Monday, January 6, 2014

Closing Arguments Offer Different Stories In Ligambi Trial

By George Anastasia
For Bigtrial.net

The federal government is still fighting a war it won more than a decade ago, the lawyer for mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi told a jury this afternoon while asking the panel to reject the prosecution's case against his client and co-defendant George Borgesi.

"There was a sea change in 1999," Ligambi's lawyer, Edwin Jacobs Jr. told the jury. La Cosa Nostra in Philadelphia, he said, "is a shell" (of what it once was). "It's every man for himself...The FBI won the war."

And the result, said Christopher Warren, Borgesi's attorney, is a case built around "a theater of the absurd."

Those were two of the high points of more than two hours of spirited closing argument by the defense today in the racketeering conspiracy retrial of Ligambi, 74, and Borgesi, 50.

The prosecution, to no one's great surprise, presented the anonymously chosen jury panel with a decidedly different take, painting the two defendants as leaders of an organized crime family that engaged in gambling, loansharking and extortion and that used its reputation for violence to further the criminal conspiracy at the heart of the case.

"La Cosa Nostra, This Thing of Ours, Our Thing," said Assistant U.S. Attorney John Han. "It was Joe Ligambi's thing. It was George Borgesi's thing."

As is often the case with closing arguments, the two sides took the same set of facts and evidence and spun them in different directions. The ultimate decision rests with the jury which is expected to begin deliberations either late tomorrow or the first thing Wednesday morning. There are approximately two more  hours of closing arguments scheduled for tomorrow by the defense and prosecution. Judge Eduardo Robreno will then spend a good part of the afternoon explaining the laws that apply before the jury can begin deliberations.

Neither Ligambi nor Borgesi showed much emotion during the five hours of closing arguments today, although Borgesi occasionally shook his head in disagreement over some of Han's comments.

In a methodical and detailed presentation, the federal prosecutor spent nearly 30 minutes of his two and one-half hour closing explaining the racketeering conspiracy charge that is at the heart of the case. The government, he said, does not have to prove that either defendant committed a crime, but merely that they conspired with others to commit crimes in furtherance of the organized crime family.

In fact, there was little, if any, direct evidence tying Ligambi or Borgesi to specific criminal acts. But Han argued that both defendants "embraced" the crime family's reputation for violence and "exploited it to their benefit."

While acknowledging that several key government witnesses were themselves mobsters or mob associates with checkered criminal pasts, Han said, "the government didn't choose them, the defendants did."

Referring to witnesses like Peter "Pete the Crumb" Caprio, Louis "Bent Finger Lou" Monacello and Anthony Aponick, Han pointed to the defense table and said, "they were their associates, their partners-in-crime."

"It's all about the money," Han said several times while outlining a government case that alleges that Ligambi and Borgesi received a piece of the mob's gambling and loansharking proceeds from 1999 through 2011 when the indictment was handed up in the current case.

Even though Borgesi was in prison for most of that time -- he was jailed in 2000 in an unrelated racketeering case -- Han said he still benefitted from the mob money-making gambits he had left in place and that Monacello ran for him.

Han described Ligambi, Borgesi and their associates as "bullies taking lunch money from a weak child on the playground."

That's the way the mob operates, he said.

He sarcastically challenged the defense argument that Aponick, a New York mob associate who had been Borgesi's cellmate, came to Philadelphia to develop a construction and home-building business with Monacello and for Borgesi. The only reason Aponick came to Philadelphia to meet with Monacello, he said, was to discuss mob business Borgesi was trying to set up from prison.

Monacello and Borgesi met at Ralph's, an Italian restaurant on Ninth Street. Borgesi called Monacello's cell phone from prison during the dinner.

"Is there a shortage of Italian restaurants in New York?" Han asked.

He also dismissed defense arguments that a $25,000 loan Ligamb's top associate, Anthony Staino, made unknowingly to an FBI undercover agent was anything other than a loanshark deal. The agreement was struck in the men's room of a restaurant with urinals flushing in the background and the money was delivered in cash in a cereal box.

"Is this a new way of banking?" the prosecutor asked the jury.

