Tuesday, January 8, 2013

No Verdict in Mob Trial

Uncle Joe
Jurors deliberated for about three hours Tuesday before deciding to pack it in for the day in the racketeering trial of mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and six co-defendants.

The panel of seven men and five women are due back in court Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. to begin their first full day of deliberations.

The jury got the case shortly after noon following a lengthy explanation from Judge Eduardo Robreno about the laws that apply to charges contained in the 52-count indictment on which the case is based. These include a racketeering conspiracy charge that all seven defendants face.

The indictment also includes gambling, loansharking and extortion charges that target different defendants. Ligambi is also accused of defrauding a Teamsters Union Health and Welfare Fund by illegally collecting over $220,000 in medical benefits for himself and his family while holding what authorities allege was a "no show" job at a South Philadelphia trash company.

He also faces an obstruction of justice charge.

Defense attorneys argued throughout the trial that the charges were flawed and that the government had stitched together a series of unrelated allegations in an attempt to create a criminal enterprise and conspiracy where none existed.

Prosecutors contended that the various charges were tied to the criminal organization headed by Ligambi and that each defendant knowingly participated in the crimes to advance the goals of the mob family.

Jurors sent out two requests shortly after deliberations began. At first they asked for an easel and magic markers. An hour later they requested photos of all the witnesses.

They were provided with the easel and markers, but were told that photos of witnesses were not available. Speculation among defense attorneys and family members and friends of the defendants who waited in the hallway outside the 15th floot courtroom was that the jurors were trying to match the names of witnesses -- which they have -- with their memories of what the witnesses looked like. The request could indicate that not all the jurors have the same recollection of who was who on the witness stand.

Ligambi, 73, and four co-defendants, Joseph Licata, 71, Joseph Massimino, 62, George Borgesi, 49, and Damion Canalichio, 42, are being held without bail. Two other defendants, Antony Staino, 54, and Gary Battaglini, 52, are free on bail and wait in the hallway with the lawyers.

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