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Born to Steal: When the Mafia Hit Wall Street Mass Market Paperback – May 1, 2004

4.2 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Weiss, a business journalist, tells the fascinating story of Louis Pasciuto, a man "born to steal," who grew up in the Wall Street Mafia, was caught by law enforcement at age 25, and then turned against his former accomplices. With engrossing detail, we learn about the degraded life of Pasciuto as he moved from a gas station attendant to a Wall Street stockbroker in 1992. With lies and schemes that bilked naive investors of untold sums, he worked for chop shops (which looked like brokerages and were registered but sold usually worthless stocks) and bucket shops (which pretended to sell stocks), and in turn was bullied by gangsters who wanted their share. This description of the Mafia's infiltration of Wall Street is a tale of thievery in the 1990s on a scale never before seen. When caught by federal agents, he joined their efforts against the "Guys" in exchange for the government's Witness Protection Program. This story clearly illustrates that truth is better than fiction. Mary Whaley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

'Riveting, captivating, juicy' NEW YORK TIMES 'Think WISEGUY meets WALL STREET, or THE SOPRANOS of stocks. BORN TO STEAL is a rip-roaring read.' John Rothschild, co-author of ONE UP ON WALL STREET
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (May 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446613983
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446613989
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,812,794 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By dennis wentraub on June 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you've ever received an insistent telephone call for an investment opportunity that is guaranteed to make you a lot of money from someone you do not know at a brokerage firm that sounds, well, impressive if not familiar, you will want to read this book. The bucket shops and chop houses that employed cold-call cowboys pitching plausible, fraudulent, can't miss ground floor opportunities to the gullible, the greedy, and the insecure were not just a toxic waste product of the last bull market. An internet search of SEC Litigation Releases shows that greed and naivete are (surprise, surprise) in evidence today. Nonetheless, penny stock peddler Louis Pasciuto's rapid rise and fall on this crooked avenue of Wall Street does say something about the past decade's willingness to believe impossible things.
Some of this territory has been visited in fiction (BOILER ROOM, New Line Cinema, 2000), but author Gary Weiss' true account of Pasciuto's world has it all: cash, sex, drugs, gambling, violence, humor. Did I say cash? Louis and his barely out of school buddies were pulling in a hundred, sometimes two hundred thousand dollars a month in the 1990's peddling dreams and phony hopes. Weiss is at home writing about this hard-boiled, street smart world. He captures the dialogue, the profanity, the ironies, and the simple money lust energy that drives it all. He gets inside the relationship between Louis and Charlie Riccotone, a violent, small-time extortionist with a slippery veneer, who comes to represent the Mob's influence in this world as he worms his way into Louis' life.
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Format: Hardcover
I have read just about every book that there is on organized crime, and I have also read my share of Wall Street books. Let me tell you, this one is right up there with the very best of the Mob genre--Wise Guys and the Valachi Papers--but with a searing wit that reminds me of Liar's Poker.

I bought this book after seeing its subject, Lou Pasciuto, featured on the ABC News show 20/20. Let me tell you, the story was if anything better than I had expected from watching that show. This is a really outstanding, superbly written book about a young kid from Staten Island who becomes an moneymaker for the Mob on Wall Street.

I read it on one sitting. This book grabs you in the beginning, when Pasciuto is sitting in prison, mulling over the shambles of his life. The book then reverts to a flashback in the best film noir style, recounting his early upbringing in a shabby but honest family. He was constantly the subject of attention as a small boy, and perhaps because of that incipient narcissism he became a thief at an early age--hence the title.

We follow Pasciuto in his first job, at a very well known boiler room called Hanover Sterling. This brings me to another aspect of the book that I think needs to be mentioned. Unlike the few other books that have explored the shady side of Wall Street, this book names names. We get the actual bad guys and the names of the actual brokerage houses. That gives this book an authority and credibility that adds to the excitement.

After Hanover, Pasciuto rises very rapidly and is running his own crews of brokers while still a teenager--before he can go into a bar and drink, as the author Weiss points out. He makes thousands of dollars a week and his life is a whirl of sex, drugs and trips to South Beach.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm in the investment business but this book amazed even me. This is a story of a Staten Island teenager who signs on at a chop shop set up to bilk customers of their money. While poorly educated, Louis Pasciuto finds he has a knack for selling and can easily talk these people in to investing with him. But since this is a scam where the brokers make massive money and the customers lose, it's hardly investing at all.
Giving an uneducated 20-year-old massive money is dangerous. As he doesn't trust banks, he develops a better use of him money, spend it. Spend it on toys, women, trips, and drugs until eventually his monthly living expenses are so high he has money troubles that end with a mafia guy entering his life for a monthly taste. Now that's a whole other problem.
Louis Pasciuto's personal history is a perfect overlay for a demonstration of how the mafia infiltrated the investment business. Stories of mafia guys coming in and slapping their brokers around for money are unsettling at best. As always, this doesn't end happily.
I strongly recommend this book for an entertaining educational read of what can go wrong in the investment world. For further info on this subject, see the DVD, Boiler Room with Ben Affleck for another perspective of this 1990s phonemen. Although starting a little slow, once you are engaged in reading this book you cannot put it down.
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Format: Hardcover
I was just going to skim this book because I wasn't sure I was interested in the topic. Before I knew it, I was more than half-way through it. This compellingly readable expose of Wall Street and the role of the Mafia is shuddering. The naivete of the "hicks" who bought non-existent or worthless stocks is a real eye-opener. I wonder now if the incredible rise of the stock market in the late 90's was all a myth based on scams, lies, and outright stealing by bullies who wouldn't know a legitimate stock if it hit them over the head. Every market investor needs to read this book.
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