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

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Informant recorded NY mafia for 530 days during meetings


Speak directly into the trash can, please.

The garbage carter who helped the feds bust a dozen mobsters -- including an alleged ringleader nicknamed "Papa Smurf" -- made 530 days worth of secret recordings, a prosecutor revealed in court today.

The "consensual recordings" range in length from phone calls that lasted just a few minutes to a marathon, 10-hour gab-fest, Manhattan federal prosecutor Arianna Berg said.

Berg didn't divulge who got caught blabbing during the undercover operation, nor did she reveal the identity of the "cooperating witness" who turned the tables on the mob after getting shaken down for a share of his profits.

Sources have told The Post that the informant ran M&C Waste Services in Westchester.

All of the defendants -- who the feds say include both "soldiers" and "associates" of the Genovese, Lucchese and Gambino crime families -- pleaded not guilty yesterday.

They include reputed Genovese associate Carmine Franco, who's been banned from the carting industry in New Jersey due to his prior convictions.

The feds say Franco, 77, is known in gangland circles as "Papa Smurf" -- apparently due to his wizened appearance and round eyes.

Judge Kevin Castel set Sept. 23 trial date for the case, which involves a total of 29 defendants, including a recently retired state trooper, Mario Velez, who's accused of using strong-arm tactics to extort the owner of a trash company and take over the business.

http://m.nypost.com/p/news/local/manhattan/sanitation_worker_informant_recorded_krckSKFfmBWtUOoUXFm1HL?utm_medium=rss&utm_content=%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20Manhattan&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=pulsenews

Judge sentences Colombo underboss to 63 months in prison


The underboss of the Colombo crime family was sentenced to 63 months in prison today on mob racketeering charges.

Benjamin “The Claw” Castellazzo, 75, will also have to pay $400,000 in restitution and serve three years probation.

The wiseguy - who's the second highest-ranking member of the Colombos - began his 55 year-long criminal career in 1958.

Castellazzo had pleaded guilty to a mob extortion stemming from a dispute over a stolen red sauce recipe from Brooklyn's L&B Spumoni Gardens pizza restaurant. He also admitted shaking down of a construction company.

http://m.nypost.com/p/news/local/brooklyn/colombo_underboss_gets_months_wHtNFUIFaE9yIA1VIUJzDO?utm_medium=rss&utm_content=%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20Brooklyn&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=pulsenews

Philly mob jury likely to work during Super Bowl weekend


So it has come to this.

Does the jury in the trial of  mob boss Joseph “Uncle Joe” Ligambi and six co-defendants want to deliberate on Super Bowl weekend, or will the panel, which finished its 16rh day of deliberations this afternoon, come back with a verdict tomorrow?
The anonymously chosen jury of eight men and four women went at it for six more hours today without asking a question or requesting additional evidence. The panel has been holed up in the deliberation room off the 15th floor courtroom since Jan. 8.
Judge Eduardo Robreno told the jurors this afternoon that they will deliberate from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday if the process is still ongoing after tomorrow’s session. The trial,, which began on Oct. 18 and extended over 10 weeks, included approximately 33 days of testimony. Tomorrow the jury will have spent more than half that amount of time in deliberations, a virtually unheard ratio, according to veteran criminal defense attorneys.

“This is unbelievable,” said one. 
The lengthy deliberations have already put a trip to Italy by lead defense attorney Edwin Jacobs  in jeopardy. Jacobs is supposed to leave Thursday  for the two-week trip, but Robreno has thus far denied the lawyer’s request that an associate fill in for him if deliberations continue deep into next week.  
When this trial began on Oct. 18 no one expected that it would  still be going at by the end of January. Now it’s heading into February.
Ligambi, 73, and his co-defendants face a racketeering conspiracy charge in addition to assorted charges of gambling, loansharking and extortion. Ligambi is also charged with fraud and obstruction of justice.
Two questions hung over deliberations today. Will the jury finish tomorrow and who do you like in the Super Bowl?  Most observers believe the odds are better at picking the Super Bowl than on when the jury will finish.    

http://www.bigtrial.net/2013/01/whats-bet-on-mob-trial-deliberations.html#d4kQYe5iDQYqoR75.99

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Day 15 ends without a verdict at Philly mob trial


Gary Battaglini stood in the middle of the 15th floor hallway of the federal courthouse this afternoon and slowly turned in a circle. Once. Twice. Three times.

"This is where we're going," Battaglini, who along with mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and five co-defendants, has now been waiting 15 days for a jury to decide his fate.

The jury wrapped things up at 4:30 p.m. without a decision and will be back at it again tomorrow morning.

"Who knows?" Battaglini, 51, said when asked  where he thought the process was. Then he slowly turned in a circle again.

Ligambi, 73, and his co-defendants are charged with racketeering conspiracy in a case built around a 12-year FBI investigation that began in 1999. The 52-count indictment also includes charges of gambling, loansharking and extortion.

To convict the defendants of the racketeering conspiracy count -- the most serious -- the jury would have to decide that the defendants knowingly engaged in plans to commit crimes on behalf of the criminal organization. Among other things, the defense has argued that even if their clients are guilty of individual crimes like bookmaking, the evidence does not support a finding that the crimes were part of a criminal enterprise.

The prosecution has argued that all seven defendants worked for and conspired on behalf of the Philadelphia Cosa Nostra.

Whether the conspiracy count is what has hung up the jury is an open question as the now marathon deliberation process continues. Three earlier mob racketeering cases, in 1988, in 1995 and in 2001,  that included murders and attempted murders were decided by juries that deliberated for about a week. This panel has deliberated for 15 days over what is now a three-week period.

The anonymously chosen panel finished the afternoon by asking for exhibits tied to video poker machines that were seized by law enforcement during the course of the investigation of Ligambi and the others. They will be provide when deliberations resume tomorrow morning.

The jury asked for similar exhibits a few days after deliberations began on Jan. 8, leading to speculation that the panel has indeed come full circle. But whether the eight men and four women on the jury are any closer to reaching a verdict remained the unanswered and bewildering question.

"I've never seen anything like this," said one veteran defense attorney.

The defendants and their friends and family members seemed upbeat this afternoon. Anthony Staino, who like Battaglini is free on bail (Ligambi and the others are not) said he believes the jury has split into two factions, one favoring convictions and the other acquittals. But he said he believes the longer the deliberations take, the better it is for the defense.

Most lawyers agreed that the lenghty deliberations raised questions about the govenment's case, but no one will predict where the process will eventually lead. Adding to everyone's concern was a question posed by a few jury members concerned about deliberations this weekend.

