It’s not every day you get to interview the guy that Tony Soprano was modeled after. But that’s exactly what filmmaking brother duo Maclain and Chapman Way did for the next film in their Netflix sports docuseries, “Untold.”
The film, “Crime and Penalties,” tells the story about the Danbury Trashers, a defunct minor league hockey team that was owned by Jimmy Galante and run by his then 17-year-old son, A.J. While handing over the reigns to a professional hockey team to a high schooler is certainly unconventional, the real story behind the Trashers is that the elder Galante was a key associate of the Genovese crime family, one of the “Five Families” that dominates the New York mob scene.
Galante appears frequently in the film, which debuts on Netflix on Tuesday. We asked the Way brothers on whether or not they were intimidated by sitting across the table from a convicted mobster.
“Definitely, I think kind of one of the fun parts about being a documentary filmmaker, is you kind of get to throw yourself in the belly of the beast and get yourself into situations that are thrilling and educating,” Chapman Way told TheWrap. “Interviewing Jimmy, he was truly one of the few subjects we’ve interviewed where he does he dictates the interview on his terms. He’s a very strong force of a human. It was a thrill to sit across the table from him and speak with him for quite a few for four or five hours about his life.”
Maclain described Jimmy as “one of those guys that you would imagine would star in a Martin Scorsese film or something like that.” He wasn’t that far off. A the film points out, Soprano is rumored to have been based on Galante; both men run very successful (it not 100% above board legally) waste disposal businesses.
“His entire life is just so colorful, and all the different chapters. It was just truly fascinating and getting to listen to him talk about it. I am very interested in speaking to people that have done a lot in their lives,” Maclain Way continued. “I guess you could argue Jimmy’s been through the wringer a few times. He’s had to serve a few prison sentences in his life. He got some pretty intense local coverage in the Danbury market when this was all happening.”
Galante, who made his fortune as CEO of Automated Waste Disposal, would eventually serve two prison sentences: One in 1999 for a year for tax evasion, and a separate 7-year sentence for racketeering, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and defrauding the IRS. He was released in 2014.
It’s that second sentence that ended up throwing out the Trashers from the United Hockey League, since the team’s payroll was connected to Galante’s illegal deeds.
And yet the citizens of Danbury largely view both Galantes as heroes. During the team’s two-year run, the Trashers became notable for having the most penalty minutes in league history and relishing their “bad boy” image, which frequently drew the ire of then-UHL commissioner Richard Brosal. Yet the team was actually good, with Galante paying whatever it took to get the best players, even NHL star Mike Rupp (thanks to the NHL’s year-long lockout in 2005), though the Trashers fell shy of the title both years.
We won’t spoil the how and the why the Trashers were disbanded. You’ll have to watch “Crime and Penalties” yourself.
“What Jimmy and AJ did with the Danbury Trashers was definitely not to the benefit of the integrity of the game perhaps,” Maclain Way said. “But you know, I found it interesting that Commissioner [Richard] Brosal and Jimmy Galante have a friendly, close personal relationship even though they are at odds with each other. They can both laugh about it and shake each other’s hands and and talk to this day. It was it was interesting.”
“Untold: Crime and Penalties” premieres Tuesday, Aug. 31 on Netflix