Stiffed: A True Story of MCA, the Music Business, and the Mafia

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9780060167455: Stiffed: A True Story of MCA, the Music Business, and the Mafia

An expose+a7 of the role of organized crime in the music industry focuses on MCA Records, a powerful corporation with ties to the Mob and political influence to spare. 50,000 first printing. $50,000 ad/promo. Tour.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

A journalist's harsh review of a federal case that, he believes, brought far too few white-collar scofflaws and mobsters to justice. Former Los Angeles Times reporter Knoedelseder (whose beat was show biz) offers a detailed account of the bicoastal waves created when the L.A. office of the Justice Department's Organized Crime Strike Force went after one Salvatore Pisello for failure to pay income taxes. The investigation of Pisello (an alleged member of the mafia's Genovese family in N.Y.C. who worked out of MCA's Records Group during the early 1980's) touched off a host of collateral inquiries into racketeering and unsavory business practices (counterfeiting, dubious promotional practices like bribing DJs with cash or cocaine, money laundering, rigging performance charts, etc.) in the hit-conscious entertainment industry. While these probes eventually led to the conviction of fewer than a dozen lower-echelon hoods (including Pisello) and no- name civilians on charges ranging from extortion through tax evasion, prosecutors didn't lay a glove on MCA (now owned by Japan's Matsushita) or any of its executives. Knoedelseder leaves little doubt that influential friends in high places helped protect the conglomerate throughout the long-running scandal. Suggestively, he recounts the frustrations and unhappy fates of G-men who persisted in efforts to pierce the corporate veil at MCA--which has never explained why a connected wiseguy was representing it on big deals involving megabuck sales of remaindered LPs and cassettes. A sorry, well-told tale that sheds considerable light on how corrupt corporate insiders in league with underworld gangsters managed to beat some potentially bad raps, thanks mainly to government forbearance. (Eight pages of b&w photographs--not seen.) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

Though former Los Angeles Times reporter Knoedelseder has dug up much dirt, his fast-paced tale of music industry nefariousness suffers from convoluted detail. In 1984 a minor tax investigation sics Justice Department attorney Marvin Rudnick on Sal Pisello, a reputed mobster who had planted himself inside MCA Records managing sales of budget "cutout" discs. The story eventually involves strange upheavals inside MCA, a counterfeiting ring, a corrupt cutout dealer who turns on the Mafia, and a band of dishonest record promoters. As Rudnick probes deeper, he faces threats from MCA and odd pressure from his superiors. Knoedelseder suggests that a greater scandal has been missed because the Justice Department, under Attorney General Ed Meese, backed off from making a deeper inquiry into mob involvement in the record industry. Knoedelseder's effort to weave together several court cases, competing investigations and a large cast of characters makes for a confusing narrative. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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