Each generation identifies with a small group of people who are said to have lived lives that exemplify the vices and virtues of that generation. If one were to hold up to the light the experiences of a trial lawyer whose life reflected the unique characteristics of America’s “Wild West” of a criminal justice system in the latter half of the Twentieth Century, that person would likely be my father.

New York City of the 1960s until the turn of the 21st century was the world’s epicenter of organized and white color crime.

For those decades, the most feared mafia chiefs, assassins, counterfeiters, Orthodox Jewish money launderers, defrocked politicians of every stripe, and Arab bankers arriving in the dead of night in their private jets, sought the counsel of one man: my father, Jimmy La Rossa.

Once a Kennedy-era prosecutor, Brooklyn-born Jimmy La Rossa became one of the greatest criminal trial lawyers of his day. He was the one man who knew where all of the bodies were buried and everyone knew it.

It seemed incomprehensible that Jimmy would one day just disappear from New York. Forever.

After sneaking my dying father from New York Presbyterian Hospital to a waiting Medevac jet, the La Rossa Boys—as we became known—spent the next five years in a place where few would look for two diehard New Yorkers: a coastal town in the South Bay of Los Angeles, aptly named Manhattan Beach.

While I cooked his favorite Italian dishes and kept him alive using the most advanced medical equipment and drugs, my father and I documented our notorious and cinematic life together as equal parts biography and memoir.

This is our story.


True North, A Son’s Memoir of Love, Redemption and the Mob, will be available from Bancroft Press in hard cover by March, 2019.


The Skinny on Jimmy
Notes From the Author

My father and I share the same name. For the purposes of this book, there is only one Jimmy—my dad, trial lawyer Jimmy La Rossa. Though I never addressed my father by his first name, the decision to refer to him informally throughout parts of this work was done to better represent Jimmy La Rossa as the extraordinary man that he was, and to avoid redundancy.

What follows is based on actual events. Pseudonyms and initials are used throughout the work to protect the anonymity of living characters who may be compromised by their depiction in this true story. For the most part, trial scenes are based on the original transcripts as well as direct quotes from contemporaneous press reports.

A Word on the Title: A simplified definition of “true north” is “a meridian of longitude.” As a metaphor for my father, however, the novel usage of TrueNorth as a super noun throughout this work is a purposeful sematic progression that is warranted by the unique subject matter.


This work, originally titled LAWYERS GUNS & MONEY, began as a lengthy treatment for a television series. LAWYERS GUNS & MONEY is a registered trademark of Jimmy Boy Productions LLC, Los Angeles CA., Category 041—“Entertainment services in the nature of an ongoing historical drama.”

The La Rossa Boys


James M. La Rossa, Esq.

December 4, 1931 – October 15, 2014

New York Times – James M. La Rossa, Defender of Mob Bosses in Court, Dies at 82.

New York Daily News

The Times (London)

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James M. La Rossa Esq., Cases: The Mob, Unions, Political Indictments, Business/Medical, Sports, Drugs, etc.