it.