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Former Mobster Becomes a Witness for Christ

Author Robert Borelli discusses how he left a life of organized crime to become a passionate follower of Christ with a heart for helping others. Read Transcript


Pat: WELL, THERE ARE A

LOT OF CRIMINAL

ORGANIZATIONS.

WEç CALL THEM THE MOB.

THE ONE THAT WAS MOST

FAMILIAR WAS THE ITALIAN

SICILIAN MOB THAT WAS LATER

CALLED THE MAFIA.

THERE ARE OTHERS BESIDES

THAT.

AND MOST OF OUR EXPOSURE TO

THESE MOB INFLUENCES COME

FROM MOVIES OR TV SHOWS,

LIKE THE SPA THE SOPRANOS.

ROBERT BERELLI LIVED TO TELL

ABOUT IT.

Reporter: ROBERT WAS

JUST A BOY WHEN HE STARTED

RUNNING ERRANDS FOR THE

MAB.

BY THE TIME HE WAS 20, HE

WAS AN UPCOMING STAR IN THE

GAMBINO CRIME FAMILY, ONE OF

FIVE FAMILIES THAT DOMINATED

ORGANIZED CRIME.

THEN ROBERT STARTED USING

COCAINE, WHICH LED TO HIS

EVENTUAL FALL FROM THE RANKS

OF THE MOB.

LATER IT LANDED HIM IN CRACK

HOUSES, AND EVENTUALLY

PRISON.

IN HIS BOOK "THE WITNESS,"

ROBERT SHARES HIS COMPELLING

STORY OF HIS LIFE IN

ORGANIZED CRIME AND HOW HE

BROKE FREE FROM THE CYCLE OF

ADDICTION.

Pat: PLEASE WELCOME TO

"THE 700 CLUB," ROBERT

BERELLI.

ROBERT, IT IS GOOD TO HAVE

YOU WITH US.

THANK YOU.

Pat: GOD BLESS YOU.

WHAT IS A WISE GUY.

I WAS NOT A WISE GUY.

I WAS AN ASSOCIATE.

A WISE GUY WOULD BE SOMEBODY

WHO WAS STRAIGHTENED OUT, A

MADE MAN, SOMEBODY THAT IS

AN OFFICIAL MAN OF ORGANIZED

CRIME.

Pat: IT MEANS YOUR

UNTOUCHABLE, AND YOU'RE A

SPECIAL PERSON, THAT'S WHAT

MADE MEANS?

YES.

Pat: YOU WEREN'T A MADE

PERSON?

NO.

I WAS AN ASSOCIATE.

I WAS KIND OF LIKE THE UNDER

GUY.

Pat: YOU WERE RUNNING

ERRANDS FOR THE MOB OR THE

GAMBINOS?

WHAT WERE YOU DOING?

I WAS INVOLVED IN PICKING

UP HORSE BETS, FIREWORKS,

WHICH WE SOLD OUT OF TRUNKS

OF CARS, AND SWAG, WHICH WAS

WE GOT OUT OF KENNEDY

AIRPORT.

Pat: YOU WEREN'T

INVOLVED IN ENFORCING OR

COLLECTING ANY DRUGS?

NOT AT A YOUNG AGE.

WHEN I GOT A LITTLE OLDER,

SOMETIMES IT WOULD COME MY

WAY.

A LOT OF TIMES I DID THINGS

AND I NEVER ASKED.

ONE OF THE THINGS I WAS

TOLD, NEVER ASK QUESTIONS.

IF WE TELL YOU TO DO

SOMETHING, JUST DO IT.

AND I WOULD JUST OBEY THEM.

Pat: YOU WOULD JUST

OBEY THEM?

YEAH.

Pat: HOW COME YOU GOT

OUT OF IT?

WHAT HAPPENED IS A LOT OF

THINGS I WAS DOING, I WAS

GETTING A BIG REPUTATION.

AND THEN I HOOKED UP WITH

THIS ONE GUY AND HIS

PARTNER, AND THEY WOULD

PARADE ME AROUND AND BRING

ME INTO MULLBURY STREET,

WHERE THE BIG GUYS WERE.

AND THEY WOULD INTRODUCE

ME.!f5 E-AT THAT

TIME,

WE HAD SOME

DICE GAMES, AND WE CALLED

THEM NEW YORK CRAP GAMES.

AND I WAS MEETING OTHER

PEOPLE.

AND I REMEMBER THIS ONE

TIME, THIS GUY LOST ABOUT

$20,000 IN CASH AT ONE OF

THE GAMES, AND HE ASKED IF

HE COULD SEND ME TO HIS CAR

TO GET MORE MONEY.

AND I WAS IMPRESSED BY

THAT.

