Thursday, October 11, 2012
Toni Marie Ricci's New Book: "Scars of a Real Mob Wife"
I recently read that Toni Marie Ricci is writing a book about her unique and compelling story as a mob wife of a crime family capo. When we first started this blog, I came across her name in various articles and interviews online. I wrote a couple of blogs about her and her ex-husband, Michael DiLeonardo aka “Mikey Scars.” I never thought that a year and a half later I would be meeting, chatting and interviewing this very warm and friendly lady about the story of her life. I called Toni Marie to see what she would be able to tell us about her new book, “Scars of a Real Mob Wife.”
Hi, Toni Marie, this is Chiara from mobwives.blogspot, how are you today?
I’m good Chiara, how are you?
I’m good, always looking for a good blog and I read that you are in the process of writing a book about your life. Can you give us a brief summary of the contents?
The book is a memoir of my life with my ex-husband, Michael "Mikey Scars" DiLeonardo, and a little about how I grew up in a certain environment.
When you say “certain environment” do you mean you grew up in the “lifestyle?”
I grew up in Brooklyn, my family all lived in a 12 family apartment house. My grandmother has 9 brothers and sisters. We always had family coming over and eating together. I was always around well dressed men who drove Cadillacs. I had a tremendous and loving family. I never knew anyone was in the lifestyle, no one ever talked about it. I mean, you may have had an inkling, but you never knew specifics. In 1986, when I was 21 and pregnant with my son, my cousin was killed, blown up in a car. He was the underboss for John Gotti Sr. Then my brother was incarcerated too. It was around that time that I really realized what was going on.
How did you meet Michael DiLeonardo?
I guess it was through the lifestyle that we met. He was 10 years older than I was, and at 19 I was very impressed by him. He took me to the best places. But he also had a large grocery store in Harlem. I was glad to see he had his own business and I was happy he wasn’t in the lifestyle. I never wanted any part of the lifestyle. Soon after we married he started hanging out with certain people more and more. He began cheating on me. I wasn’t one of those women who just sat at home and accepted it. I questioned him all the time. He would come home at three in the morning and it was a constant battle. He would say cruel things to me. When it came to vacations and gifts, he was very generous. I told him he couldn’t buy me with gifts and if he ever cheated on me, it was over. But, he was a narcissist who came from a broken family. I tried to give him that family life. No matter what I did I couldn’t fix how he was raised. But, I fought for my marriage.
How do you feel about the lifestyle?
The lifestyle is not to be glorified. It’s a tough life. As far as my marriage, we were broke for many of our 17 years of marriage. We lived in an apartment for 14 years of those years. I only had a house the last three years and I had to end up selling that. I didn’t even have a washing machine. I had to take car service to my mother’s and do the laundry there. Meanwhile he had been taking women, 12 that I know of, on trips and out to dinner and even provided places for a couple of them to live.
Michael was a captain of the Gambino crime family and he ended up destroying many lives, including ours. I feel bad for the victims and their families. He put more men in prison than any other informant, including SammyGravano. He even ratted on my brother. I don’t believe in ratting. I remember my father telling my brother, when he was a kid, if anyone does anything in school you don’t rat them out. That’s how we were raised. I believe if you do the crime you do the time. But now, even my brother is in witness protection program and we never get to see him.
Your marriage to Mickey Scars ended years ago and you have moved on. Why have you picked this time in your life to write the book?
My ex-husband just finished testifying for the government a year ago, and every time he took the witness stand he kept bringing out my story. I finally feel that mentally I am ready to tell my story. When I did I Married A Mobster I felt a burden was lifted off my shoulders. I always felt like I was paying a debt I didn’t owe. For me, it was like God said, this is the time for you.
Do you think this book will provide you with some kind of closure or sense of satisfaction?
I have been in therapy for a long time trying to deal with my past. Even so, I Married A Mobster was very hard to do, I broke down quite a few times. I had an emotional breakdown after filming, but my sister was with me the whole time. Somehow, after it was all over, I felt a relief from telling my story. That’s when I decided to go through with the book. So I think that telling my story and knowing that I’m not alone, does give me some sense of closure.
We have gotten a glimpse of your story on Investigation Discovery’s “I Married A Mobster.” Is there one thing you would have like for them to include that they left out?
