Ohio connection: Resident
Rick Porrello is a veteran Cleveland-area police officer who grew up in a family with Mafia roots. His grandfather and three of his uncles were mob leaders who were killed during Prohibition-era violence. His popular book, The Rise and Fall of the Cleveland Mafia (1995), grew out of research on his family. The book, currently in its third printing, has sold very well. In addition to his work as a police officer and writer, he is also an accomplished musician. In 1981, at age 18, he began work as a drummer for Sammy Davis, Jr., a position he held for six years. He did extensive traveling in South America, Europe, and Australia, as well as in American cities such as Las Vegas, Reno, Lake Tahoe, and Atlantic City. He also worked with the Count Basie Orchestra and appeared on television shows, including Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. After that, he returned to Cleveland to attend college, eventually earning a degree in criminal justice. In 1986, Porrello joined the Cleveland police force. From childhood, he had an interest in police work, and decided it was more important to him than a musical career, though he does continue to perform in the Northeast Ohio area from time to time. He recently played with tenor saxophone star Ernie Krivda. Porrello’s second book, To Kill the Irishman: The War that Crippled the Mafia, was published in 1998. It is the story of Danny Greene, the Irish-American racketeer who took on La Cosa Nostra, which led to the fall of several Mafia families. He won a national nonfiction award for the book, which was optioned for a movie, Kill the Irishman, which debuted in theaters March 2011. The book is now in its second printing. Superthief: A Master Burglar, the Mafia, and the Biggest Bank Heist in U.S. History, was released in October 2005. Porrello is a member of the Italian-American Police Officers Association, the National Writers Association, and the American Federation of Musicians. He resides in the Cleveland area.
Non-Fiction Award from the National Writers Association.