Fifteen men accused of being members of the Philadelphia mob have been indicted on federal racketeering and related charges, according to the Justice Department.
The indictment of the men, with colorful nicknames, such as “Tony Meatballs,” “Cozzy,” and “Joey Electric,” was unsealed on Monday by U.S. Attorney William McSwain. Senior-most among those charged was underboss Steven Mazzone, who served directly under the mob’s leader Joseph “Skinny Joey” Merlino.
Prosecutors said the defendants have been quietly recruiting new members at a time when the Philadelphia mob was believed to be largely disbanded.
The defendants, whose ages range from 41 to 81, face charges for crimes, including racketeering, conducting an illegal gambling business, conspiracy to make extortionate extensions of credit, and conspiracy to distribute controlled substances.
The group has been accused of running illegal sports gambling, loansharking, and pushing heroin and other drugs. On one occasion, prosecutors said the group conspired to kidnap and kill a man but ultimately did not.
Prosecutors said the mob was working beyond Philadelphia and into New Jersey.
A statement from the Justice Department said the case was being investigated by the FBI as well as local authorities. Per court documents, all 15 men will appear before U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick on Jan. 8.
The men facing charges 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.
It was not immediately clear whether all the defendants had hired attorneys, according to local reports.
The attorney for Malone is William Brennan. “My client, who has led a quiet life, is presumed innocent, as is everyone else,” Brennan said, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Unfortunately, when the federal agents arrived at his house, he suffered a heart attack and has undergone surgery. We’re now focusing on his health, but we look forward to defending on these charges.”
“This group should’ve learned by now that the FBI is as committed to eradicating organized crime as wise guys are to embracing it,” Michael Driscoll, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division, said in a statement.
“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,” McSwain said. “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.”