A lot of books and stories available that are written by people who have no idea about the life. They make “facts” up, based on their “expert opinions.” Who decided they are experts? And how do you become an expert without living in the life? All you have to do is turn on any number of these crime shows and the experts will tell you “what Carlo Gambino was thinking.”
If you grew up in the life or around the life, it is possible you know what is real.
Imagine for a moment that you are just old enough to realize that your father is not the same as the other fathers. He dresses differently, he acts different, and people treat him different. So you ask your father, “Dad what do you do for work?”
He replies,”I'm a Secret Agent.”
“Like James Bond?”
“Yes like James Bond.”
That is what Greg Scarpa told his daughter, Linda, when she was young.
They loved to watch James Bond movies together as she grew up.
Greg Scarpa has been known as the “Grim Reaper” in the media, but nobody would have called him that to his face. Scarpa really was a Secret Agent working for the government of the United States. He was a long time informant for the FBI, who, because of his high rank inside the Colombo Family, was able to provide top notch information.
He was doing work for the FBI not only against Mafia families but in other places.
The movie “Mississippi Burning” is about the FBI search for bodies of three missing civil rights workers during the summer of 1964. This happened near the small town of Philadelphia, Mississippi. The FBI knew the Civil Rights workers were dead, but they could not find the bodies.
In the movie, a man is flown into the town on a small airplane. He kidnaps the town’s mayor and beats the location of the bodies out of him.
The man in that case in real life, who was flown in from New York, was Greg Scarpa. He grabbed a TV Salesman and took him to the remote Camp Shelby Army, base where he got the location of the bodies out of him. Perhaps he just asked him nicely and he gave it up?
The FBI uncovered the bodies in an earthen dam, and Greg Scarpa flew back to Brooklyn to continue his criminal enterprise. The FBI was happy, J. Edgar Hoover was happy, and the press made a huge deal out of it.
The FBI may have used Scarpa on a few more of these Civil Rights missions. Maybe some day the rest of the information will come out.
Scarpa, or Greg Bond, as he jokingly told his daughter one day, was not the typical mobster. He dressed nice but was never flashy. He did not go bouncing around clubs like the others. Scarpa was a family man. He always wanted his family home for 5pm dinner together. The kids all knew they would be in trouble if they were not home by 5pm. It seems a little funny that Scarpa knew the importance of family meals in keeping the family bond strong. Today nightly family dinners are all but lost in most of America.
In their younger years the kids would beg their mother to take them down to the club or luncheonette to see their father. It was a wondrous place where they would emerge with pockets full of cash given to them by everyone. Joey would walk across the room on his hands from one end to the other to entertain them. The crew was so amazed they would make bets on how long he could do it.
Scarpa didn't keep his life a secret from his family. Testimony from other mobsters proves that. So the fact that Linda has now written a book titled, “The Mafia Hitman's Daughter,” which will be available in December, should not surprise anyone. Many men in the life did keep their involvement in the Mafia a secret from their wives, kids and grandkids. Unlike the books by those families members who pretend to know, but were kept in the dark, Linda’s book will have real insight and great stories.
Linda knew her father well and what he could do. People would “disappear” or they would end up in the hospital if they crossed Scarpa. She once stopped by the social club and her father told her she had to leave right then. Scarpa had a two way mirror where he could see the club and one place you never wanted to be was behind that glass. Nothing good would come of that.
I've written before about a planned hit against Greg Scarpa at the start of the Colombo war in the 1990’s. I was told about the event from someone who was in on the planning and was there. Now I’ve also heard it from the other side.
Scarpa was feared by Vic Orena and Bill Cutolo, so after the failed hit on Orena they decided to hit Scarpa. The main thing about the whole event that people do not understand is that Scarpa was on the outs with the Persicos. He was already very sick with AIDS that he had contracted from a blood transfusion. The dementia was setting in at the time.
So, when Scarpa was driving away from his home with his daughter and her son behind him, the hit team parked a truck across the street. They jumped out of a van but one the shooters fired a shot by accident. Scarpa gunned his car forward. Linda saw a shot part the hair of one of her father’s men. Scarpa seemed to be hit as he got around the truck. The gunmen then turned their guns on the car driven by his daughter. Luckily she was not hit. She ran back to the house and started beating on the door. She handed her mother the baby and screamed, “They killed Daddy!” Her legs were rubber and she sobbed until Scarpa walked in the door.
Scarpa cried along with his family for what almost happened. He knew it was a close call and the guys who did it would be back again. Scarpa was on a mission from that minute forward. He told his family that every one of the would be assassins would pay. “I’ll kill them all.”
Scarpa was the one the other side feared the most. It was a big mistake on their part.
Those days are in the past. The guys from both sides of the Colombo war are gone. Scarpa passed away in June of 1994 in a federal prison hospital. He had lost his battle with Aids.
Linda will forever miss the hugs from her father and his voice. Gone are the family meals, but not the many memories.
The whole mafia life is full of stories. Every story, every crime, every botched hit, has two sides who can tell the same story from a completely different point of view.