November 25, 2020 – Slain Philadelphia mafia figure Dominick (Mickey Diamond) DeVito was found hog-tied and shot to death in the trunk of Kenny Arabia’s Caddy almost 40 years ago. Arabia was DeVito’s nephew and driver. DeVito had been driving Arabia’s silver-colored Cadillac Seville the night he went missing in 1982.

Displaying a keen gangland instinct, instead declaring any desire for vengeance, Arabia made nice with his uncle’s killers. It was the right call. And one his uncle himself probably would have concurred with.

DeVito was a pragmatist and the consummate mob politician and con man. Well-liked and always perfectly-coiffed, the jack-of-all-trades wiseguy they called “Mickey Diamond” was a mover and shaker in the South Philly underworld of the 1970s and early 1980s. He crossed factional boundaries, adept at bridging gaps between different groups of Goodfellas for the sake of common scores, and spent money as fast as he made it.

While not a household name in Philly mob affairs, Arabia, a convicted-felon and drug peddler, has existed on the fringes of the Bruno-Scarfo crime family for some time. Unlike his uncle, who was flashy and known to be loud, Arabia favors stealth and quiet. In other words, he’s comfortable not getting any headlines.

Well, he could be on the verge of getting top billing soon. Considering the stakes, it can be assumed he’d rather remain lower down the marquee.

The 67-year old Arabia was arrested for racketeering and narcotics trafficking offenses this week along with reputed Philly mob underboss Steven (Handsome Stevie) Mazzone and alleged Philly mob captain Domenic (Baby Dom) Grande. Holding an administrative post in the Bruno-Scarfo crime family since the 1990s, Mazzone, 56, isn’t accused of drug dealing in the current case.

The up-and-coming Grande, 41, used Arabia to seize a series of rackets in Atlantic City, per the indictment which alleges the crime family launched a campaign in 2015 to reestablish a firmer presence in the Boardwalk gambling town it once lorded over unchallenged. The man who made that dominance possible was Nicodemo (Little Nicky) Scarfo, the Philly mafia’s blood-lusting, power-hungry don of the 1980s who headquartered in A.C. for the majority of his well-chronicled career.

It was long-simmering tension between Little Nicky Scarfo and Arabia’s uncle, “Mickey Diamond” DeVito, that ultimately resulted in DeVito’s untimely demise. Upon Scarfo becoming boss in 1981, the diminutive Cowboy gangster-icon set off on a purge of his enemies, both real and perceived.

DeVito disappeared on February 22, 1982 on his way to a meeting at a New Jersey pizza parlor with the Marconi brothers (Mark and Funzi), a pair of button men in the Bruno-Scarfo crime family. Scarfo gave the contract to the Marconis because they had a business relationship with DeVito and wanted to test their loyalty to his newly-minted regime.

In fact, it was a beef involving the Marconi brothers and a key Scarfo ally back in the 1960s, that soured Little Nicky on Mickey Diamond for good. Scarfo never let bygones be bygones, even two decades later.

According to FBI informant debriefings, Scarfo’s best friend, Salvatore (Chuckie) Merlino, was having a romantic affair with one of the Marconis’ nieces and had allegedly disrespected her resulting in the Marconis seeking permission to murder Merlino to protect their family honor. Scarfo had hoped DeVito could convince the Marconis to back down, but instead DeVito encouraged the contract because he was promised some of Merlino’s rackets by the Marconis if Merlino was killed. Some claimed Mickey Diamond tipped the Marconis off to Merlino’s affair with their niece in the first place.

Eventually, Philly Godfather Angelo Bruno ruled against killing Chuckie Merlino, believing Scarfo explanation of the situation being misconstrued by the Marconis.  Little Nicky took DeVito’s position in the matter as a personal slight and held a grudge.

Bruno was assassinated in March 1980. Scarfo became boss a year later and named Chuckie Merlino his underboss. Getting rid of DeVito was near the top of Little Nicky’s to-do list when he took the throne. DeVito’s close relationship with the men responsible for killing Scarfo’s predecessor and confidant, Phil (The Chicken Man) Testa in a March 1981 nail-bomb attack didn’t do him any favors and further cemented his fate.

The Marconi brothers summoned DeVito to a pizza joint they owned in Audubon, New Jersey. Along with another Scarfo lieutenant, Pasquale (Pat the Cat) Spirito, they shot Mickey Diamond to death in the basement of the restaurant and stuffed his body into the trunk of his nephew’s older-model Cadillac that he had driven to what he thought was a touch-base rendezvous about drug-dealing activity, but was in fact his slaughter.

Authorities came upon the car and DeVito’s corpse, his hands and feet bound behind him and wrapped in green-colored garbage bags, on the outskirts of the historic South Philly Italian Market on February 25, 1982. Kenny Arabia identified his uncle’s body.

Even after DeVito’s slaying, Arabia continued making a living in the underworld and was linked to the Marconi brothers, who died of natural causes in 2006 and 2012, respectively. Per FBI records, Arabia was partnered with Marc Marconi’s, son Gino in a drug operation in the early 1990s before Arabia was busted for meth and Gino was gunned down on orders of Philly mob bosses for refusing to pay a street tax in 1999.

Spirito was killed on Scarfo’s orders in the months that followed the Mickey Diamond hit. Scarfo ordered more than 30 gangland homicides, some never carried out, in his less-than-a-decade reign as head of the mafia in Philly.

Little Nicky Scarfo and Chuckie Merlino were incarcerated in March 1987 as part of a giant federal racketeering and murder case. Neither ever saw the light of day in the free world again. In the year leading up the bust, Little Nicky had demoted Merlino from his underboss post due to his alcoholism. Scarfo succumbed to heart failure in 2017 and Merlino died of cancer in prison in 2012.

Merlino’s son, Joseph (Skinny Joey) Merlino is the boss of the Philly mafia today. Arabia’s alleged partner in the narcotics business is Daniel (Cozzy) Castelli, a father-in-law to one of Merlino’s closest friends. 

Per Monday’s indictment, Arabia and Castelli met with a mob capo in November 2015 and were assigned a group of newly-initiated soldiers to put to work in Atlantic City. Arabia and Castelli were spearheading a Philly mob resurgence in the area as the boots on the ground, allegedly cutting into independent drug dealing, loan sharking and gambling rackets and setting up shop in their own, prosecutors claim. The soldiers had been “made” weeks prior.

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