||New York| Joe Pistone
Joseph Dominick Pistone , alias Donnie Brasco, was an FBI agent who worked undercover for six years to infiltrate the Bonanno family, a branch of the Mafia in New York City. In December of 1981 he would have become a made member of the Bonanno family if he had murdered capo Alphonse Indelicato's son, Anthony Indelicato. Pistone was sworn-in as a Special Agent of the FBI in 1969, 7 years before going 'undercover'.
Pistone was born in Erie, Pennsylvania and grew up in the Sandy Hill section of Paterson, New Jersey. He graduated from Paterson State College (now William Paterson University) in 1965 with a degree in elementary education/social studies. After a year of working as a teacher in Paterson School No. 10, he worked for the Office of Naval Intelligence. He became an FBI special agent in 1969 (Diehl 2006).
As Donnie Brasco
Pistone was selected to be an undercover agent because he was of Sicilian heritage, could speak the Sicilian dialect of Italian, and was acquainted with the Mob from growing up in Paterson. He also said that he does not perspire under pressure and was aware of the mafia's codes of conduct and system. Pistone developed a close relationship with the Bonanno capo Dominick "Sonny Black" Napolitano, and was tutored in the ways of the Mafia by Bonanno soldier Benjamin "Lefty Guns" Ruggiero.
The evidence collected by Pistone led to over 200 indictments and over 100 convictions of Mafia members. Pistone's performance was so convincing that, at the time the operation ended, he had been proposed to become a "made man" (officially inducted into the Mafia). Pistone's operation ended after six years when Napolitano requested that he murder Anthony Indelicato, who previously evaded a meeting which left Anthony's father Alphonse Indelicato, together with Phillip "Philly" Giaconne and Dominick "Big Trin" Trinchera, dead. Pistone never witnessed, or was involved in the murder of the three. Two days later, FBI agents informed Napolitano and Ruggiero that their longtime associate was in fact an FBI agent. Shortly thereafter, Black was murdered for having allowed an FBI agent to infiltrate the family. Following Napolitano's murder, the Mafia put out a $500,000 contract on Pistone, but the contract was rescinded following a sitdown between FBI agents and members of the Bonanno family.
Bonanno boss Joe Massino was convicted in 2004 of ordering Napolitano to be killed for allowing Pistone into the family. Pistone detailed his undercover experience in his 1987 book Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia. This book was the basis for the 1997 film Donnie Brasco, starring Johnny Depp as Pistone and Al Pacino as Ruggiero. Pistone revisited his experiences as Donnie Brasco in his 2004 book The Way of the Wiseguy.
Pistone continues to be active as an author and consultant to worldwide law enforcement agencies. He also wrote a novel, titled The Good Guys, with Joe Bonanno's son, Salvatore Bonanno. He was the subject of 10th & Wolf, a 2006 action film with Val Kilmer, Dennis Hopper and others released by Thinkfilm and Lionsgate.
.:Back to American Mafia:.