Judge Eduardo Robreno told the jury on Monday that if it did not reach a verdict by Friday he would have the panel deliberate Saturday and Sunday. To date the panel has only been meeting on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Sunday is the Super Bowl. According to several courtroom sources, a few jurors have balked at the idea of working on the weekend, claiming it would create a "hardship." What the hardship would be has not been disclosed.

But more problematic is the fact that jurors were even posing the question, an indication that at least some of them believe they will not be finished deliberations by Friday.

At what point does a jury decide that it is hung? That was the question circulating in the hallway as Battaglini slowly twisted in a circle.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Whitey Bulger wins release of some secret documents



The federal judge who oversaw the court hearings in the late 1990s that exposed James “Whitey” Bulger’s corrupt ties with the FBI agreed today to release some of the confidential documents gathered for those hearings to Bulger’s current lawyers, as they prepare for the notorious gangster’s upcoming trial.
US District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf said he would release only some of the documents and that some of the information in them may be redacted, to protect witnesses and confidential informants. The judge was also weighing whether to force anyone who receives the documents to sign an affidavit declaring that they would not share the materials with anyone.
Federal prosecutors agreed that some of the documents could be turned over to Bulger’s lawyers under certain conditions, such as, for example, that they not be shared with anyone outside the defense team.
J.W. Carney Jr., Bulger’s lead lawyer, insisted after a hearing today that the documents would help to shed light on Bulger’s history with the FBI and could help to support Bulger’s claims that he received immunity from prosecution for his crimes in exchange for helping the government as an informant.
“I expect the documents will provide further evidence that James Bulger had a blank check to commit any crimes he wanted to in the ‘70s and ‘80s, leading up to the early ‘90s,” Carney said.
Bulger, 83, was one of the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” fugitives until his arrest in June 2011 after more than 16 years on the lam. He had fled the Boston area just before his indictment in 1995, tipped off by his corrupt FBI handler.
In the late 1990s, Wolf held court hearings for Bulger’s co-defendants that eventually exposed that Bulger was an FBI informant even as he allegedly committed crimes. Bulger now faces a federal racketeering indictment accusing him of 19 murders and is slated to go to trial in June in Judge Richard Stearns’s courtroom.

http://www.boston.com/metrodesk/2013/01/24/defense-wins-release-some-documents-bulger-case-hopes-they-will-show-had-license-commit-crimes/QgvohnowtvNy2aP5EzTBHO/story.html

Another day without a jury verdict at Philly mob trial


Two more tapes, another lunch and still no verdict.

Despite unfounded rumors and rampant speculation that they had reached a decision, jurors in the racketeering trial of mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and six co-defendants wrapped up another day of deliberation this afternoon without reaching a decision.


"I think they're playing a high stakes game of chicken," said one defense attorney, speculating that the panel has broken into two camps, one favoring conviction and the other acquittal. "The question is will either side blink."

With Judge Eduardo Robreno announcing on Monday that deliberations would continue through the weekend -- including Super Bowl Sunday -- the conventional wisdom is that the anonymously chosen jury will announce something by Friday at the latest.

The jury has multiple options -- across the board acquittals or convictions, split decisions that allow some of the defendants to go free or deadlocks and a hung jury on some or all of the counts.

The jury, as it has each day since deliberations began, started their 14th day of deliberations by ordering lunch and asking to hear another tape. In fact, two tapes (one was requested at the end of Monday's session) were played before 10 a.m. After that the deliberation process went silent.

For the rest of the day there were no questions and no requests.

Whether that was a sign of progress or an indication that competing jurors had hardened their positions was open to interpretation in the 15th floor hallway where friends, family members and the defense attorneys (who have been assigned a small meeting room) keep watch each day.

Ligambi and the others are charged with racketeering conspiracy and with assorted other charges tied to gambling, loansharking and extortion. Ligambi, 73, is also charged with fraud and obstruction of justice.

The tapes that the jurors asked to rehear today involved conversations that focused on the gambling business.

A wiretapped phone call from March 2006 picked up a discussion in which co-defendant Damion Canalichio talked about bets that had been placed on pro and college basketball games with Louis "Sheep" Barretta. Barretta, a bookmaker, pleaded guilty prior to the start of the trial.

A second tape, picked up on a body-wire worn by cooperating witness Peter Albo February 2007 included comments by Gary Battaglini, another defendant in the case.

Among other things, Battaglini decried the state of the underworld gambling economy, noting that the legalization of the lottery and later of casino gambling had decimated those businesses for the illegal operators. The state offered better and more stable options for gamblers, he said, asking, "what the fuck is left down here for the other guys."

In another part of the conversation, Battaglini told Albo the days of organized crime were also fading and that the high profile and violent reign of bosses like Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo were a thing of the past.

"There's no real fuckin' crews and fucking like Scarfo days," he said. "And these guys, it's a joke. Like what are you really gonna lock people up for?"

The 10-week trial was built around dozens of secretly recorded conversations picked up on wiretaps or from body wires worn by cooperating witnesses during an FBI investigation that extended from 1999 through 2011. Evidence also included testimony from several cooperators.

But the tapes also have been used by the defense to undermine the charges. Battaglini's comments -- on another tape he talked about a "broke, broke mob" -- could be used to support the defense claim that the criminal conspiracy charged in the indictment doesn't exist, that the defendants were all independent operators and not co-conspirators.

On the other hand, his comments and the discussion by Canalichio could be used by jurors favoring convictions to support the allegation that the defendants were knowing participants in a mob racketeering conspiracy  -- even one that might not have been as violent or as financially lucrative as those of earlier mob families.

Unless and until the jury announces a verdict, there is no way to know why the jurors asked to hear those and other tapes played during deliberations and how those tapes related in the jurors' minds to the charges in the case.
 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Son still has nightmares about his mobster father


