The Bonanno crime family was one of the most feared crime syndicates within the New York City mafia scene. In 1976, a low-level jewel thief by the name of Donnie Brasco caught the attention of Lefty Ruggerio, a Bonanno family soldier. He took Donnie under his wing, taught him the Bonanno way of life, and even opened the door for him to become a “made man” for the family. Unbeknownst to the family, Donnie had a secret of his own. Former FBI Agent Joe Pistone reflects on his famous undercover work under the Donnie Brasco alias, separates fact from fiction when it comes to the mafia, and discusses the hardships associated with his line of work.
Joe Pistone joined the FBI in 1969 and became a pioneer in the bureau’s undercover work. Joe was recognized for his successful work within the FBI, receiving the U.S. Attorney General’s J. Edgar Hoover Award, as well as the FBI Medal of Valor. Pistone wrote several books detailing his experiences with the mafia, including Donnie Brasco: My Undercover Life In The Mafia, and The Way Of The Wise Guy. Joe Pistone’s infiltration of the Bonanno crime family later became the basis for the 1997 film, Donnie Brasco.