By George Anastasia
A jury is expected to begin deliberating early tomorrow in the racketeering conspiracy retrial of mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and his nephew and co-defendant George Borgesi.
The anonymously chosen panel of 10 women and two men heard more than two hours of closing arguments this morning and then sat through two more hours of Judge Eduardo Robreno's explanation of the laws that apply to the case.
Robreno's methodical charge is expected to conclude tomorrow morning shortly after court is brought back into session at 9:30 a.m. Deliberations will begin once the judge completes his explanation.
Arguments today were a reprise of defense and prosecution positions outlined for the jury Monday.
Ligambi's lawyer, Edwin Jacobs Jr. continued with the two themes he had offered earlier -- the mob in Philadelphia no longer exists and the government failed to provide evidence to back up its charges.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Labor returned to the issues he had underscored in his opening statement back on Nov. 7. "What this case is about is how the mob makes money through crime," he said.
Labor scoffed at Jacobs' argument that the mob is only a shell of what it once was. He said Ligambi, 74, and Borgesi, 50, were leaders of a mob family that generated income through gambling, loansharking and extortion and that the victims of those crimes would dispute Jacobs' contention that the mob no longer exists.
Jacobs said Ligambi was a"titular" boss of a crime family that had been reduced to an "impotent shell."
"They no longer do the stuff that was done under Scarfo and Natale," he added, referring to former mob boss Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo and Ralph Natale.
Scarfo, currently serving a 55-year prison sentence on racketeering-murder charges, was considered one of the most violent mob bosses in America. His bloody reign as Philadelphia crime boss in the 1980 was marked for dozens of murders and attempted murders.
Jacobs again and again pointed out that there are no murder charges nor any acts of violence alleged in the current indictment. Labor, however, said that didn't matter because the case is about how the mob uses its reputation for violence to control the underworld and generate illegal income.
He urged the jury to focus on the "big picture" and not get lost or confused by minor and contradictory details.
A prime example, he said, was the defense notion that two key cooperating witness, Borgesi associates Louis Monacello and Anthony Aponick, offered different versions of how they reacted to one another during a meeting at Ralph's, an Italian restaurant on Ninth Street in December 2003.
Their relationship, Labor argued, was a secondary issue. The "big picture" question, he said, was how Aponick, a New York mob associate and former cellmate of Borgesi's, and Monacello, Borgesi's point man on the street, came to be at that restaurant meeting. The meeting, Labor said, was arranged by Borgesi from prison so that they could discuss mob business. And that, he said, proves the conspiracy charge.
Jacobs, on the other hand, told the jury that the government's case was built around theories, but not backed up by facts,. He said there was an "institutional bias" against the defendants because of the mob "labels" authorities had attached to them. And he said the prosecutors had used "misleading" evidence and "half truths" to build their case.
George Anastasia can be contacted at George@bigtrial,.net.