The Times London

July 20, 2021

The undercover FBI agent who brought down the “real life Sopranos” thought his ordeal was over when a mafia boss and nine mobsters were arrested. In fact, it had only just begun.

The fear of reprisal made nervous wrecks of Giovanni Rocco and his wife and children, particularly after the longtime girlfriend of Charlie “The Hat” Stango, whom he had just put behind bars, moved in around the corner in the tight-knit community of Elizabeth, New Jersey. “My house had to become a fortress,” Rocco, not his real name, told the New York Post. “I was isolated. I couldn’t work any new cases because of the level of exposure.”

The tale of “Operation Charlie Horse” is told in Rocco’s new book, Giovanni’s Ring. The case began as an ordinary narcotics investigation into James “Jimmy Smalls” Heeney. Rocco met Heeney at an Atlantic City steakhouse in 2012, posing as biker-turned-mobster “Giovanni Gatto”. He traded seized counterfeit designer clothing for Heeney’s cocaine, which led to an offer to join the DeCavalcante mob, said to be the inspiration for The Sopranos.

Eventually, he earned the family’s trust and met Stango, who had settled in Nevada. When Stango ordered Rocco to kill Luigi “Lui the Dog” Oliveri, Heeney’s supplier and the one who had recommended Rocco to the mob, the FBI ended its inquiry.

Stango, 77, was jailed for ten years in 2016 after admitting conspiracy to commit murder. Nine others, including Oliveri and Heeney, also pleaded guilty.

Rocco lived in fear for nine months as his superiors arranged new identities and a home far away for his family.

Now retired, he still fears reprisal. “The necessity for each of us to be vigilant,” he writes, “continues to this day.”Read the Article Here: