R. Michael Bullotta began his law career as a prosecutor in the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, where he was quickly assigned to the Hardcore Gang Division, an elite unit of prosecutors who handled exclusively gang-related homicides. In 1997, he was appointed an Assistant United States Attorney in Los Angeles by then Attorney General Janet Reno. As a federal prosecutor in L.A., he prosecuted domestic and international drug trafficking cartels. Currently, he lives in Michigan and works in the Detroit United States Attorney's Office, where he prosecutes public corruption cases.
R. Michael Bullota launched his first novel, a legal thriller titled “Hard Core." Oakland County Moms interviewed Michael Bullotta to find out more about the inspiration behind his book and his return to Michigan.
Oakland County Moms: It's impressive that you began your law career as a prosecutor of gang-related homicides. Was this your "goal/dream" while in law school?
R. Michael Bullotta: Well, I knew that I wanted to make a difference but wasn’t set on precisely how to go about it. At Georgetown Law, I enrolled in the Criminal Justice Clinic, where I fell in love with criminal law. I got to do both sides, represent defendants in misdemeanor cases and intern at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alexandria, Virginia where I assisted federal prosecutors. I think I knew which side I wanted to be on after I went to the “scene of the crime” to investigate allegations against my first client, an alleged prostitute. When I got to the intersection where she was arrested, she approached my car and propositioned me. When I reminded her that I was her lawyer, she said, “Sorry baby, I didn’t recognize you without the suit on.”
Oakland County Moms: You had to have seen and been exposed to way more than what you expected. Was it your experiences with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office that led you to become an author?
R. Michael Bullotta: I always believed I had at least one novel in me, and after I was exposed to 1992 Los Angeles from the point-of-view of a County prosecutor, I knew I had my subject. The challenge for me was that I needed my book to give the reader the same electricity I felt when I couldn’t put down my favorite thriller, Grisham’s “The Firm.”
Oakland County Moms: It's apparent how your experiences as a prosecutor in the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office Hardcore Gang Division inspired you. How much of your novel's storyline is a "self-told tale"?
R. Michael Bullotta: It’s funny because some of the people I worked with in Los Angeles at the D.A.’s office, as well as my family, have been positive they recognized themselves and me in the characters and the events that unfold in the novel. Some have even called me and themselves by the characters’ names. They have a combined accuracy of about 50%.
Oakland County Moms: You've been compared to the likes of John Grisham. Will you continue on this path and write more novels with the same "legal thriller" theme?
R. Michael Bullotta: I would love to write another novel, perhaps even a true crime story. I admire writers like Joseph Wambaugh and Anne Rule who have done spectacular work with true crime. And of course I have plenty of material there. My other love is screenwriting. I have written two romantic comedies. My first got me the attention of a couple of well known agents in LA. “Garbage Man,” is a reverse Cinderella story about a garbage man who falls in love with a wealthy woman on his garbage route and learns about her from what she discards in order to insinuate himself into her life. The other script is another rom-com, “Directing Riley” about a sportscaster with a fear of flying who falls in love over the OnStar system with the operator who saved his life.
Oakland County Moms: Why did you decide to come back to Michigan?
R. Michael Bullotta: It was not the low barometric pressure or the snow squalls. I wanted to start a family and knew that Michigan is a great place to raise kids, especially because my mom, dad and sisters live here. But as I answer and watch the sleet falling outside my window, my Long Beach bungalow with a palm- tree-encircled pool cries out for me!
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The book “Hard Core” is available for purchase in both paperback and electronic formats on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and Milversteadpublishing.com. A generous donation from the proceeds of each book sold will be made to Forgotten Harvest, whose mission is to rescue surplus perishable food and deliver it to emergency food providers in the Detroit Metropolitan area.