“You Don’t Want Me to Get Angry”

By ·


This is what $1,000 can buy you: row four, ringside at Madison Square
Garden for a Don King heavyweight fight. Waiters hoisting trays of
champagne. A seat just behind the Donald, his Miss Universe girlfriend,
and former champs Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis, and just in front of the
guy who plays Christopher on The Sopranos. Not everyone in row four is
impressed.

“If I paid a thousand dollars for these seats, I'd be pretty upset,”
says Sylvester Johnson, Philly's police commissioner, as two hulks in
the ring clutch and grab their way to a paycheck. It's after midnight,
and Johnson's dreaming about home. “The thing about the Blue Horizon is
that it's 20 minutes from my house,” he says.

The man responsible for keeping Johnson up on this Saturday night is
Joe Mammana, and despite the lack of action in the ring, he couldn't be
happier. Here's an ex-con who has served jail time, stolen cars, forged
checks, criminally harassed one woman and assaulted another—and the
police commissioner is here as his guest. Next to Johnson: another cop,
state representative Jewell Williams, local NAACP boss Jerry Mondesire,
and the owner of Good Time Tickets. All courtesy of Joe Mammana.

He built this impressive list of pals largely because of the headlines
he made in February, when he fronted 10 large to find the killers of
Faheem Thomas-Childs, the 10-year-old whose bullet-riddled body fell on
a North Philly schoolyard. “Just bring these cowards in strapped to a
horse, ankles to wrists,” Mammana said at a press conference announcing
his “bounty,” as he called it, positioning himself as some millionaire
vigilante. “I'm not a cry for justice. I'm a cry for revenge.” The
public swooned. The Daily News framed him on its cover. A white knight
with a $130,000 Rolex and a black fedora shrouding his shaved head.
Save our children, they said. Avenge us. God bless you, Mr. Mammana.

The way Mammana tells it, his is a story of redemption. His strict
father and the Marine Corps tried to instill some discipline in him,
but months after leaving the service, he lost his way. “I made my
mistakes, I got in trouble with the law, did dumb things,” Mammana says
today. “Everybody does dumb shit.” Then he transformed himself, rising
above his rap sheet by becoming the ceo of an egg-processing company in
North Philly, giving money and jobs to the ghetto. Now he counts among
his friends the ceo of the school board, politicians, and, yes, the
most powerful cop in the city. He's even considering a run for City
Council.

Ringside, as Johnson yawns, Mammana's leaning forward, elbows on knees,
enthralled by the bout. He has made inroads into the sport by backing
boxers, including heavyweight David Tua, and taking frequent trips to
Vegas, inviting new friends along for the ride. A few rounds pass, and
Mammana is distracted by the only thing he loves more than a
fight—bullshitting. Sitting behind him is a Latin soap star who
attracts autograph-seekers. He's with two women. The older one works
with Gloria Estefan. The younger one looks like a cross between
Jennifer Lopez and Carmen Electra. Mammana turns to chat them up.

“I put up all the money in the city when black or Hispanic kids get
shot,” he says. “I put up more than $1 million in reward money.” In
minutes, he has recommended a restaurant in South Beach, promised
suites at the W hotel for their next visit to Manhattan, and offered
the caramel-skinned beauty a “no strings attached” trip to see his
favorite musical, 42nd Street: “Just give me one hour notice, okay?
That's all I need.”

Mammana turns to me. “See how fast? That fast and I'm jetting down to Miami. I meet so many fucking people.”

To his right is 11-year-old Little Joe, his son. The boy is sporting a
matching mini fedora and a Delilah's Gentlemen's Club jacket. “Give her
the wink, Little Joe,” Mammana says. Right on cue, the walnut-eyed boy
squints, and the Latinas melt. As Mammana says about his sidekick,
“It's like carrying a puppy with me.”

Back to the story about Mammana's redemption. That's the tale as he'd
tell it. That's also a little like saying Arnold Schwarzenegger did
some acting before he moved into the state house. Mammana's “mistakes”
earned him two years in prison. His “dumb shit” led a judge to declare
he could never contact his ex-girlfriend again. His youthful
indiscretions, if his first wife is to be believed, include bludgeoning
her and holding a serrated kitchen knife to her throat. Ex-wife number
two, Little Joe's mom, didn't know that part of the Mammana story until
she was contacted for this one. Neither did some of his influential new
buddies. Nor did a former local TV newswoman who dated him just two
years ago, and now fears for her safety as a result of their split.