Kurt Calabrese Chicago Ill. Tuesday January 15 2013. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media
The son had to see his father’s remains.
His father had haunted him his entire life, first when he was a child with routine beatings and belittlings, then later as an adult, with more of the same but with greater intensity, culminating in bullying him into a family business he wanted nothing to do with.
Even after his father had been held responsible for 13 mob murders in a historic trial in Chicago and had been sent hundreds of miles away to be locked up in the tightest security possible, Kurt Calabrese still couldn’t escape his father, Frank Calabrese Sr.
His father lingered in his memories.
And he never left his nightmares.
“The nightmares have never stopped,” Kurt Calabrese told the Sun-Times in a recent interview, his first extensive remarks after the death of his father on Christmas Day at the age of 75.
Calabrese Sr. died from heart disease after spending much of his life making millions of dollars for the mob and terrorizing people wherever he went, from street corners to the corner bar to his own kitchen table.
His downfall was how he abused his family. His oldest son, Frank Calabrese Jr., decided he would cooperate with the FBI and secretly record his father while both were in prison on a juice loan case, a prosecution that would also land Kurt Calabrese behind bars for playing a minor role.
Frank Calabrese Sr.’s brother, Nick, who also committed murders for the mob, some with his brother, also testified against Calabrese Sr. at the Family Secrets trials.
Kurt Calabrese, 51, did not testify, even though his father tried to bully him into doing so.
But he did speak at his father’s sentencing hearing, as a victim, in January 2009.
It was the last time he would see his father, and it did not go well.
Kurt Calabrese described to the court how his father would beat him at a moment’s notice.
In court, Frank Calabrese Sr. scoffed at his son, said he had been treated like “a king” and demanded he apologize.
A federal judge found nothing Frank Calabrese Sr. said credible and sentenced him to life in prison.
Kurt Calabrese reached out to his father while in prison, to talk to him, but he was having none of it.
Then, just after Christmas last month , with a phone call from the federal Bureau of Prisons, it fell to Kurt Calabrese to decide whether he wanted to step up and take responsibility for disposing of his father’s remains.
His father had made millions for the mob, developed so much influence, but no one had bothered to make arrangements for what to do with the dead mobster’s body.
Frank Calabrese Jr. got the first call from the feds, and he passed on the job.
So next up was Kurt Calabrese.
He didn’t want to do it. He couldn’t believe no one had set up the details beforehand.
Kurt Calabrese had long stopped considering Frank Calabrese Sr. much of a father.
He wasn’t interested in paying his respects. Throughout his life, Frank Calabrese Sr. often confused fear and respect, especially when dealing with his son, Kurt.
Kurt Calabrese felt he had no compassion left for the man.
But he had unfinished business with him.
And if he didn’t take responsibility for his father’s remains, he would never get the chance to complete it.
So on a recent Saturday, he took a flight to Raleigh-Durham Airport, N.C., to see the body of his father one last time and have a conversation with him that he could never have with him when he was alive.
“I don’t want to say I needed to see him dead,” Calabrese said.
“I didn’t want to do this. I had to have some sort of closure to this. I needed to see the body.”
He had been warned over the phone by federal prison officials that his father’s body had deteriorated in the few weeks after he had died. No mortician had worked his magic to make his father look good. Kurt Calabrese said he understood.
From the airport, he hopped into a cab and went to a ranch home doubling as a mortuary that was near Duke University.
The red front door was already open, and he walked inside.
Two men were waiting to greet him. The mortician and an official from the Bureau of Prisons.
Again, they told him his father’s remains had deteriorated.
They made him sign a paper, acknowledging he had been notified of that fact.
Are you ready, they asked him.
Kurt Calabrese said he was.
They walked him into a room with several bodies, covered up and laid out on long tables. The two men left to give him time alone.
One body was covered up with an old blue blanket up to the chest.
On the body was a piece of white paper with a name written across it in black marker.
Frank Calabrese, it said.
“I was shocked to see him, still knowing it wasn’t going to be pretty,” Kurt Calabrese said.
His lips were puffy, his head was scabbed, his chin and cheeks covered in white stubble.
In life, Frank Calabrese Sr. had always taken care of himself and worked to look good.
On the table, he looked like a homeless man, Kurt Calabrese said.
“And that’s not how I wanted to remember my father.”
Calabrese started to get upset for other reasons as well, and started having feelings he didn’t expect to have.
At first, he didn’t want to get close to the body. But there appeared to be water — it looked like a tear — coming out of his right eye.
It made Calabrese think about a time in 1980, when he was walking the family’s two German shepherds outside the family home, and his father came out to walk and talk with him.
“We never had a relationship where we would walk and talk,” Calabrese said.
Frank Calabrese Sr. told him how his own father was dying of cancer, and there was nothing Calabrese Sr. could do about it.
His father had tears in his eyes, Kurt Calabrese recalled.
It was the only time he can remember when his father actually talked to him like a son.
The memory upset him, Kurt Calabrese said. “I wished I had times like that when he would talk to me. I saw a human side, I hadn’t seen before or since.”
In the mortuary, Kurt Calabrese needed to get some things off his chest, so he started talking to his father. He’s not a religious person, but he hoped his father somehow heard him, he said. Near his father’s head was a large cross on a stand.
“I asked him to let go,” Kurt Calabrese said.
“To let the people he’s affected in his life have some peace. Me, my family, my mother, the victims’ families, everyone.”
Kurt Calabrese figured he’d spend about 15 minutes with the body.
He would up spending about an hour, he said.
He got to have a conversation with his father he had never had the chance to do in real life.
“He didn’t stop me. He didn’t cut me off. He didn’t interrupt me. He didn’t throw something at me or try to hurt me. It’s not him yelling and screaming at me.”
He asked his father why they couldn’t have a normal father-son relationship.
He asked his father if he hadn’t been a good, loyal son.
“I want to believe he heard me. I want to believe that down the line, he will realize that I was a good son, and that he wasn’t a great father,” Calabrese said.
Something surprised him as he stood talking to his father.
“I didn’t feel I had any more compassion for my father,” Calabrese said. “I had a lot more compassion left.”
The visit accomplished something else important for himself, he said.
He’s beginning to forgive his father for what he did to him — the beatings, the mental torture, the bullying.
“Forgetting it, that’s another story. Forgiving, I have to. I need to be the best dad I can be, and I can’t do that with having hatred for my father,” Calabrese said.
When Frank Calabrese Sr. was alive, he was sucking the life out of his son.
Now, Kurt Calabrese feels like he’s starting to get his life back.
“This is the way I needed to handle it,” he said. “Just to close it.”
For his entire life, Frank Calabrese Sr. tried to control every aspect of his son’s life.
In the end, in front of the body of his father, Kurt Calabrese made his own decision and found some way to find some measure of pity for the man who had tried to destroy him.
“Every day brings a different emotion, in a good way,” Calabrese said.
His nightmares, for now, are gone.
Frank Calabrese Sr. was cremated.
Kurt Calabrese doesn’t know what he will do with the ashes.

http://www.suntimes.com/news/17837627-418/nightmares-never-stopped-for-son-of-mobster-frank-calabrese-sr.html

Jurors focus on eating lunch and listen to more secet tapes at Philly mob trial


Lunch was clearly on the minds of jurors as they entered the 13th day of deliberations this morning in the racketeering trial of mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and six co-defendants.

