"IPPY" Award Recipient

A Master Burglar, the Mafia and the Biggest Bank Heist in U.S. History

The true story of the 1972 Laguna Niguel, CA Bank Burglary

Rick Porrello

Go to AmericanMafia.com
2012 Rick Porrello


Thank you to Karen, the staff at Twinsburg Public Library and the wonderful crowd who came out for my recent presentation - Danny Greene Story: the Cleveland Mafia, the Irishman and the metamorphosis of book to film.

Stay tuned for a new presentation about Superthief, which is in development for a MOTION PICTURE. Here is an Orange County Register article about Superthief documentary producer Tommy Reid and his latest progress to bring this amazing true heist story to the big screen. Tommy Reid Superthief

From Tommy Reid - producer of Kill the Irishman - now comes SUPERTHIEF - Inside America's Biggest Bank Score, the documentary. Available for order now!

ORDER THE DOCUMENTARY DVD NOW!


Superthief is a captivating firsthand look at the life of Phil Christopher, a career criminal, Mafia associate, and the most sucessful bank burglar in the U.S. In a raw and candid accounting, Rick Porrello takes his readers inside Phil's brutal street world and prison life and exposes the details behind the planning and execution of his daring and record-setting 1972 United California Bank Burglary in Orange County, California. The UCB burglary is the biggest in U.S. history and has been featured in documentaries on Court TV and the Discovery Channel.

PURCHASE YOUR COPY OF THE BOOK NOW AT AMAZON.COM. CLICK ON BOOK COVER AT LEFT FOR MORE INFO.

Spell binding and well written Superthief brings you into the everyday life of what some think is a glamerous way to live, but show the causlities in an unglorifed and truthful way. Hopefuly it will cause some to rethink their thoughts on crime-it is not what the movies make it to be. Superthief puts forth that reality. (Barnes & Noble reader review) Read more at Amazon.com.



News From the Publisher


SUPERTHIEF - Inside America's Biggest Bank Score, a documentary, based on the book. Available for order now!

Order the DVD Now!

Superthief is a second place "Silver" winner in the True Crime category of ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Awards. The title was also a finalist in the Independent Publisher's "Ippy" Awards.

MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW says: Superthief... is the remarkable narrative story of the great United California Bank burglary in 1972... For its candor and engaging biographical stories of life as a career criminal, Superthief is to be given high praise and very strong recommendation...


The author's second title, To Kill the Irishman, is now a major film starring Ray Stevenson and Vincent D'Onofrio with Christopher Walken and Val Kilmer. Kill the Irishman chronicles the rise and fall of infamous Cleveland gangster Danny Greene (Ray Stevenson), who engaged in a power struggle with the Italian mob. Directed by Jonathan Hensleigh and produced by Code Entertainment and filmmaker Tommy Reid. Screenplay by Hensleigh and Jeremy Walters. After a successful national theatrical release, Kill the Irishman is now available on DVD and Netflix!


Phil Christopher "breaking into" the candy machine at the Mahoning County Jail in Ohio, 1972.
View all photos

"Rick Porrello masterfully takes us into the intricate workings of the mind of a thief. Your heart will pulsate with each page turned as if you were pulling the heist yourself. Best of all, the author illustrates the redeeming message of this book -- Crime Does Not Pay," says Georgia Durante, author of The Company She Keeps.

Follow these links to see the latest news and go to the home page, to e-mail the publisher, to read all of the reviews of Superthief, purchase the book at Amazon.com or find it in a local store.

