Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mafia writer reveals the truth

Charles Brandt to talk on writing

Express Staff Writer

Charles Brandt is working on his next Mafia book, about a framed FBI agent. Photo by David N. Seelig

Americans' fascination with the Mafia has produced a slew of best-selling stories, from "The Godfather" to "The Sopranos." Behind these riveting tales of crime, murder and corruption are writers who sought out true stories.

As a trial attorney with a knack for cross-examination and interrogation techniques, part-time Ketchum resident Charles Brandt embarked on a career as a true-crime writer. Brandt's works reveal the activities of the nation's most notorious crime families, and include the long-unsolved mystery behind the murder of Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa.

"They helped elect a president and kill a president," Brandt said. "I didn't intend to write about the Mafia, that's how it worked out."

In a free talk, "Writing About the Mafia," at the Community Library in Ketchum tonight, Nov. 12, at 6 p.m. Brandt will discuss his work and experiences.

Brandt gained the trust and respect of Frank "The Irishman" Sheeran, who confessed to Brandt about his mob hits, which included Jimmy Hoffa. "I Heard You Paint Houses" is a result of Brandt's five years of recorded interviews with Sheeran and will become a major motion picture directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Robert De Niro.

"Confession is a basic human need," Brandt said. "Sheeran wanted to tell his side of the story."

Brandt is working on another book about an FBI agent framed by the Colombo crime family.

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