by GEORGE ANASTASIA
Some of you readers may remember that almost a year or two ago, I had reported on Philly kingpin Joey Merlino’s rumored plans to set up shop in San Andreas. Well, I recently managed to sit down with an underworld source who’s witnessed a few developments, and quite frankly, it isn’t a pretty sight for those whom it may concern.
A. Uh-huh, that’s right, they got Uncle Neil going back and forth. Lemme tell you something about this guy though... he’s old but don’t let that fool you. I’ve seen the guy in action; he’s nobody to fuck around with. When Neil says something, everyone listens. His word is gospel.
Q. When I reported on these plans, I wasn’t too sure who would be executing Joey’s words, but obviously, it’s Neil that he’s chosen. Many would have expected a guy like Mike Lancelotti to be dispatched across the country, so it does come as a bit of a surprise. Why do you think he’s gone with Neil?
A. Mikey Lance? Don’t make me laugh. No way they’d send him. Neil came up under the Bruno regime, he’s a disciple of Angelo’s. Guys like these, they don’t forget those sort of things. The way I see it is, he wants Neil as far away from things as he can get him, so Joey can keep that money coming in while preserving his own spot. If you ask me? It’s a smart move.
If you were around on 39 SE 1st Avenue last August, you would’ve seen that Skinny Joe’s beloved restaurant had shut its doors for the final time. A handful of indictments had been come down on Merlino and fellow members of the Philadelphia Mafia, in relation to their participation in a major medical insurance fraud scam. In a matter of days though, he had been released on a multi-million dollar bond. This news was said to have left a sour taste in his mouth, and not to mention, massive holes in his pockets.
However, now with his freedom and riches hanging in the balance, his decision to assemble a satellite crew in Los Santos almost seems to have more purpose. After all, if you thought that being extorted by your local mobster was bad, just look the court fees that he’s about to incur. These guys sent down to San Andreas won’t say it to Joey Merlino’s face (who would?), but they know inside of their heads, they’ve got him where they want him.
Q. And this one, what about this photo, can you identify this guy for me?
A. Johnny Testa, I’m surprised you don’t know who he is. That’s Phil Testa’s nephew, I remember seeing him and Little Sal run around playing with toy guns. Now look at him, can’t say I didn’t see it coming. His family roots go way back in the Philly Mob, he was practically born into it.
Q. That’s Phil’s nephew? Jesus, we had no idea. Was he around when all that chaos went down with his uncle? You know....
A. Yeah, he was around. John was just as devastated as Sal was. He just didn’t go on a manhunt like his cousin did. Oh, but trust me, if you ask him about it, he’ll tell ya. It hit him pretty hard.
Well, it’s no secret Aniello Malangone’s making his mark in Los Santos, quickly too. Him and his crew, they’re doing whatever they need to do in order to bring the money in. I know for a fact they’ve got their hands deep in some underground rackets. These guys sure don’t waste time. There’s been rumors that Joey Merlino himself wants to set Aniello up in a position to where he can branch off and do his own thing in the city, under the right conditions, of course. After the move to the West Coast, Aniello’s been seen with Frank Juliano, Giacomo Ferrara, John Testa and Peter Greco. All four of them were made guys in the Philadelphia crime family under Uncle Neil.
When the crew moved to Los Santos, I couldn’t get much research done, personally. The traveling back and forth, the plane tickets, the logistics were just too much to keep up with. Recently, I’ve asked a friend of mine to go down there and do the surveillance for me and he was fine with it. These guys set up shop in the North-West area of Los Santos, over near the Vinewood. They’ve got the Fiore’s Delicatessen, which is one of many fronts for the crew. The Fiore brothers did some work for John Testa back in Philadelphia. All you’ve got to do is take a drive down the Main Boulevard and you’ll spot these guys outside, trust me. They’ve got the numbers to show off.
Q. Here, we know this guy. This is Frank Juliano, Neil’s muscle, his old driver. Am I right? This is Frank? I gotta be right, I’ve heard his name a thousand times already.
A. How much longer am I gonna be here? Christ, if you guys know them already, why am I here? Yeah, that’s Frankie. He epitomizes everything it means to be a gangster. He relishes that sort of life. I have to admit, it’s rare to find in this day and age.
Q. It’s been suggested that he had an involvement in the slaying of Long John Martorano. Do you know anything about that?
