Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Sammy 'The Bull' Gravano

Arizona Interview

In the summer of 1999, Gravanos own mistakes caused Dennis Wagner, reporter for the Arizona Republic, to discover him. Gravano was living in a modest bungalow in Tempe, Arizona. The multiple-murderer had his own publicist, not to mention an attorney who was fighting to keep Gravanos profits from his book and movie out of the hands of the families of his victims who had filed a $25 million lawsuit for damages.

Gravano was obviously upset that he had been discovered. His publicist, (an irony in itself because Gravano always complained about the publicity-seeking Gotti) Athia Hart, whose previous clients included two former Arizona governors, agreed to an interview between Wagner and Gravano on conditions that his new name and company not be revealed and that information about family members be withheld. The newspaper agreed to the terms with the stipulation that the deal would be void if Gravano or his company were found to be involved in any illegal activity in the state.

Relaxing in a black muscle shirt and gray sweat pants, the now 54-year-old Gravano smoked cigarettes while his publicist and lawyer listened to Wagners questions. The once publicity-shy gangster now enjoys his celebrity and oozes bravado. His life, a series of contradictions, is still wrapped up in his family, Gravano claimed. He tells Wagner that they are the main reason he sought refuge here, along with the weather and a relatively mob-free environment. Gravano also states that the restrictions of not having any contact with his family was one of the reasons he quit the Witness Protection Program nine months after leaving prison.

Most disturbing about the interview was Gravanos claim that hes become pals with FBI agents and U. S. Marshals. They drop by on vacations to Arizona.

My how times have changed. A generation ago, FBI agents would have spit on a man of Gravanos character. Now they travel across the country to seek his hospitality. One wonders if they would be as cordial if one of Gravanos victims was a member of law enforcement. Their actions are a slap in the face to the relatives of Gravanos victims, causing them to view the government men with disdain.

Gravano had turned into the man he came to detest John Gotti. He talks about being recognized on the street and having people come over to shake his hand or ask for an autograph. He claims, I was the smartest, best-looking, most charismatic of the underbosses who flipped. Gravano corrects Wagner when the reporter questions the integrity of a man who murdered 18 or 19 people. Gravano interrupts, It was 19, he says sounding proud of his accomplishment.

Wagner ends the interview by asking, So, who is he today? Mobster, government informer, ex-con or businessman?

Gravano answers, Im Sammy. Sammy to the core.

Which fittingly coincides with rotten to the core.

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