Bookstores across the U.S. are reporting heavy demand for The Quiet Don.
Major chains such as BooksAmillion sold out their inventory within two weeks, prompting Penguing to quickly order a second printing. Stores in and around Philadelphia are telling customers to expect a backlog of two weeks while in other cities the wait could be longer. One chain, Barnes & Noble, appears to have supply to meet their demand though some stores are running low on copies. One store in Wilkes Barre has sold over 1,500 copies in just three weeks.
Ten people were selected as winners of the Goodreads.com "The Quiet Don" giveaway from more than 1,000 entries.
Each winner, listed below, will receive a copy of the book. The contest ran from Sept. 23 to Oct. 23.
Linda Johns Fellsmere, Fla
Allison Ross Olive Branch, Ms
Ginny Nilson Milford, Ne
Sabrina Heinz Shorewood, Ill
Barbara Titus Dayton, Pa
Lynn Hobbs Karnack, Tx
David Patterson Hoover, Al
Mark Dodds Salt Lake City, Ut
Olga Cabral Vineland, NJ
Gabriel Peizner Sammamish, Wa
This was published on www.pennlive.com on Oct. 22
Chief Justice Castille still has some explaining
to do: Matt Birkbeck
On Oct. 9, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a rare statement calling into question claims made in my book, The Quiet Don.
Released by Penguin on Oct. 1, the book reported, among other things, that the court intentionally interfered in the prosecution of businessman Louis DeNaples and his priest, Rev. Joseph Sica, for lying to a grand jury about their alleged ties to Mafia leader Russell Bufalino.
The grand jury had been impaneled to determine if DeNaples lied to the state gaming board about his alleged mob ties to obtain a gaming license for his Mount Airy Casino.
The court’s interference, which delayed the prosecution for a year, frustrated law enforcement officials to the point where Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico finally agreed to drop the charges in return for Mr. DeNaples giving up ownership of the casino.
Chief Justice Ronald Castille took issue with that narrative, saying the book contained a “misleading and incomplete portrayal” of the courts actions.
“The book in question provides a well-known account of a northeast Pennsylvania crime syndicate, but also attempts to weave assertions of impropriety on the part of this court that are not remotely supported by facts,” Chief Justice Castille said. “There is no doubt that Mr. Birkbeck failed to fully research and understand the legal process about which he writes. Consequently, his narrative falls so far short of a complete story as to merit comment.”
But Castille did comment further, writing that the court intervened on behalf of DeNaples to address accusations by DeNaples’ attorneys of so-called “grand jury leaks” to the press that covered the prosecution.
“There was nothing extraordinary in the Supreme Court’s actions in agreeing to consider the petition,” wrote Castille. “Staying a lower court’s orders is a normal procedure when the Court considers a petition and the Court has exclusive direct review responsibility over Grand Jury issues.”
What Castille failed to say is that the court rarely ever intervenes in a grand jury investigation. In the DeNaples case, his court intervened not once, but twice. And that intervention had a profound effect on the DeNaples’ prosecution, freezing the investigation for over a year. And for good reason: Mr. Marsico planned to have William D’Elia testify at DeNaples’ preliminary hearing.
As I report in the book, D’Elia assumed the leadership of the Bufalino crime family after Bufalino died in 1994 and had agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors after he was charged in 2006 with conspiring to kill a witness and launder drug money.
D’Elia subsequently testified before the state grand jury investigating DeNaples and he told me later, through his attorney, what he told the grand jury: That he had a 30-year business and personal relationship with Mr. DeNaples.
D’Elia was prepared to testify to that relationship in open court, testimony that would have been devastating to Mr. DeNaples and to his many supporters, which included several state legislators and former Gov. Ed Rendell. (“I happen to know Mr. DeNaples, and know him well,” said Rendell after the charges against DeNaples were dropped).
