Thursday, February 28, 2008

He Spat on the Sidewalk Too

I seem to be getting a lot of mob press releases in my inbox recently. The latest is an illustration of the state of the modern day mob. It concerns the sentencing of the acting boss of the Genovese crime family, Danny Leo "a/k/a the Lion," 67 years old, and his nephew Joey, 46. Both are from New Jersey, and here is what they did:

DANNY and JOSEPH LEO conspired from 2002 to 2006 to commit extortion by threatening a loansharking victim with physical violence and other harm if he did not make prompt repayment of various loans and debts. DANNY LEO also conspired with other members and associates of the Genovese Family from approximately 2003 to 2006 to extort money from the owners and operators of an illegal gambling business by threatening economic harm and violence.
OK, this is no good and I'm glad they're being put away for "60 and 45 months respectively," according to this press release from federal prosecutors in Manhattan.

But here's what this gets me wondering: is this all these guys have to do to make money? Shaking down some bookies and a guy they loaned money to? Is that what they've been reduced to--low-grade extortion?

Just wondering. Back in the day, the Genovese crime family controlled labor unions, much of the garment industy, real estate, food businesses, and of course also committed quite a bit of stock fraud. Extortion is nasty stuff, but somehow I expect more from a Genovese family boss. Are they that much down on their luck?

The answer, I suspect, is yes. The mob was always a tawdry, disgusting business without any glamor at all. If the Sopranos had reflected real life, I've always felt, it would have been too grimy and small-time to watch.

© 2008 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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