That Screeching You Hear from Trump & Friends About Mueller & the FBI: Just Another Tactic He Learned from his Mobbed-Up Pals.

Donald Trump & the Mob: A Patsy Among Punks:
By Steve Villano

(Mobsters in the Gambino & Genovese Crime Families Screeched at the FBI & Robert Mueller (Just like Trump & Friends are Doing Now) Right Before Being Indicted & Convicted of Running a Criminal Enterprise. The FBI & Mueller ALWAYS Get Their Man…)

(reprinted from The National Memo, December 17, 2017)

Author Steve Villano’s remarkable new book is Tightrope: Balancing A Life Between Mario Cuomo And My Brother (Heliotrope Books 2017), the true story of his life as an aide to the late New York Governor Mario M. Cuomo and the sibling of a longtime Gambino crime family associate sent to prison for tax evasion.

The following is drawn from the pages of “Tightrope.”

Before all the signs and rumors that special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictments are about to start tumbling down upon Donald Trump and his associates like a ton of bricks, many of us were baffled as to how long the huge target of the criminal investigation involving the Russians could get away with his lunatic, erratic, fanatical behavior, false claims about “fake” news, and histrionic attacks on the FBI and every federal law enforcement and intelligence agency.

 

That masquerade worked until members of Robert Mueller’s FBI investigative team induced Sammy “The Bull” Gravano—a man who murdered 19 people—to “flip” and provide evidence to convict John Gotti. After the Boss of the Gambino crime family was put away for life, Mueller’s men enticed the same Gravano to come out of the safety of witness protection and testify again; this time, he said that “The Chin” was totally lucid, and his insane behavior had all been an act.

 

Gigante, like Gotti, was convicted on Gravano’s testimony, and sentenced to life in prison, where he died. Mueller and his crack law enforcement professionals — expert in busting up criminal enterprises— were thus responsible for ending the reign of two of the most feared mobsters in the United States. Neither the Gambino nor the Genovese crime organizations (members from both of which married into my family) were ever the same again.

 

In Tightrope: Balancing A Life Between Mario Cuomo & My Brother, I write about the Trump family’s “ incestuous relationship with organized crime,” as the investigative reporter Wayne Barrett described it in his seminal work on the depth of Donald Trump’s lying and corruption, Trump: The Deals & the Downfall, (December, 1991, Harper Collins, NY, NY.)

 

Trump’s ties to the Genovese, Gambino, and Scarfo mob families were of great significance to me, since my brother Michael was convicted of being a bag man for John Gotti, while I worked for Governor Mario M. Cuomo of New York.

“My brother knew many of the mob guys Trump did business with, and how they joked that they could make the hair of the heir of Fred Trump’s construction business stand on end, getting whatever they wanted from him. It’s a lesson that was not lost on Russian mobsters, like Felix Sater, Trump’s partner in his SoHo hotel, and a number of his wealthy, well-connected oligarch friends. Nor was it a lesson ever ignored by Mueller and his top team of law enforcement officials. It’s also a lesson that came straight out of New York’s construction industry, where the Trumps made their money.’

 

“I’ve never dealt with an industry that has more pervasive corruption than the construction industry,” James F. McNamara, director of former New York City Mayor Edward I. Koch’s Office of Construction Industry Relations told the New York Times in April 1982.

“When I say corruption I’m using a very broad term. Some of it is labor racketeering. Some of it is political influence. Some of it is bid-rigging; some, extortion,” said McNamara.

In an extensive story detailing the mob’s influence over New York’s construction industry, the Times reported:

“Organized crime figures have infiltrated many important construction unions, from truck drivers to carpenters to blasters. Sixteen of thirty-one union locals in the city that represent laborers, the backbone of any construction job, are described by law enforcement authorities as being under influence of organized crime.”

Many builders and developers throughout the New York metropolitan area, including the Trump Organization, considered it part of the cost of operating in the construction business, and paid whatever extra charges were exacted through organized crime’s control of the cement and drywall industries, or other aspects of the trades.