Perhaps most interesting, Castille’s narrow explanation didn’t in any way refute the thrust of the narrative, which had been culled from interviews with, among others, senior law enforcement officials involved in the DeNaples prosecution: The Supreme Court participated in a conspiracy with Rendell, several state legislators and the state gaming board to get DeNaples’ his gaming license.
Castille ended his letter, which is posted on the courts website, by writing that, “Facts matter and misinterpretation of facts can be damaging to the trust that is necessary to sustain our court system. As the response details, this court’s handling of cases in question was nothing but straight forward.”
I would suggest that the court’s actions in DeNaples case and the entire gaming fiasco was anything but “straight forward,” and that Justice Castille has a lot more explaining to do to earn the trust that he correctly says is necessary to sustain our court system.
Matt Birkbeck is an author and journalist.
Near the end of The Quiet Don I relay a story about my secret meeting with a businessman in 2010. The story details how the meeting was facilitated by another individual, who forwarded the request to meet with me to discuss Bufalino, DeNaples and D'Elia. We had the meeting, I met the businessman (this was the fellow who told me about the "sleepers"), and we spoke a couple of times after that.
This past summer I was invited by Bill Kelly, who recently stepped down as CEO of PBS station WVIA, to appear live on WVIA to discuss the book. Bill and I exchanged several emails in which Bill was eager to have me on as a guest, or so he said, after which I received a subsequent email from a producer there (see below) confirming my Oct. 3 appearance. Following that Sept. 10 email, WVIA (specifically Kelly) received a copy the book, after which i my appearance was cancelled, no reason given.
Going back to that "secret" meeting I had in 2010? It was at WVIA. The person who invited me was then-CEO Bill Kelly. I won't disclose who I met with other than he is someone with ties to the station.
I relayed that story during a radio interview with Corbet on WILK, after which WVIA's current CEO, Tom Curra, went on the air to dispute my account. Listen to my interview with Corbet, then Corbet's interview with Curra, and then read the email below. Also take a look at a recent photo with Kelly pictured with some local people of interest, including Pat Solano and Dominick DeNaples. You can make up your own mind as to what happened with WVIA.
Matt's interview with Corbet:
Tom Curra's interview with Corbet:
----- Original Message -----
From: "Kathryn Davies" <KathrynDavies@wvia.org> To: <mbirkbeck@.........net
Sent: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 1:07 PM
Subject: Your Interview on WVIA
Hi Mr. Birkbeck,
> I am the Senior Producer here at WVIA and the one that will be setting up
> your show on October 3rd.
> If you would, please supply me with Jessica's email address. Once I have
> it I will send you both an email requesting your bio and information on
> your book. If possible, I would also like to have a copy of it here at the
> studios so we can take a shot of the front cover, etc. to be used during
> the show.
> My information is below and if you would like our FedEx number to get the
> book here, I can give that to you.
> Thank you, and I am looking forward to meeting you. K
> Kathryn K. Davies, Senior Producer
> 100 WVIA Way
> Pittston PA 18640-6197
> WVIA: 570-602-1150
> Cell: 570-905-4984
> Fax: 570-655-1180
> Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald Castille issued a statement on Oct. 9 attempting to explain the court's involvement in the Louis DeNaples prosecution as described in The Quiet Don.
The release doesn't dispute the allegations in the book that the court conspired with former Gov. Rendell and others to get Mr. DeNaples a gaming license, instead it's posted as an attempt to...I'm not really sure. But here it is in case you missed it. (click on headline)
Chief justice clarifies incomplete and misleading account of Supreme Court actions in book The Quiet Don
(For those who may have missed this, the Associated Press ran a piece on The Quiet Don).
By Michael Rubinkam
EASTON, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania state police ran a top-secret investigation into whether then-Gov. Ed Rendell and his administration rigged the outcome of the casino licensing process to benefit favored applicants, including a wealthy and politically connected businessman suspected of having mob ties, a new book asserts.
But the probe failed to lead to criminal charges against anyone in the administration or on the state gambling board, and prosecutors blamed the state Supreme Court for thwarting the investigation, according to "The Quiet Don," a forthcoming book by Matt Birkbeck that also serves as the first full-length biography of reclusive northeastern Pennsylvania mob boss Russell Bufalino.
