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Steel City Mafia: An Interview with author Paul Hodos Pt 2
In this episode of Crime Capsule, host Benjamin Morris continues his conversation with author Paul Hodos, discussing his book "Steel City Mafia, Blood, Betrayal, and Pittsburgh's Last Dawn." They focus on Mike Genovese, a key figure in the Pittsburgh mob. Born in 1919 to Italian immigrant parents, Mike's early life was marked by both violence and opportunity. While his parents had no direct ties to crime families, there were hints of involvement in bootlegging. Join Benjamin and Paul as they delve deep into the streets of Pittsburgh and explore the captivating story of Mike Genovese.
Paul N. Hodos is a two-time book author, article author and former FBI supervisory intelligence analyst in the Criminal Investigative Division. He received his undergraduate degree in history at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and his graduate degree in strategic intelligence at the National Intelligence University in Bethesda, Maryland. Paul was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and currently resides in Kensington, Maryland, with his very supportive wife and kids.
Paul, welcome back to Crime Capsule. Thanks again for joining us.
Paul Hodos (00:03):
Thank you so much.
Benjamin Morris (00:05):
So, last week we were taking a bird's eye view of some of the major issues and themes that characterized the growth and development of the Pittsburgh mob.
Benjamin Morris (00:18):
This week I thought it would be interesting for us to really take a deep dive down onto the streets themselves and follow one guy around who really served as almost the best possible exemplar of the Pittsburgh mob.
Benjamin Morris (00:39):
There are so many characters in your book, so many individuals who have incredible stories. But perhaps chief among them is Mike Genovese, who was born into a Pittsburgh of great violence, but also great opportunity in the early 20th century. So, tell us about Mike's early life. How did he get his start?
Paul Hodos (01:13):
Yeah. So, he was born in 1919 to immigrant parents from Southern Italy. And basically, they moved to America, I'm sure for all the regular reasons. They didn't have from what I could tell, any special ties to any crime families back in Italy or Sicily.
Paul Hodos (01:40):
His parents seemed to be pretty standard. There was a little bit of a link to bootlegging with his mom, it seems early on.
Paul Hodos (01:56):
But a lot of immigrants actually, if you read any of the history from back then made a little extra money, even if they weren't connected to organized crime from bootlegging during Prohibition. It was just one of those things. And even before Prohibition, some of them would still make their own wine or alcohol because that's what they used to do back in the old country.
Paul Hodos (02:18):
So, it was a pretty normal thing. Pretty standard immigrant experience in Pittsburgh, I'd say. They lived on Larimer Avenue, which we had mentioned last week as sort of the birthplace of a lot of the big-time mob guys from the period that I talk about. And Mike Genovese was certainly chief among them.
Paul Hodos (02:45):
But he started out pretty young. He got picked up on a little pinch for armed robbery that happened on his home turf, Larimer Avenue. The person he robbed was another young man and he was a pretty good sketch artist, so he helped the police basically drop a sketch of his attacker and apparently it matched Mike Genovese's visage. And so, he got arrested for that.
Benjamin Morris (03:20):
Kind of a bad victim to pick if you didn't know what you were doing, don't pick the portrait painter.
Paul Hodos (03:28):
It was definitely bad luck. And even for back then, it was just a few bucks. I don't think it was a very big score.
Paul Hodos (03:38):
So, he had that early brush with the law, a lot of different sources. And I'll say that the sources on him are basically, FBI files, court transcripts from people who flipped on the organization later on, some old newspaper articles.
Paul Hodos (03:58):
And then my interviews with that former FBI agent and a few old associates that I've talked to also had some things to say about him. Unfortunately, I couldn't get anybody who was super close to him, but I felt I got a good picture of the man in the book.
Benjamin Morris (04:16):
You know what's interesting, Paul? So many of these individuals, so many of the larger-than-life kind of Capos and Dons and chiefs of the organization, they participate in the creation of their own mythology.
Benjamin Morris (04:38):
I mean, they really want folks to kind of hear these outlandish stories of the crazy things they used to do to get around the law as kids or as young men as they're coming up.
