A Son's Memoir of Love,
Redemption and the Mob

by James M. La Rossa Jr.


Each generation identifies with a small group of people said to have lived lives exemplifying the vices and virtues of that generation. If one were to choose 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 likely would 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-collar crime. During those four 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 stealing 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 him 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.

Last of the Gladiators, A Son’s Memoir, is now available from Bancroft Press in hard cover.

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Sample Chapters

Sample Chapters
January 18, 2019

Chapter 1 – Call Me Ishmael

“It is not down in any map; true places never are.” —Herman Melville, Moby Dick   So. I have spent much of my life trying to tease out the dissonance and…
Sample Chapters
January 18, 2019

Chapter 6 – Giglio

“Oyez, oyez, oyez! All persons having business before the honorable, the Supreme Court of the United States, are admonished to draw near and give their attention, for the court is…
Sample Chapters
January 18, 2019

Chapter 12 – On the Waterfront: The United States v. Scotto

  “If they’re shooting at you, you must be doing something right.” —Aaron Sorkin Dad, who is Rico?” That’s what I asked my father the same day we tooled around…


February 6, 2019

Celebrities/People of Note in Last of the Gladiators

  “Mom was a bit of a troublemaker herself. In the winter of 1976, Dad took her to see Frank Sinatra perform at the Westchester Premier Theater, which was owned…
January 20, 2019

On Leaving NYC

When born and bred New Yorkers permanently leave New York City, they spend a good chunk of the rest of their lives asking themselves why they ever left. And so…
January 18, 2019

Historical Events in Last of the Gladiators

Historical Events “The event that day was still a secret to me, but if you haven’t recognized the date yet—August 9, 1974—my father wanted me to watch with my own…


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