Porn and the Mafia

May 16, 2022

Gary and Cam Robinson discuss organized crime’s infiltration of the pornographic film business. Specifically, Colombo Family member Tony Peraino. He was this crime family’s biggest earners because Tony Peraino developed pornography into one of organized crime’s biggest moneymakers after narcotics and labor racketeering. Tony Peraino was aided by his brother Joe “The Whale” Peraino, his sons Louis “Butchie” Peraino, and his nephew, Joseph Peraino, Jr.
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They got their start with the biggest porn star ever, Linda Lovelace. Louis Peraino produced the movie Deep Throat and his father Tony loaned him the initial $22,500 in production costs. The Perainos leased the theatres and allowed employees to account for all proceeds. They ensured compliance by sending their associates known as “checkers” to manage the movie houses. They reaped huge profits from such successes as Deep Throat, The Devil and Miss Jones, and Wet Rainbow. In instances where they do not have a direct financial share in film, as in the case of Behind the Green Door and The Life and Times of Xaviera Hollander, crime figures pirated those films and distributed them illegally, earning money without any investment. Successes of several films have given several pornographic moviemakers with Mafia connections money to go into producing and distributing legitimate films.

Anthony and Louis Peraino used the Deep Throat profits to build financial ownership of garment companies in New York and Miami and investment companies. The Perainos also controlled various adult and porn industry interests in New York, Los Angeles, and South Florida. These businesses included adult bookstores and adult movie theaters. The Feds took notice and prosecutors went after the Peraino family. In 1975, they obtained convictions of Anthony and brother Joseph Peraino on racketeering charges.  In 1976, they convicted Anthony of conspiracy to ship obscene material interstate.  Before appearing for sentencing, he jumped bail and disappeared for the next five years, reportedly to Italy. In 1981, in poor health, Anthony turned himself into authorities. Anthony was sentenced to ten months in prison and $15,000 in fines for his 1976 conviction and jumping bail.

The Peraino brothers for into a dispute over their pornography empire. The Colombo Family mediated and the dispute was settled in favor of Anthony. Not too long after, an unidentified assailant shot Anthony’s brother Joseph and nephew Joseph Jr. in a residential area of Gravesend, Brooklyn. Joseph Sr. was paralyzed, and Joseph Jr. was killed.

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