DelGiorno was born to a father who was an immigrant from San Piero, Sicily, and a Polish-American mother in South Philadelphia. In 1964, at age 24, he was supplementing his days as a delivery truck driver with a small-time bookmaking and policy operation at night and on weekends. At the time he was just one of hundreds of numbers writers in South Philadelphia chasing after action. He also began hanging out in afterhour clubs and began to socialize with mobsters at card and dice games.
He later became a close friend of numbers writer John Bastione, when Bastione retired years later he left his entire operation and a large sum of money to back the operation to DelGiorno. DelGiorno was soon in need of financiers to cover his action in an emergency. He became an avid fan of professional boxing.
In 1967 DelGiorno met Joseph McGreal, a Highway Truck Drivers & Helpers Local 107 organizer, and began working for him. The two became close friends and business associates. DelGiorno was interested in labor racketeering and McGreal was interested in gambling. DelGiorno was involved in the strike that resulted in the closure of United Parcel Service and left 1,150 truck drivers and warehouse workers jobless. But DelGiorno didn't mind the loss of permanent employment, and it had little effect on his lifestyle. McGreal began backing DelGiorno's criminal activities. He was a protege of Frank (Frankie Flowers) D'Alphonso.
DelGiorno wasn't much of a husband to his wife or a father to his sons. He was often cold and aloof, when he was actually at home. He felt that he was living up to his end of the bargain by keeping a roof over his family's heads and putting food on the table.
In 1970 Joey McGreal and three others were indicted for labor racketeering and extortion. They later received eight years in prison. DelGiorno had lost a significant financial backer. So he and John Bastione began holding all night card games at his home. The house took $1,000 from each game and DelGiorno easily took several thousand more during each game.
In the early 1970s "Broadway Eddie" Colcher and "Frankie Flowers" D'Alfonso began backing DelGiorno's gambling operations including a sports betting operation he had set up to take advantage of the customers available during American football seasons.
Frankie Flowers was one of the biggest bookmakers in the City and he was a close friend of Philadelphia Mob Boss Angelo Bruno, and an associate of his crime family.
By 1972 DelGiorno had established links to the Philadelphia Mob through D'Alfonso and Colcher. That same year he and his first wife Maryann divorced.
That same year the FBI raided Broadway Eddie's Restaurant and arrested DelGiorno, Colcher and D'Alfonso for running a gambling operation. The raid led to probation and suspended sentences for the three men. By then the bookmaking operation was making $20,000 a day if not double that during football season.
Whilst Joey McGreal was in prison Ralph Natale took his place in Local 107 with the help of Angelo Bruno. McGreal was later released from prison early in 1973.
In December 1973 DelGiorno was called to a meeting with Joey McGreal. That night Joey McGreal was found dead, shot three times in the head with a 38 caliber pistol. McGreal had been killed on orders from Angelo Bruno because he was attempting to force his way into the unions again.
In 1976 Atlantic City gambling was legalized and 47-year-old Nicky Scarfo took advantage on the behalf of the Philadelphia Mob. Though the government looked to keep the Mafia out of the casino counting rooms which had been so easily infiltrated by the mobs in Las Vegas. Scarfo used his ties to Local 54 to squeeze money out of the casinos by threatening strikes and withholding materials necessary during construction.
As the shores of Atlantic City were soon flourishing once more, DelGiorno was one of the few mobsters in Philadelphia content with his gambling operations and not desperate to run to Atlantic City.
Around this time Bruno's consigliere Tony Caponigro and underboss Phil Testa began to suspect that Angelo was allowing members of the Gambino crime family to traffic heroin through a string of restaurants in New Jersey for a cut of the profits; whilst upholding a contradictory "no go" policy towards drug trafficking in his own crime family. Though this was never confirmed it became a widespread theory among the ranks of the Philadelphia Mob.
The recent death of Bruno's ally Carlo Gambino and emergence of Giuseppe and Rosario Gambino in New Jersey undermined Bruno's leadership even more.
DelGiorno and Frankie Flowers bought a restaurant called Piccolo's 500, the name was later changed to Cous' Little Italy after they hired Vincent "Cous" Pilla as head chef. Officially Frankie's wife Michelne and DelGiorno's second wife Roseanne were the owners of the restaurants. DelGiorno's sons Tommy Jr. and Bobby worked at the restaurant in the late 1970s.
