How Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani took down The Five Families in Netflix’s Fear City

Netflix's Fear City: New York vs.The Mafia features cameos from Giuliani and Trump. How are they connected?

Rudy Giuliani Fear City

New documentary Fear City: New York vs. The Mafia has just dropped on Netflix and is already getting people talking.

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The three-part docuseries looks at the lives and crimes of five mob families who ruled The Big Apple with a “bloody fist” in the 1970s and 1980s.

One of the key characters who appears in Fear City is former mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani.

Viewers learn in Fear City how he took down The Five Families in remarkable fashion – and would then go on to be linked to President Donald Trump.

Here’s everything you need to know about him.

Who is Rudy Giuliani?

Giuliani is an American attorney and politician.

He led the federal prosecution of New York City Mafia bosses in the 1980s, and conducted the city’s civic cleanup as its mayor from 1994 to 2001.

From 1981 to 1983, he was the US Associate Attorney General. He then became  the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 1983 to 1989.

After a failed New York City mayoral election campaign in 1989, he succeeded in 1993, and was reelected in 1997, holding a platform of toughness on crime.

Rudy Giuliani Fear City
Rudy Giuliani (Getty Images)
Getty Images

What did Rudy Giuliani do to The Mafia?

In the Mafia Commission Trial, which ran from February 25, 1985, through to November 19, 1986, Giuliani indicted 11 organised crime figures, including the heads of New York’s so-called “Five Families”, under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations Act (RICO) on charges including extortion, labour racketeering, and murder for hire.

It was dubbed as “the most significant assault on the infrastructure of organised crime since the high command of the Chicago Mafia was swept away in 1943” by Times Magazine – who quoted Giuliani’s stated intention: “Our approach is to wipe out the five families.”

Gambino crime family boss Paul Castellano evaded conviction when he and his underboss, Thomas Bilotti, were murdered on the streets of Midtown Manhattan in 1985.

However, three heads of the Five Families were sentenced to 100 years in prison on January 13, 1987.

Rudy Giuliani Fear City
Giuliani (on the right) at the Mafia Commission Trial
Getty Images

Genovese and Colombo leaders, Tony Salerno and Carmine Persico, received additional sentences in separate trials, with 70-year and 39-year sentences to run consecutively.

“I always hated the Mafia,” Giuliani says in the documentary. “They do terrible things to society. They began by exploiting Italian immigrants, like my grandfathers … The minute they established a little business, made a little money, [the Mafia would] come in and say, ‘Give us 30 per cent.’”

Giuliani says that as he realised how much power The Commission held, he wanted to find a way to use the RICO Act to go after the bosses of each family in “one very big case.”

“If you can kill the monster from the head, this is our one chance to do it,” Giuliani adds.

According to an FBI memo revealed in 2007, leaders of the Five Families voted in 1986 on whether to issue a contract for Giuliani’s death.

Heads of the Bonnano, Lucchese, and Genovese families were said to have rejected the idea, however, Colombo and Gambino leaders, Carmine Persico and John Gotti, reportedly encouraged assassination.

 In 2014, it was revealed by a former Sicilian Mafia member and informant, Rosario Naimo, that Salvatore Riina, a notorious Sicilian Mafia leader, had ordered a murder contract on Giuliani during the mid-1980s.

How is Rudy Giuliani connected to Donald Trump?

In 2017, US President Donald Trump appointed Giuliani as cybersecurity advisor. 

Politically a Democrat and then Independent in the 1970s, Giuliani has been a Republican since the 1980s

Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump
Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump (Getty Images)
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In April 2018 he joined President Donald Trump’s legal team. His activities as Trump’s attorney has caused some media scrutiny for Giuliani.

In late 2019, Giuliani was reportedly under federal investigation for violating lobbying laws, and possibly several other charges as a central figure in the Trump–Ukraine scandal, which premised the impeachment of Trump in 2019.

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Fear City: New York vs The Mafia is available to stream on Netflix. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our guide to the best TV series on Netflix and best movies on Netflix, or visit our TV Guide.