Author Rick Porrello joins Tim to talk about his book that tells of story of the notorious and now legendary Danny Greene, who tried to take down the mafia in Cleveland in life, and may have done it in death. Rick was the chief of a suburban Cleveland police department, and over the years he has written a number of best-selling books about murder, the mafia and organized crime. The book we’re going to talk about today was even turned into a major Hollywood motion picture. That book is, “To Kill the Irishman.”
When most people think of the mafia, organized crime, gangsters, they have a few eras and places in mind. First, it may be the Prohibition Era from 1920 to 1933, where gangs made millions off of bootleg whiskey and alcohol, illegally, of course.
And they left in their wake a trail of death and blood in the streets of Chicago, New York and other cities. Mobsters like Al Capone and John Dillinger became larger than life celebrities for a time. And they became legends through newspaper and media coverage, books and film.
When you think of the mafia, you may have in your mind the world of Don Corleone and his family at the center of the Godfather films, or all those Martin Scorsese movies about the underworld.
Any number of books and documentaries documented the realities, the myths and the stories of La Cosa Nostra – the mafia – and organized crime figures.
Hardly ever, however, do you hear about how some of these stories center on places like Pittsburgh, Detroit, Buffalo or Cleveland. But at its peak, it was everywhere there was money to be made, and these were some of the cities helping them make it.
And yet, in the end, it may have been one story out of Cleveland that changed everything.
Our guest today has an interesting perspective on all of this. He was in law enforcement for decades. He also had a unique family history.
Rick Porrello's Website
The Rise and Fall of the Cleveland Mafia, by Rick Porrello (Amazon)
To Kill the Irishman, by Rick Porrello (Amazon)
Rick Porrello on Facebook
This episode is dedicated to Ray Stevenson, who played Danny Greene in the "Kill the Irishman" motion picture. Ray died suddenly and unexpectedly earlier in 2023.
About this Episode’s Guest Rick Porrello
Author, drummer, and former police chief Rick Porrello has a knack for writing books that attract interest from filmmakers. Hollywood snapped up To Kill the Irishman—the War that Crippled the Mafia before it was even published, and turned it into the movie Kill the Irishman, starring Ray Stevenson, Vincent D’Onofrio, Christopher Walken, and Val Kilmer. A motion picture based on Superthief — A Master Burglar, the Mafia, and the Biggest Bank Burglary in U.S. History is in development. Both books have also generated documentaries.
Rick’s first career was as a jazz drummer. At the age of 18, he got his first big break when he started touring internationally with Sammy Davis, Jr. Despite a skyrocketing music career, Rick decided to trade his sticks for a badge, which had been his dream since childhood. What followed was a 33-year career as a police officer in Greater Cleveland, with the last ten of those years as chief of police.
As an organized crime historian, Rick Porrello’s perspective is an intriguing one. He began writing his first book during family research into the murders of his grandfather and three uncles, all of whom, he learned, were mob leaders killed in Prohibition-era violence. The Rise and Fall of the Cleveland Mafia quickly became a regional favorite and has endured as a backlist title.
When he isn’t hammering out his next book, co-authoring a screenplay, serving as a consulting or executive producer, or drumming with a number of bands, Porrello gives presentations on his books and on his writing and publishing journey.