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Fletcher’s Mind is a boundless record of interesting facts, thoughts and theories, from the mind of Mark Fletcher! This entry was posted in FletchersMind: Fletchers5ive and tagged $25000 Pyramid, Alex Trebek, Bob Barker, Chuck Wolery, Dick Clark, Gene Rayburn, Match Game, scrabble, The Price Is Right, To Tell the Truth by Mark Fletcher. Goodfellas, the Godfather, Donnie Brasco, The Sopranos- Hollywood’s obsession with mobsters dates all the way back to the turn of the century. In 1993 I was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison for selling LSD and sent to FCI Manchester, a brand new federal institution in Kentucky. But about a week after I hit the compound I was approached by an older Sicilian guy who reminded me of my paternal great-grandmother. It’s sort of funny how this old guys in the twilight of their lives generate so much respect, gossip, and admiration among the prisoners.
Like I said I never personally met the guy but there was a lot of gossip about him on the pound.
In 1999 I transferred to FCI Fort Dix in New Jersey and this prison located on the eastern seaboard had all kinds of mobsters, wise guys, wanna-be’s, and east coast type dudes.
When I first got there I met the top mafiaso pn the compound, Little Nick Corozzo who everybody called Nicky. I remember seeing Jerry the Jew and Nicky getting catered dinner and brunches in the chow hall too. One event finally happened on the compound supposedly involving Nicky which got him locked up in the hole and transferred.
Well apparently some guy welched on his bet when he lost and when the Irish mobster put pressure on him he ran to the cops and snitched on the Irish guy so they locked him up under investigation for running a gambling pool.
Some other Gotti stories I’ve heard have floated around and filtered down from his time at USP Marion. In 2002 I was transferred to FCI Fairton, also located in New Jersey and here was the prison where I met the classiest Mobster I’d ever met. He would host mini banquets and invite all the Italians on the block to eat pasta with him.
I remember one time he showed me some information regarding the fine he was assessed to pay the government by the court as part of his sentence. Also one time Mikey had a beef with this other old-timer over something and old Mikey was going hard.
Every new dude that came on the block would try to get up under Mikey but he wasn’t no sucker. Supposedly Mikey had heard that when John Gotti was on his deathbed at the Federal medical center at Springfield, Missouri the only mobster that could gain access to see Gotti was Fat Jack. I have just been transferred again and can truly say that Mikey Perna is one of the people who I will miss the most at FCI Fairton.
A litany of wise guys have gained fame and notoriety and eventually been incarcerated by the feds. The code of silence has been broken and gangsters like Sammy the Bull and Henry Hill are so brazen in their snitching that they don’t even feel they need to hide.
I mean we are talking about a tough crowd- gangbangers, stick-up kids, street hustlers, smugglers, drug kingpins, and straight thugs. It seemed to me that a lot of the white dudes at this prison tried to portray that mafia tough guy image. Supposedly he was a capo under John Gotti and was even handpicked by Gotti to run the Gambino family at one time.
They were all in a 12-man room together and at one time had a sort of impromptu chop shop going on as they stole metal folding chairs which were in short supply, painted them, and sold them to white dudes and Italians in other units. All the prisoners would be standing in line and the mobsters would just walk in and go to a predetermined table with a table cloth on it.
I guess the mob hierarchy on the pound recognized Little Nick as the top and most respected mobster. Then as the word went the Irish mobster, who was friends with Little Nick, reached out to the mafiaso and put a hit on the snitch who was still on the compound. A dude from Harlem called Pup who was my bunkie for a couple of years in a 12-man room told me the story.


