When Rudy Giuliani was graduating from Bishop Loughlin high school in Brooklyn, many of his classmates inscribed "Good luck in the seminary" in his yearbook. It was the natural thing to write; the high-spirited, high- minded senior, who started the school's first opera club and idolized the New York Yankees, was planning to begin studies for the priesthood in the fall. But that summer he changed his mind and decided instead to go to Manhattan College. Although he chose not to become a man of the cloth, Giuliani found his particular calling anyway. After college he entered New York University law school, and it was there, as his old friend Father Palca puts it, that "he was converted by the law."
As U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, the showcase office of the federal legal system, Rudolph Giuliani, 41, has a mission: "To make the justice system a reality for the criminal." Nearly three years into his four-year appointment by President Reagan, he has done just that by snaring high-living mobsters, low-life drug dealers, quiet white-collar criminals and loud banner headlines. Like Thomas Dewey and Henry Stimson, earlier New York prosecutors who parlayed their convictions into prominent national careers, Giuliani has become a high-profile, white-hatted gangbuster in an age when the public yearns for someone to prove that crime doesn't pay.
A thoughtful, driven man who rarely sleeps more than five hours a night and resembles a quattrocento fresco of an obscure saint, Giuliani has put the Southern District into overdrive. Under Giuliani, the office has prosecuted three of the largest tax-fraud cases in U.S. history; he cites with satisfaction the $200 million settlement in the case of fugitive Commodities Trader Marc Rich. Giuliani asserts that the office prosecuted more insider- trading cases last year than at any other time in its history, a number greater than all the other districts in the U.S. combined. Last week Giuliani took the lead in investigating a burgeoning New York City parking-violations scandal that has been linked to the curious suicide attempt of Queens Borough President Donald Manes and threatens to entangle the highest levels of city government.
But it is the cluster of cases against the Mafia that is turning Giuliani into a national figure. His office is currently prosecuting three major cases, including the "Pizza Connection" trial, in which the American and Sicilian , Mafia are accused of importing $1.6 billion worth of heroin into the U.S. The jewel in the crown is the "Commission" trial, sometimes called "The Case of Cases," which is set to begin next month. In what could be the most significant assault on the infrastructure of organized crime since the high command of the Chicago Mafia was swept away in 1943, the dons of the five major Mafia families that dominate the East Coast are charged with operating a "ruling council" that controls a variety of illegal enterprises. The case, which Giuliani will try himself, uses the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act to prosecute an entire organization, not just its leaders, and to confiscate its proceeds. "Our approach," he declares, "is to wipe out the five families."