An organized-crime figure specializes in financial shenanigans as intricate as any imaginable.
No goomba-come-lately, Saggio was a fourth-generation member of an extended Mafia family. Here, with his first-person account buttressed by crime journalist Rosen’s narrative, Saggio explains why he chose to operate independently: “I didn’t want anyone bustin’ my balls. . . . If I wasn’t with any crew, I could move around and not answer to anyone.” He made money and paid the vig to whoever controlled the turf—and what a turf it was, from drugs to cigarettes to car thefts, but most fascinatingly on Wall Street, where Saggio figured out how to “get a hook into a firm, bring the wiseguys in, and the exploit the situation.” This involved IPO scams like dumping stocks after an early purchase. “I had a vice president at Chase Manhattan Bank and a vice president at European American Bank who would handle my accounts and transactions personally,” the mobster boasts; Paine Webber and Shearson Lehman also figured in the equation. But Saggio’s independence required an exquisite appreciation of balance and a knowledge of who was who within the five New York crime families. (“Patty and his brother Joey were with Roy DeMeo, who ran a crew for Nino Gaggi, a skipper with the Gambinos.”) His connections were always in flux—now with the Columbos, now with the Luccheses, the Genoveses, the Bonannos, the Gambinos—and when Saggio eventually ran afoul of the truly nasty Tommy D., he turned to the witness protection program, which comes across as a deeply amateurish operation. The everyday lawlessness and violence here is omnipresent; there’s no running, no hiding, no avenue of escape from Mob influence, and law-abiding readers may feel as though a rasp is being drawn across their foreheads.
If what Saggio says is true, and there’s little reason to believe it’s not, readers are advised to think twice before their next flutter on an IPO.