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

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Mob informants expected to testify against Ligambi

North Jersey mob informant Peter "Pete the Crumb" Caprio is expected to testify against reputed mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and 11 codefendants when they are tried on racketeering charges in September.
Caprio, 82, of Newark, is one of two veteran mobsters whose names surfaced on a witness list the prosecution recently turned over to defense attorneys.
Eugene "Gino" Milano, 52, a South Philadelphia hit man turned informant, also may make a return appearance for the prosecution.
Though neither has played a role in the underworld for at least a decade, the men are expected to provide the jury with details about the way organized crime operates, and, more important, about Ligambi's alleged role in the organization.
Milano and Ligambi were soldiers in the crime family Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo headed in the 1980s. Both were accused of being hit men.
Caprio and other mobsters who became informants were described during a 2001 racketeering trial as "desperados and thugs" by defense attorney Edwin Jacobs Jr., who now represents Ligambi.
Caprio, who is now believed to be living in another part of the country under an assumed name, made his debut as a government witness in that case. Jacobs represented Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino, then-boss of the crime family.
Because of a court-imposed confidentiality order, neither the prosecution nor the defense is permitted to comment specifically on the list in the pending case.
"A good criminal defense attorney isn't concerned about a witness list full of people trying to bargain their way out of jail," Jacobs said last week.
Caprio and Milano substantially reduced their potential jail time as a result of their cooperation. Both admitted their involvement in gangland killings yet were freed from prison after serving less than 10 years. Milano was released in the 1990s. Caprio got out of prison in 2005.
Though there is little violence involved in the current case - Jacobs has referred to the charges as "racketeering-lite" - the prosecution has argued that the threat of violence and the mob's reputation for physical coercion were central to the racketeering enterprise Ligambi is accused of controlling.
Sources who have seen the witness list said Caprio and Milano were among those expected to be called to the stand.
Others include Louis "Bent Finger Lou" Monacello, who was indicted with Ligambi in May but who began cooperating less than a month after his arrest.
The jury also will hear from Frank "Frankie the Fixer" DiGiacomo, a Monacello associate.
Monacello and DiGiacomo were allegedly involved in a Delaware County loan-sharking and gambling operation in which Ligambi and his nephew and codefendant George Borgesi had an interest.
Other possible witnesses include Anthony Aponick, a bank robber and New York mob associate who did time in a West Virginia prison with Borgesi, and Jack Buscemi, a convicted bookmaker who authorities have said was an associate of Gaeton Lucibello, also a codefendant.
Another key witness could be Curt Arbitman, the operator of a video-poker machine company whose warehouse in the 800 block of Mountain Street in South Philadelphia was raided by state police in 2009.
Ligambi, Lucibello, and codefendants Joseph "Mousie" Massimino, Anthony Staino, and Martin Angelina are charged with having an interest in the lucrative gambling machines that Arbitman allegedly distributed and serviced.
Though he is not expected to provide information related to the specific charges of gambling, loan-sharking, and extortion in the pending case, Caprio could provide the jury with a look inside the world of organized crime.
The aging wiseguy was sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty to a racketeering charge in 2000 and admitting his involvement in three gangland killings.
In testimony at the Merlino trial, he said he was involved in a plot in 1999 to kill Ligambi, Borgesi, and Steven Mazzone, alleged leaders of the crime family at the time.
Caprio said that he had the support of members of New York's Gambino and Genovese crime families and that he intended to take over the top spot in the Philadelphia crime family.
An alleged plan to lure Ligambi and the others to a meeting where they would be killed was never carried out, however, and Caprio said he was arrested a short time later on racketeering charges.
Milano, like Ligambi, was a soldier in the Philadelphia mob Scarfo headed in the 1980s, authorities say.
He was a prosecution witness against Ligambi, Scarfo, and several others charged with the 1985 killing of Frank "Frankie Flowers" D'Alfonso.
That trial ended with convictions that were reversed on appeal. A new trial in 1997 resulted in not-guilty verdicts. Milano also testified at that trial.
Ligambi was freed after serving nearly 10 years in prison. Scarfo and the other codefendants, who had been jailed on separate racketeering charges, remained behind bars after the acquittals in the second D'Alfonso trial.



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