In 1980 Angelo Bruno was shot dead whilst sitting in his car as his driver John Stanfa pulled up to Bruno's house. His death had been arranged by Tony Caponigro who was soon murdered as well along with the gun man in the Bruno hit Alfred Salerno.
Some speculated that Genovese Boss Frank Tieri was involved in the plot to overthrow Bruno. Tieri wanted in on the Atlantic City casinos, which were proving to be a cash cow for the Philadelphia Mafia. When Angelo Bruno refused to allow Tieri's family to operate in the City it's possible that Tieri conspired with Caponigro to remove Bruno from the leadership position.
Newark based captain John Simone was killed as well for his involvement with Caponigro. What role he played in the assassination of the aging Don is uncertain.
By then Frank Sindone had replaced D'Alfonso as DelGiorno's partner in their restaurant. DelGiorno soon began to suspect that Sindone had been involved in the murder of Bruno. Soon Sindone was killed as well and DelGiorno felt lucky he hadn't become part of his inner circle. After the Sindone murder Testa sent word to DelGiorno that Sindone's share of Cous' Little Italy now belonged to captain Frank Monte and Joseph "Chickie" Ciancaglini.
In the chaos following the Bruno hit, DelGiorno sided with Philip Testa (aka "The Chicken Man"), his consigliere Nicodemo Scarfo, and underboss Peter Casella. The new administration wanted some "new blood" in the Family and inducted several new members, including Testa's son Salvatore Testa.
John McCullough was later killed on orders from Testa and Scarfo. McCullough would have been killed many years before but Bruno refused to permit the murder. McCullough had links to the K&A Gang and the PIRA, and was the Roofers Union Local 30 boss.
On March 15, 1981, Phil Testa was killed by a bomb packed with nails that was detonated under his porch by remote control as he left his house. Pete Casella and Frank "Chickie" Narducci had killed Testa with a nail bomb in an attempt to make it look as if Testa had been murdered by the K&A Gang in retaliation for the murder of McCullough which the administration had ordered the previous year.
Casella then attempted to seize control of the Philadelphia crime family by telling the made men that he had been appointed the new Boss at a meeting in New York City with Paul Castellano and Fat Tony Salerno. But Nicky Scarfo sensed something was wrong with Casella's story and went to New York City where he met with Gambino and Genovese family Bosses. There he learned that no one had approved Casella's ascension and there with Testa's body still warm, Scarfo was crowned the new Boss of Philadelphia.
Casella was banished to Florida rather than killed. There he later died of natural causes. Whereas Chickie Narducci was left living on borrowed time in Philadelphia. Scarfo promoted Frank Monte to consigliere and Salvatore "Chuckie" Merlino to underboss.
Early on in Scarfo's time as Boss a series of murders were perpetrated against a local Greek crime family led by Chelsais Bouras who was soon killed in a hail of bullets from the guns of Scarfo's hit men. He had been murdered for horning in on the methamphetamine trade.
Johnny Calabrese had his back to an alleyway near Cous' Little Italy as he talked to Chickie Ciancaglini. Whilst Tommy DelGiorno and Frank "Faffy" Iannarella prepared for the hit, they pulled guns; gloves and ski masks from a bag. But the masks were children size and didn't fit.
The two hit men ran over to Calabrese without their masks and pumped four bullets into him. Calabrese was killed for not falling in line with the regime of Nicky Scarfo and for operating a loan sharking operation out of several pawn shops in Atlantic City. Ciancaglini walked away casually when the shooting started and the shooters dumped their guns; then fled in a getaway car driven by Pasquale "Pat the Cat" Spirito. By then Calabrese was the eighth murder committed since 1980.
The next day DelGiorno went about his business as usual. Ciancaglini visited him to inform him of Scarfo's perspective of how DelGiorno and Iannarella handled the Calabrese murder.
"Jesus Christ, that was great. These guys are fuckin' great." -- Nicodemo Scarfo, Boss of the Philadelphia crime family (1981-1991)
Three weeks after DelGiorno left Calabrese dying in the gutter Frankie D'Alfonso was brutally beaten by captain Salvatore Testa and Gino Milano acting on orders from Scarfo. The beating was a message from the Boss for refusing to pay tribute to Scarfo.
In January 1982 Tommy DelGiorno, Faffy Iannarella and Pat the Cat Spirito were formally initiated into the Mafia. At a secret ceremony held in a home in Vineland, New Jersey. There DelGiorno vowed to "Live by the gun and die by the gun" and promised to "burn like the saints in hell" if he betrayed the mob's time honored code of silence.
