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Philadelphia mobster sentenced to 11 years as city cleans up crime

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A crackdown on the Philadelphia mafia by federal authorities continued Tuesday with the sentencing of Damion Canalichio to 11 years in prison in a racketeering conspiracy involving loansharking 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 an ongoing 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 along with reputed mob boss Joseph Ligambi and others in May in a racketeering case involving allegations of loansharking, extortion and illegal gambling.

The evidence, according to the indictment, included taped conversations in which Canalichio boasts about his use of violence to collect loanshark 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 activities on behalf of the mob.

Canalichio exploited the violent reputation of the Philadelphia LCN 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 these racketeering crimes.

The case is being prosecuted by Mr. Han of the Criminal Division's Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Frank A. Labor III and Suzanne B. Ercole of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

The case is being investigated by the FBI, the IRS's Criminal Investigation section, the Pennsylvania and New Jersey State Police, the Philadelphia Police Department and the Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General Office.

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