A. Can’t say I do. It wouldn’t surprise me though.
It wasn’t long before the Aniello’s crew ran into some trouble. These Philly guys can be really, really careless when it comes to some situations. Giacomo Ferrara was indicted for manslaughter, kidnapping, and attempted murder within the first month of the Los Santos move. So much came from that whole thing, so much heat, beef from another crew. But it didn’t stop them, these guys knew how to handle it. They put their top shooters on the job. The hitters knocked off (murdered/killed) a few guys from Downtown with ease, caught them leaving the Eastmoor neighborhood. What really got their blood boiling was, Downtown’s main guy on the street being a government informant or was until Berti showed up.
Nicholas Berti, Testa’s nephew was pressured by the feds for participating in the hit. Roy Napoli was involved as well, John’s go-to guy. Supposedly, Roy was the first one to drop a body during this so called war. I don’t know if the FBI or OCVD unit has the correct evidence to keep Berti in their grip, by the looks of it, they don’t. The victim’s body was found with a piece of cheese left in his mouth. Back in the day, that was done to send a message. A message meaning the guy was talking to the feds.
The heat died down after a while and the crew went back to doing what they do best, earn. This only fueled them to get more reckless as they continued to build their reputation in the city. You got one captain and four soldiers holding as much weight as a crime family. In Los Santos, I wouldn’t say it’s rare but what they’re doing is something that can’t be done by many. Eventually they got themselves a Social Club, over on Glazier street. It’s near Temple, real nice place, real nice area. We’ve seen about twenty to thirty guys outside of the place before. The Cantatta’s Social Club is a members only establishment, if you don’t know anyone or no one knows of you? You’re not getting inside, and if you do? You’ll be walking right back out the front door.
Q. All right, we’re almost finished here. Two more and you can go home. Tell us about this one, who’s he?
A. That’s Peter Greco. They call him Pretty Boy Pete. The ladies’ man, the gentleman, Pete’s more laid-back than the rest of them. His bad side is rarely seen but trust me when I say this, that’s a good thing.
Q. Just of out curiosity, who’s the guy next to him? He looks a little familiar...
A. Ask him. I don’t know, never seen him a day in my life before this picture. How about you move onto the next question already?
Here’s a little history lesson for you all: Aniello’s regime isn’t the first Philly crew to hit Los Santos. Back in the late 90s, Jerry Fiumano was sent over to Los Santos by Nicky Scarfo. Scarfo at the time was the head figure of the Philadelphia crime family. The Fiumanos were more behind the scene type of guys. Their top guys were rarely seen on the streets, Vincent “Vinny Sava” Savarese and James “Jimmy the Boot” Savarese. These two were the ones who called the shots, these were the guys who Scarfo put his trust into and sent them to Los Santos. Basically, it’s the same move done by Merlino. It just involves different bosses and a different timezone.
None of the Savarese regime is involved with Aniello’s plans in Los Santos. I’m sure if they needed help, they’d just call Merlino and have him send someone down from Philadelphia. There’s no real evidence tying Malangone to Merlino while in Los Santos besides a few plane tickets. Now back home? I’m sure they got way more on the old man, than we do here. All I can really say is, what we’re witnessing is history. Maybe even better than the what we’ve ever seen as of lately. Currently, La Cosa Nostra is becoming weakened each year. All of the old American-Italian organizations are starting to lose their grip on the underground criminal world here in Los Santos. Some of their guys are in jail, dead or turned into informants.
Q. Last but not least, these two, who are they? Preferably tell us more about the circled individual.
A. Jackie Ferrara and his son Angelo. He’s still the same old fat fuck I bet, loud and obnoxious. Jackie was a good earner, always was, always will be. It’s just he’s so fuckin’ obnoxious, if you don’t hear his footsteps when he’s entering a room, it’s because he’s probably yelling for no reason.
A. I can’t really speak for Uncle Neil and his boys, all I know is they’re really careful. You ain’t gonna catch them slipping up unless they want you to catch them. His crew’s real tight knit.
Q. Do you think Merlino and Ligambi will give Neil their blessing to branch off? They seem to be doing very well here in Los Santos.
A. Yeah, there’s no doubt in my mind they’ll get their blessing. I know for one, Neil’s smart. Plus, he’s got the right guys to get the job done. All these street guys they got out there, all that money they’re bringing in, it’s only gonna transform into somethin’ bigger and better.
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