On Friday, May 17, Galeota got word that the judge had also dismissed the drug charge because of lack of evidence. "It was a very violent atmosphere," he says. Galeota is no angelic Andy Dufresne, the main character in Shawshank who serves two decades behind bars for a crime he didn't commit. Gunshots flashed like fireworks in the darkness. Prostitutes were everywhere at the weddings, and when Tony asked another employee where they came from, the older kid took him to Manhattan's infamous West End. The person they were going to pay for the submarine was the officer who let them [into the naval base], says Russell. Years later, Tarzan again found himself behind bars, this time in Panama; in fact, he was serving time in 2011 when Russell first approached him for the documentary. "My father wasn't in the mob, but his friends were," Tony says. I gave each of my kids a Rolex when they were 5 years old. But the hassle had taken its toll on him. By the mid-'90s, Galeota had turned Porky's into a one-stop shop for strippers, sex, and serious drugs. "She would use shoe polish to change our driver's licenses so we could go to clubs and drink when we were 15. The message was that the cocaine traffickers would kill Yesters family members. It wasn't until he ordered some Italian food and a cold Guinness that he finally felt like he was free. Tarzan was released from the Panamanian prison in around 2016 and has since built a side career out of playing tough guys in gangster flicks shot in Russia, where he now lives. Then she'd charge my friends $50 each," he says. "Keep your fucking hands off the girl!" A man deeply embedded with Escobar's Medelln cartel, Tony had a notorious reputation as "a really bad guy"he was once caught with 41 passports, and featured on his own 1999 episode of America's. While on routine patrol, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection plane spotted a suspicious speed boat. But the men kept in touch as Russell pursued other projects, with Tarzan sending random messages such as Christmas greetings until he finally sent the email the filmmaker had been awaiting (although he couldnt have guessed the other crazy details in the communication. New Times wrote about Galeota's plight last year ("From Porky's to Hell," October 4, 2012), even visiting him in La Joya prison, a crumbling concrete complex in the jungle where inmates kill each other with impunity. For two decades, Galeota managed Porky's, a Hialeah dive notorious for drugs, prostitution, and violence, where he was part pimp, part bouncer, and completely untouchable. The goods came from sources in the freshly fallen Soviet Union, a place where everything seemed to be up for grabs at ridiculously low prices. Explore More. Meet me in Africa for a cup of coffee tomorrow.. As for his career, his only oath is that he won't let his sons follow his example. Locked Up Abroad 151M subscribers Miami mobster Tony Galeota is a strip-club supremo. When his dad lost his job, Tony paid the bills. It wasn't until he ordered some Italian food and a cold Guinness that he finally felt like he was free. While Galeota avoided testifying, Fainberg faced 30 counts including racketeering and conspiracy to traffic cocaine and heroin. So we met with a realtor, got high, and Tony got stupid with money. Over the course of three months, undercover detectives made dozens of visits, tallying up a vivid snapshot of the club: "15 purchases of cocaine, four purchases of MDMA, one purchase of Xanax, one purchase of marijuana, 18 solicitations for prostitution, [and] 20 lewd acts.". and help keep the future of New Times, Use of this website constitutes acceptance of our, From Porky's to Panamanian Prison: Web Extra. One can imagine they did plenty of drugs.. Is this possible, to buy a military submarine - used one? And he said, What a question! The offload is a result of two successful drug interdictions in the Caribbean since August 23. Reborn behind bars. Tony Galeota's shaved head fairly glows with nostalgia as he remembers the days when you might have strolled into his Hialeah bar in search of commercial sex, or maybe to get beaten up or swindled . On June 19, 2011, Tony and his oldest son, 15-year-old Anthony Jr., had just sat down to eat wings in the Doll House office around 11 p.m. when the gold-painted doors burst open. His nightmare began in June , when police raided his Panama City strip club and arrested him and his Ukrainian partner for trafficking women and selling drugs. Tarzan and one of his partners, Fat Tony Galeota, had opened a strip club in Panama similar to a previous