#25: Roy Cohn


In this episode, we discuss Roy Marcus Cohn (1927-1986) with professional attorney, Tony Taouk of Magna Carta Lawyers in Sydney, Australia. Tony and I walk through Roy Cohn's history, and Tony brings an attorney's perspective to some of Cohn's vicious tactics, personal life, as well as areas where he displayed both pure brilliance and borderline diabolical evil. We cover:

  • Cohn's upbringing and early life
  • Cohn's involvement in the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg trial in the early 1950's
  • Cohn's involvement in the McCarthy investigations of the 1950's during the Cold War and Communism scares
  • Cohn's eventual fall from grace after his misconduct was discovered and re-emergence as a private practice attorney
  • Cohn's legal representation of various mobsters including John Gotti, Tony Salerno, and Carmine Galante
  • Cohn's representation of various celebrities including Donald Trump
  • Some of Cohn's brilliant and vicious tactics
  • We debate Cohn's legacy and a top mob lawyer

Episode Transcript

Jacob Stoops: Hello everybody, welcome to another episode of the Gangland History Podcast, formerly the Members Only podcast. And today's going to be a little bit different. It's not just me. We're actually going to go back to the world of interviews. And I've got a really great guest today from all the way in the land down under. His name is Tony Taouk. He's a lawyer. So he brings a lot of subject matter expertise to what we're talking about and I'll just let him introduce myself. How's it going, Tony?

Tony Taouk: How are you doing Jacob?

Jacob Stoops: I'm good. And I think I said, I'll just let him introduce myself. But what I definitely meant was I'll let him introduce him, himself. That's the fun thing with, with live recording. But yeah, thanks for coming on Tony. I really, really appreciate it. And I'm excited to get into the subject today, Roy Cohn, and I just want to let our audience know we're going to be doing a series. And I'm not exactly sure how long it's going to be where we're covering Mob lawyers and we're looking at it from a biographical standpoint, but because this is what Tony does for a day job, we're looking at it from the point of view that he has as a subject matter expert. This is what he does all day every day, and I think he's gonna bring a pretty unique flavor to breaking down some of the most well-known mob lawyers, you know, in the in the genre over the history, I would say, of the last probably 50, 60, 70, 70 years. We've got also another episode planned where we're going to talk about Cincinnati's George Remus, who famously shows up in Boardwalk Empire. And we're going to, we're probably going to record that in February, just so people have an idea of what's coming down the pipe. But Tony, why don't you tell the audience a little bit about yourself before we kind of get into the subject.

Tony Taouk: Thanks Jake. I'm a lawyer. I've been a lawyer since 2005. I have practiced in criminal law but not as much as I used to. I'm more into commercial business and property and other things now but I still from time to time do some criminal law but more minor crime. With respect to mob trials and mob lawyers I've been researching the subject extensively for the past 17 years. I've read trials, transcripts, and I visited the United States on a few occasions. I've been to all the places where mob significant events have taken place. So yeah, I've had this interesting passion about the matter for many years now.

Jacob Stoops: Yeah, I was going to ask how you kind of got into the mob genre, like what appealed to it about you. For me, I know I'm a student of history and of course love mob movies and when you blend those two things together, well, you get this podcast. Of course, I also have a passion for content creation. And as I understand it, Tony, I think something you're looking to do at some point in the future and I would definitely be interested in reading this is publishing your own book. And I love if you've started any work, if it's still just aspirational, but yeah, I'd love for you to talk about how you became passionate about the genre as well as what you're thinking about maybe publishing on someday.

