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Some of the principal players in the suspected Gravano drug ring.
By Pat Flannery
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:
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