Mario "Sonny" Riccobene was a member of the Scarfo Family and was the half-brother of
Harold Riccobene. He became a federal witness in 1984 after his son committed suicide.
Mario was born in 1933 into a Sicilian immigrated family. He had one brother, Robert, and an older half-brother, Harry. During the '50s he became a partner of Harry and joined the Bruno Family in Philladelphia. They operated a loan-sharking and numbers business in the South and he frequently worked as a driver for then boss Angelo Bruno. In 1977 he and Harry ran a numbers operation which contained up to 35 members. Both also handeled the debts and were overheared on tapes how they threatened their debtors with physical harm.
Mario was once overheared saying: "I caught that Richie. I almost hit Richie across the fucking head, that's why he's starting to pay. I caught him in the john over there... I put him in the corner. And I told him if you don't bring $100 a week, the next time I see you, there's no excuse. I'm gonna leave you on the street."
From 1980 till 1983 Mario was believed of supplying mob associate Robert Rego with phenyl-2-propanone, a substance needed to produce methamphetamine.
During the Riccobene-Scarfo war in the early 1980's Rego was also targetted by Nicky Scarfo. Rego remained unharmed but was sentenced to 8 years in 1988 for drug related charges.
Riccobene - Scarfo war
After boss Angelo Bruno was murdered in 1980 unstability rose inside the Philly mob. Philip Testa became his successor but his term was short lived as he was killed by a bomb one year later. Next in line to become head was Nicodemo Scarfo. The Riccobene's and their associates however weren't supportive to Scarfo and refused to see him as their leader. Soon a streetwar was at hand between the revolting Riccobene's, with Harry on top, and the Scarfo faction. In 1982 Scarfo send his consigliere Frank Monte to Mario in an effort to talk him into turning over his brother, because they knew that Harry and Mario weren't getting allong well that time. Mario however refused and told his brother about the plot. In May 1982 Frank Monte was shot dead as a response by Joseph Pedulla and Victor DeLuca, 2 Riccobene gunmen. Several murders were committed afterwards and Harry managed to escape getting killed himself a couple of times.
In 1983 however the police eventually terminated the violence when they arrested six men of the Riccobene faction for racketeering. Amongst them were both Mario and Harry Riccobene.
Harry was convicted to 9 years in prison and Mario was convicted to 4 and a half years plus a $10.000 fine. The others were Joseph Ciancaglini,
Charles Warrington, Pasquale Spirito and Joseph Bongiovanni.
With Mario and Harry behind bars, and without their top aides on the street, Scarfo got the upperhand. To make a last stand he ordered the murder of their brother Robert. He was shot and killed
in front of his mother in December 1983.
That same month Mario's 27-year old son Enrico committed suicide in his jewelry store after he feared a Scarfo deadsquad was looking for him. The devastating events drove Mario to become a federal witness and to testify against Harry and his associates. The war had ended and the Riccobene's had lost. After the trials Mario and his family were placed in the witness protection program.
In the early 1990's however Mario descided to start all over and probably believed the storm had calmed down. He left the witness protection program and moved to South Jersey. He slowly made contacts again with old and new associates, but Mario shouldn't have left the witness protection program.
In January 1993 he was shot to death while sitting in his car outside a diner. This was his punishment for becomming a federal witness 10 years earlier.
"Mario should of never come back," an informant said. "He was around, so he got his. If he'd stayed in Elvis country, then he'd still be alive."