Thursday, January 30, 2014

Judge Rules Anastasia Can Cover Scarfo Trial

By Ralph Cipriano
for BigTrial.net

U.S. District Court Judge Robert B. Kugler ruled today that veteran crime reporter George Anastasia is free to cover the fraud trial of Nicodemo S. Scarfo and Salvatore Pelullo.

After a 50-minute hearing at the federal courthouse in Camden, Judge Kugler decided that Anastasia's right to cover the trial under the First Amendment trumped any issue raised by the defense.

J. Michael Farrell, a lawyer for Pelullo, had listed Anastasia as a potential witness in the fraud case. The lawyer wanted the reporter to testify that prior to the issuing of a search warrant in 2006, Anastasia had never heard Pelullo's name mentioned as a member of organized crime.

The names of potential witnesses are kept on a sequestration list. They're not supposed to show up in the courtroom prior to their appearance on the witness stand. By putting Anastasia on that list earlier this month, the defense, in effect, had barred Anastasia from visiting the courtroom as a reporter. But the judge granted a motion today to take Anastasia's name off that sequestration list.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Anastasia Wants To Get Off The Witness List

By Ralph Cipriano
for Bigtrial.net

George Anastasia would prefer to cover Salvatore Pelullo's fraud trial as a reporter, rather than having to testify as a witness in the case.

Pelullo's lawyer, however, has placed the veteran crime reporter on a potential witness list. And because potential witnesses are barred from being in the courtroom, Anastasia has been prevented from reporting on the United States of America v. Salvatore L. Pelullo et al. 

Today, however, a lawyer for Anastasia filed a motion for a protective order at the federal courthouse in Camden, seeking to knock the reporter off the witness list. A hearing is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. tomorrow in Courtroom 4D before U.S. District Court Judge Robert B. Kugler.

"J. Michael Farrrell, defense counsel for defendant Salvatore Pelullo, has listed award-winning reporter George Anastasia as a potential witness for the defense for the apparent purpose of preventing Mr. Anastasia from lawfully reporting about this trial," wrote Maxwell S. Kennerly of The Beasley Firm in a 10-page motion filed today.

"Any information that Mr. Anastasia possesses is the result of his news gathering activities," Kennerly wrote. "Mr. Anastasia does not possess any first-hand knowledge relevant to this case; he merely reported about the ongoing developments in articles that he penned for The Philadelphia Inquirer from the time search warrants were executed in the spring of 2008 until he left the paper in October 2012 ... Since leaving The Inquirer, Mr. Anastasia has been reporting on criminal trials on the website bigtrial.net."

"It's an important first-amendment issue," Anastasia said. "Anybody could manipulate the system by doing this. You could keep a reporter from covering a story if you didn't want him to cover it. All you have to is put him on the witness list."

Some Parting Words From Bent Finger Lou

By George Anastasia
For Bigtrial.net

He said he has no regrets and would do it all over again.

He also said he's glad the U.S. Attorney's Office has opted not to retry Joe Ligambi. Not that he has any great concern for the mob boss. But he does have a personal stake in the matter.

What the decision to drop the remaining charges against Ligambi means, said Louis "Bent Finger Lou" Monacello, "is that I never have to testify again."

In a pointed telephone conversation this afternoon, Monacello looked back on the two trials in which he testified for the federal government and looked forward to life beyond the South Philadelphia mob.

Commenting publicly for the first time, the one-time mob associate displayed the same bravado -- some would call it arrogance -- that he brought to the witness stand in two trials that ended without convictions for either Ligambi or his co-defendant and nephew George Borgesi.

"Tell'em I'm relaxing on the beach," said Monacello, 46, who relocated to the South Jersey shore after he decided to become a cooperating witness. Whether he stays there or moves is an issue that will be decided later, he said.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

D.A. Says Lynn Reversal Sends Out "Dismal" Message

By Ralph Cipriano
for Bigtrial.net

Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams yesterday appealed the reversal of the conviction of Msgr. William J. Lynn to the state Supreme Court.

Lynn, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's former secretary for clergy, was convicted on June 22, 2012 by a jury of one count of endangering the welfare of a child. He was the first Catholic administrator in the country to be sent to jail for failing to control an abusive priest under his supervision.

