The Tough Cartel used niche marketing to rise to underworld prominence.

It was about five years ago that “Tough” Jimmy Migliosi realized that his organized crime outfit, the Tough Cartel, wasn’t having a successful run in Green Lake.

“We would send fifteen guys just to hit a bank. Maybe four would make it back, and they’d get a nature calendar and an application for a checking account. Fifteen guys!”

So the once-legendary “boss of bosses” decided to try a different route for his “family.” “I wanted to use cutting-edge business techniques, like the ones used by the businesses I blackmail,” Migliosi said, “and so I thought, let’s think outside of the mob box. Let’s try some niche marketing and turn this cartel around.” The resulting changes stunned the Green Lake underworld and returned the Tough Cartel to prominence.

Migliosi shared his keys to success at a workshop, “Whattayoumean you don’t need niche marketing?” which was held over the weekend at the Green Lake Sports Bar and Convention Center.

“There was a time when our industry was very limited,” Migliosi said to a packed house. “Rob this bank. Control this pizza joint. Run numbers on weekends. Avenge your cousin’s death. Sure, it was fun, but it was always the same. And as smart investors and businesspeople know, staying the same in a world of change is like wearing cement sneakers. You’re sunk!”

Migliosi’s plan was to avoid direct competition with other local mob groups. “The market is glutted already. Murder for hire? Forget about it, there’s dozens of those guys already. Same for arson and racketeering. But petty crimes? There’s a huge opportunity there. Stealing hubcaps, for example. We have a 97% market share in hubcap theft. Our shoplifting share is phenomenal. And if it weren’t for the so-called ‘legitimate’ ticket companies, we’d be on top of scalping as well.”

Traditionally, mobs have looked down on smaller crimes, but Migliosi says, “The ones that are stuck in the old way of thinking, they’re the ones who’ll be out of power in five years.”

Reaction to the workshop was overwhelmingly positive. “Wow, I learned a lot,” said Janine Forrest, a marketing student at Appleton State University. “I mean, business is business, right? Whether you’re selling Tupperware or killing the guy who ratted out your best sniper to the feds, you’ve still got to get your message out there.”

A workshop about organized crime seems an audacious move, especially in our law-and-order, “get tough on crime” society. But Migliosi, displaying the cleverness that has seen him through nearly a half-century of less-than-legal dealings, prohibited the use of any recording devices and opened the conference only to marketing students, mob leaders and journalists. Says crime expert Willie Hardin of Green Lake Mall Security Services, “With that kind of audience, ‘Tough’ Jimmy can say pretty much whatever he wants without worrying about being arrested. College students don’t even know what’s illegal and what isn’t, so they won’t cry wolf. Mob guys will stay quiet, and journalists don’t have any dignity, so even if they say something no one will believe them. They’ve got no credibility. It’s like those fake news columns that are funny once or twice, but then they’re pretty much the same joke, over and over.”

Local law enforcement missed a golden opportunity to nab a top crime boss; had they sent any officers or agents to the conference, they would have heard Migliosi confessing to dozens of murders and other crimes in his long mob career. Said H.R. Toon, spokesman for the Green Lake Police Department, “Yeah, we’d heard about it through the grapevine- informants, wiretaps, and there was that big billboard advertising the conference on 4th Street. But we didn’t think to send anybody until like a week before, and by that point we couldn’t get anybody to cover the hours.”

Asked if he’s worried that Migliosi will commit heinous crimes before the police nab him, Toon said, “Nah, we’ll just keep an eye out for the well-dressed chubby guy and his armed bodyguards playing on or around a dumpster.”

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