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If wealthy mobsters live like millionaires, Internal Revenue Service agents can ask discomfiting questions. Some Mafiosi have large sums in secret bank accounts overseas, most notably in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, as nest eggs in case they ever have to flee abroad. Other mobsters keep their escape money in bank safe-deposit boxes or hiding places called "traps." Anthony ("Fat Tony") Salerno, a gambler and loan shark who was indicted last week on charges of running a $10 million-a-year numbers operation in Manhattan, used to keep more than $1 million in small bills packed in shoe boxes stacked from floor to ceiling in a closet of his apartment on West End Avenue.
Successful Mafia men have several gambits for laundering enough cash to live exceedingly well by most Americans' standards, if not like the jet-set multimillionaires that their net worth would enable them to be. Some pass money to very cooperative bankers, who lend it back. Others own legal businesses with large cash flows—bars, pizza parlors, restaurants, jukebox companies or vending-machine firms. No matter how poorly the business may do, its books show huge profits because the mobster is pumping in the rackets money, thereby converting it into cash that can be spent openly. Other Mafiosi have no-show jobs, with either their own firms or companies run by businessmen who owe them favors; they are paid large salaries with money that originally came from rackets. The Mafia defector interviewed by TIME drew a $50,000 salary from a travel business in 1968 and $30,000 from his share of a legitimate finance company, enabling him to have an $80,000 house, two Lincoln Continentals for himself and a Ford for his wife, horses for his children and the use of a $112,000 yacht owned by his firm.
His life-style was typical; so, too, was the rigid insulation of his family from his life in the rackets. At home, a Mafioso cultivates the image of a solid, churchgoing, charity-supporting citizen (see box). On the job, he keeps up a flashy front by wining and dining associates at expensive restaurants and resorts. Nearly every important Mob figure sports a well-kept mistress at gangster affairs. The dichotomy of Mafia life was nowhere seen better than at a flashy Manhattan restaurant where mobsters used to entertain their wives and children on Sunday afternoons and return in the evening with their girl friends.
For all their washday efforts, top Mafiosi can never launder more than a fraction of their illegal earnings. Thus a valued member of each clan is the "money mover," who specializes in finding ways of putting Mob money to work. Loan-sharking is a favorite because of its quick and huge returns. California officials estimate that Chicago mobsters have invested $50 million in Palm Springs bars, restaurants, hotels and real estate. As the Mafia defector said: "Money layin' around in your pocket don't do nothin' but get wrinkles."
Some mobster money ends up in the pockets of the high-priced lawyers who keep them out of jail. Carlo Gambino's cousin Joseph Gambino, 47,