Philip Testa Biography

(Mafia Boss)

Birthday: April 21, 1924 (Taurus)

Born In: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Philip Testa was an Italian–American mafia boss who led the infamous Philadelphia crime family of the U.S. from 1980 till his murder in 1981. It is believed Philip was born in Sicily and later moved to the U.S. with his parents. However, some believe he was born in Philadelphia. Philip was initially a gambler and owned a construction business. He joined mobster and Philadelphia crime family leader Angelo Bruno’s gang as his underboss in 1970. After Angelo’s death in 1980, Philip took over the leadership of the gang. However, owing to differences within the gang, he was murdered on his own porch in 1981. Apparently, the murder had been conspired by Philip’s own underboss, Peter Casella, and Frank Narducci Sr. Thus, one of their men, denotated a nail bomb at Philip’s home. Following Philip’s death, a huge mafia war ensured for the control of the gang. Nicodemo Scarfo became the new boss of the crime family and made Philip’s son, Salvatore, his caporegime. Eventually, Salvatore was murdered on the orders of Scarfo.

Quick Facts

Nick Name: The Chicken Man

Also Known As: Philip Charles Testa

Died At Age: 56


Spouse/Ex-: Alfia Arcidiacono (m. ?–1980)

children: Salvatore Testa

Born Country: United States

Gangsters American Men

Height: 1.76 m

Died on: March 15, 1981

place of death: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Childhdood & Early Life

Philip Charles Testa was born on April 21, 1924. Some believe he was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S., after his parents moved from Sicily, Italy, to the U.S.

Other accounts state that he was born in Mistretta, Sicily, and then moved with his family to New York, U.S., finally settling in South Philadelphia as a teenager.

He met Angelo Bruno, his future crime boss, in South Philadelphia.

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Life as a Criminal

In his initial years in the criminal world (and before he became a mafia boss), Philip Testa was said to be a petty gambler. He also earned through a construction business and arranged contractors for renovations and repairs in and around South Philadelphia.

Some people believed he already had connections with the Sicilian Mafia Commission before he moved with his family to the U.S.

In 1970, Philip Testa started working as the underboss of mafia leader Angelo Bruno, after the death of Angelo’s previous underboss, Ignazio Denaro.

Angelo Bruno led the Philadelphia crime family (also known as the “Bruno-Scarfo crime family,” the “Philly Mob/Mafia,” and the “Philadelphia-South Jersey Mafia”) for 2 decades.

After Angelo was killed by Antonio Caponigro, his own consigliere, in 1980, Philip took over as the boss of the Philadelphia crime family and appointed Nicodemo Scarfo as his consigliere.

Philip Testa had a scarred face, which led people to call him by the nickname "The Chicken Man," as the scars were believed to have been the result of chicken pox. Other versions state that his nickname originated from a poultry business he ran. Philip was also known as "Philly” and "The Julius Cesar of the Philadelphia Mob."

Philip also went against the mafia code of conduct that banned its members from sporting moustaches. He had a prominent, thick moustache.

Philip maintained a secret office for his mafia business at the Bank Street Restaurant in Old City, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. However, in around 1979 or 1980, he changed its name to Virgilio's. It was operated by his daughter, Maria, with Salvatore, his son, being a partial owner.

Virgil “The Blade” Mariutti, one of Salvatore’s close friends, managed Philip’s restaurant for a while. Philip had apparently named the restaurant after Virgil.

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Frank Monte, a member of Philip’s crime family, served as a bartender of the restaurant. The restaurant served as the headquarters of all of Philip’s legal and illegal business ventures. Philip was involved in all sorts of crimes, including drug trafficking, extortion, and loansharking.

On June 8, 1980, Philip Testa organized a La Cosa Nostra initiation ceremony at the house of John Cappello in South Philadelphia. At the ceremony, Philip inducted many, including Scarfo's nephew, Phil Leonetti; Frank “Little Frankie” Narducci Jr.; and his own son, Salvatore, into the crime family.

A month before Philip’s murder, he, along with Harold and Mario Riccobene, Frank Narducci Sr., Pasquale Spirito, Joseph Ciancaglini, and many other members of the underworld, were indicted in a federal racketeering case that involved charges of loansharking and gambling.

An investigation titled Operation Gangplank had been launched to investigate into the gang’s operations. The case was one of the first to be based on the RICO Act by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia.

Personal Life

Philip Testa was married to Alfia Arcidiacono. It is believed Alfia’s family had a farm in Salem County, New Jersey, U.S.

Soon after their marriage, Philip and Alfia had a daughter, Maria. In 1956, their son, Salvatore, was born in Bella Vista.

Nicodemo Scarfo and his second wife, Domencia, were named Salvatore’s godparents at a ceremony held at the St. Paul's Catholic Church.

Philip Testa raised his son according to strong Roman Catholic traditions. Philip himself was quite different from the usual mobsters. He did not have mistresses and was loyal to his wife instead. He was also not an alcoholic.

Salvatore later followed in his father’s footsteps and joined organized crime.

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Death and the Aftermath

As soon as he took over as the leader of the Philadelphia crime family, Philip Testa faced a lot of dissent from other members of the crime family.

Roughly a year after Angelo’s assassination, Philip was killed at his home by a nail bomb blast, allegedly organized by his underboss, Peter Casella, and Frank Narducci Sr.

On March 15, 1981, when Philip was about to enter his home at 2117 Porter St in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (near the Stephen Girard Park), a nail bomb went off on his front porch.

Apparently, the bomb had been detonated by Rocco Marinucci. The explosion was so strong that Philip’s mangled body parts were later discovered several blocks away. People who lived in the area initially thought that an oil refinery located nearby had exploded.

Philip was rushed to the St. Agnes Medical Centre, located in Point Breeze, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, immediately after the attack. However, he died of internal bleeding soon after.

Immediately after Philip’s murder, Salvatore hunted down Rocco Marinucci. Rocco’s body was later discovered in a South Philadelphia parking lot, with gunshot wounds on his body and cherry bombs in his throat.

Salvatore also wished to shoot Frank Narducci Sr. to death. Later, Narducci was killed by the mafia. Casella was banished by the mafia and later ran away to Florida.

Philip’s death was also the beginning of the Philadelphia Mafia War between the Philadelphia and New York mafia families that lasted 4 years and led to the murders of around 30 gangsters.

Soon after Philip’s murder, Nicodemo Scarfo became the boss of the crime family and made his nephew, Phil Leonetti, his underboss. He also appointed Frank Monte as his consigliere and made Salvatore (Philip’s son) his caporegime. Scarfo led the Philadelphia crime family (later known as the Scarfo crime family) for a decade.

Salvatore inherited a $800,000 estate that included a bar in Atlantic City, at a location where Donald Trump later built the Trump Plaza. Trump had reportedly paid the Testa family $1.1 million to acquire the property.

Philip remains buried at the Holy Cross Cemetery, located in Yeadon, Pennsylvania, U.S. Salvatore was killed by a close friend named Joey Pungitore, 3 years after Philip’s murder. Apparently, Nicodemo Scarfo, who had been Salvatore’s godfather, had ordered his murder, as he had gotten jealous of a Wall Street Journal article that mentioned Salvatore as a rising member of the American underworld.

See the events in life of Philip Testa in Chronological Order

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