ADDICTED TO THE MOB -Part 2 Getting "Made" by Real Wiseguys
To be “made” is to be formally inducted into a Mafia family. It is also referred to as being “straightened out”. They call it “opening the books” in an organized crime family. In New York, where now ex-mobsters Andrew DiDonato and Billy Cutolo Jr. lived, all five “Families” would submit names of those that they thought deserved to become “made” men. Any of the family heads could veto them. If a guy from the Colombo family was nominated and a guy from the Genovese family said: “Wait a minute, I remember this guy. He screwed over one of my dope dealers one time and didn’t pay up. I veto him,” then he couldn’t become a “made” man. To be “made”, you had to be approved by the commission.
Real Wiseguys is a new business in Las Vegas that is making it possible to become a “made man or woman” in the Las Vegas family. It’s done for entertainment and fun. These Wiseguys performing the ceremonies are the real thing, and were once active members of New York’s Gambino and Colombo crime families. The goals that are set by Real Wiseguys are very unique, with a bar set extremely high of “Family” expectations to give back to the community, charities, and helping people turn their lives around. The website RealWiseGuys.com has been given approval by law enforcement.
Recently I was invited by the Real Wiseguys family, behind closed doors, to observe their very first ceremony performed: the induction of a man named Mike Friedel, and their process of becoming a “made” man. Andrew DiDonato and Billy Cutolo Jr. presided over the celebration. What followed was an extremely close facsimile of the actual secret ceremony, but with a twist. Andrew explained: “This gentleman is going to come in the room and we’ll ask him why he’s here. He doesn’t know why. That’s protocol. I’m going to explain to him that when he was a young boy, his mother and father baptized him into this world and it was their way of giving him a new beginning. I’m going to let him know that I want him to consider today, his being here is his baptism into our world, his new beginning as an associate and member of our brotherhood. With that, I’m going to explain to him some of the weapons that are displayed. We call them tools; the tools that Cosa Nostra has used for hundreds of years. Then I’ll explain to him that here in the Real Wiseguys family, we have no need for those kind of tools. Our tools are our brains, our friendships and our words. We keep them and abide by them. We use our brotherhood, use our business resources; we use the community and the help of community to rise us above. We don’t have to do it through violence. When you become a Real Wiseguy, it’s a big responsibility. That’s the way I was brought up. This was a big step in your life. You have to carry yourself accordingly. So we are making sure that everyone around us carries themselves accordingly, the way we were brought up to believe, without the nonsense, without the criminal activity, without those sidetracking times in your life, where your moral compass goes off. This isn’t about that. It’s totally straight-lined and doing good deeds. The books have never been opened into the Real Wiseguys family, and this gentleman is the first person to be inducted.” The ceremony began as Mike Friedel was brought into the room. Andrew looked to Mike and said: “You have the most responsibility, because you will set the bar for all the others who join.” Mike responded: “I’m up to the task.”
Mike Friedel: “I was a Federal Prison Guard for over 30 years and crime always fascinated me – especially the true crime and the stories, the tribulations and the failures of the Mafia families, and the way everything worked. Hollywood glamorizes the “life”, but it’s not a glamorous lifestyle at all. I really wanted to find out the real deal about Real Wiseguys, where they came from and how they came to be that way, and why they basically got out of that lifestyle. When the opportunity came up, I jumped at it. I came to Vegas for the opening of the Mob Museum and it was a big thrill to come here with my family and friends for this ceremony. When you meet the real people like Andrew and Billy, they’re the real deal. I can see what they’ve gone through over the years. I can say they’ve definitely made the right decision. Those men in the families in N.Y. didn’t know if they were going to live or die from day to day. You wake up in the morning and you might not come back. You go to kindergarten with your friend, you date the same girls, and then someday, someone is going to come to you and tell you that you’ll have to put a bullet in that friend’s head. What kind of life is that? And you’re expected to do that. He trusts you, and you just can’t live life that way. You’re only going to end up one of two ways: doing life in prison or in the cemetery. It is a great experience to be here and go through the actual secret ceremony that they’ve been doing for centuries, and it was just a big thrill to be involved in part of that.”