Behind Mammana, standing next to his new Spanish-speaking buddies, is a
large, drunk imbecile from Long Island who thinks yelling “Hey Donald!
You're fired!” to Trump is funny. Mammana is a fan of the millionaire,
too—he once read Trump's books to pass time in lockup—but making a
scene isn't his style. He already asked the guy once to settle down. In
earshot of the commish, he turns around again.

“This gentleman and these ladies are trying to watch the fight,” he
says, neck bulging, hat in hand, his voice carrying over the crowd.
“I'm really starting to get pissed off. And you don't want me to get
angry.” The taller, bulkier New Yorker quietly apologizes.

After 1 a.m., as the lopsided final bout of the night ends in a draw
and a weary bunch of vips piles into Mammana's limo, everyone seems
oblivious to the question hanging over their host like a fog: Who is
the real Joe Mammana? The changed man wiping away his dark past with
every Ben Franklin he peels off for dignitaries and murdered kids? Or
an ex-con using everything at his disposal—good deeds, his checkbook,
even his son—to buddy up to the guys who used to lock him up, and chase
some skirt while he's at it? You know the tale Mammana would tell you.
But as he says himself, “There's three sides to it—my side, their side,
and the truth.”

The World According to Joe. On values:

“I believe in the old way. You go behind the barn, swing it out, then
pick the guy up and go have a beer. It's not like that anymore.”

 Mammana is a charmer, for sure, but subtlety is not in his
playbook. Earlier on this day, the 44-year-old pulled into the
Roundhouse parking lot in his gunmetal-silver 2004 Lamborghini—the kind
of hot rod you hear before you see, with an engine like a lion's roar.
The doors rose vertically like goalposts, and out stepped Mammana to
talk to his limo driver, who was waiting by a black stretch to take
everyone up to Manhattan for the fights. Cops on smoke breaks stared in
slack-jawed wonder and envy at Mammana's wheels.

“He drove that Lamborghini to Faheem's funeral,” Mondesire said,
watching the scene and pulling on a cigar. Representative Williams
shook his head with laughter. He knew where this Mammana story was
headed. “A woman from the 'hood comes up to me and says, 'Jerry, I know
that's your friend. I will give him some pussy if I can sit in that
car.' It's a good thing it was a funeral. She was serious.”

Mammana's reward money became front-page news, but it was his
appearance at Faheem's funeral in February that cemented his
credibility with Mondesire, Johnson, and Paul Vallas, the well-regarded
would-be savior of the city's public schools. More than 2,500 mourners
came to honor the boy's memory, and Mammana stayed for the duration of
the nearly five-hour memorial. As the sun warmed his face on that long
day, Mammana reached out and took hold of an opportunity to make a name
for himself, a good one.

It wasn't the first time he'd been given a second chance. That came in
a Conshohocken courtroom in 1988, when he stood before a judge on a
charge of rape, among others. Mammana, then 28, denied the charges and
pleaded to harassment. As long as he stayed away from his ex-girlfriend
Roberta, he'd remain a free man. But first, the incredulous magistrate
delivered a warning. “In reviewing these specific charges … the number
and gravity of the charges, I am very, very surprised that this
settlement came about at all,” he told Mammana. “You have gotten a
break that I have not seen in a long time. … I assure you that you've
had this one golden opportunity—and this is truly a golden opportunity.”

Looking back at Mammana's life up to that point, there are a few
signposts along the way that explain why a kid from a stable,
prosperous family would need a “golden opportunity.” His stern Sicilian
father, Edward, owned Eastern Steel, a metal-processing company. He
provided the good life to his wife, Hope, and their two daughters, and
sent their eldest, son Joseph, to Gwynedd Mercy Academy, then to La
Salle High. There, Mammana was a skinny kid with a pretty face, a
Corvette, and a dad who owned a private plane. He was picked on
accordingly. By junior year, the bullying led to fight after fight, and
he transferred to Bishop Kenrick Catholic High. Considering the
emphasis Mammana Sr. placed on discipline, he didn't laugh off his
son's delinquency. “If I ever spray-painted something on a wall and the
cops brought me home,” Mammana says, “he'd put my hands in a fucking
walnut cracker.”    

