FOR MEMBERS ONLY
by G.T. Harrell, the author of the book
In October 2006 I received a phone call from a man who
identified himself as the great-nephew of a high-ranking
member of the Mafia from the 40s until his death in the
mid 90s. He told me that three generations of his family
members had a wealth of stories about the Mob that
needed to be told. He said he would like to commission
me to write a book detailing the life and times of his
great-uncles. I was invited to travel to New York City to
meet him, his great-uncle Sonny Della Universita, the
last living sibling of Paulie "Lefty" Della Universita,
as well as a former criminal attorney and his brother.
The following week I was introduced to everyone in Little
Italy, NYC, and videotaped seventeen hours of
interviews with Sonny. He told compelling stories
about many of his life experiences with well-known
gangsters and associates of his brother, Paulie, many of
whom were the Who's Who of the Mafia.
After I returned back home from my fascinating and very
productive taping sessions, I looked up Sonny's
brother's name on the Internet, as well as sought
confirmation of his identity in history books and
documents about the Mafia. I found nothing, but I still
believed in his story and those related to me by other
relatives. I decided to go to the definitive source about
The Genesis of the Book
the Mafia, the FBI. After a few days of working my way up the chain of command, I was finally
directed by a department head to talk to a man who was described as "the expert on the history of
the Mafia." He promised to be a person who would definitely be able to confirm Paulie's existence
and ranking, if he did in fact exist.
To my great surprise he knew of him but neither wanted to talk about him nor wanted me to
pursue my inquiries about him any further. This really piqued my interest to press him some more.
After another brief conversation, he confirmed that Paulie Lefty was not only known by law
enforcement authorities, but that he was known to be "the Consigliere for all five families." I was
stunned and knew that I had been offered a unique opportunity to penetrate secrets that had
never been disclosed over decades.
Having spent nearly twenty years in the newspaper business in London, England, Philadelphia
and New York City, I knew when I had a good story. It later evolved into a great story. Over the
next fourteen months I talked almost daily to Sonny and other close relatives about this epic story
and the enigma who had evaded the attention of the press and Mafia historians. As the saga
unfolded, I gained an insight into the origins of the American Mafia, its principal key players, as
well as unknown bosses who ran the whole syndicate in a shroud of secrecy. I learned about
rackets and parts of the Mob culture that to my knowledge have never before been reported. I
later learned details behind some of the most interesting and intriguing events during the storied
history of the Mafia, events that shaped the intricate tapestry of the Mafia underworld.
For Members Only is more than just an expose. It is an in-depth look into the life and times of
known figures and secret bosses who reigned supreme during the formative years in the growth
of the Mafia worldwide. Along the way I have attempted to dispel many myths and correct many
inaccuracies in Mob history.
Much of the American economy was and to a certain extent still is influenced by the Mafia and its
bosses in the US and Sicily. For Members Only seeks to open doors for you to look in and form a
unique perspective into this mysterious underworld of ruthless killers and adept businessmen.
Fagettaboutit!! You'll enjoy this book. Come along for the ride.
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