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
ON THE RAINY MORNING of October 5, 1995, Billy Veasey left his South Philly rowhouse to drive to a Dunkin’ Donuts for coffee. He rode a block before halting at a stop sign. Two men ran up to his GMC Jimmy and opened fire. Nine gunshots shattered the front window; six bullets ripped into Billy’s body. Police found him slumped behind the wheel, a 9mm gun by his side. Billy, only 35, died in a hospital less than an hour later.
Over at the federal courthouse, John Veasey was getting ready to take the witness stand against Stanfa when FBI agents and prosecutors surrounded him. The feds were so worried about how John would react to Billy’s murder that they put him in handcuffs.
But instead of flying into a rage when he got the news, John fainted. And when he woke up, he was crying. The feds told John the Stanfa crew had killed Billy in retaliation for John’s decision to become a federal witness. The feds were so concerned about security that John wasn’t allowed to attend his brother’s viewing or funeral. Instead, he had to say goodbye to Billy in a dirty, dingy warehouse. When John saw his brother lying in a coffin, he was surprised to see a cigar in the pocket of Billy’s suit jacket.
“My brother hated smoking,” John said. He threw the cigar away.
“This is not the way this was supposed to end,” John told Billy. “I was supposed to be the one at the viewing, and now it’s you. It’s all wrong. I was the one who fucked his life up.” John told Billy he regretted all his mistakes. “It won’t happen again,” he vowed. “I won’t let you down again.”
ON THE WITNESS STAND, Veasey told jurors about the two tattoos on his chest, of the Devil and God: “Everybody has a good side and a bad side,” he explained. He owned up to his criminal past: “I robbed to support my drug habit. I murdered for money.” And when he mentioned his late mother, he blessed himself and said, “God rest her soul.”
For months before the trial, John had vacillated on whether he could go through with becoming a rat and testifying against Stanfa. But after Billy’s murder, he was transformed. “It was personal,” he says. So for three days, on the witness stand, he talked frankly about the Mob war and everything he had done.
Defense lawyers tried to trip him up but didn’t get anywhere. Brian McMonagle, representing Frank Martines, showed Veasey a gory mug shot of his client and asked: Did you do this to Mr. Martines’s face?
“After he shot me, Brian,” Veasey replied.
Is it true you once fed your pet pit bull a live chicken? McMonagle asked.
“No,” Veasey said. “It was a rooster.”
Members of the jury showed up at two subsequent trials to follow Veasey and cheer him on as a witness. “I could have stayed at their houses,” Veasey tells me.
STILL, HE WAS ANGRY and defiant when he went to prison for the murders of Frank Baldino and Michael Ciancaglini. He was so disrespectful of correction officers that he ended up in solitary confinement for 37 months. He had plenty of time to think about how he was going to take his revenge on the mobsters who’d killed his brother. One plot involved sneaking up on mobster wives in the supermarket and injecting them with HIV so they would infect their husbands. Veasey wanted the mobsters to die slow, painful deaths.