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

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Jury listens to more tapes as third day of deliberations ends without a verdict

They asked to listen to more tapes.

They wanted a pack of post-it notes.

And then they said they would need multi-colored markers, mints and gum.

Those were the requests of the jurors Friday as they rounded out their third full day of deliberations in the racketeering conspiracy case of mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and six co-defendants.

The consensus?

"It looks like they're settling in," said one defense attorney.

In fact, as in all jury deliberations, no one knows exactly what is going on. As a result, everyone tries to interpret and spin.

 The longer deliberations take, the better it is for (take your pick) the defense/the prosecution.

The tapes they've asked for support (take your pick) the prosecution's theory/the defense's arguments.

When the jurors enter the room they look at the defendants/the prosecutors and that's who they're favoring.

The bottom line is that no one knows what's going on with the deliberations and until the jury announces that it has reached a verdict or is hopelessly deadlocked, the dozens of family members and friends who have gathered each day in the 15th floor hallway outside the courtroom will continue to worry, wonder and speculate.

And so will the attorneys and prosecutors.

Deliberations are scheduled to resume Monday morning at 8:30 a.m. The jury of seven men and five women recessed at 4 p.m. Friday. The panel has now deliberated for about 21 hours over four days.

Among other things Friday the panel asked for an explanation of the conspiracy charge again, which Judge Eduardo Robreno reread in open court. Part of that question was whether a defendant can be guilty of conspiracy based on actions or words -- a threat for example -- made by a co-conspirator who is not charged if the defendant is not aware of the action.

The answer in its simplest terms is yes, but there are exceptions, which Robreno attempted to expalin by rereading several pages of a 150-page jury instruction he gave prior to the start of deliberations.

The question about conspiracy came after the jury asked to rehear several tapes that focus on co-defendant Anthony Staino, 55, and his interactions with undercover FBI Agent David Sabastiano who was posing as a gambler and rogue financier known as "Dino."

It was the second day in a row that the jury asked to rehear Sebastiano tapes.The FBI agent wore a body wire during many of his meetings with Staino.

On one played Friday, Staino talked about a mob war between two Philadelphia factions and after "Dino" likened it to IBM and GE, Staino said he was with the "good" company that had bested the "bad" company. Ligambi, 73, became the "acting boss" of the crime family, authorities allege, in the aftermath of that war between mob leaders John Stanfa and Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino.

Ligambi and Staino were with the Merlino faction.

Stanfa was convicted of racketeering charges in 1995 after a lengthy trial in the same fedeal courthouse in Philadelphia where the Ligambi trial is now being held. Merlino was jailed for racketeering following a separate racketeering conviction, again in the same courthouse, in 2001.

On the tape, Staino went on to describe himself as a member of the "board of directors of the company," adding, "I'm like the CFO (chief financial officer)."

Snippets of that tape were used in the indictment handed up against Ligambi, Staino and the others as proof, the prosecution alleged, of the existence of a criminal enterprise and the defendants' roles in it.

To find the defendants guilty of the racketeering conspiracy charge at the heart of the case, the jury would have to agree that the defendants knowingly took part in the conspiracy.

The conspiracy is built around separate allegations of gambling, extortion, loansharking and the distribution and operation of illegal video poker machines. Evidence and testimony during the three-month trial focused on those activities, but the defense, in its closing arguments, contended that if they had occurred, they were separate and unrelated acts carried out by individual defendants to line their own pockets.

"We're not who they say we are," Ligambi's lawyer, Edwin Jacobs Jr., has said throughout the trial, indicating that the prosecution has created a mob conspiracy where neither mobsters nor conspiracies existed.

Other defendants in the case include mob boss Joseph "Mouise" Massimino, 62, mob capos Joseph "Scoops" Licata, 71. and George Borgesi (Ligambi's nephew), 49, mob soldier Damion Canalichio, 42, and mob associate Gary Battaglini, 51. 

A second tape replayed for the jury Friday focused on the delivered of $25,000  -- cash stuffed in a cereal box-- from Staino to "Dino." The money was delivered by Robert Ranieri, a Staino associate who is not on trial.

The prosecution contends the money was a loansharking transaction. Staino's defense has been that the money was given to Dino to "invest" in a buisness deal.

On that tape, Ranieri tells Dino the dates on which he will have to make $3,000 payments and urged him not to miss the dates because, he said, Staino can turn into "the devil." Most observers linked the jury question about threats by a co-conspirator who has not been charged to that conversation. The supposition is that the jury is attempting to deteremine whether Staino can be held accountable for threatening Dino even though he was not there and whether that threat was part of a conspiracy.

Ironically, while the jury doesn't know it, Ranieri is one of three defendants named in the original indictment who are scheduled to be tried at a later date on the same charges.


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