enterprise in Miami called Porkys but they landed behind bars in Central America. There is no rehabilitation here," he says. And twice they had given up. "It is with tremendous heartfelt sadness to announce the passing of Michael James Galeota," Jan. 10, reads a statement on a Go Fund Me page, created by Galeota's family to raise money for his burial. But Galeota's plan would soon go catastrophically wrong. "It was home to a lot of shrewd and nefarious characters.". All the main players involved appear on camera and share their stories, including law enforcement, from which the documentary takes its name; Operation Odessa was formed as a joint task force in the 1990s as American authorities worried that Colombian cartels would join together with Russian organized crime to pair drug money with Soviet military hardware. And when his mother was distraught over a broken washing machine, he filled the house with new appliances. During the Doll House raid, they found marked bills in the register and several grams of pot on a promoter. The 43-year-old is shaped like a mini refrigerator: short and squat, with a shaved head and wide-set emerald eyes. He was 31. Become a member to support the independent voice of South Florida Galeota has seen several murders. , updated But Tony had darker secrets. Making the documentary, he says: I found the story so compelling and so riveting that I was just relentlessly magnetized to it. "If you like to eat chocolate and you live in a chocolate factory, you're going to eat chocolate," he says. Filmography (by Job) Trailers and Videos. Can he prove his innocence and escape? You could not mislead him in any way or you could tell that the consequences could be serious, but I loved him. I hoped to walk away from the deal with $10 million.. Prostitution is legal in Panama," he complains. Murdaugh is heckled as he leaves court, Moment teenager crashes into back of lorry after 100mph police race, Ken Bruce finishes his 30-year tenure as host of BBC Radio 2, Family of a 10-month-old baby filmed vaping open up, Missing hiker buried under snow forces arm out to wave to helicopter, Insane moment river of rocks falls onto Malibu Canyon in CA, Fleet-footed cop chases an offender riding a scooter, Ukrainian soldier takes out five tanks with Javelin missiles. Create a free family tree for yourself or for Tony Galeota and we'll search for valuable new information for you. Galeota was crammed into a sweltering holding cell with 150 others. He paid for her to secretly get an abortion. Kristy caught Tony cheating several times, she says. Like a real-life godfather, Galeota weathered it all. Yester told the Colombians that theyd have to pay $35 million for the vessel, even though Tarzan had talked the price down to $5.5 million plus just $600 for a crew to pilot it to Colombia. The Coast Guard said each one of the kilos is worth $33,000. So looking back on it and all the hijinks, from being smuggled in to a Panamanian prison to crossing paths with the FSB in Moscow to being met in a Porsche Cayenne by Tony Yester and driving away thinking: Okay, the CIA, DEA, FBI and US Marshals have been looking for this guy for 25 years, and Im in his car by myself with no notion of where were going or when were coming back. In retrospect, its like, Im a moron, but at the time I was full-throttle chase the story., Of the finished product Operation Odessa, he says: Hopefully, its a rocknroll thrill ride into the underworld, where you get a passport to a life and lifestyle and characters that you didnt even imagine existed much less having a ringside seat with them., The comments below have not been moderated, By They tried to squeeze Fainberg to get Seidle. Anthony Jr. was taken to a juvenile detention center that wasn't much better. The gig introduced him to a lifelong vice. If I were to make this story up and pitch it as a writer, producers would be like, Thats the worst pitch Ive ever heard. ), The narcotics charge, however, still stands despite little evidence linking Galeota to the drugs. Tarzan, got his first job in America as an enforcer for the Gambino crime family. We both understand that.". Almeida, back in Moscow, trying to work out yet another deal and not realizing that this one had already soured, managed to temporarily elude arrest. Im gonna see them in f***ing hell when I arrive there., Russell says the fugitive is probably one of the most fascinating human beings Ive ever been in a room with., He adds: Theres five other films you couldve made about his life and life experiences, and yet he was charming and cultured and funny and