Benjamin Morris (04:50):
And I didn't really get that sense at all from Mike Genovese. One of the most telling details is as you write, he's good with a knife, but there's not a lot of sensationalizing of his childhood or early adulthood. And that's interesting by itself, isn't it?
Paul Hodos (05:08):
Yes. Yeah. It's a testament to, I think, his friends who were all very tightlipped, the people that he used to hang around with back then who later on became bigger in the organization.
Paul Hodos (05:19):
And then also his own caution. And that's really a theme — I'll get back to his early history, but one of the core things about his personality are there's this uneasy mix of a very gutsy, almost pushy nature where he wants to go out there and make as much money as possible and push the organization to its limits.
Paul Hodos (05:52):
But there's this other side of him that wants to just remain in the shadows and not have anyone know who he is and be away from law enforcement as much as possible.
Paul Hodos (06:05):
So, there's this battle where he wants everyone to know I'm the "old man" who's in charge of everything, but I'm also not going to meet with everyone and I'm not going to show my face, it's sort of like this sort of ghostly presence in a way on the street.
Benjamin Morris (06:26):
Yeah. I want to come back to the secrecy for sure. Let's definitely come back to that.
Paul Hodos (06:29):
Good, alright. And he is fascinating to me in a lot of ways. And writing this book revealed him in his criminal side anyway. His personal life, not as much. But it was great going on that journey. And so, his early years though, like you said, it's a blank slate. There's a few things and it's a real secret.
Paul Hodos (06:56):
And I'm afraid that it's probably gone forever because a lot of those guys are dead. But in the 40s, he was arrested for basically at the early end of World War II. And some of the sources say that it's because he wanted to get out of being drafted so he wouldn't be taken away from his rise in organized crime, that he was arrested for carrying a gun and a knife in Youngstown, Ohio.
Paul Hodos (07:27):
And then the next time you hear from him, he's on several joint business adventures, gaming, and amusements businesses with John LaRocca, who was soon to become the boss. And John LaRocca must have seen something in him.
Paul Hodos (07:45):
John LaRocca was also very secretive and close to the chest. And I'm sure they met before the 1950s, but when they start doing business together in a big way in the 50s, it seemed like he was very impressed with him and upon becoming boss when the old boss retired because of kidney problems, John LaRocca immediately named Mike Genovese as his successor and made it known on the street like, this is my guy. This is the younger guy who's going to take my place whenever that time comes.
Benjamin Morris (08:24):
And you write that he had, actually ... just for context here, I think that the context of the Dons is actually very important. You write that when Genovese was a young man, when he was really entering the Outfit, he entered under Frank Amato and who was very ruthless, who had significant ties to the old-world families because he was, I believe a native Napolitano, is that right? Amato was? Correct me on that if I'm wrong. Yeah.
Paul Hodos (08:56):
So, I can't remember the exact town he was from. I'm going to be honest with you right now. Sorry about that. But he was a more old school Don. I would say that he was the first one who was not as — he was the stabilizer, Frank Amato.
Paul Hodos (09:16):
Before Frank Amato, the family was kind of a mess, like the Prohibition era. A lot of families were a mess. They were shooting each other all the time. There's a newspaper article I found that said there were 200 murders in Pittsburgh during that time period.
Benjamin Morris (09:31):
Paul Hodos (09:33):
After the Bazzano killing, which we mentioned last week, when the New York bosses killed him, there was kind of a lower key guy after him. And then after that interim boss, Amato came in and he stabilized everything and was there for many decades.
Paul Hodos (09:52):
And I think just anecdotally, based on the timeline, I think that probably Mike became a member in the Amato timeframe. Yes.
Benjamin Morris (10:05):
And one of his very first roles, which is I think really interesting actually, was that he was a bodyguard. I mean, he'd done the petty stuff and he'd kind of cut his teeth and gotten his feet wet and so forth. But once he actually entered the organization proper, he was a bodyguard for the Mannarino family. So, what all did that entail, and how long was it before he ended up becoming a made man himself?
Paul Hodos (10:33):
So, that's the thing about Mike Genovese. Before he's named as LaRocca's successor, it's pretty scant evidence on what he was doing, even in the FBI files, which were pretty complete back then. They really tried to catch up when Hoover started paying attention to the mafia, and they really dug into his life pretty deeply.