Tony Taouk: Well, when you read about, well, I've always had, first of all, it started watching the movies as a teenager. And then as I got older, I started reading the books and you would inevitably come across trials and arrests and indictments and everything else. And all these colorful characters would come up. People like Bruce Cutler, people like O'Hare, the guy who defended Capone and people like Robert Simone from Philadelphia when you're reading about the Philadelphia underworld with Nicodemo Scarfo. So eventually I became intrigued by these characters, especially after I became a lawyer. I went into law school in 2000. I finished high school in 1999, went straight into law school in 2000. And I started to think, wow, I mean, they pull off some stunning victories in their tactics and the way they cross-examine the witnesses. I was really fascinated with that and I decided to go in depth with that and just read about how they did it. Then after I'd read every book, I'd start ordering the transcripts off the internet and reading the transcripts there and I just couldn't get enough. And then I got into the Commission trials and then the Pizza Connection trial and then when I covered all that I went back to the 1920s and dealt with those trials and a few other mobsters from that era. It's a fascinating subject and it goes part and parcel with mob history. I mean, a lot of the time, and I'll be covering this here, especially with Roy Cohn, if these guys didn't get off, that would be a footnote in history. The fact that they beat the system and got acquitted, that allowed them to pursue their criminal activities and become notorious a lot of the time. So that played a big role in gangland history.

Jacob Stoops: Yeah, absolutely. I think the fact that mobsters by and large for the majority of the 20th century, until you got into the era of Rico were largely able to avoid prosecution, you know, not that they were never prosecuted or never went to prison, but they were largely able to avoid, you know, long sentences. And especially in the twenties and thirties, they had all the, as Don Corleone says, all the judges, all the politicians in their pockets, and the often the middlemen to handle these transactions between the political establishment and the gangsters themselves were lawyers just like Roy Cohn kind of playing in the very gray area of legality for sure.

So let's get into our subject, Roy Cohn, Roy Marcus Cohn. We're gonna do a little bit of a biography, but then we're definitely gonna talk about some of his tactics and some of kind of the things that he became known for and look at it from a bit of a legal perspective, for those of you that aren't aware of Roy Cohn. He was probably one of the most famous. Now, I don't know exactly, I haven't really sat down and thought about who I consider to be the most famous mob lawyer, but if there were a Mount Rushmore of mob lawyers, Roy Cohn would definitely be on it. He represented, you know, lots and lots of people from the underworld, but lots of celebrities as well. He was very high profile. So of course, some underworld names you would know, John Gotti, Carmine Galante, Tony Salerno, but he was also known to have represented people like President Trump.

George Steinbrenner, the owner of the Yankees, Aristotle Onassis, the man who married Jackie Oh, of course, after she, you know, was married to President Kennedy, right? So these are huge, huge names. And the one point of connection was Roy Marcus Cohn. So Tony, I'll kick it over to you.

  • Who was Roy Cohn?
  • Where was he from?
  • How did he get started?

Tony Taouk: He was born in Manhattan in 1927. His father was a judge and his mother came from a family of quite prominent entrepreneurs and bankers. Now, with this background, he had a good head start in life and he learned the value of connections at an early age. For instance, when he was still in high school, Cohn used his father's influence to fix a parking ticket for a school teacher, trying to impress him. Apparently he called the precinct captain and dropped his father's name and managed to get the ticket quashed. He'd also arranged jobs for people willing to pay him kickbacks. Now, shortly after he graduated from Columbia Law School, before the age of 21, by the way, he began using it, working as a federal prosecutor in Manhattan, no doubt used his family connections to land the job.

Now, as a federal prosecutor, he was instrumental in sending atomic spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg to the electric chair in the early 1950s. Now in doing so, he apparently cut a lot of corners by doing things like eliciting false testimony from key witnesses, having conversations with the trial judge outside the presence of the Rosenberg's lawyers to convince him to oppose the death penalty. That was a serious ethical breach by Cohn and the judge.

Now after that he  as chief aide to Senator Joseph McCarthy during his anti-communist crusade in the 1950s. For two years he helped McCarthy in his wide-ranging and often unfounded attacks on alleged communists in the US government and military. Now those denunciations and fear-mongering, which our audience might be familiar with from their history lessons in the US, I would imagine they teach you this when you're in a

Jacob Stoops: They do. If you're paying attention. They definitely do, but if you're paying attention, if you're not sleeping.

