Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ligambi to seek release on bail at hearing

Philadelphia crime familyJoe Ligambi

Joe Ligambi wants out.
Jailed since his arrest on May 23, the reputed mob boss will be in court Wednesday to argue that a federal magistrate judge erred when he denied him bail on racketeering-gambling charges last month.
Ligambi, 71, is the lead defendant in a 50-count indictment built around charges of gambling, extortion, and loan-sharking.
The alleged Mafia don, who traditionally spends long weekends at the Jersey Shore in the summer, instead faces the prospect of life in a 6-by-10-foot cell in the Federal Detention Center at Seventh and Arch Streets, pending a trial that is at least a year away.
In arguing for bail, lawyer Edwin Jacobs Jr. said in a motion filed in U.S. District Court that federal prosecutors and Judge Timothy R. Rice had given more weight to Ligambi's criminal record than was warranted.
Jacobs also argued that Ligambi's "alleged membership in the Mafia is . . . not sufficient to justify his pretrial detention."
Unlike previous mob racketeering cases, the charges against Ligambi and 12 codefendants do not involve murder, attempted murder, or other acts of violence.
Jacobs, one of the top criminal defense attorneys in New Jersey, has described the indictment against his client as "racketeering lite."
Prosecutors contend that Ligambi has headed the Philadelphia crime family for at least the last decade, and has used threats of violence and intimidation to run his organization. In arguing that Ligambi should be denied bail, they have cited both his criminal history and his role as a crime-family boss to justify incarceration.
In his motion, Jacobs has asked Judge Eduardo C. Robreno, the trial judge, to review the no-bail order.
Ligambi, Jacobs pointed out, has a 1988 gambling conviction built around a mob sports-betting operation and a 1971 conviction for selling untaxed cigarettes.
Described by federal investigators as a hitman for mob boss Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo, Ligambi was convicted with Scarfo and several others of the murder of Frank "Frankie Flowers" D'Alfonso in 1987 and sentenced to life.
But that conviction, Jacobs pointed out, was overturned on appeal and Ligambi was found not guilty at a retrial. He was released from prison in 1997.
Scarfo and the other defendants in that case were also acquitted, but they were serving lengthy prison terms on racketeering charges and remained in jail.
While prosecutors want to paint a picture of Ligambi as a major mob figure, Jacobs argued that his clilent "is virtually a first offender: His only serious conviction was on charges of gambling and resulted in a 31/2-year sentence over two decades ago."
Jacobs noted that Rice, in granting bail and house arrest for codefendant Anthony Staino, cited Staino's lack of a criminal record as a primary reason for allowing him to be free pending trial.
Federal prosecutors, who are expected to oppose Ligambi's attempt to get bail at Wednesday's hearing, may be forced to offer more details about the pending case to bolster their argument that Ligambi is a threat to the community.
Seven of the 13 defendants in the case - Ligambi, reputed mob underboss Joseph "Mousie" Massimino, alleged mobsters Gaeton Lucibello, Damion Canalicio, Martin Angelina, and George Borgesi, and reputed mob associate Louis "Bent Finger Lou" Monacello - have been ordered held without bail.



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