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

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Philadelphia mob associate accused of three attempted murders gets denied bail

To protect the "integrity of the justice system" and "so that people don't have to live in fear of their lives," a Philadelphia judge Tuesday denied bail for a reputed mob associate charged with attempting to have three people killed, including a grand jury witness.

"This case will be decided in the courtroom and not on the streets," Common Pleas Court Judge Charles Ehrlich said, sending Ronald Galati back to prison as he awaits trial.

Galati, 63, who runs an auto body repair shop in South Philadelphia, was arrested last month for allegedly hiring two gunmen to kill a rival shop owner who testified against him in an ongoing insurance fraud investigation. He also stands accused of hiring hit men to kill the man's son. And he is charged with ordering a hit on his daughter's boyfriend, according to court records.

While the hits on the witness and his son were never attempted, Galati's daughter's boyfriend, Andrew Tuono, was shot and wounded outside his Atlantic City home in November.

Galati's daughter was with Tuono at the time, but not injured.

Galati has pleaded not guilty. Through his lawyer, Anthony Voci, he has said he committed no crimes.

In statements to police, the Atlantic City gunmen said Galati hired them to carry out the hits on the three men - and was planning hits on four more people whose identity they did not know.

At Tuesday's bail hearing, prosecutor Dawn Holtz said Galati has close personal relationships with reputed mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and his alleged consigliere George Borgesi - both codefendants in an ongoing federal racketeering retrial.

Prison logs show that Galati has been visiting Ligambi and Borgesi in jail and putting money in their prison bank accounts, Holtz said.

Galati also hired Ligambi's wife to work at an auto body repair shop owned by his son, Holtz said.

Though bail is almost always granted in cases that do not involve murder, the prosecutor said Galati's case was different because it left witnesses fearing for their safety.

"The fear is real," Holtz said, noting that Galati had "put everything in place" for the hit on the witness and his son. And if the men who shot Tuono had used a higher caliber weapon as Galati had suggested , she said, Tuono would be dead.

"He is cold blooded," she said. "He has the money, the intent, and he has recently made statements that he knows he is going to prison for a long time - this is a desperate man."

Voci, Galati's lawyer, said Galati worked 10 hours a day, six days a week at the auto body shop, near 20th and McKean, a business owned by his son.

"The picture they are painting of him doesn't make sense," he said.

He argued that it would be easier for police to monitor Galati at his South Philadelphia home than in jail, given the prevalence of prison cell phones.

Holtz scoffed at that idea, arguing that visitors could come and go if Galati were permitted to return home - and he would have access to bank accounts and cash.

"From his home, he can be a puppeteer," she said. "The Wizard of Oz behind a curtain, and we wouldn't be able to control it."



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