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.
December 24, 2007 |
The New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice provided the outline for a new Garden State mob saga last week when more than two dozen reputed wiseguys - including three alleged leaders of the Lucchese organized-crime family - were charged in a $2.2 billion gambling, money-laundering and racketeering case. Based on a 16-month investigation in which hundreds of conversations were secretly recorded, the probe offered an inside look at what authorities allege was one of the biggest gambling operations ever uncovered.
December 19, 2007 |
Three reputed leaders of the Lucchese organized crime family were charged yesterday with heading a $2.2 billion sports-betting and loan-sharking operation targeted in an investigation by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice. The investigation, Operation Heat, also uncovered an alliance between organized crime figures and a member of the Bloods street gang, authorities said. The arrests and alleged connection between La Cosa Nostra and the Bloods were disclosed by New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram during a news conference in West Orange.
December 2, 2007 |
Joseph Ligambi, the reputed mob boss of Philadelphia, is an early riser, often out of the house by 6 a.m. But unlike his predecessors - who, not coincidentally, are in jail - Ligambi spends most of his nights at home. "He's a quiet family man," said an associate without a trace of irony in his voice. "He's more interested in making money than in making headlines," adds Capt. Charles Bloom of the Philadelphia Police Department's Criminal Intelligence Unit. Low-key, circumspect, and happy to stay in the shadows.