Tony Taouk: When you're doing Cold War history in the US. Yes. Yeah. These McCarthy hearings created this whole climate of fear and suspicion across the US and even drove some people to commit suicide. Now, the interesting thing is, Cohn was a closet homosexual, yet he helped purge suspected gay and lesbian employees from the government on the grounds that they were an unacceptable security risk in the United States because apparently they were more susceptible to blackmail at the time by overseas spy services because they were homosexual. Cohn was publicly discredited during the nationally televised hearings when it was revealed that he employed pressure tactics against the US Army to obtain preferential treatment for a guy called G. David Shine. Now a lot of people suspected this guy to be Cohn's boyfriend.

And this was the 1950s when people weren't as open-minded as they are today. Shortly thereafter, he left Washington, D.C., and thereafter, they went into private practice in New York. Now, you have a guy who committed prosecutorial misconduct to fry people on the electric chair, falsely accused people of having communist sympathies, created hysteria around the country, drove people to commit suicide, was disgraced on national television, and was a homosexual at a time when it was a taboo. Not exactly a recipe for success for someone going into private practice, you'd think.

Jacob Stoops: Yeah, but he found he found a way he found a way to continue to be successful and that's actually what I find Fascinating about him. I think he's a he's a very fascinating character and in digging into Cohn the thing I did not you know did not know At first was that he didn't get his start as being a mob lawyer. He got his start in the 50s Uh with the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg trial, which I'm not going to claim to be an expert, but as you said, Tony, they were arrested on suspicion of being Soviet spies and whether they were or weren't, there was definite misconduct. Now I think history will tell us that probably a couple of things were true. Probably they were guilty of being spies, but definitely there was prosecutorial misconduct and they were to some degree framed and they went to the electric chair.

And then of course the McCarthy stuff where, like you said, the climate of the time was very much right at the beginning in the middle of the Cold War where there was a huge amount of fear stemming from after World War II and of course the atomic bomb, the arms race, that these two countries, the United States and the Soviet Union, could very quickly come to blows and end the world.

And, you know, a lot of people took that and ran with it and fear mongered ergo, if somebody labeled you a communist, that was essentially the scarlet letter. And it happened to a lot of people, famous people especially, and people like Roy Cohn were, were kind of at the bleeding edge of it. And what I find interesting about Cohn is that he, he was a bit of an odd, odd guy, closeted homosexual.

If you dig into dig into him, he was very close with his mother lived with his mother until he was 40 years old, which I find a bit, a bit bizarre. I can't I'm 41 now. I can't imagine just having moved out of my mother's house. So that seems like a bit of a it's good that he's close, but a bit of an odd reputation. And you know, he went after this person who was supposedly his boyfriend. So that information did not get out to ruin and discredit him.

  • So I guess my question is, if he had such a bad reputation, how did he get started with mobsters?
  • Why would they go to him?

Tony Taouk: Jake, have you seen the show Breaking Bad?

Jacob Stoops: I have, but not as much, I haven't watched every episode, so I'm not as familiar with it as I should be.

Tony Taouk: There's a scene where Jesse and Walter pull up in front of Saul Goodman's office and Walter says something like, Why are you using this guy? And Jesse says something like, When the going gets tough, you don't want a criminal lawyer, you want a criminal lawyer. That kind of sums it up.

Jacob Stoops: That's awesome. Yeah.

Tony Taouk: He was ethically and morally flexible. In other words, he had no conscience and did whatever it took to get his clients off, legal or illegal. During his years in private practice, he was indicted to things like extortion, jury tampering, witness tampering, perjury, bribery, fraud, not to mention the numerous professional misconduct investigations, but he always managed to get himself acquitted.

Now repeatedly beating the system has enhanced his reputation with these mobs because they knew they were in good company because he was a crook like them. In fact, he was so comfortable around underworld figures that he would let mob bosses hold their meetings in his Manhattan office. So if they were wiretapped, whatever they said couldn't be used against him in court because of the whole lawyer-client thing, privilege. But putting aside his nefarious ways, he was actually a very good lawyer.

