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“From when I was little he would tell me we don’t talk about our life to anybody,” Leonetti told me. “We’re different; we don’t live by the same rules like everybody else. If somebody bothers us, we’ll kill the guy ourselves. We don’t rat to the police. This is the environment I grew up in.”

He described his uncle as smart, devious, calculating and psychopathic. Leonetti admitted to committing murders and said he tried to be a good soldier for his uncle by killing — and he was good at it — but he didn’t enjoy the act like his uncle did.

“All the crimes I committed, like the murders I was involved in, were all against bad people, guys that were involved in our life, so I didn’t think anything of it,” Leonetti explained. “They were looking to kill us, and we were looking to kill them. We weren’t looking to kill no legitimate people.”

Leonetti said he is happy in his new straight life, and he wishes he had lived this way all his life. He said he did not miss the treachery and killing from his past life in La Cosa Nostra, but he admitted, “I miss the money.”

“Mafia Prince” offers an insider’s history of the dark, violent world of La Cosa Nostra.

• Paul Davis is a writer who covers crime, espionage and terrorism. He can be reached at