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  • Robert Farago

Growing Up With the Mob

A close encounter of the Cosa Nostra kind

“Hey Farago! What do you know about the statue of limitations?” You’d be forgiven for thinking that the mobster misspoke, using “statue” instead of “statute.” Nope. Let me explain…

Organized crime is organized, but not complicated. Do what I tell you or I’ll hurt you. Make me ask again and I’ll really hurt you. Continue to defy me and, at some point, I’ll have to kill you.

Steal a mobster’s money? Go directly to the morgue. In terms of structure, everybody kicks-up a piece of whatever they make to their boss. Who kicks a percentage up to his boss. And so on.

To be a successful Italian mafioso, you don’t need to be particularly smart. Paranoid? Yes. Violent? Sure! When it comes to clever schemes, they’ve got Jews for that.

I’m not saying there isn’t a genius mobster somewhere. Someone who combines intellectual excellence with low animal cunning. I created just such a character for my novel Reservation Point.

Leo Sportcatello wasn’t based on any of my Italian American high school classmates. They were, to a man, intellectually challenged. Not their fault. Natural selection.

Back to Carlo Not His Real Name’s enquiry…

There was no doubt in my mind: Carlo thought there was a statue of limitations. Which set me thinking. What would that statue look like?

I thought of Kurt Vonnegut’s story Harrison Bergeron. The government forces ballet dancers to wear weights to make them "equal" to less talented dancers.

Did I really want to pretend such a thing existed, messing with a teenager who wouldn’t think twice about breaking an arm or a leg? Specifically, my arm or leg?

Have you met me? Read any of my posts?

There was only one possible answer: “It’s in Washington. Next to the Lincoln memorial. The President, not the car.”

Carlo suspected I was fucking with him. Like I said, low animal cunning.

“You fucking with me?” he asked.

I smiled and told him everything I knew about RI’s statute of limitations (gleaned from AP law). No limit on the big stuff (e.g., homicide, rape, robbery, molestation and arson) ten years for financial crimes and three-years for miscellaneous infractions.

I gave Carlo the 411 hoping he’d consider the “Legal Jeopardy for Dummies” intel valuable enough to let my “joke” slide.

Mission accomplished! To the point where Carlo offered to sell me a thousand Quaaludes.

So now that I’ve made Carlo a figure of fun, I want to be clear just how evil these mafia motherfuckers are.


Mafiosi are leeches. They destroy legitimate business with “protection rackets,” pausing only to loot inventory (stiffing suppliers). Their union activity answers to the same description.

When my father resisted their attempt to “organize” his factory, they tried to kill my brothers. Rolled lit barrels of chemicals straight at them.


In The Godfather, Giuseppe Zaluch tells fellow mobsters he doesn’t want to be involved in the drug trade.

I also don't believe in drugs. For years I paid my people extra so they wouldn't do that kind of business… I don't want it near schools - I don't want it sold to children!

Bullshit. After rising to power through Prohibition, the mob moved on to importing heroin. Then marijuana, cocaine, whatever drugs the market would bear.

Abuse, Rape

Mafioso are also prone to misogyny, domestic abuse and pedophilia.

Whitey Bulger was arrested for statutory rape at 21), a habit he continued throughout his “career” in South Boston (with federal protection, but that’s another story).

Bulger’s partner in crime, Stevie Flemmi, was equally reprehensible.

Stevie Flemmi was, at best, a man with uncomfortable taste in dating partners.  At worst, he was a pedophile.  But anyway you swing it, he was a violent misogynist who raped and murdered at will.  Two of his victims, Debra Davis and Debra Hussey, were 26 when Flemmi killed them. And both were teenagers when their relationships with the nearly-fifty-year-old Flemmi began.

Extortion, drugs, prostitution, gambling, theft, violence, murder – the mafia is nobody’s friend. Not even their own; ratting each other out when cornered.

Nobody’s A Friend of Theirs

I kept my distance from my mobbed-up classmates, and spared no tears when they did time or met a violent end.

Carlo died of natural causes. He never ascended to the top ranks of la famiglia. Which is just as well, for all concerned. Myself included.

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