Mammana graduated from high school and by 1983 had a degree from
Temple's Ambler campus in, of all things, criminal justice. The former
schoolyard speedbag had taken up weightlifting while living at his
parents' home in Blue Bell and, with a regular diet of steroids,
transformed himself into a 267-pound bodybuilding champion, winning a
Mr. North America title in 1985. “I used a lot of steroids,” he says.
“It was under a doctor's care. It was all legal.”

Knowing bodybuilding wasn't much of a career, Edward pushed his son
into the military and insisted he enter enlisted, not as an officer. In
1983, Mammana joined the Marines, and learned discipline from day one
on Parris Island. But from the moment he was honorably discharged five
years later, his life began to crumble. The charges from his girlfriend
Roberta were reduced, allowing him to sidestep prison, but not for
long. The next year, Mammana was arrested in Florida and spent three
months in jail for impersonating a lawyer and trying to buy a Corvette
with someone else's credit, according to newspaper reports. Two months
after that, he was charged with selling fake steroids, which he admits
he was doing. When he found the guys who sold him the bogus drugs, he
sent one to the hospital; the dealers claimed Mammana tried to shoot
them, but no gun was found. He walked after paying hospital expenses.
“I cracked their skulls,” he says. “Beat the living shit out of them
and paid their medical bills. But I never ratted anybody out. I didn't
take anybody with me. There's some credibility to that, you know what
I'm saying?”

Trouble followed when he returned to Philadelphia in 1990. He was on
probation in New Jersey over $1,700 in bad checks to Zinman Furs, and
in Florida, and then pleaded to forgery after passing a check at a
Burlington County mall under someone else's name. There he was, the son
of a wealthy steel magnate—lying, stealing and cheating for cars, furs
and petty mall merchandise. “When I got in trouble, my father said,
'Let him sit there,'”

Mammana recalls. “'Let him learn. If this doesn't do it, nothing will.'”

Then came October 1, 1991. On that day, Mammana and his wife, Lisa Ann,
were already separating after less than a year of marriage. She worked
in the clubhouse of the Korman Suites in Blue Bell, where he had an
apartment. He tried to speak with her twice, but each time she refused.
When he returned to settle an issue over a car, his sedate demeanor
dissolved. “His mood swung,” she testified eight days later. “He said,
'You're going to be sorry.'” They argued. Lisa asked him for a divorce.
Mammana lost it. “He threatened to kill me, and he threatened to scar
my face,” she said. “He threatened to have my father's house burnt
down. He threatened to have my daughter raped and blinded.”

She gave him back her wedding ring, and Mammana left, but not for long.
An hour later, he was back, still in a rage. She testified that he tore
a countertop off its foundation and ran after her with it, knocking her
down by clubbing her in the head. She cried, he calmed down, but the
argument flared up. Mammana grabbed a serrated kitchen knife and tried
to stab her with it. She moved, and the knife stuck in a box of
Styrofoam cups. According to her testimony, Mammana looked at her and
said, “I'm going to kill you.”

Eventually, Lisa found an opportunity to call the police, and Mammana
bolted. At his trial, the countertop, the knife and the box of cups
were presented as evidence. Lisa testified that Mammana had been
threatening her for seven months, and had even fired a gun at her. When
police searched his apartment, in addition to scores of testosterone
vials, pills and syringes, they found two bullet holes in the walls.

Mammana served eight months in jail for aggravated assault before he
was transferred to South Jersey to serve a yearlong sentence for car
thefts there. Two years of his life lost behind bars. A girlfriend he'd
never see again. An ex-wife he'd attacked. By 1992, the only future Joe
Mammana seemed destined for was a solitary one, either behind guarded
walls or below six feet of dirt.

On leadership: “It makes me think of Anwar Sadat. Before he was
assassinated, he was asked what he wanted people to remember him as. He
said, 'A man who lived for peace and died for his principles.' I always
thought that was a neat way of putting it, you know what I mean? That's
what I want to be now.”

