Gino DiPietro was a drug dealer and "made a lot of money," his sister said Friday.
But that was years ago, she said. He was arrested in 1997, pleaded guilty, and was sent to federal prison for 61/2 years.
More important, said Linda Shattuck: "My brother had nothing to do with the mob."
And, just as important, "he didn't rat on anyone," said Shattuck, 51.
He worked a regular job. He was a devoted father of two sons. And he was planning to get engaged on New Year's Eve, she said.
DiPietro, 50, was gunned down in front of his South Philadelphia house Wednesday afternoon and died soon afterward.
Reputed mob soldier Anthony Nicodemo, 41, was charged with murder. Police said his 2011 Honda Pilot was seen driving away from the shooting. When the Honda was located, police found a gun inside. A ballistics test matched the gun to a bullet fragment found on DiPietro's clothes, police said.
Nicodemo's alleged involvement and DiPietro's criminal past got the rumor mill spinning. That it happened during the middle of a major federal mob trial in Philadelphia only fueled the speculation.
The prosecution had just concluded its case against Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and six codefendants when DiPietro was slain.
Edwin Jacobs, Ligambi's lawyer, expressed concern Thursday to U.S. District Judge Eduardo C. Robreno because DiPietro's name had been mentioned in testimony and some reports speculated about a link between the shooting and the trial.
In one of the last wiretapped conversations prosecutors played for the jury, DiPietro's name was mentioned.
George Anastasia, a former Inquirer reporter and an expert on organized crime, said DiPietro was rumored to be cooperating with law enforcement.
Not true, DiPietro's sister said.
"I believe my brother was killed on hearsay," Shattuck said.
DiPietro worked as an independent driver for PDX, a Philadelphia-area business that distributes automobile parts, she said.
He had come home from work and was reaching for a gym bag on the passenger floor of his pickup truck when he was shot several times in the back, she said.
A preliminary hearing for Nicodemo is scheduled for Jan. 2.