Gambino Genes

What's in a Mafia name?

Well, then, if he is indeed a Gambino with a crime family connection, why doesn't he explain that connection and reap the benefits of authenticity?

He says that would put him in a difficult position with his family members. And besides, there's the law of omerta — the Mafia code of silence. "You belong to an honored society," he says. "You keep your mouth shut, and you go to the grave with who you are.

"The less you tell people, the more mystery you are, the better it is. Real wiseguys stay quiet."

In the past few weeks, Gambino has had his book updated, copyedited, and re-printed. He took Wittenberns' name out of the acknowledgments page and replaced it with Travis Donald's — even though the two have never met.

"I couldn't plan anything like this given a million years or dollars," Donald says. He's lost interest in feuding with his old boss and taken Wittenberns' picture off his website. Still, he was happy to receive his copy of My Only Son in the mail. "It was neat seeing my name on the same page as Heidi Fleiss and Frank Sinatra Jr."

Gambino suggests that Donald now turn around and e-mail Wittenberns a copy.

"Listen," he says, summing things up, "I'm a guy who allegedly had ties to organized crime and turned his life around." He goes off on a heartfelt monologue about young felons who carry that tag with them for the rest of their lives, have trouble getting jobs, and end up back in jail. "I actually truly want to be a role model for these people when they do get out," Gambino says. "I'm a convicted felon [who can show by example] that, if you put your mind to it, you can beat the system.

"People only want to know the scandals," he laments. "'Hide the bodies over here' and all that stuff. I can't understand! I'd rather tell people a good love story."

Christopher J. Gambino hopes to publish his second novel, A Passionate Kiss, sometime this summer.

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