May 25, 2011 |
When Pennsylvania officials launched a state lottery in 1972, optimistic bureaucrats predicted the end of the illegal numbers racket. Five years later, the state debuted a 7 p.m. "Daily Number" game eerily similar to the tavern and barbershop action preferred by those not wishing to involve the government in their gambling. Twenty years after that, in 1997, lottery officials trumpeted an exciting new promotion: a second Daily Number drawing . . . in the afternoon. "The state was trying to compete with bookies!"
May 24, 2011 |
AS HE LEFT the U.S. Attorney's Office in 2007, renowned mob prosecutor Barry Gross spiked the football - right in the faces of all the South Philly wiseguys he'd put behind bars. "We defeated the mob," Gross proclaimed during a post-retirement interview with the Daily News . Yesterday's sweeping indictment against reputed Philadelphia mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and 12 alleged associates is clear proof that Gross was wrong. Or was he? The Philadelphia faction of La Cosa Nostra is a shadow of its former self, eclipsed by the more sophisticated and creative Russian mafia and other underworld groups that profit from vice and scams.
April 10, 2011 |
They're calling it Mob Wives , although Mob Women might be a better name. The VH1 reality show, which will debut at 8 p.m. next Sunday, features the wives and daughters of wiseguys, including Karen Gravano, whose father, Salvatore "Sammy the Bull" Gravano, is one of the most infamous turncoats in underworld history. Ten episodes of the series, set in Staten Island, N.Y., are scheduled, and if the first is any indication, we're in for lots of shouting, cursing, and drama.
April 3, 2011
George Parry is a former federal and state prosecutor practicing law in Philadelphia After spending the 1970s and '80s investigating and prosecuting organized crime, I thought I pretty well understood the mores of La Cosa Nostra. For example, it was clear to me that my generation of mobsters was completely indifferent to the subtleties of political correctness, especially when it came to the exquisite sensitivities of the feminist and gay communities. The old Mafiosi had real trouble getting in touch with their metrosexuality because, if it had existed, they would have blindfolded and strangled it. So it was with utter bewilderment that I read a newspaper account of a recent Mafia swearing-in where the button-man-to-be was forced to strip naked and wear a bathrobe while he took the oath of office.
March 11, 2011
THERE'S a scene in "The Godfather, Part II" that used to make my Italian blood boil like a bubbling ragu. Michael Corleone is testifying before a Senate panel investigating organized crime. It's a cinematic recreation of the Kefauver or Valachi hearings that were aimed at dismantling the Mafia empire, one capo at a time. The committee chairman who questions Michael Corleone displays an ill-concealed contempt for people of Italian origin, even the ones who preferred pizza to pistols.
September 16, 2009 |
A recent Inquirer article detailed the near extinction of the Philadelphia family of La Cosa Nostra. From approximately 80 members in the 1980s, the Philadelphia mob has dwindled to roughly 20 "soldiers," of whom almost half are in prison. Philadelphia has but 10 mafiosi left to do the work that once took eight times as many. Law enforcement officials would have us believe that this is the result of good police work, but don't believe it. Like cockroaches, the mob cannot be eradicated once it moves in. No, there can be only one reason for this outcome: The mafia has departed for greener pastures.
September 1, 2009 |
Joseph Ligambi, reputed boss of the Philadelphia-South Jersey mob, heads a criminal organization that has nearly as many active members in jail as it does on the streets. Decimated by a 20-year onslaught of federal prosecutions, bloody internecine power struggles, and turncoat testimony, the local branch of La Cosa Nostra - which in the 1980s had roughly 80 members - now has a base of about 20 "soldiers. " And nine of them are in prison. Simply put, the Philadelphia Mafia has fallen on hard times.
July 23, 2008 |
Investigators dubbed it "Operation Delco Nostra," and they said that for at least five years, the tentacles of Philadelphia's organized-crime network took a firm hold in Delaware County, engaging in illegal activities that included bookmaking, loan-sharking and drug-dealing. Yesterday, 17 defendants surrendered to authorities in Delaware County and Philadelphia on charges including solicitation to commit aggravated assault and conspiracy to commit perjury. The investigation also may have uncovered evidence of a rift in the organization, federal sources said.
April 28, 2008 |
It was a multimillion-dollar operation run by one of the biggest bookmakers in Philadelphia. It included wiseguys and wannabes, gamblers and hustlers and, most surprising, a suspected hit man and the brother of his alleged victim. Over 20 months, it generated more than $60 million in bets on professional and college sports. That's part of an inside look at an illegal bookmaking operation that was based in the high-stakes poker room of Atlantic City's Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, according to a New Jersey State Police affidavit.
March 16, 2008 |
Almost seven years after taking the stand in a federal racketeering trial that decimated the Philadelphia mob, "Big Ron" Previte was back in court last week testifying about life in the underworld. Previte, 64, spent part of Monday and Tuesday on the stand in Boston in the federal drug-dealing retrial of mob associate Robert Luisi, a North End wiseguy who bought his way into the Philadelphia crime family in the late 1990s. And on Friday Previte was "on standby" in Camden as a possible witness at the sentencing hearing of mob enforcer Vincent "Big Vince" Filipelli, who had pleaded guilty to a bookmaking-extortion charge in U.S. District Court.