June 6, 2020 – Philadelphia mob soldier Charles (Charlie White) Iannece died of natural causes this week at 85, having lived his final years on the street quietly in semi-retirement.
Iannace was a bookie, shakedown artist and reputed shooter during the “Wild West” days of the Nicodemo (Little Nicky) Scarfo mob in the 1980s. He served 24 years in prison for racketeering and was released in May 2011. Him and his then partner-in-crime, Nicholas (Nicky Crow) Caramandi, ran the Capac & Moore Street Clubhouse in South Philly during that era, a buzzing beehive of underworld activity that acted as a home-base for South Philly LCN street operations with Scarfo living and headquartering away in Atlantic City.
The burly, ox-strong Iannece reportedly “made his bones” in the Bruno-Scarfo crime family by killing his close friend and button man, Pasquale (Pat the Cat) Spirito, on April 29, 1983. Spirito angered Little Nicky Scarfo by dragging his feet in carrying out murder contracts assigned to him and was allegedly shot to death by Charlie White behind the wheel of his car after the pair had just attended a wedding together. According to FBI records, Iannece was inducted into the mafia by Scarfo the following year, in a 1984 ceremony held in Montgomery County.
That same year, he allegedly helped dispose of the body of Philly mob capo Salvie Testa, Scarfo’s godson who he grew jealous of and feared might lead a revolt based on his rising popularity and high profile in the press. The 28-year old Testa was shot dead inside a South Philly candy store on September 14, 1984 and then dumped in a ditch in Gloucester Township, New Jersey, his tennis whites drenched in blood.
Little Nicky Scarfo died in federal prison in 2017. He was convicted of a bevvy of counts at a 1989 trial, which brought an end to his paranoid, violent reign on the streets of Philadelphia.
Iannece leaves behind two sons on the street, Charles (Chaz) Iannece, Jr. and Vincent (Vinnie White) Iannece. The younger Ianneces are said to be close with current Philly mob don Joseph (Skinny Joey) Merlino.
Chaz Iannece might have played a role in the attempted assassination of Scarfo’s son, Nicky, Jr. in a South Philly restaurant on Halloween 1989. Nicky, Jr. and Skinny Joey, once tight, were openly feuding at that time in the wake of Scarfo’s incarceration.
Iannece stopped by Nicky Jr.’s table at Dante&Luigi’s that night and gave him a kiss on the mouth in the minutes before a masked gunmen stormed into the establishment and emptied a clip into the imprisoned Godfather’s kid. Nicky, Jr. miraculously survived the hit and went on to take refuge in New York’s Lucchese crime family. Informants told the FBI Iannece was sent in to the restaurant to prime the ground for the hit and literally gave Nicky, Jr., the kiss of death.
Skinny Joey Merlino, 58, remains the No. 1 suspect in the shooting to this day. Back in the 1980s, Charlie White and Nicky Crow (Witness Protection Program) reported directly to Skinny Joey’s dad, Salvatore (Chuckie) Merlino, Scarfo’s underboss.
Both Merlinos were regulars at Charlie White and Nick Crow’s Capac&Moore Street Clubhouse, with an up-and-coming Skinny Joey running errands and mini-scams for the Scarfo mob. Chuckie Merlino’s demotion in 1986 led to ill will between the Merlinos and Scarfos. Chuckie Merlino died of cancer behind bars in 2012.