The Author

Rick Porrello is a veteran police chief whose first book grew out of his research into the murder of his grandfather and several uncles, who were Prohibition-era mob leaders. The result became The Rise and Fall of the Cleveland Mafia - Corn Sugar and Blood (Barricade Books, 1995). Rick followed that book with his second book, To Kill the Irishman - the War that Crippled the Mafia (Next Hat Press, 1998), which is the story of notorious mob foe Danny Greene. To Kill the Irishman and is now a motion picture starring Ray Stevenson, Val Kilmer, Vincent D'Onofrio and Christopher Walken. An accomplished jazz drummer, Rick spend almost three years traveling internationally with the legendary entertainer Sammy Davis, Jr.

free website optimization & search engine submission


Julius Petro, associate of Phil Christopher in Los Angeles, CA during the late 1960s and early 1970s
View all photos

"Superthief strips away the glitz and glamour of Hollywood's portrayal of crime. A great narrative that gives the reader an inside look at the real underworld and the harsh realities of doing scores, getting pinched, pulling time and doing time," says Chris Mathers, author of Crime School: Money Laundering, retired undercover agent for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and international security expert.

Follow these links to see the latest news and go to the home page, to e-mail the publisher, to read all of the reviews of Superthief, purchase the book at Amazon.com or find it in a local store.

The Crime

For employees at the United California Bank in Laguna Niguel, one of Orange County's tony bedroom communities, the morning of Monday, March 27th, 1972 begins like any other until they discover they are unable to open the vault. After several hours of futile efforts, a locksmith climbs onto the roof to cut an access hole, but it appears that someone has already done the job for him.

That someone was Phil Christopher. While Laguna Niguel slept, Phil disabled the security system and led a crew of mobbed-up thieves to pull off the biggest bank burglary in U.S. history. Their notorious withdrawal from the safe-deposit boxes of hundreds of wealthy Orange County, California residents grossed $30 million. The daring and magnitude of the United California Bank heist instantly captured the attention of the media, which dubbed Phil "Superthief." Decades later, that fascination hasn't wavered, with recent documentaries featuring Phil's infamous burglary on Court TV and Discovery Channel.

In the style of Nicholas Pileggi's Wiseguy and its blockbuster movie adaptation Goodfellas, Superthief is the compelling story of a master thief and mob associate's roller coaster ride through a life of crime and imprisonment, and the inside account of a daring crime that made history.


A wall of mangled safe deposit boxes at the United California Bank.
View all photos

"Superthief... is a remarkable narrative story... For its candor and engaging biographical stories of life as a career criminal, Superthief is to be given high praise and very strong recommendation..." The Midwest Book Review

Follow these links to see the latest news and go to the home page, to e-mail the publisher, to read all of the reviews of Superthief, purchase the book at Amazon.com or find it in a local store.

Media Kit


Bob Walsh, associate of Phil Christopher in Los Angeles, CA during the late 1960s and early 1970s
View all photos

"A must read for anyone wanting to get inside the life of a wiseguy. A real-life 'Goodfellas' of the burglary world," says James Dubro, Former president of the Crime Writers of Canada, author of five books on organized crime and winner of the Arthur Ellis Award.

Follow these links to see the latest news and go to the home page, to e-mail the publisher, to read all of the reviews of Superthief, purchase the book at Amazon.com or find it in a local store.