Sticking with a routine established two weeks ago, the jury placed their orders shortly after arriving in court at 8:30 a.m. They also asked if Olive Garden and Red Lobster could be added to their luncheon options, according to several courthouse sources.

The answer was "no." Lunch is supplied by vendors who own businesses close to the courthouse at 6th and Market Streets.

Later the jury panel asked to rehear several tapes, including a 40-minute secretly recorded session from a mob lunch meeting at LaGriglia, an upscale -- this is no Olive Garden -- Italian restaurant in Kenilworth, N.J.

The lunch meeting, in May 2010, was recorded by Nicholas "Nicky Skins" Stefanelli, a Gambino crime family soldier who was wearing a body-wire for the FBI.

The LaGriglia tape was one of the first played for the jury after the trial began back on Oct. 18. That the panel has asked to return to that meeting now has raised eyebrows and questions about where the deliberations are heading.

Prosecutors have described the restaurant gathering of leaders of the Gambino crime family from New York and the Philadelphia branch of Cosa Nostra as a "meeting of the board of directors of organized crime."

But Christopher Warren, the lawyer for co-defendant Joseph "Scoops" Licata, has argued that it was simply a lunch. He described the attendees, including Licata, 71, who set the meeting up, and Ligambi, 73, as "a bunch of geriatric gangsters talking about old times."

Warren also has emphasized that Licata and the others turned down an offer from the restauraant manager to meet and eat in a private room, opting instead for the main dining area.

Why the jury wanted to rehear that tape, of course, is the central unanswered question from today's session. The discussions picked up on Stefanelli's body wire have nothing to do with the gambling, loansharking and extortion charges that are part of the current case.

Part of the tape included Licata introducing Ligambi as the "acting boss" of the Philadelphia crime family. (Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino, in jail in May 2010 when the meeting occurred, was described as the boss of the organization.)

There was also a discussion about a making -- mob initiation -- ceremony presided over by Ligambi in which Louis "Big Lou" Fazzini and Damion Canalichio were formally sworn in as members of the organization.

Fazzini, like Licata from North Jersey, pleaded guilty prior to the start of the trial. Canalichio, 42, is one of the co-defendants in the case.

Stefanelli, 66,  recorded dozens of conversations while working for the FBI between 2009 and 2011. The LaGriglia tape was one of the first to be made public. Another tape, from a meeting at the American Bistro, a bar and grill near Newark, was also played during the trial. Only Licata, Fazzini and Stefanelli attended that lunch meeting.

While he was a prolific recorder of conversations, Stefanelli never made it to the witness stand. The mob soldier apparently had second thoughts about testifying against his former partners in the underworld. He committed suicide in March 2011.

Federal authorities in New York and Newark are still assessing dozens of other recordings that he made and that could figure in prosucutions in those cities. Tapes made by Stefanelli were also referred to in a case against a Rhode Island mob boss who pleaded guilty to a racketeering charge earlier this year.

The jurors also asked to rehear several wiretapped conversations from 2006 between Canalichio and mob capo Martin Angelina. Angelina also pleaded guilty prior to the start of the trial.

The conversations centered on problems at the First Ward Republican Club, an after-hours bar in South Philadelphia that authorities said Angelina and Canalichio controlled. Both were charged with having illegal video poker machines in the club.

On one tape Angelina and Canalichio expressed concern because members of the Pagans, an outlaw motorcyle gang, had begun hanging out in the bar. But when Angelina said they had to get the Pagans out, Canalichio replied, "How do you get rid of them? They're like fuckin' termites."

Both mobsters conceded that the Pagans' presencewas bad for buisness and would drive other customers away.

"Nobody's gonna make no money in there," Canalichio said. "It will be death."

The jury was scheduled to resume deliberations tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. Whether they maintain the same pace or pick up the process was a question being debated after Judge Eduardo Robreno told the panel that he would have them come in on Saturday and Sunday if deliberations stretch through the rest of the week.

Lunch is one thing.

But no one expects the jurors to opt for Super Bowl Sunday -- who's bringing the dip? -- in the deliberation room.
 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Twenty three Russian mob bosses arrested after police raid


Twenty-three organized crime leaders were arrested during a meeting at a restaurant in a Moscow suburb where they were planning to map out a strategy now that a key underworld chief was murdered recently, the Interior Ministry said on Saturday.
The gathering at the Family Elite Club restaurant in the Nikolina Gora village, which brought together Russian and Belarusian crime barons, was masked as a birthday party for "one of the oldest 'thief generals," the ministry said in a statement.
"According to information that has been obtained, three contenders for the 'thief-in-law' status who had arrived from Belarus were to be 'crowned' during the meeting," the statement said. "Thief-in-law" is a top underworld status in Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union.
The murder of Aslan Usoyan, nicknamed Grandpa Hassan, in Moscow on January 10 was another reason for the get-together. The crime bosses "planned to consider their action after the recent murder of 'clan' leader Aslan Usoyan and coordinate the work of organized crime rings controlled by the crime 'clan' of Tariel Oniani," the ministry said.
The arrests were the result of a police raid.

http://rbth.ru/news/2013/01/26/two_dozen_mafia_bosses_caught_in_moscow_police_raid_-_ministry_22235.html

