The story about Joey Gallo
in this week's Scene
was born when the caretaker on Sina Essary's farm approached me. He had been picking up Sina's mail for her and he said she was getting letters from a penitentiary in New York. He brought it up with me because he was concerned about it. I wasn't worried, but I asked Sina about it and over the next few months the whole long story just tumbled out.
The letters, of course, were from Joey's former bodyguard, Bobby Bongiovi, who is serving a life sentence in Dannemora for murder. Bongiovi writes to Sina frequently and is allowed one 10 minute phone call to her each month. He has no other family and no one else to call. From time to time, Sina sends him money.
Bongiovi left the party early on the night Joey was killed, but Sina emphasizes that he left because Joey instructed him to escort a woman home from the Copa. Bobby did not abandon Joey, not as Albert Anastasia's bodyguards had abandoned him in the moments before Joey (reportedly) killed him. Bobby was fiercely loyal to Joey, Sina says, and still talks about him wistfully.
Joey's remaining bodyguard, Pete Diapoulos, was shot in the butt when the assassins entered the restaurant and was not able to provide Joey with any meaningful protection. Since he was still on parole, Joey was not carrying a gun.