Andrew DiDonato relayed his story in the book, “Surviving the Mob” – A Street Soldiers Life Inside The Gambino Crime Family, co-written by ex-mobster DiDonato and author Dennis Griffin. Marked for death by the Mob, his fear was that either the Mob would hit him while he was on the run, or some inmate on the inside would shank him. Andrew did the unthinkable: he became a government witness and helped put away many people, including the boss of the Gambino crime family. After paying his debt to society and being part of the Witness Protection Program, Andrew now does speaking engagements and charity fund raisers across the country, to educate the public and at-risk youths about the dangers organized crime poses to society.
William (Billy) Cutolo Jr. sought revenge within weeks of the murder of his father “Wild Bill” Cutolo, by teaming up with the FBI and secretly taping more than 100 hours of conversations to use as evidence to put his father’s murderers in prison. Today he is active in the wars against organized crime and domestic violence. Billy has appeared on “Mob Confessions” a Discovery Channel television series. Both Andrew DiDonato and Billy Cutolo Jr. became government witnesses, and though they came from different families, they remain fast friends. Both have put the “life” behind them, but they both have important stories to share when they participate in RealWiseGuys.com.
“ The day you get “made”, the FBI already knows it."
A CONVERSATION WITH THE REAL WISEGUYS
ANDREW: The “life” just drew us in. We did so many bad things in our lives. We were given a set of rules when we were younger, and we were supposed to follow these rules and be honorable, respectful, and carry ourselves in a certain way – but our bosses didn’t. I want the Real Wiseguys to show our strength in giving back to community; doing for those around us less fortunate. That’s what real wise guys were supposed to do. That’s how I was brought up. It got lost in the interpretation over the years, and greed, jealousy, envy and anger replaced it. This is a legitimate way that we can give back to charities. We will help people with businesses, and we’re using our greater power for better, instead of worse. It’s not a slap in the face to organized crime, but it’s pretty much letting them know: “You guys lost your way somewhere.” If Billy’s name was put out to become “made”, for example, they’d send out his name to all five families and their crews to find out if he was good to do business dealings with, and if he was trustworthy. Maybe he had a police officer in the family, or he had a drug habit, or something he was trying to hide, or if he wasn’t honorable in any of his dealings. They’d make sure he was Italian on both sides; though that changed over the years. Sometimes, when you were young, you had certain guys that would knock you down; just to let you know that you’re not ready, not mature enough. The family boss would say: “Soon, soon, we’re not saying why he’s bad, but we don’t think he’s ready. I’ve got a bar downtown and he comes in with his friends and they’re always fighting, he doesn’t conduct himself well and he gets violent with the patrons,” and it’s something so silly like that that can get you. It’s a very political thing! Not always the guy who deserves to get it gets it. A lot of guys who deserve it get passed over, and a lot of money guys get it because the bosses want their money. That shows how corrupt it’s gotten over the years. Let’s face it. It’s a popularity contest. Your boss likes you because you make good money; likes you because you’re a good listener, because he can control you. These are things they look for. They look for people they can mold. If you’re somebody that’s going to challenge them at every turn, they don’t want you because you’re a threat to them. The guys that are too good at their job end up dead. Once you were “made”, you were given your own crew. They’d give you an area, and you’d control everything in this area. But if you don’t represent the family in a proper way, they’ll take it away from you. Whatever family resources are available, they’re now at your disposal. If you’re an associate, it’s not so easy to have those resources at your fingertips. In our neighborhood, it was a prestige thing as well, because there’s a lot of ego in organized crime. Prestige comes with it, because now people know you’ve done things for the crime family, and they thought enough of you to make you one of them. If you want to ask me what organized crime was, and I drank the Kool-Aid like everybody else, it was a scam amongst a bunch of guys together. We’ll get people around us who want to start to be a part of our friendship and our brotherhood so bad that they’ll do anything we want, just to be a part of what we’ve got. And we’ll control them, and then when they jump through enough hoops, we’ll make them a part of the scam. Then they’ll lie to the guys underneath them. The guys at the top aren’t following those rules; it’s only the guys at the bottom trying to work their way up. When you buy into it like we did, from the areas we came from, it means everything. At the end of the day, people need to realize that when you get involved in organized crime activity, sometimes it’s the guy who doesn’t have the “badge” or the “captain status” that has the most money. Some associates have more money than the bosses. At the end of the day, it’s a business. Some guys are better businessmen than others, and you can’t begrudge that. That’s why bosses that don’t have the know-how in business to make big money align themselves with people that could do it for them. That’s the smartest thing you can do. One guy can say: “I’ll do this on my own, but I’ve got two guys underneath me who could run Fortune 500 companies, and as long as I can control them, I’ll always be making money.”