Paul Hodos (10:55):
But as far as when he was made, I've never seen anything about that, or anyone even claim to know when. I personally think that it had to have happened in the late 40s or early 50s. That's just my general sense from looking at everything and seeing how once again, he started doing a lot more business in the early 50s, and that just seems to coincide with what would happen if you became made.
Paul Hodos (11:22):
But no one knows how or if he made his bones. They always say you have to kill someone back then to be in the mafia. Whether or not that's the way he went, it's unknown.
Paul Hodos (11:36):
The Mannarino piece is a little bit fleshed out. Being their driver /bodyguard, that kind of a job, that's a pretty standard mafia climbing up the ladder job. And that was a good group to be affiliated with because the Mannarinos were super powerful. No one in that family ever became the actual boss of the family, but they were very powerful.
Paul Hodos (12:07):
Kelly was the underboss to John LaRocca officially. And they had connections to New York. They were best friends with Russell Bufalino, who was kind of made famous by that recent movie, The Irishman. He was the boss in that movie.
Paul Hodos (12:25):
And you have him just appearing everywhere, Kelly Mannarino, everywhere around the country. And this is just a guess, it's an educated guess, but Mike Genovese might've met a bunch of people around the country during that timeframe because Mannarino really was one of those mafia diplomats that just, he could go anywhere, and people would know who he is.
Benjamin Morris (12:52):
That's such an intriguing turn of phrase, and it reminds me of that incredible scene in your book, which I kind of had to read twice to make sure that I was actually sort of seeing it properly. The dust up at Appalachian.
Paul Hodos (13:09):
Appalachian is the way I say it, but people pronounce it differently.
Benjamin Morris (13:13):
I mean, the ambition, first of all, is incredible to have this major meetup of all of the area chiefs. And I love the fact that in this sort of neat little detail, you have the local police start suddenly seeing all of these out-of-state license plates mysteriously appear all heading in the same direction. And then the light bulb moment kind of clicks on. What happened there?
Paul Hodos (13:43):
Yeah. So, it was a meeting of basically all the bosses. There were a few that couldn't attend, but there were originally 26, and some people argue even more mafia families in the U.S. at that time. And they were all meeting to discuss a bunch of different things.
Paul Hodos (14:06):
A lot of people say that it was to basically confirm one of the new New York bosses, but they also talked about a lot of stuff. The Pittsburgh family was interested in speaking with the other bosses about, basically how to hide their gambling profits, money laundering.
Paul Hodos (14:22):
It was like a business meeting really, and people were trading advice. And the advice that was gotten from that meeting according to informants, for Pittsburgh, was to basically buy a few hotels and use those to launder their money.
Paul Hodos (14:38):
And the family ended up doing that, and they had the Phoenix Motel and another one for about 20, 30 years. But the meeting itself was a big deal because you have all these mafia bosses in this small town at this mansion of a gangster in Appalachian, New York.
Paul Hodos (15:01):
And basically, like you said, there was an eagle eye trooper who had actually kind of been onto the fact that the resident of that mansion was in the rackets. And there was a smaller meeting there the year before that he had also noticed. And then he wasn't about to waste this second chance to basically gather some intelligence.
Paul Hodos (15:23):
And so, they sent people into the property to take down license plates, and that panicked the mob bosses, and some of them ran into the woods, some of them jumped in their cars and immediately sped away, but there was also a state police roadblock down the road. So, a lot of people who got in their car ended up getting recorded who they were.
Paul Hodos (15:45):
Some of them escaped. John LaRocca being, I think one of them, I think he got away. He's not listed as one of the people who was there, for the police records, but there is some indications that he was there and that he just happened to be one of the ones that got away.
Paul Hodos (16:05):
But Mike Genovese was there, Kelly Mannarino was there, one of those Mannarino brothers. It was a big deal to be there. I had an associate of the family tell me, an older guy tell me that basically people when they were referring to Mike Genovese, they used to say, "That's the guy who was at Appalachian."
Paul Hodos (16:25):
So, it became a big deal to have been there to be invited. And really what it did on a practical level though, was terrible for the mob because J. Edgar Hoover finally got that kick in the butt, and he was like, alright, I'm going to start paying attention to the mafia. People are clamoring about this. There's this massive organization that's actually having business meetings about crime.