Violence explodes in Montreal after Vito Rizzuto's release


Canadian city sees series of murders, with more expected, after the release of a mafia boss from jail sets off an underworld power struggle
The killings of two close associates of a jailed mobster 11 weeks apart confirmed Montreal’s fears that the return of a reputed mafia don has unleashed an underworld power struggle and settling of scores.
The men killed were mobster Raynald Desjardins’ associates, and the returned don, fresh out of a US prison, is Vito Rizzuto.
A former ally of the Rizzuto clan, Desjardins betrayed them in a bid for gangland control, mafia experts say.
Desjardins’ former brother-in-law and business partner, Gaetan Gosselin, was walking home last Tuesday night north of Montreal when one or more assailants opened fire, killing him. The ambush was reminiscent of one in November where Joseph Di Maulo – also a brother-in-law of Desjardins – was gunned down in the driveway of his home.
The two murders – as well as the killings of a few of the mob’s minor henchmen – occurred soon after Rizzuto’s October return to Canada, following a six-year term in a US prison for his role in the 1981 murders of three members of New York’s Bonanno crime family.
As head of Montreal’s mafia for a quarter of a century before his arrest, Rizzuto led with flair and brutality an underworld empire that included lucrative trafficking of Colombian cocaine in Canada and the US.
During his incarceration, however, his Sicilian clan’s gangland grip was diminished by new rivals and the Rizzuto family was decimated in its fight to hold on to power.
In December 2009, Rizzuto’s son Nick was gunned down on a Montreal street in broad daylight. Ten months later, his elderly father Nicolo was shot dead through a window in his home.
Meanwhile, Rizzuto’s brother-in-law and confidant Paolo Renda had gone missing in May 2010; most believe he was killed, but a body has never been found.
A settling of scores is now inevitable. The events of recent months “aim to re-establish a balance” that shifted with the massacre of Rizzuto’s clan members during his absence, crime expert Antonio Nicaso said.
Desjardins is presumed safe in a Canadian prison awaiting trial for the murder of rival Salvatore Montagna, whose bullet-riddled body was fished out of the L’Assomption River northeast of Montreal in November 2011.
But Andre Cedilot, co-author of a book on the Montreal mob, believes that more reprisals will come, with six or seven who are “loyal to Desjardins or traitors in the eyes of Rizzuto” likely to be targeted.
Keeping a low profile since his release from prison, Rizzuto, 66, travelled last week to the Dominican Republic apparently for a holiday.
But given recent developments, mafia experts do not believe that he will abandon a life of crime to retire in the sun.
“He’ll be back,” said Nicaso. “He can’t wage a war from afar if he wants to retake control of Montreal.”
Should Rizzuto return, however, he and his illicit dealings will face a new level of scrutiny as he has been summoned to testify at a corruption inquiry.
The commission headed by Quebec Superior Court Justice France Charbonneau is investigating alleged graft, bid-rigging and kickbacks in the awarding of government construction contracts in the Canadian province. Witnesses have testified that construction executives colluded with crooked bureaucrats and politicians in a mafia scheme to embezzle public funds.
Federal police surveillance videotapes and wiretaps showed executives handing over stacks of cash to Rizzuto’s father, and mobsters using threats to steer the bidding for public works contracts.
The Rizzutos received a 2.5 per cent cut of all public works contracts in the province of Quebec, the commission heard.
A former construction magnate has also testified that Rizzuto himself once mediated a conflict between construction executives for a Transport Quebec contract.
“The mafia isn’t just involved in extortion and drug trafficking,” said Nicaso. “It’s infiltrated politics and finance, too.”

http://www.scmp.com/news/world/article/1136718/violence-erupts-montreal-mafia-boss-vito-rizzuto-returns

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Judge throws away key and sentences Gambino associate to life for two murders


A Gambino crime family associate was sentenced yesterday to life in prison for committing several murders linked to drug dealing.
John Burke, 52, was already serving a term of 25 years to life in state prison for other mob crimes.
Last year at a federal trial, Burke was convicted of mob racketeering and murder charges stemming from Mafia hits on John Gebert and Bruce John Gotterup that were linked to drug disputes two decades ago.
Brooklyn Assistant US Attorney Evan Norris said there was no way to sugarcoat Burke’s life on New York’s streets in the 1980s and 1990s.
“John Burke devoted his entire adult life to the Mafia . . . He is unremorseful and unrepentant,” Norris said during the emotional hearing as Burke’s relatives cried in the gallery.
Brooklyn federal Judge Sterling Johnson rejected Burke’s attorney’s argument that the wiseguy had renounced crime and was now a new man.
“You presented this to the jury, and they didn’t buy it,” Johnson said. “You’re a role model — a negative role model — about what someone should not do.”
Randy Gotterup, who was 3 when his father was executed in a planned hit in the Rockaways, said he will never forgive Burke, but added he was relieved the killer is being held accountable.
“I’m just glad to see justice be served,” Randy Gotterup said.

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/judge_throws_away_jail_door_key_bOVEM3af9huCIehzuk6cKJ

Friday, January 25, 2013

Jailed Colombo street boss compares himself to Rosa Parks


http://af11.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/imagecaodnpii.jpg
He’s gone from Colombo crime-family street boss to iconic civil-rights figure.
Thomas “Tommy Shots” Gioeli — who’s cooling his heels in federal lockup while awaiting sentencing on several murder conspiracies — compared himself to Rosa Parks in his latest rambling personal blog post.
The hardened Gioeli beat six murder charges — including one claim that he executed an off-duty NYPD officer — last year, but was convicted on three charges of murder conspiracy.
He’s facing some 20 years behind bars.
The wiseguy’s latest bizarre blog posts all point to his view that he’s been unfairly persecuted — and that other massive injustices of humanity that were once legal are somehow comparable to his own conviction by a Brooklyn federal-court jury.
“When Rosa Parks protested being forced to sit in the back of the bus, it was the law,” Gioeli wrote on his blog.
“When a judge imprisons a man for crimes that he was found not guilty of, it IS the law,” Gioeli complains — in a pointed reference to his own conviction.
He also compares the US Justice Department to Adolf Hitler.
“When Adolf Hitler tortured and slaughtered countless Jews, it was the law,” Gioeli wrote.
“The law does not give the government the right to practice evil, now or ever,” he wrote in an apparent slap at the Brooklyn federal prosecutors who successfully tried him.
Gioeli regularly writes on his blog about federal prosecutors and FBI agents who played a role in his conviction.
“When white men enslaved, tortured and murdered black men, it was the law,” Gioeli posted.

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/martyr_inc_wiseguy_likens_himself_CV4AKlhTTV0W3q1DgDLnuM

Jurors hear more secret recordings at Philly mob trial


It was an underworld version of The Mouse That Roared, a less than flattering look at mob underboss Joseph "Mousie" Massimino captured on FBI wiretaps that were replayed today for the jury deliberating the fates of Massimino, mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and five co-defendants.

Massimino, 62, has been one of the more verbal defendants throughout the three-month trial, drawing smiles and laughter from friends and family members with his quips and asides, predicting not guilty verdicts and telling everyone to "keep those martini glasses on ice" for the victory party.

But the career criminal had little to say today -- other than calling a reporter a "jerkoff" -- when he strode into court to hear the tapes the jury had asked to be replayed.

What those in the courtroom heard was not the easy-going and glib defendant, but rather what the prosecution alleges was the volatile, take-no-prisoners underboss.

"You fuckin' bet, you motherfucker, you don't wanna pay?" he said in one conversation with an associate that was recorded in 2003.

Later on the same tape, Massimino appeared to put himself in the middle of a sports betting operation, one of the key charges in the case. 

"Why didn't you do like I said?" he asked the associate. "Why didn't you turn all the sports bets in?"

Anger and frustration surfaced in another taped phone call from 2004 in which he threatened an unidentified gambler.

"Do you think you're a motherfucking tough guy," the thin and always dapper Massimino asked. "I'm gonna come and get you...And then I'm gonna show you how fuckin' tough you are."

