Former Philadelphia mafia boss turned government witness Ralph Natale is set to tell his life story in his upcoming book Last Don Standing: The Secret Life of Mob Boss Ralph Natale.
According to reports from Deadline he has also made a deal to have The Last Don Standing which hits shelves on March 21, 2017, developed into a feature film starring actor Frank Grillo. The new book from author and longtime New York Daily News reporter Larry McShane along with producer Dan Pearson contains Natale’s accounts of the mafia takeover of Atlantic City, Jimmy Hoffa’s final days, and boxing corruption including fixing of matches between Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston.
Natale also chronicles his rise through the ranks of Cosa Nostra including his stints in prison and his decision to turn on his fellow wiseguys and cooperate with the feds. Natale was part of a faction led by Joseph “Skinny Joey” Merlino during a bloody mafia war with boss John Stanfa for control of the crime family. The arrest of Stanfa in 1994 allowed the Merlino faction to take over with Natale assuming the duties of boss and Joey serving as underboss. According to Natale, he became the don of Philly but Merlino associates later described him simply as a front boss for Merlino who was trying to avoid attention from law enforcement.
After striking a deal with the feds Natale would take the stand and testify against Merlino during a 2001 racketeering trial. He was then sent to prison for 13 years in 2005 and entered the witness protection program after his release in 2011. There has yet to be any kind of timeline for the film but more information should be forthcoming. The new mafia book should have some interesting takes on how things were from Natale’s point of view and the mafia movie to follow may be just as intriguing.