BILLY: My father was a “made” man. He had been elevated to Underboss of the Colombo Family. My father was a man larger than the “life”. He was an extremely smart man and had the brains to be whatever in life he wanted to be. He dressed in custom-made suits and hand-painted ties. If you saw him on the street in the morning and did not know any better, the average person would have thought he was just some white collar guy on the way to his job in New York City. One of the reasons for his success was that he was a man of his word, and the other four crime families in New York knew it. He was a guy who demanded respect and it came easy to him. My father came home from jail in 1994. He almost seemed invincible, but he disappeared in May of 1999. He got called to a high level meeting, and when that happens, you have to go. It was supposed to be a ceremony where a guy’s getting “straightened out”. There is no more protocol, no more loyalty. When you kill a guy at the status of an Underboss, you need to get permission from other families – especially with a guy like my dad, who was a big earner and was well respected. These guys went out and killed my father on their own. Everybody talks about how “it’s business and not personal,” but I looked at it this way: “It’s a business, so you guys kill my father. I took that personal, but then I flipped the script and said: “Now I’m going to use the business sense of it and fuck you.” You can’t get mad at me, I just happened to live.
"Paranoia is good. It keeps you sharp."
ANDREW: If organized crime is going to use their resources to hurt you, through violence or intimidation, or any sort of negative response toward you, you’re allowed to use any response necessary to retaliate. If you have to retaliate with the truth, sometimes that is the best weapon you can have. That’s what I did. I wasn’t strong enough to beat the boss of the family on my own. Of course I could have been a martyr and gone down in a blaze of glory. I’d been involved in many shootings, but you can’t win, because you’ll have too many guys lined up against you. So, I beat them with the truth. I don’t mean, “beat them” like a game, because it’s not. That’s how “I Survived the Mob” (his biographical book). I revealed the truth, and the truth put a wedge between us and put me in a position where my cooperation led to their arrests on numerous things. Today I’m alive and well, thank God! Organized crime used their resources and killed 2 of my friends. I used whatever resources I had to protect my family and myself, but also to ensure that it was going to end there, and it did. Real Wiseguys is basically how to break a cycle. In Italy, we were brought up in a way which was taking care of community first, and those around you. Back in the day, hundreds of years ago, Sicily and Italy were invaded so many times, that the people never trusted the new governments that came in. So, the Mafia was formed. They were like the police for the people that lived there. They made sure that people treated others fairly. Over the years it got twisted and turned, and people found a way to hurt their fellow man. I was robbing banks with guys of Captain status who were “made” members of other crime families. Now it’s supposed to be a “protocol life”, where you can’t directly talk to a boss or a Captain; you’ve got to go through the ranks. But if I’m out on the streets robbing with you on Tuesday, I don’t need to make an appointment anymore. They gave guys like me and Billy the positive reinforcement that you’re justified in what you’re doing; what you’re doing is the right thing, you’re living good, you’re an honorable man, you’re a stand up guy, you’re a true blue guy. But you’re really only there to take the fall for the guy above you. That is it! They don’t care about you, your family; if you eat or don’t eat. When I go to prison, there’s nobody bringing money to my family. Nobody’s helping you out with your lawyer. There’s nobody doing anything. You get abandoned. There was never anything put aside for family members. In Italy they did that. They had a fund for people’s families. Remember, organized crime families are making hundreds of millions of dollars a year. They lost the people skills along the way.
