Unspeakable Times

10 Surprising Acts of Kindness From Brutal Mafia Leaders  

Chuck Stern
75.3k views 10 items

When most people think of mobsters, they don't think of kind criminals. Strangely enough though, there are plenty of mafia good deeds that helped enrich communities, protect people after natural disasters, and end tyrannous laws. 

Some of it was for show or for leverage in their court cases or public persona. But other times it was from genuine places of the heart - mobsters who truly cared about the places they lived. Sure, many of the cases of "good" involve strong-arming and intimidation. At the end of the day mafia charity helped a lot of people, and isn't that what life is about? 

Yakuza Helps Earthquake Victims
Yakuza Helps Earthquake Victim... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 10 Surprising Acts of Kindness From Brutal Mafia Leaders
Photo:  elmimmo/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

When a massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit Japan in 2011, the least likely of people swooped in to help - the Yakuza.

Two of the largest factions of the Yakuza - a brutal mafia syndicate known for the extortion and prostitution rings - aided people in the Kobe region by transporting supplies to emergency centers. At least 27,000 were killed and thousands more affected by the quake.  They brought everything from food and water to medical supplies. Some suspected this was a ploy to get police to cut them some slack, while others - including Yakuza's themselves - said they wanted to bypass their bureaucratic government and help those in need.

Pablo Escobar is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 10 Surprising Acts of Kindness From Brutal Mafia Leaders
Photo: Colombian National Police/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

While most associate Pablo Escobar with cocaine, brutal murders, and one of the largest drug operations in the world, Escobar was actually a philanthropist who spent millions of his own money helping the citizens of Colombia.

He built schools, paved roads, got access to clean water, provided health care, supported churches, and invested in affordable housing. So while he murdered hundreds of people (specifically police officers) at least he tried to balance it out by helping the poorest of the poor. 

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Colombo Crime Boss Becomes Motivational Speaker
Michael Franzese is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 10 Surprising Acts of Kindness From Brutal Mafia Leaders
Photo: Jens Astrup/Play the Game/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 2.0

Michael "Yuppie Don" Franzese was once one of the richest mobsters in New York City. In the 1980s Franzese - a member of the Colombo crime family - ran a racketeering operation bootlegging gasoline. It all came crashing down in 1985 when he was arrested and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

But when he got out he decided to change his life around and opened the Breaking Out Foundation empowering young people to not make similar mistakes. He wrote Quitting the Mob in 1992 and started traveling the country speaking on college campuses about the consequence of choice.

Gregory Scarpa is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 10 Surprising Acts of Kindness From Brutal Mafia Leaders
Photo: Joyson Noel/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

In 1964, the FBI had trouble getting southern white people to testify against KKK members in Mississippi. They hired Gregory Scarpa, a ruthless soldier for the Colombo family, to travel to Mississippi and beat them up until they gave up the names of each KKK member involved in a recent spate of lynchings and the victims of said murders. Scarpa, of course, utilized "illegal interrogation techniques not available to agents." Hey, you take the good with the bad!

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