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Superthief: A Master Burglar, the Mafia, and the Biggest Bank Heist in U.S. History Hardcover – November 1, 2005


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Next Hat Press; In development for a motion picture edition (November 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0966250850
  • ISBN-13: 978-0966250855
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 7.1 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #916,961 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW says: Superthief... is the remarkable narrative story of the great United California Bank burglary in 1972... For its candor and engaging biographical stories of life as a career criminal, Superthief is to be given high praise and very strong recommendation... --Midwest

A fast-paced and insightful look at an historic crime rarely attempted. --Joseph "Donnie Brasco" Pistone

From the Publisher

Superthief is a ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Award Winner in the true crime category and was a finalist in the "IPPY" Independent Publisher Awards in 2006. This title has been optioned for film.

More About the Author

Ohio Police Chief Rick Porrello wears many hats. The top cop gave up a successful career in music (he spent almost three years traveling internationally as the drummer for Sammy Davis Jr.)to pursue his interest in law enforcement. He took up writing too, and now he's headed for the movies.

When Rick Porrello's interest in police work eclipsed his interest in music, he left the Sammy Davis show and started on his criminal justice degree. He joined the police force in 1986. He also began researching his Mafia roots and penned his first book, The Rise and Fall of the Cleveland Mafia. It's the story of the Porrello and Lonardo Mafia families' battles to control corn sugar, a lucrative bootlegging ingredient.

The chief wrote To Kill the Irishman next. The Irishman is the true story of Danny Greene, a fearless mob associate who took on on the Cleveland Mafia in the 1970s. The book was published in 1998. Before it even hit the shelf, the Irishman caught the attention of two persons interested in the film rights. One of them was Tommy Reid, a graduate of the New York Film Academy and Ohio State University. To help Porrello sort out the complexities of a film option, he retained Peter Miller, president of PMA Literary and Film Management.

Reid promised to get the film made. It took 12 years but he kept his promise. He partnered with indie producers Bart Rosenblatt and Al Corley of Code Entertainment. Kill the Irishman is directed by Jonathan Hensleigh. It stars Ray Stevenson as Danny Greene and Vincent D'Onofrio as John Nardi, and co-stars Val Kilmer and Chris Walken. The impressive cast includes Paul Sorvino, Vincent D'Onofrio, Linda Cardellini, Steve Schirippa, Tony LoBianco and Irish actress, Fionnula Flanagan. The film was shot in the summer of 2009 in Detroit where producers took advantage of Michigan's generous film tax rebate. Chief Porrello and family were on hand to watch his book's transformation to the cinema. He's hoping for similar success with his current award-winning title, Superthief - A Master Burglar, the Mafia and the Biggest Bank Heist in U.S. History.

Customer Reviews

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I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading the other books authored by Rick Porrello..
Janiece A. Chisholm
And no one is better qualified to bring Phil's story out than author-cop Rick Porrello, who knows so well the Cleveland underworld that spawned the Superthief.
Rick "Mad Dog" Mattix
I met the author of this book a short time ago and after that meeting decided to purchase his books.
Linda Crawford

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rick "Mad Dog" Mattix on June 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover
From robbing the milkman at age nine through petty thievery to union strongarming, safecracking, and the biggest bank heist in American history, with Mafia associations, drug dealing, and murder along the way, Phil Christopher's story is fast-paced, exciting, and ultimately tragic. As Phil himself admits from behind prison walls, "crime...does pay, but just not for long." Filled with double-dealing, deceit, broken lives, successful crimes, plus his own colossal failures which put Christopher behind bars for over half his life, this is one of best inside accounts of a career criminal I've ever seen. And no one is better qualified to bring Phil's story out than author-cop Rick Porrello, who knows so well the Cleveland underworld that spawned the Superthief.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Cherie A. Rohn on June 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Rick Porrello scores again with Superthief, detailing how master burglar, Phil Christopher, pulled off the largest bank heist in U.S. history. Porrello's dead-on, no-frills style exposes the underbelly of Phil Christopher, a guy who says about crime--"It's a rotten investment that will eventually suck the life out of you." One question: What could an intelligent, resourceful guy like Phil Christopher have achieved if he'd gone legit instead of taking the path of least resistence--greed? You'll want to keep a towel handy when you sweat out Christopher's 30+ crime-packed years as Superthief.

Cherie Rohn, Co-author of

THIEF! The Gutsy, True Story of an Ex-Con Artist

[...]
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. A. Coughlan on December 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Superthief is one of those rare books that delivers more than its boast to be the story of one bank burglary, even if (unwittingly) America's biggest ever.

Whether or not imagined, the lines of this book seem rather widely spaced, perhaps a coded invitation to delve between them, which is where the true substance of this book is to be found. As with so many books that involve living criminal contributors, there is usually an element of self-serving deception in what they tell (especially when awaiting release), and this appears to be no exception.

What emerges from this simply written book, itself a skilfully deceptive device that lulls readers while they are led into ever darker, unexpected places, is that the record heist is not its biggest revelation. It is a searing insight into the casual moral vacuum in which criminals such as 'Superthief' Phil Christopher (Cristofaro before Anglicised) exist, a descent into a world where all values are debased until completely inverted. And the reader can only harbor deep suspicions that Christopher's provenance is more sinister than he would have us believe. From early petty thievery to later serious burglary, union corruption and violence, one senses that the 'prints of the mob are dabbed over these pages more than is being admitted into evidence.

And clearly Supertheft does not rely upon Superminds - in one Laurel & Hardy episode, these pros burgle a tough safe one night and Christopher reaches for the crucial device to open it, only to be told by his buddy that he hadn't got it because the pal he went to borrow it from wasn't home! Another fine mess...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Joseph L. Neely on November 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Rick Porrello is a Renaissance Man, an author and publisher who holds down a full-time job as a lieutenant with the Lyndhurst, Ohio, Police Department. Porrello also continues to perform as a jazz drummer, a talent which allowed him to spend an earlier chapter of his life on the road with Sammy Davis, Jr.

Porrello's most recent book, the self-published Superthief (Next Hat Press, 2006) is largely a memoir written by Phil Christopher. Christopher, the super thief of the book's title, has had plenty of time to concentrate on his life story. A burglar and an admitted paid killer, Christopher has spent approximately half of his life in prison.

The primary job which Porrello took on in Superthief was to pare down Christopher's unruly and too-long handwritten memoir into a manuscript suitable for publication, and Porrello has largely succeeded in that mission. Porrello weaves Christopher's memoir together with material that includes contributions from Christopher's wife, various law enforcement officers and Porrello himself.

A job which Porrello apparently did not take on, and which readers might wish he had, was to push and challenge Christopher for more details in some areas and for an honest emotional reaction from Christopher when reflecting back on his life of crime.

Christopher describes the killing of Arnie Prunella in two paragraphs consisting of 168 words. Did Christopher lose any sleep over shooting Prunella in the back of the head? How does Christopher, who regrets that his incarceration prevented him from being present at many big events in his son's life, reconcile the fact that he took away Prunella's daughter's chance to develop a relationship with her father? Prunella's daughter was three years old when her father was killed.
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Format: Hardcover
Superthief strips away the glitz and glamour of Hollywood's portrayal of crime. A great narrative that gives the reader an inside look at the real underworld and the harsh realities of doing scores, getting pinched, pulling time and doing time
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