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Albert Demeo   For the Sins of My Father  
Albert Demeo  
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Read an Excerpt from For the Sins of My Father

 

The Hollywood gangster formula is simple; local boy goes bad, becomes a small time hood, works hard, rises to the top of a crime syndicate, then falls from glory as a result of his own greed. As Al DeMeo, explains in For the Sins of My Father, the gangster's reality is not that simple.

Growing-up the son of reputed mobster Roy DeMeo, Al experienced first hand the benefits granted and the devastation caused by a life of crime. In the early days, life was good for the DeMeo family. Al didn't exactly know what his father did for a living but what kid really does? One might understand his father's an investment banker but what exactly does an investment banker do? What's the difference? One thing that every child understands is that Dad is a giant of a man who provides for and protects his family. Despite his methods, that's exactly what Roy DeMeo was to his family. In a touching, sympathetic, and honest portrait of a life-less-ordinary, Al DeMeo paints a beautiful picture of a tight-knit community that vehemently takes care of its own when things are going well and ruthlessly disposes of them when they become liabilities.

Despite Roy DeMeo's well-documented exploits in mob activity, the "family business" was something Roy rarely shared with his own immediate family. Dad loaned money to people who needed homes but weren't in good standing with the banks. Dad had a car dealership of some kind. Dad worked long hours and was often paid in cash. Dad carried a gun to protect himself and his family. Was Dad really the murderous felon they talked about on the news?

Growing up in the suburbs of New York City, Al Demeo's childhood started out like many others. On weekends, Roy DeMeo would walk his son through Manhattan's little Italy where friends and family leapt from store fronts and front stoops to pay, among other things, their respects to Al's hard working father. On occasion there would be a ballgame or a father and son fishing trip in the woods. Much the way a child learns there's no Santa Claus, Al DeMeo gradually came to realize his father's business operations were not typical of the dealings in which his friend's parents took part. As the years passed, Al became increasingly aware of the talk on the schoolyard. As the houses got bigger and the cars grew nicer it became difficult for Al to ignore the new neighbor's sideways glances and suspicious whispering.

As the movies have taught us, the gangster starts out small and uses his toughness and wit to ascend the criminal hierarchy. After that, fiction and reality part ways. As For the Sins of My Father explains, once a gangster starts making money for himself and the Family, the expectations of his bosses become higher. The mob's performance evaluation process is simple; if one of its soldiers has been doubling his income for years and suddenly that rate of growth stops, it must mean one of two things—the man is becoming lazy or he's started embezzling. The mob has no room for a man of who fits either of those descriptions. The plight of the fallen gangster is much like that of a racehorse who can no longer best his top speed. No one retires from the mob.

Unlike many stories of this kind, For the Sins of My Father strips the glitz and glory from the conventional gangster tale and tells a raw and painful story of a childhood wrought with nervousness, fear, and sadness which leads to an early adulthood of paranoia, harassment, and wrongful accusations. More importantly, For the Sins of My Father is the tale of someone who has lived this life rather than a tabloid account of someone-who-knows-someone-who-knows-someone, etc. Unlike any gangster tale printed thus far, For the Sins of My Father presents an honest and genuine account of a cycle that leaves in it's wake innocent victims and shattered lives.

I recently had a chance to talk to Al DeMeo at which time we discussed gangster myths, the arrogant nature of law enforcement investigations, and the current state of the mob. An honest living and straight-laced lawyer, Al DeMeo is a man with tales to tell.

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  Photo courtesy of Albert Demeo

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