Why Notorious Mob Informant R
alph
 Natale Is Suing the United States Government

By Tara Murtha
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 16 | Posted Aug. 22, 2012

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“I was freezing to death,” says Natale, who says it was the only time when he wasn’t sure if he was going to survive his last years in prison. “I’ve been all my life in those places. But this place! It was terrible.” 


At the Mayo Clinic, Dr. Brian Younge took pictures of his eyes and asked him to read an eye chart.


“I said, ‘I can’t see the chart,’” Natale says. “He said ‘What do you mean?’ He got a little feisty with me. I said, ‘I can’t see the chart! I can’t see nothing!’”


On the paperwork from the appointment, Younge advised that Natale should be brought back within the next few months if symptoms persisted. 


“They never brought me back [to the doctor],” says Natale. “So eventually I called home … One of the guards, a decent guy, let me have the phone call after everyone went home at 5 o’clock. I said, ‘Lucy, you’ve got to get me out of here! I’m not going to make it in here. I’m freezing to death.”


Natale learned later that in Dr. Younge’s report filed to the Federal Medical Center, Younge had made a notation: “He sees better than he admits.” 


Natale’s eyes go wild as he tells the story. “Why would I lie?” he says. 


A couple of years later, he says, he learned his charts indicated he was legally blind after he was transferred to the Allenwood prison in Pennsylvania and ran into a friendly guard. “The first night he walked over … He said, ‘Ralph! Did you know you were going blind?’ He was looking at it on my record!”


“It just continually got worse and worse and worse,” says Frank, Kathaleen’s husband. “It was never a point where anybody did anything; now he finally gets to see somebody and when he sees someone now, he’s so far gone there’s nothing they can do.”


Natale has been seeing doctors since getting out of prison but does not yet have an official diagnosis.


The paperwork that Natale’s lawyer filed in May is technically not yet a lawsuit, but rather a declaration of an intention to sue, a formality Corcoran says is required when suing the government. “The feds enjoy a six-month grace period to get their goddamn ducks in a row,” says Corcoran. “And if they don’t do the right thing, then I’m going to haul them into court. They have an opportunity to right the wrong before it gets messy.


“They’re going to have to … do a wee bit of soul-searching as to why Ralph was not allowed out of prison for a degenerative eye condition that his family was more than willing to pay for,” he continues. “And they’re going to have to consider the implications of their actions for specifically targeting a high-profile defendant and preventing him from getting him the treatment that he’s constitutionally guaranteed to get.”


“Once the suit is filed,” a spokesman for the Department of Justice told PW in an email, “we’ll review it, and will ultimately make a determination as to how the government will respond. Until that point, we’d obviously not have any comment.”


Lucy says she just wants the government “to admit they did nothing.”


Though it’s difficult to tell from just talking with him, signs of Natale’s dimming world are all over his home. Two recliners sit side-by-side, just a few feet in front of the large-screen television. The landline telephone has keypads the size of dominoes. A 6-inch magnifying glass rests on a stack of legal pads piled two feet high on the floor next to the couch.


The notepads are a draft of his memoirs. 


“I wrote all of this in a prison cell,” says Natale, gesturing at the pile. He’s frustrated. “I’ve been a man who took care of myself and my family my entire life. [Now] I can’t see. When I write something, I can’t read my own writing.”


He is still working on the book, but more slowly. He writes what he can, and Lucy reads his work back to him. 


“My wife is magical,” he says. “We went through things in our marriage … but I never, ever fell out of love with my wife. Just my life got carried away. The stupidity of men. We’re stupid. Thank god I woke up.”


Natale talks about his family a lot. Today, he rattles off the educational and career accomplishments of his three daughters and two sons, and his grandkids, with great pride.


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COMMENTS

Comments 1 - 16 of 16
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1. Mamabear1210 said... on Aug 22, 2012 at 02:23PM

“Excellent journalism.”

