Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Two Faces Of Anthony Staino Assessed At Sentencing

Anthony Staino
By George Anastasia

Federal Judge Eduardo Robreno had to consider the two faces of Anthony Staino this morning before sentencing the convicted mobster to 97 months on racketeering and extortion charges.

Friends and family members who crowded the 15th floor courtroom described him as a "loving" father and husband; a "funny, good-hearted, kind and outgoing" neighbor, and a "man of integrity."

The testimonials came from friends and family members, including his wife, his son and his ex-wife, who appeared before Robreno during a three-hour sentencing hearing.

Prosecutors offered a different view of the 56-year-old mob leader who was picked up on one FBI tape bragging that he was the "CFO" and a "member of the board of directors" of the Philadelphia organized crime family.

That comment, along with others played during the racketeering trial that ended in February, helped Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Labor offer a decidedly different picture of Staino.

Robreno ultimately came down somewhere in the middle, noting that the extortion charges for which Staino was found guilty and the conspiracy and gambling charges to which he later pleaded guilty warranted a substantial prison term.

"The question is, who is Anthony Staino Jr.?" Robreno asked before imposing sentence. Was he, the judge asked rhetorically, the loyal family man and friend described by his supporters? Or was he "the violent mobster" that the government alleged?

"Perhaps he's both," said Robreno in a remark that appeared to be supported by the defendant himself.

In brief comments at the end of the lengthy hearing, Staino apologized to his family and friends; said he alone was responsible for his actions, and quoted Thomas Jefferson.

"I was not the person I should have been," Staino said in describing how he had gotten involved with organized crime in the 1990s while going through a divorce and battling a drinking problem. After he met his current wife Terry in 2003, he said, he began to turn things around. And when their daughter was born five years ago, he added, he was back on the right path.

"But my efforts (to change) could not escape my past," he said. "That's why I'm here today."

Back then he had the "wrong mental attitude." Now, he said, his goals are to be a "productive citizen" and "loving husband and father."

"Thomas Jefferson once said, `Nothing can stop the man with the right attitude from achieving his goals.'"

Staino will have about seven more years to ponder those words of wisdom from a founding father who helped created America over two hundreds years ago in a building less than two blocks from the courthouse where Staino was sentenced.

The South Jersey mob figure was described by prosecutors as the "right hand man" of mob boss Joseph Ligambi who quickly rose through the ranks of the organization, first as an associate and ultimately as a capo who was the confidante of the mob boss.

"He rose through the ranks because he's a nasty, bruttish, effective mobster," said Labor in citing one of several tapes played for the jury in which Staino was recorded extorting an FBI undercover agent who had posed as a corrupt businessman and gambler.

After lending the agent, posing as a man named Dino, $30,000, Staino was recorded saying, "Please. On my life, I like you. I don't want to have to fuckin' hurt you."

The message, Labor said, was clear mob speak for you better pay me back.

"He could have been a law abiding citizen," Labor said after Staino's lawyer, Gregory Pagano, had detailed a history that included a stellar high school career, one year of college and years of legitimate employment. "He chose to be a gangster."

Pagano conceded as much, but argued with some success that his client was "not the person who personifies...the LCN member."

"Unlike other people, he gets it," Pagano said, an apparent reference to other defendants who had been sentenced earlier, who had long arrest records and who showed little remorse.

Staino has no prior arrests.

"And he's not gonna be back," said Pagano who successfully argued for a slight departure from the sentencing guidelines Robreno has originally set. Pagano argued that his client deserved credit for pleading guilty to a racketeering conspiracy charge and two gambling charges on which the jury had hung during the trial.

Staino was convicted of two extortion counts tied to the secret FBI/Dino tapes.

Robreno, who had set a guideline range of 87 to 108 months, agreed, lowering the range to 74 to 97 months. He then sentenced Staino to the top of the new range. Staino, who was jailed after his conviction in February, has about six months prison credit toward the sentence.

Under standard federal prison procedure -- there is no longer any parole in the federal system -- Staino will have to serve about 85 percent of the sentence which means he has about seven more years of prison time.

The mob capo was the fourth defendant convicted at trial to be sentenced. One other defendant was acquitted and Ligambi, 73, and his nephew, George Borgesi, 50, are to be retried in October after a jury hung on conspiracy charges against both of them. Ligambi also faces gambling and obstruction of justice counts.

In addition to the extortion of Dino, Staino was linked to gambling and loansharking charges, but the jury acquitted him on 23 of the 28 counts he faced. He, Ligambi and mob underboss Joseph "Mousie" Massimino, who was sentenced to 188 months last week, were accused of forcibly taking control of an illegal video poker machine operation and with running bookmaking and loansharking businesses.

To date, 12 of the 16 defendants named in the case have either been convicted or pleaded guilty. One defendant, mob capo Joseph "Scoops" Licata, 72, was acquitted, and three others, Ligambi, Borgesi and mob associate Eric Esposito (who faces gambling charges) are awaiting trial.

George Anastasia can be contacted at


  1. Pay day loans are exactly the same thing as was going on here and the government approves violence in this case and this is his sentence?

    1. sounds harsh for no violence. i like to see the drug conviction sentencing in comparison. can this judge be racist?

  2. We make choices in this bussiness some good some bad

  3. Guys in North Philly and Camden get arrested for selling heroin or crack and are back on the street within 90 days. How can it be that the people providing a deadly product that leads to other crimes such robberies or shootings get absolutely nothing compared to this guy? Makes you wonder what the hells going on here...

  4. i agree totally about pay day loans being a bigger crime than what was going on here..

  5. Why has everyone associated with this case received the maximum under federal sentencing guidelines? What would the sentence be if there was violence involved. This federal system is broken and this Judge is vengeful.

  6. i agree .... there truly was a crime commited by the federal government on this sentencing....true .... this judge is biased and should have never been given this case...this in not the crazy phil mob days...this is a nice guy who got caught up but truly circumstantial evidence at best

    1. Totally agree....If you lent somebody else money that you didn't know to well, wouldn't you threaten them too! Would you just give somebody $30,000 and say if you don't pay me that's "ok" ? It was a set-up any way. If you are a white collar banker with money, you get probation!!!!! Where are all the news headlines on mortgage company CEO's and bankers being sentenced like this?

  7. George I was curious with Ligambi on trial has anyone been appointed as a temporary boss or caretaker? Also, do you see the Philly mob moving in a direction of say the Detroit mob out of the spotlight and not really talked about often? Or is the connection with New York and Jersey make that impossible?

  8. Active member of LCN in violence...yeah...just didn't get caught for that part. Other crimes people point to in order minimize this guys don't point to bad behavior of others to justify this guys bad behavior. Comparing his sentence to those of drug dealers on the good ...most drug dealers are sentenced in State court not Federal.

    I think people here watch too many mob movies and fall in love with movie characters. These guys ain't no movie characters pal. They aren't cool, nice fun to be with people. THEY ARE CRIMINALS.

    My family came to this country and worked hard, they didn't get involved with LCN. Stop minimizing these criminals...take a step back and see them for just what they are. Low life's.

    1. Actually most of these guys are nice guys as long as you don't wrong them... It's not like he was going out on the street beating up innocent people.

      The only people who get hurt by the "mafia" are the ones who wrong them, by either taking out loans they don't pay back, not paying gambling debts, or they're in the life, they don't go out in the regular world and start trouble.

  9. Nice guy? Yeah..I believe it. Just dont borrow any $$


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