Mafia Son: The Scarpa Mob Family, the FBI, and a Story of Betrayal

Stressing the elements of irony and malice, Harmon (coauthor, Elvis and Me) sidesteps the usual Mob yarn to tell the somber, dark story of a coldhearted Mafia chieftain and his obedient son, who takes the fall for his father out of familial love and respect. Wily mob head Gregory Scarpa Sr., with a 50-man crew in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, scammed, stole and killed under FBI protection starting in the 1960s, informing against hundreds of gangsters and crooked lawyers for decades. But when faced with arrest for his crimes, the elder Scarpa betrays his adoring son, Gregory Jr., whom he'd groomed to take his place. Convicted for racketeering, the young Scarpa does a long stretch in a federal maximum security prison, where in 1998 he overhears terrorist schemes to attack America from a prisoner named Ramzi Yousef. But his words are discounted until the September 11 attacks. Harmon, a very capable writer, gets inside the heads of the diabolical father and the submissive son (who is still in prison) in this sinister tale of bullets and betrayal.

A disturbing, jagged true-crime thriller worthy of prime Hammett, Chandler or Puzo. (May)


Mafia Son: The Scarpa Mob Family, the FBI, and a Story of Betrayal.

As the son of a mobster, Scarpa was practically destined to go into the family business, although he never felt the thrill of murder and violence his father experienced. When federal investigators finally honed in on their corner of the Mafia world, 38-year-old Scarpa went to prison instead of his dying father. Just as Scarpa had inherited his Mafia position, he’d also inherited his father’s relationship with federal agents. In exchange for information about mob activity, Scarpa Sr., known as the Grim Reaper, was given a virtual license to kill. But Scarpa Jr. was eventually betrayed by his father and federal agents who could have given him leniency. He had passed along information from terrorist Ramzi Yousef, Scarpa’s neighbor in prison, including early warning of al-Qaeda’s planning for the 9/11 attack. The information was ignored, and Scarpa Jr. was sentenced to 40 years to life in prison. Harmon draws on five years of research, including extensive interviews with Scarpa Jr. and family members, to offer an enthralling look at ties between the Mafia and the FBI.


"An absorbing and intriguing look at a mafia family whose violence, and treachery, knew no limits."

- Vincent Bugliosi, author of The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder

"Harmon writes well and swiftly about one of this century's most feared, duplicitous Mafiosos –– Greg Scarpa, a war captain in the Colombo crime family, a man who had his eye shot out in a gun battle, a man who was so fond of shooting people that he regularly said, 'I love the smell of gunpowder,' a man who played both sides of the fence –– a dedicated Mafioso, and an informer for the FBI. Hell of a read."

- Phil Carlo, author of the bestselling The Ice Man

"A vivid and accurate account of one of the most notorious and ruthless families in the history of organized crime. Sandra Harmon has captured… the very essence of the Scarpa family in all its savage, corrupt, and murderous glory. A great read!"

- Michael Vecchione, Chief of the Rackets Division, Kings County District Attorney's Office

"The implications of this book to the FBI's fitness as a law enforcement agency—as well as its capabilities in protecting our nation from terrorism—are staggering...A can't-put-it-down read."

- Michael Levine, former DEA Agent, Trial Consultant and New York Times bestselling author of Deep Cover

"It's hard enough to write without risking your life. Sandra Harmon did both in her tense, penetrating psychological portrait of the Wiseguy who went right and paid the price. A true thriller in the tradition of Donnie Brasco and Goodfellas."

- Robert Graysmith, author of Zodiac and Auto-Focus

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