Veteran organized crime reporter and author George Anastasia offers a piece at PhillyVoice.com on Ron Previte, who died at 73.
Previte (seen in the above photo), a criminal who helped the FBI convict numerous organized crime figures in Philadelphia and South Jersey, was the subject of Anastasia’s true crime book, The Last Gangster.
Big Ron Previte, the mobster-turned-government-witness whose cooperation brought down three crime bosses and changed the face of the Philadelphia mob, died last week after suffering a heart attack, according to family members and friends.
A former Philadelphia police officer who once said he learned the most about how to be a criminal while working as a cop, Previte was a larger-than-life figure who never tried to sugarcoat who he was or what he had done.
Six-foot tall and sometimes weighing 300 pounds, Previte (pronounced prev-i-tee) was an imposing and intimidating figure, but he also was a shrewd and astute underworld entrepreneur. He described himself as a "general practitioner of crime" and admitted his involvement in almost every mob gambit...with the exception of murder.
"If a guy owes me money and I kill him, how am I gonna get paid?" he asked, explaining that beatings, assaults and intimidation were part of his business, but murder was not.
Born in Southwest Philadelphia, Previte grew up in Hammonton, a South Jersey town that he loved. He opted not to go into the Witness Security Program after testifying in a 2001 racketeering trial that led to the convictions of Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino and six co-defendants. Instead, he remained in South Jersey.
"Where am I gonna go?" he asked. "I like it here."
Previte wore a body wire for more than a year, recording conversations for the FBI while helping to make cases against Merlino and titular mob boss Ralph Natale. He often said wearing that wire on a daily basis was the most exciting time of his life.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:
You can also read my Philadelphia Inquirer review of George Anastasia’s The Last Gangster via the below link:
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