Reputed Mobster Linked To Lottery Stand - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

Reputed Mobster Linked To Lottery Stand


Why don't Pennsylvania state lottery officials seem to care that a twice-convicted mob captain is hanging around a lottery ticket retail spot in South Philadelphia? And he's doing it with otherwise guys and mob associates.

Fox 29's Dave Schratwieser has been investigating why state lottery officials claim they can't keep the mob away.

The newsstand sits outside one of South Philadelphia's most popular sports bars on Packer Avenue.

From morning till night, you can buy newspapers, a cold drink, magazines and, of course, lottery tickets, courtesy of a state licensed lottery retailer.

The newly issued lottery license belongs to the wife of mob captain and twice convicted federal racketeer John Ciancaglini.

Ciancaglini's wife is squeaky clean and has no criminal record but he served two stints in federal prison.

Ciancaglini was once accused but acquitted of murdering the brother of a government witness.

He served under Philadelphia mob boss Joey Merlino until he and Merlino went to prison in 1999.

"He's a ranking guy from the feds perspective in the Philadelphia mob and always been an earner. Big money maker. Legitimate and they would say illegitimate as well," says George Anastasia, who covers the mob for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Even though the newsstand and lottery license are in wife's name Fox 29 never saw his wife in the 10 days we watched and videotaped the newsstand.

We did see Ciancaglini hold court at the newsstand every day his expensive SUV parked right in front of. He swept up, rearranged magazines on the stand, and made numerous trips and out of the facility.

"The appearance is not helpful," says Jeremy Frey, from the Pepper Hamilton law firm, who spent 15 years as a federal prosecutor.

We showed Frey video tape of Ciancaglini outside the newsstand talking with local mobsters, including a former mob captain now mob soldier who is currently the focus of a state and local gambling investigation involving illegal video poker machines.

He was also visited by Michael Lancelotti. He's a possible target in an on-going racketeering investigation. He was once accused in open court of being a mob hit man.

Also a customer was mob associate Sonny Mazzone the brother of one-time mob under boss and current mob captain Steven Mazzone.

"This kind of conduct and not regulating conduct in the way that I guess the commission has decided not to do, still presents a problem of appearance with respect to what seems be going on at this facility," said Frey.

"Johnny is a player out there. And he's certainly on the radar of everybody whose doing on-going investigation and of organized crime," said Anastasia.

"What is the status within the order of [current reputed boss] Joe Ligambi? He's not as important as he was in the Merlino day but somebody who's got status, who did his time as a stand up guy," said Anastasia.

Ciancaglini took delivery of potato chips on one day and a vending machine on another, even signing for it with delivery men.

Ciancaglini also spent some quality time with this man exchanging information and a hand shake with a man in black shirt, who was a Pennsylvania state lottery official.

So what's a convicted racketeer and two- time felon and high-ranking mobster doing here?

"Ultimately they're there. They know who this guy is, and they know that he's there operating and they seem to be doing nothing," says former federal prosecutor Fred Tecce. "It doesn't seem to trouble them. That's the part that boggles my mind."

"It's a question of perception. How do you -- how does it look and what does it say in terms of the integrity of the business? As opposed to is it proper, is it illegal? Is there a rule that they're violating. There is probably no rule they're violating," said Anastasia.

We took our questions to Pennsylvania state lottery officials in Harrisburg. They refused our requests for on camera interview, but did confirm that Ciancaglini's wife does indeed hold the state lottery license.

They say they performed a complete background check and turned up nothing unusual.

They also say their security department and the Pennsylvania state police did not turn up the name of John Ciancaglini.

"It boggles my mind that, one, they would run a criminal background check and couldn't find that this woman was married to a guy who was a mobster, and two, that even if they found that out, as I understand it, they may not even have done anything at that point," said Tecce.

"On the surface you say, how can this be? Why should it be? But the bottom line is, if it's in his wife's name and she's got no prior convictions there's not any way they can deny her the right to have that business," said Anastasia.

The lottery commission says it doesn't check relatives or even employees of its 3,000 lottery retailers.

In fact, they say, even if a convicted felon and mobster like Ciancaglini worked for a lottery trailer they won't necessarily know it and couldn't do anything about it because "it's not against our rules."

"That's even more troubling to me than the fact that they couldn't find it," said Tecce. "I mean they ain't paying attention or they're just not -- they're turning their head putting their head in the sand."

"Ii think it poses a question in terms of the appearance," said Frey.

All of this raises questions because Ciancaglini's last federal conviction including racketeering, conspiracy to commit extortion and illegal sports bookmaking.

Fox 29's Schratweiser and his camera person walked up to Ciancaglini, and asked him a few questions.

Schratwieser: John, can I ask you a couple quick questions?

Ciancaglini: no, sir.

Schratweiser: no?

Ciancaglini: none whatsoever.

Schratwieser: you don't want to say anything?

Ciancaglini: no, sir.

Schratwieser: are you working here?

Ciancaglini: no, sir.

Schratwieser: do you own it.

Ciancaglini: none of your business.

Schratwieser: can I get you what Lancelotti is doing here all the time.

Ciancaglini: I ain't no problem seeing Michael.

Schratwieser: and Sonny?

Ciancaglini: none of your business.

Schratwieser: you don't want to say anything?

Ciancaglini: nope. Nothing to say to you.

Schratwieser: can I ask you why this in in your wife's name?

Ciancaglini: you just said can I ask you, I said no what's so redundant about that.

Schratwieser: I want to give you an opportunity to say anything.

Ciancaglini: nothing to say to you.

Schratwieser: nothing?

Ciancaglini: no, sir.

Schratwieser: okay.

Ciancaglini: You done with that? (pointing at camera person). This is ridiculous. Get out. We're done. Get out.

Schratwieser: okay.

After we asked state lottery officials about Ciancaglini, we received two e-mails from his wife, saying she had been tipped off to the undercover investigation about John's role there.

She also accused us of trying to sabotage the business and said "I'm sick of you, stay away from me."



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