The defense countered with an attack on both the truthfulness and reliability of the key government witnesses and with its own sprinkling of sarcasm.

Warren said a linchpin of the government case is a secret recording of Ligambi and nine other mobsters from the Philadelphia crime family and New York's Gambino organization meeting for lunch at a LaGriglia, a North Jersey restaurant, in May 2010.

But four hours of tape recorded conversation from that meeting did not result in even one mention of an active criminal enterprise, he said. Warren cited an FBI report that called the lunch a "social meeting" and said the discussions were "a drunken stroll down memory lane" with talk of Lucky Luciano and Albert Anastasia [ Editor's note - no relation]."


"The anisette was flowing, so was the wine," said Warren of the lunch which prosecutors have labeled a meeting of the "board of directors of organized crime." As he had in the first trial, Warren also
pointed out that the mobsters ate and drank in the main dining room, passing up an offer to meet in a private room on the second floor.

Warren and Jacobs also hurled verbal barb after verbal barb at the chief prosecution witnesses.

Monacello was described as a convicted racketeer and perjurer who was using his association with Borgesi as a get out of jail free card. And Aponick was portrayed as a liar and con man who, even after he began cooperating with the FBI in 2003, committed a series of bank robberies.

He is "the poster child for why you need to shut this bad production down," Warren said of Aponick and the government's case. Even though Aponick deceived federal authorities, "they want you to believe him," Warren said incredulously.

"Don't buy a ticket to this theater of the absurd."

Both defense attorneys argued that the prosecution used rhetoric and hyperbole in place of facts to build the conspiracy charge.

At one point Warren referred to the case as "bovine excrement" while Jacobs called the racketeering conspiracy charge a "wastebasket."

Jacobs argued that the mob as a viable underworld operation in Philadelphia was dismantled in a 1999 case and that what is left is disorganized organized crime. While Ligambi and Borgesi may be members -- "It's not a crime to be a member of La Cosa Nostra," he said  -- neither were the beneficiaries of the actions of other mobsters who ran gambling and loansharking operations during the period covered in the indictment. 

It was, instead, "a group of independent operators," he said.

"This is not a mob," he told the jury. "This is not even a shell of a mob anymore. We are not what they say we are."

George Anastasia can be contacted at George@bigtrial.net.

50 comments:

  1. Wow!!!!!!!! That's Their Defense!!??

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  2. Rico Murder Trials Charges Are Next!!

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  3. Yea Skiny's Crew Is Looking At Rico. Feds Bringing Back The Murder Chargings From Their Last Trial It's Going Too Be Ugly!!!!!!!

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  4. Its actually sad that this case even got this far to begin with. Its nothing but a gambling case at best but the prosecuters are using it to pad their careers and get promotions. If this case was in new york the prosecuters there would have given 2 year sentences and moved on to real cases. I just hope the jury finds them not guilty! What a waste of our taxpayers money.

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    1. Very true, if this was NY , Wall Street would be saying those guys need to learn from us who are the real gangsters..haha.

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  5. This Is Just The Beginning!!!'''

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  6. Galati And Nicodemo Will Be At The Next Trial!!*******

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  7. Galati can't hurt anybody,there was no murder on the expressway shooting . Ron enjoy the rest of your life in a pa. state prison 25 to 50 yrs would be a low sentence. You can get rid of your rug now the state prison will not allow you to wear it. Your getting what you deserve.Your nothing but a bullshit wannabe. Ha! Ha!

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    1. Look in the mirror big mouth. You seam to be a "wanna be". You are following this trial, maybe you think you should be a mobster but you don't have the balls. Sitting back and throwing comments is easy to do. I guess you are a typical fat big mouth who thinks you could be a better mobster than them...ha! Jump in pal, nobody can is bigger wannabe than people like you and Anastasia and Dave S. Now go to work and use you big mouth to con your boss and other whom you take money from..

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    2. Damn , you sound gangsta . You must be a tough guy . But don't get past the point your boys are dopes and will be in jail in just a few months . OH those Wildwood days !!!!haha Hot n steamy in the prison shower

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    3. nah buddy, no tough guy here. That's the problem with corny goof balls like yourself who think someone is a tough guy because they fires back. Im curious what is your dealings with the guy you mentioned? You seam to know him up close an in person. Like I said look at yourself, what makes you a "up-standing citizen"? You cheat and lie on your taxes? Guess what you can go away a long time for that.