He had a photographic memory so he could cross examine a witness and give a summation for hours without consulting any notes, and he had an encyclopedic knowledge of the law. Mobsters also liked his vindictive and relentless style of lawyering that he mastered during his time in the Senate subcommittee with McCarthy. He already developed that reputation for ruthlessness back then, but he really honed this reputation when he went into private practice. Basically his philosophy was attack, never admit you're wrong, never make concessions, never admit defeat.

His reputation was so fearsome that merely retaining him as your lawyer would cause the other side to scramble and settle the matter. For example, when the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Donald Trump and his father accusing them of racial discrimination for refusing to rent their apartments to black people in Brooklyn and Queens in the early 1970s. Roy Cohn filed a $100 million counter suit against the government. Eventually the government just gave up and agreed to settle the case.

He had access to a network of politicians, judges, law enforcement officials, district attorneys, prosecutors that he could call on for favors when necessary. Now he'd often invite these influential people to these extravagant parties that he would host to flaunt the fact that he had such a powerful network of friends. So you've got a lawyer who's highly intelligent, ruthless, well connected and has no moral compass.

Would mobsters really care if he drove people commit suicide in the 1950s or if he had sex with male prostitutes in his spare time? Obviously not. They just want to avoid prison and continue making money. And it wasn't just mobsters who hired him. His client list included people like Rupert Murdoch, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, as you said before, Aristotle Anassas, the owners of Studio 54 Nightclub in New York. Even the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York. So it must have been doing something right.

Jacob Stoops: Yeah, and he was an advisor also to the likes of presidents, to the likes of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan. He worked with a guy who I depends on your political leanings, but a key advisor to Trump, Roger Stone, who I believe is doing prison time at the moment, or he may be out. Not exactly sure, but I think it's clear. I think mobsters liked him because of his bulldog ruthlessness, his willing to do anything and everything to get them off, to get them out of their case. And I would just ask, can you give us an example of how he was able to utilize this vast network of connections specifically in a case to help some of these mobsters?

Tony Taouk: Well, I'll give you a good example. In 1973, John Gotti and two other men shot dead a man in a bar full of people. He was charged with murder and was looking at a long stretch in prison until Roy Cohn became involved and thought of a brilliant solution. He convinced the district attorney handling the case to accept the plea of guilty to attempted manslaughter instead of murder.

He had Gotti admit to holding the man while someone else shot him. Now attempted manslaughter carries a sentence of only four years. With good behavior, Gotti was out in two years. So you've got a convicted felon and career criminal, he had some form by this time, he had an extensive criminal history I believe by this time, involved in killing a man in a bar full of witnesses served only two years in prison. Now you'd probably do more time for killing your neighbor's cat.

The DA obviously owed Roy Cohn a favor, so no one else could have pulled it off. And if God had went to prison, he probably wouldn't have become the head of the Gambino family in the 1980s, and he wouldn't be the household name he is today. And he cut a similar deal for Genovese boss Fat Tony Salerno, a longtime client of his. Salerno was running a gambling operation that generated tens of millions of dollars every year, and he had Cohn plead guilty to Cohn had him plead guilty to federal gambling and tax evasion charges in the late 1970s. He was only sentenced to six months in prison and fined $25,000. On top of that, Cohn managed to get charges against six of Solano's co-defendants dropped and arranged for Salerno to serve his time in a minimum security prison so he could continue to run his business from the inside. I'm surprised they didn't throw in a weekend trip to Cancun along the way. So you can see how he used his influence to just work these prosecutors and district attorneys and just work the system. It was just a big favor bank in New York that he put to use when he needed it.

Jacob Stoops: Yeah, you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. And in particular with the Gotti case, the murder was that of James McBratney, which happened in the early seventies. Of course, Gotti goes to prison. I'm pretty sure it might've been Carlo Gambino that hooks Gotti up with Cohn, if I remember that right, if I remember my history right.

Tony Taouk: Yes, that's correct.

