Free From the Mob
By The 700 Club
“My aim was to get straightened out. ‘Straightened out’, ‘Wise Guy’, ‘Made Man’ all means one thing: It means that you’re officially a member of one of the 5 families.”
Robert craved the kind of power and influence held by the mob bosses he idolized.
“I ended up getting hooked up with this wise guy’s son and then we started like our little own crew. And we started taking numbers and things of that nature. That was the step I took to get considered an associate of the Gambino crime family.”
Soon Robert gained respect inside New York’s criminal underworld.
“I was known as an up-and-coming star and they would take me and parade me around like that. I truly came to believe that I was a legend in my own mind. That’s exactly how I could describe it. I felt that I was above a lot of things. I wasn’t afraid. I had no fear. These guys took my back and I was connected to somebody. Anybody that wanted to mess with me, they’d have to suffer the consequences, maybe other people retaliating for me.”
“Violence was part of that lifestyle. You knew that you were going to live and die probably through violence. So I had to like be numb to all of that. Like if they would send me, ‘I want you to go and beat up this guy because he didn’t make a payment to a loan that he took or something like that. I would have to psyche myself up to do that. I would think about something or someone that got me mad and put that in my mind and then I would take it out on that person.”
For Robert, doing jail time was all part of the routine. He could count on his connections to bail him out of trouble.
“The first time I got arrested was for possession of a weapon. Every time you went to jail, they’d throw like a little bit of a party for you, like a go-away party and then when you come out, they throw another little party for you. So it’s kind of like, ‘Okay, that’s what we do.’”
While on the outside, he cashed in on the illegal drug trade.
“And I got attracted to that and I thought that was the next level up. But I got a little bit too involved with the coke itself, and I would do more than I sold and eventually I would owe them money. And I started running out of resources of people to give me any coke because I owed everybody money. And that’s when crack started coming into the neighborhood and being big. And it was cheaper.”
Crack consumed him. It cost him his reputation and everything he’d worked for.
“Now for these guys that they were introducing me as the up and coming star, seeing me in the streets strung out on crack, I knew there was a limit of what – how much they could associate with me because of the disgrace and shame I was bringing to them. I started realizing that, this is like the point of hopelessness where, ‘Okay,I’m Robert the crack head. I’m going to die Robert the crack head.’ I don’t deal with shame good. And I run from it.”
He chased after his next high, leaving behind his girlfriend and their daughter. A few years later, Robert got locked up for selling crack cocaine to an undercover agent. This time he had nowhere to turn.
“All the people who rescued me so many times out of the trouble I was in, everybody decides to say,’No.’ The wise guys, remember even when I was a crack and got locked up for crack, had bailed me out, are not willing to do anything for me now. So I’m very bitter.”
One day, he phoned his little girl, and got a wake-up call.
“I’m talking to my daughter. She’s crying. And I say, ‘Okay, honey, why are you crying?’ And she said, ‘Cause you won’t come and see me.’ And now I’m off drugs, I’m not medicated on anything and the reality of all the damage I’ve done and this little kid crying because I won’t come and see her.”
“My heart shattered. It just broke into little bitty pieces. I said, ‘God if You’re real, either change me or have somebody kill me because I can’t live like this anymore. ‘ But I stayed there for a long time just praying, ‘God help me. Please God help me. Please God help me.’ I didn’t know how that was gonna work or what that was gonna look like.”
“I knew inside me that I needed more to know about this Jesus Christ. And that’s what I pursued. That became my pursuit. Kind of like the way I chased crack, I was chasing Jesus.”
“I would take the Bible and I’d put my head into the Bible and I would say, ‘Okay, God, let Your word, you know, get into my mind, that I’d never forget it.’ And then I would take it and put it on my chest and I would put my heart into it and I’d say, ‘God, let your word penetrate my heart. Let it live in my heart.’”
Robert finished out his two-year sentence, and was released from prison 12 years ago. He has a steady job now and he and his daughter have reconciled.
“It’s just so much God has changed in my life. All the gambling, all the addictions that I was addicted to, sex, and crack cocaine, and all these addictions, there’s so many way that I tried. I’ve been to rehabs, mental institutions, seen counselors, psychiatrists, everything I tried to do to deliver myself from it. Never worked. It’s only now through the grace of God with Him living in me that He gave me this strength to deliver me from all that. Despite everything I did, He forgave me.”
“And if you’re in a place where I’ve been, where you feel completely hopeless, and maybe you’re thinking the things I did, suicide is maybe your best offer, and I say, ‘Don’t believe the lie of the devil. Ask God to come in your life. You can’t change you. But He can, if you give your life to Him. You can have a much greater and deeper life, and the life that God intended. You don’t have to keep living life with no purpose in life. God has a purpose and a plan for you. And His plan is that He can use you to glorify Him.’”
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