By Sophia Ricco
The twists and turns of a life of crime make up the pages of “Suburban Gangsters,” a memoir by Michael Dineen.
The Huntington resident details his past life of being tangled up in the drug business when the crack and cocaine epidemic made its way to Long Island in the 1980s. He and his friends, who he describes as “ordinary kids,” get caught up in drug dealing on a large scale.
“It pulls them into this world they never think they would be a part of, and next thing you know, it’s become a very dangerous game,” Dineen said. “None of us ever thought we would be involved in something like that.”
Dineen stayed in the business of crime until the early 2000s, but left addicted to heroin. He admits the drug “almost cost me my life.” He got clean in 2009.
“I would give my right arm to go back to seventh or eighth grade and ‘say no’ to drugs, just finish high school, go to college, and get a regular job,” Dineen said. “The lifestyle that you read about, took a tremendous toll with stress and losing friends.”
Starting with marijuana at young age, Dineen began to dabble with other drugs and made progressively worse decisions. He hopes “Suburban Gangsters” will steer teens in the right direction before making the first decision to try drugs.
“After someone reads this book, they have to understand how imperative the choices they make in life are, how dangerous they become if you make the wrong ones,” Dineen said.
By 18 years old, Dineen had dropped out of high school and worked for a landscaper who dealt cocaine. After seeing how much money the landscaper had, Dineen asked him for a front of cocaine to sell. In one night, he and his friends made what they considered a lot of money.
“It was at that point we opened Pandora’s box,” Dineen said. “After that there was no coming back, it just took on a life of its own and grew and got bigger. And the bigger it got, the more danger came with it.”
From his years of dealing, all of Dineen’s friends either died or went to prison. None of them were able to keep the “dirty money” they made.
“Karma comes around to get you, no matter how high on the hog you think you are,” Dineen said. “You’re making money illegally and doing the wrong thing, down the road you are going to meet your maker. Your life is gonna be turned upside down one way or another.”
The autobiography covers around 20 years of Dineen’s life in just 160 pages. He keeps the storyline moving and flowing throughout the book and begins “guns blazing right from page one.” But with a subject like this, anyone could be hooked, especially with the similar heroin and opioid epidemic that has taken over Long Island.
“There is not a person out there that doesn’t know someone whose life has been destroyed by drugs, crime or both,” Dineen said.
In the future, Dineen hopes to speak to young kids about the dangers of life and how making the wrong choices can have severe consequences.
“It’s a very dark story, I don’t spend time glorifying the times we took vacations and popped champagne,” Dineen said. “I tried to focus on the real realities of the damage that happens when doing drugs or selling drugs.”
Dineen chose to self-publish his memoir with Dorrance Publishing Co. Find a copy at bookstore.dorrancepublishing.com/suburban-gangsters, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble.