July 10-16, 2003
(And Beanie Sigel Too)
The Gorilla has made it official. Not long after getting sprung from Allenwood federal penitentiary, sources say Steven "Gorilla" Mondevergine told city police Organized Crime Unit investigators that hes no sellout.
"I live Pagan, I die Pagan," came the 47-year-old's declaration last week.
The announcement was made from a hospital bed because Gorilla checked himself into Camden's Cooper Medical Center after suffering an intense migraine headache for three days. From there, doctors sent the feared biker-gang figure to Jefferson Hospital so he could be tested for a possible aneurysm.
When Philly's mob squad learned of Gorilla's whereabouts -- parole restrictions bar him from the city -- they popped in for a chat and found him awaiting CAT scan results. He wasn't alone. Visiting the Gorilla was a female reporter who covers organized crime for the Daily News. (She told the cops she just came by to see how he was holding up. The Gorilla explained the reporter was a "good friend of mine.")
Sources now claim Gorilla plans to reclaim the presidency of the city's Pagans and that he won't allow the rival Hells Angels to invade his turf. He supposedly told police that he'll personally reclaim the Pagan colors (a biker jacket with gang patches) from a Hells Angel who once led the Pagans.
Gorilla, according to sources, believes he was sold out by Pagan turncoats and set up for a 1999 assassination attempt by a local drug gang so the Angels could ride their Harleys into Philadelphia unopposed. (He was shot eight times by a gunman from South Philly's 10th and O drug gang.)
A burly, 250-pound man sporting tattoos and a goatee, Mondevergine is one of the most colorful denizens of the local underworld. He's a former cop turned outlaw biker, an associate of imprisoned mob boss Joey Merlino and a member of the carpenters' union.
For decades, the Pagans were the Delaware Valley's biggest and toughest but recently the Hells Angels tried muscling in on their turf. (The Angels opened a chapter in Philadelphia earlier this year as several Pagan chapters disbanded). Fist fights, fire bombings, stabbings and shootings resulted.
Last month, insiders speculated that Gorilla would "patch over" and join the Angels because a number of high-ranking Pagans, including some of his closest friends, jumped ship for America's largest outlaw-biker gang. His recent announcement, however, will make a lot of Pagans-turned-Angels nervous about what kind of devilry the Gorilla may conjure.
"He's one tough son of a bitch," says an Underworld source of Gorilla, who now lives in Turnersville, N.J. with his sister and brother-in-law who run a popular deli. "He's the one Pagan here who can put the fear of God into the Hells Angels."
South Philly rapper Beanie Sigel had a rather lengthy to-do list last week. First, along with Jay-Z and 50 Cent, he performed at the Rock the Mic Tour show at the Tweeter Center. From there, after strutting off stage out the back door and into his mommys Benz, it was off to jail.
Standing a few feet away backstage after the show was Philadelphia Police Lt. Michael Chitwood with an arrest warrant for Sigel. Once the rapper's ride -- followed closely by the lawman -- safely reached the other side of the Ben Franklin Bridge, Sigel hopped into the back of Chitwood's standard-issue Ford Taurus and was off to face attempted murder charges in connection with a July 1 shooting outside the Pony Tail Bar in West Philly. The victim almost died en route to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania but is now expected to recover. (Sigel's attorney, Fortunato Perri Jr., arranged the interstate surrender.)
When the pair reached Southwest Detectives, photographers were already there to catch Sigel's second performance of the evening. Though he wasn't handcuffed, he walked from the car with hands clasped behind his back as if they were restrained. "It was a show," a law enforcement source says. "He wanted to look like he was handcuffed for his public. It will probably be in his next rap video."
Meanwhile, Sigel's awaiting a preliminary hearing on aggravated assault charges from another incident and, in a separate case, stands charged of illegally carrying a gun. Despite it all, sources say Sigel's got bigger woes since he's also under federal investigation for both allegedly running a major drug gang and murder.
"Beanie has been bad. We're going to nail him," a federal law enforcement said.
When asked to respond to those charges as he was being led into Southwest Detectives, Sigel chose not to answer in rap, rhyme or prose.