On Dec. 26, 2013, Lynn's conviction was reversed by a unanimous opinion from a panel of three Superior Court judges, who said that the state's original child endangerment law did not apply to Lynn. The law applied only to adults who had direct contact with children, such as parents, teachers or guardians, the Superior Court said. The law didn't apply to Lynn, who had no contact with children, but was a supervisor of abusive priests. The law was amended in 2007 to include supervisors such as Lynn.

 In a 35-page appeal petition to the state Supreme Court, the D.A. complained that the Lynn reversal sent out a "dismal" message in this "high-profile case," namely that "victims of child sexual abuse at the hands of pedophile priests who reluctantly come forward may do so in vain."

The D.A. argues that if the Lynn reversal goes unchallenged, the state will no longer be able to protect future victims of child abuse, even under the amended child endangerment law, because of the Superior Court's overly broad language and "misapplication of law."

Uncle Joe Heads Home To An Unsettled Underworld

By George Anastasia
For Bigtrial.net

Mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi is being processed out of prison this morning, ending a two
and a half year stay as a "guest" of the government in the Federal Detention Center at 7th and Arch streets.

Judge  Eduardo Robreno dismissed the remaining counts pending against the 74-year-old crime leader after federal prosecutors filed a motion yesterday declaring that they would not retry Ligambi a third time on conspiracy and gambling charges.

Ligambi has been in jail since he and a dozen others were indicted on racketeering conspiracy and related gambling and loansharking charges in May 2011. He was twice denied bail.

But once federal authorities filed a motion to dismiss the remaining counts against him, bail was no longer an issue.

Most observers believe the U.S. Attorney's Office wisely opted to cut its losses and save the fight for another day. Whether that day is close at hand remains an open question. If the government comes again with a mob case, those in both law enforcement and the criminal defense bar believe, it will need a more substantial body of evidence than it had this time around.

A jury on Friday acquitted Ligambi of one count of witness tampering and hung -- voting 10-2 to acquit -- on the three other counts. Earlier this year, in the first trial based on the same indictment, a jury found Ligambi not guilty of five of the nine counts he faced. The four remaining counts were the basis for the trial that ended last week.

The anonymously chosen jury of 11 women and one man was apparently less than overwhelmed by the government's case.

"There was very little physical evidence and the witnesses were convicted criminals," one juror, who asked not to be identified, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "... if the government could have provided us with credible witnesses, maybe things would have been different."

Monday, January 27, 2014

Government Moves To Drop Charges Against Ligambi

By George Anastasia
For Bigtrial.net

Federal authorities have decided not to retry Joe Ligambi on conspiracy and gambling charges after two juries soundly rejected the bulk of the government's case against the South Philadelphia mob boss.

In a motion filed this afternoon, the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania asked Judge Eduardo Robreno to dismiss the three remaining counts pending against the 74-year-old mob leader.

The move came two days after a jury voted to acquit Ligambi of a witness tampering charge and hung on the conspiracy count and two counts of illegal gambling.

"In this instance I agree with the exercise of judgment by the U.S. Attorney's Office," said Edwin Jacobs Jr., Ligambi's lawyer. "(Federal prosecutors) took their two best shots unsuccessfully."

Jacobs said it would be a waste of taxpayers' money and government resources to try Ligambi a third time. The Atlantic City-based attorney, considered one of the top criminal lawyers in the area, represented Ligambi in both trials.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Judges In Two States Wrestle Over Fate Of Inky

By Ralph Cipriano
for Bigtrial.net

A Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judge has to decide whether she has  jurisdiction to preside over the dissolution of Interstate General Media [IGM], owners of The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and philly.com.

IGM is a Delaware corporation doing business in Pennsylvania. The question is, which state's courts should preside over the dissolution of IGM, and the auctioning off of the two newspapers and website?

In a 16-page memorandum of law filed Jan. 16th, attorney Richard A. Sprague, writing on behalf of a minority ownership faction headed by Lewis Katz and H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest, states that the Delaware Courts do not have "exclusive jurisdiction over the dissolution of IGM."

