STIFFED by William Knoedelseder


A True Story of MCA, the Music Business, and the Mafia
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 A journalist's harsh review of a federal case that, he believes, brought far too few white-collar scofflaws and mobsters to justice. Former Los Angeles Times reporter Knoedelseder (whose beat was show biz) offers a detailed account of the bicoastal waves created when the L.A. office of the Justice Department's Organized Crime Strike Force went after one Salvatore Pisello for failure to pay income taxes. The investigation of Pisello (an alleged member of the mafia's Genovese family in N.Y.C. who worked out of MCA's Records Group during the early 1980's) touched off a host of collateral inquiries into racketeering and unsavory business practices (counterfeiting, dubious promotional practices like bribing DJs with cash or cocaine, money laundering, rigging performance charts, etc.) in the hit-conscious entertainment industry. While these probes eventually led to the conviction of fewer than a dozen lower-echelon hoods (including Pisello) and no- name civilians on charges ranging from extortion through tax evasion, prosecutors didn't lay a glove on MCA (now owned by Japan's Matsushita) or any of its executives. Knoedelseder leaves little doubt that influential friends in high places helped protect the conglomerate throughout the long-running scandal. Suggestively, he recounts the frustrations and unhappy fates of G-men who persisted in efforts to pierce the corporate veil at MCA--which has never explained why a connected wiseguy was representing it on big deals involving megabuck sales of remaindered LPs and cassettes. A sorry, well-told tale that sheds considerable light on how corrupt corporate insiders in league with underworld gangsters managed to beat some potentially bad raps, thanks mainly to government forbearance. (Eight pages of b&w photographs--not seen.)

Pub Date: March 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-06-016745-9
Page count: 496pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1993


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