AND WHEN I ASKED QUESTIONS

ABOUT THE GUY, THEY TOLD ME

HE WAS A BIG DRUG DEALER.

SO I THOUGHT THAT WAS THE

NEXT LEVEL I WOULD GO --

Pat: THE MOB DOESN'T

LIKE DRUGS.

THEY SAY THAT, BUT IT IS

NOT REALLY TRUE.

I KNOW PAUL CASTALANO, WHEN

HE CAME AROUND, HE TRIED TO

CHANGE A LITTLE BIT OF THAT,

BUT IT REALLY DIDN'T WORK

THAT WELL.

Pat: HOW DOES THAT

STRUCTURE WORK?

YOU WERE IN ONE CRIME

FAMILY?

WHAT FAMILY WERE YOU IN IT?

THERE ARE FIVE FAMILIES,

AND I WAS PART F THE

GAMBINO CRIME FAMILY.

AT THAT TIME IT WAS ONE OF

THE BIGGEST FAMILIES.

Pat: DO THEY FIGHT EACH

OTHER?

NO, THEY DON'T FIGHT EACH

OTHER.

IT'S NOT LIKE STREET GANGS

BECAUSE THAT'S ONE THING,

FROM MY UNDERSTANDING, THAT

THEY DID WAS MADE IT MORE

ORGANIZED.

SO IT WAS JUST BASICALLY IF

YOU WERE A CAPTAIN, YOU HAD

TO SPEAK WITH THE CAPTAINS,

AND THEY SETTLEDTHINGS THAT

WAY.

AND WHATEVER THE AGREEMENT

IS THAT THEY MAKE IS WHAT

STANDS IN FRONT OF THE

BOSSES.

Pat: DID THEY SHOT

PEOPLE?

THEY DID SHOOT PEOPLE.

BASICALLY IF IT IS SOMETHING

THAT SOMEBODY DID.

I COULD TELL A LOT OF

STORIES ABOUT THAT, BUT I

WON'T DO THAT RIGHT NOW.

[LAUGHTER]

Pat: YOU'LL MAKE ME ONE

OF THEM.

YOU WENT UP IN A WITNESS

PROTECTION -- YOU DON'T PUT!f5"QUTt IN AWITNESS

PROTECTION UNLESS THEY TRY

TO SHOOT YOU.

WHAT DID YOU DO TO MAKE THEM

MAD?

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED.

I GOT REALLY HEAVILY

INVOLVED WITH DRUGS.

WHAT HAPPENED IS THIS ONE

GUY I WAS REALLY CLOSE WITH,

THE ONE THAT WOULD INTRODUCE

ME TO THE UP-AND-COMING

PEOPLE, NOW ALL OF A SUDDEN

THE DRUGS ARE TAKING HOLD ON

ME.

HE STARTS TO SEE THAT, AND

SO HE STARTS TO DISASSOCIATE

HIMSELF A LITTLE BIT WITH

ME.

AND THEN IGOT REALLY BAD

WHERE IN 1996, I WAS

ACTUALLY LIVING IN THE

STREET.

I DIDN'T EVEN HAVE APLACE

TO STREET.

Pat: YOU WERE A MOB GUY

LIVING IN THE STREET?

A MOB GUY LIVING IN THE

STREET BECAUSE OF CRACK

COCAINE.

SO A LOT OF PEOPLE

INFLUENCING MY LIFE HAD TO

STEP BACK.

I WASN'T,LIKE, THE

UNDERCOVER KIND OF GUY, BUT

I WASOUT THERE AS FAR AS I

WAS A REAL CRACKHEAD HANGING

OUT IN THE STREET.

Pat: YOU MET THE LORD

DURING THIS TIME, DIDN'T

YOU?

IN 1997 -- I CALL THEM MY

TWO ANGELS.

I HAD A VISIT BY THEM.

AND THEY WEREN'T THE ONES

WITH THE WINGS AND THE

HALOS.

THEY WERE WARRANT OFFICERS,

AND THEY CAME AND LOCKED ME

UP.

I HAD A CASE PENDING IN

FLORIDA.

THAT'S WHEN ALL OF THESE

GUYS THAT I WAS ASSOCIATED

WITH IN FLORIDA, WE DID SOME

STUFFHERE AND THERE WAS AN

INDICTMENT THAT CAME DOWN.

THEY WERE ALREADY

INCARCERATED.

Pat: WHAT DID THEY

INDICT YOU FOR,

POSSESSION --

THAT WAS SOMETHING

DIFFERENT.

BUT IN NEW YORK I HAD

ANOTHER CASE, AND I RAN AWAY

FROM THAT ONE.

AND I CALL THEM MY ANGELS

TODAY, BECAUSE THAT WAS THE

LAST TIME I HAD A DRINK OR A

DRUG.

