by: Joseph Salerno and Stephen J. Rivele

This book was the first from a federal witness who was really a victim of the Philly Mob. It predates George Anastasia’s Blood & Honor and tells of the violence in the Nicodemo Scarfo Family which Salerno, the plumber, witnessed. It is a tragic story of the Salernos who were renamed and relocated to live past Joseph’s witness testimony in 1989.

Salerno then, was not responsible for what author Rivele wrote as to what he thought was the history of Philadelphia’s Mafia. These pages warrant many GSWs, especially in the chapter, “From Boo-Boo to the Docile Don” where there are three pages on boss Salvatore Sabella. There are no sources of this information, which is very unlike the biography that Morello wrote in Book 1 in Before Bruno Morello spoke to Sabella’s children and to those who knew him. Then, how did Rivele base his story? He wrote that Philip Testa was Calabrian on p. 23 when his parents were from Sicily. Rivele wrote that Bruno was imprisoned as a young man on p. 17, which is not true as is the common knowledge that Bruno did not live in the same house where he was raised. (p. 18) This chapter and chapter 9 are low in facts that are indeed true, which are confusing.

The rest of the book has constant reminders along the lines of “Tom DelGiorno and fellow Family defector Nick Caramandi proved ineffective witnesses against Scarfo until supported by testimony of Joe Salerno.” The reader can feel sympathy for the plumber and his innocent family who were at the wrong place and time to befriend the wrong people. Readers can judge for themselves wherein who the heroes were after reading Anastasia’s Blood & Honor and Frank Friel’s Breaking the Mob.

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