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The Work of
J. Michael Niotta

A Truer L.A. Quartet

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"In The Fight Abroad & the Fear Back Home, Niotta's thorough research and in-depth interviews merge to create a read that is both intriguing and revealing"--Italian America, The Nation's Most Widely Read Magazine for People of Italian Heritage

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Unpublished Works
& Current Projects

In addition to his "truer L.A. Confidential," Niotta has a number of unpublished works in various stages, including Jack Dragna and Placido Rizzotto (with Justin Cascio) biographies; a memoir delving into his experiences adjusting to life after serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom; a nonfiction noir covering the most sensational murder case in New York history (plus a screenplay adaptation); an early history of organized crime in SoCal co-authored with longtime mafia researcher Richard N. Warner; a screenplay covering the double homicide that claimed the life of Los Angeles political gang boss, Charlie Crawford; and more.

Captured

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The lock up of feared mafia bosses Giuseppe Morello and Ignazio Lupo has spun the New York rackets into territorial turmoil. So, what’s one more killing? Quite a lot when it implicates two future crime bosses. The Mafia, hired killers, a crooked poultry trust, and a cross-country fugitive transport—Captured offers it all…and even takes a queue from Quentin Tarantino’s cult favorite, Reservoir Dogs. Events are retold out of order and from multiple perspectives until all is revealed. Every player in Captured takes a chapter: from Sing Sing’s condemned to quarreling district attorneys, and from murder-chauffeur-snitch to East Coast bounty hunter. This true crime tale covering “the most sensational murder case in all of New York history” dives into the Tombs, San Quentin, and the Sing Sing death house while connecting the underworlds of Corleone, East Harlem, and the Italian ghettos of Los Angeles. All of the events are real and none of the dialogue is fabricated in this narrative-driven legal thriller told by the grandson of one of the accused.

Foreword by Jon Black, author of Secret Societies.

 

Noir / Narrative Nonfiction / Crime / Legal Thriller / Mystery

COMPLETED PROJECT

Beneath the Hollywood
Mafia Mask

Jack Dragna’s mysterious nature and propensity to hide from the cameras left a curious legacy of misinformation. “Long the invisible man,” remarked newsmen in February of 1950, when release of the California crime commission report drove him from obscurity, branding him “the Al Capone of Los Angeles” and the Mafia Boss of the Pacific Coast. In this biographical slice covering Dragna’s little-known beginnings and rise to the status of West Coast Godfather in 1931, his eldest great grandson travels from Corleone to East Harlem to the ethnic ghettos of Los Angeles, moving from the violent black hand era into the turbulent stretch of Prohibition to illustrate a young man’s journey to carve out his own brand of what many have come to call the American Dream.

 

Biography / True Crime / Narrative Nonfiction / Investigative

COMPLETED PROJECT

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The Business That Bound Them

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 This second biographical slice covering the life of West Coast boss Jack Dragna, addresses the bevy of errors and misconceptions surrounding the relationship between Bennie, Mickey, and Jack, and also dives into the rackets that tied them in the City of Sin and the City of Angels--namely the racing wire. 

Foreword by Dr. Michael Green

Crime / Narrative Nonfiction / Investigative

COMPLETED PROJECT

An Early History...

An Early History moves through the unknown L.A. underworld of the late 1800’s, covers the violent struggles of the prohibition era, and provides a lost chapter to Selwynn Raab’s acclaimed Five Families and Peter Maas’ definitive work with mafia turncoat, Joe Valachi (The Valachi Papers) by shedding light on L.A.'s involvement in the infamous Castellemmarrese War. Throwing a lens over SoCal’s war years, the relationship between Los Angeles Godfather Jack Dragna and Jewish New York gangster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel is reexamined, plus the post war struggles over gambling, the racing wire, and other illicit rackets are given attention.

 

To date, no other resource has braved such an extensive undertaking. In this epic retelling of SoCal’s sordid criminal past, longtime esteemed mafia researcher, Richard N. Warner, has partnered with crime historian and author, J. Michael Niotta, the great grandson of West Coast boss Jack Dragna. Shaving the media fiction, the FBI files are bared, legal and historical documents examined, and more than a century of faulty crime writing is finally challenged.

STILL RESEARCHING

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Pipewrench

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The transition to life after war is documented in this unsettling memoir drawing directly from journal entries written pre, post, and during a deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). As it follows the difficulties faced by author J. Michael Niotta’s alter ego, Pipe Wrench addresses pertinent issues such as readjusting to civilian life and coping with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It’s the close of 2004 and Michael Francisco Davinetti has just made his exit from the military. Back home in touristy San Diego after serving in Balad, Iraq, the former military mechanic attempts to regroup. In his quest to become whole again, he reconnects with old friends, finds work as a plumber, and suffers through a series of tragic hurdles and comedic follies with work and women. Davinetti also looks back on his military experiences amidst the wake of 9/11. Enlisting just two short weeks before the Twin Towers fell, he recalls the details of that dreadful night as well. The spirit and angst of Gen X are wrapped up in this SoCal blue-collar memoir showcasing humor and hurt a la John Fante and Charles Bukowski.

Memoir / Narrative Nonfiction / War

COMPLETED PROJECT

Jack Dragna's Los Angeles

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Jack Dragna's Los Angeles

 This third and final biographical slice covering the life of West Coast boss Jack Dragna, focuses on his quarter century reign as L.A.'s Godfather. This glimpse into life in Los Angeles travels through the great depression, the war years, and on, outlining the Kefauver Hearings, deportation efforts, and the Dragna brothers' movements in Las Vegas. Lastly, it also provides the untold history of the famed Club Alabam.

Biography / True Crime

EDITING

Placido Rizzotto

Family writes about family in this biopic on the life, death, and lasting impact of a trade union labor leader who was kidnapped and murdered in Corleone, Sicily in 1948 for opposing the mafia and standing up for the working class. Distant cousins--mafia genealogist Justin Cascio & true crime author Dr. J. Michael Niotta--tell the story of another distant relative, Placido Rizzotto.

 

NEW PROJECT - RESEARCHING 

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Good Night, Good Time

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When reformed political gang boss Charlie Crawford is gunned down with a magazine editor in a double homicide, the prime suspect is local gambling kingpin Guy McAfee, whom the victims had been smearing in print. That is, until an unlikely confession of self-defense arrives from a former district attorney running for municipal bench. But the plot thickens when ballistics can't confirm it a single shooter and a little black book turns up; one revealing appointments with gangsters and politicians in the days leading up to the killing.

Screenplay / Noir / Investigative / Courtroom Thriller

DEVELOPMENTAL PHASE

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