The Delaware Court Of Chancery has stated that sister jurisdictions may "adequately address dissolution issues relating to Delaware companies," Sprague writes.

"IGM's sole business is the operation of Philadelphia newspapers and media, its principal place of business is Philadelphia, and all of its operations and assets are in Philadelphia," Sprague writes. "Dismissal is unwarranted in this case where the company is a local concern." Sprague asks Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Patricia McInerney to take jurisdiction over the case, and appoint a trustee to "dissolve IGM."

However, in a 30-page opposing memorandum of law filed Jan. 22, attorney Robert C. Heim, writing on behalf of a faction of majority owners headed by George Norcross, states that the Sprague memorandum "is premised upon the deeply flawed assumption" that Judge McInerney "has jurisdiction to issue a judicial decree pursuant to Delaware law dissolving a Delaware limited liability company."

Heim warns of dire consequences if Judge McInerney decides she's in charge of the dissolution.

Borgesi Acquitted, Jury Hangs On Key Charges Against Ligambi


By George Anastasia
For Bigtrial.net

In a stunning rebuke of the government's case, a jury today found mobster George Borgesi not guilty of racketeering conspiracy, acquitted mob boss Joe Ligambi of a witness tampering charge and hung on three other counts against Ligambi.

The panel of 11 women and one man voted 10-2 to acquit Ligambi of a conspiracy charge and two gambling charges he faced.

The nearly total rejection of the government's case came at the end of a retrial that had begun in November. The trial focused on five counts that remained after an earlier jury had acquitted Borgesi and Ligambi of a series of charges tied to gambling and loansharking.

Ligambi's lawyer, Edwin Jacobs Jr., said he would file a motion next week asking for bail for Ligambi, 74, who has been jailed since he was indicted in the case back in May 2011. Borgesi, 50, was released today. The South Philadelphia capo, who is Ligambi's nephew, has been in jail since his arrest in an unrelated racketeering case in March 2000 for which he subsequently was sentenced to 14 years.

"Thank you, thank you," Borgesi's brother, Anthony, said to the jurors as they left the courtroom after announcing the partial verdict in the case. Family members and friends smiled and hugged one
another after the jury left the courtroom.

"Thank God," said Manny Borgesi, George Borgesi's mother, as she hugged her son Anthony. They had attended nearly every day of the trial. Manny Borgesi is Joe Ligambi's sister. Borgesi's wife Alyson, who had been barred from the courtroom, smiled and embraced family members in the hallway after learning of the verdict that will send her husband home for the first time since they were married.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Deliberations Continue In Mob Trial

By George Anastasia
For Bigtrial.net

After a two-day snow storm delay, the jury in the racketeering conspiracy trial of mob boss Joe Ligambi and his nephew George Borgesi met for about five hours today without reaching a
consensus.

The panel of 11 women and one man asked no questions and sent out no notes. They will return tomorrow at 9:30 for the ninth day of deliberations in the high profile organized crime case.

The jury announced last week that it had reached a partial verdict, deciding two of the five counts it has been asked to consider. Judge Eduardo Robreno urged them to keep deliberating despite a note that indicated they had a "firm difference of opinion" on the other three counts.

Whether the days off changed their perspective remains to be seen. The conventional wisdom is that if the panel sends out another note indicating they are deadlocked, the judge would be hard pressed not to take the partial verdict and declare a mistrial on the other counts.

With a weekend and another potential snow storm looming, several observers were predicting that tomorrow, Friday, will bring some resolution to the case.

George Anastasia can be contacted at George@bigtrial.net

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Snow Stalls Mob Trial Deliberations

By George Anastasia
For Bigtrial.net

Jury deliberations ended shortly after they began this morning in the racketeering conspiracy retrial of mob boss Joe Ligambi and his nephew George Borgesi.

With snow beginning to swirl outside the federal courthouse at 6th and Market Streets and with predictions of a snow storm that would dump eight to 10 inches on the city, Judge Eduardo Robreno dismissed the panel at 10:30 a.m., about an hour after deliberations began.

The jury of 11 women and one man is due back tomorrow, but with snow predicted to continue through tonight and with strong winds and dropping temperatures to follow, another delay is possible.

