|Big Ron Previte, mobster turned government witness whose cooperation brought down three crime bosses and changed the face of the Philadelphia mob, died last week. Previte was an imposing and intimidating figure. He described himself as a "general practitioner of crime" and admitted his involvement in almost every mob gambit...with the exception of murder. "If a guy owes me money and I kill him, how am I gonna get paid?" he asked.|
He opted not to go into the Witness Security Program after testifying in a 2001 racketeering trial that led to the convictions of Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino and six co-defendants. Instead, he remained in South Jersey. "Where am I gonna go?" he asked. "I like it here."
|Previte wore a body wire for more than a year, recording conversations for the FBI while helping to make cases against Merlino and former mob boss Ralph Natale. He often said wearing that wire on a daily basis was the most exciting time of his life.|
As a soldier in the mob family controlled by John Stanfa in the early 1990s, Previte fed information to the FBI that led to the convictions of Stanfa and more than two dozen associates. In the end, it wasn't the mob, but poor health that brought him down. He suffered a heart attack on Aug. 18th.