 Michael Jordan. Steve Jobs. That mythological flaming bird. John
Travolta. Jesus. All known for amazing comebacks. Add Joe Mammana to
that list. He's not only out of jail, but standing arm-in-arm with some
of the city's most powerful men. The Citizens Crime Commission—you
know, the hotline they flash on Action News for tips on unsolved cases?
It's run by two ex-cops, and Mammana sits on their board. It's a
classic “only in Philadelphia” story. Still, when esteemed folks like
City Controller Jonathan Saidel say, “I wish we had a thousand guys
like him,” it's nothing short of dumbfounding.

Walking away from steroids was the beginning of Mammana's makeover.
“The biggest change for me was getting out of bodybuilding,” he says,
admitting that the drugs fueled his rage. “While I was incarcerated, I
didn't have steroids. Prison is not a joke. It gave me time to think,
because every day was a wasted day. I read all Donald Trump's books, I
read all G. Gordon Liddy's books, all the Grisham books. I should have
been frickin' doing reviews for a book club.”

When he left prison, his father set him up with jobs, including work
with a cheesecake company Mammana Sr. had ties to. Then, in 1995, as
Mammana tells it, his father saw an opportunity with Cutler Egg—an
egg-processing plant run by the Cutler family for five generations—and
bought into it. Armed with a copy of Kenneth Blanchard's The One Minute
Manager, Mammana was named Cutler's new ceo. “My father got me through
the door,” Mammana says, “but he wouldn't protect me. He would help
anybody, but after that, you're on your own. I worked.” (Calls made to
the Cutlers—four of whom still work for the company—were not returned.)

Mammana's march toward redemption continued when his girlfriend, Evelyn
Lopez, gave birth to his first child, son Joe, in 1993. They married
two years later, and though their union seemed doomed from the start,
Mammana was dedicated to his little boy. “I guarantee you Joe doesn't
know where I work or when I was promoted,” Evelyn says. “We lived
separate lives for a long time. He might not be a great husband, but
he's a good person and a great father.”

As Mammana was learning how to raise a son, his father was slipping
away. Edward was diagnosed with colon cancer, and died in 1997. “When
they found it, within months, it was like a tub of water,” Joe says.
“You pull the drain and wonder, is this water ever going down? But when
it gets to only an inch left, you see it sucking so fast you can't
believe it. I've never seen anything like it in my life. We held a
viewing right there at the house. I was the one that dressed him.”

With Edward gone, Mammana suddenly had an inheritance, a wife, a young
son, and a corporate career—everything he needed to buy back his soul
and be the man his father had tried to help him become. Still, he
wasn't satisfied. “I want to be somebody who contributes back,” he
says. “God's been good to my family. I don't want to be thought of as a
person who takes, or doesn't do anything.”

That year, he started donating to the Philadelphia Police Department,
and in 2000, he posted a $5,000 reward in the name of “the Mammana
family” to find the suv driver who crippled Bucks County teen Megan
Hamlin. “She's a vegetable,” he says. “That just got to me.”

Mammana went on a roll: $5,000 for the capture of the Germantown
rapist; $5,000 to help the family of Ebony Smith, a 10-year-old
Overbrook girl shot during a snowball fight; another $5,000 to track
down the “cowardly bastards” who kidnapped Erica Pratt from her
Southwest Philly rowhome. With the Pratt reward, he cast aside his
anonymity and stepped forward. “It's time people realized the Crime
Commission is such a positive thing,” he said when asked at the time
why he was revealing himself. Fox's Dawn Stensland convinced Mammana to
give her his first TV interview. “He was shy and hesitant,” she says.
“But the next time I saw him, he was all over the media. I think he
fell in love with the attention.”

He sponsored Crime Commission fund-raising banquets and gave away
Flyers and Sixers tickets for raffles. In the wake of 9/11, he posted a
$100,000 reward for information leading to the arrests of suspected
terrorists. He paid for the funerals of murdered kids. He sent a
brain-damaged Penn student to Italy for a handicapped rowing
competition. When Raymond Dawson was shot in the back after selling
flowers outside a Tioga Walgreen's, Mammana offered $15,000 to find his
killer. And when 100 rounds of automatic gunfire rained down on the
blacktop where Faheem Thomas-Childs played, Mammana's talk of vengeance
and street justice was a rallying cry. So was his cash.

“I say hard things, but I believe in what I say,” Mammana explains. “A
lot of people made a big deal out of calling this a bounty, but it was
a bounty. They're shooting up the streets. Let them kill each other.
It's a public service. It's thinning the herd. There's a silent
majority that will agree with a lot of things I say. I wish they had
the balls to step to the plate. They used to say my initials should
have been b.a.d. Not because I'm bad. Balls. Attitude. Direction.”

