Pasquale Spirito a.k.a. "Pat the cat" (May 26, 1939 – April 29, 1983) was a Capo and hitman of the Scarfo crime family in Philadelphia from 1981 until his death on April 29, 1983.
Little is known about Spirito's early life. As a front for his illegal activities he gave people the impression that he was a plumber or a hardware store owner. He came from the Italian community of Chambersburg, New Jersey which is now part of Trenton, New Jersey. At one time, Spirito, who was involved in loansharking and bookmaking, was considered a close associate of both Harry Riccobene and of Riccobene's half-brother, Mario. He worked in the Scarfo crime family during the 1980s, during Nicodemo Scarfo's reign. Pasquale "Pat the cat" Spirito was an associate of made man Joseph "Chickie" Ciangalini Sr. who introduced Spirito into the life of organized crime. Pat earned the nickname amongst his fellow associates as 'The Cat' because of his con artist charm and demeanour. He was an associate until he was the getaway driver in the murder of John Calabrese, a long-time drug dealer who served under Angelo Bruno and then became a 'made man' in 1980 under Philip Testa with "Faffy" Francis Iannarella and Andrew DelGiorno at a secret induction ceremony at the home of mob associate Robert (Toro) Locicero in Vineland, New Jersey. He was married but was a constant womanizer.
John Calabrese was murdered on October 6, 1981 in Southwest Center City, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Pat recruited Nicholas Caramandi, Charles Iannece, and Ralph Staino Jr. as his associates, eventually elevating them all to 'proposed members' to Nicodemo Scarfo. Nicholas Caramandi said, "He was greedy and ambitious, attributes that (Nicholas) Scarfo could appreciate, but he lacked the killer instinct… Spirito was a moneymaker but he was also a whiner and complainer." He used to hang out at a bar, Paco's in Pennsport, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Nick Caramandi would later say, "If he had problems with his wife (he would send Charles Iannece or Nick Caramandi) to talk to his wife. Then we had to stay with him from eleven o'clock in the morning til one or two the next morning. Then he used to call you on the phone and have you one the phone for two or three hours."
Murder of Dominick DeVito
He was also a suspect of murdering Dominick (Mickey Diamond) DeVito along with Alphonse 'Funzi' Marconi and Guerino 'Mark' Marconi. DeVito was found on February 25, 1982 in the trunk of his nephew’s Cadillac parked at Ninth and Bainbridge streets in Washington Square West, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was murdered for his loyalty to Caponigro instead of Nicky Scarfo, with some even pointing to a long standing rivalry between the two men. Before his body was discovered, Pat and Charles Iannece told Nicholas Caramandi who was having problems with DeVito, "Your fucking problems are over. This guy's fucking dead. They didn't find his body yet." Following the murder of Dominick DeVito, Nicholas and his associates joined Pat's crew.
Attempted Riccobene Mob Hit
Spirito was almost shotgunned to death in his Cadillac Coupe De Ville while driving down the street by Harry Riccobene loyalists. This was shortly before the attempted mob hit of Scarfo crime family capo Salvatore Testa in April 1982. The attempted murder of Spirito was in retaliation for murdering 35-year-old Samuel (Little Sammy) Tammburino, murdered by Charles Iannece and Francis Iannarella as he left a pharmacy-convenience store in South Philadelphia that was owned and operated by Tammburino's parents shooting him sixteen times.
In 1982 he set up his criminal headquarters in the 1800 block of Bancroft Street in Point Breeze, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and was overseeing a lucrative extortion and gambling operation that was bringing in an estimated a million a year, but he had attracted the attention of many law enforcement agencies and they had planted several hidden listening devices in his clubhouse. This forced him to move from the Bancroft Street location to the corner of Camac and Moore Street, just off of East Passyunk Avenue in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where a friend of Nicholas Caramandi had rented an old plumbing supply store. In 1982 he was convicted on charges of RICO and sentenced to eight years in prison, but like Joseph Ciancaglini Sr., Harry Riccobene and a few others, he was free pending an appeal. Then in September, he was jailed for contempt after a convicted arsonist connected him with a corrupt attorney in plans to rig a court case. He was subpoenaed by a grand jury investigating the lawyer and spent about two weeks in jail for refusing to testify. Pat was a frequent patron of Marra's restaurant of Passyunk Avenue where he would spend most of his time drinking. He drove a 1978 grey Cadillac Coupe De Ville. He was shot three times in the head by Charles Iannece as he sat in his Cadillac on the northeast corner of Eleventh Street at Mifflin in Pennsport, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Relationship with Frank Narducci Sr.
