vito and joey

Hit man Vito Arena was a thief who started out by stealing cars for the Gambino family.


“Just before his 36th birthday Vito fell passionately in love with 17 year old Joey Lee, the son of an Irish chauffeur. After a few months Joey moved into Vito’s apartment and before he knew it, found himself keeping watch outside while Vito and his chums carried out a contract murder.

In June 1981, Vito and Joey were pulled over whilst driving a stolen Chevrolet. Officer Friedman found gloves, a knife, an ice pick, 3 bullets and a red photograph album in the car. The album contained photos of Vito and Joey in a variety of sexual embraces.

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“I realised then I’d met my first gay hit man. I didn’t even know they existed” said Friedman.

Vito offered to do a deal and bartered information for leniency for Joey. Vito got 18 years, but Joey only got one. The plea baragin also included fixing Joey’s overbite.

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By July 1983, Joey had served 13 months. He might have stayed longer had prison authorities not realised they had the first convict on record to stay voluntarily past his term. Vito continued to make demands. He asked for a radio, Bruce Springsteen records and more hot water.

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He insisted on the return of his red photo album and requested a barber’s chair for his cell block. He also asked for an operation to have the fat sucked from his face. When asked why, he said “I felt my appearance was awful.”