Saturday, March 18, 2023

A Look Back At The South Philly Mob: My Washington Times 'On Crime' Column On George Anastasia's History Of Philadelphia Organized Crime

With the recent death of South Philly mob legend Chickie Ciancaglini, I've been thinking about an earlier era of the Philadelphia Cosa Nostra crime family.

Perhaps the best book on that era is George Anastasia’s Blood and Honor.

You can read my 2020 Washington Times On Crime column on Blood and Honor below:

In a previous column, I wrote about Frank Sheeran, the late Philadelphia criminal who was portrayed by Robert De Niro in Martin Scorsese’s Netflix film, “The Irishman.” Although I don’t subscribe to Sheeran’s claim that he murdered Jimmy Hoffa and his other boasts, I liked the film. 

I especially liked the film as it featured organized crime figures from South Philadelphia, where I grew up. Readers have contacted me and asked how to learn more about the South Philly-South Jersey Cosa Nostra crime family. I responded by suggesting that they read George Anastasia’s true crime books, “Blood and Honor,” “The Goodfella Tapes” and “The Last Gangster.”


Jimmy Breslin said George Anastasia’s “Blood and Honor: The Scarfo Mob, the Mafia’s Most Violent Family” was the best gangster book ever written. Mr. Anastasia, a former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter, covered the rise and fall of the Nicodemo “Nicky” Scarfo Philadelphia Cosa Nostra crime family in the 1980s.


With Mr. Anastasia’s knowledge from years of covering the mob and his interviews with Nick Caramandi, a Scarfo mob soldier turned government witness, “Blood and Honor” offers the backstory of the murder of South Philly-South Jersey mob boss Angelo Bruno (portrayed by Harvey Keitel in “The Irishman”) and the eventual rise of Scarfo. The book details the schemes, the internecine mob war and the many murders ordered by Scarfo.


I interviewed Philip “Crazy Phil” Leonetti, Scarfo’s nephew and underboss who became a government witness. He described his uncle as smart, devious, calculating and psychopathic. He said his uncle enjoyed committing murders. 

No comments:

Post a Comment