Tom Papania

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Tom Papania (Born May 30, 1944) an enigmatic Christian evangelist who was a high-ranking enforcer in the Gambino crime family before his religious conversion.

Brief summary of Papania's life

Papania, born "Thomas Papania,". Often erroneously referred to as Tom Papanier, due to an error in spelling which occurred during his family's immigration via New York's Staten Immigration entry point. Papania's life Testimony can be seen in the DVD titled "From Mafia to Ministry", that details his becoming the 3rd closest member of the Gambino crime family. Papania was a teenage hoodlum who robbed mob boss Carlo Gambino, but Gambino spared him punishment because Papania's grandfather was one of the men who brought the mob to America from Sicily. Papania became a mob enforcer, made a fortune, and was widely feared, but he walked away from the mob life after converting to Christianity. Since the Mafia system does not allow for anyone with secrets to willingly "leave", a contract was put out on Papania's life. Papania claims all the attempts on his life failed due to divine intervention. The contract on his life effectively expired when his last boss, Paul Castellano was gunned down on December 16, 1985 in New York City. Papania had requested to report only to one Mafia Boss, at Carlo Gambino's deathbed.

Castellano succeeded Carlo Gambino as head of the Gambino crime family, then one of New York's largest Mafia families. In early 1985, he was one of many Mafia bosses arrested on charges of racketeering, which was to result in the Mafia Commission Trial; in December of that year, while out on bail, Castellano and an associate were shot to death outside Sparks Steak House in Manhattan on the alleged orders of John Gotti. Papania claims he had a On the road to Damascus experience, and surrendered his life to Christ, closely following a suicide contemplation. Papania was sent to the Atlanta federal penitentiary to await trial. The trial was one of Atlanta's longest, lasting 11 months During another trial in the 1980s, Papania lied and swore under oath that he had no mob connections. He has since admitted and explained why he had to lie, and expressed his regret in several interviews and public speaking engagements. Papania has preached in over 25 countries, such as Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, even at the invitation of the leader of Fiji, Ratu Epili in 2003.

Papania attends church near Atlanta Georgia.


Papania currently has a ministry for prisoners and their families and shares his story around the world. God's Saving Grace ministries claims that it leads thousands of incarcerated men into a lifestyle that rehabilitates and transforms the men. Papania appeared on James Dobson's Focus on the Family Radio show, after a thorough investigation which James Dobson commissioned and found Papania to be the real thing. The Radio show was the most highly requested show in all of the radio show's history and hundred of thousands of tapes were ordered through Focus on the family. Papania has been featured on national TV and radio shows such as The 700 Club, Life Outreach, Billy Graham's radio broadcast, TBN, local Christian television stations and radio stations in Charisma magazine, and on Focus On The Family. On the second day of broadcasting on Focus, in December of 1996, Dr. Dobson commented that Tom Papania's story was almost too good to be true and Focus did a lengthy background investigation of Tom's references and everything Tom stated in his testimony was found to be true.


As typical with biographies of this nature, his testimony has been challenged by a few individuals such as Rocky Scarfone, an alleged mafioso, and Brian Karjala , a self-professed "minister of discernment"

Scarfone, born Joseph Baffa (in 1953), allegedly claims Papania copied his testimony and book, titled [1]House of cards. The novel is filled with sexually graphic descriptions of his days as a petty criminal, and drug user/trafficker. The novel was rejected by all Christian and mainstream publishers, and self-published. In the book Baffa claims he was both petty drug dealer and part of the Mafia, an apparent contradiction, since the NY Mafia enforces its "no-drugs" policy with lethal force. Joe Baffa allegedly deals with young girls and boys as part of his "youth ministry". Baffa is the brother of alleged child sexual predator, [2] Carmine Baffa. Baffa, a resident of Lawrenceville, GA, was arrested April 9 and is in the Gwinnett County Jail, charged with raping two teen girls, aged 13 and 19. While local Atlanta media has referenced "two separate incidents," Baffa's charge sheet, available online as of April 17 2008, apparently shows multiple charges. They include aggravated sexual battery, aggravated child molestation, and rape.

Karjala was fired from his employment at Focus on the Family due to alleged behavioral issues, after allegedly being counseled for depression and other psychological issues. After his termination, Karjala allegedly picketed the offices of his former employer Focus on the Family, wearing a halloween-type devil costume, whilst shouting accusations at passers by.
His supervisor was also fired for alleged embezzlement and sentenced to 12 years in prison for that crime. Karjala allegedly claims he had no knowledge of the crimes whilst working for him. Karjala claims he was not fired from Focus on the Family and did not have "behavioral issues", nor was he counseled for depression and "other psychological issues".
He admits he had a brief meeting with the Focus counseling director allegedly to determine the cause of his claimed self-termination.

 External links

      Link to Tom Papania's Website - God's Saving Grace Ministries

      Tom Papania's Testimony

      Taylor Group: Law Enforcement & Emergency Response Training Providers Law Enforcement Verification passed.

      Rocky Scarfone's Book, "House of Cards"

      Mafioso defintion

      Carmine Baffa Conviction record

      Karjala's Exposing Focus on the Family and other conspiracy theories

Retrieved from "" 



Tom Papania with Dr. James Dobson at Focus on the Family offices in Colorado