Whoever said the Mafia is dead has not been to Bensonhurst lately.
We are on patrol with retired New York Detective Frank DeMarco. Frank knows these streets like the back-of-his hand. For two decades he hunted and ran surveillance on mobsters living in Bensonhurst.
On this day, Frank is going to show my film crew and myself some of the Mafia hot spots in this working-class section of Brooklyn. We arrive at an intersection lined with seemingly normal-looking two-story brick homes. Nothing special about it, I think.
Then Frank describes how a major burglary team for the mob used one of the houses across the street as a safe house. They would do the burglary job and bring the loot here where it would be divided up among the thieves.
One of my photographers, David Tillman, is out of his vehicle for less than a minute when the screaming starts. David is taking pictures of street signs – he has not photographed any homes. From across the street a man charges from his front door. Note: This is not the house used by the mob.
The guy screams at David, “What are you doing here?! You can’t be here! Get out of here!”
I bolt from my vehicle where we are interviewing Frank. I yell to the guy we are doing a film for National Geographic and we have every right to be in the street – which, by law, we do. This guy is not buying any of it. He runs back into his house and we wondered if he is going to get a gun.
So we decided to leave – smart move.
Back in the car, Frank tells us – you see that guy? He’s a Wiseguy – or at least half a Wiseguy. Either way, he is all the proof we need that there are some folks in Bensonhurst that like to carry on the tradition of “get out of my neighborhood if you’re not one of us.”
By Tom Jennings
Be sure to tune in to Explorer: Taking Down the Mob, Friday, Sept 30, 9P e/p.