Jacob Stoops: And Gotti talks about it later. So later on in Gotti's life, I think it's in the late 90s, Junior Gotti goes in to visit his dad and they have a long conversation and Junior Gotti is of course at this point in time trying to get out where he wants to be done with the mafia. This may be the early 2000s, I don't know, before Gotti passed away and Gotti by this point had been in prison maybe for a decade or so and Gotti's talking to him and one of the things they talk about is when Roy Cohn was able to get him off of the McBrattney case, which likely would have put Gotti away and Gotti never becomes Gotti. And I think what I remember, and maybe I can find the clip and dub it in here, is Cohn coming into Gotti and saying, "you take three years?" And he had just like that, he's taken a murder down to basically a slap on the wrist and Gotti gets out and becomes Gotti.

So, Cohn also helped mobsters outside of the courtroom, is that right?

Tony Taouk: Yeah, that's right. For instance, we all know that up to the 1980s, the mafia had a stranglehold over many industries in New York, especially the construction industry. Cohn used this.

Jacob Stoops: Hey, Tony, can we go back for a second and let me start over. No worries. Yeah. I'll ask that question again and we'll just start again. Uh, so Tony, can you give us an ex- hold on, different question. Uh, so Cohn also used his connections, uh, and in his tactics to help mobsters outside of the courtroom. Is that right?

Tony Taouk: Yeah, he did. For example, up to the 1980s, the mob had a stranglehold over many industries in New York, especially the construction industry. Now, Cohn used his relationship with mobsters to serve as a bridge between businessmen and mob-controlled construction companies and union officials. For example, when Donald Trump was building Trump Tower in the 1980s, one of the concrete contractors, SNA Concrete Incorporated, was allegedly owned by Cohn's client.

Fat Tony Salerno and Gambino boss Paul Castellano. Now, ready-mixed concrete dries quickly, which means if the workers go on strike, the developers in serious trouble. Yet Trump liked to build with ready mixed concrete instead of other materials such as steel. Most Manhattan developers at the time opted to use steel to avoid the headache of dealing with all these unions and mobsters.

Now, it's been suggested that Cohn broken a deal between Salerno and Trump to facilitate the construction of Trump Tower and other projects using ready mixed concrete supplied by mock control companies. By cutting the deal with the mob, Trump wouldn't have to worry about strikes. And at the same time, he could avoid the costly fireproofing required when you build wood steel. Interestingly, when cement workers went on strike in 1982, the concrete continued to flow at Trump Tower and it didn't affect his business at all.

Now when Salerno and 14 others were indicted on criminal charges including conspiracy and extortion in 1986, one of Trump's projects was mentioned in the indictment. By this point, Roy Cohn had stopped acting for Salerno. Salerno and the others eventually went to prison on federal charges that included racketeering and bid rigging in connection with ready-mix concrete businesses where he died in 1992.

Jacob Stoops: Yeah, and that was probably tied into the Commission case. The concrete club is likely where this connection is. And there's always been rumors of President Trump being connected in some way, shape or form to the mob. And again, I don't have any political leanings one way or the other. And it probably wasn't just Trump. He just happened to be a big developer. It was pretty much anybody that wanted to concrete or build anything in the 1980s in New York specifically paid a tax to the mob and when I say paid a tax I really mean inflated the contract if it was over a certain threshold inflated the contract and pass that on to consumers so I've heard I don't remember the exact statistics but there was a massive building percentage increase over what it would have normally cost without the mob in there kind of inflating estimates. And quite frankly, I'm surprised some of these buildings didn't fall down, uh, using ready mix, you know, ready mix concrete. Again, I'm not an engineer. Uh, it just sounds a little bit flimsy.

So Cohn also represented the infamous Carmine Galante. So I guess my question is what, what might've happened there?

Tony Taouk: Yeah, he was getting Carmine Galante out of jams all the time. Galante had served 12 years in prison on a federal narcotics conviction before being paroled in 1974. One of the conditions of his parole was that he's not to associate or consult with known criminals. It's a bit hard when you recruit criminals, but anyway. In the late 1970s, the United States Parole Commission revoked Galante's parole on the grounds that he was associated with various mobsters at the time.