The jury has deliberated for seven days after hearing eight weeks of testimony. On Friday it announced that it had reached a verdict on two of the five counts it is considering and had a "firm difference of opinion" on the other three. Robreno urged the panel to continue deliberations.

It could not be determined what charges have been decided or whether the jury has voted to convict or acquit.

Borgesi, 50, faces one count of conspiracy. Ligambi, 74, is charge with conspiracy, two counts of illegal gambling and one count of witness tampering.

Both men have been held without bail since the indictment in the case was handed up in May 2011. Their first trial ended with a jury unable to reach a verdict on the counts now pending. In that case, four other defendants were convicted and one was acquitted.

That jury, after three weeks of deliberations, delivered not guilty verdicts on 46 counts, guilty verdicts on five and hung on 11 others, including the charges against Ligambi and Borgesi that are now being retried.

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

Friday, January 17, 2014

Partial Verdict In Mob Trial Remains Sealed

By George Anastasia
For Bigtrial.net

The jury has a partial verdict in the racketeering conspiracy retrial of mob boss Joe Ligambi and his nephew George Borgesi.

But we don't know what it is.

And we will have to wait at least three more days before we have any chance of finding out.

The jury of 11 women and one man recessed early this afternoon after wrapping up a seventh day of deliberations that was marked by a mid morning announcement of the partial verdict.

In a note sent to Judge Eduardo Robreno that was read in open court around 11:15, the jury said it had reached a verdict on two of the five counts it was considering, but that it remained hung on three others. The three-sentence note said there was a "firm difference of opinion" on the three unresolved issues.

Robreno then read the panel a scripted legal charge designed for cases where a jury has deadlocked and sent the panel back to continue deliberating.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Deliberations Continue In Mob Trial

By George Anastasia
For Bigtrial.net

No questions...and no verdict.

After listening to about 15 minutes of taped conversation this morning, the jury in the racketeering conspiracy retrial of mob boss Joe Ligambi and his nephew George Borgesi hunkered down for a sixth day of deliberations.

The panel of 11 women and one man called it quits around 4 p.m. and headed home. They will be back at it tomorrow at 9:30. Looming is a three-day weekend (Monday is a federal holiday -- Martin Luther King Day), meaning that if there is no decision tomorrow, the case will go into next week.

While the group sent a note to Judge Eduardo Robreno Monday afternoon saying there was an "impasse" in deliberations, there has been no indication that the panel has bogged down since then.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Do Tapes Hold The Answer In Mob Trial?

By George Anastasia
For Bigtrial.net

It could be a tale of the tapes, and that might not be a good thing for the defense.

Jurors started their fifth day of deliberations in the racketeering conspiracy retrial of mob boss Joe Ligambi and his nephew George Borgesi by asking to hear replays of several tapes introduced by the prosecution during the eight-week trial.

And they ended the day by asking to hear a half dozen more.

The panel of 11 women and one man is due to resume deliberations at 9:30 tomorrow morning. Whether they have overcome the impasse cited in a jury note on Monday remains an open question.

What does appear clear is that the panel is working.

"Maybe This Experience Has Brought Him Closer To God"

By Ralph Cipriano
for Bigtrial.net

To Taleah Grimmage, Juror No. 7 in the Msgr. Lynn case, the news that Lynn's conviction had been reversed came as a "slight shock."

"While I still think he [Msgr. Lynn] ultimately played a part in the atrocities that occurred, he certainly was not the ONLY person that should have been held responsible," Grimmage wrote in an email. "[I'm looking at YOU Cardinals Krol and Bevilacqua]."

Grimmage, who voted to convict Lynn in 2012 after sitting through a 13 week trial, as well as 13 days of deliberations, said she never understood the district attorney's strategy of charging Lynn with endangering the welfare of a child. She did, however, believe the D.A. had succeeded in sending a message to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

As far as the monsignor is concerned, Grimmage was curious to know what effect being "unjustly" imprisoned for 18 months has had on the monsignor, who so far, has declined to talk to reporters.

"Maybe this experience has brought him closer to God," she said.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

No Questions, No Verdict In Mob Trial

By George Anastasia
For Bigtrial.net

One day after declaring they were at an impasse, jurors in the racketeering conspiracy retrial of mob boss Joe Ligambi and his nephew George Borgesi spent about seven hours deliberating behind closed doors, then called it a day.