His direction, specifically, is to the right. A hard-line Republican,
Mammana has helped fill a few gop coffers—$10,000 for Mike Fisher's
gubernatorial campaign, more than $20,000 for Sam Katz's most recent
mayoral push, $7,000 to City Councilman Jack Kelly, as well as
thousands more to groups like the National Republican Congressional
Committee. This year, he'll sit on the Presidential Business
Commission, moving nrcc chair Congressman Tom Reynolds to declare, “I
am grateful to have Mr. Mammana's support and personal input.” In 2003,
the Republican-funded Business Advisory Council named him
Pennsylvania's Businessman of the Year, and at the banquet at the
Washington Hilton—Mammana loves this story—he and his son met George W.
Bush. The President shook Little Joe's hand, and when the boy spoke,
Bush's Secret Service agents chuckled.

Bush leaned down and asked, “What did you say?”

“Don't take any shit,” Little Joe repeated.

Mammana lights up when he gets to this part. The President pulled
Little Joe in close with both hands. “I promise you, I won't.” A few
months later at the Four Seasons for a fund-raiser, Bush told Mammana,
“I think of your son every day, and I will cherish that moment for the
rest of my life.”

Can't really top impressing the President, but that doesn't stop
Mammana from trying. Multiple doors with security codes and fortified
walls separate his office inside the Cutler Egg factory from what lurks
along 6th and Sedgley; his customized Hummer is parked behind metal
garage doors. Bulletproof panels slide down over his office windows
with a touch of a button, and Mammana has cameras trained inside and
out, 24 hours a day. A framed mug shot of a young Sinatra looks down on
him, and a coffee cup on his desk reads once a marine, always a marine.
He reaches into a folder and produces a stack of letters—praise from
Mondesire, the West Kensington Boys and Girls Club, the Citizens Crime
Commission. There's a copy of the celebratory Daily News cover story
that proclaimed vengeance is joe's. The Women's Christian Alliance
honored him as one of its people of the year. wpht-am is giving him a
tryout with a weekend call-in show.

What he really wants, though, is an at-large seat on City Council—a
daydream even his ally Jack Kelly finds laughable, since Mammana would
have to bump out the immensely popular Franny Rizzo. Mammana says he's
serious about venturing into politics, and believes voters would stand
behind someone who speaks from the gut. “Our society is so
ass-backward,” he says. “The Orientals are worried about Chink's
Steaks. The American Indians are worried about the Washington Redskins.
I'm Italian. Maybe I should sue a pet store because they call gerbils
guinea pigs. That's offensive to me, the word 'guinea.' Do the Puerto
Ricans not like the cleaning product Spic and Span? This is out of
frickin' control. I don't see anything in the gray.”

Ironically, the gray is exactly where Mammana exists—somewhere between
his jailhouse past and the crime-fighter he hopes to be, between
eggman, everyman and enigma. And in this town where deals are drawn up
within the colorless spaces that lie behind closed doors, Mammana makes
perfect sense. Years after City Councilman Harry Jannotti served time
in the wake of Abscam, he was elected to lead his West Kensington ward.
Jimmy Tayoun, Lee Beloff, Ozzie Myers—all men with criminal records who
continue to impact local politics. No way an ex-con like Mammana would
end up involved in city government? Don't bet against him.

Along with the complimentary letters Mammana shows me, he unveils an
aluminum bat. He keeps it under his desk and says he's used it when
neighborhood thugs have attacked his employees, most of whom walk to
work and don't habla much ingles. I ask why a man with a long rap sheet
would go public with his do-gooding. What's to gain when you could just
help people from the sidelines and spare them—and yourself, and your
family—the scrutiny?

“I realize there's negatives to everything,” he says. “The motto that
hung on Mayor Koch's wall: 'No good deed goes unpunished.' You do good,
then people are saying negative things about you. You know what? I
don't give a shit. Quote that.”

On the difference between public perception and private truth: “I'm
Catholic. I don't go to church every Sunday, but you know what? I'm
good to people. Sitting in church, the guy to my left might be a
pedophile. The guy to my right might be wearing women's underwear. The
guy in front of me is cheating. I don't even know about the priest. I
don't know anything about anybody anymore.”

