Review of Rob The Mob (2014)

Rob The Mob (2014) is a romantic crime dramedy starring Michael Pitt and Nina Arianda as a couple with a death wish, Andy Garcia as a mob boss, and Ray Romano as a newspaper reporter covering the mob.

Here’s the premise: A Queens couple who specialize in robbing mafia social clubs stumble upon a score bigger than they could ever imagine, becoming targets of both the mob and the FBI in the process.

Funny, but I had never heard of Rob The Mob until I searched Amazon Prime specifically for FBI movies. I love Ray Ramano (everybody does) and Andy Garcia, so I was excited to watch it. It’s both a heartwarming love story and a tragic tale. I don’t understand why I had never heard of the film.

Of course, my purpose for watching was to find teachable moments about FBI policies and procedures. Rob The Mob provides an opportunity to discuss court-authorized electronic surveillance.

Electronic surveillance refers to the installation and monitoring of “bugs” or microphones to intercept oral communications. The term “wiretaps” refers to the interception of wire or telephone communications. Both are authorized under “Title III” federal statutes that directly address electronic surveillance.

In the movie, FBI agents are sitting down the street in an unmarked van monitoring a bug hidden inside one of the mafia social clubs when they overhear the mob associates being robbed of their cash and valuables. The agents capture images of the robber and his girlfriend making their getaway.

Although the FBI van is featured in many books, TV shows, and movies, agents only need to sit in a van, car, or nearby house in close proximity to the action when they are monitoring transmitters to insure the safety of an undercover agent or informant. By hearing what is going on in real time, they are able to come to the rescue if the UCA or source is threatened with bodily harm or death. Although, when this happens, the intervention will, no doubt, compromise and abruptly terminate the operation.

Otherwise, once the agents surreptitiously install electronic devices in a building or the subject’s home, they can monitor conversations from the comfort of the FBI office or a secret location miles away from the action and avoid sweating in a hot van. The same is true for listening to phone conversations of targeted suspects.

The FBI van is typically used to surveil the entrance and exit of a location where a hidden microphone has been placed, assisting in the identification of unfamiliar voices heard on the recordings. Alternatively, a pole camera installed on a nearby building or structure can easily capture this activity for later review.

In Rob The Mob, the FBI has also installed a recording device in the home of the mob boss, played by actor Andy Garcia, who has frequent lovely heart-to-heart conversations with his young grandson. Agents, however, can only intercept communications related to the crime being investigated. They must “minimize” the chance of eavesdropping on non-pertinent private conversations by turning off the recording equipment and periodically checking in to see if the persons engaged in conversation or topics have changed. This process is commonly called minimization.

Fun Fact: Rob The Mob was inspired by a true story about Thomas and Rosemarie Uva, who in 1992, decided to earn “easy” cash by robbing about a dozen mob affiliated social clubs in New York. Read more here.

Listen to these FBI Retired Case File Review episodes to learn more about how the FBI uses court-authorized electronic surveillance to investigate organized crime and other violations:

123: J.J. Klaver – Electronic Surveillance, Fort Dix Six Case

087: Bill Ouseley and Gary Jenkins – Kansas City Mob, Skimming Casinos

099: Bill Grace – “Wolf Ticket,” Roofers Union Local 30 Labor Racketeering

Rob The Mob is streaming on Prime Video. Watch the trailer here.

Jerri Williams

View posts by Jerri Williams
Jerri Williams, a retired FBI agent, author and podcaster, jokes that she writes about the FBI to relive her glory days. After 26 years with the Bureau specializing in major economic fraud and corruption investigations, she calls on her professional encounters with scams and schemers to write police procedurals inspired by true crime FBI cases in her Philadelphia FBI Corruption Squad crime fiction series featuring flawed female FBI agent Kari Wheeler. Jerri’s FBI for Armchair Detectives nonfiction series enables readers to discover who the FBI is and what the FBI does by debunking misconceptions about the FBI in books, TV, and movies. Her books are available as ebooks, paperbacks, and audiobooks wherever books are sold. She’s also the host of FBI Retired Case File Review, a true crime podcast with more than 300 episodes available on all popular podcast apps and YouTube.

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