Rudy Giuliani: Moments Great And Small
By D.S. Mitchell and Michael Leonard Douglas
Most men are offered only one chance at greatness. Fewer men yet rise to extraordinary levels of heroism to be followed by extraordinary levels of greed, depravity, and personal and political immorality. But, Rudy Giuliani isn’t your average guy.
Rudolph William Louis Giuliani was born in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, borough of New York City, N.Y. May 28, 1944. Rudy was the only child of working class parents Harold Angelo Giuliani and Helen D’Avanzo Giuliani. Both parents were children of Italian immigrants. Rudy Giuliani’s large extended family was mostly made up of criminals, cops and firefighters. “I grew up with uniforms all around me,” he has reportedly said.
In 1934, ten years before Rudy Giuliani’s birth, his father was arrested for robbing a milkman at gunpoint. He was later convicted of felony assault and robbery. He served 18 months at Sing Sing, a maximum security prison in New York state. When he was released from prison he had trouble finding employment and ended up “working as an enforcer for his brother-in-law Leo D’Avanzo. D’Avanzo ran an organized crime operation involved in loan sharking and gambling” (Wikipedia).
To Harold Giuliani’s credit he moved his small family from East Flatbush to Long Island to distance his son from the mob connected members of the family. In fact, Rudy Giuliani remembers his father constantly reinforcing a deep respect for law and order. “He made sure that I didn’t repeat his mistakes-which I thank him for, because it worked out” (Biography.com)
Rudy Giuliani received his early education at St. Anne’s a local Catholic elementary school. He attended Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School. He was an average to mediocre student, graduating in 1961. Despite being a less than enthusiastic student Giuliani was an organizer and class politician. By the time of graduation he had begun to think about entering the priesthood. Giuliani went on to study at Manhattan College in the Bronx. He studied political science and philosophy.
After a less than stellar high school and undergraduate college career Rudy Giuliani discarded his intent to enter the priesthood and decided to pursue a law degree. Rudy took to the law like the proverbial duck to water. He graduated from New York University School of Law cum laude with a Juris Doctorate in 1968. After excelling at his law studies he earned him a prestigious law clerk position with Judge Lloyd Francis MacMahon. MacMahon was a U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of New York.
When his clerkship with Judge MacMahon ended the judge recommended Rudy Giuliani for a position in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C. In 1973, at age 29, Giuliani was appointed the attorney in charge of police corruption cases resulting from the Knapp Commission. He worked under Harold “Ace” Tyler. In 1977 he left the U.S. Attorney’s Office to work in private practice. He was hired as an associate at Tyler’s prestigious New York law firm, Patterson, Belnap, Webb & Tyler.
Just three years later he returned to public service. He was tapped by President Ronald Reagan to become the number 3 at the Department of Justice. In 1983 Giuliani was appointed U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. The SDNY is one of the most visible and prestigious U.S. attorney’s office in the country. It was a natural fit. Rudy’s style of news conferences and camera-ready prosecutions made him a natural. Harold “Ace” Tyler who worked with Rudy Giuliani in private practice and at the DOJ described Giuliani’s tactics as “overkill” (Time Magazine).
At the SDNY Rudy Giuliani’s efforts were mostly directed at the prosecution of white-collar lawbreakers, organized crime, and corruption within various government institutions. His conviction record was astounding. He became one of the most revered U.S. attorneys in American history. Rudy Giuliani was responsible for a total 4,152 successful convictions. He had a mere 25 reversals. However, his many critics saw him as a boisterous grand-stander. In several high-profile cases he had people arrested and paraded before cameras for the 6 o’clock news shows. He would later quietly drop the charges.
Taking On The Mafia
Between 2/25/1985 and 11/19/1986 Rudy Giuliani became the most famous prosecutor in America. Giuliani played center stage on the high-profile Mafia Commission trials. Using the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) he indicted 11 organized crime figures including heads of the “Five Families”. He summed up the indictments this way, “Our approach is to wipe out the five families”.