[4][3] Gallo wanted to have a greater presence in the Harlem heroin market, but did not have any personnel to deal in the predominantly African-American areas. I left Nicky Barnes behind.” The same man speaking of himself in the third person had been living with a new identity for years at that point. It was the first time I had read anything that sounded so familiar to my childhood.”. He never went beyond junior high school, became a street junkie and was sent for treatment to Lexington, Ky., where he was weaned from drugs. Nicky Barnes; "Mr. Untouchable" Allegiance: The Council: Conviction(s) Drug trafficking (1978) Criminal penalty: Life in prison without the possibility of parole (1978) Leroy Nicholas Barnes (October 15, 1933 – June 18, 2012) was an American crime boss, active in New York City during the 1970s. That is not a part of my life. He went by Clayton “Clay” Williams. I honestly don’t think he did this with the intention of hurting anybody. This week, after learning of Barnes’ death, Robert B. Fiske Jr., the U.S. attorney in Manhattan in 1977, recalled him as having overseen “the largest, the most profitable and the most venal drug ring in New York.”. Why was he still so angry? How you been? Barnes helped to indict 44 other traffickers, 16 of whom were ultimately convicted.

That same year, he was played by Cuba Gooding Jr. in the film “American Gangster,” which, to Barnes’ irritation, focused not on him but on his leading challenger for peddling dope and bragging rights, Frank Lucas. First as a competitor and then with the connivance of the Italian Mafia, Mr. Barnes rose in the late 1960s to become the kingpin of an empire that imported and distributed millions of dollars worth of heroin in New York, Pennsylvania, Canada and elsewhere, all the while murdering rivals. Barnes is believed to be the basis for the song, “Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown”; he has been name-checked by countless hip-hop artists. They say their fathers approve of their continuing conversations about assisting other children. [2][3] On January 31, 2008, Howard Stern interviewed Barnes on Stern's Sirius Satellite Radio show. When he was betrayed and learned this “family” was no more than a naive delusion, he retaliated against them all, putting dozens into prison, many for life. And with that, Mr. Barnes achieved a goal that his former self would have loathed, even feared: to be forgotten. With that, the man asked the waitress for a doggy bag for his grilled salmon, and left. !”, “You are not to ask his current legal name. The chief prosecutor in the case was Robert B. Fiske, then the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Mr. Barnes estimated that he had earned at least $5 million selling heroin in the several years before his 1977 conviction — income he had augmented by investing in travel agencies, gas stations, a chain of automated carwashes and housing projects in Cleveland and Pontiac, Mich. If anything surprised me about Nicky, it was the anger, decades later, that still ran hot regarding the betrayal of his protegé, Guy Fisher (who is serving life without parole in Ray Brook Federal Prison, NY). But he extracted his revenge: He testified against them in federal trials, and scores of his wayward former associates were convicted. Untouchable’ of Heroin Dealers, Is Dead at 78, Nicky Barnes outside the United States Court House in Lower Manhattan in 1977. Big” (Live and Let Die); “Nino Brown” (New Jack City); “Marsellus” (Pulp Fiction) and “Nicky Barnes” (American Gangster). He also denied that he was a murderer; he had only ordered others to kill, he said. Later, well on his way to a life of crime, he served time at Green Haven Correctional Facility in Dutchess County, New York, where he reportedly converted to Islam. . When he was incarcerated in federal prison in Marion, Ill., he earned a college degree, taught other inmates and won a poetry contest for prisoners. “I’d rather be out as a witness than be in there and what they characterize as a stand-up guy.”, Relatives and a former prosecutor confirmed that Barnes died of cancer in 2012. His record of avoiding conviction inflated his ego, to the point where in 1977 this dashing dope peddler flaunted his supposed invulnerability by posing — recklessly, as it turned out — in a blue denim suit and a red, white and blue tie for the cover of The New York Times Magazine. Barnes, they said, was testifying only to win parole or a pardon. First as a competitor and then with the connivance of the Italian Mafia, Barnes rose in the late 1960s to become the kingpin of an empire that imported and distributed millions of dollars worth of heroin in New York, Pennsylvania, Canada and elsewhere, all the while murdering rivals. Mr. Barnes and his daughters are living under new identities in the federal witness protection program. Nicky Barnes outside the United States Court House in Lower Manhattan on Dec. 1, 1977. He forwarded a list of 109 names, five of them Council members', along with his wife's name, implicating them all in illegal activities related to the heroin trade. Our dad was very private and we wanted to respect that.”. By working in jail, he earned two months off his sentence and was released in August 1998. (His real degree came in 1965 in Greenhaven Prison with “Crazy Joe” Gallo). Arrests on charges of possession of burglary tools and breaking into cars led to confinement at the Tombs in Lower Manhattan. Barnes was born in Harlem on Oct. 15, 1933. It couldn’t be with Nicky Barnes because he no longer existed. ", “I want to get up every day and get in the car and go to work and be a respected member of my community,” Barnes said. While in prison, he also won a national poetry contest for federal inmates, earned a college diploma with honors, and taught fellow inmates English.[1]. By the time he audaciously agreed to be photographed for the cover of The Times Magazine and an article inside, he had a record of 13 arrests as an adult and no convictions.

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