Split verdict for Philly mob
PHILADELPHIA — Reputed Philadelphia mob boss Joseph “Uncle Joe” Ligambi will seek bail after a jury deadlocked Tuesday on a racketeering charge against him, and deadlocked or acquitted him of all eight lesser counts in a gambling and loansharking case.
The federal jury convicted underboss Joseph “Mousie” Massimino and two others of racketeering, and convicted a mob associate of two loansharking counts. But the jury deadlocked or acquitted the seven defendants on most of the approximately 60 counts.
Defense lawyers saw the verdict as a slam of the government's 13-year investigation into illegal gambling, video poker machines and loansharking in South Philadelphia. The jury had heard one defendant complain on a secret FBI recording that “it's a broke, broke mob.”
Lead defense lawyer Edwin Jacobs Jr. called the prosecution “an enormous waste” of taxpayer money. “We're not talking about terrorists. We're not talking about schoolchildren being shot up. We're talking about video machines that aren't hurting anybody,” Jacobs said after the verdict. “The only problem is they weren't controlled by the state.”
The reputed mobsters also complain on the tapes that legalized state gambling had cut into their video poker and sports betting business.
Federal prosecutors call the case important and say they will consider retrying the unresolved counts.
“We respect the jury's verdict,” Assistant U.S. Attorney John Han said. “We will decide whether to go forward with the charges on which the jury was undecided.”
The parties are due back in court Wednesday, when Ligambi and others not convicted are expected to seek bail after about two years in custody awaiting trial.
The jury also convicted reputed mob soldier Damion Canalichio and reputed mob associate Gary Battaglini of racketeering conspiracy.
It deadlocked on that for Ligambi nephew George Borgesi and Anthony Staino Jr. Staino, who remains free on bail at least until Wednesday, was convicted of two loansharking counts.
The jury acquitted Joseph “Scoops” Licata of the racketeering charge.
The verdict follows a three-month trial and testimony from a series of mob turncoats, including an aging mobster who admitted killing several people before going into the federal witness protection program.
When the trial started in October, there hadn't been a mob killing in Philadelphia in nearly a decade.
That seemingly changed the day the government rested its case in December. Hours later, a convicted drug dealer suspected of cooperating with federal prosecutors was gunned down outside his house in South Philadelphia in broad daylight. Gambling figure Anthony Nicodemo was soon charged with the execution-style slaying. Nicodemo's name has come up at trial on FBI wiretaps.
The racketeering trial evidence included testimony from former La Cosa Nostra members, FBI agents who infiltrated a New York crime family and thousands of FBI wiretaps.
Five people pleaded guilty before trial; three more await trial.
Prosecutors believe the quiet, business-like Ligambi assumed control of the Philadelphia crime family after flashy, young boss Joseph “Joey” Merlino went to prison in 1999. Merlino was released last year and has settled in Boca Raton, Fla.
Merlino's father died in prison in October. His mother has occasionally attended the Ligambi trial, joining the outspoken, tight-knit group of friends and family members from South Philadelphia who came to court each day.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Sandusky won’t get his pension back
- Liquor Control Board, Pennsylvania universities target problem drinking
- Water leak found at Pa. nuclear plant
- Philadelphia mother pleads guilty as boy, 2, shoots, kills sister
- Poor sales sink multi-state Monopoly Millionaires’ Club lottery
- Erie man charged with 1990 slaying of Virginia Beach woman
- Enrollment in Pennsylvania’s Medicaid expansion kicks off with a few hiccups
- Western Pennsylvania lawmakers among 200 who lost pensions for bad behavior