Talking to the Feds- page 4 | History | Smithsonian
Current Issue
July / August 2014  magazine cover

Save 81% off the newsstand price!

Talking to the Feds

The chief of the FBI's organized crime unit on the history of La Cosa Nostra

If I had to pick one person who was the most influential La Cosa Nostra figure in this country, though, it would have to be Lucky Luciano.

Do movies portray the organized crime world accurately?
One of the best movies I ever saw was The Godfather. I say that because it was well done, but it also was bad in the sense that it humanized these people, and glamorized them. I think since them there's a tendency in movies and the press to shine a sympathetic light on these guys.

Why is the public so fascinated by mobsters?
The portrayals in TV and books have turned these criminals into celebrities, into having a cult-like status. The inclination in this country is to look positively towards someone with celebrity status. Some of these guys played into that.

I've known a lot of these people over the years. Some of the guys in the Commission. "Fat Tony" Salerno. Lefty Ruggiero, who was played by Al Pacino in the movie Donnie Brasco. You get to talking to them, and they can be very engaging. But you have to remember who they are, and what they represent.

Do you watch "The Sopranos"?
No. I've never watched it. I've lived and breathed this stuff for 20 years, and I don't feel the need to watch it.

Comment on this Story

comments powered by Disqus