Angelo Lutz said it best when he took the witness stand in his own defense during a racketeering trial back in the summer of 2001. "I'm a cook, not a crook," he said.
While the jury and the judge thought otherwise, Angelo is now back in South Philadelphia embarking on a new career and putting that other business behind him.
Angelo Lutz learned his way around the kitchen from watching and listening as his mother and grandmother prepared Italian meals while he was growing up. The connection to food was familial.
His maternal grandfather, Charles P. Giunta, was the co-founder of Giunta Brothers which imported Italian food products to Philadelphia. Charles Giunta also patented one of the first noodle cutting – pasta making – machines.
His gift of gab, like his ability in the kitchen, is also instinctual. A street corner raconteur, Angelo knows how to tell a story and loves being center stage.
Born and raised in the heart of South Philadelphia, Lutz, 46, is a graduate of St. Monica's grammar school and Bishop Neumann high school. While he toyed with the idea of college – he was accepted at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and took some classes at Temple University.
He was also active with the Philadelphia Mummers, doing a star turn as the "Golden Buddha" in one of the New Year's Day parades.
Convicted of gambling and extortion and sentenced to nearly nine years in jail, Angelo doesn't try to sugarcoat his past. While he might disagree with the extortion charge, he readily admits that he was into the bookmaking scene.
In fact, government witnesses at his trial and his judge at sentencing said that Angelo knew more about how to run a sports betting operation than most of his co-defendants who clearly outranked him within the organization and whose crimes were more serious.
He spent more than seven years as a "guest" of the federal government.