Philadelphia mobster turned rat Philip Leonetti claims that he suggested killing James “Whitey” Bulger thirty years ago. According to Leonetti while his uncle Nicodemo Scarfo who was then boss of the Philadelphia mafia was in La Tuna prison in 1983 he put him in charge of running the crime families day to day operations in New Jersey. He ran things there from a headquarters in Atlantic City while fellow mobsters Salvie Testa and Salvatore “Chuckie” Merlino ran the families street operations in Philadelphia. Even though they were locked into a bloody mafia war with rival Philadelphia mobster Harry “The Hunchback” Riccobene things were going well Leonetti said. On most days Leonetti said he would meet with mobsters from New York and North Jersey collecting tribute payments for his Uncle and the Philly mob family resulting from business being done in Atlantic City and Philadelphia.
“Philip Leonetti and Nicodemo Scarfo”
Leonetti said on multiple occasions during this time he met with mobsters from the New England based Patriarca crime family. He said during one of these meetings a Genovese crime family associate he knew introduced him to a mob associate who operated in Providence and they wanted the blessing of the Philly mob to purchase an old hotel and turn it into a nightclub. So Leonetti got the go ahead from Scarfo from prison and he then arranged to meet leaders from both the Genovese family and Patriarca family to discuss the new venture and set guidelines for how money was going to be distributed among the crime families. He said it was decided that a monthly tribute payment from the business would go to Vincent “The Chin” Gigante then boss of the Genovese family through his underboss Venero “Benny Eggs” Mangano, Raymond Patriarca boss of the Patriarca family through his underboss Gennaro “Jerry” Angiulo, and to his Uncle Nicky Scarfo for Philly mob family through him. He said as the venture progressed he first heard the name “Jimmy Bulger” during a dinner meeting from a Boston based mobster.
Leonetti says he would learn Bulger was a drug dealing low-life Irish punk from South Boston who was paying tribute money to the Patriarca family to do business there. But he said the problem was that Bulger was not paying enough and he balked at the idea of paying more. Even worse says Leonetti is that Bulger had once been charged with rape, had murdered a woman, may have worked as a gay prostitute when he was young, and was suspected by some as being an informant. According to Leonetti he told the Boston mobster “You gotta kill him, immediately” you can’t do business with a man like that. He then sent word a few weeks later to the New York mobsters involved that Scarfo and the Philadelphia crime family wanted nothing to do with the upcoming venture anymore and the Patriarca family was forbidden to do business in Atlantic City. He said he told guys from the Genovese family the Patriarca family was “not our kind of people” and that was the end of it.
Now 30 years later to 2013 and Leonetti says he is back in New York to promote his new book Mafia Prince: Inside America’s Most Violent Crime Family & The Bloody Fall of La Cosa Nostra, and he walks in on a conversation while dining. His co-author Christopher Graziano and another person were sitting having dinner when Leonetti says he arrived and he hears Chris say he can’t believe Johnny Depp is going to be playing Whitey Bulger in an upcoming movie because he thought it was going to be Mark Wahlberg’s part. Leonetti said he was then asked by a reporter who was eating with the group if he had ever came across Whitey Bulger while he was in the mob. He said he had never met or heard of him until a couple years ago through the news. Although he knew another Bulger from Boston he had heard about from some Boston mobsters named Jimmy Bulger a low-life drug dealer. He then told the story above at the table and how he couldn’t believe the Patriarca family allowed that guy to stay around and how they should of killed him immediately and maybe he was a cousin of Whitey’s.
As everyone at the table looked at me stunned Leonetti said his co-author said “Philip, Jimmy Bulger and Whitey Bulger are the same guy”. He told Leonetti that the guy he described in that story was actually Whitey Bulger and that his real name was James Bulger. Leonetti said he told them no way the guy he was talking about was no gangster but a nobody drug dealer paying tribute to the Italian mob to do sale dope on the Boston’s North End. So after arguing his point at the table he went back to his hotel and did some research and he realized Chris his co-author was right the same guy he suggested the New England mafia kill in 1983 and saw as a low-life drug dealer was in face Whitey Bulger. Leonetti says he still stands by that today and Bulger should have been killed by the Patriarca family back then. He said Bulger was a psychopathic serial killer and a dope dealer and not a gangster.