Imprisoned Philadelphia mobster Anthony Nicodemo had a personal beef with Gino DiPietro, the convicted drug dealer and possible one-time police informant he pled guilty to helping murder in an ill-conceived gangland slaying from four years ago that dated back to a debt, an insult and a dustup at a card game, according to exclusive GR sources. DiPietro was gunned down getting into his truck in South Philly on the afternoon of December 12, 2012.

Nicodemo, 45 and infamous east coast mafia don Joseph (Skinny Joey) Merlino’s former driver and bodyguard, copped to third-degree murder conspiracy charges and a weapon violation in DiPietro’s killing in the winter of 2015 and is currently serving a 25-to-50 year-sentence in state prison. He won’t be eligible for parole until 2038. Authorities believe Nicodemo drove the getaway car in the most recent mob hit from the notoriously brutal Bruno-Scarfo crime family, which up until now has never had a clear motive attached to it.

The 50-year old DiPietro had served prison time for gun and drug charges and allegedly gave up info on his first cousin and co-defendant Victor in his narcotics case, but there’s never been any confirmed link between him and Nicodemo or Nicodemo’s suspected accomplice, reputed Philly mob soldier Dominic (Baby Dom) Grande. Prosecutors in the homicide case targeting Nicodemo earlier in the decade admitted it’s their theory that Grande, a known Nicodemo cohort and gangland running buddy, was the hit’s triggerman. Grande, 37 and the son of mafia hit man turned informant Salvatore Grande, has never been arrested nor charged in the still-open homicide case.

Per three sources familiar with the situation, DiPietro and Nicodemo had bad blood dating back three months before DiPietro got killed when DiPietro racked up losses at a late-night card game Nicodemo oversaw in early September 2012. DiPietro left the game without paying off all of what he owed and returned to the game a few days later, according to these sources, wanting to play again but was informed by Nicodemo he couldn’t until he squared his debt, which led to DiPietro cursing Nicodemo loudly and the two engaging in a short, but heated shouting match.

“Gino told Tony Nics (Anthony Nicodemo) to go fuck himself and he did it in front of a bunch of people,” a source recounted to Gangster Report of the beef. “Nics just stood there and smiled for a while and then he kicked him out….they were both yelling. Gino called him a wannabe and Anthony said yeah, you’re gonna wanna be in another country in about two seconds if you don’t kick bricks. Anthony ain’t someone to trifle with. Everyone knows that. Gino just didn’t care.”

At that time already a suspect in multiple mob executions, Nicodemo, per the sources, sought and received permission from crime family administrators to kill DiPietro as retribution for his disrespect. Two sources claim Nicodemo discussed the issue with Philly Godfather Skinny Joey Merlino, who relocated to Florida following his release from a dozen-year stay federal prison in 2011 and was in town for his father’s funeral in October 2012, and Merlino sanctioned the job, telling Nicodemo to “handle it anyway you want.”

One source claims Nicodemo and Grande met with Merlino’s best friend and then-acting boss Steve (Handsome Stevie) Mazzone in a South Philly row house belonging to the relative of a known mob associate in the 24-to-48 hours prior to murdering DiPietro. Grande is a nephew of Mazzone’s via marriage.

The hit itself was a disaster for Nicodemo. His own Honda Pilot SUV was seen speeding away from the scene and he was apprehended in less than a half-hour at his nearby home, where police found the murder weapon poorly hidden (wrapped in a sweatshirt) in the front of his vehicle parked in his driveway.

Merlino, 54, was indicted back in the summer on another round of racketeering charges stemming from activity in Florida and New York. Mazzone is allegedly official underboss these days in the Bruno-Scarfo Borgata.

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