The Chicago Syndicate: Angelo Bruno
Showing posts with label Angelo Bruno. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Angelo Bruno. Show all posts

Friday, November 20, 2020

Did a Trump Supporting Mob Boss in Philadelphia Rig the Election for Biden? Despite the Lack of Evidence, Some Say Hell Yes

No, the Philadelphia mob did not stuff the ballot box for Joe Biden.

"Never, never," the city's former Mob boss, Ralph Natale told Fox News. "They were told if you do one thing it will be the end of us for all time. This is their chance to become human beings."

Natale, born and raised in the South Philadelphia neighborhood that is the city's mafia home base, ruled the Philadelphia mob in the late 1990s. He flipped and testified for the government against his reputed successor, Joe "Skinny Joey" Merlino in 2000, after pleading guilty to racketeering, murder, and drug conspiracy charges. He also admitted to eight gangland murders. He says organized crime may resort to almost every crime imaginable but putting the fix in for Biden is not one of them.

"The Dems won the election fair and square," he said.

The prospect that the mafia interfered in the election to tip it to the President-Elect in the key state of Pennsylvania, was first raised on the internet by a Buffalo, N.Y. website and then amplified by several of President Trump's supporters. Jordan Sekulow, the son of top Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow, retweeted the claim that Merlino helped fake 300,000 illegal ballots for Biden, at $10 each, for a $3 million underworld score that handed the state to the Democratic nominee.

Besides Natale, authorities and Merlino's lawyer say the story is not true.  "This claim published by a disreputable website has been thoroughly debunked," Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner spokesperson Jane Roh told Fox News.

"Joey is a Trumper and any allegation of fixing this is just completely fiction. Maybe they should write a movie script, this is not reality," Merlino's attorney John Meringolo told Fox News. He says his client supports President Trump because "he is against cooperating witnesses and against making uncorroborated deals with snitches, which is what the president is against."

President Trump's personal lawyer, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who is also heading the campaign legal efforts, was asked about the possibility of mob election interference during an interview on the Fox Business Network. He said that "although there is an allegation of a mobster involved, but I think it's a far-fetched one."

South Philadelphia is largely composed of seven Wards, and the president won only one of them: Ward 26, with 54.9% to Biden's 44.3%. In all, the neighborhood went for Biden by a margin of about 76.49% to the president's 22.53%.

One source close to the Philadelphia mobsters told Fox News that the unusual voting block overwhelmingly backs the president because "he is a no-nonsense type of guy."

Natale has another view, noting that Biden, who was born in the state, has long been a strong union supporter. "Biden, Biden is a beautiful man. Quiet, he's nice. He has had suffering in his life, and he is not a braggart,” he said.

In fact, Natale gives the president-elect the highest compliment a made guy can give another one: "he's a man's man."

Natale was not only a member of the Angelo Bruno Philadelphia crime family for decades, but was also the head Bartenders Union Local 170, and says he helped the mob-run the Atlantic City casinos starting when gambling was first legalized in 1976. As a top union official...and mobster, he says he routinely dealt with elected officials and politicians. He was instrumental in helping federal prosecutors nail Camden New Jersey Mayor Milton Milan in 2001 on charges of taking mob payoffs, laundering drug money, and stealing campaign funds.

"They are so easy to bribe they will take an Indian penny. That's why they become politicians."

Natale detailed his life in his recent book, "Last Don Standing: The Secret Life of Mob Boss Ralph Natale."

Natale is now working with producer Dan Pearson of Dan4Entertainment (D4E) on telling the story of his mob days for Hollywood, who says "when you peel back the onion, politics and the mob are one in the same."

As someone who has been on both sides of the law, Natale predicts that President Trump will end up being indicted for what some have alleged could be business fraud charges by New York State prosecutors when he leaves office. "He's almost really broke, you'll see what is going to happen within six months," Natale says. "I think he is afraid that he will get arrested when is not president anymore. He is what he is. He has conned people...he is just a big liar."