They said when they brought him into Marion two F-16’s flew shotgun for the Con-Air plane that was delivering him.
It was a phenomenal amount to say the least but Mikey was questioning the interest on the fine.
He had a lock in a sock all up in his cell and told a couple of dudes on the block to look out for this guy in case he decided to creep up on Mikey on the low.
If he decided a dude was a mooch he would call them out to their face and set them straight quick. The word was he sweet talked the warden into letting him visit Gotti as he lay dying one last time. Upon arriving there I was indoctrinated into prison culture and had my first experience with a bonafide mafiaso. Supposedly he was brought over by the feds from Sicily and charged in the infamous pizza connection case from the 80s.
But even though most of the dudes in the feds could beat down, extort, or rob these old mafiaso they never do. Then when they were settled a prisoner cook who worked in the kitchen would bring them out plates of food specially prepared and made to order for them- omelets, fried rice, or whatever. It was all rumor and innuendo so who knows what really happened but this was the word on the pound at the time. The cops found out and locked Nicky up too and eventually transferred both of them to a higher security level prison. He told me that when he first went down he was in MCC New York at the same time John Gotti was there. He showed me how he had paid a certain amount every month for a number of years and then asked me to check the interest. I always regretted not meeting Fat Jack as everyone told me he was a great guy and hysterical as hell. Fat Jack had a lot of medical problems also and that why he was at FMC Springfield, and not at FCI Fairton when I arrived. Costa Nostra , our thing, has-been immortalized in movies, TV shows, newspapers, magazines, and books. I guess it stems from the scenes in Goodfellas where Ray Liota and them are having mini banquets. I would see him on the compound with the less famous mobsters from Pittsburgh and all the wanna-be’s who would be all up under him trying to ride his coattails.
I got to know some of the Boston dudes who were more around my age and got invited to some of the little dinners and parties Nicky would hold. I know it was a paid for service but it still gave them an appearance of living large and being special and I’m sure they knew it and reveled in this fact. You would always see the mafiasos walking around in groups and greeting each other with the double kiss on each cheek. The most frequently used one was the line from Goodfellas where Joe Pesci asks Ray Liota, “What are you laughing at me? There was this big Irish dude, a big union guy from Boston, who had been down a minute and was supposedly an Irish mobster. Nicky had always faced a lot of scrutiny from the police on the compound due to who he was and they finally grabbed him and shipped him out. They just happened to be on the same block as Gotti was going through the motions of fighting his charges at trial. Also they said that Gotti received so much mail that two FBI agents shacked up in the town and had their own little office just to screen his mail. It turned out the government was charging him more for interest then he had paid toward the fine over a number of years and thus the fine was growing larger by the month.
Fiction has blurred with reality and the mafiaso has become a mainstay in today’s popular culture. I was never connected with the mob in anyway, never really embraced my Italian heritage, and grew up as far from the eastern seaboard as possible. Although he wasn’t made because of his German blood this New Yorker supposedly had big money.


He always tried to do things big so a lot of the little dinners and get togethers were like mini banquets. Who knows if the whole thing was true or not but that was the story floating around the pound when it was all going down. Pup told me that Gotti had the whole block on lock because he was such a big-profile mobster and all the young street hustlers looked up to him. Supposedly Gotti got like 50 letters a day or more from admirers, friends, family, associates, fans, writers, and media outlets. He used to tell me if I needed anything to just let him know but I noticed how many dudes asked him for stuff on a daily basis and didn’t want to be considered among them so I hardly asked him for anything. He was in his 60’s but in tremendous shape and was really the first real mobster I actually had a friendship with.
In this new era of the mob it seems they are to worried about publicity and getting that book deal or movie deal. Wise guys turned stool pigeons, the drug trade emerged with new and vicious ethnic gangs, and the FBI took on the mob in a brutal decades long battle and broke the mafia’s back. He told me he knew a lot of Ferrantes in Palermo and was trying to find out if I was related to any of them.
I had also heard that Joe Watts supposedly bought all the cells next to his on the first tier and moved all his people in around him. He said Gotti would be holding court and preaching to all the young brothers on the block all day telling them to go hard and take the feds to trial. One more interesting story that made the rounds was that when Gotti was released from the 24 hour supermax control unit at USP Marion into a transitional lockdown block that was the middle step before going to the compound, he got into an argument with a black prisoner over who was next on the phone. But even though a lot of the guys in federal prison are a joke and wanna-be’s there are still some real goodfellas inside these fences. Being a military brat whose father and grandfather were both career military men I was a little taken aback to say the least. He had his cook, his cleaning person, and his muscle guys in all the cells surrounding him and they would all eat together Goodfellas style. He was really straight out of the movies and I was always thinking does art imitate life or vice versa. I told him I grew up in the suburbs and was an American but that I would check with my dad to see if my family still had ties to Sicily. I remember seeing him go to the commissary and have a couple of guys with him to carry his bags.
These are all just stories that have filtered down though so who knows if there’s any truth to them.
He approached me as soon as I arrived on the unit and for the next two years I ate with him almost every Sunday. The wanna-be’s are mocked are laughed at behind their back as they try to portray the movies version of a mobster.
But it was my first experience at being accepted by the mafiaso culture and the first time in prison I had played on my Italian heritage. But for real I wasn’t a wanna-be like a lot of the other dudes I was just trying to get my eat on.
And it wasn’t until later with all the John Gotti publicity that I even heard of the Gambino crime family. Well it turned out Gotti got life and a lot of the street hustlers, black youths from Harlem and Brooklyn, took his advice, went to trial with their court appointed lawyers and got hit in the heads. There weren’t many Italians there but I recall that he used to walk the track with this short pudgy guy and you could always here them speaking back and forth in Italian.



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