The Department of Justice announced on Monday indictments against 15 members and associates of the Philadelphia Mafia for their alleged involvement in various crimes including federal racketeering, illegal gambling, loan-sharking, extortion, and drug trafficking.
What are the details?
The criminal organization, officially referred to as the South Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey-based criminal organization "La Cosa Nostra," has been operating in the region for decades and is "one of a number of LCN organized crime families based in various cities throughout the United States," the DOJ stated in a news release.
As expected for a Mafia bust, the nicknames of defendants charged in the indictment read like a casting list for a gangster movie. Here's more from the news release:
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; 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.
Like other Mafia organizations, or families, the Philadelphia LCN operated through a defined hierarchical structure, which includes a "boss," an "underboss," and several "captains" who oversee crews of "soldiers" and "associates," the news release noted.
Soldiers are members of the crime family who have been "made" through an initiation ceremony, in which they swear allegiance, vow secrecy, and agree to commit violence on behalf of the family, if needed. Associates, on the other hand, are men who engage in coordinated criminal activity with the family but who have not been "made" for various reasons.
According to the indictment, 10 of the alleged mobsters were charged with engaging in a pattern of racketeering activity and through the collection of unlawful debts. The remaining five were charged with various other offenses, including conducting an illegal gambling business and conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.
Though it doesn't appear that DOJ officials were able to indict the boss, the organization's underboss, Steven Mazzone, and a captain, Domenic Grande, were listed in the charges.
"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," U.S. Attorney McSwain said regarding the indictments. "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 are the result of an investigation conducted by the FBI in coordination with Pennsylvania state police and Philadelphia police.
"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," Michael J. Driscoll, the lead FBI Special Agent in the Philadelphia division, added. "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."