Pasquale was a close associate of Frank Narducci Sr. On January 7, 1981, the 50-year-old South Philadelphia resident Frank "Chickie" Narducci Sr., a long-time capo under the tutelage of Angelo Bruno and was one of the men behind Bruno's murder. Fellow mobsters Joseph (Joey Pung) Pungitore, and Joseph (Joey) Grande were assigned as 'blockers', with Charles 'Charlie White' Iannucce, Salvatore Testa and Eugene 'Gino' Milano as the shooters, and Nicholas Caramandi as the getaway driver. Narducci Sr. was shot ten times point bank in the face, neck and chest outside his South Philadelphia home. Former Narducci associate and made man turned stool pigeon Nicholas Caramandi said, "You never know what he might have told Chick (Frank Narducci Sr.) One day he'd complain about me; one day he'd complain about Charlie (Charles Ianecce). He was goofy, like I tell Charlie something's up here". Spirito became angry at the young Salvatore Testa telling Nicholas Caramandi, "I'll pull his other arm off. I'll cripple him with his other arm", commenting on the attempted mob shooting at Philadelphia's Italian Market that nearly severed Testa's arm. Spirito fell out of favor with Nicodemo Scarfo very early on after he became boss of the crime family. Spirito was known to be a reluctant hitman, possibly failing to fulfill murder-for-hire contracts or outright declining them. Nicodemo Scarfo was not satisfied with his services. He was also accused of stealing from the extortion protection money of drug dealers and unconnected loan sharks in the South Philadelphia neighborhoods.
Speculation and conflicts
It is speculated that Spirito was killed because he was being a nuisance to the family, he lacked ambition and willingness to perform hits under the orders of Nicodemo Scarfo, or Scarfo thought he was useless to the organization and that his prominence in the family had to be put to an end like most of Scarfo's former associates and wiseguys. Spirito had recently switched allegiance, aligning himself with Scarfo. It is believed that Spirito had been chosen to kill either Mario or Bobby Riccobene and that when he failed to do so he was targeted for death.
Downfall and death
Mob boss Nicodemo Scarfo was starting to begin a violent genocide of his associates and every member of the family. An estimated total of 30 outsiders and made men were dead by the end of his reign, largely due to the Scarfo-Riccobene War and his own paranoia of disloyal and dishonest people. Scarfo ordered him to take out Bobby Riccobene. Spirito was reluctant, and Scarfo sent Nicholas Caramandi and Charles Iannece Jr. to kill him.
On April 29, 1983, Pasquale "Pat the Cat" Spirito was shot two times in the back of the head while sitting in his car in South Philadelphia. Spirito was killed for failing to carry out the contract to kill Robert Riccobene, the brother of Harry Riccobene. Nick Caramandi, during an interview commented:
"We tried for months to kill him, and for a while that's all we used to talk about. We used to get sick when we'd see him. We'd want to throw up. Pat had bad vibes and knew what was coming. This guy tried to work my head for hours the day before. He had me in a booth in a luncheonette drinking coffee for four hours, making me tell him how much I love him, and it's already set up to kill him the next night. I said, "Pat, what are you talking like this for? I'd do anything for you. Hey! I wouldn't be here if it weren't for you. Buddy, my life is yours. Jesus Christ, I love you." He was relieved.
Caramandi also said: "Spirito was not cut out for the Scarfo mob. He had come out of Trenton and moved to South Philadelphia at a time when mob members were low-key operators concentrating on gambling, loan-sharking, and bookmaking. He was greedy and ambitious, attributes that Scarfo could appreciate, but he lacked the killer instinct. He thought he could slide by generating enough money to keep the Little Guy down the shore satisfied. But he underestimated Scarfo's bloodlust. Spirito was a money-maker, but he was also a whiner and complainer." After we killed him, "everybody was happy. Everybody hated him. I never seen a guy hated so much."