In Trump: The Deals and the Downfall, Barrett wrote that Donald Trump met with Genovese crime family boss Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno in the apartment of attorney Roy Cohn in 1983. Cohn, hired by Trump ten years earlier, when the Trump Organization was sued by the federal government for racially discriminatory practices in housing, represented Trump as well as Salerno.

 

The meeting between Trump and the Genovese boss occurred only a year after the New York Times had detailed organized crime’s stranglehold on New York’s construction industry, denying Trump any alibi that he did not know with whom he was meeting. Salerno, along with then-Gambino crime family boss Paul Castellano, tightly controlled the city’s concrete industry through their company, S & A Concrete. Cohn’s client list— built since he moved to New York from Washington, DC in the mid-1950s, following his work as chief counsel to Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) —included celebrities, the Studio 54 club, Salerno, Donald Trump and, later, John Gotti.

 

Barrett, who died the day before Trump was inaugurated as President of the United States, documented that Cohn also represented Trump in meetings with another key New York construction industry player during the 1980’s, convicted labor racketeer John Cody, who was another former associate of my brother Michael.

Cody, at the peak of his power in the mid-1970s through 1982, when he was dealing with Cohn on Trump’s behalf, was no small operator. As President of Teamster Local 282, Cody controlled 4,000 drivers of delivery trucks in New York City and Long Island. He had the power to bring to a grinding halt the $2.5 billion construction industry, which employed 70,000 people. He could shut down any construction project in New York, including Trump Tower, by pulling out his drivers. Cody told Barrett: “Donald liked to deal with me through Roy Cohn.”

 

Barrett reported that Trump did, however, have to deal directly with John Cody’s girlfriend, Vernia Hixon, to whom Trump gave a sweetheart deal for several apartments, one floor beneath his own penthouse in Trump Tower.

“Despite his posturing as a New York power player, Trump cowered in front of John Cody, behaving more like a bagman, than a big man. As recently as last October, Cody’s son Michael told Christopher Dickey and Michael Daly of The Daily Beast how Donald gave Cody whatever he wanted: “Trump was a guy who would talk tough, but as soon as you confronted him, he would cry like a little girl. He was all talk, no action.”

 

That’s exactly the opposite of what Trump was telling Billy Bush about how he mistreated women on the now infamous Access Hollywood tape, released the week before Michael Cody’s interview in The Daily Beast and distracting most of the media from Trump’s crime family connections — which went all the way back to his father’s business partnership with Genovese crime family capo Willie Tomasello in the 1950’s. Both Fred Trump and Tomasello were hauled before a Senate committee and questioned about misuse of federal housing funds.

 

John Cody made sure Trump took good care of his special friend Verina Hixon, who now lived directly under Trump’s penthouse. The mobster funneled some $500,000 to Hixon for renovations of her apartments, while he was in jail for racketeering and income tax evasion. When Trump balked at fulfilling some of his promises to Cody’s girlfriend, Barrett reported that “Cody and Hixon cornered him in a nearby bar and got his agreement.”
“Anything for you, John,” was Hixon’s recollection of Trump’s comments to John Cody. “Anything for you.”

 

Trump was so terrified of crossing Cody that at one point, when Cody called Trump from prison to complain about construction problems on Hixon’s apartments, Barrett reported that “Trump greeted him nervously on the phone. “Where are you?” Trump asked. “Downstairs?”

 

“My father walked all over Trump.” Michael Cody told The Daily Beast. “Anytime Trump didn’t do what he was told, my father would shut down his job for the day. No deliveries. 400 guys sittin’ around.”  To John Cody and his colleagues, Donald Trump was just another puffed-up pasty patsy, who did whatever the mob guys asked.

 

Indicted by a Brooklyn grand jury on charges of racketeering, extortion, and tax evasion, John Cody was sentenced to five years in prison at the end of 1982. His sentencing judge, Jacob Mishler, was the same federal judge who would sentence my brother Michael to federal prison six years after Cody’s conviction.

 

With Cody’s ability to wield such vast economic power and choke off Trump’s flow of cash, there was little wonder that Donald Trump asked Roy Cohn to meet with Cody to keep him happy. They were in business with these guys. They had buildings to complete, and fortunes to make. Cooperating with the FBI or federal and state law enforcement officials to clean up the construction trades industry was not in Donald Trump’s self-interest. Making money was.

