The Philadelphia mob infused its’ ranks with some new blood recently, per exclusive Gangster Report sources on the ground in Pennsylvania, as 53-year old Florida-based Godfather Joseph (Skinny Joey) Merlino is alleged to have conducted a making ceremony on one of his several trips back to the City of Brotherly Love following his being let off parole restrictions in the spring. According to these sources, at least three wiseguys, possibly more, received their buttons, at least one of those inductees coming from a non-Merlino faction of the crime family, specifically, reputed capo Phil Narducci’s camp, as a “conciliatory gesture.”

Narducci, also 53, and Skinny Joey don’t like each other, however, per one source, are “quietly co-existing” using Merlino’s acting boss and second- in-command Steven (Handsome Stevie) Mazzone, who Narducci gets along with and respects, as a “buffer.” Even though the are the exact same age, Narducci and Merlino represent different eras in the city’s mob history, as well as two of at least four emerging subgroups currently operating in the fractured-yet-still-churning-and-burning Philly mafia.

The source, intimately familiar with a number of the fragile Family’s cliques, claims the making ceremony took place in late August or early September at a residence in South Philly and was the first Skinny Joey has held since his release from prison almost five years ago. Word on the street is that one of the new Men of Honor is somehow related by blood or by marriage to Narducci, said the source. It’s unclear if Narducci attended the ceremony.

The forever-suave and magnetic Merlino spent the summer and early fall traveling back and forth between Boca Raton, South Philly and the Jersey Shore, with a portion of his trips to Pennsylvania being used, per sources, attempting to mediate a festering beef between his former underboss Marty Angelina and his former consigliere George (Georgie Boy) Borgesi, both childhood friends of his, and ease tensions amongst certain syndicate members related to his own lead-from-afar ways. Borgesi and Angelina are said to be feuding over Angelina’s alleged siege on Borgesi’s rackets while Georgie Boy served time in prison and Borgesi reportedly requested permission to kill him as punishment. Per multiple sources close to the situation, Skinny Joey is being pressured by some “key” subordinates to spend more time in Philadelphia overseeing his mob family and less time living the highlife in Florida as a restauranteur eagerly glad-handing with the public.

All three of them – Borgesi, Angelina and Merlino – were convicted together in a wide-reaching RICO case in 2001, which brought down the entire sitting Philly mob administration. Angelina was busted in another racketeering case in the years that followed. Skinny Joey walked out of prison in 2011 and relocated to sunny Florida, where, according to the FBI, he’s been heading the powder keg of the Philadelphia mafia via a series of intermediaries. Borgesi, who was arrested in the same subsequent RICO that ensnared his buddy-turned-rival Angelina, but had a pair of trials end in hung juries, finally got out of the can in early 2014 and just recently got “off paper,” allowing him to meet freely with his gangster pals.

Entering the 2015 holiday season, the Philly mob is broken off into several distinct wings, per sources, splitting into four separate factions representing two different eras in the syndicate’s history: The Merlino Era of the 1990s, with one faction backing Skinny Joey himself and the other standing behind Borgesi and the “Little Nicky” Scarfo Era of the 1980s, with Narducci heading one side of the Reagan White House button men and Joseph (Joey Pung) Pungitore leading the other.

In the FBI’s opinion, Merlino, made into the mob in 1992 and the son of Scarfo’s underboss Salvatore (Chuckie) Merlino, remains the official boss of the Philadelphia mafia today (a job he’s maintained in one capacity or another for the last 20 years or so). Handsome Stevie Mazzone serves as Merlino’s “boss on the ground and day-to-day caretaker,” sources within Philly law enforcement say, with John (Johnny Chang) Ciancaglini filling Merlino’s underboss role and Johnny Chang’s dad, Joseph (Chickie) Ciancaglini, Sr. and Borgesi’s uncle, Joseph (Uncle Joe) Ligambi, – Merlino’s street boss when he was away at college from 2000-2011 -, acting as twin advisors and dual consiglieres.

Chickie Ciancaglini came out of prison after three decades last year and is officially the Family’s No. 2, but it’s a designation more ceremonial in nature, per this source. Ligambi was caught on federal audio surveillance in 2010 telling mobsters from New York that there were three guys he didn’t want to make because he didn’t know them well enough and was going to let Merlino do it when he came home from the big house – speculation is that the 2015 ceremony was for that purpose.

Narducci and Pungitore, both of whom got sprung from two-decade bids behind bars in the past few years and are second-generation Goodfellas, are considered capos loosely affiliated with the traditional Philly mob led by Merlino and his crew of staunch loyalists, which used to include Borgesi, but apparently doesn’t any longer. Sources say Narducci and Pungitore each pass “an envelope” to Mazzone or Mazzone’s people on a monthly basis and Narducci has “a lot of young guys” lining up in his corner. Borgesi, according to these sources, is getting support from a stable of “hardened, street-corner toughs,” non-made guys tied to labor unions, establishing his own powerbase outside of South Philly and apparently not kicking up any tribute to Merlino or Mazzone.

*FoxPhilly’s award-winning investigative reporter Dave Schratwieser, a go-to Philly mob pundit for years, was consulted for portions of this article

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