Feds Indict 15 Reputed Philadelphia Mafia Members, Associates For Racketeering

A superseding indictment unsealed today (November 23) charges 15 alleged members and associates of the South Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey-based  La Cosa Nostra (LCN) family with multiple crimes (but no murders).

Johnny Chang, Stevie Mazzone, Phil Narducci
Clockwise from l: Johnny Chang, Stevie Mazzone, Phil Narducci. 

The charges—announced by William M. McSwain, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania—include mob mainstays such as illegal gambling, loansharking, extortion, and drug trafficking.

The superseding indictment identifies Stevie Mazzone as the Philadelphia crime family's underboss and Dom Grande as a capo, and notes that in October 2015, while holding these positions, Mazzone and Grande, among others, participated in a Mafia induction ceremony in a South Philadelphia residence during which "several" associates became made members of the Philadelphia crime family.

The defendants charged in the seven-count superseding indictment are:

Steven Mazzone, aka “Stevie,” age 56; 

Domenic Grande, aka “Dom,” aka “Mr. Hopkins,” aka “Mr. Brown,” aka “Dom14,” age 41; 

Joseph Servidio, aka “Joey Electric,” age 60 (Joey Electric was sentenced to 15 years in prison only a month ago on narcotics-related charges);

Salvatore Mazzone, aka “Sonny,” age 55; 

Joseph Malone, age 70; 

Louis Barretta, aka “Louie Sheep,” age 56; 

Victor DeLuca, aka “Big Vic,” age 56; 

Kenneth Arabia, aka “Kenny,” age 67; 

Daniel Castelli, aka “Danny,” aka “Cozzy,” aka “Butch,” aka “Harry,” age 67; 

Carl Chianese, age 81; 

Anthony Gifoli, aka “Tony Meatballs,” age 73; 

John Romeo, age 58; 

Daniel Malatesta, age 75; 

Daniel Bucceroni, age 66; and 

John Michael Payne, age 34

The indictment today noted that the Philadelphia LCN  sought to use its reputation and influence to gain control over some criminal rackets, like bookmaking and loansharking in Philadelphia and southern New Jersey, particularly Atlantic City. 

During a period beginning in August 2015, 10 of the defendants allegedly conspired to conduct and participate in the affairs of the Philadelphia LCN through both a pattern of racketeering activity and through the collection of unlawful debts. The remaining five defendants are charged with allegedly committing a variety of other offenses, including conducting an illegal gambling business, conspiracy to make extortionate extensions of credit, and conspiracy to distribute controlled substances, in partnership with other members and associates of the Philadelphia LCN.

On October 15, 2015, defendants Steven Mazzone, Domenic Grande and Salvatore Mazzone participated in a “making ceremony” in a South Philadelphia residence, during which several new soldiers were inducted into the Philadelphia LCN. 

The indictment includes descriptions of the various acts allegedly committed by the defendants and others as members of the group, including the distribution of heroin, cocaine, fentanyl, methamphetamine and oxycodone pills; the disbursement and collection of tens of thousands of dollars of unlawful bookmaking and other debts “owed” to the group at interest rates as high as 400%; and even an alleged conspiracy to kidnap or murder a drug dealer in order to protect the reputation of the Philadelphia LCN after the dealer sold members of the group fake drugs.

Philadelphia Mafia Leadership
Sources identified Joseph (Uncle Joe) Ligambi as the boss or acting boss for Joseph (Skinny Joey) Merlino, who moved to Boca Raton, Florida, when he got out of Federal prison in 2011 after serving most of a 14-year sentence for racketeering, extortion, and illegal gambling. Ligambi, who has been haunted by the prospect of the Feds launching deep-dive investigations into  three unsolved gangland hits, reportedly had discussed retiring. Law enforcement credited Ligambi with being an adroit, savvy operator who successfully cooled down internal family problems caused by internecine strife left over from the turbulent, blood-soaked 1980s reign of Nicodemo (Little Nicky) Scarfo

Joseph (Skinny Joey) Merlino
Joseph (Skinny Joey) Merlino.

More recently, while Merlino was dealing with ongoing Mafia-related legal troubles that sent him back to prison, a triumvirate was tasked with overseeing things, with Steve Mazzone, John (Johnny Chang) Ciancaglini, and Philip Narducci on a three-man ruling panel, according to law enforcement sources. (Mazzone and Johnny Chang are hardcore Merlino loyalists.)

“Thanks to the dedicated and courageous efforts of federal law enforcement over the past several decades, the Philadelphia mob isn’t what it used to be, and thank God for that,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “But it is still a problem and is still allegedly committing serious federal crimes, which is why we at the Department of Justice are focused on stamping it out. We will not rest until the mob is nothing but a bad memory.”

“The charges unsealed today against these 15 alleged members and associates of the Philadelphia La Cosa Nostra show that the mafia remains a criminal presence in our city and beyond,” said Michael J. Driscoll, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. 

“From loansharking and illegal gambling to drug trafficking and extortion, the mob continues to keep its fingers in many different pots, in its ceaseless quest for illegal profits. This group should’ve learned by now that the FBI is as committed to eradicating organized crime as wise guys are to embracing it.”

The case is being investigated by the FBI, including its Philadelphia Field Division and Atlantic City Resident Agency, as part of a long-running investigation, with the assistance of the Philadelphia Police Department, the Pennsylvania State Police and the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan Ortiz of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and Trial Attorney Alexander Gottfried of the Department of Justice Criminal Division, Organized Crime and Gang Section.