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Mob Con 2013 Las Vegas Part III Kenny “Kenji” Gallo

Submitted by on Wednesday, 16 October 2013One Comment
Kenny "Kenji" Gallo former Colombo and LA Crime associate turned government witness.

Kenny “Kenji” Gallo former Colombo and LA Crime associate turned government witness.

I met Kenny “Kenji” Gallo at Mob Con in Las Vegas, when I was selling my book MURDER IN MCHENRY. We were all at the cocktail party at the Tropicana in Las Vegas for Mob Con. He was talking to Andrew DiDonato, a former Gambino Associate and a friend of mine. Andrew had walked off and I was talking to Kenji. He had figured out that I had a story and it related back to Frank Cullotta and his book. He said “I know who you are, I had read a couple of articles about you.” I was taken by that and then flattered. I would be flattered if anyone knew who I was, but I was watching Kenji on the Discovery Channel’s FLIPPED: A Mobster Tells All, right before I flew to Las Vegas for Mob Con. I like Kenji, and enjoyed the conversations that we had at Mob Con. He has an incredible story and this is his.

Kenny “Kenji” Gallo is from Irvine California, not the typical city for a mobster tale. He grew up in an upper middle class neighborhood. His parents divorced and his mother later was remarried. He did not get along with his stepfather. His mother and stepfather would threaten that they were going to send him to military school. One day that was no longer a threat, because that is where they sent him.

Going to military school open up a lot of facets for the future of Kenji’s life. It taught him leadership, organization, tactics and strategy, but it also taught him about pot, coke, and it is no good to be victimized by others. Kenji stayed in military school until he was 16 years old and went back to Irvine, California.

His stepfather had not given up on the idea of trying to straighten Kenji out. Whether he was in public school or military school, he would always find trouble. His stepfather found him a job working as a busboy at a restaurant. What his stepfather did not know was that the restaurant was owned by Joe Avila. Joe Avila was one of the biggest cocaine dealer in Orange County, California. The first time that Kenji saw Joe, he knew he wanted to be just like him.

Kenji was influenced by Joe Avila. It was not long before he would start doing work for Joe at the restaurant and on the street. He moved through having ounces of coke to trafficking kilograms. By the time he was 17 years old he was making lots of money. He had a chance encounter at a local gym that would expand his criminal and personal life.

He worked out at the same gym as a gentleman named Peter North. You may already recognize the name but if you don’t he starred in many adult movies. Peter North introduce him to the scene. Kenji’s interest was not in porn itself but the business. It was an all cash business. He was able to take the cash from cocaine and launder it through making porno films. It was a great way for him to account for all of his cash but he would learn who really controls the LA porn business.

The mob controlled the porn business and Kenji was cutting into it. The mob sent an associate to steal all his master tapes to his movies. This did not sit well with Kenji, and he moved into action. He went back to the mobster’s office with a handful of hardcore LA Crips. They were threatening these guys to give Kenji his money for the films. They were waving guns in the face of these deadly mobsters. The mobsters were taken by this young upstart and instead of retaliation it led up to a meeting with a Colombo associate Jerry Zimmerman.

Kenji Gallo and Jimmy Caci

Kenji Gallo and Jimmy Caci

Zimmerman was impressed with Kenji and thought that he had a lot of potential. Jerry started to move Kenji from street level crime to more sophisticated crimes committed by the mob. Jerry Zimmerman was not the only influential person that he would meet and take interest in him. He met a New Yorker named Jimmy Caci who was a LA Capo in the Los Angeles mob. He would further refine Kenji in the ways of the La Costa Nostra. Kenji also stayed rooted in the adult film industry.

He became close with Tabitha Stevens and later married her. She was an adult movie star in LA. Through his marriage with Tabitha, he started to move back and forth from LA to Las Vegas.  It helped broadened his empire, but it also got the attention of the FBI in Las Vegas. Tabitha’s grandmother called her and asked to speak to Kenji. It struck them both as being odd but Kenji got on the phone with Tabitha’s grandmother. He was told that the FBI was just at Tabitha’s grandmother’s house and they wanted to meet with him.

Kenji agreed to meet with the FBI and before he left he gave his wife his wallets and personal effects. He was going to meet them with nothing other than a shirt an jogging pants because he was convinced that they were going to arrest him. At the restaurant where they agreed to meet, Kenji was frisked for weapons. After seeing that he had nothing on him, he was led to the back where there was a private room with a bunch of agents. Kenji asked if they would arrest him now, so not to prolong the inevitable in his mind, They told him that they had no interest in doing that.

They told him that they knew about his car insurance scam that he was running and they could put him away for this and other RICCO like charges. However if he would be willing to wear wire they would help him out. He knew his choices were to wear this wire, or be put away for life under some RICCO charges, or death. With those options cooperating with the Feds was the only real choice.

Kenji was very enthusiastic about his new mission. His FBI handlers had to reign him in. Kenji felt that he was being underutilized. He had so much information on the criminal world in LA and Las Vegas, there was no way that his handlers were going to keep up with it. With Kenji’s connection to the Colombos’ through LA, it was felt that he would be the perfect candidate to infiltrate the mob in New York.

