PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that a Superseding Indictment was unsealed today against 15 defendants, including alleged members and associates of the South Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey-based criminal organization La Cosa Nostra (LCN), known as the “mafia” or the “mob.” The Superseding Indictment charges various crimes including racketeering conspiracy, illegal gambling, loansharking, extortion, and drug trafficking.
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.
According to court documents, the Philadelphia LCN is one of a number of LCN organized crime families based in various cities throughout the United States. The purpose of the LCN in Philadelphia and elsewhere is to make money through the commission of various crimes, including illegal gambling, loansharking, drug trafficking, and extortion.
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.
As described in the Superseding Indictment, 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.
“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,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “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 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,” said Michael J. Driscoll, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “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.”
The case is being investigated by the FBI, including its Philadelphia Field Division and Atlantic City Resident Agency, as part of a long-running investigation, with the assistance of the Philadelphia Police Department, the Pennsylvania State Police and the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan Ortiz of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and Trial Attorney Alexander Gottfried of the Department of Justice Criminal Division, Organized Crime and Gang Section.
An indictment, information, or criminal complaint is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.