Though the "character" Donnie Brasco didn't live in the 90's, but I've always found it quiet a fascinating tale.
Joe Pistone was an FBI agent who
infiltrated the Bonanno crime family under the name “Donnie Brasco”.
He was a pioneer for deep
long-term undercover work. J. Edgar Hoover originally did not want FBI agents
to work undercover because it could be a dirty job and might end up tainting
the agents, but Pistone's work helped convince the FBI that using undercover
agents instead of just using informants was a crucial tool in law enforcement.
Pistone was selected to be an
undercover agent because he was of Sicilian heritage, was fluent in Italian and
was acquainted with the mob from growing up in New Jersey.
The operation was given the code
name "Sun-Apple" after the locations of its two simultaneous
operations: Miami ("Sunny Miami") and New York ("The Big
Apple"). After extensive preparation including FBI gemology classes and
again using the alias Donnie Brasco, he went undercover as an expert jewel
He developed a close
relationship with Anthony Mirra, Dominick "Sonny Black" Napolitano
and was tutored in the ways of the wise guy by Bonanno soldier Benjamin
"Lefty Guns" Ruggiero. It was by doing this that Ruggiero
inadvertently provided much evidence to Pistone, as Mafia members will not normally
talk to non-members about the inner workings of the Mafia. Ruggiero became very
close friends with Pistone and told him that he would "die with him".
The undercover mission ended on
July 26th 1981.
Shortly thereafter, Napolitano
was murdered for having allowed an FBI agent to infiltrate the family; he was
shot dead and his hands were cut off. Anthony Mirra, who initially brought
Donnie Brasco to the family, was killed. Ruggiero was to be killed as well, but
was arrested by the FBI while on his way to a meeting, in order to prevent his
The Mafia put out a $500,000
open contract on Pistone and kicked the Bonanno family off the Commission. FBI
agents visited Mafia bosses in New York and told them not to even bother with
The evidence collected by Pistone
led to over 200 indictments and over 100 convictions of Mafia members.
Pistone still travels disguised,
under assumed names and with a license to carry a firearm. He will not set foot
in any location with high Mafia presence.
Below a nice video of the real Donnie Brasco talking about his undercover work + FBI recordings... Enjoy!