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Defendant in Mob Plot Found Dead

March 18, 1998

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ A man accused with his son of plotting to kill Philadelphia’s Mafia underboss was shot to death today in his wheelchair as a federal jury prepared to deliberate charges against him.

Unaware of the shooting, jurors considered racketeering charges against Anthony Turra and four other defendants for a second day today.

Turra, 62, and terminally ill with cancer, was found dead outside his home. Someone had shot him at least once in the head as he sat in the wheelchair, police said.

He was being taken to the courthouse by a female relative when he was shot.

Authorities have said Turra’s son, Louis, was the leader of a South Philadelphia drug gang.

The younger Turra was found hanged in a prison in New York City in January, an apparent suicide, while he was awaiting trial with his father.

Both Turras were indicted in August, along with 13 others. In addition to drug charges, the indictment said the younger Turra was behind the murder of one suspected informant and the attempted murder of another and that he plotted several times to murder reputed mob underboss Joseph ``Skinny Joey″ Merlino.

According to testimony, the elder Turra was an adviser to his son and frequently gambled with money from his son’s operation.

In 1995, Louis Turra was severely beaten by Merlino’s soldiers for failing to pay a Mafia street tax on his illegal earnings, witnesses testified.

Angered by the beating, and feeling that the Mafia was weakened by years of internal strife and federal prosecutions, Turra planned a retaliation, according to authorities.

Anthony Turra was accused of being host of a meeting at his house in which his son and his gang discussed killing Merlino, and of suggesting methods the gang might use to kill Merlino.

Anthony Turra was charged with one count of violent crime in aid of racketeering activity in the murder plot.

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