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

Friday, July 12, 2013

Troubled history plagued Philadelphia underboss

IN HINDSIGHT, maybe Joseph "Mousie" Massimino shouldn't have sent that letter from his prison cell threatening that a "bald-headed motherf-----" who owed him $35,000 would have nowhere to hide if he didn't pay up.

And remember, when Massimino told his friends in the courtroom to "keep those martini glasses chilled" so they could party when he beat the latest charges?

That's not funny anymore.

Taunting the assistant U.S. attorneys and calling an Asian prosecutor "Johnny Chu" during the four-month racketeering trial was probably a mistake, too.

Because all the things that make a mobster a mobster - the swagger, the blasé attitude, the don't-make-me-hurt-you threats - look really bad when the judge sits down to calculate your prison sentence.

Massimino, 63, the reputed ex-underboss of the Philadelphia Mafia, won't be having a martini at least until his mid-70s. Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno sentenced the wiry wiseguy with the graying goatee to nearly 16 years in prison on a racketeering-conspiracy conviction.

"I can only conclude that you just don't get it. You never got it," Robreno told the unrepentant jokester. "There is nothing before me that bodes well for your future as a law-abiding citizen, despite all your virtues and talents."

Massimino responded by launching into a disjointed diatribe aimed at prosecutors, probation officers and sundry mob rats.

"I'm no boss of nothing," Massimino insisted, saying that the government should devote its resources to catching terrorists, not chasing South Philly members of La Cosa Nostra.

"If they put the money and manpower into al Qaeda that they put into my case, maybe the World Trade Center would still be there, and people in Boston would have their legs," he said, referring to the Boston Marathon bombing.

Friends and family say Massimino is a swell guy. But his life story - the 1966 expulsion from St. John Neumann High School, followed by reams of police reports, indictments and newspaper clippings - reads like a Tolstoy-sized manual on how to get locked up. By the mid-1980s, prosecutors say, Massimino had already notched 21 arrests and six felony convictions.

"I think this finally puts a period at the end of Massimino's long and sorry criminal career," said David Fritchey, chief of the Organized Crime Strike Force in the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Labor told Robreno that it's "more likely that the Tooth Fairy walks through that door than this defendant will be rehabilitated."

Massimino's attorney, Joseph Santaguida, said after the sentencing that much of the racketeering indictment was "baloney" and described it as a glorified gambling case. It did not include any homicides. Reputed mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and his nephew, George Borgesi, face a retrial in October.

The letter Massimino penned in 2005 while in New Jersey's South Woods State Prison ended up hurting him yesterday. In the letter, Massimino told a friend to inform a debtor that "he better get my f------ money" and that the debtor "won't be able to hide anywhere in the U.S." Toward the bottom, Massimino warned his friend: "If you write me, watch what you say. They read everything that comes to me."

Robreno ruled that the threat constituted a crime of violence. He used it, along with other evidence of extortion, to increase Massimino's prison term. With good behavior and time served, Massimino could be out in about 11 years.

But Fritchey said he already has a few prison infractions.

"He's not exactly a model prisoner," he said.



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