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When Reds Was Struck Down, the Family Stepped Up


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Cosa Nostra News



I am proud and pleased to present this excerpt from Hillary Cohan's published memoir, titled "Growing Up Jewish in the Mob." [This is a revised version of a story originally posted prior to the book's publication.]


Hillary's father was Nathan "Reds" Cohan, a top mob bookie who operated in the Washington, D.C., area for much of Hillary's early life. Reds passed away on December 2, 1988, in Savannah, Georgia.








It was January 1971 and I was twelve going on thirteen. Mom was the Girl Scouts cookie chairman. One winter day, Reds left our house in Washington, D.C., and went with his good friend Bo Bregman for a day at the races with the boys.


I was in my bedroom reading when I heard a knock at the front door. Now my room was closest to the front door, so as usual, I went to see who it was. I shouldn't have bothered because as I approached the door, it shattered and flew open. Two FBI agents filed in quickly. What held my focus was the firepower I was facing down: namely, the two large guns the agents were holding stiff-armed before them. This remains one of the scariest moments in my life.


Mom came running out and said, "What's going on?"


The FBI agents, seemingly convinced that the young girl and her mommy were no threat, and that Reds wasn't going to leap out of a closet with a grenade launcher in one hand and a flame thrower in the other, re-holstered their guns and introduced themselves, one of them flashing a warrant. They proceeded to search the house. In the meantime, Uncle Duck had shown up and they suddenly fell on top of him trying to squeeze his wrists behind him and into a metal bracelet. They thought they had gotten lucky -- Reds had walked into the house at the perfect moment. Then they realized Uncle Duck was about thirty years younger than the man they wanted. The FBI was efficient that day, neutralizing a child and her mother and a young unarmed friend of the family who had happened to stop by. And if things weren't bad enough, they told Mom that they had bugged the phones and had Dad dead to rights.


I got so pissed off that I struck with my hand the glass-topped dining room table. When I went to get a bandage, an agent grabbed my hand and asked what I was doing. I told him to get off of me. Mom came running over and handed me a bandage and told me to take my brother to the playground. The FBI didn't want us to go, but Mom insisted that we leave.


As I noted, Mom was the Girl Scout cookie chairman that year and some of the agents said that they were hungry. Mom asked why that was her problem. After they had finished searching the house, Mom made all the agents buy Girl Scout cookies.



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