PHILADELPHIA -- A federal judge has reduced the 45-year prison sentence of mobster-turned-informant Philip 'Crazy Phil' Leonetti to 6 years, virtually guaranteeing he will be a free man by Christmas.
U.S. District Judge Franklin Van Antwerpen reduced Leonetti's sentence for racketeering after hearing two hours of testimony from federal prosecutors and FBI agents in favor of Leonetti.
Leonetti's attorney Frank DiSimone said his client will be immediately eligible for parole.
Leonetti, 39, is a former underboss in the Philadelphia-Atlantic City, N.J., crime family headed by his uncle, Nicodemo 'Little Nicky' Scarfo, who is serving time for extortion, racketeering and murder. He is not expected to ever get out of jail.
Leonetti, who has been a government witness for three years and is in the federalWitness Protection Program, has admitted to killing two people and helping in the murder of eight others.
Leonetti, Scarfo and others were arrested in the late 1980s on a number of charges. Shortly after his 1988 federal conviction for racketeering, which included murder, attempted murder, extortion, gambling and drug trafficking, Leonetti agreed to help prosecutors.
Since then, he has testified in six trials in five states and is expected to testify in the extortion trial of lawyer Robert Simone, the longtime attorney for Scarfo.
'I commend you. It took a lot of guts,' the judge told Leonetti at the end of the Friday hearing.
Leonetti is one of the highest-ranking mobsters to inform on organized crime figures.
Robert Simone was surprised at the reduction of sentence.
'You're kidding. He'll be out for Christmas? Isn't that nice?' Simone was quoted as saying in the Philadelphia Daily News.
Prosecutors said Leonetti was to be a key witness in the trial of New York crime boss John Gotti. But his appearance was was canceled after Gotti's own underboss, Sam Gravano, agreed to testify. Gotti was convicted of racketeering and murder.
Leonetti, whose mother Nancy is Scarfo's sister, had his first taste of the mob at age 10. Leonetti helped Scarfo get rid of a body.
Leonetti told prosecutors he wanted to cooperate with authorities so that his son, Philip Jr., 17, would not become a part of organized crime.
Both Leonetti and his son, in addition to his fiancee and mother, are being protected by federal officials.