As federal prosecutors rested their case against reputed Mafia boss Joseph Ligambi, police investigated an apparent mob hit Wednesday in South Philly that left a 50-year-old man dead of gunshot wounds.
Police were questioning Anthony Nicodemo, 41, a reputed mob soldier, in connection with the killing, and were seeking a warrant to search his Packer Park home.
Yellow crime-scene tape stretched across Iseminger Street near Johnston and cops were scouring the scene for evidence in what appeared to be the city's first mob hit in nearly a decade.
A woman from the neighborhood who said she was afraid to give her name said she'd heard five gunshots around 3 p.m., when a man neighbors and police sources identified as 50-year-old Gino DiPietro was shot several times in the back and fatally wounded on the narrow street.
"He was in out and out trouble. He'd been in jail for drugs," a neighbor said of DiPietro, who'd apparently been ambushed while getting into his truck on the block.
DiPietro was taken to Hahnemann University Hospital and pronounced dead at 3:21 p.m.
Tensions were high in the hours immediately following the murder. Distraught relatives of the victim angrily told reporters to leave. On the next block of Iseminger Street north of where DiPietro was gunned down, where relatives of Nicodemo live, they shouted at reporters to "Get out" and stay away from their homes.
"It's a shame, because this is a nice neighborhood and it's near Christmas," said one neighbor who did not want to be named, adding that he knew the Nicodemo family.
When told that Anthony Nicodemo had been taken into custody in connection with a homicide, the neighbor said, "It can't be. They're nice people. Nothing happens around here."
Nicodemo, who law-enforcement sources describe as a "made" member of the Philly mob, pleaded guilty in 2009 to participating in running a sports bookmaking ring inside the Borgata Hotel Casino poker room.
Ligambi and his associates-Joseph "Mousie" Massimino, George Borgesi, Anthony Staino, Damion Canalichio, Gary Battaglini and Joseph "Scoops" Licata-went on trial in mid-October on nonviolent charges, including loan-sharking, extortion, sports betting and the operation of illegal video-poker machines.
A law-enforcement source said DiPietro, believed to be a mob associate, may have made enemies by cooperating with authorities while incarcerated.