Thomas Mickens built a multimillion dollar cocaine empire from the ground up. Now, he spends his days helping senior citizens build their bodies up.
“People who used to work for me look at what I’m doing now and say, ‘What are you doing?’” he said during a recent interview. “I left the past in the past — and I was able to walk away.”
Mickens started selling marijuana at age 15 after dropping out of high school. “I started with three dollars. I bought a trey bag, rolled up eight joints, and sold each one for a dollar.”
From that humble beginning, Mickens’ operation eventually became more lucrative, generating $100,000 a week and also allowing him to start multiple other legit businesses, including a dry cleaners and a grocery store.
Mickens, known as “Tony Montana” on the streets, once boasted an impressive collection of material wealth. He amassed a fleet of 21 luxury cars, including a Rolls Royce equipped with a TV, a Ferrari and a Lamborghini; a $800,000 mansion in Dix Hills; a 38-foot-yacht paid for in cash; a helicopter; and a mouth full of gold “fronts” studded with diamonds.
But after being busted in 1989 for tax evasion, drug dealing and money laundering, he came out of prison in 2008 with no money to his name.
That's when he decided to create “The Tommy Experience”, a health exercise and wellness program. As a fitness instructor for senior citizens, Mickens now earns between $40-$150 per class.
“I’m not proud of what I did to my neighborhoods. I’m not proud of the pain I put my mother through,” he said. Each session, “is like me giving back to my mother.”