Topic: Blog Tours
I'd like to share with you today some things people are saying about Tony Napoli's book, My Father, My Don.
A Powerfully absorbing saga of personal redemption!"
--Nicholas, Pileggi, author of Wiseguy and Casino.
"A knockout! This powerful book examines, in great detail, Tony Nap's checkered past and his amazing comeback..."
--Bill Gallo, cartoonist and columnist, New York Daily News
"Tony tells his story with honesty and a peacefulness of a man having to come to grips with past conflicts in a peaceful way."
--Sonny Girard, former mobster and author of Blood of Our Fathers
“A true story told in the style of The French Connection.”
--Sonny Grosso, former NYPD detective and co-author, The French Connection
Wiseguy turned nice guy
Ex-mobster who won battle with bottle now helps alcoholic veterans recover
BY ERNEST NASPRETTO DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Sunday, August 26th 2007, 4:00 AM
He was destined to live in the shadow of his fabled father, a notorious bookie and mob figure. Alcoholism would almost kill the renegade son of James Napoli, known affectionately among wiseguys and cops as "Jimmy Nap."
Some of the highlights of Antonio (Tony Nap) Napoli's troubled life include accompanying his father at age 12 on a visit to Al Capone in Florida, boxing for the U.S. Air Force, almost beating to death a corrupt police captain in Jersey City, working as a casino boss in Las Vegas, and defying mob authority.
But what didn't kill him - alcoholism or wiseguys - made him stronger. Today, a reformed Tony Nap, 72, is a military veteran's best friend.
The transition began in November 1993, a year after his famous father died at 81.
A young punk from Sicily assaulted one of Tony's daughters. The next day, Tony confronted the thug, who tried to pull a knife from his boot. Big mistake. Tony disarmed the bum and cut him where no man wants to be cut. Tony was arrested; the punk was sentenced to life minus certain body parts.
Two months later, Tony collapsed in a Queens courtroom and remained in an alcoholic coma for 10 days. He would dry out after a 31-day stint at the Veterans Administration Medical Center at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn.
A year later, a jury found Tony guilty of assault, and Judge Joan O'Dwyer sentenced him to three and a half years of community service at the same VA hospital that helped him. The instructions were clear. Tony would help alcoholic veterans to recover.
Fourteen years later, Napoli has remained well beyond his sentence, continuing to help veterans.
"My job was to help them the way I was helped," said Napoli, "but then I realized a lot of these guys should have been receiving monetary benefits and weren't."
Napoli started exhaustive research of the veterans disability system. He has become an unpaid advocate for the vets, working out of his Forest Hills home and guiding them through the maze of bureaucracy that discourages them from seeking benefits.
"He is a tremendous help to these veterans. He had an honesty and willingness to change. He's a true example of sobriety," said Mike Mooney, coordinator of the substance abuse program at the veteran's medical center. Napoli provides invaluable assistance to veterans disillusioned with the disability system, Mooney added.
Some of the veterans Napoli has helped are old wiseguys who did prison stints after serving honorably in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
"These guys are old now. They've done their time and now have have nothing left. There's no reason why they shouldn't collect. They served their country," said Napoli, referring to old-time mob figures such as Sonny Franzese, 90, and Benny (Benny Eggs) Mangano, 87.
"I'll help out any veteran who comes to me," said Napoli, who has helped more than 150 veterans apply for and be granted disability payments.
Napoli's concern for the down-and-out underdog carries over to the sport of boxing.
Napoli, who boxed in the middleweight division while in the Air Force, is a board officer on the fund-raising committee of Ring 8, an organization that assists indigent former boxers.
The Daily News' famed sports cartoonist and columnist Bill Gallo also is a member and supporter of Ring 8.
"Tony made a comeback after a checkered past and is doing worthwhile things for former fighters who need help," said Gallo, who has a Ring 8 scholarship for children of former boxers named after him.
Napoli's not-so-benevolent moments are the subject of two screenplays being developed for the movies and TV by writer Charles Messina.
"The Prodigal Son" is scheduled to run on the A&E television network next Father's Day, while "Unto the Father" is being written with the likes of Jack Nicholson in mind.
"Hopefully, people will see from these stories that people like me can change, do an about-face to help, not hurt, and make amends," Napoli said.
To purchase a copy of My Father, My Don, please visit http://napoli.beckhamhouse.com/