Carmine "The Snake" Persico. Boss of the Colombo Crime Family

Carmine “The Snake” Persico. Boss of the Colombo Crime Family

One of the first jobs that they gave Kenji was to pick up Teddy Persico Jr. from jail after doing 17 years. Teddy was the nephew of Carmine “The Snake” Persico. Carmine was the longtime boss of the Colombo crime family taking over after the assassination of Joe Colombo. The Persicos’ were known for their brutality and their fervor to kill.

They gave him a garbage bag filled with items for Teddy including a cell phone. He arranged with his FBI handlers a drop off point to give them the phone so they can place a bug in it. Kenji picked it back up from the FBI and later picked up Teddy from jail. They all were in a limo with some escorts from his porn connections and the garbage bag. He gave Teddy the garbage bag of items and he had to show him how to use the cell phone. Teddy was in jail before cell phones and did not know how to use it. Before Teddy even got back to his home, he had already committed some crimes all taped by the FBI. Kenji would over time earn the respect of Teddy and would become part of his crew.

One day Kenji was asked by Teddy if he thought that he was getting everything that he deserved out of the rackets. Kenji told him that he did not think so. He said that you live in an apartment but the other guys have houses. You have a Mercedes but it is leased. Teddy said that he owned a piece of the trucking company and Kenji challenged did he really. This created a riff and this got the attention of Emanuel Garofalo or “Manny.”

Manny was not a made guy but he had plenty of connections. He was kicking up to Teddy because he was his Capo. Manny wanted to meet with Kenji so they did at a restaurant. The place was cleared and Kenji sat across from Manny. “I need to know what you told Teddy?” Manny had asked. Manny wanted to go to the trucking company with Kenji to talk to Teddy. Kenji told him that he was not going to tell him anything and he was not going anywhere with him either. He got up and left the table to get back to his car. He knew he was in trouble and Manny was following him. In his car Kenji had a gun. He was told by the feds no violence but easier said than done with a Colombo associate is chasing you down. He got in car willing to run over Manny if needed be and left the area. Kenji knew that he was in trouble.

Teddy heard what had transpired between Manny and Kenji, which raised doubt about who Kenji really was. Teddy was going to take Kenji on a hit, knowing full well that informants cannot participate in such a thing, ever! Teddy was going to hit a made Colombo guy named Craig Marino. Previously there was a power struggle in the Colombo crime family. Craig Marino was part of a different faction then the Persicos’ and now he was going to pay. Kenji is trapped. He cannot get to a phone, he is riding with Teddy. If he runs off, Teddy will know that he is an informant and kill him on the spot. What is Kenji suppose to do? His circumstances were fluid, he just went through the action of getting ready for the hit of Craig Marino.

Teddy Persico, was a capo in the Colombo Crime Family. He was also the nephew of Carmine "The Snake" Persico.

Teddy Persico, was a capo in the Colombo Crime Family. He was also the nephew of Carmine “The Snake” Persico.

Craig was setup to be on the street so he could be ambushed by Teddy’s crew. Everyone was moving into place including Kenji so he can make the decision of a lifetime. Kill Craig Marino and blow your deal with the FBI and go to prison. The other option is to run off and get killed by Teddy Persico or one of his crew.  As all were saddling up for the ambush it was noticed that there was a cop in the area on the same street that hit was going to take place. Teddy called off the hit and Kenji did not have to make that decision of a life time.

If Kenji stayed in Brooklyn, he would have to kill, to be able prove his loyalty to the Colombos’ or be killed for turning on them. The Feds pulled Kenji out. He was undercover for almost eight years. An incredibly long time to be undercover. Kenji would have to fulfill his obligations to the Feds, and testify against Teddy and the Colombos’. He joined the Witness Protection Program  and left after a year.

He is now a mixed martial arts fighter. It gives him an opportunity to talk to people about his life, especially teenagers that are at that fork in the road. Kenji has 20 years of experience of what he believes was a waste of his time, his effort, his life. Making a bunch of money for old men, and hoping that one of your best friends don’t kill you, does not equate to much of a life.

Kenji has since written a book called BREAK SHOT: A Life in the 21st Century American Mafia. He also runs his website http://breakshotblog.blogspot.com/  He writes about the real truth about Organized Crime. Take a look at his book and website and see how he is making a difference.

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One Comment »

  • Duncan Mchenry says:

    Mchenry County is entrenched with Mafia. We can change all of that by voting for Bill Prim. Vote for a newer and better government by replacing the leaders of corruption which includes Andy Zinke and Keith Nygren.. Get out on election day and make the change happen.. The voters have the “Power to Make Change” They just need to realize it…. What will you do when election day arrives. Will you sit on your couch watching TV or will you be making excuses as to why you cant get out and vote? If we want a newer and better Government, we must realize that we are responsible for the people we put into office. The voters hold the “Power” not the candidates….. When you vote for Bill Prim you vote for change…

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