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Past crime-fighter Mammana sentenced

Joseph Mammana, who reinvented himself as an ally of victims and an enemy of crime to make up for a "horrendous" past, was sentenced yesterday to eight years in prison for his continued penchant for breaking the law.

Joseph Mammana, who reinvented himself as an ally of victims and an enemy of crime to make up for a "horrendous" past, was sentenced yesterday to eight years in prison for his continued penchant for breaking the law.

Mammana, who was lauded in City Council in 2004 for his contributions to the Citizens Crime Commission of the Delaware Valley, has been in prison since his arrest in November 2006 and faces just under six additional years behind bars. He pleaded guilty in 2007 to federal charges of possessing a firearm while a felon and failing to pay $1.5 million in taxes.

Smiling and waving to a dozen family members and friends before the verdict, Mammana became grave as he listened to the verdict. Afterward, while being shackled and led out of the courtroom, he told his family not to worry.

Before the sentencing, Mammana - who once tooled around in a $287,000 Lamborghini - said he "hurt a lot of people" and did not underestimate the severity of cheating on his taxes.

"Greed and stupidity took control, and that's a really bad combination," Mammana told U.S. District Judge Paul S. Diamond.

Mammana's cooperation with the government - which indirectly led to the conviction of City Council aide Christopher Wright and two businessmen on corruption charges, prosecutors revealed yesterday - helped knock down his maximum sentence about a year and a half.

"Without Mr. Mammana providing information about Chris Wright, the government most likely would not have turned its attention to Chris Wright," Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bresnick said.

Bresnick suggested a "slight" break for Mammana for his help, noting that the allegations by Mammana were never substantiated but that they induced the FBI to look at the former Council aide. Mammana told the FBI that he gave Wright and Councilman Jack Kelly, Wright's boss, more than $15,000 in cash payments between 2003 and 2006, according to FBI reports reviewed by The Inquirer.

Those allegations were denied by both Kelly and Wright and were never substantiated.

Kelly was never accused of wrongdoing, and Wright was indicted along with three businessman based on gifts and payments that Mammana knew nothing about.

Diamond did not buy arguments by Mammana's lawyers that his misdeeds were the unfortunate acts of a steroid-crazed drug addict. Mammana's stated need to get back to his wife and four children and "be a productive citizen and not a liability" did not sway the judge either.

Bresnick called Mammana a "jack-of-all-trades of crime," with a resume that includes drug dealing, forgery, theft, threatening three men with a gun, and attacking a former spouse with a countertop.

"I think your client has a horrendous criminal history," Diamond told attorneys Jeffrey Lindy and Martin Trichon. Diamond proceeded to sentence Mammana to the top end of the recommended 77-to-96-month sentence.

"We're disappointed in the sentence, and we're looking to see what our appellate options are," Trichon said afterward.

Between 2000 and 2004, the tough-talking owner of an egg-processing plant in North Philadelphia publicly promised at least $130,000 in bounties.

Mammana was a popular and visible figure about town in the early 2000s, sporting his trademark fedora, crying for vengeance against crime perpetrators, offering large-sum rewards in high-profile cases, and comforting families in pain.

Mammana "proved to be a tremendous source of strength and support until his incarceration," Richard Petrone, who met Mammana after his son disappeared in February 2005, testified yesterday.

The Rev. Joseph Campellone, president of Father Judge High School, told the court yesterday that Mammana took under his wing students with disciplinary problems.

But the good that Mammana did was outweighed by the wreckage he left behind.

Not only did he drive his 70-employee egg-processing plant, Yardley Farms, into the ground with his arrest, he also left taxpayers on the hook for a $550,000 government loan for the business.

In the end, the judge agreed with the prosecutor that a tough sentence in a high-profile case would act as a deterrent.

And although Diamond suggested that some of Mammana's work with the crime commission was praiseworthy, he added, "In other instances, it was ego-driven - it was just Mr. Mammana celebrating Mr. Mammana."