In the course of a federal racketeering investigation, FBI agents and prosecutors received court authorization to wiretap the home telephone of Federico "Fritzy" Giovanelli, a Genovese crime family soldier. The feds hoped to hear Fritzy discussing mob business with fellow New York wiseguys, conversations that would then form the basis for a RICO prosecution against Giovanelli and Co. As it turned out, during the six months the FBI was listening, Fritzy was fairly careful -- there was little talk of mayhem and only occasionally did he slip and refer to his criminal enterprises (and then it was often just about his gambling operation).
But while the tapes do not contain the sort of reckless chatter that sent John Gotti away for life, they're remarkable for the funny, profane, and whimsical conversations Fritzy had with his Mafia cohorts, namely Frank "Frankie California" Condo, a fellow Genovese soldier. Like two old hens, Frank and Fritzy would gab daily about life's rich pageant, their conversations a stream-of-consciousness potpourri. While most men their age were out working, the duo would convene on the telephone in the early afternoon -- both speaking from their homes -- and launch into wildly veering conversations. A typical 15-minute chat could touch on sex, work, girlfriends, vitamins, movies, enlarged hearts, cholesterol counts, and marital strife. Peppered with malaprops and featuring Frank and Fritzy's Central Casting voices, the tapes are a raucous, slice-of-life look at two hoodlums.
Listening to them talk, the pair's mutual love and camaraderie is clearly evident. A conversation doesn't pass without one telling the other, "I love ya" or "I miss you." One could almost forget that Frank and Fritzy are career criminals, racketeers who belong to an organization that uses murder as an enforcement tool.
As for where we got the tapes, which were recorded in 1985-86 and have never previously surfaced, we're not saying. We prepared the transcripts after carefully (and repeatedly) reviewing the tapes and did our best to decipher assorted Italian slang and stray utterances. Some transcripts will carry a "UI" entry, for unintelligible, when we were stumped at certain points. Finally, a note about "oogatz." Fritzy's favorite catchphrase, the word is derived from the Neapolitan "un cazzo." As he liberally uses it, the term translates to "bullshit!"
A new episode of The Frank & Fritzy Show airs every Wednesday (you'll need Real Player or Windows Media Player to listen). It is the inaugural series on WMOB and is produced by your pals at The Smoking Gun. And we are:
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