Michael Pellegrino, the author who was sued by Simon & Schuster after it was alleged that he had misrepresented his mob connections, has emerged, more than a year later, claiming a settlement and a victory. The author implied through a recently retained publicist that he was allowed to keep all of the $500,000 advance that had been sought by S&S. He is also going public about allegations that S&S was aware of his true identity all along.
Pellegrino published a novel called The Honored Society in 2001 under the name Michael Gambino. The author's name was not listed as a pseudonym, and the book contained publicity materials describing the author's mob history, upon which, it implied, he was drawing material for his book. At the time of the suit, S&S said that it was blindsided by the revelation that the author had a different name (News, Sept. 2, 2002 ). The house also alleged that the author had not served the mob-crime—related jail time he had claimed and questioned whether he was the illegitimate grandson of Carlo Gambino.
In a statement, Pellegrino representative Mike Paul did not reveal the terms of the settlement, but said his client was "extremely happy" with the result. While the author admitted that he is not Carlo Gambino's grandson, Paul also said that S&S knew about the author's past, but went along with the story for what Paul implied were publicity reasons. Paul said that while the author "takes responsibility" for using the Gambino name, he was "simply a first-time author caught up in a publisher's publicity campaign."
S&S, through legal counsel Mark Lawless, declined to comment on the settlement, but did provide a sworn deposition by Pellegrino it had received from his lawyer Gus Flangas in February 2002, after the book was pulled. In it, Pellegrino said he "never made a material misrepresentation" regarding his lineage and would even agree to undergo DNA testing, a claim that would seem to contradict the author's later admission that he is not Gambino's grandson, and thus reflect on his character. S&S, which declined to comment on the name issue, issued a statement saying, in part, "Unfortunately, Mr. Pellegrino misrepresented himself from the beginning. His most recent statements are continued misrepresentations with respect to the circumstances under which we acquired the book and subsequently withdrew it from publication... and our recent settlement. Unlike Mr. Pellegrino/Gambino, we will continue to respect the confidentiality of the settlement agreement."