After he entered witness protection, Teresa wrote three books: the 1973 My Life In The Mafia, co-authored with Newsday writer Thomas C. Renner, which documented his Cosa Nostra career and the 1960s Boston Irish Mob Wars; the 1975 Vinnie Teresa's Mafia, also co-authored with Thomas C. Renner, which documented his life during his time in the Federal Witness Protection Program and beyond; and the 1978 fictional novel Wiseguys, solely written by Teresa.
My Life In The Mafia chronicles Teresa's path to a life in organized crime, his time as a lieutenant for Raymond Patriarca, his fall in the Patriarca crime family, and the circumstances that led to him to seek the protection of the Federal government and the Federal Witness Protection Program. Intelligent and personable, Teresa was as good a federal witness as he was a criminal. His testimony put a large number of the Patriarca crime family in jail. First and foremost, though, one gets the impression that Teresa was always looking out for Teresa.
Vinnie Teresa's Mafia chronicles Teresa's time as a government witness and subsequent life, with a number of anecdotes on his former life in the mob. It is said that Teresa would have been a very sharp and successful businessman even if he never entered a life of crime, and, despite claimed government indifference, he does seem to succeed in making a life for himself and his family once out of witness protection. He was very bitter against the Federal government for his 'treatment' in the Federal Witness Protection Program, feeling they used him with no regard to his safety, or an appreciation of his value. Thomas C. Renner implies this may have been more melodramatics then reality.
Teresa's final book and fictional novel, Wiseguys, was written solely by Teresa and the quality of writing shows it. Teresa largely dictated the first two books to the competent hand of Thomas C. Renner. The story is of one Johnny Forza, a very thinly disguised doppelganger of Teresa. It chronicles Forza's life as a betrayed government witness, his battles with a former friend mob member "Butch" (again, a thinly disguised doppleganger for New Jersey mob member Frank "Butch" Miceli), his life on the lam with his girlfriend and his final confrontations with everyone who has done him wrong. Written poorly in the first person it is more a revenge fantasy than a novel.
One interesting note. Normally, to be come a 'made' member in an Italian mob, one had to first do murder at the direction of the mob. Teresa claimed that while he reached the position of lieutenant in the Patriarca crime family, this was mainly due to his prowess as a money maker for Raymond Patriarca, and that he never murdered anyone. This is debatable as 1) as a lieutenant Teresa at the least would have passed down orders for hits; and 2) he was aware if he had committed murder he would gotten a much stiffer jail sentence. Since he claim not, the government had no evidence to the contrary and he was a very valuable witness, he was taken at his word.
Teresa always lived in fear of being murdered by the Patriarca crime family but seems to have out-lived anyone in that mob that would have cared to kill him. In February 1990, Vincent Teresa died of kidney failure in Seattle, Washington. In an odd twist of events, Thomas C. Renner died a month earlier in January, 1990.
References[edit | edit source]
- "Vincent Teresa, 61, Mafia Aide Became Informer and Author" By GLENN FOWLER New York Times February 26, 1990
Further reading[edit | edit source]
- Clarke, Thurston and Tigue, John J. Jr. Dirty Money: Swiss Banks, the Mafia, Money Laundering, and White Collar Crime. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1975. ISBN 0-671-21965-0
- Davis, John H. Mafia Kingfish: Carlos Marcello and the Assassination of John F. Kennedy. New York: Signet, 1989. ISBN 0-451-16418-0
- Hinckle, Warren and Turner, William W. The Fish is Red: The Story of the Secret War Against Castro. New York: Harper & Row, 1981. ISBN 0-06-038003-9
- Kwitny, Jonathan. Vicious Circles: The Mafia in the Marketplace. New York: W.W. Norton, 1979. ISBN 0-393-01188-7
- Lacey, Robert. Little Man: Meyer Lansky and the Gangster Life. London: Century, 1991. ISBN 0-7126-2426-0
- Scheim, David E. Contract on America: The Mafia Murder of President John F. Kennedy. New York: Shapolsky Publishers, 1988. ISBN 0-933503-30-X
- Summers, Anthony. The Arrogance of Power: The Secret World of Richard Nixon. New York: Viking, 2000. ISBN 0-670-87151-6