Between 1982 and 1983 a dozen mobsters were murdered as Scarfo settled old grudges and moved towards solidifying his position and his criminal organization. Most of the decisions he made were contemplated in prison, he was serving time on a gun charge. It may have saved him from being killed during the infighting in the underworld with the Riccobene faction.
In late 1982 DelGiorno made $150,000 when he sold his restaurant to Ray Martorano and then he made J&M Bar on West Passyunk Avenue his headquarters. It was a small neighborhood tavern catering to a shot-and-beer crowd.
Frank "Chickie" Narducci's borrowed time finally ran out. He was shot half a dozen times as he walked to his car by Salvatore Testa not long after DelGiorno became a member of the Family. The murder was revenge for the murder of Phil Testa in 1981.
"I wish that motherfucker was alive so I could kill him again." -- Salvatore Testa on Frank Narducci
Soon Dominick "Mickey Diamond" DeVito and Rocco Marinucci (the man who personally blew up Phil Testa) were shot to death as well. Frank Monte was shot to death by hit men from the Riccobene faction after attempting to persuade Mario "Sonny" Riccobene to help set up his brother Harry Riccobene to be killed. Scarfo replaced Monte with his uncle Nicholas Piccolo. Monte's death triggered the Riccobene war.
Suspected drug dealer Robert Hornickle lay slain. Soon even Pat the Cat was dead, killed by Nicky Caramandi and Charlie Iannece for "talking treason" in regard to the current leadership of Nicky Scarfo. Riccobene associate Sammy Tamburrino was whacked in a candy store.
Bobby Riccobene was shot dead in front of his mother by Faffy Iannarella. The following week Enrico Riccobene shot himself to avoid being murdered by Scarfo's hit men. These deaths brought the Riccobene war to an end and Harry the Hunchback surrendered his territory and operations to the Scarfo faction.
At the time methamphetamine was the drug of choice in Philadelphia. DelGiorno and Nicky Caramandi began "taxing" drug dealers. In one such case they found meth dealers were importing gallons of P-2-P known as oil in from Europe and using the "oil" to produce methamphetamines. DelGiorno and Nick the Crow "taxed" the smugglers $2,000 per every gallon they imported.
In March 1984 Scarfo was released from prison and was triumphant after all of his enemies had either been killed or incarcerated. No longer than a month after Nicky's release from prison another "piece of work" was thrown DelGiorno's way by the Boss.
Salvatore "Salvie" Testa had virtually led the Philadelphia crime family during the war with the Riccobene faction, for most of the war Scarfo was in a prison cell in Texas. Testa even took a bullet for Scarfo, he was nearly killed when the Riccobenes fired a shotgun at him from a moving car. Testa survived and nearly lost his arm. Salvie Testa was loyal and the epitome of La Cosa Nostra, his father Phil had taught him well since he was a teenager. By 1984 at the age of 28 Salvie was a millionaire and had achieved the position of captain in the Philadelphia crime family since his father made him in 1981.
Then in April 1984 Nicky Scarfo decided that Salvatore Testa had to die. Testa had recently broke off an engagement to Merlino's daughter Maria and expected Scarfo to side with him for his loyalty during the Riccobene war. But that war had left Scarfo paranoid and trigger happy.
Salvatore "Chuckie" Merlino wouldn't let go of the fact Testa dumped his Maria. He began telling Scarfo that his youngest capo was involved in drug trafficking with a Black gang, trying to put together his own organization and possibly making moves to take over the Philadelphia Mob. Merlino was Scarfo's oldest friend and his underboss, if anyone could persuade Scarfo to murder one of his most loyal guys it was Chuckie. Merlino was desperate to avenge his honor.
Tommy DelGiorno and Faffy Iannarella was put in charge of supervising the Testa murder, Nick Caramandi and Charlie Iannece were going to be the shooters. But it was difficult, Testa was a professional hit man and knew all the tricks of the trade. He was extremely cautious and checked everyone who hugged him for a gun. The job seemed almost impossible and Scarfo was getting restless. So DelGiorno and Iannarella brought Salvatore "Wayne" Grande and Joseph "Joey Pung" Pungitore into the conspiracy. Pungitore was Testa's closest friend and would only go along with the job if he didn't have to pull the trigger. Wayne Grande on the other hand jumped at the opportunity to put a bullet in Testa.