I guess the government just found an easy way to just get him off the streets. At this point he was running a large international heroin trafficking operation and the bodies were piling up in New York as he was challenging other mob bosses for control. Cohn filed a petition alleging constitutional deficiencies in the parole commission's actions concerning Galante's parole status and he had this two-pronged attack. Firstly he claimed that the prison...

caseworker didn't inform Galante of the parole condition when he was released from prison, so he could have complied with the condition he didn't know about. Secondly, Cohn argued that Galante's lawyers were not given a meaningful opportunity to cross-examine the prison caseworker to test his credibility before the parole was provoked.

Jacob Stoops: Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Tony Taouk: Cohn argued that Galante's lawyers were not given a meaningful opportunity to cross-examine this particular prison caseworker to test his credibility before the parole was revoked. Now the court agreed with Cohn and found that revoking his parole without giving Galante's lawyers the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses was unconstitutional and Galante was released only to be shot dead in Brooklyn five months later. So in hindsight, staying in prison was probably the healthier option for him.

Jacob Stoops: Yeah, he famously was assassinated at a Joe and Mary's Italian restaurant. Pretty much by that point in time, he had pissed off the entire commission in New York and nationally wasn't sharing profits, was killing everybody, was very much a wild card and had to go. He had worn out his welcome for sure. Now, again, it seems like one time or another. Cohn represented mobsters from virtually every single New York family.

And I guess that begs the question, why didn't he appear at the commission trial in the 1980s?

Tony Taouk: There are two reasons. Firstly, he was very ill because he'd been diagnosed with AIDS by this stage. Although to his dying day, he'd never admitted it. He would just say that he suffered from liver cancer. He was always very secretive about his homosexual liaisons. Secondly, he was disbarred for, among other things, going into the hospital room of a dying client and tricking him into signing over control of his multi-million dollar estate. Amazingly, during his disbarment proceedings, he still managed to get his powerful friends to step up and give character references. They included high caliber people like New York Congressman Mario Biaggi, Barbara Walters, Donald Trump, just to name a few. He died from AIDS in 1986. He left behind a $7 million tax debt.

Throughout his life, he did everything in his power to avoid paying taxes. He rented a house in New York City or leased virtually everything and took a small salary from his law firm. His extravagant lifestyle was supported by this $500,000 expense account provided by his law firm. His law firm owned the Manhattan townhouse that he occupied and that he used as a law office. And he had a 97-foot yacht that was owned by a company secretly controlled by him. Now his name has resurfaced a lot in recent years because of his connection to Donald Trump. The media often depicts Roy Cohn as Trump's mentor in the dark arts. Apparently whenever Trump was disappointed with his legal representation during the whole Russia collusion fiasco, he would say things like, I wouldn't be in this position if I had a lawyer like Roy Cohn or res by Roy Cohn. But then again, it's not every day that you find a legal executioner and fixer and shyster to the likes of Roy Cohn, I guess.

Jacob Stoops: Yeah, he was certainly a special character. I don't think his tactics would go over so well today in the modern era with everything that you have from a media and a technology standpoint, crashing down on people quickly the moment they step out of line. I think it's interesting, Cohn, he's a bit of a riddle, clearly a genius.

Tony Taouk: Yes.

Jacob Stoops: I don't I don't want to know what his IQ was but clearly a genius clearly incredibly talented made a ton of money Incredibly incredibly unethical to the point of potentially being called purely not purely evil, but definitely not right definitely trending towards Towards having evil tendencies and I what I find Interesting about Cohn is throughout the entire time he of course was a closeted homosexual and I think the juxtaposition is and I don't know if it was him, it might have been him.