Paul Hodos (16:49):
So, you see this dramatic increase in FBI files, and Pittsburgh too, and Mike Genovese starts getting followed in Pittsburgh, and they start interviewing him and bothering him all the time. And he does not like publicity. And unfortunately for him, this was the start of a few decades of that.
Benjamin Morris (17:12):
Yeah, absolutely. This is probably a good time then to ask you about the sort of secretive nature that he developed before we get back to his sort of career per se.
Benjamin Morris (17:23):
One things that struck me as I was reading your book was the way in which, unlike so many others, he was just meticulous about not getting caught, about not taping conversations, about whenever he had to have a meeting, he would walk outside so that if there were any audio spotters in the area all of the traffic noise would absolutely obliterate what was being said between him and his associate.
Benjamin Morris (17:53):
He didn't have one particularly interesting detail, I thought was, you write that he lived on this farm outside of town, and he loved his farm and spent a lot of time there that he almost never had anyone come visit him at the farm, because to do so would be to suggest to any prying eyes, the law enforcement that this person might be in the Outfit.
Benjamin Morris (18:19):
I mean, just kept his distance, would not be seen in public unless it was absolutely necessary. And it was tremendously effective, wasn't it?
Paul Hodos (18:31):
It was, and I'm sure it was also very difficult to maintain that kind of discipline. I told you I have a little bit of knowledge of counterintelligence and when you're talking about intelligence officers of a foreign country, they have to be very careful their movements, and they're meeting with spies and all this sort of thing, and you don't want to get caught.
Paul Hodos (18:55):
It's a very hunted existence, and it's a very disciplined existence. And I feel like he lived that life, to his credit, he was able to just maintain that discipline over the decades. And so many of these guys, they get into the life. They're just so reckless, and a lot of them see that recklessness as strength and in the short-term, it may actually make them look strong.
Paul Hodos (19:21):
I always use the example of Nicky Scarfo of Philadelphia family, a very famous mob boss who killed many people. And he was definitely feared greatly, but his tenure was so short because of all the headlines he generated.
Paul Hodos (19:38):
And I think, there are older examples from before then that Mike Genovese could've looked at, and he could've said to himself like, "Hey, this is not what I want to be."
Paul Hodos (19:52):
And he showed that in everything he did. And like I said, his reign is known for sort of pushing into risky ventures, riskier ventures, to make up for gambling profits and just pulling more money into the organization. And he had that sort of, that pushy, aggressive streak in him. And he's a mobster, so you have to.
Paul Hodos (20:18):
But he also had this attitude that is much more common right now in the American mafia, if you read about it now, the bosses in New York these days, they're ghosts. You don't hear from them. You don't see from them. They barely meet with their soldiers. They're meeting through intermediaries and stuff like that. And this is all just stuff you read in books and newspapers. And I'm sure the people who actually worked that in law enforcement have even more on that on those guys.
Paul Hodos (20:50):
But I see Mike Genovese as their predecessor, like somebody who was doing that already. And he was doing it in a time when, honestly, it was the perfect time for him to be that way because the RICO laws is coming into effect, and it's starting to get used. It had just been used against Cleveland in the 70s and killed that family after their war.
Paul Hodos (21:15):
And Cleveland dotted along for a few more decades. And there might still be even a few associates left over there. But the thing is that RICO was a mob killer, and Genovese was trying to do everything he could to avoid that at least as far as his own self and his own inner circle was concerned. And to include not meeting with bosses who were visiting his territory, sending underlings to meet with them, which is kind of an insult to them.
Benjamin Morris (21:47):
Disrespect. Right, exactly. Yeah.
Paul Hodos (21:50):
But he did, especially if the boss was well known from the papers, it's something that he just — I don't think he wanted to get involved in.
Benjamin Morris (21:59):
No, it's important to note here, again, in terms of the overall context of his story. He lived a long time. He lived a very long time, which is unusual for a mob boss, but he did not actually become Don until somewhat later in life. And he spent much of the sort of 50s and 60s and 70s making money.
