Growing up in the Bronx in the shadow of the Throgs Neck Bridge, Larry Lawton
was an altar boy until the day he was sexually molested by a priest. Needing to
prove his manhood, Lawton as a teen began a criminal career taking bets on
football games. He hung out at local bars, was embraced by mobsters, and soon
became an “earner” and enforcer for the Gambino crime family.
After a young
thug made the mistakes of robbing a member of Lawton’s gang, Lawton took him
into the basement of the mob bar and told the thug that if he didn’t tell him
where the money was, he was going to be sorry. The thug finally talked, but not
before Lawton left the imprint of a scalding-hot iron on his chest.
was ordered by his superiors to rob a jewelry store in Florida. The owner, who
sought to collect insurance on his losses, was in on it. The robbery made Lawton
a small fortune, and for the next six years he pulled off heist after heist up
and down the East Coast, frustrating the police and the FBI.
After six years
he was caught, and sentenced to four twelve year sentences to run concurrently
in some of America’s most brutal prisons. He was sent to solitary, tortured by
guards, and after he began a letter writing campaign to publicize the brutality
of prison life, he was targeted by the warden for further abuse. One day the
guards beat him, stripped him naked, strapped him down spread eagle, and
urinated on him as punishment. “Keep writing, Lawton,” said one guard as he
After Lawton served his term, he was asked by a friend to talk
to the friend’s son, a boy who clearly was headed for a life of crime. Lawton
vividly told the boy about what prison life really was about, and after a couple
of weeks the boy’s father said to Lawton, “You ought to make this your life’s
work. I don’t know what you told him, but he’s a different kid.”
Lawton has dedicated his life to working with America’s teens and young adults,
telling them the truth about prison life, what they will lose, avoiding and
dissolving bad associations, helping them to turn their lives around. His
program, the nationally recognized Reality Check Program, is used by judges, law
enforcement, government officials, attorneys and parents all over the country
and has kept thousands of teens and young adults from going to prison. His
success rate is incredible and well documented. So this is Larry Lawton’s story.