PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 5 -- The brother of the star witness against reputed Philadelphia mob boss John Stanfa was shot to death Thursday, hours before his brother was scheduled to testify at Stanfa's federal racketeering trial. Billy Veasey, 35, the brother of mob informant John Veasey, was driving in South Philadelphia when his GMC Jimmy was sprayed with gunfire about 6:30 a.m., police said.
At least nine shots were fired, blowing out the driver and passenger side windows. The vehicle came to a stop on the sidewalk. Billy Veasey was pronounced dead of multiple gunshot wounds at a nearby hospital. John Veasey, who is in a federal witness protection program, earlier told police his mob associates had threatened to kill his children if he testified against Stanfa. Prosecutors said John Veasey's children were being protected but Billy Veasey had no protection. It was unclear whether John Veasey would take the witness stand Thursday as scheduled in Philadelphia federal court. Veasey, who was shot three times in the head during a 1994 mob hit, is one of five mobsters cooperating with authorities in the trial of Stanfa and seven associates. Stanfa, 55, is charged with directing a bloody campaign to wipe out a rival mob faction headed by Joseph 'Skinny Joey' Merlino. Federal prosecutors say Merlino and Stanfa have been feuding for more than two years, ever since Merlino was inducted into the mob by Stanfa. Stanfa, of Medford, N.J., has been jailed since March 1994, when he was indicted by a federal grand jury.