  • A "fast-paced and insightful look at an historic crime rarely attempted," says Joseph "Donnie Brasco" Pistone, a retired FBI agent and author of The Way of the Wiseguy.
  • SUPERTHIEF - THE DOCUMENTARY - NOW AVAILABLE!
  • SUPERTHIEF - THE DOCUMENTARY - NOW AVAILABLE!
  • "A must read for anyone wanting to get inside the life of a wiseguy. A real-life 'Goodfellas' of the burglary world," says James Dubro, Former president of the Crime Writers of Canada, author of five books on organized crime and winner of the Arthur Ellis Award.
  • "Superthief... is a remarkable narrative story... For its candor and engaging biographical stories of life as a career criminal, Superthief is to be given high praise and very strong recommendation..." The Midwest Book Review
  • "While there is little to like about Phil Christopher, his story fascinates like a train wreck: You see it coming but you just can't turn away," says Lee Gruenfeld, co-author of True Confessions of a Master Jewel Thief.
  • "Superthief strips away the glitz and glamour of Hollywood's portrayal of crime. A great narrative that gives the reader an inside look at the real underworld and the harsh realities of doing scores, getting pinched, pulling time and doing time," says Chris Mathers, author of Crime School: Money Laundering, retired undercover agent for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and international security expert.
  • "Renaissance man Rick Porrello presents an exquisitely vivid anatomy of the largest bank burglary in U.S. history. Rich with heart-pounding immediacy throughout the plot, it is Porrello's finest work to date," says Dan E. Moldea, author of The Hoffa Wars.
  • "Rick Porrello masterfully takes us into the intricate workings of the mind of a thief. Your heart will pulsate with each page turned as if you were pulling the heist yourself. Best of all, the author illustrates the redeeming message of this book -- Crime Does Not Pay," says Georgia Durante, author of The Company She Keeps.
  • "An entertaining and sometimes humorous view into the mob-connected life of a master burglar. With Rick Porrello's sharp writing and crisp dialogue, Superthief reads like a Hollywood screenplay. It's a truly worthwhile addition to anyone's true-crime collection," says Scott M. Deitche author of Cigar City Mafia: A Complete History of the Tampa Underworld.
  • "You're due for a shock as mob associate Phil Christopher takes you inside the Mother of All Bank Jobs. Your interest will be compounded by the page," says Peter Edwards, author of The Encyclopedia of Canadian Organized Crime; from Captain Kidd to Mom Bouche (with Michel Auger).
  • "Rick Porrello scores again with Superthief, detailing how master burglar, Phil Christopher, pulled off the largest bank heist in U.S. history. Porrello's dead-on, no-frills style exposes the underbelly of Phil Christopher, a guy who says about crime--"It's a rotten investment that will eventually suck the life out of you." One question: What could an intelligent, resourceful guy like Phil Christopher have achieved if he'd gone legit instead of taking the path of least resistence--greed? You'll want to keep a towel handy when you sweat out Christopher's 30+ crime-packed years as Superthief. Cherie Rohn, Co-author of THIEF! The Gutsy, True Story of an Ex-Con Artist thieftruestory.com
  • 5 Stars -Superthief is Superbook. Amazon.com reviewer.
  • Praise for Superthief

    A "fast-paced and insightful look at an historic crime rarely attempted," says Joseph "Donnie Brasco" Pistone, a retired FBI agent and author of The Way of the Wiseguy.

    SUPERTHIEF - THE DOCUMENTARY - NOW AVAILABLE!

    SUPERTHIEF - THE DOCUMENTARY - NOW AVAILABLE!

    "A must read for anyone wanting to get inside the life of a wiseguy. A real-life 'Goodfellas' of the burglary world," says James Dubro, Former president of the Crime Writers of Canada, author of five books on organized crime and winner of the Arthur Ellis Award.

    "Superthief... is a remarkable narrative story... For its candor and engaging biographical stories of life as a career criminal, Superthief is to be given high praise and very strong recommendation..." The Midwest Book Review

    "While there is little to like about Phil Christopher, his story fascinates like a train wreck: You see it coming but you just can't turn away," says Lee Gruenfeld, co-author of True Confessions of a Master Jewel Thief.

    "Superthief strips away the glitz and glamour of Hollywood's portrayal of crime. A great narrative that gives the reader an inside look at the real underworld and the harsh realities of doing scores, getting pinched, pulling time and doing time," says Chris Mathers, author of Crime School: Money Laundering, retired undercover agent for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and international security expert.

    "Renaissance man Rick Porrello presents an exquisitely vivid anatomy of the largest bank burglary in U.S. history. Rich with heart-pounding immediacy throughout the plot, it is Porrello's finest work to date," says Dan E. Moldea, author of The Hoffa Wars.

