This Ex-Con Misses the Days When Snitches Actually Got Stitches
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because silence is always golden.
By Robert Bonavoglia
I was born at Brookdale Hospital in Canarsie. I’m not a tough guy, mafioso or killer. Just another guy making money selling drugs. When I got busted, I had six DEA agents questioning me, wanting to know my connections. They told me if I blew trial, I was facing 40 years. But I didn’t give anyone up. I didn’t want to bring anyone else into my misery, even though I wasn’t out there murdering people. It makes me angry when I see these dudes that were into way more than me criminally and they just think they can snitch to get out of it. I took my time and did it like a man.
I get upset because now that I’m out I see some of these guys in Brooklyn walking around on the street like it’s OK they snitched. Like someone gave them a pass. Back in the day, this stuff didn’t happen. If you snitched, you knew the consequences. Now they’re snitching and walking around like it’s cool. Like nothing’s going to happen. The arrogance kills me. They need to get dealt with. I can walk around any neighborhood in Brooklyn with my head held high. I don’t have to dodge nobody or look over my shoulder. That’s because I didn’t snitch.
I grew up in an era when the Bamboo and Gemini Lounges were active. If anyone knows about those lounges, then they know the crew that hung out there. And Nicky Corozzo’s crew was located right between the Gemini and Bamboo Lounges. Growing up a rat was the lowest thing you could be, because practically the whole neighborhood was Gambino and Lucchese guys. Avoiding the mob when I was a kid was nearly impossible. To tell you the truth, Canarsie didn’t breed a lot of snitches.
When the cuffs go on, these tough guys melt like hot butter. I did 13 years in prison and I lost everything.
The reason it makes me angry when guys snitch is because I did my time. I was facing a lot of time with the mandatory minimums, and the only way I could’ve gotten out of it was to snitch. But I’d never snitch. A lot of these guys on the street — I’m not talking gangsters; I’m just talking knock-around guys — these guys want to kill, extort, beat people up with baseball bats and burn buildings down, but then when the cuffs go on, these tough guys melt like hot butter. I did 13 years in prison and I lost everything. I lost my wife, my house, my kids. I lost everything just because I didn’t snitch. It wasn’t in my blood.
But you had this guy, Sammy the Bull, who ratted on the boss because the boss was talking about him. Is that an excuse to rat on your boss, because he talked about you? When you’re in that life, you do what the boss tells you. The boss tells you to take this time, you take it, no questions asked. But over the years, these things have changed. Guys are snitching to get out of a jam. If you get caught, do your time. Stop snitching. Stop opening your big mouth and getting dudes in trouble because you can’t hold your own weight.
I didn’t do anything to save my own ass. I went to prison. I followed the rules. When you want to be a tough guy on the street, then take your time when it comes. All these so-called gangsters give stories on why they snitched, but there are no excuses. There are no gray areas. When you live that life, you don’t tell. I was brought up with old-school guys and they said, “If you’re facing a life sentence, then, oh well, you have to take that. You don’t bring anybody down with you.” That’s omertà — the code of silence. But no one cares anymore.
When I was in prison, this guy got slashed by a squeegee from his eye down to his chin. There was blood everywhere. His T-shirt was all red. It was a vicious cut. They locked the prison down and started questioning people. The sergeant asked me what I saw, and I told him I didn’t see anything. He said, “You didn’t see anything and you were right there. I don’t believe you.” I said, “I didn’t see anything.” The sergeant got mad at me and threatened me with interfering with an investigation. I told him, “I’m not here for telling.” It’s not my business to tell. If someone gets killed in prison, it’s none of my business. My business is to do my time and go home. Not to tell on the next person. But guys nowadays … I just don’t know.
They just talk and tell to save their asses. If you’re going to be in that lifestyle, then you don’t tell. If my mom sees a hit-and-run and tells the cops the plate number, she’s not a snitch, because she isn’t in that lifestyle. But if I see something and it doesn’t involve me? I keep it moving. I keep my mouth shut. That’s the Brooklyn way.
- Robert Bonavoglia, OZY Author Contact Robert Bonavoglia