Less than a week later Salvatore Testa the Crowned Prince of the Philadelphia Mob was dead and had been found hogtied at the side of a dirt road in Gloucester Township, New Jersey. Salvie had been lured to a meeting with Wayne Grande and Joey Pung at a candy store on Passyunk Avenue. There Salvie went into the back room where he shook the hand of Wayne Grande who was sitting on a sofa. Salvie then turned to talk to Joey Pung. At that moment Wayne took out a pistol hidden under a cushion and shot Testa in the back of his head; then shot him again as he lied on the floor lifelessly. Nicky Caramandi, Charlie Iannece and Salvatore "Tory" Scafidi helped get Testa out of the candy store and dumped the body in New Jersey.
Testa's murder created career opportunities all around. Nick Caramandi, Charlie Iannece and Joe Grande were made members of the Philadelphia crime family. Tommy DelGiorno and Faffy Iannarella were promoted to acting capos of the old Ciancaglini crew and Testa's former crew respectively, assuming most of the responsibilities of the deceased Testa, who had been running both Philadelphia crews after Ciancaglini went to prison. Their operations included bookmaking, gambling and loan sharking. Nicky Scarfo took a third of the profits made by a major bookmaking operation put together by DelGiorno, Salvatore Testa and Pungitore. Wayne Grande was rewarded with 25% of Testa's business and Salvatore "Tory" Scafidi got a $500 a week job making numbers pick ups.
In some ways Testa's murder marked the beginning of Scarfo's downfall since it defeated most the trust the soldiers had in their leader, they had tolerated the previous murders because they all deserved it. But when Scarfo marked Testa for death many felt he had gone too far, Testa was a highly respected capo and popular made man.
By 1985 the New Jersey State Police's Organized Crime Bureau had targeted Nicky Scarfo and DelGiorno in a major gambling investigation. Nailing Scarfo was proving very difficult for the State Police, veteran detectives on the mob squad were amazed that a greedy, nepotistic and psychopathic killer like Nicky Scarfo had risen to the top spot in the Philadelphia Mob. They set their sights on DelGiorno, he was a much easier target as wiretaps on Scarfo were fruitless because Scarfo preferred to talk business face to face with his associates. Where DelGiorno often talked business at great length at his home. The only fear was that DelGiorno's wife Roseanne (a compulsive cleaner) would stumble upon one of their listening devices.
In February of that year Frank "JR" Forline was found lying in the cab of his pickup truck in the parking lot of a K mart in Marple Township, Pennsylvania. He had been shot five times in the head, neck and body. Forline was a loan shark and gambler who operated on the fringe of the Mafia in Philadelphia.
In spring of that year Scarfo decided it was time to send Frankie D'Alfonso one last message. He called a meeting with his top associates at the Wok, a trendy Chinese restaurant on Walnut Street in the middle of Philadelphia's Center City commercial and business district. Among the restaurant's regular customers of lawyers, bankers, office workers and shoppers. No one paid any attention to the group of casually dressed middle-aged men sitting at two tables in a far corner. There Nicky Scarfo, Chuckie and Yogi Merlino, Faffy Iannarella and Phil Leonetti spent three hours discussing the business agenda of the Philadelphia Mob. Murders, past and present, were a major topic of discussion. Specifically the murder of Frankie Flowers.
DelGiorno supervised the hit used Gino and Nicky Milano; Frank and Philip Narducci as the shooters. Frankie Flowers D'Alfonso was sitting on a crate in the middle of the block near Cartherine and Percy Streets enjoying a smoke when two men ran up behind him and fired five shots into his back and head. The hit men dumped their weapons at the scene and kept running to a waiting car. In seconds they had gone and Frankie Flowers was dead.
In 1986 DelGiorno's world began to unravel. A drug dealer who was ripped off by DelGiorno's crew was threatening to go to war and Scarfo didn't like that kind of aggravation. Nick Caramandi had been arrested by the FBI trying to extort money from a real estate developer. DelGiorno was Nick's capo and he knew he might be held responsible by Scarfo.
In March of that year Nicky Scarfo once again summoned his top associates to a meeting. At that meeting Scarfo demoted his underboss and best friend Salvatore "Chuckie" Merlino to a soldier for his drunken behavior. Nicky stripped Lawrence "Yogi" Merlino of his capo rank also and promoted his nephew Phil Leonetti to underboss. At the same meeting Scarfo promoted Faffy Iannarella and Tommy DelGiorno to official captains.
