June 12, 2020 – Questions still linger a decade later in the mystery surrounding who bumped off Philadelphia bookie and drug dealer Rocco Maniscalco. This week is the 10-year anniversary of Maniscalco’s murder.
The investigation remains open and active, per sources in federal law enforcement, one of at least a half-dozen cold-case gangland slayings potentially tied to Bruno-Scarfo crime family affairs being probed by the FBI dating back to the late 1990s. All took place during Joseph (Uncle Joe) Ligambi’s tenure as acting boss of the Philly mafia.
The 38-year old Maniscalco was gunned down in the early hours of June 10, 2010 as he returned home to his rowhouse in South Philly from watching Game 6 of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals at the Wolf Street Cafe a block away, seeing his hometown Flyers getting eliminated by the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 in overtime. Maniscalco was the great nephew of legendary Philly mob rogue Harry (The Hunchback) Riccobene and was reportedly beefing with Bruno-Scarfo crime family leaders at the time of his killing. He was also in a dispute with a group of non-mafia affiliated drug dealers over an unpaid $60,000 gambling tab.
Pint-sized Harry Riccobene, who fought the maniacal and equally vertically-challenged don Nicodemo (Little Nicky) Scarfo for power in the Philly mob in the 1980s, died behind bars in 2000 at 90 years old of a sepsis infection. By the time Riccobene passed and Scarfo was in prison for life, the chic, shoot-from-the-hip Joseph (Skinny Joey) Merlino mob had emerged and is still on top today.
Merlino has long deferred to old-school mob politico Uncle Joe Ligmabi, groomed in the Family’s frantic Scarfo era, for day-to-day management of the borgata. Ligambi stabilized the family in the flash-bulb friendly Merlino’s absence.
Maniscalco allegedly ran drug and gambling businesses from New Era Collision, an auto body shop on 25th and Wharton and starting in around January 2010, began getting leaned on by Ligambi and Ligambi’s nephew, George (Georgie Boy) Borgesi, for a piece of his rackets in the form of a street tax, according to Mansicalco’s widow and sister and more than one FBI informant. Ligambi was the crime family’s acting boss at that point with Merlino and Borgesi both out of town serving prison terms for racketeering.
Uncle Joe Ligambi called shots for Merlino, 58, from 1999 until his retirement last summer at his 80th birthday party. Borgesi, 56, is alleged to have replaced Ligambi as Merlino’s acting boss. Skinny Joey has lived in South Florida since getting out of prison on his racketeering case in 2011.
In the early 2000s, Maniscalco was on good terms with the local mafia clan. His New Era Collision headquarters was a hangout for low-level knockaround guys from the neighborhood and even used for an employment spot when some of Merlino’s men were paroled from prison. Merlino’s pal Carl Bradley was friends with Maniscalco and often seen in his office at his auto body shop. Things changed in late 2009 and by winter 2010, Maniscalco, was wearing a bulletproof vest when he left his house.
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