April 22, 2001 |
Former mob boss Ralph Natale stepped down from the witness stand on Thursday after spending 14 days giving a federal jury a candid look at the inner workings of the Philadelphia mob. It wasn't a pretty picture. Already considered one of the most dysfunctional mob families in America, the criminal organization depicted by Natale was a picture of disorganized organized crime, a slap-dash outfit motivated by greed that failed at nearly every enterprise except murder. "La Cosa Nostra is a descent into hell," the nattily dressed and smooth-talking Natale said in one of his first and most dramatic remarks after taking the stand in the racketeering trial of his onetime underworld ally, Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino, and six codefendants.
September 30, 1993 |
I'm waiting for the next "Name the Don" contest in the Daily News inviting readers to submit funny nicknames for some prominent Junior Black Mafia member, or some big Latino drug lord, or perhaps some Asian gang leader. Of course, I realize that I wait in vain; such off-handed reporting of the crime that so plagues these communities would be considered far too insensitive to appear in a "People Paper" like the Daily News, and rightfully so. Yet day after day, I see one crass headline after another making a circus of the violence and bloodshed currently plaguing South Philadelphia.
December 12, 2001 |
Angelo Lutz, the mob associate whose quips and sound bites placed him at center stage during last summer's high-profile federal racketeering trial, found himself the center of attention again yesterday when U.S. District Judge Herbert Hutton sentenced him to nine years in prison. Rejecting several pleas for leniency, Hutton hammered the heavyweight wannabe wiseguy with the maximum permitted under sentencing guidelines. What's more, Lutz, 38, who was convicted on racketeering, gambling and extortion charges, received the same sentence as two codefendants who were "made," or formally initiated, members of the mob and more time than two other made members of the organization.
March 18, 1995 |
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.
January 14, 1990 |
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.
September 28, 1988 |
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.
August 2, 1990 |
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.
April 7, 2001 |
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.
June 27, 1996 |
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.
March 31, 2001 |
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....