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Some of the principal players in the suspected Gravano drug ring.

By Pat Flannery
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 25, 2000

Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano is a tough-talking former mob hit man who everyone - even the cops - thought came to Arizona from New York to put his life of bloody crime behind him.

Upon release from prison in 1995, Gravano, 54, settled in Tempe and took a new identity in the federal witness protection program, having his face surgically re-made to dodge former associates. The reason: His testimony, which cut his sentence short, put mob boss John Gotti and other mafiosos behind bars.

He left the protection program months later to see his family and promote a tell-all book about his Mafia escapades. He wrote of being steeled by a harsh life on Brooklyn's streets, moving from petty crime to loan-sharking and murder. His book described his first kill:

"I could almost feel the bullet leaving the gun and entering his skull. It was strange. I didn't hear the first shot. I didn't seem to see any blood.

"I shot a second time in the same spot. This time, everything was different. I saw the flash. I smelt the gunpowder. The noise was deafening. I saw his head jerk back, his body convulse and slip sideways."

In Arizona, Gravano started Creative Pools, also did business as Marathon Development. Police suspect it was a front. His family moved to the Valley to be closer, his wife opening a Scottsdale restaurant. Last year, his presence in the Valley was discovered and reported by The Arizona Republic.

That's where the story might have ended, police claim, had he not gotten involved in a drug business allegedly run by his son's friend.

Other members of his immediate family include:

  • Debra Gravano, 46, his wife, who moved here four years ago and lives in Tempe with her daughter, her daughter's fiance and a grandchild. Police allege that she helped track drug-ring cash while running her restaurant.

  • Karen Gravano, 27, the mafioso's daughter, who has a child by her fiance and lives with her mother. Court records say she works for her father's business, but police claim she was involved in drug distribution.

  • Gerard Gravano, 23, the mafioso's son, who owns a Tempe home and works for his father. He was convicted locally of trying to mail marijuana to New York. He told the court he has one month of probation left to serve. He introduced his father to Michael Papa, another former New Yorker who police allege was the founder of a violent East Valley youth gang and creator of a drug ring that grew larger. Papa told the courts Thursday he is a 15 percent owner in Gravano's- Creative Pools.

  • David Seabrook, 32, Karen Gravano's fiance, who is employed by Sammy Gravano and lives with the family. He has lived in Phoenix for almost two years and works cleaning pools. He was convicted of attempted murder at age 14 and bail jumping at age 16.

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