- The Washington Times - Monday, May 23, 2011

A 50-count indictment unsealed Monday in Philadelphia charges 13 leaders, members and associates of the Philadelphia La Cosa Nostra Family with crimes that spanned more than a decade.

Those indicted included mob boss Joseph Ligambi and underboss Joseph Massimino.

The indictment names 11 members and associates of the Philadelphia crime syndicate who were arrested Monday morning by FBI agents and local law enforcement officers. The remaining two defendants are already serving prison sentences in federal facilities.

Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer, who heads the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, described the arrests as “yet another concrete demonstration” of the renewed focus the department has placed on organized crime families.

The department has arrested 91 mob leaders, members and associates, and 36 other defendants in four districts since January on charges ranging from racketeering, murder and extortion to robbery, gambling and drug trafficking.

The indictment charges various crimes including racketeering, conspiracy, extortion, loan sharking, illegal gambling and witness tampering, and alleges that mob members used violence and the threat of violence to exert control over others.

Those named in addition to Ligambi and Massimino were George Borgesi, Martin Angelina, Anthony Staino Jr., Gaeton Lucibello, Damion Canalichio, Louis Monacello, Louis Barretta, Gary Battaglini, Robert Verrecchia, Eric Esposito and Robert Ranieri.

The indictment alleges that for more than a decade, 10 of the defendants, including Ligambi and Massimino, conspired to conduct and participate in the affairs of the Philadelphia family through a pattern of racketeering activity and through the collection of unlawful debts.

It said the alleged racketeering activity included extortion, extortionate extensions of credit through usurious loans, extortionate collections, illegal gambling and witness tampering. The mob’s collection of unlawful debts allegedly relates to its loan-sharking operations and debts that arose from their illegal gambling businesses.

For example, according to the indictment, Ligambi, Massimino, Staino and other conspirators allegedly ran illegal electronic-gambling-device businesses, providing video-poker machines and other gambling devices for bars, restaurants, convenience stores, coffee shops and other locations in Philadelphia and its suburbs, and then collected the illegal gambling proceeds.

After federal law enforcement agents seized 34 of their illegal electronic-gambling devices, it said Ligambi, Massimino and Staino allegedly forced the owners of another illegal electronic-gambling-device business to sell their illegal businesses to them, including 34 machines.

The indictment alleges various instances where defendants used phrases such as “chop him up” and “put a bullet in your head” when threatening victims. In one instance, Canalichio allegedly used a bat to beat a victim for not paying a loan debt.

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