The panel is due back 9:30 tomorrow to start what will be the fifth day of deliberations in the trial which began back in November. There were no questions or notes sent to the judge today, but at the end of the day word was that the jury had a list of items and perhaps questions that it would present first thing in the morning.

It was impossible to determine whether the ongoing talks had broken the logjam. In a note sent Monday afternoon the panel said it had voted twice on all five charges and had not reached unanimity on any question.

The jury in the first trial deliberated for 21 days.

According to one source in the defense camp, the panel has already inquired about next Monday -- a federal holiday, Martin Luther King Day -- and whether deliberations would be held in the event there was no verdict before then.

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

Monday, January 13, 2014

Ligambi Jury At Impasse, Deliberations Continue

Judge Robreno
By George Anastasia
For Bigtrial.net

They've been here before.

The jury in the racketeering conspiracy retrial of mob boss Joe Ligambi and his nephew George Borgesi told a judge today that it was at an 'impasse" and unable to reach a unanimous verdict in the case.

But Judge Eduardo Robreno told the panel of 11 women and one man to keep working.

"It was a long trial," Robreno said in a brief comment to the panel after the jurors had been called back into the courtroom around 2 p.m. "Go back and continue working."

The jury did just that, then recessed for the day at 4 p.m. Deliberations are to resume tomorrow at 9:30.

Ligambi, 74, and Borgesi, 50, have been through this before. In their first trial, the jury deliberated for three weeks before returning a split verdict. At one point, Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Labor said it appeared the group was "wandering in the desert" and asked the judge to provide the jurors with a copy of the indictment.

Inky Lawyers Huddle With Judge As Auction Block Looms

Inky, Daily News And Philly.com Head For Auction Block
By Ralph Cipriano
for Bigtrial.net

Lawyers gathered in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court this morning to consider whether Judge Patricia McInerney has the jurisdiction to auction off the city's two daily newspapers.

Owner Lewis Katz started the current round of litigation by filing a motion in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court. Katz seeks to dissolve Interstate General Media [IGM], and publicly auction off the company's assets that include The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, as well as the philly.com website.

Rival owner George Norcross responded by filing a petition in the Court of Chancery in the State of Delaware to compel a private auction restricted to the company's five feuding owners.

Norcross filed his petition in Delaware, where IGM was incorporated, rather than in Philadelphia, where the company does business. The Norcross ownership faction has argued that if the judge allows a public auction, hedge funds may come in and bid up the price, increasing the likelihood that the new owners will be saddled with heavy debt.

Judge McInerney met behind closed doors with lawyers for a brief conference on what the judge described as "housekeeping matters." When they emerged from chambers, Judge McInerney gave Katz's legal team until Jan. 16th to file their brief; and the Norcross team until Jan. 22 to file their response.

The decision over whether the IGM dispute should be resolved in the Delaware or Pennsylvania courts, however, is a potentially tricky issue. There are several legal reasons why the war over the Inky could be transferred to the Delaware courts. Or, in a nightmare scenario, the dispute could be simultaneously contested in both the Pennsylvania and Delaware courts, if judges in both states decide they have jurisdiction.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Jury Deliberations Postponed In Mob Trial

Deliberations in the retrial of mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and his nephew and co-defendant George Borgesi were postponed today because one of the jurors had a family emergency.

The anonymously chosen panel of 11 women and one man is due back in court Monday to continue the deliberation process that began late Wednesday morning.

Ligambi, 74, is facing a racketeering conspiracy charge, two gambling charges and one charge of witness tampering. Borgesi, 50, is charged only with racketeering conspiracy.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Ligambi Jury Still Deliberating, Scarfo Trial Set For Testimony

By George Anastasia
For Bigtrial.net

The jury in the racketeering conspiracy retrial of mob boss Joe Ligambi and his nephew George Borgesi headed home at 4 p.m. today after a second day of deliberations.

Early in the day, the panel of 11 women and one man asked to hear a tape recording that had been introduced as evidence by the defense, then they hunkered down for the next four hours behind closed doors.

