Carmine "The Bull" Agnello made an appearance in court on Friday after being arrested for theft, money laundering and drugging racehorses.
All the alleged crimes centered around Agnello's salvage yard empire in Ohio.
Agnello is a former mobster and ex-son-in-law of John Gotti, the former head of the Gambino crime family in New York.
A man named Robert, who asked to keep his full identity hidden, says he has known a different Carmine Agnello for years.
"When I first met Carmine I was in a real dark place. I had a drug addiction," Robert says.
Robert says Agnello gave him a job when he got out rehab and loaned him money for a security deposit on an apartment.
Robert says he had no idea that Agnello had a criminal past.
"They portray him to be a monster. He is far from a monster. He is a father to me and he looks to me like a son," says Robert.
Cleveland Police see Agnello in a different light.
"He was scamming the way he knew how to scam, he was extorting people the same way he was in New York," said Commander Ed Tomba during a news conference Wednesday.
Robert tells our Scott Taylor that Agnello was at work every day, that no job was too little or too big for him to jump in with his sleeves rolled up.
Robert says the only time Agnello acts tough is when somebody pushes him first.
"There has been customers irate who walk in threatening with guns, but Carmine doesn't back down," says Robert.
Investigators say they found animals in poor condition at Agnello's salvage yards. Robert says Agnello rescued those dogs from the streets and spent $900 at the vet to save a cat named Frankie.
Robert says Agnello also paid for a little girl's funeral because he says her family could not afford it.
"He is a big teddy bear because I remember it would be like 100 degrees in the middle of the summer and he would sit down with a popsicle and we would just talk," Robert says.
Agnello is being released on a $100,000 bond and has to wear a GPS bracelet.
Agnello has not officially been charged.