Giuliani Defends His Career as Prosecutor of Mobsters
Responding to a new book that claims members of his family had ties to the Mafia, Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani said Thursday that his career as a federal prosecutor who cracked down on mobsters speaks for itself.
“I think I’ll stand on my record as having prosecuted or put in prison more members of the Mafia than probably any U.S. attorney in history, having been threatened with death by them at least three times--four times seriously going back to when I was an assistant U.S. attorney,” the mayor said.
“If that’s not enough to remove the Mafia prejudice than there’s probably nothing you could do to remove it,” he said at a news conference. “Is there anybody who’s done more to end the influence of the Mafia than me?”
The mayor did not dispute claims made by the book, “Rudy! An Investigative Biography of Rudolph Giuliani,” which paints an unflattering portrait of the law-and-order mayor’s upbringing.
Among the book’s claims is that the mayor’s father, Harold Giuliani, spent a year and a half in Sing Sing prison for robbing a milkman at gunpoint in the 1930s--a decade before Rudolph Giuliani was born.
“I’m not going to read it, I’m not going to comment about it,” Giuliani said.
The book, written by Village Voice reporter Wayne Barrett, says Giuliani’s cousin Lewis D’Avanzo was a mob associate who ran a major car theft ring. It also says the FBI suspected that D’Avanzo--who went to school with Giuliani and attended the mayor’s first wedding--was involved in several murders.
D’Avanzo was killed in Brooklyn by FBI agents in 1977 when he tried to run down an agent who had stopped him on a warrant for transporting 100 stolen luxury cars.
The book also claims that Harold Giuliani and the mayor’s uncle, Leo D’Avanzo, had ties to the mob as well. According to the book, the two were involved in a shootout with a member of the mob on a Brooklyn street in the early 1960s over a loan-sharking dispute.
The book is scheduled to be published Tuesday. Excerpts were provided to reporters this week by the publisher, Basic Books, and portions were printed in this week’s Voice.
Harold Giuliani died in 1981 at age 73 of prostate cancer, the same disease that forced the mayor to drop his Senate bid this year against Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Giuliani said Tuesday that his father “was the finest man I ever knew . . . the most generous and kindest and most charitable man I ever knew.” He also said his father’s past died with him.
Before he was elected mayor in 1993, Giuliani earned a reputation as a no-nonsense federal prosecutor bent on breaking the mob.
As U.S. attorney in 1986, he successfully prosecuted the heads of three organized crime groups--Genovese crime family boss Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno, Colombo boss Carmine “Junior” Persico and Lucchese boss Anthony “Tony Ducks” Corallo. Each received sentences of 100 years in prison.
Then as mayor, Giuliani spearheaded the effort to free the Fulton Fish Market of mob influence.