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Don't tell Jennifer Graziano that crime doesn't pay

She taps into her family's alleged Mafia connections to create 'Mob Wives' on VH1.

June 12, 2011|By Meredith Blake, Special to the Los Angeles Times

One source of contention is Graziano's 25-year friendship with Karen Gravano, which began with a chance meeting at the Staten Island Mall. The girls, both 13 at the time, figured out their fathers were colleagues (of a sort), and became inseparable. The relationship was tested when, in 1991, Gravano's father testified against mob boss John Gotti in exchange for a reduced sentence.

At the time, Graziano's parents forbade her from talking to Gravano, but she stood by her friend throughout the ordeal. "Yes, my father taught us never to rat, but he also taught us loyalty," she explains. However, as Graziano is careful to add, her forgiveness does not extend to Sammy the Bull. "By having Karen on the show, in no way am I condoning anything he did."

Despite the lingering family tension, Graziano is on a roll professionally. She and the Weinstein Co. have launched a joint venture, JustJenn Productions, with offices in New York and Los Angeles, where she's developing a slate of reality and scripted series. VH1 just renewed "Mob Wives," which averaged a respectable 1.2 million viewers, for a second season.

Her burgeoning career is a far cry from the lifestyle depicted on "Mob Wives," and that's fine by her. "I don't want to be known as anyone's sister or daughter or wife," she says.

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