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  • - I just did what I had to for work

  • and it was a job for me.

  • Whether it was shooting 'em, some of them was stabbing 'em,

  • some of them was batting 'em.

  • At this point, I look back and I wish I never did it.

  • (soft music)

  • Hey, I'm John Alite, ex-Gambino enforcer hitman.

  • I'm an advocator now for children,

  • prison reform, Second Chance Program

  • and also a co-author of several books.

  • And this is my story.

  • I grew up in a normal household I guess.

  • Albanian typical household.

  • I was raised as a ball player and a fighter

  • since I'm a little kid.

  • My dad believed in the boxing world, fighting.

  • His concern was more with education in the streets

  • and being able to survive.

  • Coming from a communist regime in Albania,

  • and coming from Lower East Side

  • where he had taught us to be tough guys I guess.

  • In New York, there's five major families.

  • Gambino family is one of the stronger families

  • out of the five.

  • So I started getting involved with the Gambino family.

  • One of them was my baseball coach as a young kid,

  • was Anthony and Albert Ruggiano.

  • Their father was nicknamed Fat Andy Ruggiano,

  • who was a made member of the Gambino family and Murder Inc.

  • He was a guy that raised me.

  • And also through Lucky Luciano,

  • was a famous gangster's first cousin, Charlie Luciano,

  • which we called Blackie.

  • He was a partner with my uncle in a gambling den

  • out in the South Bronx.

  • I was raised by these guys as early as five years old.

  • I was in gambling dens,

  • and I was at different card games, craps games,

  • and I was exposed to other gangsters through them.

  • Later on in life as a teenager,

  • I started running tickets and numbers and bookmaking slips

  • from a local delicatessen I worked at

  • and the backroom was used as payphones

  • for illegal gambling and for horse betting.

  • So I would run slips across the street

  • to Luchese guys.

  • Louis and George Gatti, I dated the daughter of.

  • I guess as the years went on,

  • I started becoming an enforcer

  • without knowing I was becoming one.

  • I started going to the gym regularly

  • as a fighter, a boxer, with a lot of guys from the street.

  • In the middle of collecting debts for gambling and sports

  • and horse rooms, they would ask me eventually

  • if I had trouble collecting to hurt them.

  • And it became a regular business for me.

  • As far as hurting guys, I got used to it.

  • I got forceful when my bosses,

  • whoever they may be at that time

  • would tell me what to do.

  • At that time it was a lot of guys from the Luchese family

  • that I was actually running around doing those things for.

  • Later on it became the Gambino family as I got older.

  • As the years went on, working and selling drugs

  • in Rikers Island, which is one of the bigger county prisons

  • that everybody from our neighborhoods

  • in Brooklyn and Queens end up going to

  • if you get locked up.

  • There was 25000 inmates.

  • And I started working for Angelo Ruggiero,

  • known as a real tough guy.

  • He asked me to start moving heroine

  • within the prison system, which I started doing.

  • From that, I started doing some shootings,

  • baseball bat beatings.

  • I've been accused of shooting close to 60 people.

  • I believe they accused me of shooting.

  • I think that number's exaggerated,

  • and it's a lot to say how many of those people I killed

  • but I would say well over a dozen of those people have died.

  • By accident, I baseball batted one of my friends too.

  • I got accustomed to being violent unfortunately.

  • For some friends, some of it was business

  • and some of it just became a natural thing to me too

  • to hurt and kill.

  • Unfortunately that was part of the life

  • of being a gangster.

  • As I grew in the mob world, like any job,

  • you wanna be the best at what you're doing.

  • You know the mentality of us,

  • even though it's a bad life and a crazy life

  • is to be respected and to make a lot of money.

  • So as a kid, I was actually slow-walking

  • more than my friends.

  • My friends were a lot more dangerous than me.

  • Coming from Brooklyn, Queens, Jamaica Avenue,

  • and a lot of my friends were already shooting,

  • killing, stabbing, and as the years went on

  • I started to bypass them.

  • I started to get more vicious but also more intelligent.

  • I was raised by guys like Fat Andy Ruggiano,

  • who taught me to be quiet but also taught me to be vicious.

  • What you don't realize while you're in the street,

  • there's all kinds of tolls that you're gonna pay.

  • Emotional and physical.

  • At about 19, I get stabbed up for the first time.

  • I get stabbed up two different occasions.

  • I got about 120 stitches in my chest at one time.

  • I believe I got about 80-something in my head.

  • I was stabbed in the head.

  • You start accepting the violence

  • and you start accepting that you're playing roulette

  • with your life, with not much regard of it.

  • You think you're almost invincible.

  • So I think some of the tolls is that,

  • and then as you're doing the killing

  • and the beatings and the hurting of other individuals,

  • I think you just take it in stride,

  • but somewhere down the line,

  • you're gonna pay the price mentally with it.

  • It's gonna take effect.

  • These murders and these shootings I did,

  • and prosecutors during these cases

  • talked about how I just nonchalantly went

  • to go eat afterwards, or I went to the beach.

  • I didn't really understand

  • what did they mean by it.

  • That's how detached you become.

  • Not realizing they're trying to show

  • how callous you become in the life.

  • And I think that's my biggest reason

  • why I'm so candid about it

  • because I'm trying to teach kids

  • that there's so much suffering that goes on,

  • not just on victims, my victims,

  • other victims, the families, my family

  • and my personal fight with myself to control my rage.

  • There's a mental toll on ya that I work on every day

  • almost like an alcoholic would.

  • As you're gettin' more intelligent in the life

  • and you start growing up and maturing,

  • as you're gettin' older and you're going through

  • some of the violence you did,

  • you're starting to recognize there really isn't that loyalty

  • that you believed there is as a naive kid.

  • You start watching the treachery, the double dealing,

  • people that are killing their best friends,

  • killing family members with no regard,

  • and you start understanding that this is not about loyalty.

  • This is about money.

  • And what I believed in as a kid started changing

  • and the guys that I grew up with, that I really respected,

  • they're gone and move far away from this life.

  • Either lost their lives or murdered or in prison for life.

  • And I started to step back and really take a look

  • at what I'm involved in.

  • And I started seeing the treachery when I went on the run.

  • And I got caught, and I was in Brazil.

  • And while I was on the run and in Brazil penitentiaries,

  • I watched two major crime families, the Bonanno family,

  • about 14 made guys, captain and bosses,

  • the whole hierarchy, started cooperating.

  • And also my own family,

  • the Gambino family started cooperating.

  • And these guys aren't the only ones cooperating.

  • These guys are all around the country,

  • bosses from every family, every state,

  • that have been cooperating.

  • And it kinda opened up my eyes.

  • How did I leave my kids like this?

  • Why would I sit in these penitentiaries in Brazil

  • for years at a time, fighting for my life

  • in those concentration camps,

  • when I spent two and a half years in those penitentiaries.