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.