President Trump and his campaign have continued to push unsubstantiated and false claims about the election in Philadelphia, which have caused Natale to pine for days gone by. "I remember when I was a little boy, every Italian home in South Philly had a picture of FDR, in a frame, and they put it in the dining room. They loved Franklin Delano Roosevelt, you know why? He called it as it was. He saved this country's life."

Thanks to Bradford Betz and Eric Shawn.


Friday, October 12, 2007

A Look Back at the Philly Mob

Pop culture is riddled with more mob movies and TV shows than an unlucky gangster's body is with bullets. Americans are fascinated with the dark side and have made “The Sopranos” the poster children for the Mafia and Victoria Gotti, daughter of John “The Dapper Don” Gotti, and her spoiled-rotten offspring its royal family with the reality show “Growing Up Gotti.”

But contrary to what pop culture loves to portray, the mob is far from glamorous and exciting. Just take a look at where Cosa Nostra — Sicilian for “our thing” — landed South Philly's own tough guys, all of whom made headlines at one point or another: Angelo “The Gentle Don” Bruno, Phil “Chicken Man” Testa and his son Salvatore Testa got whacked, while Nicodemo “Little Nicky” Scarfo, John Stanfa, Ralph Natale, “Skinny” Joey Merlino and Ron Previte are all in prison for racketeering and murder among other offenses,

George Anastasia, who has written extensively about the mob for The Philadelphia Inquirer since the late 1970s and authored four bookson the subject, noted, “If you look at the list, you see where these guys have ended up,” Anastasia, a native of the 1700 block of Watkins Street who now lives in South Jersey, told the Review.

Bruno was the longest running crime boss and perhaps one of the most respected for the low-key approach that earned him his nickname.

Bruno ruled from '59 to March 21, 1980, when he was shot to death in his car with driver John Stanfa in front of Bruno's home at 934 Snyder Ave. Under the Sicilian immigrant's tenure, “he did everything low-key — he didn't do any public shootings in restaurants or in the street” unlike how later-day mobsters such as the ruthless Scarfo conducted business, Capt. Charles Bloom of the police department's Central Intelligence Bureau said. “If you had to describe Bruno, you could say, ‘make money, don't make headlines,'” Bloom said.

His attitude in life did not mark his death. His violent end received press from outlets such as The New York Times, which covered the fallout from Stanfa's trial for perjury in connection to the killing to FBI testimony in '81 that Scarfo was the new head of the family.

Stanfa suffered a graze wound in the Bruno ambush, Anastasia said, adding, “To this day there's conflicting reports. Some people believe Stanfa was part of the plot and he knew what was going to happen and others say he didn't. I tend to believe the former.”

Under Bruno's reign, the Philadelphia crime family was among the most powerful in the United States, trailing closely being New York and Chicago. The Gentle Don carved out a close relationship with Carlo Gambino, leader of New York's family — a friendship that saved Bruno when short-lived Philly boss Antonio Pollina wanted him killed in '59.

As the story goes, Bruno pledged his loyalty to Pollina despite being passed over for the job, but the new boss still felt threatened. When Pollina ordered a hit, Gambino intervened by not only halting the slaying, but putting his new friend in charge of the Philadelphia crime family. The first notch in Bruno's belt of civility was sparing Pollina.

According to Bloom, the Philly mob, which controlled this city and South Jersey including Atlantic City, has always been in New York's shadow and the former often cannot operate without the latter's blessing.

Bruno's death at 69 paved the way for a slew of flamboyant, young wiseguys to take the helm. “That totally destabilized the organization and it's been destabilized since then. It's been disorganized organized crime,” Anastasia said.

The new guns included Bruno underling Testa, who was blown up March 15, 1981, on his front porch on the 2100 block of Porter Street in Girard Estate by a nail bomb and later immortalized in Bruce Springsteen's song “Atlantic City,” whose lyrics say, “Well they blew up the Chicken Man in Philly last night/Now they blew up his house too.” The song, featured on the Boss' “Nebraska” album, which made it to No. 3 on the U.S. Billboard Pop Album charts, brought the scene to the attention of countless music fans worldwide.

