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Mafia Wiki

Phil Leonetti

Phillip "Crazy Phil" Leonetti (born March 27, 1953) is a former mobster who became the underboss of the Philadelphia crime family under his uncle, boss Nicodemo Scarfo. In the 1980s, Leonetti was moving through the family ranks as a mafia hitman, capo and then underboss to Scarfo. Leonetti allegedly killed as many as 60 people for his uncle and boss Nicodemo Scarfo. He was convicted in 1988 for 20 murders and sentenced to 45 years imprisonment, this caused Leonetti to turn informant.

In 2010, the FBI contacted Leonetti to inform him they feared his identity and location of himself and his family was compromised, the FBI immediately moved Leonetti and his family to another secret and secluded location, fearing for his and his families lives because the FBI got a secret tip that Nicodemo Scarfo sent a heavily-armed hit squad to kill Leonetti and his family, Scarfo apparently sent over 30 mafia assassins wearing bulletproof vests with AK-47 assault rifles to murder Leonetti and his entire family. Scarfo sent such a large hit squad with machine guns and bulletproof vests because Leonetti was protected by over a dozen U.S. Marshall's.

Early Life

Philip Leonetti was born on March 27th 1953 in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. His father abandoned him when he was a baby and his mother Nancy Scarfo raised him. she was the sister of future Philadelphia mob boss Nicodemo Scarfo, he has a close bond with his nephew phil and thought of him as like a son.

In 1962 Nicodemo Scarfo implicated his nephew Phil Leonetti as an accessory after the fact in the murder of Dominick (Reds) Caruso. Caruso was murdered for disrespecting Joseph (Joe the Boss) Rugnetta, who was the consigliere of the family that served under Angelo Bruno. Caruso tried to extort Rugnetta for money and slapped him at his home in Southwark, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After Caruso’s body was dropped off at the intended burial site in Vineland, New Jersey Scarfo drove the pick-up truck to his parents’ apartment building in Atlantic City where Leonetti lived. Leonetti was about nine years old at the time. Scarfo picked up Leonetti and took him for a ride to Philadelphia to use him as a decoy. Scarfo figured that if anybody saw the killers using the truck in the murder and reported it to the police, the police would never think that a truck with a little kid in it had been used in a murder. Scarfo told Leonetti on the day of the murder that he had just “killed a very bad man” and explained to Leonetti why he wanted Leonetti to ride with him to Philadelphia. Scarfo drove the truck to Philadelphia for it to be destroyed so that it could never be used as evidence. Dominick “Reds” Caruso was reported missing by his wife on January 30, 1962. As of this date, Caruso’s body has not been found.

This event would have a huge impact on the young Leonetti's life and may have influenced him to follow his uncle into organized crime and join the Philadelphia crime family.

Career in the Philadelphia crime family

Leonetti joined the Philadelphia crime family in the early 1970's in the crew of his uncle Nicodemo Scarfo. he was involved in the construction business in Atlantic City, New Jersey with his uncle Nicky and his uncle's friend Salvatore Merlino.

In 1979 Leonetti committed his first murder. Nicodemo Scarfo, Phil Leonetti, Salvatore Merlino and Lawrence Merlino had set up a concrete company Scarf Inc. This was a way for them to insure that their families would get a "piece" of both the legitimate and illegitimate world. Vincent Falcone began belittling Scarfo and Leonetti behind their backs. It wasn't long until they found out about Falcone's "loose lips".

Nicodemo Scarfo watched with glee as his beloved nephew Phil Leonetti took out a 38 and shot Falcone in the back of his head. Scarfo mocked Falcone's body calling him a "cocksucker" and a "no good motherfucker". Scarfo then bent down and listened to where Falcone's heart would've been beating if he were alive. Scarfo then suggested that Leonetti shoot him once more and Phil did as told; he shot Falcone in the chest. Salvatore Merlino helped Scarfo and Leonetti dispose of the body. Not long after, Falcone's body was discovered stuffed in the trunk of a car.

Made man

Though being indicted for the murder of Falcone was a sobering event in the lives of Nicodemo Scarfo, Leonetti, and Salvatore Merlino, the trio was acquitted of the murder. Testa decided it was time to "open the books." On June 8th, 1980 Boss Philip Testa held a La Cosa Nostra Made Man initiation ceremony at the South Philadelphia home of mob captain John Cappello. At the ceremony, Testa inducted Scarfo's nephew Phil Leonetti, Lawrence (Yogi) Merlino, Salvatore Merlino, Robert (Bobby) Lumio, Anthony (Blonde Babe) Pungitore Sr., Salvatore (Wayne) Grande, Anthony (Tony) Testa,Jr., Frank (Little Frankie) Narducci Jr.,and his son, Salvatore Testa.


In 1981 Nicodemo Scarfo became boss of the Philadelphia crime family after the death of Philip Testa who was killed in the bombing of his home, he promoted Phil Leonetti, Salvatore Testa, Lawrence "Yogi" Merlino and John Ciancaglini to captains of their respective crews. When Scarfo became the Boss, he wanted to unify the organization and dreamed of running a smooth criminal empire.

In August 1982 Nicky Scarfo who was on trial for firearms charges planned to run things from his prison cell through his beloved nephew Phil Leonetti. In their last meeting, Nicky gave Pasquale Spirito the Bobby Riccobene contract. Nicky received two years in prison for possessing an unlicensed firearm.

Whilst in prison, Nicky passed orders to his new consigliere Nicholas Piccolo (who replaced Frank Monte after his murder) and underboss Salvatore Merlino through Phil Leonetti. Salvatore Testa took on a large role in running the Family in Scarfo's absence. Also, he was going to marry Chuckie's daughter Maria.

In March 1984 Nicodemo Scarfo was released from prison and was greeted at the prison gates by his nephew Phil Leonetti who was leading an entourage of young mobsters. Scarfo spent the day partying at a hotel. The next day he flew to Atlantic City where the celebrations continued. Little Nicky was at the height of his power.

That same year Nicky and Phil Leonetti used Nicholas Caramandi and Charlie Iannece to cheat two casinos in Atlantic City out of $2.7 million dollars. By now Nicky was getting a reputation for greediness. He began to divide his time between his mansion in Fort Lauderdale and Atlantic City, but began to spend much less time in Philadelphia.


In 1986 Nicodemo Scarfo's world began to slowly unravel. His underboss Salvatore Merlino's drunken behaviour had gone too far, he was arrested for drunk driving and attempting to bribe the cop who pulled him over.

Little Nicky called a meeting of his top associates and at that meeting he stripped Salvatore Merlino of his rank, reducing him to a soldier. Phil Leonetti replaced Merlino as underboss and capo Lawrence "Yogi" Merlino was demoted simply because he was Chuckie's brother. Nicky then promoted Andrew DelGiorno and Faffy Iannarella to official captains of their crew. Scarfo help with part of Chester County Land Fill With Daniel Rubino. They Made lots of money of the Land fill.

Turning Informer

Phil Leonetti's world started to unravel after his boss Nicodemo Scarfo was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1988. the following year Leonetti became an informant after being convicted of RICO charges, 10 murders and receiving a 45 year prison term. His testimony resulted in the convictions of high-ranking mobsters including John Gotti. In return for his cooperation he was released from prison after serving only five years.