Federal authorities attempted to cut off the head of Philadelphia organized crime yesterday with a 50-count indictment unsealed against reputed mob boss Joseph Ligambi and 12 associates, charging them with racketeering, running an illegal video poker business, sports betting and loansharking.
Each of the defendants appeared in federal court yesterday. Prosecutors said they will ask that bail be denied for Ligambi and nine others, while three alleged members were released on bail.
The arrests were the latest in a string of busts along the East Coast targeting organized crime, including the arrest of 127 alleged mobsters in a four-state operation in January and charges against members of the New England La Cosa Nostra in March. Authorities called it the largest bust in a decade.
“We have pried loose La Cosa Nostra’s grip on power and influence in the United States, but there is still work to be done,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer.
According to the indictment, Ligambi, underboss Joseph Massimino and others threatened violence, but did not actually use violence.
Instead they “relied upon the Philadelphia LCN Family’s reputation for violence to enforce their illegal debts and in making these collection.”
After the hearing, Ligambi’s attorney Joseph Santaguida said that the case boiled down to people saying, “‘Joe would be angry. He wants that money.’ That’s what it amounts to, not that Joe did anything.”
‘Laying in weeds’
Ligambi was first through the federal courthouse’s side door. Sporting a white, collared short-sleeve Nike shirt and jeans, he look back at the gallery where his brother, nephew and others sat, briefly smiling, offering a laugh.
He was followed by Massimino and Marty Angelina, the once-considered potential underboss who served five and a half years after the last big mob trial a decade ago.
As for whether Ligambi would get bail on Thursday, his attorney Joseph Santaguida said that, “there’s no violence, no drugs. He should get bail, but we’ll see.”
“They’ve been laying in the weeds since . They were holding it back waiting to get more [to charge him with],” he said. BRIAN HICKEY