"Any monkey can pull a trigger and kill someone."
When they say: “How’d this guy cooperate?” This guy cooperated because you took everything away from him. You backed him into a corner and let him know he’s got one of two options. He’s either got to eat his own arm, become the thing that he was indoctrinated to hate and become a Rat, or throw his life away. He wasn’t given many choices, so when he does become a witness, all of a sudden they felt shocked. “How could he do that?” Your greed is so blinding that you’re willing to overlook what you did, to make this happen. I took my responsibility for what I’d done. I knew that becoming a witness was the best thing for my reality. Never once did I see a guy in any crime family ever take responsibility and say: “I forced this kid to do it.” A dear friend of mine did 16 years in jail for a crime he did not commit. The boss knew it through numerous sit-downs, but never did anything to help this guy or his family. 16 years later, my friend decides to become a witness, and they feel as though he did the wrong thing; they’re shocked, appalled and surprised!
BILLY: One thing I want to say about my father. When someone would go to jail, my father would take care of their lawyers and would send money to their families. When they killed my father, I wanted to go out and kill everybody! But then I thought about it. I had a two year-old son at the time. I could have killed these guys easily, but then I thought: “What am I doing?” Not only did they kill my father, but also they’re sucking me in further. So, now I go to jail for the rest of my life, and my son grows up without a father. My father had warned me that if you kill one, two come at you. You put two down and four are coming, and so on. So, I flipped the script. I realized any monkey can go out and pull a trigger and kill these guys. My father had a saying: “Death before jail.” So I used that terminology and flipped it in my head. It was a lot harder. I wound up putting a recording device on. I went down to our social club. They thought after they killed my father, I was going to be answering to them. I knew that if I got “straightened out”, that everyone was going to control me. I just couldn’t do that. Every time I’d go in there with that thing on my chest… there were times I was praying that they would find it—that I’d have an excuse to kill them. But they never found it. I couldn’t believe the stupidity of the conversations that they were having. I was always raised, that when we talk, any phones were gone; you whisper, you walk and talk. It was so stupid. They were talking so loud that any recording device could have picked it up. It really didn’t take that much. I think they buried themselves more. My father had a saying that goes: “The only voice you hate the most, is to hear your own voice played back to you.” He meant that in the sense of your voice being picked up on a wiretap. These guys pretty much buried themselves. I did what I did. I think it took a lot of balls to do what I did, but I feel like a cad. Andrew and I joke about it all the time that we shouldn’t be here. We should have been dead a long time ago. I say my father was looking down on me and kept me safe. He had fed me the paranoia that still lives in me today. He always told me, “Paranoia is good. It keeps you sharp.” It worked for me. My mind remained keen and I stayed alive. I was taught at a young age that any moron can hurt someone. But it takes a man to extend his hand and help that person back up. And that’s the way I see myself today. You feel like you’re repenting. We’re trying to say to the public, “We’re sorry for what we did.” We were raised to believe that the guys in black were right, and the guys in white were bad. You stop your life and have to do a 180-degree turn. You have to live like a regular civilian, something that you didn’t know how to do. It’s a tough, tough thing.
