December 16, 2022
The reputed underboss of the Philadelphia mafia was sentenced Thursday to five years in federal prison for running an illegal sports gambling operation and participating in racketeering, loansharking and extortion schemes.
Steven Mazzone, 59, was among 15 people indicted in a case that targeted numerous mobsters and associates. The case, made public in 2020, included several purported veteran mobsters. Mazzone pleaded guilty to five charges against him in June.
As underboss, Mazzone set the rules for mob members and associates, and collected profits that were siphoned up the organization, federal prosecutors said. He also organized smaller crews, known as capos, that reported to the mob's managers.
Mazzone financed high-interest loans to gamblers who were unable to pay their debts; some loans had rates as high as 264%, according to court documents. Mob members threatened those in debt with violence, including one threat to "disappear" someone who was struggling to pay a loan, prosecutors said.
The FBI has worked to weaken the Philadelphia mob for decades, building cases against many of its leaders. Mazzone is the latest senior member to be convicted. Over the years, reputed mob bosses Nicky Scarfo, John Stanfa, Ralph Natale and Joey Merlino also have been convicted.
"The Department of Justice has long been committed to dismantling (La Cosa Nostra) across the country and reducing its reach and violence," said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. "In this case, the defendant used his role as an underboss of the Philadelphia organized crime family to try to revive its fortunes, extorting victims in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. As this prosecution demonstrates, the department remains steadfast in its commitment to eradicating organized crime from our communities."
Of the 15 people indicted in 2020, 14 have plead guilty, the Inquirer reported. One died while awaiting trial. To build the case, investigators relied on informants who wore wires, wiretapped phone conversations, camera surveillance and witness accounts.
Mazzone was captured speaking to recruits during a 2015 "making ceremony" held to induct new members. During the ceremony, which reportedly was attended by the acting mob boss, Mazzone discussed the group's efforts to extort bookmakers and loan sharks in the Atlantic City area.
In 2000, Mazzone was convicted of conspiracy to commit racketeering and illegal sports bookmaking. He served nine years in prison.
"Even though the Philadelphia mob has been weakened over the decades due in large part to persistent law enforcement, the LCN and its criminal activities are still very much a problem and are damaging the communities in which it operates," U.S. Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero said. "The U.S. Attorney's Office is committed to prosecuting anyone who is committing serious federal crimes like these, and we will not rest until the mob is nothing but a memory that lives on in movies."