 

“There are no heroes in this industry in terms of helping law enforcement officers,” Jim McNamara told the Times. Many observers believe that Trump, although he holds the nation’s highest elected office, behaves the same way today toward the Russian mob and its international criminal empire. See no evil, speak no evil—especially if your business is dependent upon the mobsters under investigation.

“There is something eerily familiar about the attacks on the FBI by Trump and his lackeys at Fox News and in Congress. They sound exactly like my brother did, when he was sentenced to prison as a bagman for John Gotti who had never paid income taxes on the illicit money he collected for the crime boss. They sound like my brother’s former Gambino family associates with their bitter attacks on the “Feds” and the “fuckin’ gov’ment.” They all cursed the government and the FBI more intensely as the charges against them became more real, and their prison sentences became a certainty. My brother continued to curse the FBI and the “fuckin’ gov’ment” after he got out of prison–sent there because of solid FBI evidence against him.”

Trump was, and still is, a punk-wannabe among punks: an amoral actor doing business with amoral peers. As John Cody’s son observed, and my brother’s friends demonstrated, they had zero respect for Trump. They knew they could squeeze him for as much as they wanted, since all that mattered to Trump was money. That’s a language understood very well by organized crime—whatever dialect is spoken by the Gambino, Genovese, Scarfo or Russian criminal enterprises. It’s also a way of life that Robert Mueller has developed great expertise—and extraordinary results—in holding accountable to the law.

 

Steve Villano is a journalist, film producer, educator, and consultant who worked as a speechwriter for New York Gov. Mario M. Cuomo and headed his New York City press office. He now lives in northern California.
Copyright 2017 The National Memo

Donald Trump And The Mob: A Patsy Among Punks

The Unimaginable

 

(Artwork by Ezra Jack Keats)

 

I heard the first news reports about the massacre of 20 first graders–babies, really–at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, after I just walked out of court in Marin County, California.

 

I had just secured a restraining order from a judge to prevent a mentally deranged individual, who bragged he had a gun, from coming onto the campus of the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) which I was running at the time. He had threatened several of my staff members, and starting ranting to the judge that the CIA was after him.

 

The judge asked me if I had anything further to add, and I rolled my eyes and said “No, your honor. I think my case has been made.” The Judge immediately granted the restraining order.

 

If only swift, stern legal action was taken against the deranged young man who slaughtered 20 innocent babies–26 people in total–that terrible December 14, 2012. Things have only gotten worse since then, with the election of a tool of the NRA as President, the greater proliferation of assault weapons which can assassinate hundreds in a mere few minutes, the passage of a piece of legislation in the  GOP controlled House of Representative which would allow mentally unstable gun owners to conceal the carrying of weapons in every state in the nation–despite any local gun laws–and, the perpetuation of the grotesque lie advanced by Alex Jones and other Fascist fanatics, that those murdered at Sandy Hook were paid actors.

 

Tell that to a parent who lost a beautiful baby 5-years ago.  I was with with my three granddaughters–ages 8, 6 and 2–on the 5th Anniversary of that horrible moment in all of our lives.   I’ve hugged them and kissed them even more than I usually do, imagining the unimaginable, and grateful for every blessed moment I have with them.  I only wish the same for every single parent and grandparent, aunt and uncle, who cherish life and the right of those already born to live it without violence or harm.

 

C-SPAN Airs “Tightrope” Reading December 3, 2017, from Coast-to-Coast

So there it was: On C-SPAN’s “Book TV” schedule for this week:
BOOK TV SCHEDULE: FOR THE WEEK OF NOVEMBER 27-DECEMBER 3…on there with the same listings with HBO, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and with the new books of Matt Tiabbi and Katy Tur.

 

We were at my son’s home, with my granddaughters looking on, and their father logging on to C-SPAN to see if my book reading was listed in C-SPAN’s upcoming schedule for Sunday, December 3, so my son could DVR it. No sooner did he get it on the screen, when my oldest granddaughter, Age 8, shouts, “There’s Grampy’s name,” and we all froze.

