Out of the Mouths of the Infamous

Quotes of infamous mobsters, old Italian proverbs, and writing of 14th century Italian philosopher Niccolò Machiavelli – whom mafiosi study to try to better understand mafia life.


“The church wants you in your place. Kneel, stand, kneel, stand. If you go for that sort of thing, then I don’t know what to say for you… A man makes his own way. No one gives it to you, you have to take it.” ~ Frank Costello


We’re all gonna die, so let’s act accordingly.” ~ Frank Costello


Most men I know, pissed away their fortunes. I’m the only one I know, that made a fortune pissin’.” ~ Frank Costello


“There’s no such thing as good money or bad money. There’s just money.” ~ Charles “Lucky” Luciano


“The only one that can do what I do is me.” ~ Frank Costello


“I never killed anyone. Let me ask you something, could a face like this be a murderer?” ~ Sonny Franzese


“Is it better to be loved rather than feared, or feared rather than loved? It might perhaps be answered that we should strive to be both. But since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved…. fear lasts longer!” ~ Niccolo’ Machiavelli


“To be a Lion and a Fox is optimum in this life. You need to be a Fox to recognize traps, and a Lion to scare away the Wolf’s. Therefore, be a Lion and a Fox and you will never fail in this life.” ~ Carlo Gambino [which he quoted from Machiavelli, see below]

“A Prince must imitate the fox and the lion, for the lion cannot protect himself from traps, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves. One must therefore be both a fox to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten wolves.” ~ Niccolò Machiavelli, Italian political philosopher, from his manuscript – “The Prince” in the year 1513


“For a long time now I’ve been trying to figure out just what a racketeer is. I never went to school past the third grade, but I’ve graduated from ten universities of hard knocks, and I’ve decided that the definition of a racketeer is anyone who tries to accumulate wealth, power and prestige, at the expense of entrenched wealth, power and prestige.” ~ Frank Costello


“Behind every great fortune, there’s a crime.” ~ Lucky Luciano


“I learned too late that you need just as good a brain to make a crooked million, as an honest million.” ~ Charles “Lucky” Luciano


“Some people are common gamblers. I am an uncommon gambler.” ~ Frank Costello


“We don’t break up our captains, we kill them.” ~ Chin Gigante


“All due respect to the senate, for which I have a awful lot of respect for, but I’m not going to answer another question, because I’m not under arrest and I’m going to walk out of here.” ~ Frank Costello, “Kefauver Hearings” (1951)


“Always carry this motto; When you lose your money, you lose nothing. When you lose your health, you lose something. When you lose your character, you lose everything.” ~ Meyer Lansky


“A newspaper man once wrote an article that I had $300-million dollars, well my friend, I wish I had a million dollars.” ~ Meyer Lansky


“My friends call me Ben, strangers call me Mr. Siegel and those I don’t like call me Bugsy, but not to my face.” ~ Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel


“Everybody’s got larceny in ’em, only most of ’em don’t have the guts to do nothin’ about it. That’s the big difference between us and guys who call themselves honest. We got the balls to do what they’d like to do, only they’re too afraid to do it.” ~ “Lucky” Luciano


“No one will ever kill me, they wouldn’t dare.” ~ Carmine Galante


“A prince who is not wise himself, will never take good advice.” ~ Macchiavelli


“I never lie to anyone because I don’t fear anyone. The only time you lie is when you are afraid.” ~ John Gotti


You can get much further with a kind word and a gun, then you can with a kind word alone” ~ Al Capone


“I can’t stand squealers, hit that guy! ~ Albert Anastasia


“If a man is dumb, someone is going to get the best of him, so why not me? If I don’t, I’m as dumb as he is.” ~ Arnold Rothstein


“Judges, lawyers and politicians have a license to steal. We don’t need one.” ~ Carlo Gambino


“It takes many steppingstones, you know, for a man to rise. None can do it unaided.” ~ Joe Bonanno

“This life of ours, this is a wonderful life. If you can get through life like this and get away with it, hey, that’s great. But its very, very unpredictable. There’s so many ways you can screw it up.” ~ Paul Castellano


“You know what I’ll do? I’ll get a knife and cut out his tongue, and we’ll send it to his wife.” ~ John Stanfa


