Friday, January 27, 2017


by Jeff Canarsie

So many people are wondering exactly what the Philadelphia LCN family looks like these days.  With "Skinny" Joey Merlino's recent arrest and indictment things are going to get a little shaky down the road if Joey is convicted.  Currently Joey is looking at twenty years in federal prison.  In the indictment are a slew of crimes, but most importantly none are "violently based," which may keep Joey from getting a life sentence, it still carries a long prison sentence which is sure to render Joey "retired." So what does the Philadelphia Mafia look like chain of command wise?


Joey has been the unofficial boss since Ralph Natale went away, and some would argue even when Natale was boss. Steve Mazzone and Joe Ligambi acted as the street boss while Joey was serving a 14 year prison sentence for racketeering.

Once Joey was released, he moved down to Boca Raton to lay low.  All sources have said he indeed regain leadership over the family once he was back on the streets.

As released he "opened the books," allowing new members to crowd in, and promoted some old faces and new faces.


While relatively unknown to most mob followers, Steve Mazzone has been with Joey Merlino and company from day one.  He, Borgesi and others have been childhood friends of Joey Merlino.  While Joey wrapped up his 14 year sentence Steve Mazzone was the second in command behind "Uncle" Joe Ligambi.  Low key and more reserved he currently sits number two in the Philadelphia underworld only because Joe Ligambi is semi-retired and acting more of a consigliere.  Philadelphia doesn't exactly use a "front boss," or street boss. Joey uses Mazzone as a go between.


"Uncle Joe"  was officially the street boss while Joey was away serving time.  Known as an old school player, he gently drove the Philadelphia LCN while Joey was away. He was indicted himself, and for a short time his nephew Georgie Borgesi took over with Steve Mazzone.  Once aquitted on charges he came back to resume control over Philadelphia until Joey's release, then stepped aside into semi-retirement.  It is believed if Joey goes back to prison Ligambi will step in on a part time basis but would rather not be out front.


We have talked a lot about Georgie, but the truth is, once demoted now re-promoted he stands to gain the most if Joey goes away. A part of the issue with Borgesi is that Martin Angelina took control of his rackets while he went away and refused to give them back after Borgesi was released which caused a huge rift between Merlino and Borgesi.  Borgesi then aligned himself with hangers-on and associates trying to swing a power base which ultimately failed.  Joey wanting relative peace promoted Borgesi back to CAPO, and all seems relatively quiet for now.


One of the bigger issues Merlino has had, is that Martin cannot seem to stay off the police's radar. Everything from drunk driving, to parole violations it's amazing that Angelina has been out this long without an issue. He is loyal to Merlino and whatever rift was caused between he and Borgesi seems to have been forgotten so far.


Michael(Center) maybe lesser known to those who follow the Philadelphia LCN, but he's relative to this conversation because he's another one who stays off the radar.  A bookmaker, loanshark and etc, he has slowly and quietly stayed at the top of the Philadelphia underworld with relative peace and tranquility.  He's another one whose been friends with Merlino since they were kids and is incredibly loyal to Joey.  Where he stands at the end the day will determine what happens with Joey.  I don't necessarily believe he will stand by Borgesi, more likely Mazzone, but time will tell.


I have said it once, I have said it a million times, this is the guy to watch in Philadelphia.  Not just a highly intelligent guy, but an absolute gangster.  While Narducci was mainly noted for being a part of the Nicky Scarfo crew, it surprised a lot of fellow mob aficionados that once Narducci hit the streets he was quickly "made," and given a leadership role in Philadelphia. When I mean made, I mean, officially a member of what it the MERLINO CRIME FAMILY.  One of the main reasons Joey promoted Philip was because it was an olive branch to a bunch of former Scarfo guys who had done there time and come home.

His promotion bothered Borgesi and others, but Joey saw it as "making peace," versus "making war."  Better to have Narducci happy, then to have Narducci make a run for the top spot.  What makes this move even more interesting is that Narducci is fully capable, and powerful enough to force a change if Joey goes away.  Not many would rebuff Narducci except Borgesi, and that's a fight that may be coming to a television near you soon enough.

What the question is, and rightfully should be is, how long until, and how bad could this get?  The simple answer is in two forms.  If Joey doesn't go away then it's business as usual.  If Joey does go away then all bets will be off and Borgesi had better hope he has the backing of New York.  I don't see Borgesi as a viable solution in Philadelphia especially when you consider he pitched a fit over Narducci getting promoted to begin in and would rant and rave to anyone who would listen to him.

If Borgesi thinks taking Joey's position is viable he can only do that in three ways.  He would one, have to having the backing of New York, which isn't going to happen. Two, Mazzone would have to step down and three, Narducci would have to rather sit idly by.  I don't see anyway that Borgesi has the strength to do this.  He would have to illicit his uncles help, but that didn't work when he asked Joe Ligambi to help him with the Angelina issue.

Rather what I see as more feasible, is that there is going to be a big power struggle.  Narducci is powerful and respected, and he's more of a gangster than Mazzone or Borgesi.  Philadelphia had dealt with gangsters before(Scarfo) and not to say Narducci is like Scarfo, but he's definitely more like the archetype than Borgesi and Merlino. 

The power vacuum won't begin until Merlino knows his fate, then he might not be strong enough to keep control over his own family.  New York has supported Joey for years, but the time may come where Philadelphia needs new leadership and Narducci is fully capable and probably the only one tough enough to bring Philadelphia back into the spotlight.


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