Members of the defense camp were guardedly optimistic. The tape, of a conversation between government informant Anthony Aponick and Borgesi's wife Alyson, was introduced to challenge and discredit Aponick who at the time was a cellmate of Borgesi's in a federal prison in West Virginia.

Trying to determine why the jury wanted to hear the tape and what it means in terms of deliberations is, of course, speculative. It's like reading tea leaves. But Borgesi's lawyer, Christopher Warren, said it was a good sign that the panel asked for a piece of evidence that the defense had introduced.

Deliberations are to resume at 9:30 tomorrow. The anonymously chosen jury panel has now deliberated for about 10 hours over two days.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Juries Hear Different Versions Of Mob Racketeering Conspiracy

Nicky Scarfo Jr.
By George Anastasia
For Bigtrial.net

There's racketeering conspiracy and then there's RACKETEERING CONSPIRACY!

Federal juries on opposite sides of the Delaware River began dealing with the differences today as the jury in the retrial of mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi started deliberations in his eight-week old trial and the jury in the fraud case against mobster Nicodemo S. Scarfo, the son of jailed mob boss Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo, heard opening arguments in his case.

The Ligambi jury got the case in federal court in Philadelphia shortly before 11 a.m. and deliberated for the rest of the day without a verdict. The panel is due back tomorrow. The case, against Ligambi and his co-defendant and nephew George Borgesi, is built around allegations that the two mobsters ran an organized crime enterprise that generated tens of thousands of dollars through illegal gambling, loansharking and extortion.

Scarfo, Elkins Park businessman Salvatore Pelullo and five others went on trial at the same time in federal court in Camden. The government alleges that Scarfo and Pelullo orchestrated the systematic looting of a Texas-based mortgage company, FirstPlus Financial, by secretly taking  control of the board of directors in June 2007. Over the next 10 months, authorities allege, Scarfo and Pelullo lined their pockets with cash for the company. The take? A staggering $12 million.

The difference underscores what lawyers in the Ligambi case have argued continuously -- that the government has taken a penny ante gambling case and turned into into a mob conspiracy.

"Racketeering lite," Edwin Jacobs Jr., Ligambi's lawyer, said of the charges which, nevertheless, carry a maximum 20-year prison sentence for the defendants.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Jury Deliberations Set To Begin In Mob Trial

By George Anastasia
For Bigtrial.net

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.

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."

Msgr. Lynn Under House Arrest

By Ralph Cipriano
for Bigtrial.net

It was a dog and pony show that was over in a few minutes.

A noticeably slimmer Msgr. William J. Lynn made a totally unnecessary appearance this afternoon in the courtroom of Judge M. Teresa Sarmina to review conditions of his bail.

Lynn, who lost 80 pounds in jail, was released Friday after his conviction on one count of child endangerment was reversed by the state Superior Court.

The judge told Lynn his appearance was required to "personally have addressed you to make sure you understand what the conditions of your release are."

"Yes, Your Honor," Lynn replied.

The conditions basically amount to house arrest. Lynn has to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet on his ankle at all times. He will be restricted to staying on two floors of the rectory at St. William's parish at 6200 Rising Sun Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia. He will have to check in with his parole officer every week. He will need his parole officer's permission whenever he wants to leave the rectory to visit, say his doctor or his lawyer.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Feuding Inky Owners Seek Auction

By Ralph Cipriano
for Bigtrial.net

The new owners of The Philadelphia Inquirer are at it again, suing each other in the courts of two different states.

First, Lewis Katz, leader of a minority group of owners, filed a motion in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court, seeking to dissolve Interstate General Media [IGM], and publicly auction off the company that owns the Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News and philly.com.

Then George Norcross III, leader of a majority group of owners, filed a petition in the Court of Chancery in the State of Delaware that would compel a private auction of the company that would be restricted to the current owners.

The war in two state courts was revealed by the Norcross side in a letter made public from owners Norcross and William P. Hankowsky to Katz. In the letter, dated Jan. 3, owners Norcross and Hankowsky accuse Katz of putting the survival of the city's only two daily newspapers at risk.

