Mazzone is so well-liked and heavily-respected, that the Philly LCN “acting boss” is personally keeping the mafia in the City of Brotherly Love from degenerating into all-out war, delicately politicking his way through the syndicate’s multiple factions and maintaining peace in what is a potential powder keg of a local underworld, according to sources both on the street and in Pennsylvania law enforcement.
If you ask the FBI, Mazzone, 50, is in charge of the Philadelphia mafia on a day-to-day basis, fronting the Family on behalf of his best friend, Joseph (Skinny Joey) Merlino, the region’s mob Don dating back roughly 15 years.
Skinny Joey and Handsome Stevie (pictured in “cover image” as pallbearers at a 1993 funeral) were nailed together in a large-scale federal racketeering case, stemming from activity in the 1990s. Both served prison sentences and per the FBI, have returned to the fold in the crime family they fought and won a bloody shooting war for control of as young men two decades ago.
Mazzone was released in 2008 and came back to the traditional mob-hotbed of South Philly. The 52-year old Merlino was sprung from prison in 2011, relocated to Florida and is alleged to be running the Family from afar – though Skinny Joey will be heading back behind bars for a four-month stint at the beginning of next year for violating the terms of his parole and having dinner with his alleged underboss John (Johnny Chang) Ciancaglini at a Boca Raton cigar bar and night club back in the summer.
Ciancaglini helps Mazzone look after the street in Philadelphia and funnels money and messages to Merlino down in the Sunshine State mostly through intermediaries, like wives and relatives, per court documents related to Merlino’s parole violation.
Although supported by a loyal and lethal inner-circle of boyhood confidants, like Mazzone and Ciancaglini, among several others who make up the bulk of his current organization, Merlino is despised by a fast-emerging group of 1980s-era gangsters recently let out of prison and reputed to be led by Phil Narducci.
“Those guys hate Joey, they think he’s a punk,” said someone familiar with the situation. “I’m talking going back to when he was a teenager. Joey has always rubbed these guys the wrong way. They don’t recognize him and don’t want to pay him any mind. Stevie’s helping smooth some things over. He’s making sure the animal doesn’t get out of the cage on both ends.”
Known as the, “The Scarfo faction,” due to the fact that they all came up together under notoriously-incendiary former Philadelphia Godfather, Nicodemo (Little Nicky) Scarfo, in the 1980s, the Narducci-headed contingent operates autonomously, according to sources.
“Phil (above w/ dad and big bro) and his people like Stevie, they hold him in high-regard, that’s what is preventing flare ups between them and Joey,” said one source that knows all three wiseguys in question. “They pass on some of what they’re clearing to Stevie and let him do what he wants with it. The money is for Stevie, if he wants to throw some to Joey, which I’m sure he does, that’s his business. I’ll tell you this, nothing would be coming their way if it wasn’t for him. Stevie knows how to talk to people and shows them a lot of respect.”
Reportedly, Narducci isn’t on good terms with Johnny Chang either, another issue Mazzone is helping massage and stave off any confrontations that could arise from the dispute which may have to do with the way Johnny Chang dealt with some members of Narducci’s family while he was incarcerated, according to more than one street source.
Narducci’s crew is alleged to contain his older brother, Frank (Windows) Narducci, Jr., Tore Scafidi, Joe Grande and Nicholas (Nicky the Whip) Milano and possibly the Pungitore brothers (Joey Pung and Tony Pung), all of whom were convicted alongside Scarfo and the elder Merlino in a giant RICO case levied against the organization in 1987. The Pungitores may be operating separately within that Scarfo-regime faction.
The Narducci brothers’ father, Frank (Chickie) Narducci, Sr., a Philadelphia mob capo in the 1970s and early 1980s was murdered in 1982 in retaliation for his participation in the plot to kill Scarfo’s predecessor and close friend, Philip (The Chicken Man) Testa, blown up by a nail-bomb in March 1981.
A then-26 year old Phil Narducci was described by U.S. Prosecutors as a “coldblooded mafia killer” in a 1989 sentencing memo. He was found guilty of being a shooter in the 1986 gangland slaying of South Philly racketeer Frank (Frankie Flowers) D’Alfonso at trial, but had the conviction overturned on appeal – the same appeal that freed current syndicate consigliere and one-time acting boss, Joseph (Uncle Joe) Ligambi in 1997. Narducci would be forced to serve another 15 years on the racketeering collar.
Released from prison in 2012, he is alleged to have at least at one point in recent years be headquartering his operations out of his nephew’s nightclub, Encore, in the area’s Old City neighborhood.
Unlike Narducci, his older brother, “Windows” or his entire crew for that matter, Stevie Mazzone doesn’t come from a rich mob pedigree. His relatives were “civilians” and Mazzone was first exposed to the Philadelphia mafia through his friendship as a teenager with Merlino, Ciancaglini and Ciancaglini’s two brothers, Johnny and Joey Chang, whose fathers were each high-powered mobsters in the area.
The Ciancaglini brothers’ father, Joseph (Chickie) Ciancaglini, Sr. was a capo in the Scarfo regime and in his heyday was frequently observed palling around town with Chuckie Merlino.
Early in his career in the mob, Mazzone was a driver for South Philly goodfella Louis (Louie Irish) Deluca and tended bar at Deluca’s East End Social Club. In the 1980s, Deluca was a subordinate of Nicky Scarfo lieutenants Charles (Charlie White) Iannece and Francis (Faffy) Iannerelli. He was killed in May 1990, allegedly shot to death by Mikey Ciancaglini and Gaetano (Tommy Horsehead) Scafidi, for his desire to throw his hat into the ring as a candidate to replace Scarfo as boss.