 

We knew it was coming, but seeing it on my son’s big video screen just kind of stopped us all in our tracks. Now we knew that C-SPAN’s airing of my reading of “Tightrope: Balancing a Life Between Mario Cuomo & My Brother was real.  No longer was it a speech I delivered that was taped by C-SPAN at the 50th Annual Italian American Studies Association Conference in Washington, DC.  There it was, up on the big screen, in living color.   Now, thanks to C-SPAN’s Book TV, you can watch my reading, wherever  you live in the country.  The times to watch or record are this Sunday, December 3: On the East Coast: 8:10 am and 11:30 am; On the West Coast, 8:30 pm. Tune in to hear me read from the opening chapter of Tightrope.

 

If you like what you hear and want to order a copy of Tightrope: Balancing a Life Between Mario Cuomo & My Brother (Heliotrope Books, NY, NY, 2017) you can do so on the homepage of my website at www.socialvisionproductions.com, or by going directly to amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com.

 

But, don’t just take my word for it.  Read what The New Yorker’s Ken Auletta had to say about Tightrope:  

“What an amazing book you’ve written. Mario Cuomo would have cheered. As impressive as your writing style, what blew me away was the honesty, your willingness to dig deep and share with readers your love and distain for the mob choice your brother made, your unabashed admiration for Mario Cuomo,and your inner turmoil throughout. To weave all this into a book, plus the stereotyping of Italian-Americans, is quite a feat. Congratulations!” — Ken Auletta

 

 

 

 

Salvator Mundi

Circa 1490-1519, oil on panel, 45.4 cm × 65.6 cm (25.8 in × 17.9 in), private collection. (Photo by VCG Wilson/Corbis via Getty Images)

 

 

Salvator Mundi

Born on Sunday,

Forgotten Tuesday

On a very slow newsday.

 

 

Moore’s young girls

Made him weep on Wednesday,

Ryan’s bloodsuckers sold him out on Thursday.

 

 

Salvator Mundi,

Crucified Friday,

Lies & hypocrisy hammered him away.

 

 

Salvator Mundi,

Saturday’s dump,

Rose from the dead,

Saving us from Trump.

 

 

 

 

Kleptocrats & Pedophiles

 

Kleptocrats & Pedophiles,

Dazzle us with lies and smiles.

Hands in pockets, mostly ours,

Hands on genitals of fragile flowers.

 

 

Kleptocrats & Pedophiles

Steal from all, ‘specially chiles–

Take our money, take their honey,

Turn victims bright days dark, not sunny.

 

 

Kleptocrats & Pedophiles

Driven by everything that’s vile.

Rape the public; rape our young–

God spit on you, mankind’s dung.

 

Kleptocrats & Pedophiles,

Robbing families all the while–

Thoughts and prayers of pigs and plunder,

Hasten the time they’re six-feet under.

 

C-SPAN Tapes “Tightrope” Reading for Use on Upcoming “Book Talk” Series

 

(C-SPAN taped “Tightrope” author Steve Villano at the 50th Annual Italian American Studies Association Conference, in Washington, DC.)

Washington, DC – Heliotrope Author Steve Villano reached a new milestone this month for his memoir Tightrope, reading before an audience of academics and authors at the 50th Annual Italian American Studies Association Conference, a major ethnic studies conference. Villano’s presentation was filmed by C-SPAN at the conference on Friday, November 3, at the Omni Sheraton Hotel in Washington DC, for airing on their “Book Talk” Series at a later date.

 

Tightrope: Balancing A Life Between Mario Cuomo & My Brother, has been called “riveting”, “amazing”, and “a memoir that reads like a thriller.” It is the true story of two Italian-American brothers living dramatically different lives, with one working for former New York State Governor Mario M. Cuomo, and the other associated with John Gotti and the Gambino Crime Family.