The tapes were played late in the morning today in an abbreviated deliberation session for the anonymously chosen jury panel. The jurors, concerned about bad weather, opted to leave at 2 p.m., completing their 12th day of delibertions in a case that began on Oct. 18.

Both defense and prosecution camps are hard pressed to interpret the deliberation process. The conventional wisdom now is that the panel has completed an assessment of the individual charges in the case and is focusing on the racketeering conspiracy count, the most damaging charge in the 52-count indictment.

But when the jury will complete its deliberations is still an open question.

One defense attorney joked as the day ended, "They want to know if they have to deliberate on Valentine's Day."

The case includes charges of sports betting, loansharking, extortion and the distribution and operation of illegal video poker machines. Ligambi, 73, also faces fraud and obstruction of justice charges.

In addition to Massimino, the other defendants are mob capos Joseph "Scoops" Licata, 71, and George Borgesi, 49 (Ligambi's nephew), mob soldiers Anthony Staino, 55, and Damion Canalichio, 42, and mob associate Gary Battaglini, 51.

In addition to asking to rehear the Massimino tapes this morning, the jury also asked for a replay of two tapes recorded by an undercover FBI agent meeting with Staino. At the end of the day, the jury also asked for all records from a company Staino had set up that engaged in the distribution of video poker machines.

The records include tax returns, pay stubs -- Ligambi's wife was on the company payroll -- and other documents. Staino's defense has been that the company was a legitimate operation and that the distribution of video poker machines is not illegal.

The racketeering conspiracy charge includes an allegation that Ligambi, Staino and Massimino set up the company after forcing another distributor to give up a business route in South Philadelphia that included 34 machines in 20 locations.

The defense claims the machines and the routes were purchased. Company records requested by the jury today include a sales agreement and receipts indicating that Staino paid $60,000 for the business. The government alleges that that was substantially less than the business was worth and that the former owners were forced to sell.

One of those owners testified for the prosecution and said he did not want to sell, but agreed to do so because Staino, Ligambi and Massimino were mobsters. 

The indictment alleges that Ligambi, Staino and Massimino set up company, known as JMA (the initials stood for Joe, Mousie and Anthony, authorities allege), in order to mask an extortion. It charges that "To conceal this extortion (Massimino) attempted to force the owners to sign a fictitious agreement of sale and paid the owners a portion of the true value of the business."

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Bonanno crime family puts Mob Wives dad TG Graziano on the shelf


http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-X5dHJXhjW2o/TtELP3pN9RI/AAAAAAAAAlM/1M4GcKG1An0/s400/anthony.jpg
Forget sleeping with the fishes — the father of a Mob Wife has been “put on the shelf.”
Anthony “TG” Graziano, the imprisoned dad of VH1 reality star Renee Graziano, has been sidelined by the Bonanno family as a result of his daughter’s appearances on the show.
The elder Graziano, 72, “has been stripped of all his mobster rights and responsibilities,” the Gang Land News site reported yesterday.
Despite efforts by the former capo to distance himself from the series, members of the Bonanno family are “irate” over regular on-air references to the group’s legal troubles, the site said.
Renee Graziano
 
Although not as infamous as other types of mob justice, being “put on the shelf” severely diminishes Graziano’s standing, and cuts him out of financial deals that generate income.
“It means ‘pay him no mind,’ ” a law enforcement official said. “He has no mob responsibilities, and he can’t earn. They don’t know if he’s cooperating. They’re not ‘unmaking’ him, but it means he’s not active.”
“It’s totally devastating to these guys,” added a federal prosecutor who specializes in mafia cases. “It’s such a blow that some of them have even testified that that’s the reason that they have decided to cooperate [with law enforcement]. It means people aren’t supposed to deal with you at all.”
The penalty marks the latest setback for Graziano, who returned to prison last year after being charged with racketeering and extortion.
Even from the slammer, he’s figured prominently on the series, a ratings powerhouse now in its third season. Sunday’s episode featured Renee Graziano burning pictures of her ex-husband, Hector “Junior” Pagan, whose testimony as a DEA informant proved crucial in the case.
Another daughter, Jennifer Graziano, created “Mob Wives” and serves as an executive producer.
The senior Graziano has never taken kindly to his daughters’ TV work, refusing to appear on the series during the few months of its run when he hasn’t been in prison.
Renee Graziano has claimed in interviews that she and her father haven’t spoken since before the show began.
For the most part, however, she and her sister have suffered little for their involvement. Gang Land News cited a report that the sisters were refused service recently at Rao’s, an restaurant in East Harlem.

STATEMENTS BELOW FROM RENEE GRAZIANO AND FELLOW CAST-MEMBER RAMONA RIZZO:

Graziano:
"My father has never 'allowed' me to do anything as it pertains to the show. He was completely unaware of its existence at first. In fact, he wasn't speaking to me and we were estranged for quite some time over it. The show is about the women's lives and not the men. I definitely don't understand why anyone would feel that there is constant focus on TG. Out of 33 episodes so far there were maybe 3 where Renee discusses him and her relationship with him. We can't help that she is her father's daughter - again that's a part of HER life and HER identity," says Graziano via email. "I guess this 'usually reliable' source isn't on instagram cause if they were they would see that two weeks ago we were at Rao's enjoying my sisters birthday dinner. Same goes for Ang. Oh and there is no woman on the show from the Bronx, so I really question these sources. The only accuracy is my quote that 'I have no idea what goes on amongst men' but it seems to me with this many innacuracies neither do Mr. Capeci's sources."

Rizzo:
"Half of this so called source's credibility is out the window. My father did not go to jail in 1983. My father and I do not speak to each other so he has never threatened me or spoke to me about the show - nor would I tolerate it. It was mine and Jennifer's choice not to mention him and he had nothing to do with keeping his name from being mentioned."

http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/tv/mob_wives_dad_has_been_put_on_the_g3zbcc32IwOWGE0kk48gOP

Former Gotti Jr pal and Gambino mob rat plans to implicate old friend in 1991 murder at sentencing



John Alite, seen here in this 2004 mugshot, is ready to deliver a knockout punch to his ex-crony on behalf of Bruce Gotterup’s family.

