Gaetano "Tommy Horsehead" Scafidi turned state's evidence against his fellow South Philly mob associates in 2001. Though he's had enough of the witness protection program, he can't go home again.
After the show Horsehead says he went up to Johnny Cupcakes' suite at Resorts. Room service was on the house, and Horsehead had a threesome with his two dates.
"What a prom night," Horsehead says, still smiling at the memory. "Who had a prom night better than me?"
The mob calls it the arm, the shakedown or the elbow, when they collect the street tax from all the guys out there running illegal businesses.
In the '80s Horsehead was collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars a week. He once brought a paper bag stuffed with $80,000 in 10s and 20s to Nicky Scarfo.
"Next time," Horsehead remembers the mob boss telling him, "bring 'em in $100 bills."
In the '90s, even though the mob wars were on, Horsehead thought he was hanging with the right crowd, with longtime buddies like Joey Merlino, Michael Ciancaglini and Georgie Borgesi.
"We grew up in the same neighborhood," Horsehead says. "I'm younger than all of them. We hung on the street together. We sat in the same restaurants, the same clubs."
It was a rough crowd. "They used to beat up girls, they used to rob people," Horsehead says of his old buddies. "They used to go into clubs and start fights." But they vowed they'd "always be loyal to each other," he says.
Like Horsehead, all the boys had relatives in the mob, and it was their ambition to become made men too.
Horsehead was collecting the street tax every week from his own stable of 100 gamblers, bookmakers, numbers writers, loan sharks and drug dealers. "I knew who all the players were," he says.
But business was falling off. "Everybody paid in the early '80s," he said. But during the mob wars of the '90s, when mobsters were getting killed and sent to jail, a new generation of gangsters took over, and collections lagged.
"Nobody wanted to pay Joey and Michael," Horsehead says. "'Cause they didn't respect them because Joey was a thief. Joey robbed people. Joey is a greedy person; Joey is for Joey."
When people didn't pay, it was Horsehead's job to change their minds. And if that required a beating, Horsehead was the guy to do it.
His weapon of choice was an aluminum baseball bat. As he explained at the mob trial, aluminum bats were better than wooden bats because they didn't break.
As a mob soldier, Horsehead played a backup role at several mob hits. But he says he never pulled the trigger. When gangster Salvatore Testa was killed in 1984 after being set up by a longtime friend, Horsehead was a "blocker"-meaning he used a car to block streets on Passyunk and Moore so the killers could make a getaway. Horsehead also washed out the bloody van that had carried Testa's body over the river before it was dumped in Jersey.
Horsehead regrets his role in that one to this day. "Salvie was a man's man. He was a gangster," Horsehead says. "He did all the right things. He was a standup guy."
Still, Horsehead is able to square his deeds with his conscience. "I believe in God," Horsehead says. "But I tell him, for what good fucking reason did you put me on this earth? I helped a lot of people, don't get me wrong, I hurt a lot of people too. Did the pros outweigh the cons?"
Killing rivals in a mob war is just part of the job description, he says. When mobster Pasquale "Pat the Cat" Spirito was shot to death in 1983, Horsehead's job was to line up witnesses to provide an alibi for one of the killers. When gangster Robert Riccobene was gunned down in front of his mother that same year, Horsehead's job was to clean up the shotguns used in the hit.
PW's 2015 Philly Spring Guide