The Philadelphia mafia has quietly navigated its way through the last couple of years during which the family has grown and had somewhat of a resurgence.
According to recent reports, there are as many as 35 made guys currently on the streets in Philly and the Cosa Nostra family is as strong as its been in decades. The mafia in Philadelphia hasn’t had this kind of strength in numbers since back in the 1980s as numerous made guys find their way back to the streets after long prison sentences along with some newly inducted members. With so many players back in the fray along with legal troubles once again popping up for alleged boss Joseph (Skinny Joey) Merlino the hierarchy of the family seems to be in flux.
“Joseph Ligambi and George Borgesi”
In the mafia bad news for one usually, means the opportunity is knocking for someone else and veteran mobster George Borgesi seems to be making moves to re-establish himself as a power within the crime family. Borgesi made his way back to the streets in 2014 after doing 13 years in prison for a 2001 RICO conviction and beating a racketeering conspiracy rap. Both Borgesi and then acting boss Joseph (Uncle Joe) Ligambi were able to avoid convictions on various charges in two separate trials in 2013-14. Along with being Ligambi’s nephew he also grew up with Merlino, Steven Mazzone, and Michael (Mikey Chang) Ciancaglini. The four of them went to war in the 1990s against then Philly mob boss John Stanfa and eventually took control of the family after Stanfa was sent to prison.
Back in 2000 Borgesi had risen through the ranks and was promoted to acting consigliere under then underboss Steven Mazzone. His ascent up the ladder was cut short when he was sent to prison along with Merlino, Mazzone, and John (Johnny Chang) Ciancagalini. When Borgesi was released he complained to family leaders about the loss of control over the families Delaware County rackets to Johnny Chang and other rackets that he claimed were raided by fellow mobster Marty Angelina. Borgesi had reportedly been bumped down to soldier when released and there seemed to be a lot of bad blood. According to reports, a series of sit-downs took place over several months between Borgesi and Merlino in both South Philly and Florida leading to Borgesi being bumped back up to captain last year in an effort to ease tensions.
Borgesi has seemingly been very active ever since cultivating connections both inside and outside of his own organized crime family. It was reported last year that he met with members of multiple New York mafia families in both New Jersey and Florida along with other organized crime members. A new report from Scott Burnstein and his Gangsterreport has Borgesi meeting with New England mafia leader Matthew Guglielmetti in Rhode Island back in February according to a source. The reasons behind the recent meeting are unclear although Borgesi has previous links to New England once being responsible for a Philly mob crew that operates in Patriarca family territory. George seems to be leveraging old and new connections along with establishing new rackets in an effort to strengthen his power base and his position inside the Philly mafia family.
The 53-year-old mobster has been seen as a live wire and somewhat of a wild card by many over the years. Could he now be poised to once again begin a rise through the ranks of the new family hierarchy especially if boyhood pal Merlino is sentenced to another extended stay behind bars? The aging Ligambi was reportedly semi-retired before stepping back in recently as acting boss but his run seems to be coming to an end leaving the family with a void to fill perhaps sooner than later. There seem to be a few likely candidates that could step into that acting boss or even a more permanent role including Mazzone who has held the rank of acting boss in the past. It now seems that Borgesi may also be positioning himself to be part of that conversation as well given the opportunity.
Although Borgesi may not be seen by some as boss material when it comes to the American Mafia crazier things have happened. With the diminished earning power of the family and the legal hurdles that come with being boss many wonder if anyone really even wants the job these days. Well, George has always been a mobster for better or worse and it wouldn’t be a reach for him to be one of the few that still covets the job and title. The Scarfo era factions of the family which include Phil Narducci and Joseph Pungitore at least so far seem content to stay operating off the radar. So with some backing from Ligambi and a few of his other boyhood pals who would also prefer to stay in the background along with his New York and New England connections it seems plausible that Borgesi could one day sit atop the mountain in Philadelphia.