Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Jewish gangster turned informant reveals location of Jimmy Hoffa

He was a smart, and smart-mouthed, cherub-faced little Jewish kid from Toronto who took the wrong path early and ended up in a mobster's life.
He was a gofer and an enforcer, then a driver to some of the biggest Mafia names and their associates, including Teamster union boss Jimmy Hoffa. (He says he knows where the body is.)
Marvin Elkind was also the driver for Vic Cotroni, the Mob boss who ruled Montreal for 30 years, taking him to his regular haunts like Moishes and Ruby Foos in the mid-'50s. He drove Sûreté du Québec director Hilaire Beauregard, too, who Elkind said was a close friend and business associate of Cotroni's.
A low-echelon mobster with low pay, his attempts to move up the ladder were rebuffed. Then a con-artist named Neil Proverbs ratted him out to the cops, so Elkind gave evidence against Proverbs to save himself. His quick mind made him a devastating witness, and the undercover work gave him an adrenalin rush. The seed of a remarkable 25-year career as an informant, wearing wiretaps in stings for several police agencies on several continents, was sowed.
But the pay of an informant isn't so hot, which is why, at age 77, El-kind was sitting in the restaurant of the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in downtown Montreal on Tuesday morning, chatting over a bowl of Rice Krispies and milk.
His face has retained its cherubic features, but his body slumps over a generous belly, victim to age, a punishing boxing career and too much rich food - he ate at Moishes the night before, had a rack of lamb washed down with a double martini.
Elkind's surreal life is the subject of the new book The Weasel: A Double Life in the Mob, written by award-winning National Post journalist Adrian Humphreys.
If the book is made into a movie, Elkind's money problems could disappear. So he's on the book tour.
The two met in 1999 while Humphreys was researching his book The Enforcer about Johnny Pops Papalia, the Ontario Mafia chief gunned down in 1997.
"Back then," Humphreys said, "Marvin was one of my super secret sources. He was in great danger. ... It turned out his life was much more interesting than that of the gangsters."
Asked if he is in danger now, El-kind says: "I don't know." Then he asks the videographer clipping a microphone to his shirt: "That's not going to blow up, is it?"
The book is a riveting account of Elkind's dual life as a small-time hood and big-time informer, as well as an intensely sad portrait of a childhood lost.
Raised by a stepfather who despised him, Elkind fought often as one of the few Jewish kids in his Toronto neighbourhood, and was punished for it. By the time he was 11, he had received the strap at school 175 times - the school kept records. At age 9, he was moved to a foster home run by an Italian gangster mother who abused him; at 11 he was sentenced to five years in re-form school. As soon as he got out, it was his gangster foster family he went to for guidance.
At 18, Elkind started his four-year stint as a driver for Hoffa, the corrupt Teamsters union boss with extensive Mob ties. Elkin feared Hoffa - he heard about people Hoffa was upset with "and then I would see what happened to them." But Hoffa was a family man who also ensured Elkind made it home for Jewish holidays. Hoffa, who disappeared in 1975, is buried in the concrete of the Detroit Renaissance Centre Hotel, Elkind says.
Cotroni, who was responsible for much of the heroin that came into North America through Montreal's port, was a quiet and respectful man to work for, said Elkind. He was also good friends with the head of the SQ, and ensured Beauregard's sons got a lot of business for their snack bar company. In return, Elkind said, Beauregard would help Cotroni with his business.
He insists money, and not a crisis of conscience, is at the heart of his decision to participate in the book. But among his proudest achievements, he cites helping police to bring down Libyan terrorists planning an attack on Israel - "That one was for my people."
He also helped to scuttle a real-estate scam run by his childhood acquaintance and vicious mobster Papalia, who was selling mortgages on properties that didn't exist.
"I hated that son of a bitch," said Elkind, who had weekly meetings with Papalia for six months and wore a wire each time that was never discovered, despite the fact he was patted down each time. "He was evil to an extreme."
The book's launch in Toronto was attended by an eclectic assortment of gangsters, boxing fans, politicians and friends, testimony to the wide scope of people Elkind has won over.
It's been an interesting life, but Elkind, who is still driving to earn a living, wished for different. His half-brother, the one his stepfather loved, became one of the leading merger and acquisition lawyers in Toronto.
"The Mob life is living with a lot of bad guys, and you're not sure sometimes who are your friends and who aren't. - If there was a way I could turn the clock back 68 years - I would do it completely different.
"Am I satisfied with the way I lived my life? One hundred per cent no."
But then his face brightens, revealing a winning smile punctuated by broken teeth.
"Do you think that cute kid could play me in the movie? You know, Justin Bieber?"


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