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Known by most as “Sammy The Bull”, Salvatore Gravano was born on March 12th, 1945 in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, a predominantly Italian-American neighborhood. After his bike was stolen around the age of ten, a group of mobsters remarked how Sammy fought “like a bull” while taking on several larger kids at once, earning him the nickname “The Bull”. After dropping out of school and completing two years in the military, Gravano drifted into the mafia.


In 1970, Sammy made his first hit for the Colombo family. After a conflict within the family, he was moved to the Gambinos to join Salvatore “Toddo” Aurello’s crew. He became heavily involved in the construction industry and became a successful earner. In 1985, he was involved in the corporate takeover and removal of Paul Castellano, the "boss of bosses." John Gotti was unanimously elected as boss, Frankie DeCicco, underboss and Gravano as captain. After DeCicco’s death in 1986, Gravano was promoted to consigliere and the following year underboss.


After a major indictment targeting the powerful Gambino family heads in the early 90's, Gravano pleaded guilty to a superseding racketeering charge. After 11 months alongside Gotti in prison and a total of 23 years in the mob, he decided to cooperate, formally agreeing to testify on November 13th, 1991. He was released from prison in 1995 and entered into the Federal Witness Protection Program. In 1996, Gravano co-wrote a book about his life, Underboss, which went on to sell over one million copies. He began living very openly and appeared in a nationally televised interview with journalist Diane Sawyer.


In 2000, Gravano was implicated in an ecstasy ring. On September 7, 2002, he was sentenced in New York to 20 years on the federal charges. He was released in September of 2017. Currently, Gravano resides in Phoenix and continues to speak freely about his former life in organized crime in his critically acclaimed podcast, "Our Thing".

Image by Kiwihug

"When Gotti said, 'These guys will take the fall for me. We're gonna win it alright,' I saw the look Gravano gave him, and I said to myself, only myself, 'I don't want this case. These guys are all game players, and Gotti just threw Gravano under the bus.'"


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"Brilliantly constructed and grimly fascinating. . . . The result is a terrific and important book. . . . It's important because it is a morality play on the subject of loyalty. To whom are you loyal, and from who should you be able to expect loyalty?" - New York Times Book Review

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