ANDREW: With me, the writing was on the wall. They told me that if I stayed on the street, I’d be killed or I’d have to kill a lot of people. My choices were very limited. Was I supposed to be this honorable guy and take 30 years for a crime and then go home to a bullet? If you want to kill me on Wednesday, and I know you want to kill me on Wednesday, am I supposed to believe you on Thursday when you tell me it’s over…we don’t want to kill you on Thursday? The trust has already been broken, and it’s heartbreaking. You looked at these people as your family, your brothers, and people don’t understand. Now you realize you’re on your own. It really gets you good. You look in the mirror and you realize that every sacrifice you made, all those nights out, all those risks that you took, all those crimes you committed, you were worth nothing to them at all, except for what you brought to the table after that crime. That’s where the scam comes in. It’s always easy to follow the rules when your pockets are full. Try following those rules when your family’s not eating.
BILLY: There are guys still out there, being asked about getting “made”, and they are turning it down. They’re turning it down! “Thank you, but no thank you.” That’s unheard of.
ANDREW: Years ago, you couldn’t turn it down, ‘cause once those words come out of their mouth: “We’re going to make you one of us,” now we are admitting that there is an “us”. If you said no, the old school guys would kill you. Today, guys are turning it down and getting away with it. Certain guys had good reason for cooperating. The “life” is a fingerprint. Nobody’s fingerprint is the same. Me and you, Billy, we’re in the trenches 30 years together. Your family and my family were touched by this “life” differently. You and me were touched by this “life” differently. For example, some guy went to jail, did 7 years, came back and made 10 million. Another guy did 20 years in prison, came back, lost this friend of his, and his wife left him because of this. Everybody’s family is affected in a different way, but it’s all negative. Nobody can say that they were involved in organized crime and it was the best part of their life. Organized crime doesn’t have to be in the room to control you. You may agree with me that becoming a witness was a good thing because crime is a wrong-way street and a dead end. But if you live in my neighborhood, whether you know I’m right or not, you could never express how you feel, because you’re afraid of the repercussions; something you can’t even see. If I believe in something, and I can’t express how I feel, am I living in a free society? If I’ve got to be afraid to say: “Hey, I like Billy Cutolo, I like Andrew DiDonato,” if I have to hide that fact, then what does that make me? Just because I want to be accepted by people who couldn’t care if I lived or died anyway? That’s the mentality of my neighborhood. It’s acceptable in my neighborhood to shoot your best friend dead in the head, but it’s not accepted to tell on him or help him.
BILLY: If I thought someone was going to kill Andrew, and we were friends in the street before politics, then if I say something to Andrew, I’m going to get killed with him. He’s my best friend and I can’t tell him.
"It takes a man to help a person back up."
"That 'life' is hypocritical! It’s bullshit! It’s phony!"
ANDREW: When a guy gets “straightened out” today, the day you get “made”, the FBI already knows it, already has you up on a bulletin board. From that day on, your life is on an oxygen tank. The FBI has so many resources today, and so many guys giving them information from the inside and still on the street, that that’s the wild card that nobody speaks of. As you and I speak, it’ll come out…you’ll see it in a book, in an article, on the TV somewhere. There’ll be a guy that’ll come forward and say: “For 30 years, I was an active member of a crime family, and I worked for the FBI.” Guarantee you’ll hear that. He’s not an FBI plant. He’s a street guy that gives information every day, but his information is so valuable that they’re not using him for cases; they’re using him for intelligence.
BILLY: There was a guy, back in the day, named Greg. He was a government informant since the 60’s. The government used him to go out and do things for them and he would just give pieces of information to his handlers. Nobody knew where it was coming from. He was going out killing people left and right, taking contracts and everyone thought: “This guy is going out killing people…there’s no way he could be bad.” Low and behold, they found out so many years later, the guy was working with the government for thirty years. 30 years! He was a really, really feared man. He was the real deal. He had no question about taking your life if he had to. In that “life”, that’s respected. There were contracts out on this guy and nobody wanted to take the contract. One, they thought he was a lunatic, and second…what were they going to kill him for? This guy’s out there putting in work, he’s an earner, everybody likes him, he’s been around for 100 years, he’s fine, leave him alone.
