- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A crackdown on the Philadelphia mafia by federal authorities marked a key milestone Tuesday with the sentencing of Damion Canalichio to 11 years in prison in a racketeering conspiracy involving loansharking, extortion and illegal gambling — the 12th leader, member or associate of the city’s La Cosa Nostra family to have pleaded guilty or been convicted in the investigation.

U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania said seven of defendants, including Canalichio, have been sentenced, and five are awaiting sentencing.

A reputed South Jersey mobster, Canalichio, 43, was indicted in May along with mob boss Joseph Ligambi and others.

Prosecutors said the evidence included taped conversations in which Canalichio boasts about his use of violence to collect loan-shark debts and in which he identifies himself as a collector for Ligambi.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John S. Han described Canalichio as a “formally initiated member of La Cosa Nostra,” who has an extensive criminal history — including eight arrests and four convictions since 1999. Two of those convictions were for drug trafficking.

On Feb. 5, after a four-month trial, a jury convicted Canalichio of conspiring to conduct and participate in the affairs of the Philadelphia La Cosa Nostra family through a pattern of racketeering activity. The evidence at trial proved that, in furtherance of the racketeering conspiracy, Canalichio, as a “made” member, engaged in loan sharking and illegal sports bookmaking on behalf of the mob.

Canalichio exploited the violent reputation of the Philadelphia mob family in extending usurious loans and collecting payments on the loans, leaving the borrowers in fear of physical harm if they did not pay promptly, the indictment said. Canalichio also directed and supervised the participation of associates in his crew to carry out the crimes.

The case was prosecuted by Mr. Han and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Frank A. Labor III and Suzanne B. Ercole of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

The mob remains a focus of the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service, Pennsylvania and New Jersey state police, Philadelphia police and the Department of Labor’s office of inspector general.

Ligambi is scheduled for an October retrial after the jury deadlocked on that main count in his case.