One of the most memorable encounters occurred after one of Ingram’s associates located a New York mafioso named Joey Deciccio, who claimed to have the information and power to bring Flynn’s FAMCO scheme to a halt in an instant. Geoff Shervell went to Atlantic City , New Jersey to meet Deciccio, to determine whether he was for real. He called in to ASI to debrief so that Miscavige could be in on it. Shervell said that Deciccio claimed to know the holder of enormous, accumulated gambling debts of Flynn. Deciccio was in a position to buy the debt, at which point he would effectively own Flynn. Miscavige was under so much pressure to produce an “all clear” for Hubbard that he had me booked on the next available flight to Philadelphia, to meet with Deciccio myself.
I took the redeye and was sleepless and wired on coffee when my flight arrived at 6:00 the next morning. I was picked up by a long, stretch red Lincoln limo, courtesy of Deciccio. I was barely able to stay awake during the long drive to Atlantic City. I met Shervell in a casino. He was electrified with excitement at the prospect of the danger of the folks we were dealing with, along with the hope we might be able to attain instant All Clear.
Deciccio and an associate greeted us. Both were archetypical Hollywood mobsters. Deciccio was middle-aged, with a grey pompadour, an open gaudy shirt and even gaudier gold pendant and chain across his white-haired, tanned chest. He wore a polyester suit, gold sunglasses, and talked like a seasoned wise guy. He was charming and friendly, but rough cut. His sidekick was a six-foot-four, three-hundred -pound refrigerator with no neck, introduced as Hank Lamotta. Joey said we needed to go up to their hotel room to discuss the business at hand. We took the elevator far up the hotel tower. We were led into a room and sat around a small round table overlooking the Atlantic City boardwalk. Hank immediately closed the drapes.
“Look , this Flynn bastard is in some bad kind of trouble. Seems he’s addicted to playing the numbers and ponies,” Deciccio started in. “I can get his debt transferred to me for a discount. Then Flynn has to play by Brooklyn rules.” Deciccio paused for effect.
“What are the Brooklyn rules?” I asked. Deciccio traded grins and chuckles with Hank. Hank never sat down. Aside from the grin on cue, he just stood behind my chair with a menacing look on his face and his arms crossed – apparently to add some fear to the mix.
“Well , the first level is when a guy don’t pay his debt, he gets a visit from some of our boys. They hold him by his feet and dangle his head in the sewer till the rats start gnawing on his face. Usually that brings out the entrepreneur in him and he finds a way to start paying down.”
“What if that doesn’t work?”
“Well, then we up the ante. We start by taking a finger , starting with the finger that has a rock on it.”
“What’s next if that doesn’t work?”
“We take the rest of his fucking fingers,” Deciccio boomed , as if frustrated that my questioning was ruining the effect of his rehearsed intimidation play.
“Well , I don’t see how that makes the Flynn problem go away.”
“That’s easy. Rather than exercise the Brooklyn rules for the collection of the debt, we do them to make the litigation go away.”
“ There is a problem with all this. We will not engage in or condone any illegal acts.”
“Well, too late for that, pal. We had a deal.”
“You can’t have a deal, because I am the only one who is authorized to make any deals.” Suddenly, from behind me Hank’s ham of a hand slammed the small table, THWAPP! “This is bullshit!” yelled Hank. “Oh, no, now you’ve done it,” Deciccio said, as Hank stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind him.
“You really screwed the pooch, pal,” Deciccio said to me with a great deal of concern.
“What are you talking about?” I asked.
“He’s gone to get his gun.”
Deciccio and I looked one another in the eye for thirty seconds. Then we heard a key in the door and Hank lumbered back in. I turned and looked Hank in the eye as he stormed toward me. I reckoned if I made a move to resist him, the laws of physics would not be in my favor. So I decided to simply confront the situation I was in – do nothing else but face it as comfortably as I could. Hank stopped in front of me and looked down while biting his lower lip, as if restraining himself from beating me to a pulp. Once it was clear that I was not retreating and they were not killing, the discussion resumed between Deciccio and me. Now it was more civil, and Deciccio retreated by appealing to my sense of fairness. After a while it became evident to Deciccio that they misestimated their encounter and played the wrong hand . He started making a pitch for the future.
“Listen, stay in touch, maybe we can come up with some more legally acceptable ways of doing business.” Hank was assigned to drive Geoff and I back to New York La Guardia airport. Now that the intimidation game was over, Hank was a big old pussycat. We talked sports and politics all the way back and punctuated our trip with a pleasant lunch stop.1
- Rathbun, Mark (2013-05-28). Memoirs of a Scientology Warrior (p. 224-226). Amazon Books. Kindle Edition. ↩