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Mob just out to make a buck, 'wise guy' says

By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN
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'Goodfella' Hill: Gambino bust no shock
  • Former Lucchese family member not surprised mob is accused in underage prostitution ring
  • "They'll go to any length to make an illegal dollar," Henry Hill says
  • Hill says women commonly used in mob operations, especially when prostitution involved
  • Hill, never a "made" member, turned informant and was immortalized in "Wiseguys"

(CNN) -- Former Lucchese crime family "wise guy" Henry Hill isn't surprised by allegations this week that a major New York crime family ran an underage prostitution ring.

"Wherever there's a buck to be made without them guys busting their hump and breaking their backs, they're gonna prey off the weak," said Hill, a former mobster-turned government informant. His story was immortalized in the Nicholas Pileggi book, "Wiseguys," and the Martin Scorsese film, "Goodfellas."

A 23-count federal indictment unsealed this week accused reputed members and associates of New York's Gambino family of crimes ranging from murder to racketeering to drug trafficking.

Also contained in the indictment, in what authorities are calling a new low even for the mob, are allegations that the crew ran an interstate prostitution ring that offered at least one girl as young as 15 to johns in parts of New York and New Jersey.

Thirteen of the 14 defendants pleaded not guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York. One of the defendants, Steve Maiurro, remains at large.

Some family members wept as the defendants were brought into the courtroom Wednesday in shackles. Family and friends mouthed messages, asking the defendants how they were.

Hill calls the allegations business as usual for the mob.

"There is no line that they draw, as far as luring underage girls, teen prostitution," Hill said in an interview Wednesday. "Most of those guys do not have consciences; they'll do anything, and they'll go to any length to make an illegal dollar as long as they don't have to use the sweat of their brow."

They'll go to any length to make an illegal dollar.
--Henry Hill, former mob 'wise guy'

Hill began running errands for Lucchese family boss Paul Vario as a teen in the 1950s and soon became involved in gang activities.

Because of his Irish ancestry, he never became a "made" member of the family, meaning he was officially inducted into the Mafia. He scaled the ranks and gained the trust of the highest levels of the Lucchese family until he became a government informant after an arrest on drug charges.

In his time, Hill said that child prostitution was a big enough taboo to be off limits for the Lucchese family. But that doesn't mean it didn't happen then, or especially now.

"There's a lot of people in organized crime, a lot of bosses, families, that don't condone it. But some do, and they don't care what they have to do to make a buck," he said.

Nor does he think it unusual that a woman was allegedly tangled up in mob operations. Women have always been involved to some extent, he said, especially when prostitution is involved, he said.

"All those madams, they had to answer to somebody. There was no made guy standing at the door of these bordellos ... but they had their hand out to the madam that ran it. They had to kickback, that was their protection," he said.

Suzanne Porcelli, the sole woman accused in this week's indictment, is accused of four counts, including sex trafficking and sex trafficking of a minor.

The indictment describes her as the person who answered the phone and scheduled appointments for services advertised on Craigslist and other websites. Her lawyer, Vincent Romano, said she is not a member of any organized crime family.

"Most of those guys do not have consciences, they'll do anything and they'll go to any length to make an illegal dollar as long as they don't have to use the sweat of their brow," Hill said. "If they've gotta use women to control certain rings and certain aspects of organized crime, like I said, there's no honor among thieves."

In Session's Jean Casarez contributed to this report.