also, then, on a dime deadly serious, not somebody that you trifle with. Instead, he says competitors pulled government strings to screw him. Kristy was able to pay a lawyer $500 to get her son released, but there was no bond for Galeota's drug offense. Marshals deported Ludwig Fainberg from Miami. There was a spate of murders, several police raids, and a federal drug-trafficking trial. Almeida was a specialist in obtaining black-market goods for status-crazed drug dealers. Galeota examines a bruise from a prison fight in La Joya. I said, Thank you, Cali cartel. He was a big, big fish.". Behind him, 12-foot-high fences topped with spools of barbed wire frame a muddy soccer field. If only there were a place where prostitution was legal, he thought, a city full of beautiful women like Miami, but no rules. "We were like: 'We want to get the fuck out of here. We did outsmart the FBI, we did outsmart the DEA, we even did outsmart the court, Tarzan says in the film. Galeota is one of several Americans locked up here. Back in the mid-1990s, if you were a Miami mobster seeking girls, guns, cocaine, the services of an arsonist, or muscle to beat down a deadbeat, Ludwig Tarzan Fainberg was your man. He decked out the Doll House with five upstairs rooms equipped with king-size beds, mirrors, lube, condoms, and showers, and brought in dozens of Colombian women, who could earn $120 split with the club for an hour of sex. South Florida's independent "Many times, I worried about him getting killed. We've received your submission. He offered protection and gave Galeota $200. They had girls in every city. In the distance, La Cordillera de San Blas cuts through the Panamanian jungle like a serrated knife. But Galeota was convinced the cops were bluffing and refused to cooperate. 4:00AM. See Photos. When he was 16, he knocked up his 15-year-old girlfriend at Hauppauge High School. Sixteen months later, the two men have yet to appear in court. She is a high-powered attorney who has defended two former presidents in corruption cases, but even she hasn't been able to get Galeota out of jail yet. "But she's never going to forget. Become a member to support the independent voice of South Florida I'm kind of stuck with it. Anthony Galeota was born October 17, 1968, on Long Island. When a dancer clapped her ass cheeks like a maraca, a customer's hands instinctively rose to touch them. She's forgiven me, for the most part. As the authorities closed in, they picked up Juan and Tarzan, but they couldnt find Tony and neither could the cartel. This time, the feds took over the strip club before selling it to new owners, with one requirement: Neither Galeota nor anyone else from the old club could ever work there again. Again, Tony's friends in New York told him where to go. But Galeota's problems aren't completely behind him. He told them he could get them the submarine for $35million, but said hes need the money in installments; when they gave him the first $10million, he kept the money for himself and disappeared. I was literally on a press tour for the last film, and I was in New York doing interviews and stuff I called the producers and said, Do you think we can get a million dollars in the next five days?. 8:00AM. I had a friend of mine living in St. Petersburg, and I said, Misha, tell me something, Tarzan real name Ludwig Fainberg says in a heavy Russian accent. "It was puppy love," he says. Sixteen months later, the two men have yet to appear in court. He faced nine years in prison, but because he provided evidence against Almeida, he served just three years before being deported to his adopted homeland of Israel. We break down the best movies and series to watch in November in theaters and streaming. In the meantime, he's spending time with his wife and kids. But instead of classical music, his specialty is sex. Russell did as he was told and flew to the appointed city in Africa; as soon as he walked into his hotel room, the phone rang and he was instructed to be downstairs in five minutes, where Tony whisked him off in a Porsche Cayenne and they spent several surreal days together; Tony showed the director his Russian fighter jet, which had $5million in the cockpit as the fugitives getaway plan, and told his part of the story. "She hasn't worked for 15 years. And, above all, selling it. Miami's underworld may still be seedy, but it has outsourced much of its shadiness to nearby Third-World countries such as Panama. "They would describe what they looked like," Galeota says. "They shot him in the middle of the night," Galeota continues quietly, "and buried his body