Working in Philly for Papa Smurf, a High-Level Genovese Wiseguy

 "Down here it’s called franchising. Where I come from, it’s called racketeering."
-- Louis DiVita, author of A Wiser Guy

It's a book that reads like a whos-who of the New York/New Jersey/Philadelphia crime families. Louis and his family crossed paths with a lot of figures you've read about, including Willie Moretti, Albert Anastasia, Charles "Lucky" Luciano and Vito Genovese.

Benedetto Angelo, who was partnered with Joseph DiCarlo.

His forebears wound up in New Jersey's Mafia landscape but first played a decades-long role in upstate New York where they were closely allied with mobsters such as Stefano Magaddino and Joseph DiCarlo.

The Palmeri brothers both backed their countryman Salvatore Maranzano when the New York Mafia split into factions and used murder to finally end an ongoing feud as to who was going to be who. Afterward, the modern-day Mafia was created.


Louis's grandfather, Paolo Palmeri, was a high-ranking mobster associated with Stefano Magaddino, the Mafia boss of Buffalo, New York, whose dominion extended into Canada. While his grandfather's brother, Benedetto Angelo, stayed in Niagara Falls and partnered with Joseph DiCarlo, Paolo "Paul" Palmeri moved to New Jersey and enterprised with Willie Moretti, who is perhaps best known today for what he didn't do -- namely, he wasn't around to kill Vito Genovese for sending a young former boxer to kill Frank Costello, who was smart enough to retire. Costello reportedly lived out his life puttering in a garden.






Or did he? According to Louis DiVita it was none other than the Prime Minister himself who showed up at his grandmother's doorstep one day with an envelope. Invited inside, they shared a cup of coffee and Costello eventually with regret informed her that the "younger guys" no longer wanted to continue paying her.


As recently noted, a bug planted in the Camden, New Jersey, offices of Sal Avena was installed initially to catch onetime Philadelphia boss John Stanfa, but the Feds hit the jackpot. Colombo capo Salvatore Profaci's son was married to Avena's daughter.

As noted, Profaci (is he related to the former Five Family boss?) was recorded telling Stanfa: "Victor Orena is a gentleman, beautiful person, very, very capable, very, very qualified, level-headed. Carmine Persico's losing his mind." Then-acting boss Orena was seeking to dethrone the family's official boss, Persico.

Avena also was nabbed discussing Carmine Franco of the Genovese crime family with Avena. The topic of the discussion was a legal dispute between Franco and Avena, who were partners in a Philadelphia-based trash company. In 1992, Avena sued Franco in federal court in Philadelphia, alleging that Franco was defrauding the company. Franco countersued. Profaci told Avena certain facts of life about Franco, who was a "goodfella" He warned Avena that he should seriously reconsider his lawsuit. "We're all gonna get hurt," Profaci said. The Genovese family was "too powerful to cross."

Louis will tell you the rest. I also added some preceding information to give some background and context. Thank you, Louis, you're a good friend. (I know I can be a pain in the ass sometimes, without meaning to be)


From A Wiser Guy (a great read, and a great Christmas present for a friend or family member who is interested in Cosa Nostra.

"When I was with Mario, he was always concerned about people’s perceptions. One night, we were at Villa Peron in Hollywood, Florida. We were with our wives and were meeting the daughter, and her husband, of the owner of a major trash management company. They gave us a lot of good paying work. Emphasis on good paying. Most management companies squeeze you ‘till you’re losing. And most small garbage companies aren’t smart enough to figure it out until it’s too late and the piranhas win. Villa Peron was owned by one of three brothers, the other brothers owned Pier 5 in Hollywood and Trulo’s in Pompano — all meeting places where Mario would throw dinner parties for visiting dignitaries.

These restaurants were loaded with wannabes hoping to get noticed or get a chance to kowtow to a recognized mobster, who by the way wouldn’t give them the time of day. We were at the bar waiting for our guests and this sawed-off runt keeps bumping me. I asked him politely not to do it and finally I told him the next time would be his last. I had become used to this type of behavior — assholes always looking to take a chance with me.

