Joseph D. Pistone was born in 1939 and thirty years later, he would become a special agent with the F.B.I. Seven years later, he would begin a six month undercover sting that would last for six years. Joseph Pistone went undercover for the F.B.I as a jewel thief to hopefully catch thieves that may be fencing jewelry and other stolen property from recent hijackings of trucks. This would lead him into the world of the Mafia and the Bonanno Crime Family. This where he would meet Benjamin ďLeftyĒ Ruggiero and Dominick "Sonny Black" Napolitano. Pistone is of Sicilian descent and can speak fluent Italian. This and the reason that he could drive anything from big rigs to tractors is the reason that Joe Pistone was picked to go under cover as a jewel thief. He also went to school to learn all about diamonds and other gems as to give his under cover position more credence.
Donnie Brasco is the name he chose to use to go under cover with. Donnie Brasco is also the name of a movie about him being undercover with the mob and is played very well by Johnny Depp. Al Pacino had the role as Lefty Ruggiero and Michael Madsen played Sonny Black. If you have not seen the movie, I recommend that you do because it is, in my opinion, one of the only mob movies that are actually close to what actually happens.
The only part of the movie that leaves people wondering is at the end when the Pacino character, Lefty Ruggiero, is called up. Pacino makes you think that the Lefty character is about to be executed as he takes off his jewelry and leaves his wallet with them in a drawer. Ruggiero was not killed and the scene where he takes off his jewelry is kind of homage, if you will, to Sonny Black as it is said that he took off his jewelry and gave it to his friends before he was killed. Lefty was actually picked up by F.B.I. agents when he left his apartment on the thirtieth of August in 1981. He was sentenced to twenty years. However, in the early nineties he was released from jail and died on Thanksgiving Day in 1995 of, and you wonít believe this but, cancer. I know itís shocking to hear that a Mafia member died from cancer but the ones who didnít die of being assassinated; died from cancer.
Sonny Black was found dead in a body bag in 1982. Black was found in a creek near South Avenue near the Geothals Toll Bridge that hooks Staten Island to Linden, New Jersey. His body was riddled with bullets and his hands were cut off.
Joseph Pistone retired from the F.B.I. in 1986 and at one time had a bounty of 500,000 dollars placed on his head. By the Bonanno Crime Family, but that order was cancelled after a meeting between members of the Bonanno family and agents of the F.B.I. The F.B.I. told them that they would basically turn up the heat on them and the other crime families if they didnít rescind the hit. Today, Joseph Pistone is a consultant as well as an international speaker and trainer for the F.B.I. He has written several books and co-owns a production company. He is alive and well and living someplace west of the Mississippi.