Benjamin Morris (22:25):
He would serve as interim boss when LaRocca was away. He would serve as acting boss for a while, but then LaRocca would come back and then sort of, okay, you give the reins back to the true Don here.
Benjamin Morris (22:35):
You write that he had some health problems, which also kind of kept him from ascending to the top spot a little sooner than he might've wanted.
Benjamin Morris (22:46):
But what ultimately arrives in the 1980s, the early 1980s, is in fact a leadership contest. You have a power struggle at the very top. So, take us to that moment when he finally, after so many years, finally does actually become Don.
Paul Hodos (23:11):
Sure. As the late 70s started approaching in the early 80s, John LaRocca was definitely thinking about retirement and thinking about pushing his duties down to his trusted underlings. And as you mentioned, he would go to Florida for like six months out of the year, half the time. He was not a fan of Pittsburgh winters, which, if you know anything about Pittsburgh, it's just like the winters are pretty bad.
Paul Hodos (23:41):
So, Mike Genovese doesn't seem to have had that problem. He seemed to have been okay with that. So, there were three guys who were LaRocca's top guys at that time, and Mike was definitely singled out, as I said, early on for leadership.
Paul Hodos (24:01):
But as the 70s wore on, and you mentioned Michael Genovese's health problems that might've shaken John LaRocca's faith in him a little bit, he was also a little worried, I think, because Mike Genovese had a reputation for being not as personable as some of the other guys, maybe not the lower-level members, fan favorite.
Paul Hodos (24:26):
There is a little bit of a popularity contest in the mafia for leadership too. And so, you had Kelly Mannarino, who we mentioned, Jojo Pecora, who was a top guy and who was friends with Mike Genovese for a long time.
Paul Hodos (24:43):
And then you had Mike Genovese, and they were all kind of on a ruling panel during this retirement phase of LaRocca's retirement phase. And basically, Kelly Mannarino died in 1980, and he may have had aspirations to become boss. Some sources do say that he wanted to be boss rather than Genovese. But that was cut short because he died in 1980 natural causes.
Paul Hodos (25:10):
And then you have Jojo Pecora, who was kind of the popular guy and maybe LaRocca's late in life favorite, but he actually got prosecuted for gambling offenses in West Virginia.
Paul Hodos (25:26):
And he went to prison for a few years and was on parole after that. So, that kind of took him out of the running. And he ended up becoming Genovese's first underboss.
Paul Hodos (25:37):
So, in 1984 when John LaRocca died, the Capos came together and voted, and they voted Mike Genovese in, and he was really the choice that made sense. He had a ton of experience. He was the last man standing from the panel and he finally became boss right at the tail end of 1984 in December.
Benjamin Morris (26:00):
Let me ask you this, it's said that those who most desire leadership are those who are the least fit to wield it, to recede it.
Paul Hodos (26:16):
I've heard that.
Benjamin Morris (26:17):
Yeah. Do you think that holds true of Mike Genovese, or do you think that he was, in fact … he did not actively court or desire the leadership, and that is what made him able to run the organization so effectively for so long?
Paul Hodos (26:34):
I think he did want the leadership role, but I don't think that he was someone who was constantly pushing for it and asking for it or anything like that. I think people saw John LaRocca was a good judge of character, as far as the character of someone that he wanted to be in his organization.
Benjamin Morris (27:02):
Paul Hodos (27:03):
Benjamin Morris (27:04):
Paul Hodos (27:05):
And that he saw some of — this is just me talking from all the stuff that I've read and people I've talked to. It's like, you can't really get in his head. But he probably saw some of those same qualities that he prized in himself in Mike Genovese, the secrecy, the ability to lead a rough and tumble organization. And the ability to make money and avoid law enforcement scrutiny.
Paul Hodos (27:39):
And when you have someone like that in the mob and you're picking from possibly not that many different people and you have someone who's at least interested in leadership, even if they aren't striving for it completely. I think that it was just the perfect mix for him to become that leader.
Paul Hodos (28:03):
And like I said, having his competition eliminated, not through Gangland warfare, but through pretty normal circumstances, prison and health issues, somebody dies, it was just the perfect storm for him to become the boss. He was pretty lucky.