Three years after he testified against John A. "Junior" Gotti, the mob scion’s former best friend is returning to court with one last score to settle against the Gambino crime family.
Mafia turncoat John Alite will read a blistering statement at the sentencing Friday of John Burke, his co-conspirator in the 1991 gangland murder of Bruce Gotterup, the Daily News has learned.
“They have always had a sense of forgiveness and I will be sticking up for them,” he said about the Gotterup family in an exclusive interview with The Daily News.
Alite didn’t take the stand at Burke’s murder trial last year, but he sparred with Gotti during the mob boss’ 2009 federal trial on charges that he approved the Gotterup killing. At one point, Junior called Alite a “punk dog” in the courtroom.
MOB24N_6_WEB 
Victoria Gotti with her brother John A. "Junior" Gotti.
JOHN BURKE MUGSHOT
Mugshot of John Burke, who is being sentenced for the murder of Bruce Gotterup.
In an earlier trial of another Gambino mobster, Alite stunned the court by revealing he had a steamy affair with mob princess Victoria Gotti, Junior’s sister, in the 1980s when she was dating her future husband Carmine Agnello. She denied any relationship.
Prosecutors failed to prove Junior’s connection to the Gotterup slaying.

Now, Alite is ready to deliver a knockout punch to his ex-crony on behalf of Gotterup’s family.
“He (Burke) was a coward then and he’s still a coward for not owning up to his crime and apologizing to the family.”
Alite said he will out Burke, who faces life in prison, as a fraud for portraying himself on an Internet blog as a Bible-quoting Christian who claims to have found religion in prison.
MOB24N_5_WEB 
John Alite said he had an affair with John Gotti’s daughter Victoria.
MOB24N_3
Bruce Gotterup was murdered by John Burke in 1991. John Alite intends to read a statement that will implicate himself and John A. "Junior" Gotti in his murder.
“If he really believes the Bible, then he should tell the truth,” Alite, 50, said.
Alite has kept a low profile since he was released from prison last spring after completing a 100-month sentence for his part in Gotterup’s murder.
But he dodged a life sentence by helping the government prosecute Junior and other members of their murderous crew that pushed drugs in Queens in the 1980s and left a trail of dead bodies.
He couldn’t deliver a conviction against Junior, whose trial ended in a hung jury. But his testimony did result in guilty pleas by other crew members and the conviction of Gambino hitman Charles Carneglia.
In addition to their business partnership, Alite and Junior used to be fast friends.
Junior was Alite’s best man at his wedding, even convincing him to get hitched on Valentine’s Day because it was Junior’s birthday. And Alite attended his wedding at the Helmsley Palace Hotel, which was a who’s who of mobsters.
Because he was of Albanian descent and not Italian, Alite could never have been a made man. Still, prosecutors said he was endowed with a more powerful status than other mob associates because of his ties to Junior and his sheer ruthlessness.
Alite estimates he made millions of dollars, owned nine homes, six businesses and three nightclubs.
That’s all gone.
MOB24N_2_WEB 
John Burke is pictured holding his infant son as his best pal Junior Gotti looks on.
He said the priority now is keeping his 21-year-old son John Jr. on the straight and narrow and disrupting the mob’s recruiting pipeline of young men lured by false dreams of money and honor — like he was while growing up in Woodhaven, Queens.
“I ruined my life the way I went,” Alite said. “Before I went to jail I was a good father but I was like two different people. On the street I was vicious. My kids are never gonna go through what I did.
“I took my kids to a Yankees game and it humbled me because we sat in the bleachers and I used to sit in box seats,” he explained. “But that’s part of life now and I am trying to make it the right way this time.”
“I get up at 6:30 now looking for work, I get depressed, I go to therapy,” he said about working construction. “I’m trying to keep pushing forward.”
Alite said he met with Debra Gotterup, Bruce’s wife, and her daughter about a year ago and told them he was sorry he ruined their lives as well as his own.
Debra Gotterup, of Long Island, said said she believes he’s sincere.
MOB24N_4_WEB
John Alite holds a statement he’ll make in court revealing how he teamed with John Burke to murder Bruce Gotterup.
“He’s trying to change his life and I believe everyone deserves a second chance,” she said.
As for Burke, she’s looking forward to seeing him sentenced to prison today in Brooklyn Federal Court.
“I can’t wait for Friday and I’ll never forgive him. He’s the one who pulled the trigger,” she said.
Alite’s scorn goes beyond Junior to his father, the Teflon Don.
He laughs at the mention of a major motion picture about the elder John Gotti that Junior backs — calling it a “Cinderella” fairy tale that takes liberties with the truth.
Alite, who spent several nights a week sleeping over the Gotti home in Howard Beach back in the day, said the Dapper Don couldn’t properly dress himself without the help of a tailor.
“That family is never going to take accountability for what they did,” he said. “They’re egotistical. They love themselves.”
Alite’s road ahead has cinematic themes — part “A Bronx Tale” trying to protect his sons from trouble and part “Carlito’s Way” staying clear of trouble himself.
Inevitably he runs into a familiar face from his illicit past. Sometimes they will say hello and tell him not to tell anyone they spoke to him. Others call him a rat or ignore him.
He’s also painfully aware of the ever-present danger of retribution faced by every mob rat.
“Every day I walk out the door I check out everything,” he said, noting that he balked at entering the witness protection program. “I’m not going to be one of those guys who gets killed in the street if I can help it, but I’m not gonna go live in Utah."
“I know there’s guys on the street who want me,” Alite said. “They’re patient. They want me to get comfortable. I know how easy it is to get somebody.” 

WHAT HE'LL TELL 'FAKE TOUGH GUY'
Excerpts from a statement former Gambino associate John Alite will read in federal court Friday during the sentencing of John Burke for the 1991 murder of Bruce Gotterup.
“I speak behind this podium because like the rest of the other fake tough guys and yourself, if we were somewhere alone in the past in a cell, in the streets, you wouldn't make a peep about me or anyone in a position that's really trying to live the right way for a change.”
“This family (Gotterup) doesn’t hate you, doesn’t even wish you harm. All they ever wanted was an apology. ... Instead of giving them closure and helping them get through their mourning and admit to your part in taking (Bruce Gotterup’s) life as I did, instead you give them disrespect and push the Bible while at the same time you move heroin in state joints (prison).”
“Why don’t you be a man and speak up to break this pattern not just for our kids’ sake but for as many kids’ as we can reach sakes?”
“You have plenty of time now to remember that I saved your life numerous times when you couldn't make the streets without me or my name. So the next time you decide to write on the computer, try talking to your God to guide you and stand on your own two feet, not like a coward, a junkie or a liar.”
“If you are really honest to that Bible that you claim, you will make amends with this family and finally apologize to them today!”

Jury listens to mobster threaten to crack debtor's head open during mob trial



Damion Canalichio onced boasted on a secretly recorded conversation that he was in the "collection" business for the mob.

Jurors in the racketeering trial of Canalichio, mob boss Joe Ligambi and five others spent part of their deliberations today listening in on how Canalichio allegedly conducted that business.