Norcross and Hankowsky wrote Katz that they had hoped to avoid going to Delaware's Chancery Court, "but your surprise decision to file a motion to dissolve the company risks not just the progress the company has made, but presents a real threat of another bankruptcy and additional job losses for our employees."

"It is clear from your actions," Norcross and Hankowsky wrote Katz, "that you are focused, and have been for many months, on creating a crisis in the company, risking the progress the company has made since its purchase and threatening the jobs of IGM employees."

Lynn Goes Free; Can't Function As Priest

By Ralph Cipriano
for Bigtrial.net

After more than 18 months in prison, Msgr. William J. Lynn is a free man.

Shortly before 10 a.m. this morning, Lynn walked out of the Currann-Fromhold Correctional Facility on State Road in Northeast Philadelphia, where he was greeted by family members and some friends in collars.

He doesn't look the same. In prison, Lynn lost some 80 pounds.

"He looks good," said his lawyer, Thomas A. Bergstrom. "He was on the treadmill every day and [in prison] the food is not that great."

Lynn was wearing an electronic ankle bracelet when he walked out of jail. On Monday at 12:30 p.m., he has to report to Courtroom 507 in the Criminal Justice Center, where Judge M. Teresa Sarmina will personally review her conditions for paroling Lynn.

"He's prepared to go in Monday and tolerate whatever he has to tolerate," Bergstrom said. "He has no problem abiding by the court's rules."

Lynn will remain on administrative leave with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, according to a letter issued today by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput.

"As such," Chaput wrote, "he may not function publicly as a priest."

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Frankie The Fixer's Encore Not As Sweet For The Defense

Frankie The Fixer [left] with Bent Finger Lou
By George Anastasia
For Bigtrial.net

Frankie the Fixer changed his tune.

And the music wasn't quite as sweet for the defense in the racketeering retrial of mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and his nephew, George Borgesi.

A government informant whom the prosecution opted not to call this time, Frank DiGiacomo, 49, took the stand today as the final defense witness in the eight-week old trial that is expected to go to the jury next week.

While DiGiacomo, an admitted con man, hustler and mob enforcer, helped the defense with his testimony in the first trial last year, his performance this morning was a mixed bag, not as pointedly hostile toward key government witness Louis "Bent Finger Lou" Monacello and on occasion damaging to Ligambi and Borgesi.

Last year, much to the prosecution's chagrin, DiGiacomo discredited Monacello and undermined much of his testimony. This time, while still labeling his former mob associate a "greedy," sneaky and dangerous individual, he emphasized that both he and Monacello worked for and reported to Borgesi and Ligambi.

The D.A. Throws A Temper Tantrum; Lynn Still In Jail


By Ralph Cipriano
for Bigtrial.net

A week after a panel of Superior Court judges reversed his landmark conviction and ordered him to be "discharged forthwith," Msgr. William J. Lynn remains in jail.

It's not known whether Lynn will be out by Sunday, his 63rd birthday. But on 12:30 p.m. Monday, the prisoner is scheduled to return to the courtroom of Judge M. Teresa Sarmina, for another ritualistic humiliation.

"I want him in front of me when I tell him what his conditions are," Judge Sarmina warned ominously from the bench last week, regarding what she described as her "conditions pending bail." This is the same judge who presided over Lynn's now discredited show trial in 2012, a judge whose application of the law in that case was unanimously panned by a panel of three Superior Court judges as "fundamentally flawed."

Sarmina isn't through with Lynn yet. Concerned about about the monsignor's possible flight to the Vatican, the judge has ordered the official scapegoat of the archdiocese prosecution to turn in his passport and put up $250,000 bail. She also wants the monsignor to wear an electronic ankle bracelet, and report on a weekly basis to a Philadelphia parole officer.

Not to be outdone in theatrics, District Attorney Seth William threw a temper tantrum outside the Union League on New Year's Eve over Lynn's impending release.

If nothing else, the judge and the district attorney have definitely put a damper on the monsignor's victory party.

"She keeps throwing up roadblocks," Lynn's lawyer, Thomas A. Bergstrom, said of Judge Sarmina. "And he [District Attorney Williams] keeps pouring gasoline on the fire."

And the media keeps letting both of them get away with it.

 

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