Crazy Phil Leonetti: Unveiling the Legend

This article is a summary of the YouTube video ‘Nicodemo “Little Nicky” Scarfo & Crazy Phil Leonetti’ by MOBFAX

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Reputed godfather Scarfo released, still in charge, criminal history, violence expected, money focus, potential threats, associates convicted, skeptical testimony, potential witness negotiating.

Key Insights

  • Nicodemo Scarfo, the reputed godfather of organized crime, has been released from federal prison after serving most of a two-year sentence for illegal possession of a gun.
  • Scarfo was the man in charge of the rackets in the Philadelphia and Atlantic City areas, even while in prison.
  • Scarfo allegedly became the leader of the local mob following the murders of Angelo Bruno and Phillip Testa, the previous crime bosses.
  • He has a history of criminal activities, including manslaughter, contempt, and involvement in murder cases.
  • Scarfo associates, including Phil Leonetti and the Merlino brothers, carried out his orders.
  • Scarfo is expected to show his dominance and eliminate any resistance by resorting to violence.
  • His main focus now will be on making money from activities such as bookmaking, loan sharking, narcotics, and labor racketeering in Atlantic City.
  • Lieutenant Colonel Justin Dintino of the New Jersey State Police expects more homicides to occur quickly to eliminate any remaining opposition.
  • Scarfo's main threats could come from the remaining members of the Riccobini crime family.
  • Salvatore Chucky Merlino, Scarfo's alleged top associate, has been convicted of bribery and may face up to 15 years in jail.
  • Philip Leonetti, also known as Crazy Phil, testified that he never directly met or spoke with Vincent Pichin Gigante, who allegedly ordered hits on behalf of the mob.
  • Leonetti's testimony is met with skepticism, and he is expected to face tough cross-examination.
  • Sammy DePaul Gravano, another potential witness, is negotiating with the government and preferring contempt charges over questions about his book deal.

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Hello again. The big story on Action News this evening is the return to the Delaware Valley of the reputed godfather of organized crime here. Nicodemo Scarfo of Atlantic City was released from federal prison in Texas today, after serving most of a two-year sentence for illegal possession of a gun. Scarfo, who’s seen here in some file footage, was released eight months early for good behavior. He’s expected to return to the area later this evening.

Even while in prison, federal officials say that he was the man in charge of the rackets in the Philadelphia and Atlantic City areas. Action News reporter Kathy Gandolfo has put together a special report, a chronicle of the mob activities that led up to Scarfo’s alleged dominance of the local mob.

On the night of March 21, 1980, reputed organized crime boss Angelo Bruno was murdered as he sat in his car outside his South Philadelphia home. Just about one year later, Phillip Testa, the man police say was Bruno’s successor, was killed in a bomb blast at his home.

According to Pennsylvania and New Jersey investigators, the man who ascended to power following Testa’s death was Nicodemo Scarfo. Prior to this, Scarfo was allegedly the Bruno crime family’s man in Atlantic City, overseeing loan sharking and illegal gambling operations.

Scarfo, who lives on Georgia Avenue in Atlantic City, served a six-month prison term in 1964 for manslaughter, and served two more years for contempt for failing to answer a crime commission’s questions.

In 1980, Scarfo, his nephew Phillip Leonetti, and Lawrence Merlino were acquitted of murdering a Margate contractor. However, Scarfo was sentenced to two years for possession of a weapon, for which he has been paroled after 17 months.

Since the death of Angelo Bruno, at least 21 reputed organized crime figures have been killed. Lieutenant Colonel Justin Dintino of the New Jersey State Police is an expert on organized crime activity in the state. He says Scarfo continued to run the family from his Texas jail cell. Through the history of organized crime, that even though a boss is in prison, that any homicides that occur would not occur without his approval. Dintino says Scarfo associates Phil Leonetti, Lawrence, and Salvatore Merlino are the men who carried out all of Scarfo’s orders.

With Scarfo out of jail, Dintino says lawmen will be tailing him, and will maintain total surveillance on him and his close associates. Dintino expects that Scarfo will flex his muscles, and make sure that everyone knows he’s the boss and in total control, and will eliminate any resistance. I believe that there will be a few more homicides that will occur relatively quickly to eliminate any remaining pockets of resistance, and then in the future, I believe that there will be a continuation of violence within the Scarfo organization because he is a violent prone individual, he has surrounded himself with violent prone individuals, and he doesn’t need too much of an excuse to kill someone.

With most of his opposition out of the way, Dintino says Scarfo will be out to make some money in Atlantic City, and will increase his bookmaking, loan sharking, narcotics, and labor racketeering activities. Dintino does not think that Scarfo’s life is in any immediate danger. If there is any resistance left to Scarfo’s rule, it could come from the remaining members of the Riccobini crime family. According to Dintino, they could be Scarfo’s targets. Dintino suggests that anyone who is on the outs with Scarfo should either make peace with him, or perhaps visit an uncharted island.

I’m Kathy Gandolfo, Channel 6 Action News.

And one footnote to all this, Nicky Scarfo is free tonight, but his top associate, alleged top associate, is not. Salvatore Chucky Merlino has been convicted of trying to bribe a Margate policeman. Merlino could go to jail for up to 15 years. He will be sentenced next week.

A mob turncoat says he made frequent death drives to New York from Philadelphia, so he could get orders from Vincent Pichin Gigante on who should die back home. The only problem, he never actually talked with Pichin.

Mike Sheehan reports.

Philip Leonetti was known among his ex-friends in organized crime as Crazy Phil, a handle earned by ordering the murders of eight men and the personal execution of two. In a deal with the feds, Crazy Phil did a whopping five years, five months in the can in exchange for his testimony.

Leonetti told a jury he joined the Bruno family and followed his uncle Nick, little Nicky Scarfo, up the ladder of crime. In 1980, Philadelphia mob boss Angelo Bruno was blown away right in front of his home in an unsanctioned hit.

Scarfo was summoned to New York for a meeting with Vincent Pichin Gigante and others, according to Leonetti. He testified that his uncle said Pichin told him to kill everyone involved in the killing of Angelo Bruno, everybody.

Leonetti further testified that although rising to become underboss of the Bruno family, he never actually met Pichin, nor did he ever speak directly to him.

He’s never talked to my brother. He doesn’t know my brother. He probably met my brother today for the first time in the courtroom. I don’t see any credibility anywhere, and I think the judge, by using the word “be skeptical of what these people say,” said it all for us.

Leonetti will face a very tough cross-examination beginning tomorrow morning. Meanwhile, the government is still negotiating with its other star witness, Sammy DePaul Gravano, who says he’d rather take the contempt charge than face cross-examination about his book deal.

From Brooklyn Federal Court, Mike Sheehan, Fox News.

This article is a summary of the YouTube video ‘Nicodemo “Little Nicky” Scarfo & Crazy Phil Leonetti’ by MOBFAX