Phillyfaces had previously announced that in conjunction with the Ridgewood blog we have been chosen to work on the King of Con docu-series filming in Northern New Jersey later this year.

The production company is currently doing a fundraiser where they are offering an equity stake in the profits from the series:  . Filming should start by year end.

It was 30 years ago today when Thomas Giacomaro, Jersey’s notorious “King of Con,” went on the lam from the US Attorney’s office, the FBI, the IRS, the Department of Labor and, well…you name it, he was running from it.

He’d been caught red-handed stealing millions from a company pension fund, among other felonies.

“Cooperate with us,” Giacomaro remembers them threatening, “or else.”

The former Saddle River resident, who details his adventures in the 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, chose a third option—he fled.


With 21 suitcases—half stuffed with $100 bills–he flew from Detroit to Amsterdam to Nairobi, landing in South Africa on Valentine’s Day 1992.

“They had no extradition laws or treaties with the US, so my plan was to disappear there forever,” he says today.

He lived like a real king in a seven-bedroom, palazzo-style villa near Johannesburg, complete with a tennis court, a 50,000-gallon, cascading waterfall swimming pool, two brand-new 750Li BMWs, and a stone fortress surrounding it all. 

“At the snap of my fingers, maids in pink ruffled uniforms brought me vodkas by the pool.”

Outside his fortress walls he liquidated money into diamonds, had a Bakgatla tribal exorcism, and watched Nelson Mandela transform the country. That is, until the FBI hunted him down a few months later and came to fetch him with handcuffs and a burlap bag.

How Giacomaro slipped out of Johannesburg without getting caught is a whole other crazy story I’ll save for another time, but here’s a tidbit: It involves sewing hundreds of diamonds in his underwear and hopping a 2am flight to Nice, France.

“All I could think of during that flight,” he recalls, “was…you can cut glass with diamonds and I’m sitting on a small mountain of them under my balls!”