EXCLUSIVE: ‘Mafia Prince’ Speaks For The First Time
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By Walt Hunter
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – In a CBS 3 exclusive report, the man who calls himself a “mafia prince” is speaking out for the first time.
The body bags were constant reminders of a bloody mob war.
There were the men gunned down in the street, a bomb on the front porch of a house.
In all, there were more than two dozen gangland killings.
And in the middle of it, there was Phil Leonetti, who would rise to second-in-command of the Philadelphia mob.
“If they got out of line, we kill them; they shoot at us, we shoot at them,” he told Walt Hunter.
In Philadelphia and back when Atlantic City was the newest gambling destination, Leonetti was a powerful man.
“When the Philadelphia mob had to do business with the Genovese crime family in New York, with the boss of the Gambino family, John Gotti, it was Phil Leonetti who was sitting at the table for Philadelphia,” said John Miller, a CBS News correspondent who covered organized crime for years, to Hunter.
Now, Leonetti is breaking his silence and doing so on condition that CBS 3 hides his face and disguises his voice, because he fears for his life.
“I always look over my shoulders,” he said. “It’s something I’m used to.”
Leonetti says Nicodema Scarfo, also known as “Little Nicky,” the now-jailed mob boss, has put a half-million dollar bounty on his head.
“I’m always marked, and I always watch myself,” Leonetti said. “Whatever he can do to kill me, he’s going to do it.”
But the men were once close — so close that Scarfo was seen kissing Leonetti, his nephew, as Leonetti was released from a Texas prison.
Leonetti says that Scarfo began teaching him to kill when he was just eight years old.
“He told me from when I was young not to talk to the police,” explained Leonetti. “We don’t live by their rules; we live by our own rules.”
Leonetti was always by Scarfo’s side and always ready to carry out his orders to kill.
In 1980, Scarfo, Leonetti and a third defendant listened in an Atlantic County courtroom as a mob informant described Leonetti’s execution of a contractor.
The witness described how Leonetti pulled a gun out of his jacket and shot Vincent Falcone, how Leonetti extended his arms and shot Falcone in the back of the head.
Leonetti described the scene to Walt.
“I tried to relax him. I said, ‘Vince, let’s make some drinks, get some ice’ and all that,” said Leonetti. “So as soon as he turned around, I shot him.”
“What was that moment like?” Hunter asked.
“It was just getting a job done, like completing a job,” Leonetti told him.
“Do you ever think about the people that you killed?” Hunter continued.
“No, to me they were all bad people,” admitted Leonetti. “I mean, they could have killed me too, I could’ve got killed.”
The three men ended up being acquitted at trial.
After that verdict, Scarfo thanked God for the American jury system, calling it an honest jury.
But by 1989, Scarfo’s growing blood lust had become too much even for Leonetti, the man some called “Crazy Phil.”
He abandoned the mob and turned informant.
“I was disgusted, I couldn’t take it anymore,” said Leonetti.
Leonetti killed 10 men, but in exchange for his testimony, he served just five years in prison.
He’s written a book, called Mafia Prince, about a way of life and death that he now regrets.
“You gotta kill people and keep on killing them,” said Leonetti. “There’s no honor, there’s no respect. It’s really a disgrace.”