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Monday, February 21, 2011

Mafia actor a remade man after real life crime

Regrets, he's had a few.
Anthony Borgese is singing a new tune -- the 72-year-old wiseguy actor who admitted arranging for mobsters to beat up a deadbeat, told The Post in an exclusive interview that he has cast himself in a brand new role, guiding troubled youngsters down the straight and narrow.
Borgese, who used the stage name Tony Darrow playing connected guys and mob bosses in "The Sopranos" and films including "GoodFellas," said, "I'm very sorry for what I did. The only way I can change it is by trying to help other people."
So he shot his own indie film -- a public service announcement designed to convince young people to stay away from crime.
FULL CIRCLE: Anthony Borgese -- mob-pal thug star of 'GoodFellas' -- is sharing his story with troubled youngsters.
FULL CIRCLE: Anthony Borgese -- mob-pal thug star of "GoodFellas" -- is sharing his story with troubled youngsters.
In it, Borgese recounts the day the FBI phoned him in Detroit, where he was shooting the feature film "Kill the Irishman."
A short time later, he was in a New York federal detention center, charged with arranging for mobsters to maul a deadbeat.
"They threw me into a cage with 70 . . . criminals," he says in the film. "I was the only one who got arrested for the first time . . . I was so frightened I thought I was going to pee myself."
In addition to the film, he hopes to be booked for live appearances in schools and jails.
Under his plea bargain, Borgese, who is out on bail, is supposed to get 33 to 41 months for extortion.
Borgese -- who had never before been convicted of a crime -- was born for the roles he played.
He grew up in Brooklyn's East New York and his dad was a connected "street guy" who was in and out of jail.

"When I was younger and my father was in jail, [local mobsters would] run a dice game -- the wiseguys. They'd go, 'Hey, Anthony, he's cutting the game' -- I'm going to take vig from the game. Every time they throw the dice, I take a dollar out of the pot. Then I'd bring it home to my mother."
The whole neighborhood seemed married to the mob.
"The old Italian ladies were sitting up looking out the window," he recalled. "They'd whistle when the cop cars were coming.

One of his early nightclub jobs came through a mob connection, his pal Paul "Little Paulie" Vario.
Little Paulie's father, mobster Paul Vario, got him booked into the local Bamboo Lounge, then a popular watering hole for wiseguys. Years later, Borgese played the club's owner in "GoodFellas," which also featured Paul Sorvino as the mob boss Paul Cicero, based on the Vario Sr. character.
"I knew John Gotti -- I knew all those guys from the neighborhood," Borgese said. "They always treated me well."
One day, as Borgese played golf with a wiseguy, he mentioned an outstanding debt.
"I asked him for a favor," Borgese said.
That favor was using mob enforcers to teach the debtor a lesson he wouldn't forget -- the pounding the victim took in upstate Monticello left him with a broken jaw.
Borgese said the idea for his latest film came after he spoke to his teenage son.
"He said, 'The guy owed you money; you tried to collect it. You didn't do anything,' " Borgese recounted. "It made me feel worse. It was not the message I wanted to give him."


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