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Philadelphia mafia underboss sent to jail based on wiretap evidence

A Philly Mob bigwig has been sent behind bars as prosecutors promise to make the mafia “a memory that lives on in movies.”

Steven Mazzone, 59, has been sentenced by a federal judge in Philadelphia to five years in prison for leading a racketeering conspiracy engaged in extortion and loansharking.

It was the maximum sentence possible under a deal Mazzone reached with prosecutors in June when he pleaded guilty to federal charges.

As the mafia underboss, he supervised a “vast” criminal network spanning Philadelphia and parts of New Jersey, according to the Department of Justice (DoJ).

Court-ordered wiretap evidence showed he financed illegal sports betting loans, targeting victims who could not pay their debts and then demanding them to cough up interest rates as high as 264%.

Mobsters would then threaten debtors with violence if they did not pay, including one threat to make a victim “disappear,” according to the DoJ.

“The defendant used his role as the underboss of the Philadelphia organized crime family to try to revive its fortunes, extorting victims in Pennsylvania and New Jersey,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Criminal Division at the DoJ.

Mazzone was at the top of a command chain that consisted of “crews,” or smaller groups of members and associates he handpicked, who reported to “capos,” or middle managers that, in turn, reported to him.

Mazzone set the rules for his criminal underlings and made sure funds collected from illegal activity were siphoned upward the command chain, the prosecutors said.

Even though the Philadelphia mafia has been “weakened” over the decades, prosecutors “will not rest until the mob is nothing but a memory that lives on in movies,” US Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero said in a statement.

Federal prosecutors and the FBI cooperated with Pennsylvania state and Philadelphia city police to build a case that relied on cell phone wiretaps and informant tapes, in addition to camera surveillance evidence and witness statements.

It is Mazzone’s second federal conviction for similar criminal activity. In 2000, he was sentenced to nine years in prison for a conspiracy to commit racketeering and illegal sports bookmarking. He was also caught on wiretap discussing extortion. One of the victims was shot and seriously injured during the extortion.

Mazzone was reportedly promoted in his crime family after serving the first prison sentence.

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