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

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

How can Philadelphia's consigliere in jail for 13 years be involved in a racketeering conspiracy?

Reputed Philadelphia mob boss Joe Ligambi, left, and his nephew, George Borgesi, right, are charged with bookmaking and illegal video gambling. (File photos)
GEORGE BORGESI'S defense boils down to a simple question:

If he's been imprisoned and under constant surveillance for the past 13 years, how could the onetime Philly mob consigliere simultaneously be involved in a long-running racketeering conspiracy, as prosecutors claim?

The government's star witness, mob turncoat Louis "Bent Finger Lou" Monacello, claims to have the answer. He attempted yesterday to explain it to a jury - again - during the retrial of Borgesi and Borgesi's uncle, reputed mob boss Joseph Ligambi.

Decked out in a dark three-piece suit with his black hair slicked back, the Andy Garcia wannabe answered prosecutor John Han's questions without the braggadocio that may have marred his credibility in the first trial.

Monacello, 47, a former mob associate, testified that he was Borgesi's man on the street for years, collecting gambling and loan-sharking proceeds and funneling them to Borgesi while he was doing time on a 2001 racketeering conviction.

"He wants things done yesterday," Monacello said, adding that Borgesi, 50, would "relentlessly hound me" from prison to handle mob activities.

"He's a gangster until he dies," Monacello said.

Monacello said he would pay Borgesi through Borgesi's now-wife Alyson by putting money in the glove compartment of her car. "Ninety-nine percent of the time, that's the way we did it," he said. Asked if Alyson knew where the money was coming from, Monacello said, "She knew exactly where it was coming from."

At one point yesterday, Alyson Borgesi muttered "fuckin' liar" while Monacello was testifying.

The jury heard a December 2003 recorded phone conversation between Borgesi, who was in a federal prison in West Virginia, and Monacello, who was enjoying mussels and wine at Ralph's Italian Restaurant at 9th and Catharine streets. They spoke in code and discussed mob business, Monacello said.

"He's a narcissistic sociopath with delusions of grandeur," Borgesi's mother, Manny, said of Monacello. She questioned whether his unusually calm demeanor was pharmaceutically assisted.

As for Ligambi, Monacello said "Uncle Joe" ran the Philadelphia faction of La Cosa Nostra and had the final say on all mob-related decisions.

"Joe's the boss," Monacello said. "He calls the shots."

Ligambi, 74, who has been held without bail since May 2011, maintained the uncanny ability to take the federal-racketeering indictment in stride.

As court adjourned yesterday, Ligambi wished his relatives a happy Thanksgiving, then turned to Alyson Borgesi and Angelo Lutz, a chef and ex-mob associate, and asked them a question out of earshot of the prosecutors.

"Who makes a better gravy?" he asked. "Be honest."



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