Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Not-So-Golden Oldie at Mob Trial

It was a blast from the past, a not so golden oldie from the audio archives of the Philadelphia mob.
Jurors is the racketeering trial of mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and six co-defendants ended their day Wednesday listening to tape recordings from 1999 in which a cackling George Borgesi, a co-defendant in the current case, laughed and joked about how he brutally assaulted mob associate Angelo Lutz.

"I knocked him out," Borgesi is heard saying in a phone conversation picked up by a Pennsylvania State Police wiretap on November 24, 1999. "I kicked him so hard he was sleeping....I ripped his shirt off. He was out like a fuckin' light."

Lutz, at the time a 5-foot-2, 450-pound mob associate of Borgesi's, had lied about trying to cash a check drawn on their pasta buisness, Borgesi explained.

"I started hollering, `Fuck you,'" Borgesi said on the wiretapped conversation. "He answered me like fresh and I went beserk."

Prosecutors played three taped conversations in which Borgesi laughed and mocked Lutz. The tapes came after the jury had heard three days of testimony from another Borgesi's associate, Louis "Bent Finger Lou" Monacello.

Monacello, a key witness in the current trial, has described Borgesi as a demanding and volatile mob leader. The Lutz tapes were used to reinforce that impression.

At the end of the trial day, Borgesi, who is being held without bail, said to his wife Allyson, a spectator at the trial, "Don't worry about it. They played them in the first case. It shows you what they got."
Borgesi was referring to a racketeering trial in 2001 in which he, Lutz, then mob boss Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino and four others were convicted.

A federal prosector who overheard Borgesi's comment to his wife, quipped, "Yeah. That's why you got 14 years."

Borgesi was sentenced to 14 years in the 2001 case. He was about to be released to a halfway house to complete that sentence when he was indicted with Ligambi and the others in the current case.
Monacello, who said he ran Borgesi's bookmaking and loansharking operation while he was in jail completed his third and final day on the stand before the Lutz tapes were played.

Under grueling cross-examination from Borgesi's lawyer, Paul J. Hetznecker, the admitted mob associate denied that he cut a deal with prosecutors in order to get out from under his own criminal problems.

As he had throughout his three days of testimony, Monacello, 46, insisted that the only reason he decided to cooperate was because he believed Borgesi planned to kill him.

He also admitted plotting at first to have mob capo Martin Angelina killed, but said he later settled on having him badly beaten. He said he was angry because Angelina had taken $11,000 from a loansharking operation that Monacello controlled.

He said while he violated mob protocol by planning to assault a "made" member of the organization, he nevertheless went through with the plot, paying an associate, Frank DiGiacomo, $2,000 to arrange the assault.

Monacello was unaware that DiGiacomo was cooperating with authorities at the time and wearing a body-wire.

DiGiacomo, known as "Frankie the Fixer," is expected to testify when the trial resumes Thursday. During his cross-examination Hetzncker played nearly a dozen DiGiacomo tapes trying to refute and undermine Monacello's earlier testimony.

Monacello claimed that when he was targeted in a state investigation in Delaware County in 2007 he did all that he could to "protect" Borgesi and Ligambi, who were not charged in the case.
But Hetznecker challenged Monacello, pointing out that there were few references to either mobster on the tapes and that Monacello was primarily looking out for himself.

The defense hopes to show that Monacello used Borgesi's name to enhance his position in the underworld, but that Borgesi, serving a sentence in a federal prison West Virginia, was unaware of much of what Monacello was doing or claiming in his name.

Hetznecker also introduced a letter Borgesi had written to Monacello from prison which he signed, "Love, your friend forever, George."

Monacello testified that he provided Borgesi with cash each month -- sometimes as much as $2,800 -- for nearly seven years while he was in jail.

"If I was supporting you, you'd love me too," Monacello said in one of his many pointed exchanges with the defense attorney.

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