Book Review – “On the Run” by Gregg and Gina Hill

I never thought that I could enjoy a book about mob rat Henry Hill, but this one written by his son, Gregg, and his daughter, Gina, kept my interest and gave me a vivid account of two poor kids “on the run.”

This book is told from two perspectives, where Gregg first gives his version of what happened and his feeling about what they were going through, and then Gina gives her versions. Most of the time the two versions are totally different. Gregg, in his early teens, thoroughly hated his father and his father’s deceptive and downright mean machinations, while Gina, a few years younger, was more of a Daddy’s Girl, until she eventually smartened up too.

At the end of the movie Goodfellas, in which Henry Hill was portrayed by handsome actor Ray Liotta, Hill is in the Witness Protection Program in an unnamed locale, which looked like some out-of-the-way place called something like “Hicksville” – so unlike where Hill committed endless crimes (New York City) and enjoyed being one of the Wiseguys (the book about Hill’s life was actually named Wiseguys but was changed to Goodfellas for the movie.)

In On the Run we discover that in 1980, after being shuttled from one hotel to another for several months while the Feds got as much information as they could from Hill, the family ended up on the outskirts of Omaha, Neb. where their family surname was changed to Haynes. On the first night in their new home, the senior Hill, instead of playing it low-key, took his family to Godfather’s Pizza and proceed to get drunk and unruly.

Gregg  recalls that night vividly.

“My father thought it was funny, eating at Godfather’s Pizza, and maybe it was funny,” Gregg wrote. “But I wasn’t in a laughing mood. Worse, he behaved like it was some mobster joint back in New York City.

Hill immediately got drunk and started cursing out loud in front of the local yokels.

“Nobody said anything to him,” Gregg wrote. “But people stared and then they glared. I couldn’t help but stare back and wonder what they must be thinking: New York hood on the run from the Mob.

The rest of the book details how Hill kept on breaking the rules of the government’s Witness Protection Program, and as a result, the Feds had to keep re-locating Hill’s family to different locations to keep them safe. The Feds also changed the family’s last name again: this time to Scott.

Despite being under the supervision of the Feds, Hill became a violent drug addict and began dealing drugs to support his habit. According to Gregg Hill, his father constantly cheated on his wife, Karan, and he even got married again to one of his drug buddies while he was still married to Karen.

When Karen found out her husband was a bigamist, Hill gave her this incredible excuse; “Don’t worry; it means nothing. I married her under the name Scott,” Hill told Karen.

Hill then told his wife the only reason he married the girl was because she had money. Unfortunately, Hill later discovered the only reason the girl married Hill was because she thought he had money.

It turned out they both were wrong.

Finally, after Hill, against the government’s rules, decided to let writer Nick Pileggi pen his autobiography, the government dropped Hill and his family from the Witness Protection Program. Soon after, Gregg Hill left home to go out on his own. He kept his assumed name Scott, finished college, and then law school. Gregg ultimately became a successful attorney. Soon, Gregg got married and started his own family. Unlike his father, Gregg adored and took special care of his children.

After Karen kicked out her husband for good and got a divorce, Gina Scott went back to New York City and attended New York University. Gina also got married and started her own family.

Henry Hill continued to be the same reprobate he always had been. He married his then-girlfriend Dawn, who was a degenerate junkie like Hill. They had a son named Justin, but in 1997, Hill and Dawn, now living in California, became totally out of control with their drug use. As a result, the state took away their son. Gina flew to Florida, and although Justin was already in a foster home, Gina was able to obtain custody.

As for Henry Hill, he continued on his downward spiral. In the Afterword of the On the Run Greg Scott wrote, “In the 1990’s, after he (Henry Hill) squandered whatever money he made off the book and the movie, he was in and out of prison on an assortment of charges and parole violations. Along the way he peddled cookbooks, travel guides, posters – anything for a buck, anything to relive, just for an instant, his days of glittering infamy. It was almost as if he had come to believe his own hype, bought into his own scam, convinced himself that, yeah, it was really like a movie.”

Henry Hill died of a heart attack in 2012 eight years after On the Run was written.

On the Run is a terrific read, but quite disturbing. How a man could do so much harm to his own family is shocking; even sickening. However, we are getting this story from two people closest to Henry Hill: his son and his daughter, so we know it must be the awful truth.

 Frankly, On the Run could have been entitled Daddy Dearest. According to his son and his daughter, Henry Hill was truly a despicable man.





7 Responses to “Book Review – “On the Run” by Gregg and Gina Hill”

  1. Hill was a scumbag ALL his life, but Paulie loved him. A common reference to him was, “You respect a dog for his master.” Didn’t find that in the Pileggi book. Given that, his kids deserve kudos for rising above their experiences and making something of their lives. Bless them.

    • Right Sonny, Hill was an A-1 scumbag. He gave Pileggi only what he wanted to give him. I’m surprised he lived so long.

      And good for his kids. It must have been hell for them “on the run.”

  2. Just finished the book…it was a page turner for sure. I couldn’t put it down.

    • Yes Tracy, “Wiseguys,” Henry Hill’s book that became the movie “Goodfellas,” was filled with lies and embellishments. His poor kids went through hell because of Hill. His wife was partially to blame, because she assisted him in the sale of drugs before he was arrested and turned rat. But the children were total innocents.

      • Good Fellas best mobster movie ever. Lived in a town that had
        similar happenings in it. Brings back memories.

  3. Yes, he was a rat and sooner or later it comes back to get you.

    Lesson 1 , don’t “RAT!!” What kind of man rats out the people closes to him who helped him, this is not one who is a man at all, but a truly self absorbed degenerate scumbag. Who in the end
    would have deserved anything Paul Cicero would have done to

    • It was Paul Vario, not Cicero. In the movie Goodfellas, the names of several main characters were, for some unknown reason, changed. Jimmy Conway was really Jimmy Burke too.

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