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Bogus Mafia 'Grandson' Bilks Publisher

Publisher Simon & Schuster has filed suit against a Hollywood talent agency, accusing it of misrepresenting an author who sold a novel to the company under the auspices that he was the grandson of mobster Carlo Gambino, according to a published report.

The suit, filed in Manhattan federal court last week against Artists Management Group of Los Angeles, seeks a return of the $500,000 the company paid author Michael Pellegrino plus damages, the New York Post reported Wednesday.

Published last November, "The Honored Society" was yanked from publication earlier this year when the publisher determined the author was not who he said he was — but not before it had billed him as "the highest ranking mob member ever to record the innermost workings of the Honored Society." [Simon & Schuster and CBS are both owned by Viacom.]

At the time of the sale, Artists Management Group was run by Michael Ovitz, who has since sold the firm. The literary agent who worked on the deal was Joel Gotler.

Neither Gotler, who no longer works for the firm, or the talent agency's lawyers returned calls for comment.

Pellegrino, who lives in Las Vegas, claimed he was Michael Gambino, the name that appears on the book jacket. Inside, the author claimed to have spent 12 years in prison for murder, kidnapping, extortion, gambling and pimping.

In the fictionalized account, which was supposedly based on his real-life experiences, the author tells of how he vowed to turn his back on the family while in jail.

The late Carlo Gambino, the inspiration behind "The Godfather" books and movies, does have a real grandson named Michael. He is 16-years-old and attends high school in New York.

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