The women of this new show break the mob rule of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” In “A Love Story,” Cheryl accepts a dinner invitation from Phil even though she was engaged to another man. Phil was very taken by Cheryl and he asks to see her ring. He takes the ring off her finger, throws it across the restaurant and tells her you aren’t engaged any more, you are with me. And that’s how the “Love Story” begins.
Philly brings Cheryl presents every time he picks her up. He romances her. He owns a successful printing business in Manhattan. He never tells her he worked for the Colombo crime family as part of Sonny Franzese’s crew, or that he did printing for Sonny. Philly also laundered money for the mob. They were paying him $150,000 a week. That’s how he made the money that allowed them to take trips to the Bahamas, buy a four bedroom house and he even had car painted pink for her.
One day he calls Cheryl and tells her they are going furniture shopping. Philly picks up Cheryl and he brings her a single red rose. She is so busy talking about the furniture they are going to buy that she doesn’t realize that inside the rose is a 3.5 carat diamond engagement ring. Philly tells her to smell the rose. That’s how he proposed to her. They married and went on honeymoon, taking a 7 day cruise to the islands. Eight months later they had a baby girl, Melissa, and Philly gives Cheryl one million dollars. Two years later they have another daughter. Cheryl says her life was always picture perfect and always full of surprises.
This was far from the life Cheryl had known. Her father abandoned the family when she was five years old. Her mother had to raise four children by herself. Cheryl had three brothers and her hand me downs left a lot to be desired. So Philly’s romancing had swept her totally off her feet.
On September 22, 1993, after three years of marriage, Cheryl had to kiss her fantasy good bye as she woke up to a nightmare. The Feds were after Philly. One day, when he stops to fill up his gas tank, he is surrounded by law enforcement agents and taken into custody. A detective calls Cheryl to let her know. Cheryl says they really wanted to get Sonny Franzese and wanted Philly’s cooperation. They tell him that Sonny is his ticket out of jail and into the witness protection program. But Philly clamed up and gets his father to bail him out of jail. Cheryl still knows nothing about why Philly is in jail. He tells her time and time again not to worry, it’s not serious. Philly thinks he is protecting her by not telling her why he is in trouble. If she doesn’t know anything she can’t say anything. But in the end, Philly ends up being convicted of drug trafficking, racketeering and wire fraud.
The news media were calling Cheryl, they were saying Philly was pushing cocaine. She didn’t know what to believe so she locks herself up in her house with her girls. Her fairy tale ended and everything after that was hell. She had no income, no money and the bills were coming in. Cheryl went into survival mode and got three jobs, working practically around the clock, 17 hour days, waitressing, hostessing and bartending, while her mother watched her children. She waited for 5 years and even drove the 11 hour trip to the prison, near the Canadian border, to talk to Phil and get answers, but he never told her about his involvement with the mob. She says, she couldn’t do it any more; she couldn’t handle his pain and hers. She stopped going to the prison and didn’t have time to read and answer the ten letters a day he was writing to her.
Philly felt rejected and he decides to teach her a lesson “mob style.” One day, at 8:00 at night, two sheriffs show up at her door. She thinks Philly has gotten into more trouble and tells them Phil is not there. They tell her they are there for her. Phil’s lawyer convinced a judge that she was abusing her children. They removed Cheryl from the home. She had to prove her innocence and the judge was livid. She also started her divorce case, which lasted five years. Philly was never allowed to come home again.
I don’t think Cheryl is you typical mob wife. She didn’t “wait” for Philly, she drove to the prison to get answers, and she didn’t let him back into her life when he got out. She just seems to have “fallen” into the mob world, clueless and then pulled herself out for the sake of her girls. I think she did a damn good job.
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