Contact: Ceres Hill, The Mob Museum
LEGENDARY UNDERCOVER AGENT JOE PISTONE TO BE FEATURED IN THE MOB MUSEUM
Interactive Museum Will Present Original Content from the Battle Between Organized Crime and Law Enforcement
LAS VEGAS (Sept. 6, 2011) — He spent six years undercover and surrounded himself with rough characters and dangerous criminals instead of his family. Joe Pistone was considered one of the most legendary undercover agents of all time and lived a double life as Donnie Brasco amidst members of the Italian mafia in New Jersey from 1976 to 1981. Pistone’s better than fiction, true life story is one of the many accounts of law enforcement and organized crime that will be featured in The Mob Museum when it opens to the public on February 2012, in downtown Las Vegas.
Pistone, who was recently interviewed extensively by researchers for The Mob Museum, shared intimate details about his life posing as a small time jewel thief and burglar who eventually worked his way into the Colombo, and later, Bonnano families. Originally retained for what he thought would be a six-month mission, code-named “Sun-Apple,” the investigation continued for nearly six years during which time Pistone had nearly no contact with his wife and children.
“The bravery and tremendous dedication of Joe Pistone is impossible to imagine,” said Kathleen Hickey Barrie, curator for The Mob Museum. “The evidence he uncovered is absolutely invaluable, and he blazed a trail for all the undercover agents who have come after him. Visitors to The Mob Museum will ask themselves, ‘Could I ever do something like this?’”
When Brasco was asked to become a “made” member of the Bonnano family and prove himself by killing an associate, the FBI pulled the plug on the operation because there was a mob war brewing and they didn’t want him to get hurt. At that point, the Mafia issued a $500,000 contract on his life, forcing Pistone to go into hiding. Today, he still maintains a very low profile, travels disguised under assumed names and is licensed to carry a firearm. He is an active consultant to international law enforcement agencies and an active author, whose many books include Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life in the Mafia, The Way of the Wise Guy, Donnie Brasco: Unfinished Business and The Good Guys. In 1997, Johnny Depp portrayed Pistone in the film, “Donnie Brasco.”
Selected for the investigation because of his Sicilian heritage, fluency in Italian and familiarity with the mob from growing up in Patterson, New Jersey, Pistone spent five months sliding into his new role, erasing his identity and gaining comfort with his new identity as Donnie Brasco. He learned to think like both a gang member and an FBI agent and how to avoid danger when he saw someone who might remember he’s an agent. He also learned to keep an emotional distance from members of his new circle, figuring out how to avoid violence and get information to his superiors as quickly and secretly as possible.
The results of Pistone’s investigation are renowned. Twelve mob-related trials in six cities over five years led to more than 100 federal convictions. Pistone’s insights into the Mob are said to have destroyed the romantic illusion about the Mafia. Today, he is considered an FBI legend.
The human cost of Pistone’s investigation is equally significant to the results. His children grew up without a father and his wife lived for six years without a husband under considerable financial strain. He never knew where each day would lead and lived in constant fear of being uncovered and killed.
The Mob Museum is housed inside the city’s historic former federal courthouse and U.S. Post Office at 300 Stewart Avenue in downtown Las Vegas and is set to open on February 14, 2012. The 41,000-square-foot building includes approximately 17,000 square feet of exhibition space on three floors in addition to a specialty retail store, special event areas, educational areas and office space.
Admission is $18 plus tax for adults ages 18 and over; $12 plus tax for children ages 5 to 17 and students ages 18 to 23 with ID; $14 plus tax for seniors, military, law enforcement and teachers; and $10 plus tax for Nevada residents of all ages. Museum hours will be Sundays through Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Fridays and Saturdays 10 a.m. until 8 p.m.
About The Mob Museum
The Mob Museum is a world-class destination in downtown Las Vegas dedicated to the thrilling story of organized crime and law enforcement. It presents an exciting and authentic view of the mob’s impact on Las Vegas history and its unique imprint on the world. With tales so intriguing they need no embellishment, The Museum reveals an insider’s look at the events and people on both sides of this continuing battle. True stories of mob history are brought to life in a bold and contemporary style via engaging exhibits and multi-sensory experiences. The Mob Museum puts the visitor in the middle of the action through high-tech theater presentations, iconic one-of-a-kind artifacts and interactive, themed environments. For more information, call 702-229-2734 or visit www.themobmuseum.org. Connect with us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/themobmuseum and on Twitter: @TheMobMuseum.