In my 20s and 30s, I would fight with little provocation. But after my run-in with a knife, I mellowed slightly and used more discretion.

Before I could say another word, Mario jumped between us to calm things. He pissed me off. Mario admitted he had no idea who the guy was, but he had a feeling. 

I said, “Feeling, my ass.” 

The guy was an asshole, no matter who he was. One time, we had a deadbeat roofer who was dodging us, so Mario, me and Vinny went to collect. When we got there, the door was open, so I walked in. Nobody in sight. I walked through and still nobody. I made my way back to the office, where I commandeered cell phone lists and titles for all the employees. As I walked out, I was surrounded by 6 guys. I held my own, especially knowing Mario and Vinny had me covered. 

Vinny was now out of the car, yelling, “Louie come on let’s go.” 

“I’ll be right there,” I said. 

Vinny yelled back, emphatically, “Now Louie.” 

I had determined, by talking to the party of six, who was the guy with the money and when and where I could find him. When I got to the car, Vinny explained the reason he was so adamant was I was trespassing, and they could shoot me with probably no repercussions. Outside the building, no rules applied. I believe the guys saw the sinister- looking black Mercedes with limo tint and kind of hid till they saw me, and surrounded me, until they heard Vinny and saw Mario, realizing I was not alone. The following morning, we were paid in full.

One night, after one of Mario’s dinner parties, me and Vinny were at the bar when a guy invites Vinny to his table. According to Vinny, he had to go; the guy was a Ranking Member. Vinny and another guy had a beef and Vinny settled it his way, embarrassing him in front of a bunch of guys. This Ranking Guy was going to take up the matter. I refused to leave. Vinny assured me he was OK and had to do this by himself. The next day, he told me how much he appreciated me wanting to stay, but I had to learn to listen.

Mario owned a trash management company in NJ that handled the waste for the Federated Department Stores nationally. After the Andrew cleanup, thanks to Mario, we were doing a lot of compactor work, which pissed off the established haulers. Florida has franchises that usually allow only one hauler to work a town. I met a local government guy who turned me onto a Florida recycling statute and we started fighting franchises. We made enough noise, a local company bought out Mario, and we went to Philly. Later in my career in Florida, when I spoke to any group, I always incorporated the following: “It strikes me funny that you only allow one hauler per town. Down here it’s called franchising. Where I come from, it’s called racketeering.”

In Philly, I went to work for Carmine Franco at AAA Waste and Recycling.

Mario started a roll- off company and commenced to make friends. Philly was an interesting place. As they say, nice place to visit, but I didn’t want to live there. A lot of politics at AAA Recycling and when I don’t want to play, it’s time to go.

During my time at Triple A, we were being monitored by the feds (snapping pictures, helicopters overhead, etc.), which wasn’t the first time I had been photographed, and it added to the posture. What I found most interesting about Philly was the number of people who would tell others they were told to use us, and that came from Carmine’s reputation as an associate and major earner.

Carmine pissed off a lot of people, including a former partner, Sal Avena, who was an attorney. Sal’s father, John (Big Nose) Avena, was the Philly boss who was clipped years before. Sal knew how it works, but the dumbass sued Carmine. An FBI bug recorded a conversation between Sal Avena and Sal Profaci: “Carmine is a major earner, besides Goodfellas don’t sue Goodfellas. Goodfellas kill Goodfellas.”

Mario made an alliance with future Philly boss Joe (Uncle Joe) Ligambi, which garnered the Philly produce market for Mario. He put Uncle Joe on the pay roll for $1000 a week and health insurance for his family. Mario told his son Greg, “Take care of your mother and sister and honor Uncle Joe’s contract,” which brought Greg grief, scrutiny and court appearances.

Mario was always ready to pick up a tab, but years later he loved to come back to Florida and have me meet him and his associates, and impress them when I got the tab. See, I was on an expense account, and Mario played it to the hilt."

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