Monday, November 9, 2015

Joe Vito Mastronardo Dies In Prison

Joe Vito and son
By George Anastasia
For Bigtrial.net

Joe Vito Mastronardo, the "Gentleman Gambler" who lived life on his own terms and moved to the beat of a drummer that only he could hear, died in a federal prison this afternoon where he was serving a 20-month sentence for bookmaking.

The cause of death was believed to be complications from pneumonia, although no official word was released from the Federal Medical Center Devens, in Ayers, MA, where Mastronardo was doing time after entering a guilty plea earlier this year in the high profile case.

He was 65.

Mastronardo was considered one of the premier odds makers in the Philadelphia area and one of the best in the country. His betting line  -- the "Joe Vito line" --  was an industry standard. Mastronardo, who got his start taking bets while working as a teenaged caddy at a suburban country club, made millions over the years and was constantly the focus of law enforcement attention.

This came in part because of his high volume business, but also because he was the son-in-law of former mayor and police commissioner Frank L. Rizzo. Joe Vito married Rizzo's only daughter, Joanna. They had one son, Joseph F.

"He had a beautiful heart," said Dennis Cogan, Mastronardo's friend and former defense attorney. "He would never do anything to hurt anyone and he was generous to a fault."

That applied to customers as well as friends, Cogan noted, pointing out that no one who bet with Mastronardo was ever the victim of violence or threats of violence.

"If you couldn't pay, your punishment was you couldn't bet with him anymore," Cogan said.

Mastronardo was jailed after federal authorities took over a gambling case originally developed by the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office. He and more than a dozen other defendants, including his son, his brother John and his wife were originally charged in connection with a multi-million dollar sports betting ring.

Charges against Joanne Mastronardo were dropped as guilty plea negotiations were completed for all the other defendants. Joseph F. Mastronardo was sentenced to five months. He completed that sentence and was at home with his mother when they learned of Joe Vito's death.

"My mother spoke to him on the phone this morning," Joe Mastronardo said. "She said his voice was weak. That was a sign. He had gained 15 to 20 pounds. We thought he was doing well, but with those respiratory problems, you have to stay on top of things. They didn't."

Mastronardo's poor health was an issue as his case worked its way through the federal court system. His son said doctor after doctor had testified that his father should be sentenced to house arrest because of his medical problems.

For years, Mastronardo had battled throat cancer. He had serious respiratory problems with frequent bouts of pneumonia. He was a stroke victim and in the year before his incarceration he had a feeding tube in his stomach.

"He absolutely shouldn't have been there," Joe Mastronardo said of his father. "There was absolutely no reason for this to happen. They threw my Dad in jail for no reason and they killed him."

The younger Mastronardo lashed out at federal prosecutors and the federal judge in the case, contending that they were blinded by a desire to punish.

"It's despicable," he said. "It's our system at its worst . . . It's selective enforcement of the law . . . My father's life was on the line (at sentencing) and they didn't care."

In pushing for a prison sentence, federal authorities contended that medical facilities available to inmates were equipped to deal with Mastronardo's health issues.

During that process, Dennis Cogan, who represented John Mastronardo in the case, was one of several attorneys who raised a skeptical eye to the feds' position.

"I'm not saying he had longevity," said Cogan, after ticking off the various respiratory and cancer-related issues that plagued his one-time client. "But he was able to survive all those years because" of the expert medical treatment he received in top-notch Philadelphia area hospitals.

"Everybody tried to tell them (federal authorities and the sentencing judge) that he had serious medical issues," added Christopher Warren, who represented Mastronardo's son in the gambling case. "We warned them about what could happen and that is precisely what happened."

Warren called Joe Vito Mastronardo "a Philadelphia icon."

"He was one of a kind and he will be missed," Warren said, noting that Mastronardo "never made any apologies for what he did."

Over lunch one afternoon after he had been indicted, Mastronardo talked about bookmaking as a business. He saw it that way and never denied what he was involved in. He was highly successful at it and developed a high end clientele, businessmen who liked to bet but who did not want to become involved in underworld gambling rackets.

Mastronardo was never associated with organized crime and in fact, his son said, he once told mob boss Nicky Scarfo "to go fuck himself" and refused to be shaken down by the psychopathic mob leader.

