Friday, May 27, 2011

Mob Wives: Debra Gravano, Karen’s Mother

Typically, mob wives didn’t play a very active role in the mob business. Their role was to keep the house nice and take care of the kids. They cooked and cleaned. They weren’t involved in the crimes, they weren’t told anything about mob business, they didn’t ask where the money came from. But, all that seems to be changing in recent years. Just on “Mob Wives” alone, we have a few women, actually daughters of mobsters, who have participated and gotten into their own share of trouble with various criminal activities. Jenn, the executive producer, was involved in Hector Pagan’s marijuana distribution ring, Lana, her older sister, was involved in her husband’s tax fraud, and Karen played a part in her father’s Ecstasy ring in Arizona.

However, there is one wife who eventually got tangled up in her husband’s business, Debra Gravano. The Ecstasy ring in Arizona seems to have been a family affair, with all four of the Gravanos involved to one degree or another. I got curious as to what was Debra’s role in all this. This is a woman who married one of the most infamous gangsters in recent mob history, Sammy Gravano. A woman, who after learning her husband played a role in the murder and dismemberment of her own brother, Nicholas Scibetta, still went and joined her husband in Arizona and became part of his drug distribution ring. I am almost at a loss for words to go on, but go on I shall.

The first time law enforcement heard about the Arizona drug ring operated by Gravano, was in 1999. They soon learned that Debra, his wife, was working with her son Gerard at “Marathon” Construction Company (the same name Sammy used for his company in NY). The police wire taps captured many conversations. One conversation was between Gerard and Sammy. Gerard tells Sammy that his mother wants to know if it’s okay to lend Papa $70 for gas receipts. Sammy says yes, tell her to bring it to work tomorrow. Translation: Debra Gravano was to take $70,000 from the home safe and loan it to Papa to buy drugs. The next morning Debra arrives with the money at the construction company. Then there were three follow up calls between Debra and Sammy.

Sammy calls Debra and, in an angry accusatory tone, tells her the money was short by $5,000. She insists it was all there, she counted the $70,000 herself.  Sammy calls a second time, still aggravated about the shortage because this was the second time a delivery was short, and he thinks Debra is the one who is taking the money. In the third call, Sammy admits to Debra that the money was all there, he had just miscounted it.

The police eventually got enough evidence to arrest the whole Gravano family, and many others involved in the ring. They were indicted in early 2000. Debra plead guilty to “one count of illegally conducting an enterprise” and received 5 years probation. She was allegedly active in the smuggling of the ecstasy and the money she was holding was used to buy more ecstasy. This operation took one million dollars out of Arizona’s economy to purchase illegal drugs and then there were the expenses of the consequences in loss of health, danger to public safety, welfare expenses and harming those who used the drugs, all additional expenses the state had to bear.

On November 18, 2003, the Attorney General for the State of Arizona, ordered Debra and Sammy Gravano to pay the sum of $805,713.41 to the State of Arizona, as reimbursement for monies spent to investigate and prosecute the activities of their drug ring.

I have to wonder how much, if anything, they paid back on that judgment.


jnettemarie said...

I'm sorry but Salvatore Gravano is the devil in a sharp suit! I have yet to find one redeeming quality in this man and his wife. As for Karen and Gerard...well, kids are a product of thier environment. I hope Karen and Gerard take this opportunity and give thier kids a better life. But honestly I don't see that happening wiht Karen in NY and her kid in AZ with the father and grandmother.

Love said...

I would say that Debra is even MORE to blame than Sammy in some ways! She obviously was no nice hide your head in the sand, beat down Italian woman doing the best she could!
HER selling with the kids, when they were what, early 20's? NICE. I wouldn't spit on her.
The sad thing is if these women really want to get rid of the life, they REALLY have to get rid of ALL the family, because of their outrageous behavior. And, NEED to! Leaving her daughter with grandma and brother? UGH UGH, she has no intentions of leaving the life. She's on the east coast to do a show, period.

The Underboss said...

15 minutes of fame is what these women are after. They say one thing and do another. I am sure money is drying up in many cases so let's pimp our lives to whoever pays the most. I feel bad for the kids but they can choose not to associate with or take any money from the family. The mother is as bad as some. At least she dealt drugs with them. It must have been some sort of strange bonding time. Hey let's sell this weekend while go out.

jnettemarie said...

Hey, when my kids were little we had parties, and people were doing this or that. But when my exhusband was busted in our driveway while our daughter was home I realized the severity of the situation. I got divorced, and got my kids out of there.

Debra had this same opportunity yet choose to stay in the gutters and recruit her own children. She is not a mother...she is just a person who gave birth.

Chiara Soprano said...

Debra had more reason than most to get away from Sammy and the "life." It's true he was involved in her brother's murder (Nick Scibetta) and she even divorced him at some point. But, when he built her that million dollar house, she went right down to Arizona to live in it. She sold her sole to the devil and her children's too, because up till then, they had no crminal record. How arrogant to think they would all never get caught? And the fact is they had money and businesses that they could have ran legitimately. Ugh, I'm done!

Chiara Soprano said...

sorry "soul" not "sole" but in this case both may apply LOL

GreekDonPrincess said...

Family sticks together... That's what they grew up with doing and didn't know any different. It was litsy a family 'business' to them..the way of life for the kids back then... Disturbing? Yes. Disgusting? Absolutely. Hard to wrap your mind around if you don't know a life like that? Of course! But that was life to them, that's what they did, and didn't think twice. The kids to blame? Absolutely not! That was just life, that was family, that was loyalty that was their 'norm' second nature..NY, and the way of life, especially back in the was just a different world, something you didn't think twice about and not many from outside that can or ever could understand