Saturday, February 11, 2012
Mob Wives: Growing Up Gravano
Karen’s interview tried to cover a lot of things in less than 20 minutes. I’m glad I write for the blog and knew more details to fill in the blanks. I wish they had given her more time, but I will recap some of what they covered.
Karen’s father, Sammy “The Bull” Gravano committed or was involved in 19 murders. Karen is asked what kind of father was he? Karen says, “He was a great father.” He was always at their bedside when they were sick and he was at dinner every night. She thought he was in the construction business. And he really was in construction. Sammy controlled all the unions that built New York City.
When Karen first heard the word gangster, she took it as a positive thing. The reason is that she and a classmate passed by a very large house, almost a mansion, and the friend said to her, “you see that big house, a gangster lives there.” So Karen associated the word with being a good thing.
They discuss the 1982 murder of Frank Fiala. Karen was ten years old at the time and asked her father if she could have a sleepover with a friend that night. Sammy told her it wasn’t a good time, as he tucked a gun in his pants. Later that night Frank Fiala was found dead. Karen was just a kid and says she didn’t know how t react to what her father was doing.
Her father was her protector, her provider, her friend. At Karen’s Sweet 16 Party her father introduced her to John Gotti as “Uncle John.” Gotti handed her an envelope with ten $100 bills. When Karen graduated high school, her father bought her a flower shop and it became a booming business.
On December 16th, 1985, Paul Castellano was killed. She knew her father was involved. People were glorifying it at the time.
In 1991 Sammy Gravano was in a New York prison. He was the underboss of the Gambino crime family. He told Karen he was going to cooperate with the authorities. She was always taught “you never tell” and now he was going against everything he taught her to believe in. Karen says that when her father turned informant she felt her dad was betraying her, how could he do this? She couldn’t deal with the betrayal. He was a “rat” and that was worse than his killing 19 people. None of her friends were allowed to talk to her. She was so upset Sammy almost reneged on the deal with the government.
Sammy was also involved in the murder of her uncle, her mother’s brother. His defense was that when you join the mob you take an oath to kill if you have to. Karen says they don’t talk about it. When Sammy is done serving his time the family moves to Arizona.
In Arizona, Sammy starts a new construction business and Karen says she felt more comfortable “being bad.” Sammy revert to crime by financing a drug ring and having his own “family” He is currently serving time for that. Karen’s brother, Gerard, got 9 years and Karen and her mother each got house arrest for their involvement.
Today, Karen is a single mom with an 11 year old daughter, Karina. She divides her time between New York and Arizona. Sammy is due to be released from prison in 2019. While in prison he creates art. They show some of his work, he is very talented. Karen never knew how artistic he was. Sammy doesn’t like the show Mob Wives and always calls Karen the day after it airs and says, “ Watch your mouth” or “Why are you cursing on TV?”
They ask Karen if her father is still capable of murder? She says yes, if someone tried to hurt her he would kill them in a minute, but he doesn’t want to kill people.
That concludes the interview.
If you want to know more about Sammy Gravano’s life in the mob, you can read his book Underboss. Karen’s book, Mob Daughter, is coming out Tuesday, February 14th and it promises to be a best seller! Below I am posting a link to the blog on Sammy Gravano’s interview with Diane Sawyer that took place years ago.
Sammy Gravano's Interview with Diane Sawyer: Our blog on Interview
Video Credit: abcnews.com, 20/20