ANDREW: The politics that go on in organized crime circles makes what’s on C-SPAN look like kindergarten. There’s a lot of nepotism in organized crime. If you’ve got a guy making big money and he’s been making it for a very long time, he knows it’s not going to last forever. He doesn’t know who really to trust or not to trust. He’s got a kid, his son or whoever; he’s going to try to ingratiate his son with his business. The money keeps flowing for the family.
BILLY: My father did not want to bring me into the “life”. I didn’t give two shits about that “life”, all I cared about was my father. When I found out my father was involved in organized crime, I couldn’t wait to get the fuck out of school. I wanted to be with him. When I graduated college, I told him: “I want to earn.” My father’s jaw hit the floor. “What do you mean you want to earn? You’re the only person from our family to graduate college and this is what you want to do?” I said: “If there’s anybody out there that you can trust, it’ll be me.” He put his arm around me and we had a conversation later that night. He told me: “It’s a very treacherous life. You listen to everything I tell you. Please don’t make a father bury his son. That’s the worse thing in the world.” What Andrew has done with the Real Wiseguys is to get the message across. We are living examples of the politics and how it separated us. I never lost love for Andrew. When we were finally able to contact each other, we removed the organized crime part of our life, filtered that part out, and have our friendship now. We are putting our hands out to help guys that might be sitting on the fence; guys that might be committing crimes or might be thinking about joining a gang or the mob. Get those fucking ideas out of your head! Go to the front door of the prison and let yourself in, because that’s where you’re going to wind up.
ANDREW: Nothing good can ever come of it!
Through my book and articles I’ve done, I’ve been able to rekindle old friendships with guys who’ve changed their lives like I did; guys I’ve known for many years, like Billy. We had this network of guys that I could reach out to. It started to grow. We were able to get guys on board for speaking engagements, go to book signings, and just pass out a positive message. No one who’s involved with Realwiseguys.com will ever come here unwilling and unable to give back to the community. If they’re not willing, able, or ready to do that, and they think it’s about getting a paycheck; they’re going to have to go elsewhere. In organized crime circles, when guys become witnesses, you’re moved all around the country. You’re in places unknown. You’re by yourself. You have no job history to fall back on. You’re out there on your own with your basic instincts trying to make it in this world. A lot of guys go through lean times. What we do is try to help them, because we’ve been through that. Now they have sort of a security blanket – someone to call to get some positive information, someone to bounce their problems off of. “Listen, I’m living in Wyoming and things aren’t good. I’m trying to get this business off the ground and I don’t know what to do. I only make X amount of dollars a month and I need to supplement my income.” We say: “We might have something for you. We have an engagement coming up next month and we need 2 or 3 guys to come. If you make it out here, we can’t guarantee how much you’ll make, but you can put a few hundred dollars in your pocket.” It’s helpful. It gives them resources to reach out and be a part of what we have. A “made” man event is for entertainment purposes. The person that is being “made” will go back to his hometown, his name and information will go on our website, and if we ever go to where he is, we’ll call upon him to help us rally people if we’re going to give to a charity. When he says he’s going to be with us, he’s going to be part of an organization. We’ll call upon him one day to help us out; help the organization. You never know when it’s going to happen. We don’t care where you live; you’re making that vow to us. You become our “go-to guy” at that point. Nobody who comes in this room is ever going to be under the assumption that they’re getting into a mob or criminal activity. Even though I make the ceremony as realistic as possible, you’ll see me put my own spin on it, and show them the difference between the Cosa Nostra or the way Billy and I grew up around it, and the Cosa Nostra of the Real Wiseguys family and what it represents. I want people who can carry themselves in such a fashion that they’re willing and able to help us, much like the mob did back in the 30’s and 40’s. They built a network of people, in different states, different cities, and they formed together and called themselves family. We’re going to have RealWiseGuys.com all over the country.
