January 10, 1989 |
In the tiny room being used for jury selection, former civil rights activist Stanley Branche rested his huge body in a chair yesterday and watched with some amusement as the prospective jurors paraded by, one by one. Branche, 55, and co-defendant John "Johnny Chang" Ciancaglini, 33, son of reputed mob capo Joseph Ciancaglini, went on trial in federal court yesterday for allegedly strong-arming drug dealers to collect a so-called street tax or...
April 24, 1997 |
Is it tougher being a hit man in Philadelphia than in New York? Giuseppe Gallara thinks so. The 30-year-old convicted killer yesterday was slapped with consecutive life prison terms without parole - the price of mob membership in Philadelphia. U.S. District Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter punished Gallara for the Sept. 17, 1993 murder of mob associate Frank Baldino outside the Melrose Diner. Gallara and mob hit man John Veasey sidled up to Baldino's white Cadillac and pumped the associate of rival mobster Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino full of bullets during a mob war. Of the six slugs that hit Baldino, four came from Gallara's 9-mm pistol.
August 16, 1992 |
It's about a 15-minute ride from John Stanfa's home in the 1700 block of West Passyunk Avenue in South Philadelphia to his food-import warehouse in the 1300 block of Warfield Street in Grays Ferry. Stanfa, the man law enforcement officials say now runs the Philadelphia mob, arrives at the warehouse most mornings between 8 and 8:30, according to an investigator who tracks his comings and goings. "What he does once he's inside," says the investigator, "we don't know. " What he is doing there and elsewhere has taken on added importance in recent weeks as authorities have stepped up an international investigation into the links between La Cosa Nostra in the United States and the Sicilian Mafia.
June 18, 1993 |
One defense attorney referred to him as "Mister Lie-o-netti. " Another called the extensive courtroom security put in place for his safety "a lot of hype. " And nearly everyone wanted to know about the 10 murders he had admitted committing. On the witness stand for a second day in a high-profile organized crime murder-racketeering trial here, mob informant Philip Leonetti continued to provide details yesterday about the inner workings of La Cosa Nostra and his own life of crime.
April 19, 1996 |
Words of wisdom? Words to live by? Or words espousing "omerta," the Mafia's time-honored code of silence? A U.S. District Court jury was asked to decide that yesterday as Salvatore J. Avena testified for a second day in his own defense in a mob racketeering trial. At issue in one of several heated verbal confrontations between Avena and Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Friedman was a comment Avena made to Mark Angelo Puppo, grandson of the late mob boss Angelo Bruno.
February 10, 1997 |
Mob turncoat Eugene "Gino" Milano said he had joked with the late Salvatore Testa about how the bat "made a loud sound, like a baseball," as it cracked the skull of mob associate Frank "Frankie Flowers" D'Alfonso. It didn't matter to the unflappable Milano what kind of mob assignment he received, he beat up people and killed on command. "I didn't like or dislike it," said Milano, 37. "I did it. " As a soldier in La Cosa Nostra, he said: "I had to, that's the rules. " As a government witness, there are rules too. In 1989, he had to testify against his brother, Nicholas "Nick the Whip" Milano, a "made" member facing the death penalty in the July 1985 D'Alfonso murder.
May 6, 1989 |
He could have been a successful businessman, perhaps even the head of a company, with his flair for numbers and savvy sense for spotting a winner. Even the prosecution agreed that he was quite intelligent, well-spoken and mannerly. But Joseph Pungitore, son of one reputed mob soldier and brother of another, succumbed to the lure of La Cosa Nostra. He used his financial acumen to run two illegal gambling businesses, lend money at usurious rates and bankroll drug dealers, and he took part in three mob killings and two murder attempts.
April 6, 2001 |
If former mob boss Ralph Natale thought he delivered a cluster bomb to destroy mob leaders in the past five days, today begins the counterattack. Yesterday, the 68-year-old mob turncoat accused four of his onetime disciples in three murders - William "Billy" Veasey in 1995, Joseph Sodano in 1996 and Anthony "Tony" Turra in 1998 - the heart of a 36-count racketeering trial in federal court. If looks could kill, Natale would have been dead. For several minutes, the ink-black eyes of mob boss Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino, bore into the witness.
September 21, 1992 |
The pizza man had a plan. And mobster Philip Leonetti was willing to listen. This was in March 1989, when Leonetti, then the convicted underboss of the Philadelphia-South Jersey mob, and Ignazio "Tony" Mannino, a member of a notorious Sicilian heroin ring, were both in a federal prison in Otisville, N.Y., awaiting sentencing. Mannino, a little-known operator of Tony's Pizzeria in Eagleville, Montgomery County, boasted of his ties to both New York's powerful Gambino organized crime family and to the Sicilian Mafia.
February 24, 2000 |
Joey Merlino's "rat pack" is multiplying. Already fingered by an ex-mob boss and a former cop-turned mob-capo, now Merlino must contend with a Boston gangster-turned-snitch who, like the others, is blabbing to the feds about Merlino's alleged role as the acting boss of the Philadelphia mob. "Robert Luisi Jr. has recently agreed to testify as a government witness," against Merlino and others, federal prosecutors told U.S. District Judge Herbert...