Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods


The Wives of "Trigger Mike"

According to an old Sicilian saying, wives should be kept at home, barefoot and pregnant. The updated version says that a wife should see only the kitchen and the bedroom ceiling. As misogynistic as these sentiments are, they are the underlying rules of many Mafia marriages. Ann Coppola, the second wife of New York capo Michael Trigger Mike Coppola, suffered much more than most. Her husband added bloody to the list of things a good mob wife should be.

Coppola, who was known for his violent temper, ran lucrative narcotics and numbers operations in Harlem in the 1940s and 50s. He married his second wife Ann Augustine in 1955 after the tragic passing of his first wife Doris. He told Ann that Doris died in childbirth, but it wasnt long before Ann had reason to suspect that Doriss death was more sinister than Trigger Mike had revealed.

Michael and Doris Coppola
Michael and Doris Coppola

When Ann became pregnant, Coppola told her emphatically that he didnt want any more kids. Hed had two by Doris, and Anns daughter by a previous marriage was living with them as well. As reported by organized crime historian Allan May, Coppola told Ann not to worry. Just leave everything to me, he assured her.

One day after the children had gone off to school, a physician came to the house. Coppola greeted him at the door and showed him in, introducing him to Ann simply as Dr. D. The doctor spread a sheet over the kitchen table and performed an abortion on Ann while Coppola stood by and watched, grinning throughout the entire procedure. Afterward, he made sure that Ann knew that the abortion had cost him $1,000.

Three months later, Ann was pregnant again, and Dr. D returned. Once again Trigger Mike watched the whole thing, obviously enjoying it. Two more abortions followed. Ann came to realize that the only reason her husband had sex with her was to get her pregnant so that he could watch the abortions. Perhaps Doris, whose remains were cremated at Coppolas insistence, had had one abortion too many.

Ann endured regular beatings from her husband, but he also lavished her with fine clothes and jewelry. He gave me this vast amount of material things, she said, recalling her marriage, to prove to people how big and successful he was and to feed his ego until he himself believed that he was God Almighty. He once blackened both her eyes by poking them simultaneously with his index and middle fingers Three Stooges-style.

After five years of unspeakable abuse, Ann finally walked out on him and filed for divorce. At about the same time, Coppola was indicted on four counts of tax evasion. He pleaded guilty on orders from the mob hierarchy, who feared what Ann would reveal if there was a trial and she was called to the stand. Coppola was sentenced to serve a year and a day.

While Coppola was in prison, Ann moved to Italy and took her own life one day in a hotel room, overdosing on Scotch-and-barbiturate cocktails. Among the many goodbye notes she left was a last request to be cremated and have her ashes dropped from an airplane over Trigger Mikes house.


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