THEY ARRESTED ME,

I

THAT INCARCERATION, THINGS

STARTED HAPPENING.

I STARTED SEEING THAT THE

PEOPLE WHO LOVED ME THE

MOST, MY MOM, MY SISTER, MY

BROTHERS, SOME OF THESE WISE

GUYS, THEY JUST BACKED OFF

AND WOULDN'T HELP ME.

WHAT I NORMALLY DO WHEN

THINGS LIKE THAT HAPPEN TO

ME, THERE ARE TWO THINGS I

REALLY TRY TO DO: GET MONEY

FOR A GOOD ATTORNEY TO GET

ME OUT OF THE MESS I GOT

MYSELFJeUy AND THAT WORKS

A LOT FOR ME.

AND THEN I TRY TO GET

COMMISSARY MONEY.

I'M IN PRISON, SO I MIGHT AS

WELL ENJOY IT AS BEST I

CAN.

THOSE WERE THE THINGS.

WHEN I WAS CALLING UP

PEOPLE, I WAS SEEING THAT

EVERYBODY WAS SAYING, YOU

KNOW, I CAN'T HELP YOU.

AND THIS ONE GIRL I CALLED

UP, A REALLY GOOD FRIEND OF

MINE, I WAS SPEAKING TO HER,

AND SHE SAID, WHY DON'T YOU

GO READ THE BIBLE.

AND TO ME, THAT WAS JUST A

BRUSHOFF.

AND I TOOK IT AS A GRAIN OF

SALT, SHE DOESN'T WANT TO BE

BOTHERED.

BUT AT THIS TIME, MY

DAUGHTER'S MOM IS ALLOWING

ME TO SPEAK TO MY DAUGHTER,

WHO I HAVEN'T SEEN IN TWO

YEARS BECAUSE OF MY

ADDICTION.

I WALKED OUT OF HER LIFE

WHEN SHE WAS SEVEN WEEKS

OLD.

Pat: THE DAUGHTER --

YOU WEREN'T MARRIED TO MOM?

I WAS NEVER MARRIED TO

MOM.

SO NOW I'M TALKING TO HERAjet SHE IS CRYING.

P ANAND I SAID, HONEY, WHY

ARE YOU CRYING?

AND SHE SAID, WHY DON'T YOU

COME AND SEE ME.

IT KIND OF BROKE MY HEART

BECAUSE I'M NOT MEDICATED,

THERE IS NO WHISKEY.

AND THERENOTHING TO DO

BUT DEAL WITH ALL OF THIS

SHAME.

I DIDN'T WANT THE PEOPLE AT

RYKERS ISLAND TOSEE ME

CRYING, SO I WENT BACK TO MY

CELL.ó0@&C @&Cú

AND I THINK THE MOST

POWERFUL PRAYER I PRAYED

WAS, GOD, HELP ME, PLEASE

HELPME.

I WAS RAISED ROMAN CATHOLIC,

SO I DID MY ROSARY.

AND I SAID, GOD, PLEASE

CHANGE ME OR HAVE SOMEBODY

KILL ME.

AND THERE WAS MERCY IN MY

LIFE.

I REMEMBERED WHAT THAT GIRL

SAID, AND I STARTED READING

THE BIBLE.

AND LITTLE BY LITTLE, THAT

BECAME MY LIFE.

I WAS PURSUING GOD IN THE

SAME WAY, IN A SENSE, I WAS

PURSUING THE DRUGS.

EVERY DAY, EVERY MINUTE, I

NEEDED A LITTLE MORE OF GOD

IN MY LIFE.

Pat: AND THAT IS BETTER

THAN DRUGS.

AMEN.

Pat: AMEN.

HOW COME THEY PUT YOU IN

WITNESS PROTECTION?

WHAT HAPPENED WAS -- AND

IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH MY

FAITH AT THISTIME.

BUT ROBERT WASáP(PED IN A

CORNER.

MY REPUTATION IS DOWN THE

DRAIN.

THE MOB GUYS ARE -- I'M NOT

GOING TO GO ANYWHERES WITH

THEM ANYMORE BECAUSE OF MY

DRUG ADDICTION.

I'M NOT EDUCATED.

I DON'T HAVE ANY WORK.

WHAT DO I DO FOR A LIVING?

THAT'S THE ONLY THING I

REALLY KNEW.

THAT WASN'T HAPPENING TO

ME.

I WAS AFRAID OF THE

ADDICTION, GoI%G OUT THERE

AND LIVING THAT LIFE ALL

OVER AGAIN.

I SEEN -- THE GOVERNMENT WAS

TRYING TO GET ME TO TESTIFY

AGAINST THE CASE IN FLORIDA,

AND I SEEN THAT AS AN

OPPORTUNITY TO MAYBE GET A

NEW LIFE.