behind the pavilion.". Galeota is one of several Americans locked up here. Moreover, trafficking prostitutes and drugs and involvement in organized crime are some serious charges.". Bonnie also shoplifted booze to sustain her hard drinking habit. I never got a straight answer [about why he was in jail there], says Russell. More than anything, Galeota is grateful that his family kept faith in him. And last year, Yester was finally arrested in Rome on charges unrelated to the submarine while en route to a wedding. But when he opens a new club in Panama City, the competition isn't happy and frames him for drug dealing. "I'm used to getting my water from a rain bucket, not hot from the tap." Awards. The FBI swooped in January 21, surrounding the club and arresting Fainberg. And like the Italian-American crooner, he loved women a little too much. The lessons in crime didn't come fast enough for Galeota to stay out of trouble. The charismatic teenager sold the stolen suits or electronics at strip clubs or used-car lots. "I wouldn't leave a dog in that prison, let alone my husband.". He was hilarious and charming and garrulous, and it was as if hed stepped right out of a Scorsese movie, Russell says, adding: You know whats the funny thing people dont know about docs? "It is with tremendous heartfelt sadness to announce the passing of Michael James Gal When crews were launched to investigate, the suspected smugglers threw several packages into the water. But the man's paws were soon on her crotch again. Tony Galeota has a wife named Kristy Galeota, with whom he lives. Galeota is one of several Americans locked up here. June 4, 2013 But it was abundantly clear that the key figure in the deal was Yester and his story would be particularly illuminating though the CIA, DEA and FBI had been after him, without success, for more than two decades. Nearly 300 feet long with 10 torpedo tubes (empty in this case), it was diesel but could be converted to electric for silent running. Its impossible but only because its true. SO I started with the cops and I had been kind of circling the others without knowing if it was really possible or not. "That clean, business-friendly, postcard-Panama bullshit is just a faade," Galeota says. Prosecutors accused him of providing prostitutes for his Russian friends, trafficking drugs, selling stolen cigarettes and liquor, and setting up arms deals for Russian and Colombian cocaine smugglers. Thats how they eventually uncovered the plot to sell a submarine to the Cali cartel, orchestrated by Tarzan, exotic car importer Juan Almeida and Nelson Tony Yester, a Cuban immigrant believed to be a trained intelligence operative who remains an international fugitive to this day. A large Russian man called Tarzan sits in an armchair against the backdrop of a cracked and stained wall, a pack of cigarettes, lighter and an ash tray on a table to his left, and he shrugs as he talks about a deal he tried to broker more than 20 years ago. He was 31. His attorney has warned him that prosecutors will likely appeal, so he plans to stay in Panama until his case is resolved. Upon seeing 10 thugs rush the vehicle and hijack it with the unsuspecting passenger in back, Yester realized that the remaining cash would not be forthcoming. ), Right about the time my last film was coming out, he emailed me and said, I did a jailbreak from Panama, traveled to Costa Rica, on to Cuba and then got repatriated to Moscow Im ready to do the movie, Russell says. Seidle was never charged with a crime. Finally, on May 23, the gate on Galeota's cramped cell swung open, and he was free to go. His father, Arnold, was a strait-laced sales manager but a distant and disapproving dad. We've been here for two years!' But he was too shell-shocked to take up his attorney's offer for a ride to a nice hotel. The gig introduced him to a lifelong vice. Apparently knowing all too well how things would shake out, Yester decided to screw his partners and take off for Amsterdam with the first $10 million. Finally, on May 23, the gate on Galeota's cramped cell swung open, and he was free to go. Log In. This is a guy that the FBI went after for years but could never get him. "I've done a lot of shady things in the States," he admits. They were very compliant to everything we asked of them, said McElhaney. "Now I'm living in hell.". "Whenever there is an American businessman involved in crime here in Panama, it becomes an important case. Tony Galeota. "Thank God I'm out," he tells New Times in his first interview since his release.
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