More than 20 years later, Testa's fatal bombing is still making news. An Oct. 7 Time article cited the killing in its piece “The Sicilian Connection,” which explores the U.S. Cosa Nostra's alleged link to the Sicilian Mafia.

Months after the Chicken Man's demise, Scarfo had Frank Narducci and Rocco Marinucci whacked for the unauthorized hit of his mentor, according to Anastasia.

Long before he ascended to power, Scarfo was banished to AC by Bruno in the '60s after the young hothead knifed a man inside Oregon Diner, 302 W. Oregon Ave, the writer said. Scarfo stayed in AC — a wasteland at the time — but hung around long enough to benefit from gambling when the casinos hit town.

With Testa gone, Scarfo took over in '81 and made Testa's son Salvatore a capo. That same year, Testa and two others survived an ambush outside the Italian Market, but three years later, the capo wasn't as lucky when Scarfo had the young man killed Sept. 14, 1984. So much for loyalty to his mentor — he had his son killed, Anastasia said, adding, “That's the way he was.”

Testa was lured to a now-gone candy store on Passyunk for a meeting, where a Scarfo hit man shot him, wrapped his body in a rug and dumped it by a dirt road in Gloucester County, N.J., the writer said. Scarfo told his organization he had Testa killed because he broke off an engagement with Salvatore Merlino's daughter, Maria, but according to Anastasia, Scarfo saw Testa as a possible threat. “He used the broken engagement as an excuse,” the author said. In years to come, Merlino's son Joey would become a reputed mob boss.

Scarfo held control for six years until his arrest and conviction for a racketeering case that included counts of murder, Anastasia said. Little Nicky got 55 years and remains in the Big House. But his impression was indelible. In a '91 Time interview with former soldier-turned-informer Nicholas “The Crow” Caramandi, interviewer Richard Behar refers to Scarfo as the “most vicious Mob boss of his generation” and proceeds to ask Caramandi about working under him, as well as the killing of Salvatore Testa.

In '89, Bruno's former driver Stanfa, who grew up on Passyunk Avenue near the Melrose Diner and later moved to Jersey, became boss. In '95, he got five life terms for racketeering and murder.

That opened the way for Natale. After serving 15 years for drug dealing and arson, Natale was released in '95 and became boss in an alliance with Merlino, who was his underling, Anastasia said. Merlino associate Previte helped build a case against Natale by wearing a wire for the feds. The tapes resulted in the then-69-year-old Natale and then-37-year-old Merlino arrested on drug charges in '99 with Natale tied to a major South Jersey meth ring and Merlino to a Boston cocaine ring. Natale became the first mobster to cooperate with the feds and, as a result, got a 13-year sentence, which he's serving in a protected witness wing, Anastasia said.

That leaves Merlino, who by all appearances may be one of Philadelphia Cosa Nostra's last bad boys.

Despite the feds pursuing him aggressively for years, the style-conscious young turk with the striking wife did not shy away from the media, becoming a magnet for his organized softball league and Christmas parties for the poor. In typical Merlino fashion, his 2001 trial on murder and racketeering charges was a press event. And, he may have beaten the rap for Joseph Sodano's '96 murder in Philadelphia court, but a federal judge in New Jersey upheld charges in the same case against the reputed mob boss in October 2001. The New York Times, among other national and international papers, covered the trial.

Merlino and seven codefendants — including Previte — were convicted of bookmaking, racketeering and extortion. These days, “Skinny Joey” is serving a 14-year sentence, set to be released in '11, Anastasia said.

The reigning alleged crime boss has been identified as 68-year-old Joe Ligambi, who was with the Stanfa organization. In '89, Ligambi was sent away for 10 years after being convicted of murder, which was overturned on appeal. Ligambi came back to South Philly in '99 and, when Merlino went to jail, became acting boss, Anastasia said. According to the author, “he's kind of gone back to the Bruno model of low-key, not flashy.”

Bloom contends Cosa Nostra is still very much alive and well. “It's not as powerful as it was 20 years ago but it's still there. They haven't gone away. They took a lot of hits from law enforcement pressure and each other, but they didn't throw in the towel,” the captain said.

Thanks to Lorraine Gennaro

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