SOUTH PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - It was a rainy Friday in South Philadelphia outside the Philadelphia Mob's newest clubhouse near 9th and Catherine.
"Oh my God. What a joke they made out of a great family."
That’s former Philly mob boss Ralph Natale speaking to us from somewhere in America about the mob and his new book, 'Last Don Standing'. Natale says the book was his wife's idea.
"She said I know everything about you, but that ain't everything she said," Natale told FOX 29’s Dave Schratwieser in an exclusive interview.
That's why the 80-something year old Natale says he did the book. He's the first mob boss to ever become a government witness and now he's telling tales about the likes of Jimmy Hoffa, former heavyweight champion Sonny Liston and former Philadelphia mob boss Angelo Bruno. Natale says it was Bruno and New York wiseguy Carlo Gambino who first inducted him into the mob.
"We went there. We cut our fingers. We put the blood together. The three of us. I never felt better and stronger in my life," Natale said. "Joey had a little ceremony. Made me and said now you're the boss. Pretty good. You are the boss."
Natale goes on in the book to talk about his relationship with the infamous Jimmy Hoffa who disappeared without a trace in July 1975.
"Jimmy Hoffa was one of the finest men. I've ever met," Natale explained. "And a man's man. Never broke his word."
Natale also described in his book how mob bosses across the country followed an inside tip and bet against heavyweight champ Sonny Liston in a shocking 1964 upset loss to Cassius Clay, boxing great Muhammad Ali.
"The biggest legitimate score that the mob ever made was with Sonny Liston," Natale said.
Natale turned down an in person interview with FOX 29 and a live internet interview. His people citing safety and scheduling issues. Natale and Schratwieser go back almost 20 years when Schratwieser first interviewed him after he became boss of the Philly mob and he said things like this.
"If I was in a war. I'd want Joey Merlino in a foxhole with me," Natale told Schratwieser in 1998.
"He turned out to be the biggest, one of the biggest mistakes, I ever made in my life. He was a liar, a coward," Natale said in this new interview.
Natale claims he became a government witness because mob boss Joey Merlino betrayed a promise that when Natale went to prison he would take care of Natale's wife, Lucia.
"He never paid a dime to, never sent an envelope over here. Never came to see my wife," Natale added.
Natale went on to talk about Merlino's reputation as a tough guy.
"He couldn't kill a fly, Joe Merlino," he said.
Natale had no problem weighing in current state of affairs of the local mob, the return of a half dozen Scarfo gangsters to Philadelphia after decades in prison and who he thinks should be the boss of the local mob.
"There is no mob in the city right now. They're not recognized anywhere," he claims.
"Let's talk about the Scarfo guys," he said. "They're all good men. They did their time. I don't know if they go to work, they're writing numbers. I don't know. I wish them all well."
Schratwieser asked if the Merlino factions of the mob and the Scarfo crew could ever co exist together or get along together. " No. No. I don't think so. Two different kind of guys."
"Joe Ciancaglini," Natale added,"He should be the boss of Philadelphia. If there was a mob."
And Natale didn't miss a beat when i asked about several unsolved mob hits the FBI is investigating, like the murders of Ron Turchi, Tony Turra and Dutchie Avicoli.
"They were afraid of Ronnie Turchi. He was a very dangerous guy you know."
"And Tony Turra. Same thing with Tony. He was caught on a tape saying that he wanted to kill Joey," Natale explained.
What about Dutchie Avicoli what about that," Schratwieser asked."They took him for a ride up in North Jersey and he never came home. Dutchie."
Schratwieser also told Natale "they (the local wiseguys) think Ralph Natale exaggerates, makes things up and in some cases lies?"
"Everything I said happened," he said. "They got away with murder. They got away with everything. God bless them."
Natale had one final comment about the local wiseguys. "They didn't take care of me and I don't give a damn about them," he added.
Natale did 13 years in prison for his last conviction. He's been out of prison now almost 5 years. He insists he wants nothing to do with the mob anymore and he no longer cares to testify for the FBI on any future mob cases here in Philadelphia.