Birkbeck covered the troubled beginnings of Pennsylvania's casino industry as a newspaper reporter, and here he pieces together the yearslong effort by state police and local prosecutors to probe whether corruption was involved in the awarding of the lucrative casino licenses.
The narrative emerges from interviews with dozens of participants, including now-retired Lt. Col. Ralph Periandi, the No. 2 official in the Pennsylvania State Police.
Periandi initiated the probe in 2005 because he suspected that "Rendell, members of his administration and others in state government might be trying to control the new gaming industry in Pennsylvania," Birkbeck writes.
Rendell did not return a call for comment. He has long denied any impropriety.
The book follows Periandi and his small, secret "Black Ops" team of covert investigators as they dig into the gambling board, the Rendell administration and Louis DeNaples, a powerful northeastern Pennsylvania businessman who'd been awarded a casino license despite questions about his suitability.
DeNaples was eventually charged with perjury in January 2008 for allegedly lying to state gambling regulators about whether he had connections to Bufalino — the titular "quiet don" — and other mob figures. Prosecutors later dropped the charges in an agreement that required DeNaples to turn over Mount Airy Casino Resort to his daughter. DeNaples has long denied any ties to the mob.
Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico agreed to the DeNaples deal because "the Supreme Court had interfered in his case twice already, and he feared that no matter what he did, the court would see to it that the DeNaples prosecution would never move forward," Birkbeck writes.
The author said investigators "basically stepped on a bee's nest" when they went after DeNaples.
Chief Justice Ronald Castille did not return a call placed to his office. He has rejected similar allegations about Supreme Court interference in the gambling industry as ludicrous, slanderous and irresponsible.
"The Quiet Don" traces Bufalino's ascent to mob boss, including his role in organizing the infamous 1957 meeting of Mafia leaders in Apalachin, N.Y., his control of the garment industry in New York and Philadelphia, and his control of the Teamsters union and its leader, Jimmy Hoffa.
The book asserts that it was Bufalino who ordered a hit on Hoffa, a claim also made in the 2004 Mafia memoir "I Heard You Paint Houses," in which confessed mob hitman Frank Sheeran said he killed Hoffa on Bufalino's say-so. Hoffa disappeared in 1975; his body has never been found.
What's new here is the reason: Birkbeck writes Bufalino was upset by a 1975 Time magazine article that linked him, for the first time, to the CIA's attempts to enlist the Mafia to kill Cuban leader Fidel Castro, and he feared Hoffa would tell Senate investigators what he knew about the failed plot.
It's been a year since I first mentioned a potential break in the search for Sharon's identity. Local and federal law enforcement have been involved, but to date there's been no significant movement or progress. So, here's what's been happening.
Police near Knoxville, TN received a call from a woman who said she knew Franklin Floyd when she was a child in the early 1970s, and that Floyd and his brother Billy had visited her father, who was a serial rapist and pedophile. Floyd was on the run (you'll recall he violated his parole in early 1973) and sought refuge with this woman's father. Around the same time, the body of Janet Carter was found in the Smokey Mountains and her three-year old daughter Christina was missing. Janet was from Birmingham and was in the midst of a custody battle with her husband when she fled. The woman claims that her father killed Janet and took Christina, whom he repeatedly raped before killing her and burying her body underneath his home.
Around the same time, Floyd and his brother were staying nearby, and the woman said she would be taken there every weekend, where Floyd would rape her. The woman remembers another little girl, a cousin, who was also repeatedly raped by her father. The cousin, said the woman, is Sharon.
The woman said her father was going to kill Sharon, but Floyd apparently fled wth her.
The woman told her story to the local police, who called in the local FBI. Their interest was minimal. After six months, and with little progress, I connected the local police to Joe Fitzpatrick, and over the past few months the woman has been interviewed several times by an outside FBI bureau. There are other details that can't be released yet.