“You weren’t supposed to walk away no more. You fucked me, and that was the worst thing you ever did.” ~ Tommy Agro


“Don’t let your tongue be your worst enemy.” ~ John Franzese


“I have killed no men that, in the first place, didn’t deserve killing.” ~ Mickey Cohen


“A lot of people had to die for me to be me.” ~ Frank Costello


“Never hate your enemies, it clouds your judgement.” ~ Vito Corleone “The Godfather”


“I like to be myself, because misery loves company.” ~ Anthony Corallo


“Other kids are brought up nice and sent to Harvard and Yale. Me? I was brought up like a mushroom.” ~ Frank Costello


If they’re taking behind your back, it means you’re ahead of them!” ~ a wise old mafioso


“Look at the Astor’s, Rockefeller’s and the Vanderbilt’s, all those big society people. They were the worst thieves. Now look at ’em, it’s just a matter of time.” ~ Meyer Lansky


We only kill each other.” ~ Bugsy Siegel


“Be careful who you call your friend, I’d rather have four quarters than a hundred pennies.” ~ Al Capone


“I’m a kind person, I’m kind to everybody. But if you’re unkind to me, then kindness is not what you’ll remember me for.” ~ Al Capone


“Mafia is a process, not a thing. Mafia is a form of clan cooperation to which its individual members pledge lifelong loyalty. Friendship, connections, family ties, trust, loyalty, obedience…this was the glue that held us all together” ~ Joseph Bonanno


“Man is the hardest animal to kill. If he gets away, he will come back to kill you.” ~ Salvatore Maranzano


“I killed at lot of guys in my time. You’re not talking about three, four, six, ten.” ~ Sonny Franzese


When I was a kid, I asked God for a bike, but I know he don’t work that way. So I stole a bike, and asked for his forgiveness.” ~ Frank Costello


“Goodfellas don’t sue Goodfellas….goodfellas kill goodfellas.” ~ Salvatore Profaci


“My uncle always told me, ‘You always have to use your brains in this thing, and you always have to use the gun.’” ~ Philip Leonetti


“Honest people have no ethics.” ~ Sam DeCavalcante


I’ll swallow my blood before I swallow my pride.” ~ Al Capone


“Never open up your mouth, unless you’re in the dentist chair.” ~ Sammy “The Bull” Gravano


“The United States of America versus Anthony Spilotro? Now what kind of odds are those?” ~ Anthony Spilotro-“If the president of the United States, if he’s smart if he needs help, he’d come to us. I could do a favor for the president.” ~ Paul Castellano


“At the end of the day we’re all gonna die in jail.” ~ Vincent Basciano


“I don’t say we’re better than anyone, but we’re as good as anyone, always remember that! … and between you and me, we’re better than most” ~ Sonny Franzese


“A fish with his mouth closed never get’s caught.” ~ Carlo Gambino


“My rackets are run on strictly American lines, and they’re going to stay that way.” ~ Al Capone


“Now I know why tigers eat their young.” ~ Al Capone


“When I sell liquor, it’s called bootlegging, when my patrons serve it on Lake Shore Drive, it’s called hospitality.” ~ Al Capone


“All I ever wanted, was to become what I became.” ~ John Gotti


“Don’t carry a gun. It’s nice to have them close by, but don’t carry them. You might get arrested.” ~ John Gotti


“If you think your boss is stupid, remember, you wouldn’t have a job if he was any smarter.” ~ John Gotti 


“Don’t ever say anything you don’t want played back to you in court someday.” ~ John Gotti

“There are no tough guys in this life, all the so-called tough guys are in the cemetery. Be a nice guy, a respectful guy.” ~ Sonny Franzese


“There are certain promises that you make that are more sacred than anything that happens in a court of law. I don’t care how many bibles you put your hand on. Some of the promises, it’s true, you make when you’re too young. Before you really have an understanding of what they mean. But once you’re made those first promises, other promises are called for. And the thing is, that you can’t deny the new ones without betraying the old ones. The promises get bigger. There are more people to be hurt and disappointed if you don’t live up to them. Then at some point you’re called upon to make a promise to a dying man.” ~Paul Castellano


“Cu e’ surdu, orbu e taci, campa cent’anni ‘mpaci” or “He who is deaf, dumb and blind lives a hundred years in peace.” ~ old Italian proverb



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