Benjamin Morris (28:18):
It's a weirdly stable transition there as opposed to major factionalism, emerging.
Benjamin Morris (28:30):
Now, what's interesting about this moment, here you are at the tail end of 1984, when he becomes boss. As you know, the laws are changing and law enforcement is changing, and the tactics that the family has to pursue in order to stay in power and continue making money. I mean, those are having to change a little bit as well. They're having to get with the times.
Benjamin Morris (28:56):
I thought it was really interesting your discussion of the venues that they used. First of all, I mean, Holiday House looked amazing, and we should note for our listeners, this is not the Taylor Swift song about holidays. This is an actual venue in Pittsburgh where they would meet.
Benjamin Morris (29:14):
I mean, just so retro, so mod, so kind of over the top, like the old village Vanguard or something like that, just really cool.
Benjamin Morris (29:23):
Then LA Motors, where you see that secrecy emerge again, your account of how Genovese sort of takes the organization into new directions in the 1980s is fascinating.
Benjamin Morris (29:40):
But then you write that the 1990s were a really bad time for the Pittsburgh Outfit. So, what happened and why did the 90s prove so pivotal for this history?
Paul Hodos (29:56):
So, it's because the organization, as you said, it was trying to make new profit streams, and one of the easiest ones, and one of the ones that has also, the easiest way, easiest thing to predict would draw law enforcement scrutiny was getting into the cocaine business.
Paul Hodos (30:15):
And so, a lot of us associates, and some members got into that, some of them leading members including his underboss after Jojo Pecora died, were heavily involved in that. And that brought a ton of law enforcement scrutiny.
Paul Hodos (30:31):
And in 1990, there was a huge trial that really hurt the family, took apart the hierarchy except for the boss. And actually, the Consigliere survived that too. He was a very secretive guy as well.
Paul Hodos (30:48):
But the people who were sort of the street leaders of the organization were gone after that. And so, in the 90s, you have this problem where the head of the family has been kind of separated from the troops in a way. So, he has to find a new intermediary, and someone rises to the occasion. But the prosecutions in the early 90s make Genovese even more secretive than he was before.
Paul Hodos (31:15):
And so, he meets even less with people. LA Motors are a pretty low-key place, just a small car lot. And then, he moves to an even smaller car lot down the street. And it's taken the organization down to its barest bones and there were still wild cowboys in it. As you know since you read it.
Paul Hodos (31:47):
But the core members in Pittsburgh really went back to sort of that gambling core and said, "Hey, we're going to make money off gambling, the drugs made us a lot of money, but it was a big problem. And so, we're going to back off of that and bring the organization back to the roots of what the mafia is."
Paul Hodos (32:10):
And Genovese had made what for Pittsburgh was a lot of members in the 1980s, five people. That's a lot for them in one decade.
Paul Hodos (32:21):
And after the 1990 trial, he was really just very skittish about that. And to my knowledge, no one got made after 1990.
Benjamin Morris (32:34):
It is so funny because we often hear of this metaphor of cut the head off the snake and the snake will die. In this particular case, it's the opposite, isn't it? It's like you cut the body of the snake away from the head, and the head may continue to live, but it just sort of limps along. And it's lost all of its power, its influence. I mean, to get rid of those sublayers of leadership and associates did more harm to him than going after Genovese himself could have done.
Paul Hodos (33:10):
Yeah, I think so. I mean, you have the people that he depended on to be the eyes and ears and power on the street. And then once you take those away, he still had some people to rely on, but they're not as aggressive as they were in that period.
Paul Hodos (33:30):
The street tax and all that, while still collected on some people, it's just not as aggressive. And Henry Zottola becomes really his go-to guy after that. And there are more aggressive moves, include investing in a casino, which kind of went bad. And then, the Youngstown crew continued in the more flashy ways probably much to the boss's chagrin.
Benjamin Morris (34:01):
No, we're going to spoil the ending a little bit, but I do so very, very purposefully, because I think it's fascinating to see how just Mike's trajectory sort of takes shape here. There are so many more characters in your book. I mean, I'm thinking of Little Joey Naples, I'm thinking of No Legs, Hankish.
