A photo taken in the summer of 2022 shows a smiling former President Donald Trump giving a thumbs up as he poses with John Alito, a podcaster and motivational speaker who was once a Gambino crime family hitman.
Alite, who confirmed the photo’s authenticity in a phone interview with independent, described himself as a political independent who supported Trump’s push for criminal justice reform and said his support for the former president was well known.
Although he described himself as a media personality who “speaks against the streets” and encourages young people to refrain from crime or violence, he spent years of his life as an associate of the Gambino family, one of the famous “Five Families”. ” of the American mob. He admitted to killing six people and assaulting many more during that period of his life, which ended when he was arrested in Brazil after evading arrest for several years following an indictment in federal court.
After being extradited to the United States, he eventually struck a deal with prosecutors and testified against former associates who accused him of a series of crimes, including top Gambino figures such as John Gotti Jr. (whose case ended in a mistrial) and Charles Carneglia (who received a life sentence).
Alite’s assistance to prosecutors earned him a 10-year sentence after he pleaded guilty to numerous felonies, including murder and robbery.
Since getting out of prison, he says he has changed his life.
“I’m a guy who works in television, makes movies, and talks shows, talks to kids, works with the FBI, organizes events and talks to the FBI against the street to save children’s lives.” I’m doing anti-drug documentary stuff, openly against my past. So I’m a different guy,” he said.
When asked if she believed Trump was aware of his past when he posed for a photo with him, Alite said Independent: “I guess he knows who I am, but probably not”.
Independent was alerted to the photo’s existence after reporting that Mr. Trump had recently posed for a photo with Joseph “Skinny Joey” Merlin, who led the Philadelphia mob in the 1990s when Mr. Trump was a casino operator in nearby Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Merlino spent more than a decade in federal prison after being convicted of extortion, bookmaking and receiving stolen property after a 2001 trial. After his release, he moved to Florida, but returned to the dock in 2016, when he was arrested on another racketeering charge and tried in federal court in New York. After a mistrial on charges of racketeering, fraud and illegal gambling, he pleaded guilty to illegal gambling and received a two-year prison sentence.
Alite said Trump’s photo with Merlin is a good indication that the former president has no one around to check who he comes in contact with.
“I just don’t think he realizes all the people he’s taking pictures with because he took a picture of somebody recently and I guarantee he doesn’t know who that person is,” he said.
In the statement for independent, A spokesman for Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign denied that the former president had any knowledge of the identities of the people he posed for photos with in an informal setting.
“President Trump takes countless photos with people.” “That doesn’t mean he knows every person he comes in contact with,” the spokesman said.
The existence of two photos of the twice-impeached former president posing next to people with strong ties to organized crime is raising questions about whether Trump is well-staffed as he ramps up his third presidential campaign.
In November, Trump was photographed dining with anti-Semitic rapper Kanye West and his associate, notorious white nationalist podcast host Nick Fuentes.
Despite denials from the Trump campaign, it’s possible he knew about both Alite and Merlin. Both were active in organized crime circles in the 1980s and 1990s, when Mr. Trump was active in real estate development in New York.