One day Louis Pasciuto was pumping gas. The next day he was pumping stocks on Wall Street-another brass-balled young hoodlum in an off-the-rack suit, persuading rich and gullible investors to buy phony stocks over the phone. But while Louis was raking in thousands of dollars a day and pouring it out on orgies and Armanis, someone else had his eyes on him...
By the early 1990s the mob had its teeth sunk deep into the Bull Market, and phony, boiler-room stock hustlers like Louis were perfect prey. With a cocaine habit, a stripper girlfriend, and a Ferrari to go along with his straitlaced Staten Island fiancee, Louis was in way over his head-and a hungry mobster was at the door. Threatened by a protector who'd turned into his worst enemy, Louis began planning the most dangerous heist of all: to cross over to the Feds, cop a plea, and steal back his life...
Louis Pasciuto, the subject of this book, actually seems to have been "born to steal." As a kid, he stole from his mother's purse. In his teens, he forged credit card slips; in his 20s, he sold fake stock to investors. He sold phony shares of Goldman Sachs, and faked statements showing stocks of "Goldman Sacks." What money he made from his frauds went to drugs, prostitutes and gambling. This led him to borrow from Charlie Ricottone, a loan shark who was supposedly in the Mafia. When Pasciuto missed payments, he'd find his car tires deflated or his doorbell stolen (it was "more Fast Times at Ridgemont High than The Godfather," says Weiss). One associate smashed his car into Pasciuto's garage. When Pasciuto complained to the police, naturally they asked him, "Do you owe anybody money?" But when Pasciuto was indicted for fraud, he escaped prison by testifying against Ricottone, who was sentenced to four years for racketeering. Weiss covered Pasciuto's story for Business Week in the 1990s, and he is almost fond of the man and his cohorts. Like Nicholas Pileggi's Wiseguy, this book realistically portrays the day-to-day lives of criminals. Unfortunately, neither the writing nor the characters are as compelling, and the account is glamorized and lacks substance. It may be of interest to those who study the sociology of small-time crime, but general readers will likely find it a tedious story of two not-so-nice (nor too smart) guys making messes of their lives. Agent, Mort Janklow. (May 14) Forecast: The publisher compares Weiss's book to The Sopranos and Bonfire of the Vanities. It could appeal to fans of those productions, but serious business readers won't be interested. Warner Bros. has the film rights; Mark Wahlberg will star. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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Grand Central Publishing
May 01, 2004
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