AND I TOLD THEM I WOULD

COOPERATE.

AND BECAUSE OF THEIR STATUE,

OF WHAT THEY USUALLY DO TO

PEOPLE, GUYS LIKE ME, THEY

DECIDED THAT PART OF THE

DEAL WOULD BE I TESTIFY, I

GO INTO A WITNESS PROTECTION

PROGRAM, I DO SOME TIME, BUT

AFTER I'M RELEASED, I GET A

NEW IDENTITY.

Pat: THIS NAME YOU HAD,

YOU PICKED IT UP OFF A TV

SHOW.

IT IS FUNNY BECAUSE AFTER

I GOT RELEASED FROM

MINNESOTA BACK IN 1999, THEY

BRING YOU INTO A BUILDING

AND THEY QUESTION YOU AND

EVALUATE YOU, WHERE THEY

WANT TO PLACE YOU AND WHAT

JOB MIGHT BE GOOD FOR YOU.

THEY SAID, YOU CAN KEEP YOUR

FIRST NAME, BUT YOU CAN'T

KEEP YOUR LAST NIGHT.

I GAVE THEM A NAME, AND THEY

WOULD COME BACK AND SAY,

THAT'S NO GOOD.

I HAPPENED TO BE WATCHING

MASH, AND THERE WAS

DR. BERELLI ON.

AND HE HAPPENED TO BE A

HEART SPECIALIST.

Pat: THAT'S GREAT.

AND IF ANYBODY NEEDED A

HEART SPECIALIST, IT WAS

ME.

AND I JUST TOOK THE NAME.

AND I SAID, LET'S GO WITH

BERELLI.

NOW THAT I'M THINKING, I

SHOULD HAVE SAID

DR. BERELLI.

AND THEY CAME BACK AND THEY

SAID, OKAY, THAT'S YOUR

NAME.

SO THAT'S HOW I GOT MY

NAME.

Pat: YOU KEPT BERELLI.

I KEPT BERELLI.

Pat: THAT'S A NICE

ITALIAN NAME.

THIS BOOK, "WITNESS" -- WHAT

ARE YOU DOING NOW, YOU'RE

OUT TEACHING PEOPLEñ

BACK A WHILE AGO, THE

PEOPLE FOUND OUT WHERE I WAS

LIVING, AND I GOT A LITTLE

NERVOUS, AND YOU WERE THE

ONE THAT INFLUENCED ME, AND

I'M NOT SURE IF YOU ARE

AWARE OF IT.

Pat: NO.

THERE IS A FRIEND OF OURS

NAMED BILL DORNER, AND HE

CALLED YOU UP AND TOLD YOU

ABOUT MY SITUATION, AND

SAID, IF HE IS SERIOUS ABOUT

MINISTRY, LET HI NO TO

"CHRIST FOR THE NATIONS."

AND THAT WAS 12 YEARS AGO.

I TRAINED THERE AND WENT TO

COLLEGE FOR ONE YEAR.

IT WAS ALITTLE TOUGH ON

ME.

I DIDN'T STAY LONG ENOUGH TO

GET MY BACHELOR'S DEGREE.

AND THEN I JUST STARTED

SHARING MY TESTIMONY.

NOT SO MUCH BECAUSE I WASN'T

ABLE TO AT THAT TIME BECAUSE

THE GOVERNMENT WAS STILL

USING ME.

BUT IN JUST A CHANGE OF THE

LIFE THAT I HAD.

AND I DID NURSING HOME

MINISTRY FOR 13 YEARS.

THAT WAS THROUGH THE

CIRCUMSTANCES OF MY MOM

PASSING AWAY, AND I DIDN'T

KNOW MY MOM PASSED AWAY

UNTIL THREE DAYS AFTER

BECAUSE I WAS IN THE WITNESS

PROTECTION PROGRAM, AND I

WASN'T EVEN ALLOWED TO GO TO

HER FUNERAL.

Pat: WHERE CAN SOMEBODY

GO TO GET IN TOUCH WITH

YOU.

THERE IS A WEBSITE OUT

THERE, AND THERE IS A

Facebook CALLED

Facebook.COM/WITNESS.

AND ROBERT BERELLI.COM IS

OTHER WAY.

Pat: YOU'RE EVIDENCE OF

GOD'S GRACE.

I'M GLAD YOU NEVER MADE IT

TO BE A WISE GUY.

AND NOW YOU'RE ONE OF GOD'S

ANGELS.

THAT'S EVEN BETTER.

THANK YOU, PAT.

I APPRECIATE.

Pat: GOD BLESS YOU.

ROBERT BERELLI, AND IT IS A2

BOOK CALLED "WITNESS," AND

YOU CAN GET IT WHEREVER

BOOKS ARE SOLD.

EMBED THIS VIDEO


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