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Unmarried in the Mob

March 2, 2008 8:51 PM

There aren’t many women in the mob, says Joe Pistone, who should know: He was the real-life “Donnie Brasco,” who infiltrated the Mafia as an FBI agent and now is executive producer of “Wisegal,” a Lifetime movie airing March 15 based on the life of mobstress Patty Montanari.

Mr. Pistone first heard about Ms. Montanari when he was introduced to her son by actor Leo Rossi of the series “Falcone,” also based on Mr. Pistone’s experiences. The son told Mr. Pistone how, as a widowed mother of three, Ms. Montanari got involved with a married Brooklyn capo, Frank Russo. (Mr. Pistone knew of Mr. Russo from his undercover days.) Mr. Russo put her to work and discovered her business savvy, and she became so trusted that she was soon handling hundreds of millions of dollars the Mafia skimmed from the casino business. Ms. Montanari was also quite a looker, Mr. Pistone said.

“At 65, she was a knockout. At 25 she was movie-star gorgeous,” he said—every bit as good looking as Alyssa Milano, who is portraying her in the movie.

After the mob rubbed out her boyfriend’s son—all part of being a wiseguy—Ms. Montanari managed to convince the boss to let her out of the mob, something else that’s rarely accomplished.

“They don’t take on females like this. That’s what makes it a compelling story,” Mr. Pistone said.

— Jon Lafayette


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