After spending the last two years in prison held with out bail while going through two racketeering trials Philadelphia mafia boss Joseph “Uncle Joe” Ligambi is finally back home. Ligambi has now spent twelve years of his life in prison after doing 10 years for the Frank” Frankie Flowers” D’Alfonso murder before having the conviction over turned back in 1997. According to law enforcement and underworld sources Ligambi now 74 is telling everyone he has had enough and he is done with the mob and has stepped down. Now many people are wondering of he really means it but with history of Philly mob bosses leading to either a coffin or a jail cell and after such a close call at two different trials could anyone really blame him. Looking back at the six previous Philadelphia mob bosses who preceded Ligambi four ended up doing extremely long prison terms and two were murdered so perhaps it is the smart move.
Ligambi was seen by many as a Philly mobster who had a foot in both camps on streets now looking for a piece of the pie and could possibly bridge the gap peacefully between the two. Former Joseph “Skinny Joey” Merlino associates Steve Mazzone , John Ciancaglini, and George Borgesi are all now back on the streets along with many former Scarfo organization mobsters from the 1980’s. Merlino has been living in Florida since his prison release and also claims he is done with mob life. If both Ligambi and Merlino are out as possible leaders of the Philly mafia then who steps in to fill the void becomes the major question. Law enforcement sources claimed that Mazzone has been acting boss of the mob in Philadelphia while Ligambi was on trial and is a leading candidate to take over along with Scarfo era mobster Phil Narducci.
“Good Times Past for Philly Mob: From left: Ralph Abbruzzi,George Borgesi,Frank Gambino,Joey Merlino,and Joseph Ligambi “
But at this point does anyone really want the job and is it worth it. The mafia in Philadelphia is but a shell of its former self and the money just isn’t there anymore according to mob insiders and law enforcement. It once dominated the Philadelphia underworld but now it is but a minor player with drug kingpins with large wads of cash taking over the streets and even mob staples like gambling challenged by local casino’s along Jersey shore and in the city. Ligambi has himself likely taken all this into consideration and has decided there is nothing left worth fighting for. After 14 years as the head of the Philadelphia mafia a run which was seemingly peaceful and one would think somewhat lucrative he may be smart enough to walk away on top.
Ligambi’s ride into the sunset may yet be a bumpy one even if he does intend to hold to his word and step aside as a mob leader. The upcoming trial of Anthony Nicodemo a reputed Ligambi organization member for murder of Gino DiPietro could turn into a problem Ligambi. Law enforcement sources familiar with the case believe that Nicodemo is buried and it is possible that he could do like many mobsters before him and decide to turn rat and save himself. He could possibly supply evidence linking Ligambi to three yet unsolved murders that happened under his watch. The mob hit in 1999 on Ronnie Turchi, the 2002 mob hit of Raymond “Long John” Martorano, and the 2003 John “Johnny Gongs” Casasanto hit. So only time will tell of Ligambi indeed is stepping down and if he can do so with out any of his previous misdeeds coming back to haunt him.