Yes, that’s a good question. The only thing I would have liked them to include would have been to get out the facts about Carla Facciolo, who pretends she is a victim. And also, my best friend of 30 years, who also had an affair with my ex-husband. These women thought I was sitting home taking care of my son. I never went anywhere, while he was busy taking these women on trips and vacations. But you know what, I believe what goes around comes around. I believe in karma. It may take time, but it will come back to bite you. And, for Carla, it will come out 20 years later. She was out on boats with my ex-husband and now everyone will know the truth.
What was the most hurtful thing you suffered during your marriage?
The most hurtful thing was in December of 2000. It was Christmastime and I had a gut feeling Michael was cheating, but I asked God to give me proof, a sign, so I would know the truth. I received a Christmas card from an anonymous person, telling me that Michael had a six month old baby with another woman. I had been trying to get pregnant for 12 years. I was devastated. It felt like my heart was ripped out and thrown on the street. When I learned this news I threw him out. He ended up turning informant and going into the witness protection program with this other woman and their son. He left my son and I out there. My son was receiving death threats.
It’s been said that you turned down a role on Mob Wives, is that true? And if so, why?
I turned it down because in my life, at that moment, I didn’t think it would be the right thing for me. I wanted my story to come out in a different light. I planned on writing a book and sharing my experience with other women who have suffered similar experiences of mental and even physical abuse. I was never abused physically, but I want to be an advocate for all these women. I spent years battling anxiety and depression and I want to show them that if I can pick myself up and go on, they can too. If I can help even one woman with my story, I will have done my job.
Have you watched season one and two of Mob Wives? If so, what did you think of it?
It was wild!
Carla reacts to accusation at Reunion!
During the Reunion Show of season two, Karen revealed that Carla Facciolo slept with one of her “uncles” in the lifestyle. She was referring to your ex-husband, “Mikey Scars.” What I, and our readers, would love to know is whether or not Carla is going to be in your book?
Yes. The reason that she will be in my book is that my ex-husband brought her name out in court, and it’s been in your blog, so I feel I can talk about it. She was with him for several years.
When Carla responded to the accusation, it was an admission of guilt with an excuse, she said was only 19, and 19 year olds do stupid things. How do you respond to that?
She was 19, that’s true, but she was with him into her twenties. She had no regard for the fact that he had a wife and child. Carla should have owned up to what she did and apologized for her mistakes, but she is so self absorbed, she would never think of doing that. Michael even got her the job in the brokerage firm where she met Joe.
Apart from your incredible story, I hear that your book is going to be unique in other ways. Can you tell us more about that?
Artist, Michael Bell at work in his studio,
Yes. I have partnered with a wonderfully talented artist, Michael Bell. He is working with me on my book. He is going to create seven portraits which will incorporate the elements of my story. People will be able to visually see the pain, the suffering, the good and bad times. The paintings will be on exhibit at an art gallery for one month. I will give you the details at that time. I feel very fortunate to be able to work with him, not only because of his talent, but because he recently won the Good Shepherd Domestic Violence Award. We share a mutual concern for victims of domestic abuse.
I love the idea of telling your story in portraits. I would love to interview Michael Bell, at some point in the future and possibly give our viewers a sneak peek at one of the portraits for your book.
Oh definitely we can arrange that, he really does amazing work and you can see his work at his website.
I will definitely check out his website (link below). Now what’s this I hear about recipes?
I decided that instead of putting out two separate books, I am going to share some of my recipes in this book. Cooking was always good therapy for me and helped me to cope with what was going during the difficult times of my marriage. I have several easy and quick recipes I think would help a lot of woman who come home from work and have to make dinner for their families.
You certainly know how I feel about your meals! The pictures of your dinners always look so delicious, and I can’t wait to try some of those recipes! I know fans will be thrilled to hear this news.
Well, it’s been great talking with you, Toni Marie. I wish you great success with your book and I hope to interview you again about it and future projects you are working on. Good bye and keep in touch!
I will Chiara. I enjoyed talking to you.
Picture credit: Toni Marie, Michael Bell, VH1
Visit Michael Bell’s site for a glimpse of his artwork @ http://www.mbellart.com
P.S. I watched Toni Marie's episode, "Scarred for Life," last night on Investigation Discovery. If you haven't seen it, you really should. There is so much to her story that was revealed and so much more that I expect will come out in her book. We will keep you updated on Twitter.