PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 21 -- A federal jury Tuesday convicted reputed Philadelphia mob boss John Stanfa and seven associates of murder and racketeering charges. A jury of eight women and four men deliberated parts of six days before finding Stanfa and his alleged henchmen guilty of a host of charges, including murder, extortion, illegal gambling and obstruction of justice. Stanfa, 53, and his underboss, Frank Martines, 41, face life in prison when they are sentenced by U.S. District Judge Ronald Buckwalter. The other six defendants could receive maximum prison sentences ranging from 40 to 80 years. During the seven-week trial, prosecutors used the testimony of four admitted hit men to prove that Stanfa had directed a bloody campaign against a rival mob faction headed by Joseph 'Skinny Joey' Merlino. The most dramatic testimony came from hit man John Veasey and three other hired killers who told tales of bungled hits during an all-out mob war. The day Veasey was scheduled to take the stand, his brother, Billy, was gunned down in South Philadelphia. Defense lawyers attacked the credibility of the prosecution witnesses, noting they were admitted killers who are now in the federal witness protection program. Prosecutors said Merlino and Stanfa have been feuding for more than two years, ever since Merlino finished a 3-year prison term for an armored car robbery and was inducted into the mob by Stanfa. On Aug. 5, 1993, Merlino was shot in the buttocks and an associate, Michael Ciancaglini, was killed in a drive-by shooting on a South Philadelphia street corner.
Authorities say Stanfa, who succeeded Nicodemo 'Little Nicky' Scarfo as head of the Philadelphia mob in 1990, ordered the hit because Merlino had organized his own mob faction in defiance of Stanfa. Three days later, a gunman sprayed Stanfa's car with automatic weapons fire during an ambush on Philadelphia's Schulykill Expressway. Stanfa wasn't hurt, but his son, Joseph, was wounded in the head. Authorities think Merlino ordered that hit. Prosecutors say Stanfa retaliated less than a month later, when he ordered the murder of Frank Baldino, a friend of Merlino's. Baldino, a South Philadelphia bartender, was gunned down outside the famous Melrose Diner. Merlino was released from federal prison earlier this year after serving a year for violating his probation. Stanfa, of Medford, N.J., has been jailed since March 1994, when he was indicted by a federal grand jury. Ten defendants in the case earlier pleaded guilty to racketeering charges. Four cooperated with authorities including John Veasey, who was shot three times in the head during a January 1994 mob hit, but made an amazing recovery. In addition to Stanfa and Martines, the other defendants convicted Tuesday include: * Anthony 'Tony Buck' Piccolo, 72, Scarfo's alleged consigliere, or adviser. * Vincent 'Al Pajamas' Pagano, 65, an alleged capo. * Salvatore 'Shotsie' Sparacio, 73, an alleged capo. * Raymond Esposito, 52, an alleged Stanfa soldier. * Sergio Battagalia, 28, an alleged Stanfa soldier. * Herbert Keller, 27, an alleged Stanfa associate.