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The Real Story Behind The Goodfellas: Basketball Helped Solve the Biggest Heist in American History

13 years ago, CSKA reached the 1/4 finals of the Champions League. The decisive goal of Sevilla was scored by a newcomer to the Slutsky team

13 years ago, CSKA reached the 1/4 finals of the Champions League. The decisive goal of Sevilla was scored by a newcomer to the Slutsky team

References to Scorsese classics are included.

“Become a snitch, a rat. There have been times in my life when I thought I’d rather stick a .45 in my mouth and blow my brains out than be a rat.” (Henry Hill)

“The most beloved gangster you know” or “King of the Rat” – depending on how you feel about him – did not even suspect that he would have to give up the most important principle for himself not because of power, money or fame, but because of Because he didn’t even consider it something serious. That something was basketball.

Boston College honors students and “Nice Guy” Henry Hill

It all started in 1978, when the Boston College team under coach Tom Davis – in his second year – became a real force in the Eastern Conference.

“The team had a set of unique personalities. Smart, resourceful guys from the suburbs who knew how to play. There were sharp guys from disadvantaged areas, from the outskirts, they added coolness, they were always ready to fit in with their partners. The entire team was a haven for outsiders who were considered outcasts by most. At the same time, there was a feeling that this team was capable of a lot ”(Bruce Pearl, graduate of Boston College in 1982).

The main driver of the team was Ernie Cobb, a senior student, team captain and its most productive player. Cobb came from a poor family and knew what it was like to be in difficult conditions. It hardened him. In terms of athleticism, Cobb was by far the best player in the Boston College Eagles.

“I wanted to be an NBA player. In ninth grade, I went to a Knicks game, saw Walt Frazier, Willis Reed, all those great players, and said to myself, “This is what I want to do” (Ernie Cobb).

Cobb was in charge of the locker room atmosphere, but when it came to floor management, it was Jim Sweeney, a freshman from Trenton, who was the co-captain. Sweeney came from a private school in Jersey, where he earned a reputation as one of the best athletes at the state level in three disciplines at once. There was no arrogance in him at all, he was always ready to play for partners, for which Jim was nicknamed the boy scout in the team.

“Jim was the kind of guy every father wants to marry his daughter to. “Mr. Boston College”, a collective image of the ideal student. If you had to put out a poster that showed the person who personifies our educational institution, it would be Jim Sweeney ”(Bruce Pearl).

By his modesty, Sweeney only confirmed the general opinion.

“Actually, I was a bookworm. He loved sports, but he simply adored books. Read, memorize quotes, learn something new. Boston College offered exactly what I wanted. Their program taught Jesuit philosophy. The teachers of the courses on the history of the Catholic Church were the most competent people in their subject. So I told my parents: “Mom, dad, this is the place where I want to study” (Jim Sweeney).

Jim’s best friend was Rick Koon, the oldest on the team. At one time he was considered a talented baseball player: Koon constantly wandered from one minor league team to another, balancing on the verge between the history of baseball Cinderella and another missed opportunity. Newspapers wrote about him, coaches did not deny him talent, but after a hand injury, it became clear that the future in baseball did not shine for him. Then he switched to basketball and entered Boston College.

“A huge, strong guy, with a shaggy mustache like the actor Tom Selleck. He was 1.98 meters, but with his physique he resembled an American football player. It was enough to watch him in training to understand – this guy will make a rustle under the ring ”(Bruce Pearl).

Sweeney and Kuhn’s friendship was peculiar, even for the friends themselves.

“They were an odd couple, Jim and Rick. Jim is “America’s favorite”, well-mannered, open, polite, at least he behaved like that. With Rick it’s different. He was a typical street kid from working, dirty Pittsburgh. He did not pull on an intellectual, but he had a street savvy ”(Ernie Cobb).

A couple of hundred miles from Boston College there was also a kind of educational institution – the Lewisburg prison, which in narrow circles, known for its wide interest in numerous types of illegal activities, was called “Mafia Manor”. For a certain contingent, being in Lewisburg had nothing to do with punishment or reeducation. Rather, it was something like a forced stay in a rest home.

It was to the number of such “holidays” that Henry Hill, an attorney for the Lucchese family, one of the five mafia families that control criminal activity in New York, belonged. Hill toiled in the local boarding house for extortion. It was then that he met Paul Mazzy, a kid from a poor neighborhood in Pittsburgh who was doing time for drug dealing.

“I liked Pauly right away. There were a couple of bosses from Pittsburgh who spread rumors that he was an informant. Well, I took him under my wing because I got attached to Paulie. We decided not to lose contact and met after we both got out of prison. Paul said to me, “Henry, we’re having some trouble with Boston College” (Henry Hill).

“Mutki” is the right word. Mazzy knew Rick Kuhn through two guys from Pittsburgh, Rocco and Tony Pearl.

“I learned about Rick Kuhn from my brother Rocco. I said, “Oh, Boston College? Seriously? You can’t even imagine how much money I lost on their matches.” We were at Paul Mayzzie’s house one day, and we were just talking about it. And now I don’t even remember who said: “Bring this Kuhn here, we’ll talk to him” (Tony Perla).

It was about basketball. About its arithmetic component.

“Rick listened with all his ears. He quickly joined the discussion, he was interested in the details. There was nothing of the kind in this. Just an opportunity to make money on the side with the help of bets ”(Rocco Perla).

The plan was uncomplicated. They didn’t bet on whether the team would win or lose, they bet on the difference in the score by which the team would win; in English this parameter is literally called Spread. All that was needed was to choose the Boston College matches in which the team is listed as a favorite, bet on their opponents and pay the Bostonians so that the final score did not exceed the required difference. That is, if Boston College was the +7 favorite, they needed to win by 6 points or less. In this case, everyone received their money.

“The plan is simple – foul, lose the ball, mess up the game – everything to keep the necessary difference” (Rocco Perla).

For the scheme to work, the guys from Pittsburgh needed connections.

Large stakes (especially if they were made regularly) were monitored by the police. It was unprofitable and expensive to bet a little bit and in different states. Therefore, the only option is to contact the bookmakers in New York who worked with the mafia. There, such bets were accepted, bookmakers actually guaranteed the opportunity to accept large bets. In this case, 25000-50000.

 “The only thing the guys were interested in was money. They asked how much. I said: “For the first time, to understand how the circuit works, let’s put a little. You will get 2500 each. Both of them were interested in this amount ”(Tony Perla).

Henry Hill was the link between Pittsburgh and New York. He knew all the bookmakers in town and was ready to fit in. It only remained to find direct executors.

 “Rick Kuhn invited me to dinner, said that his friend Tony would be there. We arrived at the Hilton Hotel near the airport. I thought that the meeting would take place in a restaurant, when Rick suddenly says: “Let’s go up to their room.” The first impression of Tony: he looked like a businessman, well dressed, collected. There was another guy there, Henry Hill. He called me to him, patted me in the area of ​​\u200b\u200bthe solar weave and said: “Guys, you are in great shape.” Then I did not know that this is how they check if you have a wiretap.