    "Rick Porrello masterfully takes us into the intricate workings of the mind of a thief. Your heart will pulsate with each page turned as if you were pulling the heist yourself. Best of all, the author illustrates the redeeming message of this book -- Crime Does Not Pay," says Georgia Durante, author of The Company She Keeps.

    "An entertaining and sometimes humorous view into the mob-connected life of a master burglar. With Rick Porrello's sharp writing and crisp dialogue, Superthief reads like a Hollywood screenplay. It's a truly worthwhile addition to anyone's true-crime collection," says Scott M. Deitche author of Cigar City Mafia: A Complete History of the Tampa Underworld.

    "You're due for a shock as mob associate Phil Christopher takes you inside the Mother of All Bank Jobs. Your interest will be compounded by the page," says Peter Edwards, author of The Encyclopedia of Canadian Organized Crime; from Captain Kidd to Mom Bouche (with Michel Auger).

    "Rick Porrello scores again with Superthief, detailing how master burglar, Phil Christopher, pulled off the largest bank heist in U.S. history. Porrello's dead-on, no-frills style exposes the underbelly of Phil Christopher, a guy who says about crime--"It's a rotten investment that will eventually suck the life out of you." One question: What could an intelligent, resourceful guy like Phil Christopher have achieved if he'd gone legit instead of taking the path of least resistence--greed? You'll want to keep a towel handy when you sweat out Christopher's 30+ crime-packed years as Superthief. Cherie Rohn, Co-author of THIEF! The Gutsy, True Story of an Ex-Con Artist thieftruestory.com

    5 Stars -Superthief is Superbook. Amazon.com reviewer.

    Follow these links to see the latest news and go to the home page, to e-mail the publisher, to read all of the reviews of Superthief, purchase the book at Amazon.com or find it in a local store.

    Find Superthief in stores

    Coming soon

    AVAILABLE NOW THROUGH AMAZON.COM. CLICK ON BOOK COVER AT LEFT. , ||


    Joe DeRose, Youngstown mob hit man,was also Phil's friend and a fellow burglar. De Rose was murdered in 1981 in the Youngstown-Cleveland mob crew war.
    View all photos

    "A must read for anyone wanting to get inside the life of a wiseguy. A real-life 'Goodfellas' of the burglary world," says James Dubro, Former president of the Crime Writers of Canada, author of five books on organized crime and winner of the Arthur Ellis Award.

    Follow these links to see the latest news and go to the home page, to e-mail the publisher, to read all of the reviews of Superthief, purchase the book at Amazon.com or find it in a local store.

    Photos of characters in Superthief


    Phil "Superthief" Christopher, age six.


    Phil, right, with former best friend Charlie Broeckel, who turned government informant and falsely implicated him in a murder. Phil was acquitted.


    Julius Petro, associate of Phil Christopher in Los Angeles, CA during the late 1960s and early 1970s


    Bob Walsh, associate of Phil Christopher in Los Angeles, CA during the late 1960s and early 1970s


    Ray Ferritto, associate of Phil Christopher in Los Angeles, CA during the late 1960s and early 1970s


    Phil Christopher, age 28, in 1971, the same year he was shot at by Albany, New York police officers during a dry run that went bad.


    Inside of vault at the United California Bank in Orange County, California, showing door in background and ransacked safe-deposit boxes in foreground.


    A wall of mangled safe deposit boxes at the United California Bank.


    Phil Christopher "breaking into" the candy machine at the Mahoning County Jail in Ohio, 1972.


    Joey Naples, Pittsburgh Mafia capo whom Phil Christopher helped protect until Naples went to prison. He was killed in 1991.


    Joe DeRose, Youngstown mob hit man,was also Phil's friend and a fellow burglar. De Rose was murdered in 1981 in the Youngstown-Cleveland mob crew war.

    SUPERTHIEF - THE DOCUMENTARY - NOW AVAILABLE!

    Follow these links to see the latest news and go to the home page, to e-mail the publisher, to read all of the reviews of Superthief, purchase the book at Amazon.com or find it in a local store.