Pulse: Chatte: Power: Mammana’s Main Man

Within the past year, tough guy/philanthropist Joe Mammana has made the jump from ex-con to basic-cable folk hero (“You Don’t Want Me to Get Angry,” June 2004) — an unlikely transformation that’s thanks in large part to, of all people, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson.

By posting a series of “bounties,” including $90,000 for the killers of 10-year-old Faheem Thomas-Childs and West Philadelphia’s LaToyia Figueroa, Blue Bell resident Mammana ingratiated himself with the city’s power elite. His attention then turned to the highly publicized case of Julie Popovich, a 20-year-old model from Ohio who went missing in August 2005. Though Mammana offered $50,000 to the Central Ohio Crime Stoppers to aid in her recovery, the organization was leery of a gift-bearing stranger. One phone call to Johnson changed that. The commissioner’s assurances opened the door for Mammana to post $1 million in rewards for unsolved crimes all over Ohio, guest on MSNBC’s Rita Cosby Live & Direct, and help Natalee Holloway’s mother in her assault on Aruba.

Johnson says his endorsement of Mammana, 46, was based on what he’s seen with his own eyes: “He’s helped us raise money, and he’s sincere. He showed up at [Faheem’s] funeral. I don’t know how to say this, but the church was overflowing, and he was one of the only Caucasians.” The commish isn’t worried his friend’s new profile will pull him away from local do-goodery: “When we need him, he’s available.”