That the mob wanted a piece of Mastronardo's action was clear. But gangsters never were able to get their hooks into him. Instead, he advanced his business, becoming one of the first to use the Internet, pass words, on-line betting and wire rooms in Costa Rica through which bets could be placed.

The latest case was indicative of the kind of cash that flowed through the operation. 

Investigators seized more than $1.3 million in cash at the Mastronardo home in the Meadowbrook section of Huntingdon Valley, including $1.1 million stashed in PVC pipes buried in the back yard. Another $1.7 million was found in bank accounts frozen by the feds, part of a seizure action that totaled more than $6.3 million. And there was a money trail of wire transfers in excess of $3.2 million to financial institutions in Sweden, Malta, Antiqua and Portugal.

Wiretap and gambling records showed players betting $20,000 to $50,000 on a single game and one gambler "settling up" his debt by delivering a $250,000 payment to the Mastronardo operation.

(See a profile of the Gentleman Gambler, Bigtrial, October 31, 2013.)

Warren, young Joe Mastronardo's lawyer, called the sentences imposed after the pleas had been entered unwarranted, given the nature of the case.  "What purpose, other than getting a pound of flesh, does the punishment in this case serve?" he asked. 

In Joe Vito's case, it could be argued, the price was more than a pound of flesh. It was his life.

George Anastasia can be reached at George@bigtrial.net.

40 comments:

  1. That's A Shame!,,,,,,,,,,

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  2. Everybody Takes Bets Today. The Philly Mob Is Dead!!

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  3. My condolences to the Mastranardo Family. He was a kind man. And he had a great life and wonderful family.. We should celebrate his life. God Bless and may Joe Rest in Peace.

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  4. Joe Mastranardo Was The Real Deal!!!....

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    Replies
    1. Today our beacon of Freedom wears a Black Eye! R.I.P. Joe V.

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  5. God Bless Joe Vito ...the kindest, sweetest man you were ever lucky enough to know...The true definition of a "friend"...Rest in peace my dear friend...Jr.

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  6. St Peter is already making bets with Joe Mastronado!

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  7. May this gentle man finally rest in peace.

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  8. prosecuters are the real criminals here. Who was actually victimized by this man?

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  9. Joe Vito was the best kind of person to work with: high standards of performance and very rewarding when you accomplished good things together. He was a good person in that he was genuinely concerned about people, be they clients or employees.

    My sincerest condolences to Joanna and Joey. Joe was a Good Man.

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  10. I wouldn't want to be among those individuals in Government who had the power to be "compassionate and benevolent" in Joe Vito's case but instead chose to exact their "pound of flesh".

    The Good Lord bestows his compassion and benevolence on those who dispense it in their daily lives.

    You GET what you GIVE in life.

    When you are as good and decent a man as Joe was and you get on the side of your bed at night asking the Good Lord for help He doesn't pick up the phone and say , "How can I help you?'", but at least you here the phone ringing.

    When the day comes and it will come for those heartless ,self indulged individuals who are responsible for this tragedy and they are on the side of their bed looking for the Good Lord's "compassion and benevolence" this is what they will hear," I'M SORRY BUT THE NUMBER YOU HAVE DIALED IS NO LONGER IN SERVICE!"

    And in that moment let them remember what their "pound of flesh" cost Joe Mastronardo.

    Rest in peace my friend...

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  11. And The Ratfellas Who Think There Somebody Ain't Shit !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  12. Leonard Tose, the degenerate gambler, lost more money to Joe Vito than the casinos in AC.

    The Bambino only busted the bookmakers who wouldn't kick back.
    If Joe Vito didn't marry Joanna, he'd still be a caddy.

    Stallone could win an Oscar playing Rizzo and Nicky Crow could be Joe Vito.

    There must be a lot of gopher holes in the backyard of the Mansion.

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  13. Stevie Mazzone Can Play Joe Vito! Lol

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  14. He was a great guy, and I will miss talking to him. The family is nothing but class from top to bottom. Rest in peace Joe V. *Salutes*

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  15. "If Joe Vito didn't marry Joanna, he'd still be a caddy. "

    What a small, jealous, petty person YOU MUST BE to make a comment like that AT A TIME LIKE THIS.

