‘Tis the season to be immortalized!
the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Saddle River NJ, One of our own North Jersey personalities, The King of Con’s Thomas Giacomaro—who grew up in Paterson before living a life of Koi ponds and Bentleys in Saddle River—
was once the inspiration for a Christmas character created by “Queen of Suspense” novelist, Mary Higgins Clark—also a Saddle River/Spring Lake resident until her death last year.
It was Christmas eve 2004 (Higgins’ birthday) when Giacomaro, who bilked Clark for millions after she invested in one of his companies, read Mary’s description of him in her holiday offering, The Christmas Thief.
In a case of art imitating life, Higgins’ lead character, Packy Noonan, was “a world-class scam artist whose offense had been to cheat trusting investors out of nearly $100 million in the seemingly legitimate company he had founded… Fifty years old, narrow-faced, with a hawk-like nose, close-set eyes, thinning brown hair, and a smile that inspired trust.”
Yup. That’s him all right. “The guy even looks like me,” says Giacomaro today, still a NJ local but now reformed and living life on the straight and narrow.
Mary was a tad more lenient on her fictionalized scam artist than a judge was with Giacomaro, who was sentenced to four months more prison time than her lead character:
Packy Noonan carefully placed an x on the calendar he had pinned to
the wall of his cell in the federal prison located near Philadelphia, the
City of Brotherly Love. Packy was overflowing with love for his fellow
man. He had been a guest of the United States Government for twelve
years, four months, and two days. But because he had served over 86
percent of his sentence and been a model prisoner, the parole board had
reluctantly granted Packy his freedom . . .
Mary Higgins Clark
—The Christmas Thief
Even the celebrated author whose 51 books were all best-sellers admitted a character like Giacomaro was beyond her capabilities without a muse. As she told The New York Post in a 2002 interview, “I may have a great imagination, but I never could have invented [Giacomaro].”
He took it as a compliment.
The moral of the story, says Giacomaro, is don’t steal other people’s money…and never trust a writer because, “they’re always looking for new material.”
Then again, Giacomaro’s own memoir has become great new material for TV and film producers. His memoir—co-written with New York Times bestselling author, Natasha Stoynoff–is currently in development for a docuseries with A-list, boldface names attached (for more information or to become part of the production team, go here: https://wefunder.com/thekingofcondocuseries2022/).
Set to be filmed in North Jersey in 2022, Giacomaro intends to shoot scenes for the documentary at all his old, local haunts from the 70’s to the 90’s and will be inviting NJ natives to join in on the cinematic fun.
Stay tuned for a future blog on locations, locations, locations…