One of the reasons the mob was able to really stay out of the FBI's crosshairs for quite some time is that they had evidence against J. Edgar Hoover who was also a closeted homosexual, and I believe it was Cohn (it may not have been Cohn, but I think it was Cohn), who is one of those people that had the photos, the blackmail photos that essentially Hoover did not want to come out. And you can correct me if I'm wrong, if maybe that was another lawyer. But it's interesting that he was willing to go after somebody else who was also a closeted homosexual while he was a closeted homosexual himself.

And, you know, the mob is the mob is interesting as well in the sense that, well, it you know, you can't really be in the mob if you're a homosexual, right? It definitely goes against their traditional bylaws, whatever you want to call them. However, the mob had no problem, especially in the 60s. Carlo Gambino did this, where he had no problem making money off of clubs, gay clubs, homosexual bars, those types of things. And in fact, they were heavily invested in those. So it's just an amazing juxtaposition. I think Roy Cohn kind of fits right into the center of that. Clearly, you know, his function as an incredibly effective lawyer superseded the fact that maybe they, you know, maybe they knew he was gay. Maybe they didn't know he was gay. If they did know he was gay, clearly they didn't care.

Uh, and yeah, fascinating, fascinating guy for sure. Um, what would you, you know, from a legal perspective, uh, not that you practice anything that, that Cohn himself practiced, but is there anything that as a lawyer, you take away and can learn from a guy like him?

Tony Taouk: Well, if you read his trial transcripts, he was a very good cross-examiner. So you can pick up some tactics that he used in his cross-examinations, the way he set it out. His summations were just a work of art. But apart from that, unless you're prepared to become a shyster of some kind or a really unethical lawyer.

Jacob Stoops: Ha ha!

Tony Taouk: There's not much you can take away from him, I mean, unless you want to really, really get into the realm of tax evasion and, you know, committing illegal and unethical acts. I mean, put it...

Jacob Stoops: Yeah. Is it true that he once put a bag of sh*t on somebody's front steps?

Tony Taouk: I actually don't recall that, but I wouldn't be surprised.

Jacob Stoops: No, okay. I've heard that. I've heard that before. Again, maybe I'm getting my lawyers mixed up. I think that might be him where he was upset with somebody and was so vindictive that he actually did that. But yeah, that's hilarious. And I guess my closing question to kind of put a bow on Cohn is, you know, of all the lawyers you've studied, mob lawyers specifically, where would you rank him? Like at the top 5, top 10 in terms of both the quality, the legacy. Where would you put him?

Tony Taouk: Put it this way, if I was charged with a serious offense in the 1960s or 1970s, I would get Roy Cohn. Not so much for his... I'm sure there were probably better lawyers out there, but the connections he had were so good that he'd get you the best chance. He'd get you the best result. So if my life was on the line, I would hire him back in the day. So that kind of sums it up.

Jacob Stoops: Yeah. And yeah, well, yeah, that puts him pretty high. I think he proved that ability over and over and over again. Probably terrible human being. Very, very, very good, good lawyer. And yeah, if for me, if it's that timeframe and somebody literally put a gun to my head and said hey, you know If you don't have the right guy representing you you're gonna go to jail for a hundred years if I have the money Roy Cohn is probably my first call as well.

Tony Taouk: Yeah.

Jacob Stoops: Well Tony, thank you so much for coming on I know, you know, we had some trouble with the time zones with you know me being in the US you being in Australia But I really appreciate it and quite honestly, I think the audience for the Gangland History Podcast, still getting used to saying that. I think they're gonna be delighted as we continue to kind of go through the different mob lawyers. And I hope to cover a lot of them this year. And I think it's gonna be interesting kind of comparing and contrasting the different styles and the different levels of involvement and willingness to step over that line. But thank you so much for coming on. I really appreciate it.

Tony Taouk: It's been a pleasure. Thanks, Jake.

Jacob Stoops: Yep, have a good one.

Jacob Stoops, the host of The Gangland History Podcast

Jacob Stoops

Host of the Gangland History Podcast

This podcast sits at the intersection of my life-long love for history, my love of mob movies, my now decades-long fascination with the Mafia, as well as my passion for content creation.