Sunday, April 13, 2014

Behind Criminal Minds by Paul DiStefano

Personally speaking, as long as I can remember I have been intrigued with the Big Apple, one of my absolutely favorite places to visit. New York City is composed of five distinctly different sections called boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island. Within the geographical borders of this fine city, one can at any time cross paths with the poorest of the poor homeless, the wealthiest of the mega-rich and everyone in between.

Visiting NYC never gets old for me. There is always another Broadway show I haven’t yet seen, another writers’ conference to attend, a museum with a new exhibit and many, many opportunities for people-watching. The sea of citizens dashing to and fro along the sidewalks at rush hour, the persistent honking of horns as drivers attempt to navigate their vehicles in traffic gridlock, the perpetual river of yellow cabs flowing up and down the streets, the presence of the best and worst restaurants in the entire world, and I could go on and on!

Imagine being a New York City police officer and dealing with every conceivable type of crime and ugliness every single work day. As a rookie, the realization of the ever-present dangers potentially lurking around every corner has to be unnerving. Even as a detective, it must be like being saddled with twenty 5,000 piece jigsaw puzzles and instructed to construct them all at the same time. Where do you begin? How does one prioritize with investigating older cases when new cases are being assigned? How do you juggle the pressure from your bosses and the citizens you have sworn to protect and follow the rigorous rules, regulations and protocol not to be ignored?

In Behind Criminal Minds by Paul DiStefano, we learn what really happened on the job as he rather inadvertently became a law enforcement officer while he was on a waiting list to become a firefighter. His stories place us in the shoes of a dedicated officer who chose the unpopular position of refusing to join the club of cops who were “on the take.”

During his twenty-two years on the force, he did his time as a rookie patrolman and then served  in a variety of positions, including the Brooklyn Sex Crimes Unit (not his favorite), and finally several years in the Crimes Against Persons Detective Squad in Staten Island. His last two years on the job included participating in hostage negotiations and the Anti-terrorism Unit.

His career didn’t end there. After retiring from the NYC Police Department, DiStefano worked as a Senior Investigator for the NYS Attorney General’s Office in the Medicaid Fraud Division and then moved along to Director of Security for L’Oreal, where he investigated cargo and employee theft.

The path he traveled to being a published author was not without potholes. After watching the Donnie Brasco Story about Joe Pistone, the FBI agent who infiltrated the Mafia as "Donnie the Jeweler," Paul came to the conclusion that he had encountered many similar experiences and that he should also write a book. His attempts to find a publisher, however, ended in multiple roadblocks.

For three years, he kept a notebook in his pocket and jotted down thoughts and ideas about the topics he wanted to cover in his book. He finally put it all together. With a completed manuscript, he endeavored to attract a publisher, but soon discovered that the  traditional publishers only seemed to be interested in contracting with celebrities.  He tried to reason with them by suggesting, "Well, if you publish my book, then I WILL be a celebrity!" He said they didn't buy this seemingly logical reasoning.

He researched and chose Xlibris to self-publish his book. At this point, his working title was Not Your Ordinary Day at the Office. His editor recommended changing the title to How to Commit the Perfect Crime. After giving this some consideration, he decided that it wasn't his goal to teach criminals how to get away with crimes and made certain that his manuscript was slanted more toward his personal experiences in New York City law enforcement. Another recommended title was Death Under a Magnifying Glass, which he found rather distasteful, but was agreeable to the change of title to Behind Criminal Minds.

He didn't hesitate to mention specific names in his book. I wondered if that worried him once the book was published and out there for everyone to read. He said, "I only worried about one guy, and I didn't use his real name in the book. I called him The Candy Man. He said he would get me for my part in his arrest, but he got 55 years. I figured when he gets out, what would be our method of confrontation? Dueling canes? I'd be 96 and he'd be 88!"

Paul is quite candid in his book, explaining that police work can make you cold and heartless. When asked how long it took him after retirement to feel as though he was once again emotionally balanced, he replied, "About five to seven years. It wore on me. I didn't know how close I was to a nervous breakdown. Today they have a psychology unit to help them. Twelve years in a homicide unit where you go every day into a negative situation just wears you down. There was never a happy situation--only in the respect of catching who did it, but it was always such a tragedy--lives ruined. And it wasn't easy to get along with the brass--the boss--there were personality conflicts that made it really tough."

What attributes made DiStefano good at his job? He explained, "I was an excellent interrogator and interviewer. I found it pretty easy to flip people. I was a good actor and a great liar.”

There are no second chances when your life is constantly on the line,  and I asked Paul how he dealt with that every day. He replied, "You had to put it out of your mind or you'd go crazy. As a detective, you're wearing a suit and it's not as risky as being on patrol. You're coming in after the crime. But there is an accumulation of everything related to what we saw and experienced, and it took its toll. I began to have no feelings--nothing fazed me any more. And toward the end, I literally began to get shaky when I knew it was time to report for work. I honestly didn't know why. Then I began to realize I couldn't do this any longer. I had to get off this job."

Behind Criminal Minds reads like DiStefano is telling his stories to an old friend. With the inclusion of newspaper clippings to corroborate his tales, this book sends the reader back in time in New York City Police history and provides an insider’s point of view that absolutely held my interest. If you enjoy watching Blue Bloods or other law enforcement shows on television, you will like Behind Criminal Minds. It is the real deal.

Book Description

Behind Criminal Minds follows the amazing career of a homicide detective. This book takes you to the scene of some of the New York City’s most brutal and violent homicides, citywide riots, undercover sting operations, police interrogations of suspects, mafia trials, and inside scandalous police corruption rings spanning Paul DiStefano’s well-decorated twenty-two-year career with the NYPD. This is a no-holds barred thrilling account of how cops go after killers. DiStefano explains in his own words how he was able to get criminals to confess to their crimes, track down hidden dead bodies, outsmart slick child rapists, negotiate with insane hostage-takers, plant wire taps in mafia hangouts without their knowledge, and rescue innocent victims from the clutches of armed gunmen.

In the Author’s Own Words

Asked if he had any advice to other writers on the topic of publishing, Paul offered,
"Don't expect that you can easily get a publisher. Self-publish, and don't expect it to be a big money maker!"

About the Author
Paul DiStefano
Paul DiStefano worked with the Organized Crime Unit of the Brooklyn District attorney's office, the Organized Crime Control Undercover Unit of the Special Operations Section of the NYPD, the Brooklyn North Rape Unit, the Homicide, Anti-Terrorism, and Hostage Negotiation Divisions of the Staten Island detectives. He also served as a uniformed patrolman and plainclothes detail in the 1st, 7th, and 16th Precincts in Manhattan. He also served in the New York State Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Division doing undercover investigative work. Mr. DiStefano has lectured and trained in all aspects of security matters and is specialized in criminal interrogation techniques. During his illustrious career in the police force, he received numerous NYPD awards and citations. He obtained his BS degree in Criminal Justice from the New York Institute of Technology.

Behind Criminal Minds is available on-line through Amazon and Barnes & Noble, or you can purchase it directly from the author.  Contact him at 843-215-0785 or by email at

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See you soon!
Mary Anne Benedetto
Author of Eyelash, 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing: Build a Priceless Legacy One Story at a Time!, Never Say Perfect, From Italy with Love & Limoncello and Write Your Pet's Life Story in 7 Easy Steps!


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