Henry Hill is probably the most famous mob rat of them all. Immortalized by Martin Scorsese's movie 'Goodfellas' in wich Henry Hill was played by Ray Liotta. Thanks to this movie Hill's life in the witness protection program isn't as boring as he had anticipated at the end of the movie 'Goodfellas'. He's doing interviews and appears on TV shows, all thanks to his shady past and the great movie made about his life.
Henry Hill grew up in the Brooklyn area dominated by Lucchese Crime Family capo Paul Vario. Paul Vario was one of the more respected capos in the Lucchese crime family. He controlled a lot of the family's rackets and also had a number of criminal innovations that returned even more profit, including a number of chop shops throughout Brooklyn where the stolen parts were sold on to crooked auto suppliers and service centers.
Henry was fascinated by the gangsters and mafiosi and from the moment he saw them wanted to become just like them. But he couldn't become like them, Henry couldn't become a full fledged Mafia member because he wasn't Italian. His mother was, but his father wasn't. His father was Irish and becuase of that Henry could never become a made guy. But not being Italian didn't stop Henry from becoming a close associate and friend of Paul Vario and his crew. In his teenage years Henry would run errands for Vario and his crew, and eventuelly after becoming best friends with Jimmy "The Gent" Burke and Tommy DeSimone, moved on from running errands to more serious crimes like truck hijacking.
Henry was married to Karen who was the mother of his two children. Henry and Karen had a love hate relationship as Henry lived up to his gangster image having a number of affairs and girlfriends, staying out long nights drinking and partying, playing cards and just doing the usual things that wiseguys did in Brooklyn around that time.
After beating up a gambler who refused to pay his debts who's sister happened to work at the FBI as a typist, Henry was sentenced to jail for ten years. Once Inside Henry soon realized that prison time for wiseguys was different compared to that of the normal convicts. The mobsters were treated with respect by everyone from convicts to the prison guards, who were paid off in order to make the time a little easier for the mafiosi and their associates. Inside Henry made some contacts in the narcotics trade which he would soon seek out upon his release.
His release came after four and a quarter years thanks to Paul Vario who set up a dummy job for him, which also helped when he began his probation. It wasn't long before Henry began to use his narcotics contacts from prison and began shifting large amounts of cocaine from Brooklyn to Pittsburgh even though Paul Vario vehemently forbid any of his crew from dealing drugs. But the money came rolling in and soon Henry needed help as his operation grew. So he cut his two best pals Jimmy Burke and Tommy DeSimone in on the action. Things started going bad when Henry began using his own product and became very sloppy as he was arrested and the whole chain including his contacts in Pittsburgh was busted with him.
Now Henry found himself in a sticky position. Paul Vario had banned the use or distribution of drugs because he was afraid of what the government could do with a drug charge. So Henry would be killed if he would turn to Vario. On the other hand a life on the run with two young children isn't really an option and so Henry Hill became a government witness. He ratted out his best pal Jimmy "The Gent" Burke and his capo Paul Vario, who the feds had wanted to get for a long time. And because of the wider range of rackets he had under his belt the feds valued Henry's testimony highly, as they knew all to well that he could put Vario away for probably the rest of his life.
Henry Hill enjoyed the fame the movie Goodfellas brought him. He wrote several more books and regularly appeared on Howard Stern's radio show. But Henry started using drugs again, and again got in trouble with the law. In March 2005 he was arrested in Nebraska where he worked at an Italian restaurant as a chef, when drug paraphernalia (glass tubes with cocaine and methamphetamine residue) were found in his luggage at the airport.
On June 12, 2012, Henry Hill died in a California hospital. For the full story click here.
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