||Philadelphia| Phillip Leonetti
Birth: March 27, 1953
Phillip Leonetti was the underboss of the Scarfo family from 1986 until 1989. He is the nephew of Nicodemo Scarfo.
Raised inside the Mafia
Phillip was born in 1953 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. His mother Nancy was the sister of Nicodemo Scarfo, his father abandoned them when he was still young. Nicodemo then helped in raising him. When Leonetti was 12 years old Scarfo took him along to dispose a body because the police wouldn't suspect a thing when seeing a man accompanied with a little kid. At a young age he was confronted with the Mafia and grew up to get involved in extortion and murder. Later on Leonetti also became a partner in Scarfo's concrete company "Scarf Inc".
Leonetti became a made member of the Philadelphia family in 1980 after Phillip Testa became boss. He was one of 9 new members to be inducted into the family, mainly thanks to the influence of Scarfo. That same year, in October, Leonetti and Scarfo were acquitted for the 1979 murder of Vincent Falcone. Testa was murdered one year later due to power struggles and Nicodemo Scarfo eventually became the next head of the family. Scarfo restructured the family and promoted Leonetti to capo in 1981.
In 1984 Leonetti was involved in the murder of Salvatore Testa, his best friend and son of former boss Philip Testa. He was well liked within the family and nobody really understood why he was whacked. Scarfo ordered the hit presumably because he started to see Testa's reputation as a threat to his power. Leonetti later stated that from then on he started to get doubts towards his uncle and felt sick about Salvie Testa's slaying. In November 1986 Leonetti and Scarfo were arrested on racketeering charges, but were released again 2 days later after paying $400,000 and $300,000 bail respectively. That same year Scarfo demoted his alcoholic underboss Salvatore Merlino back to soldier and promoted his young nephew as his new underboss. One year later luck was again at the young Leonetti's side when he, his uncle and several others were acquitted in a vast narcotics conspiracy, despite the testimony of 2 turncoats.
Becoming a federal witness
Leonetti, often described as a handsome and charismatic man, was at the height of his life. But in 1988 all was about to be put to an end. Again he was arrested alongside his uncle and was charged with murder and racketeering. However, this time they were not acquitted. In 1989 he was sentenced to 55 years which caused him to panic. Not willing to take the punishment, he became a federal witness. Leonetti admitted his part in as much as 10 murders, from which 2 he had carried out himself. Most of the murders were committed between 1981 and 1985 and included Robert Riccobene, who was killed during an internal war between Scarfo and Harold Riccobene, Pasquale Spirito, Salvatore Tamburrino and Salvatore Testa.
Not only did Leonetti testify against his beloved uncle, but he also testified against Gambino boss John Gotti during his trials in the early 1990's. Leonetti and Gotti had met each other during the late 1980's. He was eventually released in 1993 and has made several TV-appearances ever since to talk about his experiences in the Mafia.
(Source: "Ex-Mob Leader, In Trial, Recalls His Life of Crime" NYtimes April 26, 1991; "The complete idiot's guide to the Mafia" by Jerry Capeci; "Blood and Honor: Inside the Scarfo Mob" by George Anastasia; www.mafianj.com, www.ipsn.org)
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