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

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mob novel is based on New Jersey author’s real life godfather

Since 1975, Jon D'Amore had wanted to write a book about some members of his family – and, by extension, "La Famiglia." But the timing wasn't right back then. Many of the Hudson County mobsters central to the tale were still alive – and definitely not seeking publicity.

Jon D'Amore
Jon D'Amore
"It was while things were going on," D'Amore, who now lives in Los Angeles, says on the phone from Secaucus, on a visit home to promote his first, self-published novel. "I felt that these people deserved to be written about. I really believed they needed to be immortalized. I thought, 'What a great story it would make!' but for obvious reasons, I couldn't write that."
Not then. But now, with most of the primary players dead ("of either natural or unnatural causes"), comes "The Boss Always Sits in the Back," his novel based on a true story.

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"This is a fictional story based on some guys I knew and some things I heard and saw," D'Amore writes in the preface, informing readers that he has changed all names ("except anyone named D'Amore").

He stresses that he has never been in the mob ("I wrote the book about being on the edge of it!") but because of several "connected" relatives, he knew of "people who were fairly high up in the food chain."
The book's central character is Gerald D'Amore – his oldest cousin and his godfather – whom he called Jerry. D'Amore describes him as underboss to New Jersey mob boss Rocco Casiano, a "made" member of the Genovese crime family.
A good chunk of the book takes place in Las Vegas, where Jerry invites the character based on the author, Jon, to join him for a celebration of Jon's 22nd birthday. Then Jerry enlists him in an elaborate scheme to scam the casinos out of lots of money. When their long-running operation was finally detected in October 1977, it led to gambling-law changes regarding credit lines, D'Amore says.
How much of the book (which includes sex, drugs and murder) is true?
"I'd rather not answer that," says D'Amore. "You could say that Jon says he took the fifth." As for the Sin City doings, all he'll say is: "I was definitely in Vegas for my 22nd birthday, and I saw these guys doing something that was fantastic."
In 1999, D'Amore learned that Jerry was dying of lung cancer. "He was literally on his deathbed, and I said, 'I want to know what happened here, here and here,' " says the author, who gave Jerry a tape recorder and cassettes and asked him to "fill in the blanks."
D'Amore, 58, spent his first 12 years in Union City. The family then moved to Secaucus, and D'Amore, who started out as a session musician, shuttling between both coasts, then worked for more than a decade in the corporate world. After moving to California 13 years ago, he took a screenwriting course and is now a script doctor and screenwriter. He has written a "Boss Always Sits in the Back" screenplay, which is being shopped around.
D'Amore says one of the book's funny tales is true: Mob VIPs arrived at his godfather's wedding reception in the back of a customized catering truck with a living room bolted into it. It was backed up to a service entrance so these guests could avoid being photographed by the FBI.
What about the story of the Hackensack guy, whacked in a restaurant, whose body was put in a rolling closet?
Says D'Amore: "I had heard stories about my cousin's right-hand man, I guess you could say, and how cool he was about making plans like that. And a rolling coat closet was one of the things I had heard."



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