If you google the name Gregory Scarpa, up will pop words such as his nickname, “the Grim Reaper,” “Mafia capo,” and “FBI informant.”
Greg was also a husband and father.
I recently read the new book, “The Mafia Hit Man's Daughter,” written by Greg's daughter Linda.
I did not know Greg, who was a capo in the Colombo Family. I did, however, know a lot of people in the book. I knew some of his intended victims and those that tried to make him a victim.
The book is a well written look inside a mafia leader’s family life. Greg comes off as charming in beginning. It sucks you into the life so you are almost living it with Linda and her mother, Big Linda. This is a not a book that glamorizes the life, but a look at the truth.
As you read along, you begin to accept things as okay even when you know they are not - which is exactly how it happens in the life. I'll give you a few examples.
When someone goes into the armed forces they go away to bootcamp. They go through physical stress as well as emotional stress. Everyone around them is dressed the same and going through the same experience. They use the same lingo for common things, which people outside that life don't use. Everything about that life is becomes normal to them, but if you were to do the same things for a day you would find it grueling. The same with going into law enforcement or the fire department. Life in service (that is not normal to anyone outside of service) becomes normal and accepted when you are a part of it.
Greg Scarpa’s wife Big Linda grew up in Brooklyn and the people she saw often were involved in the mafia.
Today it is easy to forget that the Italians and Jews were once the immigrants who lived in the ghetto. They were blue collar and many worked hard to assimilate into American society. They kept their heritage but became Americans. They still lived in neighborhoods like Bensonhurst, Brooklyn but they worked their way up to become middle class. I knew some old Italian mafia guys and they still talked about how they were spit on as kids. A couple of them boxed and they took Irish names so they could get fights, since Italians were not seen as fighters.
In 1962 at Flamingo Lounge at 72nd St. and 13th Ave in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, Big Linda met a 35 year old Greg Scarpa. It was the glory days of the American mafia and these guys ruled the city with an iron fist. She was already dazzled by these men in power, but Greg was a different story. He was handsome and very self confident, but he was very nice. He did everything for her and she was willing to overlook the small things like gambling and robbery. Why not - he was a good man to her. When she found out he murdered people it was the same, because she did not see the devastation up close.
Big Linda was also a witness to Greg's double life as an FBI informant. This is the part of the book that is fascinating. When you read it you will be shocked at how far the government is willing to go in order to put away certain people.
I was an FBI informant, and guess what, so are many guys still on the street. The founder of the modern mafia, Lucky Luciano, was an informant. It gives you an edge to others on the street. You don't have to worry about the law, just those in the street.
Greg loved the life and he never intended to leave it. He used the FBI for money and most importantly, intel on his enemies or other law enforcement agencies. I've known a lot of informants over the years. I knew many who did just what I did and got out. I knew others that used the FBI to continue their crime spree and even commit murder. One man I knew flooded Southern California with cocaine from the Medellin Cartel and murder whoever displeased him. He was a long time FBI informant that never should have been. The DEA warned the FBI not to use him because he was still a top cocaine supplier and a murderer. They used him anyway, and he died of old age in his bed.
The book gives names and times Greg met with the FBI and intel agents gave him. The agents broke the rules and became friends with Greg. They vacationed with him and ate meals. How they did not get put away is beyond me. I guess this is why today the agents work in pairs and when important papers have to be signed a fresh agent must witness it.
The book is not a Mafia tell all that names names and specific crimes, but it is a great look into the world. I know guys who were on the hit Linda describes in the book when the Wild Bill faction of the Colombo family tried to get him. I've been told first hand by a shooter what went down and the version in the book is right on.
Linda talks about going to Florida with guys from her father's crew when they were on vacation. The guys from the crew were really going to carry out a murder. The guy she named was Joe Peraino. Joe Peraino and his brother Tony owned a porn company Arrow Film and Video. They had many, but Arrow was the most famous. Tony’s son Butch produced Deepthroat which became a moneymaker beyond anything the Mafia ever did in porn. Tony, who I knew as Big Tony, was a made Colombo and so was his brother Joe. They came from a line of mafia bosses. They had interests in the garment center but after Deepthroat took off, the money became an issue.
The Colombos sided with Big Tony. A hit team that included Tommy Shots Gioeli chased down Joe and his son in Brooklyn. They killed Joe’s son and a nun, but Joe lived out his life in a wheelchair in Florida.
The book is accurate and a great read, pick it up today if you’d like an inside peak into the life.