“It Was So Fascinating! Here They Were, in My Little House in the Suburbs, Trying to Plan a Murder!”

Mob wife Brenda Colletti, still yakking after all these years

"Except that when Philip came into the room and Sal told him the plan, he completely went off. ‘Yo, Sal!’ he yelled at him. ‘How ’bout if I go get your wife and send her out to whack somebody? Tell me if I that’s a good idea!’ So that was that, but I would have done it, I’m telling you."

By December of I993, the pressure was getting to everyone. Veasey had begun using drugs again, which made him even I more paranoid — and sloppy. Rumors spread that he would be killed by his own team to ensure his silence, and Philip sensed that meant they’d probably get rid of him, too. In January of I994, soon afrer Veasey was the intended victim of another famously botched hit, he worked out the terms of his deal with the U.S. Attorney’s office.

"He turned rat," Brenda says. "When that happened, Philip knew it was time for him to turn rat, too, or die. So he did, and we all went into hiding — even Philip’s mom and dad. And that was a whole other thing."

WHICH IS PUTTING it mildly. As bad as things sound up to that point, they went straight downhill from there. Ironically, this was the phase of Brenda’s greatest celebrity, the time when she commanded the stage alone, having outlasted all the other actors. This was when the essence of Brenda shone through, and she became a thorn in the side and a pain in the ass to those who (in her telling) used, abused and abandoned her.

Philip, Brenda and their son were hidden in a safe house where federal agents could question them at length in preparation for the indictment against Stanfa et al. In the spring of I994, Philip pleaded guilty to Ciancaglini’s murder and other crimes and was moved to a protected jail cell somewhere in the Southwest. Brenda, their son and his parents were relocated to the South — someplace way out of the way.

There, Brenda’s discontent began to grow. The government failed to deliver on new identities for her and their son, refused to give her access to her own possessions, would not provide promised visits with Philip. Plus, she hated the South, hated living among those people even then. That summer, she did the unthinkable — she busted out of the program’s protections, fled her own hiding place and returned to South Jersey. There she took up the role of mouthy, possibly insane gangster’s wife, complaining openly, bitterly, comically — a mob Martha Mitchell. In the fall, she and Philip cooperated by testifying against Stanfa and the others, bur her relations with the government stayed rancorous. "The program sucks," she told more than one reporter, and her fame as a malcontent grew until she finally hit the sob-sister big time — an appearance with Diane Sawyer on ABC’S Prime Time Live. At that point, the government quietly blew its stack and banished her from the secured Ocean City house they’d been letting her use, leaving her more or less penniless, jobless, homeless (she was sleeping in her car at one point), family-less, friendless. It was then, in the spring of I996, that she made her final, most indelible public appearance, staging a one-moll protest march outside the federal building on Market Street wearing a sign that read MOB WITNESS.