Always a Gangster

Another infamous rat in the history of Mafia informants is Henry Hill. Henry Hill was played by Ray Liotta in one of the best and most realistic gangster movies, Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas. And in a very appropriate twist for these very twisted times, he is the first Mafia informant to have his very own website. Hill also appears regularly on the Howard Stern radio show and has become a restaurant owner after overcoming drug and alcohol problems.

A Brooklyn Tale

When Hill was a small boy on the mean streets of East New York, Brooklyn, he was enthralled with the local wise guys. Like many a wannabe mobster before him, including Big Al Capone, he got his start running errands for the neighborhood gangsters, much to the chagrin of his parents.

A Mafioso must be fully Italian in order to become a made man. Jimmy “the Gent” Burke and Henry Hill could never be made men because they were not full-blooded Italian. Burke was given the affectionate and honorary title of “the Irish Guinea.” In later years, some mobsters, like John Gotti Jr., were made despite being only half Italian.

Henry became entrenched in the seductive criminal underworld. One of his best friends was Jimmy “the Gent” Burke, a Queens-based mobster well known as a hijacker. Hill and Burke were half Irish, and because of that, no matter how many people they killed, they would never be admitted into the inner sanctum of the Mafia. For the record, Hill says he never killed anyone, though he was present at a few murders.

Hill was an associate of the Lucchese Mafia family. His biggest score was as part of the famous Lufthansa heist, at Kennedy Airport. But by the 1970s, his life was also spiraling out of control. Drug and alcohol addiction, plus the increasing stress of living in the dangerous underworld, were bringing him to the breaking point. He started dealing drugs and became a target for local narcotics detectives. In 1980 he was arrested for drugs and decided to become a turncoat for the feds. He knew he was on the outs with Burke and Paul Vario, his other mentor in the Mafia.

Witness for the Prosecution

In the wake of the Lufthansa heist, many of those involved in the robbery were snuffed out. Dozens more were murdered as they squabbled over the distribution of the Lufthansa airport heist money. Faced with his world coming in all around him, Hill went into the Witness Protection Program and was given a new identity. He remained in the program for seven years.

After the ill-fated Lufthansa heist, many of the robbers involved in the operation were murdered by Burke, who sought to keep the money for himself. Of those murdered, four bodies were never found, one corpse was frozen solid, one decomposed body was found in Ohio, and another dismembered body was found floating off New Jersey.

Under his new identity, Henry Hill continued to engage in criminal activity and even did sixty days in jail. He was arrested for drug dealing, assault, burglary, driving while intoxicated, and parole violation. The protection program, run by the United States Department of Justice, kicked him out, so he turned to the FBI, which has helped him remain in hiding since then.

Cyberfella

Henry Hill calls himself a “cyberfella” these days. He is also the author of a cookbook called Cookin' on the Run. Although his life will always be in danger, it would seem that his ego has compelled him to make potentially hazardous forays into the light. He has a website called www.goodfellahenry.com. He also owns a restaurant in Connecticut.

Those who log on can buy copies of Mafia-related books and chuckle over his version of David Letterman's Top Ten List. Hill's parody is a list of Mafia slang expressions for murder. You can take an interactive tour of his old neighborhood and the mob hangout called Robert's Lounge. You can even buy an autographed poster of the movie Goodfellas that he suggests you purchase before he gets whacked. Send him an e-mail and he might even answer.

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