the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Saddle River NJ, in honor of last night’s Academy Awards—and actor Will Smith’s unhinged outburst—local bad-boy-turned good, Thomas Giacomaro, tells us his nickname was once “the Italian Hannibal Lecter.”

The Anthony Hopkins drama, The Silence of the Lambs, swept the Oscars exactly 30 years ago winning five main categories—Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Screenplay. 

A decade later, Giacomaro—who penned his 2018 memoir The King of Con: How a Smooth-Talking Jersey Boy Made and Lost Billions, Baffled the FBI, Eluded the Mob, and Lived to Tell the Crooked Tale, earned the moniker—in prison.

The nickname evolved after he’d completed a month of “Diesel Therapy”—that’s when guards move you from prison to prison every two days to mess with your head.

“They shackle you and put you on a bus and chain you to a dozen other inmates, like animals,” Giacomaro describes.

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When you arrive at the next prison, the correctional officers take you to meet your new cell mate.

“It’s usually some 6’6” savage named Bubba, whom you’ve just woken up and he’s mad,” says the NJ native. “He wants to kill you. He probably has a shiv under his dirty blanket.”

Giacomaro—never the muscular, athletic type—figured a way to scare each new Bubba he came across.

He’d give them a crazy-eyed look and say, “Don’t *&^% with me. Because eventually you’ll fall asleep. But I never sleep. And you’ll wake up with me on top of you biting your ears and nose off, biting your entire face off!” (With some fava beans and a nice chianti, he should have added)

The crazy talk worked, and he never had to chew off anyone’s body part.

If only Oscar presenter Chris Rock had this fine acting advice last night, when Will Smith (who’s played boxer Muhammad Ali on film) hopped on stage with a look that could kill.

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