From the 1960s until the turn of the 21st century, New York City was the world’s epicenter of organized and white-collar crime. During those four decades, the most feared Mafia chiefs, assassins, defrocked stockbrokers, Orthodox Jewish money-launderers, and Arab bankers sought the counsel of one man: my father, Jimmy La Rossa, a Kennedy-era prosecutor who became the defense lawyer of first resort in the big, important, highly publicized cases for four full action-packed decades.
On January 30, 2009, I snuck my famous and mortally ill father from New York Presbyterian Hospital to a waiting Medevac jet, where we flew in secret to a place few people would look for two die-hard New Yorkers: a town in Southern California aptly named Manhattan Beach. During our five years in exile, we, “the La Rossa boys” as we came to be known, made our mark as a most irreverent and unrivaled father/son duo. While I cooked him his favorite Italian dishes and kept him alive using the most up-to-date equipment and drugs, he recounted his legendary courtroom exploits.
Not only is True North a memoir about some of the seminal legal events of a generation, but it’s also a love story between a father and son—a theme not often seen in American arts and letters. Not until I wrote that story, though, did I realize that I had not saved my father. He, in fact, saved me. I became a better man and father thanks to him—a more joyous, grateful, and grounded soul.
Jimmy was, and always will be, my “true north.”