EDIT: Thanks for all the questions! I'm off to continue working on other stories. I'll return Monday morning to answer any follow-ups!

I'm Robert Anglen, an investigative reporter with the Arizona Republic and the USATODAY Network. I've exposed abuses within the probate court, questionable charities tied to a worldwide televangelism ministry and multiple white-collar fraud schemes.

My latest story delves into the life of Frank Gioia Jr., also known as Frank Capri. Gioia was a "made man" in the New York Mafia whose criminal history was erased after he cooperated with authorities with testimony against more than 70 mobsters.

He was given a new identity as Frank Capri, which helped him become a Phoenix-area businessman who headed a chain of Toby Keith restaurants that failed amid allegations of fraud.

Documents and interviews show Gioia used his new identity to create havoc for business associates, employees and developers. In all, forty restaurants were planned, 20 were built and 19 closed.

Courts have ordered more than $65 million in judgments against him and his companies.

My Story: http://www.azcentral.com/pages/interactives/mafia-in-our-midst/

My Proof: http://www.azcentral.com/staff/16915/robert-anglen/ and https://twitter.com/robertanglen/status/926461696759119872

Comments: 46 • Responses: 9  • Date: 

Joe43427 karma

What do you think made him go back to a criminal lifestyle after “getting off the hook” before?

Robert_Anglen23 karma

I'm not a mind reader, but greed probably played into it.

When he was known as Frank Gioia Jr., he was a hustler. He grew up dealing drugs and running guns.

As Capri he made millions on these restaurant deals. Developers were willing to give him millions based on promises and contracts that he (Gioia/Capri) didn't honor.

Some would call that easy money.

anc002214 karma

While investigating this story, did you ever fear for your life at any point? And did your editor give you as much time as needed to look into this story or were you expected to turn other daily stories in the meantime?

Robert_Anglen35 karma

Fearing for my life is a little extreme. I was aware of the potential and took precautions.

Certainly, The Arizona Republic has experienced violence. Reporter Don Bolles was killed in a car bombing 40 years ago. His spirit kind of haunts the newsroom. So I took precautions. I used burner phones, location trackers and I wouldn't let my kids go out to my car until after I started it.

One overt precaution we took was when we began making contact with sources was to make it clear that I wasn't working on my own. That other people were aware of the information and it had been shared. So, any act of violence against me would have to be an act of spite and that could happen any day.

You also have to realize, the Mob has changed. It's not like it once was. It's fractured. The organization structure is not as robust as it was -- even 20 years ago. Many Mobsters themselves have flipped and many are in the Witness Protection Program.

Gioia/Capri is 25 years removed from his crimes. All of that said, I was much more concerned about HIS safety as a result of the stories than I was my own. But the newspaper believed the allegations of fraud and the ongoing financial chaos outweighed the potential consequences of outing someone who is in the Witness Protection Program.

Robert_Anglen17 karma

On the issue of daily stories and investigations:

The newspaper recognized the value of the story and gave me as much time as I needed to put it together. I did work on several other projects at the same time.

One of these was covering the trial of the Bundy militia standoff in Las Vegas, which began in February and starts back up next week.

I also worked on several consumer fraud stories.

Coronis1211 karma

Given this incident, what sort of duty do you think the FBI has to warn inviduals who might be at risk of the criminal history former mobsters have?

Robert_Anglen17 karma

That's the whole point of Part 3:Who protects the public from protected witnesses?

Clearly, there have been decades of problems with criminals in the Witness Protection Program committing crimes. The Feds insist that they do not look the other way. Capri has NOT been charged with any crimes.

AShadyNecromancer9 karma

How do you go about investigating things such as this? Is there a special tool you have access to other might not?

Robert_Anglen22 karma

Every story is different, but there are places you know you can go for information: court records, background searches, business records and things like that.

In this case, I set out in 2015 to document why these Toby Keith restaurants around the country imploded financially.

They were supposed to be popular and successful and yet they were closing one after the other.

After I wrote stories about Capri's restaurant chain and the allegations of fraud, I learned about his past life.

From there, I knew I had my work cut out for me because the Federal Witness Protection Program is so secret. I found initial documents in court records that suggested that there was some truth to the allegations about Capri. I also found out his Social Security number was issued in 1998(ish) out of South Dakota. THAT IS STRANGE. It's not proof, but it's indicative that he either applied for a new SS# or one was issued for him.

Up to this point, it's all public record.

I knew from past experience that Sammy "The Bull" Gravano -- who also entered Witness Protection and moved to Arizona had a SS# issued out of South Dakota. Again... public record.

So all of this is telling me I'm on the right track. And that's when you start going after people to talk to them and there's no limit on who you can contact. I could go back to mobsters, relatives, lawyers, business associates, prosecutors and developers. The list is endless.

standswithpencil3 karma

I grew up reading the AZ Republic. Do you think it can succeed as an online publication?

Robert_Anglen2 karma

I certainly hope so. It's one of the few daily papers in America that continues to embrace investigative reporting as its core mission. This year alone, reporters at the paper have dug into Navajo housing scandals, malfeasance at state agencies and heat-related deaths.

phiskinc2 karma

What's the most interesting situation you were put in throughout your research into Frank Capri?

Robert_Anglen19 karma

That remains to be seen!

However, there was a circumstance in 2015 before I knew about Capri's past that was kind of interesting. I had contacted Capri two or three times about the restaurant failures and I was asked to meet representatives of his company at a restaurant. It was 5 p.m., the restaurant was supposed to be open and no customers were inside. I was ushered into a back VIP room where I met with a spokesman. As we were talking another man came into the room, sat down beside me and just looked at me without speaking the entire time I interviewed. When the meeting was over, I called my boss and said, "If I didn't know better, I'd say I just met with Mobsters." It felt weird.

myonlyfriendisbeer2 karma

Knowing what you know now, what do you think would have been the best course of action for dealing with gioia, ie. Prison or witness protection?

Edit: or maybe without knowing what you know now...you get what I mean right?

Robert_Anglen13 karma

I don't think it's a question between prison or Witness Protection. Gioia helped put away some really bad people. But he also lied to authorities by withholding information and violated terms of his protection agreement.

The real question is whether MORE should be done to monitor and control criminals in the Witness Protection Program. And that answer is: ABSOLUTELY.

coryrenton1 karma

What is the most interesting tidbit that you would have liked to have put into the story but couldn't for lack of verification?

Robert_Anglen10 karma

We usually don't talk about what we don't put in stories. I can tell you that I interviewed an awful lot of interesting characters and found testimonies online about Gioia that were certainly interesting and compelling but ultimately remain in my notebook -- for now.