Mazzone then teamed with Mikey Chang, Skinny Joey Merlino and imprisoned Mafioso Ralph Natale to challenge Sicilian-born John Stanfa for supreme power in the Philadelphia mafia, allegedly “making his bones” by acting as the triggerman in the hit that set-off an ensuing two-year war.
According to federal records and sources on the street, Handsome Stevie killed Stanfa’s No. 2 in-charge, “Little Felix” Bocchino, shooting him in the head on January 29, 1992 as he got behind the wheel of his Buick, with Mikey Chang watching from a getaway car.
Those same records and sources contend the Little Felix hit wouldn’t be Mazzone’s last.
A year later his name surfaced in the investigation into the March 2, 1993 shooting of Stanfa’s underboss and Mikey and Johnny Chang’s brother, Joseph (Joey Chang) Ciancaglini, Jr., the only (attempted) mob hit ever recorded on tape. An FBI-stationed surveillance camera mounted on a telephone pole across from a Philadelphia diner caught a series of gunmen shuffling into the establishment and unloading a barrage of bullets into the 34-year old underboss in an early-morning attack.
At the time of the escalating tensions, eldest brother, Johnny Chang and family patriarch, Chickie Ciancaglini, were each away in jail. Eighty year-old Chickie Ciancaglini was recently released to a halfway house in Philadelphia and will be home for good in a few months.
Joey Chang survived the attempt on his life, but was permanently disabled and shelved from any further activity in the underworld. He and is younger brother Mikey had a bitter falling out, with Mikey Chang becoming convinced that Joey was part of a hit team that opened fire on him in front of his house in the months after the Felix Bocchino murder and, according to federal court documents, recruited Mazzone, Merlino and others to retaliate and kill his own elder sibling.
Tommy Scafidi became an informant in 2000 and named himself, Mazzone and Mikey Chang as the shooters in the March ’93 attack, with reputed Philly mob soldier Michael (Mikey Lance) Lancelotti driving the getaway car and Merlino driving a “crash” car positioned down the block from the diner that served as one of Stanfa’s headquarters.
Scafidi told investigators that Mazzone was the first assailant to enter the diner, which was located in a Gray’s Ferry industrial district, and went straight up to Joey Chang in the kitchen and shot him five times in the head and face.
Mikey Chang was killed by Stanfa gunmen five months later. Merlino was wounded in the shooting that felled Mikey Chang and Ciancaglini’s murder served to bond him even closer to Mazzone, per those who have known both of them since childhood.
Stanfa was jailed in 1994 and Natale released months later that same year, ending the war and shifting the mantle of power to him and Merlino. Mazzone acted as a driver and bodyguard for Natale and eventually his consigliere. Once Natale was imprisoned in 1998, Merlino took over as Don and Handsome Stevie was promoted to underboss.
Two years prior to his ascension to the No. 2 slot in the Philadelphia mafia, Mazzone again had his name pop up as a prime suspect in a gangland murder investigation.
According to FBI records and multiple sources in the South Philly underworld,, Mazzone’s friend and fellow Merlino-loyalist, Michael (Dutchie) Avicolli, began engaging in an affair with Mazzone’s wife in early 1996, which led to Handsome Stevie starting to romance a girlfriend of Avicolli’s and then arranging and carrying out his murder.
On April 3, 1996, Dutchie departed his South Philly residence at around 10:30 in his black-colored Buick – neither he, nor his car were ever seen again. His body has never been recovered, however when Natale ended up flipping in late 1999, he told the FBI that Mazzone shot Avicolli in the head and then Mazzone, Merlino and their pal and future consigliere, George (Georgie Boy) Borgesi buried him on a farm in northern New Jersey.
Throughout the 1990s, Mazzone is suspected by the FBI to have either carried out himself or helped organize more than a half-dozen mob hits, according to a federal DOJ sentencing-memo from 2001. In recent years since his return to the streets, Handsome Stevie has been cited for a parole violation when in 2010 he attended the Philadelphia mafia’s annual Christmas party with known undesirables and the following year was caught on tape by a local television cameraman berating two underlings (Uncle’s Joe Ligambi’s brother, Phil Ligambi and Georgie Boy Borgesi’s brother, Anthony Borgesi) as they stood talking on a sidewalk outside his home.
Another issue Mazzone’s gangland political savvy is keeping from getting out of hand is regarding George Borgesi, who since walking away from two straight recent mistrials and over a dozen years behind bars on the same RICO pinch Mazzone and Merlino took, has been “making a lot of waves,” in his quest to regain his status in the mob.
“Georgie Boy is going nuts, talking everyone’s ear off how he needs to get back what is his,” said one source. “Stevie is running interference and telling everyone Georgie is just blowing steam. But there are a lot of people out there that are getting pushed to the edge when it comes to Georgie and he’s not doing himself any favors with the way he’s acting. Stevie’s keeping the wolves from attacking right now, because believe me there are some very serious guys chomping at the bit to bring Georgie harm .”
One of the people alleged to be getting perturbed with Borgesi’s antics is Johnny Ciancaglini, the man that now oversees much of what Borgesi once did, including the lucrative rackets being conducted in Delaware County.
“How long Stevie can keep juggling all these balls in the air, making sure everyone’s happy and nobody’s resorting to violence is really any one’s guess,” the source said. “It’s a thankless job and it aint easy. If they were putting it on the board in Vegas, I doubt the odds would be very good.”