Closing arguments heard in 3-month Philly mob case
PHILADELPHIA — An attorney representing one of seven reputed mobsters charged in a wide-ranging racketeering case began his closing argument to the jury on Thursday by paraphrasing what he said was a quote from one of “The Godfather” movies.
“You owe my client an apology!” Joseph Santaguida told federal prosecutors. He contended that government investigators spent 12 years and millions of dollars without uncovering a shred of credible evidence against his client, alleged mob underboss Joseph “Mousie” Massimino, or the six other men who have been on trial for more than two months.
“You make him sit here for three months, on edge, his family on pins and needles,” Santaguida said, then turned to the jury. “Not only do they owe him an apology, they owe you an apology.”
His fiery hourlong summation to jurors was in stark contrast to that of U.S. Attorney John Han, who spent 3½ hours painstakingly outlining the government's case against the defendants who include reputed acting mob boss Joseph “Uncle Joe” Ligambi.
The men ran their criminal enterprise like a corporation and used threats and violence to build the business, Han said.
“The mob is to the criminal underworld what IBM and GE are to corporate America,” he said.
The investigation stretches back to about 1999, when former boss Joseph “Skinny Joey” Merlino went to prison. Prosecutors say Ligambi, 73, has led Philadelphia's La Cosa Nostra since then.
Han said testimony from mob turncoats and secretly recorded conversations prove the men on trial are either mob members or associates and are responsible for a “smorgasbord of crimes” that preyed upon the weak and vulnerable.
The trial started in mid-October and largely revolves around allegations of illegal gambling, extortion and loansharking. The case lacks the violence that marked Philadelphia mob trials in previous decades, and Ligambi has a reputation as someone interested in making money, not headlines.