“The Life We Chose, William ‘Big Billy’ D’Elia and The Last Secrets of America’s Most Powerful Mafia Family” tells the story of a little-known Pennsylvania based Mob powerhouse and his behind the scenes life in organized crime.
The former president has gotten the brush off from a former reputed power in the Mafia: Billy D’Elia.
In the new biography about him, D’Elia says he did business with former President Trump when he owned Atlantic City casinos in the 1980’s, and that Trump shaved off $1 million from one real estate deal… by flipping a coin.
The Feds say D’Elia, known as “Big Billy,” ran the Buffalino Crime Family, based in Pennsylvania, for decades. He honed his profession at the side of the family’s namesake, the legendary Russel Buffalino, who Robert F. Kennedy called “one of the most ruthless and powerful leaders of the Mafia in the United States.”
D’Elia assumed the leadership of the family when Buffalino died in 1994. He is said to have been so trusted and respected throughout the nation’s mob families, that in the 1990’s he was asked to take over the Philadelphia crime family to quell the murderous infighting that left bloodstains on the streets of the city of “Brotherly Love.” He declined.
D’Elia says he dealt with Trump when he owned flashy New Jersey shore casinos like the “Trump Taj Mahal,” “The Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino,” and “The Trump Marina Hotel and Casino.”
“(He’s) just like he’s on TV now, arrogant. He don’t keep his word.”
The revelations about Trump are in the new book about D’Elia, “The Life We Chose, William ‘Big Billy’ D’Elia and the Last Secrets of America’s Most Powerful Mafia Family,” by veteran journalist Matt Birkbeck. Birkbeck covered D’Elia and the Buffalino Crime Family for decades in northeast Pennsylvania, and is the author the biography “The Quiet Don,” about the crime family’s namesake, Russell Buffalino.
“Trump, when he did deals, he didn’t want his lawyers doing it. He didn’t want anyone else doing it, he did it himself, and he did it with gangsters,” says Birkbeck.
“Billy did business with a lot of people, including Donald Trump,” he says. “Trump knew exactly who he was, Trump knew exactly what he was doing and exactly what they were negotiating about.”
Birkbeck says in one negotiation that involved the selling of time-shares in Trump owned properties, the future president leaned on Billy to mass buy copies of his book, “The Art of The Deal” as part of a deal.
“They used to give out these rewards and gifts to timeshare people, and one of the gifts would be a copy of the book, only Billy had to buy the book. He had to buy 5,000 or 10,000 copies of the book which would raise the book up the best-seller charts. Basically, Billy would have had to put up $100,000.”
In another deal, D’Elia says Trump agreed to buy a piece of property involving his “Trump Plaza” casino, but backed out of the agreement only for it be settled with the flip of a coin…for $1 million.
D’Elia says he attended a meeting with Trump and the Philadelphia based real estate brothers Barry and Ken Shapiro, who owned the property, and had agreed to buy the land for $8 million, that is until Trump showed up and refused to pay the amount promised.
“Trump said he couldn’t give him the eight million, that he only had seven,” says D’Elia. “So now what do you do, wait?”
“We’re at this meeting with Trump (says D’Elia) and Barry said, ‘Let’s flip a coin for the other million.’ Trump said fine, so they flipped a coin and Trump won.”
Barry Shapiro corroborated the story to Fox News about Trump flipping a coin to shave off the sales price.
Shapiro, who is now 85 years old, says that his group, including his later brother Ken, did indeed sell the Atlantic City property to Trump for $1 million less than the price Trump had agreed to, and that the coin toss decided it.
“The sale price was actually $8 million, and Trump only paid 7 because he flipped a coin with my brother, Ken to save a million,” Shapiro said.
“We gave him a 15-year mortgage and he paid it off.”
The phone card and time share proposals never came to fruition.
Trump has never been charged with any criminal wrongdoing involving his casino dealings and he passed the legal requirements to own and operate Atlantic City casinos, which are regulated by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission and its Division of Gaming Enforcement.
A Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung disputes D’Elia’s claims.
In a statement to Fox News, Cheung said that he is “not going to dignify a response to a book that belongs in the bargain bin of the fiction section.”
But this was not the first time Trump has been said to have relied on a coin toss in a business negotiation.
In 2017 a Wall Street investment banker, Ken Moelis, told Business Insider that in the middle of a heated negotiation, Trump “looks at me and he goes ‘-we’re a million dollars apart -and he said ‘I tell you what, I’ll flip you for it.’ And he reached into his pocket and pulls out a coin”
Moelis says he examined the coin to make sure that it was legitimate, and when he flipped, “it flew across the table toward Trump, which he instantly knew was a mistake…but before he could catch a glimpse, Trump picked it up and said, ‘Heads. you lose.’”
Moelis is now a billionaire investment banker, who has been described as the businessman who “launched Trump’s casinos on the stock exchange” and has had a long association with the former president.
Besides relating his dealings with Trump, D’Elia’s book also delves into his representation of superstar singer Michael Jackson, along with manager Frank DiLeo, who was known as ‘Tookie.’” D’Elia says Trump offered $1 million for the singer to perform at one of the Trump casinos in Atlantic City but Jackson refused to perform at a casino.
As for “Tookie,” although he was a longtime music industry executive who worked with stars from Prince to Ozzy Osborne, he is best known by the public for playing the heavy-set mobster “Tuddy,” in the classic film “Goodfellas.” He died in 2011.
Today D’Elia has left his mob life behind and is enjoying a quiet retirement. He served five years in prison after pleading guilty to money laundering, conspiracy and witness tampering in 2009. He was never a mob informant and never testified against any suspected member of organized crime.
D’Elia sat for an exclusive interview for Fox Nation’s series about Jimmy Hoffa, “Riddle: The Search for James R. Hoffa.” He is featured in the latest episode, number 6, “The Last Suspect,” about the remaining FBI suspect in Hoffa’s disappearance, Gabe Briguglio.