 A month after Faheem's funeral and a month before the fights at
Madison Square Garden, Mammana stands with Paul Vallas and Police
Commissioner Johnson at the school district headquarters as Jerry
Mondesire announces a planned march through North Philly to end
violence against children. Mammana, dressed in his uniform of
late—suit, fedora, diamond-crusted Rolex—has promised Mondesire a few
grand to support the cause and says he'll lead the march, driving
Faheem's mother in his Hummer. But when rain ends up pushing the event
back a week, he's not exactly thrilled. “Last week when I was away, I
was hoping I missed it, but I'm here, so I've got to go to it,” he says
on speakerphone from his office. “I'm busy. I've got businesses to run.”

What he doesn't mention is that while he was away, his schedule
included appearing in Bucks County court to settle a bench warrant from
a 1988 dispute over a custom weight-lifting belt he'd ordered. The day
after our conversation, Mondesire leads a who's who of politicians
through the streets on a breezy Saturday afternoon, along with 8,000
kids and concerned citizens. Mammana isn't among them. This very
morning, the Inquirer ran a front-page story exposing his criminal
past. Conveniently, he missed the march because of a kidney-stone
emergency. “I was pissing blood last night,” he says later. St. Mary
Medical Center in Langhorne confirms a Joe Mammana was admitted and
released that weekend.    

That's Joe Mammana for you. Doesn't show, but has a good excuse. Away
on business, but not necessarily the egg business. As one local newsman
put it, “He's one of these guys who tells you his whole résumé in five
minutes.” But even then, he leaves you with questions. Mammana drops so
many names in any given conversation, you'll need steel-toe boots to
save your toes: Shoshanna Johnson, the black pow from Iraq (“I'm very
close with her. Great girl. Great, great person.”). Dawn Stensland
(“Very close friend. Great woman. Great, neat, nice girl.”). Sam Katz
(“Personal friend. A gentleman. Great guy.”). Vai Sikahema (“I'm very
close to Vai.”). Jack Kelly (“Great man.”). Jimmy Hoffa Jr. Denzel
Washington. Ja Rule. Sandy Bullock.     

Yet childhood friends don't know where his money comes from, and no
one's sure of how wealthy he is. His second wife, Evelyn, didn't know
about his assaults on wife number one, and doesn't know much about his
business, either. And like his pal George W., his math's a little
fuzzy: First he says Cutler Egg is a $15 billion enterprise, then
amends that weeks later to $25 million, claiming that the first figure
represents what parent company Land O' Lakes brings in. He says he's
posted more than a million in reward money, but his own estimates add
up to less than half that. And as for what he's actually paid out for
all these bounties, well, he's blunt about that: “You can make a pledge
to the Crime Commission, and in all honesty, it doesn't cost you a dime
until the person is caught.” Even Mammana's b.a.d. shtick isn't what it
seems—it's a line from a shitty Nic Cage movie.

The confusion continues. One day he says he paid Megan Hamlin's
hospital bills; weeks later, he's not sure. The Boys and Girls Club
that's naming a building after him? No such plans; he told them he'd
like to build a rec center and put his name on it.  The story he
told a newspaper about his inspirational cousin, Nick Mancuso, an
employee of Cantor Fitzgerald who died at Ground Zero? Neither Cantor
Fitzgerald nor the 9/11 survivor's registry has any record of anyone
matching that name. (After consulting his mother, Mammana calls back
with a correction—it's Greg Montano. Turns out the name he was
searching for was Craig Montano.) His girlfriend's rape charges? He
still disputes the details. The assault on his first wife? He denies
attacking her, saying, “Do you think if I really hit her in the head, I
wouldn't have killed her?”

He criticizes the Iversons and McNabbs for not doing what he does, for
not giving back, because “they're too busy drinking Cristal and going
to nightclubs—I don't have time to hang at nightclubs.” But he has
spent enough time at Delilah's that he's comped whenever he's there,
calls an owner his “close friend,” and, according to a source, recently
dated a Latina who danced as “Leah.” When asked if he's ever dated
anyone at Delilah's, Mammana smiles broadly and says, “No, I never
have.” He also says he's currently “very involved,” and has two other
children—a three-year-old son and a one-year-old daughter—with a woman
he won't identify other than to say she's Hispanic. At one point he
calls her a spouse, then refuses to confirm they're married.

