John-John Veasey’s Life After the Philly Mob

He was one of the most colorful characters in the history of the Philly mob — a charming killer who tangled with two MAFIA bosses, survived three gunshots to the head, and suffered Through the revenge murder of his own brother. Then he went into the Federal Witness-Protection Program — and built a new life for himself that may have been even crazier than his first one

Billy was so important to John, more important than anyone, and to see him like this …

“All right,” John said. “Do whatever you got to do. I don’t want to see you cry.”


Scuderi got on the phone and called Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Gross. Then he handed the phone to Billy.
“You know who my brother John is,” Billy told the federal prosecutor. “You know what he did. He’s not gonna do it anymore. I want to bring him in to talk to you. When can I come in?”

WHEN WORD GOT OUT that John Veasey was coming in, the conference room at the U.S. Attorney’s Strike Force Office on Chestnut Street filled up with prosecutors and FBI agents. The Veasey brothers arrived in 20 minutes. Billy Veasey broke the ice. “John’s gonna tell you what he did, that he killed some people,” he said. “He was with John Stanfa, and he’s not gonna do it anymore.”

John was unshaved under a knit cap. To Barry Gross, he looked just like John Belushi in Animal House.

“Soon as I saw him, and as soon as he opened his mouth, I felt that this was the turning point,” Gross remembers. “It was what so many of us—prosecutors, FBI agents and police officers—had been working together for, to try and end this,” he says, meaning the Philly Mob.

While Billy and John were talking with the feds, the lawmen asked the Veaseys if their brother, Dante “P-nut” Veasey, was responsible for a recent drug murder they were investigating. “Naah,” John-John said. “That guy was shot. P-nut would have stabbed him.”

John asked to use the men’s room. Gross got the key and led him down the hallway. On the way, John stopped and stared intently at Gross.
“I’m doing the right thing, aren’t I?”

ON JANUARY 14, 1994, two weeks after John Veasey turned himself in, Frank Martines and Vincent “Al Pajamas” Pagano, who got his nickname for putting people to sleep, asked Veasey to take a ride with them; as a cooperating witness for the feds, he was still out and about. Martines told Veasey that because the cops were always following them, Veasey couldn’t bring any weapons. So he left behind his .357 magnum. After they had a few drinks at a bar, Veasey thought the two mobsters would drive him home. But they stopped instead at a butcher shop on 7th Street.

Martines told Veasey the Mob was running a numbers operation out of a small apartment above the butcher shop, and they wanted Veasey to learn how to work it. When they walked into the apartment, Pagano locked the door behind them. Veasey saw that all the furniture in the place was covered in plastic. We’re painting, Martines told Veasey. Then Martines said he needed to use the bathroom.

When Martines came out, he put a .22 to the back of Veasey’s head and said, “Bye-bye, John.” Then he pulled the trigger three times. Veasey jumped up and grabbed his head. His hand was full of blood; he felt like he’d been hit with a sledgehammer. Veasey stared at Martines and yelled, “Yo, Frank. You just fucking shot me?” One bullet had hit the back of Veasey’s head and broken into fragments; a second exited through his forehead. A third had bounced off his head and into his neck. Martines told Veasey why he’d shot him: “You talk too much.”