In the Godfather Garden: The Long Life and Times of Richie "the Boot" Boiardo

In the Godfather Garden: The Long Life and Times of Richie "the Boot" Boiardo

In the Godfather Garden: The Long Life and Times of Richie "the Boot" Boiardo

In the Godfather Garden: The Long Life and Times of Richie "the Boot" Boiardo


In the Godfather Garden is the true story of the life of Richie "the Boot" Boiardo, one of the most powerful and feared men in the New Jersey underworld. The Boot cut his teeth battling the Jewish gang lord Abner Longy Zwillman on the streets of Newark during Prohibition and endured to become one of the East Coast's top mobsters, his reign lasting six decades.

To the press and the police, this secretive Don insisted he was nothing more than a simple man who enjoyed puttering about in his beloved vegetable garden on his Livingston, New Jersey, estate. In reality, the Boot was a confidante and kingmaker of politicians, a friend of such celebrities as Joe DiMaggio and George Raft, an acquaintance of Joseph Valachi--who informed on the Boot in 1963--and a sworn enemy of J. Edgar Hoover.

The Boot prospered for more than half a century, remaining an active boss until the day he died at the age of ninety-three. Although he operated in the shadow of bigger Mafia names across the Hudson River (think Charles "Lucky" Luciano and Louis "Lepke" Buchalter, a cofounder of the Mafia killer squad Murder Inc. with Jacob "Gurrah" Shapiro), the Boot was equally as brutal and efficient. In fact, there was a mysterious place in the gloomy woods behind his lovely garden--a furnace where many thought the Boot took certain people who were never seen again.

Richard Linnett provides an intimate look inside the Boot's once-powerful Mafia crew, based on the recollections of a grandson of the Boot himself and complemented by never-before-published family photos. Chronicled here are the Prohibition gang wars in New Jersey as well as the murder of Dutch Schultz, a Mafia conspiracy to assassinate Newark mayor Kenneth Gibson, and the mob connections to several prominent state politicians.

Although the Boot never saw the 1972 release of The Godfather, he appreciated the similarities between the character of Vito Corleone and himself, so much so that he hung a sign in his beloved vegetable garden that read "The Godfather Garden." There's no doubt he would have relished David Chase's admission that his muse in creating the HBO series The Sopranos was none other than "Newark's erstwhile Boiardo crew."


The car was a five-passenger, four-door Lincoln dual-cowl Sport Phaeton, a jet-black sedan with running boards, twin side-mount spare tires, and bulletproof glass. It bolted down the south side of Broad Street at four o’clock in the morning in downtown Newark. the sedan suddenly jerked across the wide, empty boulevard and into the opposing lane, pulling to the curb on the wrong side of the street in front of the Broadmoor Apartments, a four-story brick and limestone building with a canopy over the entrance and a sign advertising one- and two-room apartments. Richie the Boot had been sitting in the front seat, alongside the driver, and he exited the car on the left side onto the street and walked around the back of the car to the sidewalk.

His nickname, the Boot, allegedly came from his occupation: Ruggerio Boiardo was a bootlegger and a successful one. Others said he was named after the motherland, where he came from, the boot of Italy. Newspapers reported that he earned the moniker by brutally kicking and stomping on his foes, sometimes to death. the Boot himself once told the fbi that he got the name because he was frequently summoned to telephone booths in order to conduct business and to take calls from female admirers: “Hey Richie the booth,” which sounded like “Richie da boot”; the nickname stuck. He also was called Diamond Ritchie for his taste in flashy jewelry and in particular a diamond belt buckle that he was known to . . .

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