The guy pictured above, Carlo Marcello, was the head of the New Orleans Mafia for more than thirty years until he was convicted of various offenses in 1981. He then went on an all-expenses paid vacation courtesy of the United States Bureau of Prisons, and then settled down to a quiet, retired existence until he died in 1989.
Marcello was one of a bunch of gangsters who were suspected of having in some way been involved in the JFK assassination, in his case largely because his gang collected a payoff from Jack Ruby over the years, and obviously if you mention Ruby, you then have to tie him to Oswald and then the conspiracy goes on and on.
For me, the reason I have always found myself with a bit of positive feeling for Marcello, however, is because when he appeared in front of Kefauver’s Senate Committee which was holding hearings on organized crime, he took the 5th Amendment – ready? – 152 times!
How do you sit there and begin an answer to a question with the standard, ‘On the advice of counsel…’ 152 times? If that performance isn’t listed somewhere in the Guinness Book of Records, there’s something really wrong.
Over the past few years, there has been a lot of chatter about how Trump has been running a Mafia-like kind of operation, with frequent commentary about how he values loyalty above everything else. Here’s a commentary which appeared in The Hill, just two months before the 2020 election: “No administration has placed as high a value on loyalty as the current one. From tweeting about civil servants who are perceived to be disloyal, to publicly humiliating those who testified against him in the impeachment hearings, President Trump has made clear that there is one qualification to serving in his administration, unquestioning loyalty to him.”
How do you judge an employee’s loyalty? It sems to me there’s no better way to pass such a judgement than to use the criteria utilized by the Cosa Nostra to make such judgements, because in the case of that particular business organization, lack of loyalty not only will cost you your place within the organization but will also probably cost you your life.
And when is loyalty to someone else required most of all? Not when you’re standing around on the corner trading some gossip about ‘the boss’ with a couple of other guys, but when you’re facing serious jail time because you refused to open your mouth.
Which is why Carlo Marcello’s stone silene in front of the Kefauver Committee was not just a remarkable example of selfless behavior in an organization which requires such selflessness in order to be accepted within the ranks or, as they say, to be ‘made.’ Marcello could also be the poster-boy for any operation where success in how the group operates depends at least partially, if not wholly on keeping your mouth shut.
And what group would have required at least a degree of collegial discretion than the group which on a daily basis advised the President of the United States about how to rig a national election so that he could continue meeting with his gang in the Oval Office every day?
I’m not talking about getting some coked-up jockey to pull up on the reins of his mount so that the fifth at Belmont won’t end the way the smart money says it’s supposed to end. I’m not thinking about Jimmy Breslin’s cute book, The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight, which is a clever story about how some Mafia wannabes in Brooklyn tried to rig a local roller derby race.
I’m talking about the fact that the moment a huckster like Rudy Giuliani, who pretended to be an ‘adviser’ to Trump, is hauled before a Grand Jury investigating what everyone already knows to be true, this guy can’t wait to get up there, swear to tell the truth and then start yakking away.
Now, here’s a guy whose public career was rescued by Trump after his own Presidential ambitions collapsed because he got the NYPD to cover the costs of bringing his girlfriend out to some Long Island motel so that they could spend the weekend doing you-know-what.
Now, here’s a guy who got Trump to give his worthless son $100,000 a year for a job at the White House where he never had to show up.
Now, here’s a guy who could run off to Ukraine as a so-called Presidential representative when the real reason he went over there was to make some private deal with a couple of scamsters (read: Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman) who would wind up taking the hit for him.
And what does Giuliani do to repay Trump for these favors and God knows how many other times Trump helped him out over the past six or seven years? He’ll say whatever he has to say to avoid his all-expense vacation at Butner or Otisville where maybe he’ll convert so that he can eat Kosher food.
If Carlo Marcello was alive today and was asked what he thought about Giuliani’s lack of loyalty to the boss, he’d probably just shake his head and mumble ‘no comment’ even if he would say that much.