    WHOEVER YOU ARE YOU COULDN'T MAKE A PIMPLE ON JOE MASTRONARDO'S ASS!

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  16. The family is in my prayers. This is awful

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  17. Sounds Like One Of The Ratfellas 3 Up.

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  18. " If Joe Vito didn't marry Joanna, he'd still be a caddy. "

    What a despicable narrow minded statement.

    You need to Crawl back to the Sewer, and Drown!

    R. I. P. Joe V.

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  19. RIP JOE A REAL NICE PERSON.. GOD BLESS...

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  20. RIP JOE A REAL NICE PERSON.. GOD BLESS...

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  21. The Ratfellas Are Clowns!!

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  22. Who Is The RATFELLAS?

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  23. You suckers make him out to be a "nice man" or a "good guy" -- you goddam simpletons, He was a freaking crook and a racketeer. An insult to Italian Americans -- good that he croaked.

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    Replies
    1. Have another cocktail and crawl back into your hole. Show some respect for another human or stay quiet.

      Delete
  24. "You suckers make him out to be a "nice man" or a "good guy" " ...He wasn't a "nice man" or a "good guy" he was a great man and a greater friend...something you obviously lack in your shallow and pathetic existence...

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  25. I hope in his memoirs he recalls all the fixed games he profited from and all the crime families
    that participated in the criminal enterprise operating offshore.

    He was brilliant but that pimple on his ass was malignant and it was dedicated prosecution that caused the spreading of his disease and evened the score and his career as an odds maker was diminished by the pain he endured.

    Rizzo was a career criminal who couldn't pass his own lie detector test, was groomed by the likes of Annenberg and Palumbo who kept him on a short leash and left a legacy of murder, theft , corruption and phony philanthropy.

    A fitting epitaph to a Crime Family.

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  26. My condolences and prayers to Joseph and his Mother, Joanna. Such a beautiful family suffering from such an unnecessary loss. Xo

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  27. " it was dedicated prosecution that caused the spreading of his disease and evened the score."

    No.

    It was malicious prosecution plain and simple and the Good Lord will even the score for those responsible for this tragedy.

    You don't send a terminally ill man with a feeding tube to jail for what is tantamount to a "death sentence" for of all things GAMBLING!

    Especially when the President plans on releasing 6,000 convicted drug felons due to overcrowding in the federal prison system!

    "When the day comes and it will come for those heartless ,self indulged individuals who are responsible for this tragedy and they are on the side of their bed looking for the Good Lord's "compassion and benevolence" this is what they will hear," I'M SORRY BUT THE NUMBER YOU HAVE DIALED IS NO LONGER IN SERVICE!"

    And in that moment let them remember what their "pound of flesh" cost Joe Mastronardo."

    The Good Lord will...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Obama’s DOJ to Release 6,000 Prisoners

      http://myinforms.com/en-us/a/17411534-obama8217s-doj-to-release-6000-prisoners/

      Delete
  28. Yea and the ratfellas will be lockup again morons!

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  29. Nothing on the Asaro acquittal?

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  30. He's Own Cousin Rated On Him!!!! That's What Philly Mob Does!!!!!,,,,,,,, A.k.a. RATFELLAS!!

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  31. joe was a man among men in all respects. he would do anything in his power to help anyone. that's why some are against the death sentence in this country, because the federal government gave a good man a death penalty that actually happened, not lke the thousands og murderers who are still in jail or will be let out much sooner than they should.

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  32. "It was malicious prosecution plain and simple and the Good Lord will even the score for those responsible for this tragedy.

    You don't send a terminally ill man with a feeding tube to jail for what is tantamount to a "death sentence" for of all things GAMBLING!

    Especially when the President plans on releasing 6,000 convicted drug felons due to overcrowding in the federal prison system!"

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  33. Everybody Takes Bets!!! Too Day.

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  34. Joe was a great guy who never harmed anyone and would give you the shirt off his back. God bless Joe Vito. "If you set your business up right and run it properly it becomes a money making machine."

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  35. R.I.P. you helped me out. Always told me things would be ok. I enjoyed our talks and thankyou foe the news paper and the talks. You got me through a tough time in my life. I will not forget you.

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