Mafia Cop: The Two Families of Michael Palermo; Saints Only Live in Heaven
Detective Michael Palermo built his career on his unique ability to inhabit two worlds at once: the world of law enforcement and the underworld of New York’s crime family organizations. Palermo participated in over two thousand arrests while maintaining close relationships with the kingpins of organized crime—ties that allowed him to stay one step ahead of the rest of the New York City Police Department. This true crime drama takes you inside the police force at its most corrupt and into the dark and dirty world of dons, consiglieres, underbosses, button men, soldiers, and cowboys.
Without giving away spoilers, tell us a little about MAFIA COP and how you came to write this book.
In my writing career of numerous biographies, novels, short stories, musical comedy and dramatic plays, song lyrics and musical compositions, this book has become my life’s work, having spanned decades of personal meetings with Detective Michael George Sabella to include interviews of persons expositioned in his story; restaurant meetings where he used the “gunfighter seat” with his back to the wall in story-reciting locales; meetings at Detective Sabella’s home; my initial meeting with him at his “Raindrop” post-detective ladies garment and accessories business office in the garment center of New York City where he went crazy when I told him I wanted to tape our conversation (little did I know at the time that taped conversations played a vital, pivotal and nefarious role in his life); and his post-detective-day lounge meetings with me at an upscale New York City hotel where he was the chief of security and where I met and shared memory times with number of motion picture actors.
How did you meet Mr. Sabella? What was your relationship with him?
My brother-law, Warren, told me that his childhood friend, Rocco “Rocky” M., would like to speak with me about some important business.
Rocky owns and operates a high-end franchised jewelry store in one of the most luxurious hotels in New York City. I call Rocky and he tells me that a good friend of his is a former New York City police detective who was in the elite Special Investigations Unit (SIU) from which the stories from the best-selling book, The Prince of the City, were resourced in real-event-time. He says that he told this retired detective, Lieutenant First Class Michael George Sabella, that I write books, and he said that Mike Sabella would like to talk to me about writing his story; a story about his life on the police force including his tour in the narcotics squad which started back in 1953 when the squad was first formed.
I say to myself that this sounds like it could be a good thing for me and for this detective. So I go down to visit with Rocky and then I go down to the garment district in New York City where I meet with Mike Sabella in his office (his women’s accessories company called “Raindrop”).
We make the introductions and he sits behind his desk and I sit on a chair in front of him. He is a very polite gentleman who is relaxed and I can envision him as he had testified in court as the arresting officer in his two thousand plus arrests in the police department.
When readers finish MAFIA COP, what do you want them to have gained?
Daily, you must renew your enthusiasm and all of your strengths, then you will not wither away to become nothing more than a wisp of a memory of someone who could have been great; someone who could have been somebody; someone who could have been a contender and the next Champion of the World in your given pursuits.
Never give up. Always look for the candlelight shining far or near in the pitch-black night and grab for your chance to “make it.” But be very careful, because if your grasping hand moves too fast or strikes too quickly or too wildly without measured forethought, you may snuff out the candle’s flame of opportunity, and then for sure you will return to the loneliness of darkness and you may never again find that one last chance for success. Stay alert and use all of your powers of tenacity. And once you get a foothold and a grab-point, hold on tightly and climb upwards to the stars.
Never, never, ever give up.
At any rate what you should gain from reading Mafia Cop- The Two Families of Michael Palermo; Saints Only Live in Heaven is everything that I just imparted to you. Everything in the book is what I offer to you, the reader. And you should always have a new and residing respect and appreciation of your own self-worth, your talents, and your power to succeed.
First, have an intricate knowledge of the subject matter of your writings. Second, be yourself when you write and interview and speak with your resources. And finally, understand that I was there at the right time, at the right place, and with the right people. You can be there, too.
What led you to write true crime/organized crime books?
I was born into a life where the Mafia, La Cosa Nostra, and The Black Hand (La Mano Negra) were all around me. I grew up living in a sea of organized crime, and I didn’t know it.
My first innocent realization was when my brother-in-law, Louis Anthony “Louie Capp” C., told me about how he had grown up in Little Italy in Manhattan, New York City in the 1930s where his youthful environs were on Mott, Mulberry, and Canal Streets.
Louie Capp told me about how one day, he saw some shoes sticking up from inside a garbage can. He walked over and when he looked more closely, he recognized the shoes, the head with the black hair, and the face of his friend, Tommy DeStefano who had, as a kid, become a runner for the gambling operations of the mob. In later years, he told me that his uncle Tony had been a member of the Vito Genovese mafia Family.
And I have already told you about talking with my other brother-in-law, Warren G., who was a longshoreman on the Brooklyn docks that had been controlled by Albert “The Mad Hatter” Anastasia of “Murder Incorporated.”
Little did I know that Warren’s referral, meeting with Rocky M., and subsequently Mike Sabella would be the spark that set off an explosion of true crime projects that continue today in my most recently completed true crime property, The Joey Calco Story: The Bath Avenue Crew of the Joseph Bonanno Family.
You seem to have a way of connecting with individuals who have amazing true crime stories to tell. Why do you think they open up to you?
They trust me to be a “stand-up guy” who knows how to write their stories honestly and with panache, bringing their past into their future with truth and insightful writing skills. I fill the contract which I have made with them. They appreciate that and become my fans and endorsers. I am a “contractor” with a heart and a soul.