"I'm gonna go crack his fuckin' head," Canalichio said on one tape recorded conversation from 2002 in which he discussed a deadbeat with a cooperating government witness who was wearing a body-wire.

On another tape, Canalichio's part of a phone conversation with another debtor it picked by the same cooperating witness.

"I gave you fuckin' money and you've been fuckin' me ever since," Canalichio yells into the phone. 'You're a lyin' fuckin' junkie."

The tapes were played as jurors in the case completed their 11th day of deliberations. The conversations, recorded by Michael Orlando, were played early in the 10-week trial and replayed when the jury asked to hear them again this afternoon.

Orlando, who was several thousand dollars in debt to the mob, began cooperating wtih the FBI in 2002, recording dozens of coversations. He also testified for the prosecution, but his appearance on the stand was not consdered a high point in the government's case.

His credibility, motivation for testifying and his apparently lingering drug problems were all highlighted by defense attorneys duirng cross-examination and in closing arguments. One lawyer described him as "whacked out" on the witness stand.

But it may have been Canalichio's words rather than Orlando's demeanor that the jury panel was interested in.

On the "you're a lyin' junkie" tape Canalichio berated a debtor identified only as "Stretch" who apparently owed him $1,900. He repeatedly referred to him as a junkie and heroin user and a deadbeat who had been sporadically offering to pay him $50-a-week.

Canalichio said he wasn't interested in a partial payment, telling Stretch to "go borrow the money" from somebody else and suggesting he take out a mortgage on his home.

"I didn't charge no interest," Canalichio said of the debt. "I ain't no loanshark. I want what I gave you."

While the irony is probably lost on the jury, tapes played during the trial have included two different rants by Canalichio aimed at "junkies." What the jury isn't aware of is that Canalichio has two prior federal convictions for drug dealing.

On other tapes replayed this afternoon, Orlando appears to steer the conersation about the money he owes to organized crime, asking Canalichio if "it's Uncle Joe's money?"

At first Canalichio appears to ignore the question. Later he says, "Yeah," and after a third reference by Orlando, Canalichio says, "Everything goes back to him. I mean, what the fuck."

The tapes also include Orlando pleading with Canalichio to work out a payment plan where he will be able to just pay the "juice" -- interest -- on his loan, about $150-a-week. He also asks Canalichio to intercede and get other mobsters who are harassing him about money to back off.

Canalichio says he will do what he can, telling Orlando, "I just wanna settle it, Mike. That's all."

In another conversation, Canalichio tells Orlando there is only so much he can do because, "This is Stevie's money." That is an apparent reference to mobster Steven Mazzone, who is not charged in the case but whose bookmaking and loansharking operations have been mentioned several times in testimony and on other tapes.

What the tapes played today mean in terms of the ongoing deliberations is the unanswered question.

Canalichio, like all seven defendants, is charged with racketeering conspiracy, an allegation that all seven were involved in criminal gambits that were part of a mob racket enterprise. He also faces two specific charges in the 52-count indictment, one involving the operation of an illegal video poker machine and the other charging him with a role in a sports bookmaking business.

On a tape played during the trial, but not requested today, Canalichio was recorded telling an FBI undercover agent that his role was in the "collection" end of the betting operation. The tapes played today could support that allegation.

Or they could support the defense claim that none of the conversations link Canalichio to a bookmaking operation. In her arguments, Canalichio's court-appointed attorney Margaret Grasso has contended that the evidence shows her client might be a bettor and gambler, but not a bookmaker or collector.

Jury deliberations are to resume tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. amid rumblings of a possible deadlocked or hung jury and speculation that the process might be speeded up if the jury panel was sequestered. To  date the jurors have gone home each afternoon.

A sequestration order from the judge might move the process along, some sources believe.

The jurors appear to be in no rush. Among the questions sent out today was one asking if they could leave early tomorrow in the event of a snow storm. That would seem to indicate that they already believe deliberations will spill over into next week.
 

Ten days and still no verdict at Philly mob trial


Ten days and counting.

The jury in the racketeering trial of mob boss Joe Ligambi and six co-defendants headed home this afternoon after completing a tenth day of deliberations without reaching a verdict in the high profile case.

What's more, for the first time since deliberations started on Jan. 8, the anonymously selected panel did not ask a question or request to hear a tape that had been played during the 10-week trial.

What does it mean?

Depends on who you ask.

Ligambi and four co-defendants who are being held without bail wait each day in a secured lock-up in the federal court building several floors below the 15th floor courtroom where the trial was held and where deliberations are taking place.

"They're guardedly optimistic," one defense attorney said as today's session drew to a close. "The feeling is, if this were a slam dunk case for the government they would have come back with verdicts already."

The fact that the panel asked no questions and remained holed up all day discussing the case could indicate that jurors have all staked out their positions and are now debating amongst themselves. With seven defendants and with assorted charges, it's conceivable that the jury has reached consensus on some, but not all of the charges and that it could eventually come back with split decisions.

All seven defendants, Ligambi,73,  mob underboss Jospeh "Mousie" Massimino, 62, mob capos Joseph "Scoops" Licatga, 71, and George Borgesi, 49, mob soldiers Anthony Staino, 54, and Damion Canalichio, 42, and mob associate Gary Battaglini, 51, have been charged with racketeering conspiracy.

That overriding charge is tied to assorted counts of gambling, loansharking and extortion that are detailed in the 52-count indictment first handed up in May 2011. Ligambi also faces an obstruction of justice charge and a fraud charge tied to the allegation that he and his family received over $220,000 in medical benefits while he held a no-show job with a South Philadelphia trash company.

In theory, the defendants could be convicted of separate offenses, but the jury could decide -- as the defense seemed to argue -- that none of the acts were part of a broader conspiracy. Or the jury could decide that some defendants were involved in the conpsiracy and others were not.

Whatever the verdict, the panel has now deliberated longer than the last major mob racketeering trial. That case, in 2001, lasted three months. Jury deliberations began on July 14 and ended on July 21. The results were split with mob boss Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino and his co-defendants found guilty of racketeering charges tied to gambling, extortion and the receipt of stolen property.

The jury found that the government had failed to prove more serious murder, attempted murder and drug dealing charges that were included in the racketeering charge.

Borgesi, Ligambi's nephew, is the only defendant to be tried in both cases. He was sentenced to 14 years after the 2001 trial. He was about to be released to a halfway house in May 2011 when he was indicted with Ligambi and the others in the current case.

He is one of five defendants being held without bail. Staino and Battaglini are the only defendants who are free on bail.

Jury deliberations are to resume tomorrow.