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Joseph Sullivan was a Mafia hit man who was the only known person to escape from Attica. He is currently serving three life sentences.
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In 1977, Sullivan got married. He and his wife Gail eventually started a family, becoming parents to two boys, Ramsey and Kelly. But all of this domestic bliss did not sway Sullivan away from his criminal life, either. He was considered a suspect in the murder of Irish mob boss Mickey Spillane that occurred that same year,
but Sullivan was never charged in the crime. He was also reportedly linked to the slaying of Tom "the Greek" Kapatos. Another intended target for Sullivan was Carmine "Cigar" Galante, head of the Bonnano crime family.
For much of the summer of 1978, he tried to carry out the hit on Galante, but failed. The efforts of a team of hit men did what Sullivan couldn't the following summer—they shot Galante to death at a Bushwick, Queens restaurant.
It is believed that Sullivan killed between 20 to 30 people. A consummate professional, he trained before completing an assignment. "Two or three days before I would go to this park near my house and run, not fast, just jogging. I wanted to be by myself, prepare myself mentally, sort of go through a dry run," he later explained to the Centre Daily Times.
Sullivan handled his final hit in 1981. He was hired to kill John Fiorino, a Teamsters Union official and reported mafia member. Waiting outside a restaurant near Rochester, New York, Sullivan shot Fiorino with a shotgun. Trying to flee the scene, his car got stuck in a snowbank. His associate, who was driving the car, was soon caught, but Sullivan escaped by hiding in the snow for roughly eight hours. After his eventual arrest, the police then linked him to two other murders that took place on Long Island.
Sullivan was convicted of the Fiorino murder and two other killings in 1982. He was given three life sentences. Today, Sullivan is an inmate at Sullivan Correctional Facility located in Fallsburg, New York. He will be eligible for parole in 2069, a veritable life sentence for a convicted killer in his seventies.
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Bootleggers, smugglers, drug dealers, hit men—all these occupations are the provenance of mobsters, who operate in ethnic, family and business networks. Mobsters' real life crimes, and Hollywood's fascination with them, has earned them a special place in the American imagination. From Al Capone's Chicago crime ring to Bugsy Siegel's Las Vegas racket, these mobsters have made their names notorious from coast to coast.
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