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  8. Nicodemo also deserves his life sentence, take it like a man.Thats what you deserve for being stupid enough to use your own car. You'll still get 25 to 50 yrs even if you thought about flipping,so just get use to your new life in prison. Asshole !!!!!!!

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  9. Feds Will Make A Sweet Deal For Nicodemo! And Galati Can Bring Something Too The Table....

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  10. I heard that Nicodemo is out . Eyewitnesses seen him in Tampa ,FL .

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    1. If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you.

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  11. I Can Believe It!!!!

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  12. George, Dekuyper anisette is battery acid..... Next time, you need to showcase Marie Brizzard......it is the official adult beverage of the AMA (American Mobster Association),

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  13. Are they in court today or did Robreno give them the day off before deliberations

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  14. You people are so ABSENT MINDED!!! Let's talk about DISCRIMINATION here!!!
    Gambling...that's all it is!!!
    3 guys got "Life sentences" for. GAMBLING!!!
    This system is nothing but a DISGRACE!!!

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    1. they are obliterating the competition! that's all this is!

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  15. Noooo The PhillyMob Is A DISGRACE!!!!!!

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  16. I'M FROM NY. NOOOO WAY THESE GUYS ARE MOBSTERS!!!! YOU GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!

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    1. Cornball clown^

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    2. Yeah it's hard to compete with the likes of Henry Hill, Gravano, Gaspipe Cassio, Valachi and Fransese just a few to mention that are apart of New York hall of fame "mobsters"

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    3. Only someone not from NY would start some bullshit post that way....

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  17. Gangster don't die...they get chubby n move to miami!!!!

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  18. Bottom line these guys know the deal when they bought into this shit so they now the consequences no matter how spin it. But guilty or not guilty some of these guys u thought were stand up might be the ones ull be mother f--king with ur anonymous RAT chants if there is a murder trial most of these guys are not gonna do LIFE behind bars for each other so the guy u was sticking up for he.s a piece of shit. But he.s got a wife and kids he.ll never raise again gets to see them if his ex wife allows it u see were i going with this. Most of these guys will make a deal if there is a rico murder trial this time and im sure we.ll all be surprised at who they are. But they were ur buddys and now the unthinkible happened oops they RATTED that dreaded word! Oh ya for stand up guy who i respect . Whats he get in return from the guys he took the hit for they help his wife they knock the bottom out of her ass while he.s being standup. Because THIS THING OF OURS Deon Warwick sang it best
    CAUSE THATS WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR LOL!!!

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    1. Yep, agree..but to the ones who don't, hats off.

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  19. Like I said before. Sal Lucania must be spinning. AKA- Charles "Lucky" Luciano

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    1. oh really, I guess you were around in them days? They didn't have high tech surveillance and the witness protection program then. Otherwise guys like "Sal Lucania" and Angelo Brunno wouldn't be on the streets to long either. Someone would of ratted on them or they would of had them talking about transactions on tape. Your the same kind of dork who thinks you could be a better gangster than them, sorry pal, stop watching the Godfather. That movie was a fairy tale to the actual way it is for those who want to be a gangster/mobster. And Luciania was known as a heartless killer if I recall seeing in some mob documentaries. Must give these guys credit they have kept a very, very, low profile and were more class than most guys in recent years. I hope they beat this case...

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  20. Jailed, dead, or in witness protection, those are your choices for this lifestyle. Is it REALLY worth it? But this case is BS. Uncle Joe and his nephew are a joke. These guys aren't gansters. The coulldn't polish a real gangsters shoes.

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  21. This is a "FAR" cry from old school "Commission" type shit. Not even in the same F*&#ing Ballpark.

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  22. I would like to point out a few things. Joey and his crew beat 4/5 murders and attempted in 01. Galati can give them what? He put holes in a van? Also, Nicodemo, while from what I understand was tight with Merlino, probably can only offer up Gongs and maybe Martarano. Which happened after Merlino and company went away. So I don't really see why people are all excited for this big rico thats supposedly coming down, when the only people that MIGHT have to worry are Ligambi, and probably Staino, Canalichio and maybe Lancelotti.

