Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Shot in Head, Mobster Escapes Informer's Survival, Testimony Lead to Arrests of 12, Authorities Say

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Shot in Head, Mobster Escapes Informer's Survival, Testimony Lead to Arrests of 12, Authorities Say

Article excerpt

"Goodbye," the would-be mob killer said to John Veasey as he shot him three times in a second-floor apartment behind a locked steel door in South Philadelphia.

But it didn't work out that way.

"Frankie, why the . . . did you shoot me?" Veasey said. He then stabbed one of his would-be killers, blinding him with his own blood.

Incredibly, Veasey then knocked down the second hit man and made his escape, dripping blood from three bullet wounds in his head and a fourth in his chest.

Less than 48 hours later, Veasey, a secret FBI informer, had given the federal agents a graphic description of the brutal attempt to murder him. He subsequently appeared before a federal grand jury.

His testimony helped lead to Thursday's arrest of reputed mob boss John Stanfa and 11 other people under a massive indictment that accuses Stanfa of ordering a series of murders and presiding over a huge racketeering conspiracy.

Stanfa, 53, living in Medford, N.J., has been seen going to and from his haunts in Philadelphia by investigators who have had him under surveillance.

Veasey, 36, is one of the defendants largely because he has confessed to taking part in two murders. Sources say he has testified that on Stanfa's orders Veasey helped kill Michael Ciancaglini, 30, wound Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino and kill Frank Baldino Sr., 46.

Ciancaglini, killed in Philadelphia on Aug. 5, and Baldino, shot to death on Sept. 17 as he sat in his Cadillac in a diner parking lot, are said to have been aligned with Merlino, 31, in a power struggle against Stanfa. Merlino, who was with Ciancaglini when he was killed, was wounded in the attack.

Sources say:

Veasey has been in FBI custody since Jan. 16. He began working for the FBI in December, shortly before he and Stanfa's son, Joseph, were formally inducted into the crime family in a secret ceremony.

Veasey, also known by his mother's maiden name of Cuticchia, got into the mob because of his participation in the two murders. Veasey told investigators that he had considered himself a loyal Stanfa ally until he learned he was marked for death himself.

While it was clear that Veasey was actively working on behalf of the FBI when he was attacked, it was not clear if that had been the motive for the attack on him, the sources said, giving this account of the day Veasey almost was killed:

Wearing a government-supplied Nagra recorder, Veasey taped a meeting with two mobsters and then met with the FBI to be debriefed. …

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