Manafort and Gates May Have Lucked Out
The terrible plight of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates reminds me of the best newspaper crime story I ever read.
January, 1973, I had just moved to Metro news at the Times. The editors sent me out to deepest Brooklyn, where jewels had been stolen from the altar of an ornate church.
I wrote a wordy lead about the caretaker of the church muttering “Che coraggio” – what gall, in Italian. And I did quote a store owner in the neighborhood, noting the influential persons who supported the church, as saying: “No fence is going to touch this stuff.”
But the reporter from the Daily News wrote a classic.
I cannot locate the exact words by Frank Faso that day, but his story began something like this:
“Some nervy crooks stole the crown jewels from the altar of St. Rosalia Regina Pacis in Brooklyn the other day.
“If they are lucky, the police will catch them.”
Oh, yeah. How New York. How tabloid. How wonderful. (This was when two great tabloids, New York Newsday and the Daily News, were covering the city with zeal and skill.) I was chastened and respectful.
The jewels were recovered 24 hours later.
* * *
This tale of criminality reminds me of our current administration, in that Manafort and Gates, now making front-page headlines for their stunning variety of indictments, seem to have owed a good deal of money to some other rather unpleasant people – Russians, Russians with a memory, Russians with poisoned umbrellas and lethal cups of tea.
Paul Manafort. Is there anything on public record of him ever being or doing anything respectable, before he became an American shill for thuggish Ukrainians and Russians? What did he ever do to put him in the middle of a presidential campaign in a country whose income taxes he had apparently ducked?
Who is this guy? He seems to have had money problems, with bad people looking for him, to try to recover millions and millions of dollars. And Gates was a hapless Robin to Manafort’s compulsive Batman.
In this, they resemble a couple of pigeons with a gambling jones who bet too much on the third race at Aqueduct or 23 on the roulette table.
Suckers. Suckers on the lam. They tried to get it back by aligning themselves with two real-estate hustlers from Noo Yawk and Noo Joisey.
If this were a never-released season of “The Sopranos,” we would have new characters, Paulie Peanuts and Rusty Gates, trying to make it all right for themselves by serving in the family of Donnie Combs and his son-in-law Squeaky.
But remember in “The Sopranos” -- I have not watched any series since -- how there were always investigators listening on tapped wires, or cooped in a windowless van, or waiting to scoop up a member of the clan for a friendly chat?
Paulie Peanuts and Rusty Gates seem to have fallen into the right hands. Now they just have to watch out for lethal umbrellas or laced tea in their next abodes.
But wait, there seem to be a few more episodes in the series:
What about the money-laundering and real-estate nightmares of Donnie Combs and his son-in-law Squeaky? These guys seem to have Russian troubles and Chinese troubles, respectively.
To paraphrase the great Frank Faso of the old New York Daily News:
If they are lucky, Robert S. Mueller will get them.
Thor A. Larsen
2/24/2018 11:14:56 am
Hello George, I loved your article! Yes, Brooklyn (Italian section) had their own 'police force'. My wife grew up in Sheepshead Bay and there never was any 'problems' with car thefts, vandalisms etc. I kept my sports car outside a 'Social Club' and it was NEVER touched! George,, with your writing talent, you could not write a book about a president and 50 plus gangsters and get it published! Never is this bad movie coming to an end! I am becoming more and more impressed with Mr. Mueller! But, even he could use Columbo!!
2/26/2018 09:03:31 pm
Thor, great to hear from you. Now I hear that President BoneSpur would go into a building unarmed.
2/26/2018 08:14:24 pm
2/26/2018 09:08:13 pm
Dear Altenir: Ok, you wrote a lovely film, Curitiba Zero Grau, and have done a lot of TV in Brazil: How would you have ended that series, given that it was going to end that year, with the conditions leading up to the final segment?
2/28/2018 02:43:44 pm
Dear George. I loved that final. I think that I wouldn’t finish the series on that way. I would be a bit more conventional rather than what Mr. Chase did. He was great and made a work of genius. As you said, we're still talking about it.
2/28/2018 05:26:21 pm
Dear Altenir: What a wonderful, humble response from somebody who has written scripts, including very sweet movie.
2/27/2018 06:48:27 pm
2/28/2018 08:49:13 am
Yeah, various mobs have long memories. I see Donnie Combs' son-in-law Squeaky may not have access to as much classified information. This will lessen his value to his creditors.
2/28/2018 03:03:54 pm
I think we are finally getting the answer to "which one's Fredo?"
2/28/2018 05:30:44 pm
He'll jettison them all.
2/28/2018 05:58:49 pm
3/17/2018 01:19:43 pm
The one burning question I have is: Will they let Manafort keep dying his hair in prison?
Comments are closed.
From the great Maureen Dowd:
As I write this, I’m in a deserted newsroom in The Times’s D.C. office. After working at home for two years during Covid, I was elated to get back, so I could wander around and pick up the latest scoop.
But in the last year, there has been only a smattering of people whenever I’m here, with row upon row of empty desks. Sometimes a larger group gets lured in for a meeting with a platter of bagels."
--- Dowd writes about the lost world of journalists clustered in newsrooms at all hours, smoking, drinking, gossipping, making phone calls, typing, editing.
"Putting out the paper," we called it.
Much more than nostalgia.