From the pressure of the added responsibility and simply the constant fear brought on by the double-dealing and treachery that had become the trademarks of the Scarfo regime
That summer the New Jersey State Police found themselves in possession of tapes of Tommy DelGiorno ranting and raving about the organization and belittling the Boss.
"They're all pussies, four Irish guys from Northeast Philadelphia could run the mob better." -- Andrew Thomas DelGiorno on the Philadelphia Mob's leadership.
This was one of many recordings made by wiretaps planted in DelGiorno's home by the New Jersey State Police. Most of which consisted of DelGiorno's drunken ranting and raving about the mob's leadership.
Soldiers in DelGiorno's crew began complaining to Scarfo and Crazy Phil that Tommy was drunken and irrational, that he berated them for no reason. Tommy had become a problem just like John Calabrese and Chuckie Merlino. How Scarfo would resolve the problem was another matter.
In July of that year in the midst of the extortion investigation Scarfo sent word to DelGiorno, that he was being demoted to the rank of soldier and that he would now report to Faffy Iannarella. Iannarella had become DelGiorno's closest associate in the mob, but he had betrayed DelGiorno and spoke against him to Scarfo.
Tommy and Joey Pungitore would divide the cash from their bookmaking operation once every three or four months with Scarfo. But when asked, Scarfo said to let the cash sit for a while. Which told DelGiorno that he might not be around for much longer, he knew that Scarfo would never turn down a cut of $300,000. With DelGiorno out of the way Scarfo could take a cut of 50% as opposed to the third he was being offered at the time.
Then Tommy found that guys he bet with were holding back and avoided making bets with him. He knew this must mean that Scarfo had already decided how to handle the situation. Then one day two detectives from the New Jersey State Police turned up on his doorstep telling them that his Boss had put out a contract on Tommy's head.
Tommy Del played dumb with the detectives but the visit shook him up. He considered getting as much cash together as he could and going into hiding. He even thought about taking out Scarfo. Now just like Salvatore Testa before him, Tommy Del was living life on the edge constantly looking over his shoulder.
The detectives returned in November with what they called "proof". DelGiorno and the detectives sat down in his house. There they listened to the recordings on a pair of cassette tapes. The detectives said that one tape was of DelGiorno himself and the other was of Faffy Iannarella and Wayne Grande. Tommy arranged to meet up at a hotel with the detectives to listen to the tapes.
At the hotel room Tommy listened over a cup of coffee to the sound of Iannarella and Grande discussing his demotion at the hands of Scarfo. Iannarella talked of wondering about DelGiorno's fate in the organization and Wayne Grande responded "Ain't nothin' gonna happen to him... yet." The detectives reminded DelGiorno of what he had said on the other tape and that Scarfo, himself and many others were going to be indicted on the basis of that tape.
Already in trouble for the drug deal and the Penn's Landing waterfront extortion, DelGiorno knew that the New Jersey indictment would seal his fate. He knew that the tapes of him belittling Scarfo would eventually be heard by him when the prosecutors handed the tapes over to their defense attorneys.
The next day Scarfo, DelGiorno and the others were all arrested. Word of the secret state police tapes surfaced and DelGiorno became the number one man on Scarfo's hit list. Shortly after Tommy Del made bail, his son Bobby was driving Tommy's car home when he noticed a suspicious car begin to follow him. After pulling into his father's driveway, the car drove by, and Bobby recognized Salvatore "Tori" Scafidi in the passenger seat, as well as another familiar face slouching in the backseat who may have possibly been Nicky Milano. Milano and Scafidi were younger members of the Scarfo organization known at that time to be active hitmen. Bobby considered it odd that the young men would go out of their way to drive by the DelGiorno home without stopping in, but when Tommy learned of the incident, he immediately believed that it had been a hit team ready to kill had it been he who stepped out of the car.
Two days later, Tommy arranged another meeting with Detective Ed Johnson, this time in the parking lot of the airport hotel the following Sunday on November 9. From the parking lot the two men went to a hotel room where they discussed DelGiorno's predicament.
"What can I tell them they can expect from you?"-Ed Johnson talking to DelGiorno. "Everything"-Andrew Thomas DelGiorno agreeing to become an FBI informant.
Tommy DelGiorno was the first of five informants that eventually gave evidence against Scarfo and his associates. He was soon joined by Nicholas "the Crow" Caramandi and Eugene "Gino" Milano. Later they were joined by Lawrence "Yogi" Merlino and Phil Leonetti. And together the five of them put Nicky Scarfo and many others away for the rest of their lives.