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La Cosa Nostra

NEWS
January 14, 1990 | By Emilie Lounsberry, Inquirer Staff Writer Inquirer correspondent Mike Schurman contributed to this article
A secret ceremony. Clandestine underworld meetings. Money. Power. Murder. The Mafia. That was the world of Philip Leonetti, 36, handsome, preppie-looking and articulate - a man who seemingly would be more at home in the movies or closing deals on Wall Street than in the No. 2 position in the Philadelphia- South Jersey La Cosa Nostra. But on the stand last week in U.S. District Court for his debut as a government witness, the former underboss gave a spellbinding and often chilling account of what it was like to grow up in the mob with the careful grooming of his uncle, imprisoned mob boss Nicodemo Scarfo.
NEWS
March 18, 1995 | by Kitty Caparella, Daily News Staff Writer
Nicholas "The Blade" Virgilio, longtime pal of jailed mob boss Nicholas "Little Nicky" Scarfo and the killer of an Atlantic City judge in 1978, died Wednesday of a heart attack. The 67-year-old South Philadelphia native was serving a 40-year sentence on federal racketeering charges for the murder of Judge Edwin J. Helfant and for two extortions. He died in the Federal Medical Center in Springfield, Mo., where he was sent for heart treatment on Feb. 18, 1994. Virgilio became a three-time killer, bookmaker and extortionist during his life of crime in Philadelphia and Atlantic City.
NEWS
December 12, 2012 | BY WILLIAM BENDER, Daily News Staff Writer benderw@phillynews.com, 215-854-5255
PHILIP "CRAZY PHIL" Leonetti learned to shoot a gun at age 10 and says that he participated in the same number of gangland murders under the twisted tutelage of his crazier uncle, mob boss Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo. That much Leonetti has admitted in court. But in his new tell-all book - and what mafioso worth his salt doesn't cap an illustrious career with a book deal these days? - the former underboss of the Philadelphia-South Jersey mob in the 1980s breaks 16 years of silence to reveal how he came "very close" to whacking the last guy anyone would have expected.
NEWS
September 28, 1988 | By Emilie Lounsberry, Inquirer Staff Writer
An organized-crime expert may testify during the racketeering trial of reputed mob boss Nicodemo Scarfo and 16 associates about a 1977 FBI tape that the government contends proves the existence of the Philadelphia branch of the Mafia, a federal judge ruled yesterday. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Franklin S. Van Antwerpen was one of the final legal issues addressed during a daylong hearing that forced the delay of opening statements, which are now scheduled for today. The tape is considered important to the government's case because four alleged mobsters - Scarfo, Harry Riccobene, Philip "Chicken Man" Testa and Frank "Chickie" Narducci - discussed the impending selection by then-mob boss Angelo Bruno of a new consigliere, or top-ranking adviser.
NEWS
August 2, 1990 | By Jim Smith, Daily News Staff Writer
Convicted mob boss Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo and 13 of his henchmen got a fair trial, a federal appeals court in Philadelphia ruled yesterday in upholding their convictions. "It's a great day for the public," said Joel Friedman, prosecutor in charge of the U.S. Organized Crime Strike Force, the agency that coordinated the investigation and prosecution of the case. Prosecutors say Scarfo and many of the defendants will remain in prison for the rest of their lives, having been hit with multi-decade sentences in the federal racketeering case and life sentences on state murder raps.
NEWS
April 7, 2001 | by Kitty Caparella Daily News Staff Writer
Vendor Anthony Milicia ignored requests to discuss extortion payments to La Cosa Nostra on behalf his video-poker-machine business. Neither Ralph Natale, former mob boss, nor Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino, then underboss, could tolerate such an affront. "We're being made to look like a-------,'" Natale told Merlino, George Borgesi and Steve Mazzone in mid-1996, Natale testified yesterday. "Joey and I decided, we got to take a drastic step," Natale, the mob turncoat, added.
NEWS
June 27, 1996 | By George Anastasia, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
Hold the vino and the pasta. Break out the vodka and piroshki. The Russians are coming. A report released by the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation and three other law enforcement agencies warned yesterday that "Russian emigre crime groups . . . have the potential to develop into one of the most formidable organized crime challenges to law enforcement since the advent of La Cosa Nostra. " Focusing on New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York, the 69-page report outlines the involvement of Russian emigre criminals in multimillion-dollar tax and insurance scams, extortion rackets, jewelry thefts, money laundering and 70 murders or attempted murders since 1981, including the gangland-style assassinations of two Philadelphia jewelers.
NEWS
March 31, 2001 | By George Anastasia INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
He described La Cosa Nostra as a "descent into hell. " And he said: "I was there at one level or another for almost 40 years. " Then he spent four hours telling a federal court jury how he rose through the ranks of the Philadelphia mob, how he served jail time for arson and drug trafficking, and how, from prison in the early 1990s, he orchestrated a series of gangland murders while plotting to take control of the Philadelphia crime family....
NEWS
July 26, 2013 | BY WILLIAM BENDER, Daily News Staff Writer benderw@phillynews.com, 215-854-5255
SURE, the South Philly mob ain't what it used to be, but that doesn't mean that there aren't still stories to be told about La Cosa Nostra . And National Geographic has got the goods. Six hours' worth. "Inside the American Mob," a six-part series, premieres Sunday at 9 p.m. "It's the small, personal stories on both sides of the coin, from the Mafia and the prosecutors that chased them," said Michael Welsh, the series' executive producer. "You're getting multiple points of view on the same events over the course of the mob history.
NEWS
February 29, 2012 | BY HOWARD ALTMAN and WILLIAM BENDER, Special to the Daily News Daily News Staff Writer
E VEN AS Joey Merlino was settling into a South Florida halfway house last summer after 12 years in prison, the FBI issued a confidential alert warning law-enforcement officials that the former Philadelphia mob boss might try to set up shop in the Miami area with some of his old associates. The memo was contained in the first batch of some five million emails being released by the anti-secrecy group Wikileaks - including several FBI alerts obtained by a Texas-based private-intelligence firm on topics ranging from biker gangs to al Qaeda's English-language website.
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