This is where the sinner seems inseparable from the redeemed Joe
Mammana. Not as a lawbreaker; for all of his own insistence that he's
not involved with the Mafia—”You have a vowel at the end of your name
and people make assumptions”—no one, in print or by word of mouth,
suggests he's involved in organized crime or any illegal businesses.
“Until someone shows me he's doing this for nefarious purposes,” says
Mondesire, “I'll take it at face value.” He has properties he won't
discuss, and his name is connected to a variety of companies he says
are either defunct or non-operational. Various people contacted for
this story thought he owned Land O' Lakes, because on his business
card, that famous logo of a kneeling Native American princess is five
times the size of Cutler Egg's. One person even said Mammana claimed to
be an heir to the Land O' Lakes fortune. (A Land O' Lakes spokesperson
would not comment on Mammana, saying only that Cutler is a subsidiary
of another company half-owned by the dairy giant.) And so the sphinx in
the black hat offers more riddles to play with, and few answers.

The clearest parallel between the new Mammana and the old one is found
in the tale of his relationship with former nbc 10 reporter Tiffany
McElroy, who gave birth to a daughter with weatherman John Bolaris in
March. McElroy met Mammana in mid-2002 after Dawn Stensland interviewed
him about the Pratt kidnapping reward for Fox News. McElroy called to
interview Mammana, and he ignored her requests. Then he saw her on
TV—dark complexion, Latin, pretty. Just his type. Mammana called
Stensland, and she introduced them. The couple dated seriously enough
that McElroy met Mammana's mother and Little Joe. “She was madly in
love with him,” Stensland says.

Sources say the fairy tale unraveled on New Year's Eve 2002. McElroy
waited alone at a restaurant for her boyfriend to arrive, but Mammana
called to say he was caught up with business. A friend of McElroy's
later told her that she had spotted him out with another woman that
same night. When they split up weeks later, McElroy claimed he
threatened her. “I know Lynne Abraham,” she told friends he said. “I'll
have drugs planted on you. I'll ruin your career.” McElroy refused
multiple requests to speak for this story. Said Bolaris, “Tiffany wants
to leave that in the past.”

Mammana, of course, claims he never threatened McElroy. Claims he
barely knows her, actually. “Nice girl, sweet girl, but just an
acquaintance,” he says. “No sex, but if she wants to give it a second
try, I'd be happy to help her out.” Just like he can explain his other
domestic disputes despite having admitted guilt in both cases. Today,
even without the steroids and the extra 50 pounds of muscle, Mammana
still has a temper. As he admits, “I'm one of these people where things
boil up, you know what I mean?”

As a matter of fact, yes. Like when he was told that Councilman Franny
Rizzo—no friend of Mammana supporter Jack Kelly—said he knew of Mammana
but had never met him: “That lying guinea prick! I've got e-mails from
him asking for money! He's a fucking liar!”

Or like the day in April when he made a return appearance to Bucks
County court to clear up that bench warrant and pay off the debt on the
weight-lifting belt. Surrounded by portraits of judges hanging all
around the circular hall, Mammana bit his fingernails as he waited to
hear his name called. He was approached by the Inquirer reporter who'd
written the story that broke the day of the march, and who'd been
dogging him for weeks. He blew her off with a cold stare and silence,
heading straight past her to his lawyer. “She better get away from me,”
he said. “I swear, I'll knock her out.”

A cop took him upstairs to pay his $870 restitution, and in true Joe
Mammana fashion, they were buddies by the time the elevator doors
opened. “That woman from the Inquirer was here,” he told the officer.
“I didn't hit her.”

“Not yet,” said the cop. They both chuckled.

Mammana left minutes later to find a parking ticket on his Lamborghini,
and laughed it off. His head was held high; he was glowing, as though
the cash he'd just laid down wiped away the last filthy stain from his
past. Goodbye, old Joe. New Joe has checks to write, children to save,
limos to ride, hands to shake, women to meet. “I did some dumb shit,
but I do good shit now,” he says. “All I want is for people to say I
was a good person. I've got nothing to
hide.”                                                
 

Source URL: https://www.phillymag.com/news/2006/05/15/you-dont-want-me-to-get-angry/