by Philip Leonetti with Scott Burstein
I'm not too familiar with current organized criminal activity in the Philadelphia-Atlantic City-South Jersey area but throughout the eighties and nineties this area was shared by at least seven different Italian-American criminal organizations: the five New York Families, a small moribund North Jersey Family and the Philadelphia Crime Family, which had a dominant presence in Philly and Atlantic City. Although Gambino Crime Family boss John Gotti would personify a new brash breed of go-go eighties mobster, in fact he was preceded by his good friend Philadelphia Family Boss Nicky Scarfo. Scarfo's reign was extremely violent. Scarfo was apparently something of a paranoid press obsessed pint-sized psychopath whose dedication to violence and to preemptive murder turned many family members and associates against him, including his maternal nephew and later underboss, Phillip Leonetti. It's one thing to kill someone who has broken some widely accepted Mafia rules. It's something else again to kill someone's "civilian" relative or order murders of crew members for the tiniest of transgressions, real or imagined. Scarfo's reputation for violence initially increased the amount of money flowing into mob coffers but he enjoyed killing too much. He brought in too many people whose only skill sets were intimidation and murder. Blood costs money. The relevant state and federal law enforcement agencies made putting Scarfo behind bars a top priority. This book primarily describes Leonetti's relationship with his uncle and Scarfo's rise to and fall from power. There are some things revealed within that I didn't know. Philip Leonetti, or "Crazy Phil" as he was known on the streets, was an accomplished murderer in his own right. During a mob war his mere presence caused one man to commit suicide (FWIW Leonetti said he just wanted to talk to the man) It's not really possible to feel too much sympathy for him. But unlike a mobster such as Kenji Gallo Leonetti doesn't seem to miss the old days of murder and mayhem. He's also pretty circumspect about the day to day business in which he was involved. We read about control of or influence in unions but not much about how it was established or how it works on a daily basis. It was usually maintained by threat of murder.
|Mob Boss Angelo Bruno takes the retirement package|
|Crazy Phil enjoying a short prison stay|
After Leonetti's mother's and grandmother's deaths he returned to the Witness Protection program. He built thriving landscaping and construction businesses. He may be living somewhere close to you. One of his last statements in the book is "F*** my uncle." Given that Nicky would order that both Leonetti and Leonetti's mother, Nicky's sister, be killed, that's an understandable sentiment. This book is about 300 pages. It has a high number of typos. "Site" is used for "sight" ; "your" is used for "you're".