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Donald C. Marino, 74, prominent criminal lawyer

He shrugged off a reported Mafia murder contract in 1963.

Donald C. Marino
Donald C. MarinoRead more

BEING THE subject of a Mafia murder contract carries with it a certain distinction.

Not that you would be inclined to capitalize on such an honor, not if you were a prominent criminal lawyer like Donald C. Marino, one of the city's busiest attorneys who later became chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association.

In fact, Marino, who died Monday at age 74, said he didn't know that he was one of the targets of the vengeful mob boss John Stanfa in 1993.

Asked by Daily News reporter Kitty Caparella in 1996 if he knew about the contract, Marino replied, "This is the first I'm hearing about this."

The alleged contract was disclosed by mob informant and admitted hit man Sergio Battaglia when he was debriefed by the FBI before his testimony in mob trials.

Battaglia said Stanfa, who led the Philadelphia mob from 1991 to 1995 and is now serving five consecutive life sentences, ordered his hit squad to kill Marino, as well as fellow lawyer Joseph C. Santaguida and the Inquirer's former organized crime reporter, George Anastasia.

The proposed hit on Anastasia was more specific than the others. Hand grenades were to be thrown into his South Jersey home. None of the hits was ever attempted.

Marino appeared a little put out that he wasn't told about the threat. "The government never said anything. Usually if they pick up anything, they tell people about it," he told Caparella.

The lawyer no doubt angered Stanfa when he represented Rosario Conti Bellocchi, who was engaged to Stanfa's daughter, in a case in Montgomery County involving an attempted kidnapping. Bellocchi later testified against Stanfa in Stanfa's racketeering trial.

Marino, who was chancellor of the Bar Association in 1984, represented a number of mob figures early in his career. He also represented one of the defendants in the 1987 trial of Roofers Union officials accused of bribing judges, and one of the judges, the late Thomas N. Shiomos.

He appeared in numerous other high-profile cases in his career as a private lawyer, and from 2003 to 2008 he was litigation group chairman for the Philadelphia Law Department. He was a former assistant district attorney.

Marino, who lived in Longport, N.J., died of congestive heart failure.

William P. Fedullo, present chancellor of the 13,000-member Bar Association, called Marino "a real class act."

"Donald C. Marino was a very bright, kind and encouraging man," Fedullo said. "He was generous with his time and mentored many lawyers, myself included, and encouraged them to reach their full potential."

As chancellor of the Bar Association, Marino formed the Committee for the Homeless, which became effective in urging the city to improve the conditions of shelters as well as to help the homeless with their legal problems.

Marino also served as chancellor of the Justinian Society, composed of lawyers and judges of Italian origin. In 1999, he received the Cesare Beccaria Award, co-sponsored by the Justinian Society and the Bar Association.

Marino was a commentator on news stories with local TV and radio outlets. He consulted with WPVI 6 Action News on the O.J. Simpson murder trial, and participated in the station's Issues and Answers program, the Malcolm Poindexter show and others.

Donald Marino graduated from St. Joseph's Preparatory School in 1956, and received a bachelor's degree in political science from St. Joseph's University in 1960. He received his law degree from Temple University's Beasley School of Law in 1963.

He joined the 348th General Hospital unit of the Army Reserve in 1963. He was personal aide to the post chaplain at Fort Dix. He received a marksman medal.

Marino served as assistant district attorney from 1964 to 1970 under D.A.s James C. Crumlish Jr. and Arlen Specter. He became chief of the D.A.'s major trial division in 1968. He then went into private practice.

He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Vinnie; a son, Justin; a brother and two grandchildren.

Services: Funeral Mass noon Monday at Holy Trinity Church, Epiphany Campus, Ventnor Avenue, Longport, N.J. Friends may call at 11 a.m.