The woman says she never read A Beautiful Child, and her memories are real. I thought enough of her and her story to pass it along. The bit about Floyd "rescuing" the girl from the woman's father is similar to what Floyd told me when I interviewed him, that he saved the girl from certain death. The woman's father is still alive, and last I heard police were going to interview him. Will keep you posted.
It's been several years in the making, but my book on Russell Bufalino will finally see the light of day on October 1. The Quiet Don is actually two stories, one about a modern day corruption investigation involving the highest levels of government, and the other the nuts and bolts (an astonishing) look into the life of the man who was arguably one of the most powerful mobsters in the U.S. We're still four months away so I can't give away too much suffice to say any student of organized crime, U.S. history and high level political corruption should put The Quiet Don on their fall reading list.
Put this one in the "bettler late than never" file. The FBI has taken a deep interest in Robert Durst and is investigating Durst as a potential suspect in a variety of missing person and murder cases across the U.S. It started during the summer when agents began looking at the case of Karen Mitchell, the 16-year old from Eureka, Ca. who vanished in 1997. Durst lived in nearby Trinidad at the time and had frequented a homeless shelter where Mitchell had volunteered. He had also visited Mitchell at a local shoe store where she worked. Law enforcement officials in the San Francisco Bay Area happened upon the Mitchell case in 2003 while investigating the disappearance of another young woman, Kristen Modafferi. Mitchell vanished after she was last seen getting into a car with an older man. An eyewitness gave the police in Eureka a composite that looked exactly like - Robert Durst. It just happened that the eyewitness was a neighbor of Durst's in nearby Trinidad who fled the area soon after giving the spot-on description to police. The Bay Area cops did all they could to convince the Eureka police chief to take a serious look at Durst, but their pleas were dismissed. And that was after they subpoened Durst's credit card records, which showed Durst flew into Eureka the morning that Mitchell disappeared. I originally reported on Durst's connection to the Mitchell disappearance in 2003 while he was awaiting trial for the Morris Black murder, and during the trial I was told then by someone close to Durst's defense team that Durst thought he would be indicted for Mitchell. He never was.
The FBI has spoken with the original Bay Area investigators and with the Eureka police. The FBI is also looking at Durst at other cases in the U.S. where body parts have either been unearthed or recently surfaced. I'm told it's a serious look on their part. Stay tuned.
One of the stranger revelations in my 2008 book "Deconstructing Sammy" was the relationship between Sammy Davis, Jr., his wife Altovise and Donald Rumsfeld. I mention this because Rumsfeld recently released his own memoir, and every time I see his photo I still can't, to this day, understand their relationship. Clean cut, American flag waving Rummy, the sex, drugs, mob owned yet super cool Sammy and his beautiful but pathetic and tragic wife Altovise.
I first heard about the connection during my initial interviews for the book in 2006. As the story goes Sammy was long gone and Altovise was living in poverty in Pennsylvania fielding calls from “the President's guy."
"Donald Rumsfeld," I repeated incredulously after first hearing his name, "calling here, in Pennsylvania?"
It didn't make sense at the time, but I learned later about Sammy's ties to the Nixon White House, his introduction to Rummy, and how the two maintained a long lasting friendship.
Then came Rummy's dinner with Altovise following Sammy's death, and his calls to Pennsylvania in the 1990s.
Of course, everyone has asked if Sammy ever shared Altovise sexually with Rumsfeld, something Sammy did with his other pals.
While Sammy's friends intimated Rumsfeld and Altovise shared more than deep conversation, I really can't say for sure if it went beyond that.
If they weren't intimate, then it didn't make sense, and still doesn't, as to why Rumsfeld would have paid much attention to someone like Altovise, a broken shell of a woman with nothing to really offer aside from her figure (though she knew how to take advantage of her physical gifts).
I don't know if Rumsfeld addresses in his book his relationship with Sammy and Altovise, but I do plan on reading it. I'll let you know.
Matt Birkbeck's Blogspot