It's all in the family

SAM PAZZANO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:27 AM ET

The Philadelphia crime family linked to the NHL bookmaking allegations still bears the name of former kingpins Angelo Bruno and "Little Nicky" Scarfo.

For 21 years, Bruno ran the mob and made his fortune doing what old-time mobsters perfected: Bookmaking and its cousin activity, loan-sharking.

"Bookmaking is the hub of the wheel around which all organized crime businesses revolve," said George Anastasia, best-selling author of The Last Gangster, which detailed the activities of the Philly mob.

"Bookmaking has always been a very lucrative business for the mob. Sports betting is illegal in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania and people love to gamble on team sports.

"That was Angelo Bruno's forte, being a bookmaker and gambler, until he was killed."

Anastasia has covered the Philly organized crime beat for 20 years for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Bruno's assassination in 1980 sent the local mob out of control. His four suspected assassins were killed in retribution-style slayings within months of his murder.

Nicodemo (Little Nicky) Scarfo (not related to Angelo) took over in a bloody coup in 1981, but in '88 he was convicted of racketeering and murder and was sentenced to 55 years in prison.

His son, Nicodemo Jr., was a small-time bookmaker and never assumed control of the mob.

The past six mob bosses of the Philly crime family have met terrible ends, either being murdered or imprisoned for lengthy terms. Joe Ligambi, 66, is now the alleged mob boss. He was a convicted hit-man for Scarfo during the 1980s. His murder conviction was overturned on appeal in '97.

He rose to the pinnacle of the organization in '99.

"He's an extremely low-key figure who, like Angelo Bruno, wanted to make big money, not make headlines, and he allegedly makes his money in bookmaking and loan-sharking," Anastasia said.

"Bruno wanted to operate in the shadows, not draw attention to himself or become a celebrity for the media.

"With Ligambi back, it has come full circle and back to the roots of the organization. We have a guy with the same method of operation and same businesses as Bruno."


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