15 Alleged Mobsters Charged in Racketeering Scheme in South Jersey and Philadelphia
Authorities have announced that a superseding indictment was unsealed Monday against 15 people, including alleged members and associates of the South Philadelphia and South Jersey-based criminal organization La Cosa Nostra (LCN).
The superseding indictment, according to United States Attorney William M. McSwain, charges various crimes including racketeering conspiracy, illegal gambling, loansharking, extortion, and drug trafficking.
The defendants charged are as follows:
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
John Michael Payne, age 34
Like other LCN families, the Philadelphia LCN is operated through a defined hierarchical structure, including a Boss, an Underboss (defendant Steven Mazzone), and Captains (defendant Domenic Grande), who oversee “crews” consisting of “soldiers” and “associates.” As detailed in the Superseding Indictment, soldiers are members of the family who have been formally initiated through a ritual called a “making ceremony,” during which they swear allegiance to LCN above all else, take a vow of secrecy about the organization (the Code of Silence or “Omerta”), and agree to commit violence on behalf of the LCN, if necessary. After this ceremony, these men (who must be of 100% Italian ancestry) are then referred to as “made members” of the LCN. Associates are men who engage in criminal activity on behalf of LCN but who have not been formally “made,” either because they are up-and-coming and aspire to full membership, or because they are ineligible to be made because they lack fully Italian ancestry. Made members and associates who break Omerta may be targeted for death by other members of the group.
...the Philadelphia LCN sought to use its reputation and influence to exercise control over criminal rackets, like bookmaking and loansharking in Philadelphia and southern New Jersey, particularly Atlantic City. During a period beginning in August 2015, ten 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.
As alleged in the Superseding Indictment, on October 15, 2015, defendants Steven Mazzone, Domenic Grande and Salvatore Mazzone participated in a “making ceremony” (as detailed above) in a South Philadelphia residence, during which several new soldiers were inducted into the Philadelphia LCN. The Superseding Indictment goes on to describe 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.
In a press release, Michael J. Driscoll, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Philadelphia Division, said, "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. 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."