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

Monday, December 5, 2011

Authorities want South Jersey mobster due to be freed to stay jailed

Philadelphia crime familyPhilly Mob Boss Joe LigambiJailed South Jersey mob figure Damion Canalichio, who is completing a 57-month sentence for cocaine trafficking, had hoped to be home for the holidays.
But federal authorities, who cite Canalichio's mob ties and a criminal history that includes eight arrests and two federal convictions for dealing drugs, want the Gloucester County man to remain in the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia while he awaits trial on new racketeering charges.
They also would like to talk to him about an unsolved mob murder - and that may be the real issue.
Canalichio, 42, was indicted with alleged mob boss Joseph Ligambi and 11 others in May. Like Ligambi and several of his top associates, Canalichio has been described by federal prosecutors as a danger to the community who should be denied bail.
The matter is scheduled for argument Thursday before U.S. District Judge Eduardo C. Robreno in Philadelphia, days before Canalichio's scheduled Dec. 18 release in the drug case.
Canalichio's court-appointed lawyer, Margaret Grasso, is expected to argue for a form of house arrest that would permit him to return to the Turnersville section of Washington Township and the home on Ganttown Road where he lived with his wife and two children before his drug conviction. Grasso declined to comment on the issue last week, but she said she believed her client was not a danger.
In a motion filed last month opposing his bail request, prosecutors described Canalichio as a "made," or formally initiated, mob member, adding that to attain that status "one must usually commit a murder" for the crime family.
And that, according to law enforcement and underworld sources, is one reason authorities want to keep him from going home.
Investigators say they believe Canalichio, an associate and onetime driver for South Philadelphia crime leader Steven Mazzone, may have information about at least one of three gangland murders that remain the focus of police and FBI investigations.
Defense attorneys have been quick to point out that the pending 50-count racketeering indictment against Ligambi and the rest do not include any acts of violence.
Unlike the last three federal mob prosecutions in the city, there are no murder, attempted murder, or assault charges against Ligambi or his codefendants. Instead, they are charged with gambling, loan-sharking, and extortion in a case built around informant testimony and secretly recorded conversations.
Those conversations, authorities allege, include Canalichio confronting and threatening people who were his alleged loan-shark customers.
They also include, according to the indictment, Canalichio boasting about how the money he was trying to collect was "Uncle Joe's," an apparent reference to Ligambi.
In one conversation, he tells a debtor "everything goes back to him," meaning Ligambi, the indictment alleges.
Ligambi has headed the Philadelphia crime family since 1999, according to authorities.
Three murders occurred early in his underworld reign, investigators say, but no one has been charged. They include the killings of Ron Turchi in 1999, Raymond "Long John" Martorano in 2002, and John "Johnny Gongs" Casasanto in 2003.
Authorities would like to question Canalichio about the Casasanto hit, according to homicide investigators, but he has not been interested in having that conversation.
Police and the FBI hope the prospect of added jail time might change his perspective.
In a motion seeking to deny his bail, authorities allege that, with his criminal record, Canalichio could get nearly 22 years in prison if convicted in the racketeering case.
Canalichio was jailed in September 2007 after pleading guilty to drug-dealing charges. He and an associate ran a small cocaine-distribution operation from an apartment in the 1400 block of Snyder Avenue in South Philadelphia.
The case included a series of "controlled buys" in which an informant working for law enforcement bought cocaine from Canalichio or his associate and recorded conversations with both of them.



Post a Comment