BILLY: We want to have people that’ll represent us. Joe Columbo was in his 70’s when he formed the Italian-American Civil Rights League because all the Italian Americans were getting scrutinized. Everyone with a vowel at the end of their name was connected to organized crime. He started that organization to fight that. The mafia hated what he was doing. We’re opening up our hearts to people to show them the way. We’re going to show them what the new tools of the trade are going to be about.
ANDREW: We have strengths. Our strength comes from friendships. Our strength comes from our street smarts. Our strength comes from our survival skills. We use these strengths to help a community of people who are much worse off than we could ever be. The whole idea is to say: “Hey listen, if you want to get a business off the ground, let’s see what we can do. We know a guy that lives in Wisconsin who is in that same business. He’s one of our Real Wiseguys family. Maybe he’ll put you to work.” Now a guy who gets out of the can, and he goes into the program, and usually after about a year, he’ll leave the program behind. There are some guys who live their lives throughout the program. For some guys, it’s too stringent. They would like to give their families that normal life, or the thought of a normal life. Once they get on their feet, they’ll leave the program behind and they’ll take their own safety precautions and law enforcement is never far behind. Real Wiseguys has the approval of law enforcement. They actually do events with us. We do speaking engagements constantly for law enforcement. There will always be someone involved in crime life at these functions. The thing that’s beautiful is that we don’t know where it can go from here, but we want it to be in a positive sense and direction. All the people we touch upon at our speaking engagements…we’ve been meeting so many people, from all different walks of life, from all over the world. Those people have a fascination with organized crime. They really do. They live vicariously through the acts we once committed. I guess it's a release for them.
BILLY: Andrew and I were taught from a very wise man, and we speak about it all the time: “Any monkey can pull a trigger, but it takes that much more of a man to put his hand out and help a man up, and that’s what this is about.”
ANDREW: Walking through the Mob Museum, I see Billy’s father’s picture and I looked at Billy’s face and you could see the surprise. To me, it reminded me of a child who sees something, and you see their face light up. He hadn’t expected to see a picture of his dad there.
BILLY: I try not to get choked up when I think about it. One thing I will say, and I can go to bed with this: “If there’s any place that my father would have wanted to be remembered, it would be in that museum.” I was very touched.
ANDREW: Yesterday Dennis Griffin and I were approached by the Mob Museum personnel, and they’re going to start doing educational programs inside the museum with school kids. I’m definitely going to be involved in the educational programs for the children. I’ve got a really bad past. You can’t just walk up to a school and say I want to talk to some kid. To get the Mob Museum behind it is terrific and an honor. It does my heart good to know I’m going to have the forum to do that. It makes me feel really good. My aspirations for this business is that a year or two down the line, when you go on the website RealWiseGuys.com, there’ll be an icon on the top that says: “Made” Members, and it’ll have dates and names. I’m hoping that you’ll see hundreds of names. It would mean we’re getting ourselves across the United States. Then maybe we’ll be doing educational talks across the United States. We’re a profit company, so we want to make money, but we also want to do some charity work. The people we do the speaking engagements for, we would like them to decide where they would like the money to go. It’s never going to be one charity. So for Mr. Smith, it’ll be a charity that helps domestic violence; Mr. Brown’s might be to help people from violent crimes; Mr. Green’s might be to help children with cancer or autism. This is what we’re going for.
BILLY: Andrew’s done it for me, since we’ve reconnected. He’s gotten me on my feet, and made me understand that: “Look, things aren’t all that bad. Once we go out and start helping these people, if we can change just one life, it’s going to make us feel really good.” Today I’m the boss of a family. It’s a family that consists of my wife and children. And they don’t call me “Capo” or “The Don”. In my family, they call me Dad. What makes a real wise guy? Because you’re in the streets hurting people…does that make you a real wise guy? We’re saying you’re not. We’re saying we’re real wise guys, not them. Who owns the name…we own the name. Go to RealWiseGuys.com and you’ll see who we are. That’s it. Anyone who doesn’t like what we’re doing…well, too bad. We’re helping people!