Lefty Ruggerio and Joe Pistone

August 3, 2022

Retired Kansas City Police Intelligence detective Gary Jenkins interviews Joe Pistone, Retired FBI agent Doug Fencl and a former cellmate of Lefty Ruggerio and friend of Gary’s Steve St. John. We learn that Lefty Ruggerio was difficult to be around and as Joe once stated, “I would hate to be locked up with Lefty.”

Lefty Ruggerio was a lifetime made-guy in the Bonanno Crime Family of New York City. He was a key figure in the undercover assignment of FBI agent Joe Pistone who adopted the name of Donnie Brasco when he infiltrated the Bonanno crew under Capo Sonny Black Napolitano. Al Pachino played Lefty in the well-known movie titled Donnie Brosco. Johnnie Depp portrayed agent Pistone. Joe Pistone tells how Lefty hated air conditioning and fresh air. They were in Florida together and lefty refused to allow Joe to turn on the car air conditioning or lower the windows on a hot Florida day. During this time in the car, LEfty chained smoked his favorite cigarettes, English ovals. Joe remembers that Lefty always wanted more and more whenever he did anything for Lefty.

Steve St. John, former cellie of Lefty, tells how he was incarcerated in the Federal hospital facility in the Springfield Missouri Federal Correctional Institution with Lefty Ruggerio. Steve remembered making a cake for Lefty’s birthday and upon presentation, Lefty replied, “Well what else ya got for me?”

The FBI assigned now-retired agent Doug Fencl to the Bonanno squad and one of his jobs was to make contact with Ruggerio. Doug tells us that he went to see Lefty Ruggerio and tell him that Donnie Brosco was Agent Joe Pistone. He said he caught Lefty alone in his social club when he approached him with this explosive piece of information, Lefty lost his cool and started screaming incoherently. Lefty was so upset that he stormed out of the club into the street leaving agent Fencl alone inside the club. Doug also tells the story of how he broke this news to Sonny Black Napolitano. He hoped to turn Sonny Black because this situation would cause Sonny Black to become a pariah among his Bonanno Family peers. He said Sonny Black never blinked an eye and showed no visible emotion. Doug said that Sonny Black asked Doug to wait up a minute and he explained, “You know that I can’t do that (meaning turning witness).” Doug said he replied, “I understand.” Of course, someone murdered Sonny Black not long after.

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