Convicted mob racketeer Marty Angelina was ordered back to prison for four months yesterday after admitting to a federal judge that he had violated the terms of his probation by meeting with known felons and members of La Cosa Nostra since his release from prison 15 months ago.

They were "bad choices," the onetime enforcer for jailed mob boss Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino said during a probation revocation hearing before U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick in Philadelphia. "I apologize . . . it won't happen again."

Angelina's surprising mea culpa wasn't enough to keep him out of jail but it apparently led Surrick to impose substantially less time than the 10-month maximum Angelina had faced.

Angelina, 44, is to surrender to federal marshals in two weeks.

The violations cited during yesterday's hearing included meetings and phone conversations and were based on information provided by the FBI and members of the Philadelphia Police Department's Organized Crime Squad, according to a report filed by James Muth, Angelina's probation officer.

Muth told Surrick that Angelina had reported some "incidental" meetings to him, but had failed to mention several others that came to light as a result of surveillance and phone wiretaps that are apparently part of continuing investigations.

Angelina was cited for meetings with reputed mob boss Joseph Ligambi and with mob associates Steven Frangipanni, Damion Canalichio and Michael Lancelloti.

Muth said Angelina told him of a chance encounter he had with Ligambi at a children's dance recital in Washington Township, Gloucester County, where both Angelina's 7-year-old daughter and Ligambi's granddaughter were performing. He also mentioned bumping into Frangipanni at Chickie & Pete's, a popular South Philadelphia restaurant.

But Muth said Angelina failed to disclose a series of other meetings and did not disclose phone conversations he had with Canalichio until he was informed by investigators - as required by law - that Canalichio's phone had been tapped.

Canalichio was recently indicted on drug-dealing charges and is the focus of a federal gambling investigation.

Angelina's attorney, Jack McMahon, conceded that his client had violated the terms of his probation, but said, "There is no allegation of any criminal activity."

Jailed on racketeering charges in March 2000, Angelina was convicted along with Merlino and five others. Among other things, he was charged with being an enforcer in a series of mob extortion plots. He served 66 months of a 78-month sentence before being released in November 2005.

"La Cosa Nostra . . . is not a social club or the Knights of Columbus," Assistant U.S. Attorney David Fritchey said during yesterday's hearing. "People join in order to commit crimes."

As he left the federal courthouse after the hearing, Fritchey said Angelina's first bad choice "was deciding to join the Mafia to begin with."

Contact staff writer George Anastasia at 856-779-3846 or ganastasia@phillynews.com.