Philadelphia mafia associate George “Cowboy George” Martorano was released from prison on October 5th after serving 32 years for drug charges. He admitted his role in running a drug ring which dealt in multiple drugs, including cocaine, marijuana, and heroin and made millions. He was jailed back in 1983 after receiving a maximum sentence of life which many still believe was unusually harsh being he was a first offender. Martorano would become the longest serving first time non-violent offender in federal prison history before being released due to a change in guidelines under the compassionate release program.
Cowboy George didn’t seem to get a fair shake getting hit with a maximum sentence since he could have gone to trial and been convicted and still faced same sentence. Typically, when one takes a plea it comes with the benefit of catching a break making it worth doing. It was believed by taking the plea, he would of been looking at no more than a 10 year sentence and perhaps even less. The son of Philadelphia mobster Raymond “Long John” Martorano definitely seemed to have been dealt a bad hand. One time Philly mafia hit man believes that the Cowboy George case may have led to the dismantling of the Philly mafia and the Nicodemo “Little Nicky” Scarfo regime according to veteran mob reporter George Anastasia at Bigtrial.
“Nick Caramandi (top left in shades)“
Nicholas “Nicky Crow” Caramandi was a Scarfo crew hit man until he decided to turn on his mob pals and become a government witness in 1986. He was busted for extortion in a case which targeted the Philly mob and its extortion attempts in the development of Penn’s Landing. Caramandi now says he believes that Long John Martorano was the reason he decided to turn rat. According to Caramandi while he was in prison, he was worried that he often paranoid boss Nicky Scarfo who was behind the Penn Landing shakedown may consider eliminating him to avoid any chances of being implicated in the scheme.
Caramandi decided to seek out fellow mobster Long John Martorano who was also in the Philadelphia Detention Center at the time and have him reach out and see if there was a problem between him and the boss. He claims days later Martorano told him in the prison yard that the message was clear “You’re dead” saying that Scarfo was planning to have him whacked. This information led Nicky Crow to reach out to the feds and cut a deal to become a government informant against Scarfo and the Philly mafia. Now Caramandi says he isn’t sure that he ever had a problem with Scarfo and that Long John Martorano made the story up as pay back.
Long John Martorano believed that Scarfo and his long time lawyer Bobby Simone, who also represented Cowboy George had sold out his son and they were the reason for his extremely harsh life sentence according to Caramandi. In turn, he used the fake story and Nicky crow to get back at the people who he believed were responsible. It was the ultimate betrayal as the testimony from Nicky Crow took down the entire Scarfo faction and dismantled the Philadelphia mob at the time. Simone was also convicted for his part of the Penn’s Landing case along with other mob linked crimes.
Former mafia boss Nicky Scarfo still sits in prison today serving out his 55 year racketeering sentence. Long John Martorano was released from prison in the 1990’s after having his murder conviction overturned and was gunned down in South Philly in 2002. It’s unclear as to why Long John was clipped and no one has even been charged with his murder, although the feds are still actively trying to tie the hit to some active Philly mobsters. Many feel like there may have been other reasons for the extremely harsh sentencing of Cowboy George which involved the relationship between late judge John B. Hannum and Simone. We may never know if Nicky Crow is right or not, but it sure seems like a plausible theory.