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2. Eric said... on Aug 22, 2012 at 03:31PM

“As far as mob journalism goes this is a boring article. Couldn't you have gotten a better writer? It should have just been a Q&A since there's not much writing. I guess this is what you get from a free rag like Philly Weakly.”

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3. ter and jon said... on Aug 22, 2012 at 06:09PM

“Several of us read the article and found it informative and interesting
Mr Eric must want more shoot `um up, drag out, sorted details and the inside dope (excuse the pun). Ralphie boy has to hold back some secrets. That`s why R N is writing a book. He might even hold out for movie rights . So, Mr E --pay up when the book comes out and get the inside info you want on hoods, mob, bad guys who lived, played and
did the deeds back in the day.
Meanwhile-----to the author....'Thanks for a good read ' and some sound observations.”

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4. Anonymous said... on Aug 22, 2012 at 06:49PM

“great story, great writing it really makes you kinda feel for the man, respect him, maybe not like his past actions but, understand who he is today”

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5. Gwen said... on Aug 22, 2012 at 08:27PM

“Fascinating piece, I wish we had more in depth stories like this shared!”

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6. Anonymous said... on Aug 23, 2012 at 05:12PM

“Maybe if this case goes to trial it will bring to light other neglect of the prison authorities toward prisoners. Truthfully, there is no sympathy for this man when the reality is of all terrible actions and results of those terrible actions to other families that he is responsible for .”

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7. Anonymous said... on Aug 24, 2012 at 04:59PM

“Thank god? Dont you mean God? Goos story though even if he was a puppet id still like to see his book get published, wouldnt have to worry about money at all then”

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8. Anonymous said... on Aug 24, 2012 at 05:01PM

“He is the only guy i know of that went to jail not even made and came out as the boss. Why that is not included i dont know.....”

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9. Anonymous said... on Aug 26, 2012 at 09:11AM

“Enjoyed the article. Natale should be appreciative to his wife, sounds like an amazing woman. Raise five successful children while her loser husband is doing life on the installment plan....good for her. He never should have gotten the sweet deal he got, he should have died behind bars. Only a corrupted, warped justice department gives a deal to the likes of Ralph Natale.”

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10. Anonymous said... on Aug 27, 2012 at 12:49PM

“Doubt he has a case. Natale and his wife claim the Feds "did nothing" about his condition, then go on to list a number of times he visited doctors while imprisoned. As for being denied a visit to Wills Eye, consider the circumstances. To allow a family member to arrange an appointment for an imprisoned former mob boss to visit a doctor in the city that Natale was once running... come on. Who in their right mind would approve that? Too many possibilities for shenanigans there.
Now, he's been on the outside for a year, and still doesn't have a diagnosis. Good luck with proving neglect on the part of the Feds, Ralph. It ain't gonna happen. You're an old man and you're falling apart. Happens to everyone. He should be thanking his lucky stars that he made it this far, and didn't spend the last years of his life in a cell, as he should have.”

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11. Anonymous said... on Aug 27, 2012 at 01:43PM

“This was a fantastic piece. Really interesting to see Natale's life put into this perspective. Great job”

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12. PhilCane said... on Aug 28, 2012 at 05:25PM

“Good Story. However, there is one thing I'd like to bring to your attention. Joey Merlino didn't secede Ralph Natale, he succeeded him. The South attempted to secede from the Union. Barack Obama succeeded George W. Bush as president of the United States.”

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13. Neal A. said... on Sep 8, 2012 at 12:32AM

“Silly girl, shotguns don't have bullets. No editors, or fact checkers?”

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14. Anonymous said... on Sep 13, 2012 at 03:53PM

“Interesting. By th way, where's he living now?”

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15. Anonymous said... on Oct 25, 2012 at 09:21PM

“Great story I'm happy he's out living life on the outside he's got his wife with him too you lucky son of gun God Bless you both!



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16. Sam said... on Jan 16, 2014 at 04:45PM

“I really liked this story! I hope to hear a follow up on it soon. Keep us posted please! http://www.albemarleeye.com/precision-optical/”

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