    Also, Galati and Nicodemo are in state custody. A phone call to the feds doesn't mean that the state will just let them get taken away while facing pending charges, and most certainly not if they get convicted and get handed lengthy sentences. I am sure the feds will do anything within their power to grab them, and in the end maybe would, I'm just saying that if they do flip, it might be a while before they are in front of federal grand juries.

    My money is that at this time next year, everyone on the streets now will still be on the streets, with the addition of Ligambi and Borgesi if they win this time around.

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    1. You don't have a clue what your talking about! First of all, Joey and his crew didn't beat those murder charges, they were found UNPROVEN which means the feds can bring them up anytime again, those murders include, Tony Turra, Billy Veasy, Dutchie, Ronald Turchi, and a few attempted murders including the attempted hit on the highway which Galati helped by putting the holes in the van, all those murders were under Joeys watch, Nicodemo was around during all those murders, and don't forget the Mazzuca murder, which they say Joey gave the ok and Georgie helped by getting rid of the body, bottom line is this, if Nicodemo and Galati flip, that whole crew is done including whats left of the guys on the street, Mazzone, Lance, Johnny Chang.

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    2. Would Galati be able to help with any of those besides the hit on the highway? Any info Nicodemo would have on those murders would be second hand knowledge so he would'nt be the most effective witness for those, useful? yes but solid? no. Also they were found not guilty of those murders meaning the feds couldn't use those charges in any future rico case. Plus the state isn't going to hand over those two without a fight. They did the same with Tommy Del, NJ state police had him through most of '87, that's why the feds didn't indict until January '88. Had Del been convicted and sentenced by the state when he decided to flip I doubt they would just open the door right away. All I'm saying is with that is that a phone call to the FBI isn't going to exactly open the cell doors for these guys, not right away at least.

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    3. If a murder was found NOT PROVEN They can be retired again. There were sum murders that were "NOT PROVEN" there the ones their sweating over.plus the UNSOLVED ONES.Time Time Time

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    4. The Feds tried that with the Joey Sodano murder charge. They tried the murder case after the rackateering murder was found to be NOT PROVEN. While they US Court of Appeals were allowed to try the case, because Merlino beat the charges there was no subsequent appeal brought to determine whether their narrow decision would be upheld. i think if he would have been convicted that might have gone to the US Supreme Court for review. It would be shocking if this US Attorneys Office were given the greenlight to retry individual cases from 15 years ago that were found to be not proven AND weaker than the Sodano case. I don't see anyway the Holder Justice Department approving such an allocation of resources.

      If they will be charged with anything, it would be murders that haven't been brought yet. Thats why Galati, unless he has something besides the Schuykill Expressway, won't be a feather in the cap of the feds. Never mind the ethics of trusting criminals facing life in prison with telling the truth in order to get themselves out of prison. The lifeblood of the Fed system is getting "substantial cooperation" for yourself to rat out someone higher on the target list after you get caught. Really calls into question the integrity verdicts reached based upon a cooperator's testimony.

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    5. steve lenehan is a fag

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  23. Another Philadelphia Show Trial conducted at taxpayers' expense to puff the egos and ambitions of shysters looking to climb the "gomint" ladder of success, control and wealth.

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  25. All The FEDS Need Is Galati And Nicodemo That's It!!!!!! Too Talk Both Crews Are Going To Dew Life!

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  26. Why do any of you care about what these guys did or didn't do?

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  27. Why Dooo You???? Lol

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  28. who are the two guys Galati put a hit on some shop owner and his son ? they used to be close friends from what i hear but does anyone know there names? kinda messed up how someone does that to there friends

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  29. Hey where is ray Wagner I hear he took down his wedding picture and replaced it with a picture of him and joey Merlino. Hahaha. He wants to be italian.

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  30. weak kids lunch money? um, don't the customers seek out the loans and gambling lines?

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  31. MOBSTERS OF BROTHERLY LOVE

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