 

Ken Auletta, author of five national bestsellers, and he writer of The New Yorker’s “Annals of Communications ,” since 1992, offered this high praise for Tightrope:

 

“What an amazing book you’ve written. Mario Cuomo would have cheered. As impressive as your writing style, what blew me away was the honesty, your willingness to dig deep and share with readers your love and distain for the mob choice your brother made, your unabashed admiration for Mario Cuomo,and your inner turmoil throughout. To weave all this into a book, plus the stereotyping of Italian-Americans, is quite a feat. Congratulations!” — Ken Auletta

 

The Italian American Studies Association conference where Villano read from Tightrope is among the largest gatherings of Ethnic Studies and Italian American Studies professionals and academics held in the United States. This year’s conference–which drew representatives from some 50 U.S. colleges and Universities– was held in Washington, DC, November 2-4, in conjunction with the annual meeting of the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF), with the theme: Faith, (Ir)reverence, and the Italian Diaspora: Fifty Years of Italian American Studies.

 

“I was deeply honored to have the opportunity to read from Tightrope to academics from Ethnic Studies programs across the country,” Villano said. “I will work hard to bring Tightrope into college and high school classrooms, since we need to make the next generation more aware of the pernicious effects of ethnic stereotyping and discrimination.”

 

(Excerpt from presentation to the 50TH ANNUAL ITALIAN AMERICAN STUDIES ASSOCIATION CONFERENCE in Washington, DC, November 3, 2017:)

“THE TIGHTROPE ITALIAN AMERICANS TREAD WHEN ORGANIZED CRIME TOUCHES US:”

Federal District Court, Uniondale, summer 1988. I sat shoulder-to-shoulder with my 22-year-old nephew, Michael Jr., struck by his resemblance to JFK, Jr., and also to my brother at the same age: jet black hair, large dark eyes, and a dazzling, kind smile. Michael and I listened to federal prosecutors lay out their case against his father and my brother.

 

Earlier that morning Governor Mario Cuomo had called me at home. After three years of working nearly round-the-clock with Cuomo at the Governor’s Two World Trade Center office—even sleeping over in my office during snowstorms—I was now his “man” at the Long Island Power Authority, laboring long hours to shut down the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant for health and safety reasons.

 

“You do good work, Steve,” the Governor said. “You have great, great ability and a great future. It’s a pleasure working with you.”

 

“You have a pretty good future yourself, governor,” I said.

 

“Oh, no. I have no future, Steve,” Cuomo joked. “But you,” he said in a serious, almost fatherly tone, “you have a wonderful future.”

 

Ninety minutes later, that bright future collided with my brother’s present. I was sitting in a federal courtroom, hearing government prosecutors ask an FBI agent if it was true that my brother was a bagman for John Gotti, collecting money from union officials to “buy labor peace.” Gotti and Villano: both names spoken in the same sentence by a federal law enforcement officials. My brother linked to Gotti; I linked to Cuomo. These were only allegations, I kept telling myself. My brother was not guilty of anything; he could not be; he was my mother’s son.

 

Mario Cuomo detested the “bums” in organized crime as much as I did. He was incensed by the mob innuendos about him or anyone in his family. Even the expectation that he had to answer any questions about it outraged him, since he believed that his whole life “has been a statement against that crap.”

 

What if my family name became “the issue?” Would he keep me on staff? Would I have the courage to leave the public service work I loved? I felt naked; nothing left to protect me: not my carefully calibrated career, not my conservative clothing, not my law degree. Nothing. That was my brother up there. We shared the same blood, the same last name. For years, we shared the same bedroom, with different dreams, at the top of the stairs in my parents’ house: Michael, my brother Vinnie and me; our lives intertwined.

 

I looked around Judge Mishler’s courtroom, and winced as I heard our name echo around the room, bouncing off a bench, a chair, the judge’s desk. If only I had a sponge, I would scrub the walls, the seats, and make our name vanish from every surface it touched. I wanted everything to disappear, but could not keep myself away from the courtroom. I had to find out what I suspected, but denied for years.

 

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Tightrope: Balancing a Life Between Mario Cuomo and My Brother by Steve Villano

978-1-942762-42-3 trade paperback; 268 pages; $16.50 • 978-1-942762-41-6 eBook

June 2017, Heliotrope Books, LLC • heliotropebooks.com

Or, order directly via my website at www.socialvisionproductions.com.