Benjamin Morris (34:28):
You have such a wide roster of remarkable individuals, and I don't say that to praise them, it just extraordinary sort of reckless, gutsy, ambitious, driven for all the wrong reasons, figures in this Outfit. There are so many, and I absolutely encourage our listeners, we have told one tiny story out of the dozens and dozens and dozens here in your book.
Benjamin Morris (35:00):
So, if this is of interest, everybody out there in podcast land, I mean, Paul's book is absolutely comprehensive for this region.
Benjamin Morris (35:10):
But what is fascinating about Mike is that he dies in his sleep, he wins, and you even have a federal agent, what is it? A U.S. Marshall or someone who says, “He beat us at our game.” That's not supposed to happen, but with Mike it did.
Paul Hodos (35:32):
Yes, that's true. And yeah, it was actually the FBI agent I referred to before had that quote, who I was interviewing. He was talking to a Post Gazette reporter, and that was his quote for them. And he obviously had a love-hate relationship with Mike Genovese, the FBI just generally.
Paul Hodos (36:00):
I think what I can say about it is that they definitely wanted to put him in jail. But the fact that it ended up the way they did, and even during the cases that they were running against him, is that there was this almost begrudging respect that comes out of that relationship where it was very adversarial. And whenever they would talk to him, they could tell he was nervous. Like, alright, get out of here guys. He was trying to make polite conversation, but-
Benjamin Morris (36:28):
Yeah. You have this hilarious line, Paul, where you say he wouldn't talk business with him. He wouldn't talk shop.
Paul Hodos (36:34):
Paul Hodos (36:36):
I'm just thinking, what the hell would that look like?
Paul Hodos (36:39):
Paul Hodos (36:41):
And the funny thing about some of these early mafia guys when the Bureau started to pay attention to them is that they actually would talk shop with them sometimes because gambling was something that they didn't view as bad, obviously.
Paul Hodos (36:54):
And so, we have some of these guys talking about the rackets, and it's like, what are they doing? They're like basically incriminating themselves. He never did that. And it was this begrudging respect relationship. And I think it's perfectly encapsulated in the book. And it's like you said, it's kind of a nice ending. If there's a successful ending for a mobster, I think, Michael Genovese lived it.
Benjamin Morris (37:26):
Yeah. I mean, he made it to, you said he passed away in 2006 at the tender young age of 87-years-old. And I almost couldn't believe it. Every page I turned in your book, I was expecting the hail of bullets, the shootout on the corner.
Benjamin Morris (37:47):
I was expecting the end of your book with respect to just his story, not even the other guys, to take the same shape as the very beginning of your book, which is a mob hit in an abandoned car, on a secluded road and single shot to the temple, that sort of thing.
Benjamin Morris (38:05):
I was just thinking, surely Mike is going to somebody off, pardon my French. But no, he beat the feds at their own game, so it's really something.
Paul Hodos (38:21):
It is a fascinating portrait of a gangster. And again, here on Crime Capsule, we do not seek to glorify these criminals. What we do is we seek to understand them. And I honestly believe you have done just a masterful job telling their stories and helping us to see the steel city in all of its gritty splendor.
Benjamin Morris (38:50):
And so, thank you so much, Paul.
Paul Hodos (38:52):
Benjamin Morris (38:54):
Tell me just before we go, how can listeners find your work? What's the best way for them to get ahold of this book and your other books?
Paul Hodos (39:03):
So, I'd say the easiest way is (and a lot of people are members of this already), Amazon. And make sure, if you like the book, make sure you leave a review on there. And that I would be remiss if I didn't say get it on the History Press Arcadia website because then you're not giving a cut to any of the tech moguls who are running the other sites. So, that's the best way for the author and the publisher themselves.
Paul Hodos (39:35):
But if you're a member of Amazon, it's an easy way to grab it. And Barnes & Noble, it’s at all the regional Barnes & Nobles in Ohio, like Eastern Ohio, Western Pennsylvania. So, you could catch it in person there on the shelf, which is great.
Benjamin Morris (39:53):
Yeah. Well, it is a true joy and it's a fascinating account, and I hope you haven't heard any suspicious clicks on your phone line since the book came out. But I wish you all the best for it’s journey forward. So, thank you again for joining us, Paul, this has been a great pleasure.