Mob associate Angelo Lutz gets a nine-year prison term

Posted: December 12, 2001

Angelo Lutz, the mob associate whose quips and sound bites placed him at center stage during last summer's high-profile federal racketeering trial, found himself the center of attention again yesterday when U.S. District Judge Herbert Hutton sentenced him to nine years in prison.

Rejecting several pleas for leniency, Hutton hammered the heavyweight wannabe wiseguy with the maximum permitted under sentencing guidelines.

What's more, Lutz, 38, who was convicted on racketeering, gambling and extortion charges, received the same sentence as two codefendants who were "made," or formally initiated, members of the mob and more time than two other made members of the organization.

Hutton likened Lutz to the "secretary of the treasury" and said he was an "essential" figure in the bookmaking/extortion operation that generated hundreds of thousands of dollars for the mob.

"He was the only one who could do the math," Hutton said in rejecting an argument from Lutz's attorney, Christopher Warren, who asked for a lesser sentence because Lutz was a "minor" player in the mob conspiracy.

Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven D'Aguanno, one of four prosecutors in the case, argued that even without formal initiation into La Cosa Nostra, Lutz had demonstrated "that his loyalty is as strong as any made member."

Lutz was the seventh and final defendant sentenced in the case over the last 10 days. Mob boss Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino was sentenced to 14 years on Dec. 3.

The sentences capped a five-year investigation in which the U.S. Attorney's Office and FBI had targeted the Merlino organization.

Patrick Meehan, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, said after yesterday's hearing that he thought the sentences had a "serious impact" on the Philadelphia mob and were part of a "long-term process to dismantle and destroy" the organization.

Like Merlino, mob consigliere George Borgesi was sentenced to 14 years. Mob underboss Steven Mazzone and mob soldier John Ciancaglini were, like Lutz, sentenced to nine years. Mob soldier Martin Angelina was sentenced to 78 months and mob soldier Frank Gambino to 71 months.

A South Philadelphia caterer, pasta salesman, and string-band member, Lutz emerged as the face and voice of the mob during the 15-week trial. The 5-foot, 4-inch, 420-pound Lutz, the only defendant free on bail, was quoted repeatedly in television, radio and newspaper interviews.

Lutz was more subdued but no less outspoken in prepared comments he made to Hutton before sentencing yesterday. Among other things, he said he hoped his penchant for speaking his mind would not be held against him.

"Ever since I can recall, my personality and ability to speak my mind has been my greatest attribute," Lutz told Hutton. "I excelled at anything that involved communication and personality. . . . I sincerely hope that my greatest attribute did not turn into my most lethal liability."

Lutz, his mother, and two family friends had pleaded for leniency. Warren asked several times that his client be sentenced to the lower end of his guideline range, 87 months.

Lutz, who has been in prison since August, will have to serve about seven more years before he is eligible for release.

In his statement, Lutz expressed remorse and apologized to three Delaware County bookmakers from whom he was convicted of extorting money. He also thanked Hutton for a fair trial but insisted that he was not guilty of some of the extortion charges of which he had been convicted.

That statement epitomized Lutz's continuing allegiance to La Cosa Nostra, D'Aguanno said as he left the courthouse yesterday.

Throughout the trial, during his testimony, and in the comments before sentencing, Lutz has never acknowledged the role of La Cosa Nostra in the racketeering conspiracy of which he and the others were convicted, the prosecutor said.

"He wants everyone to know he's a stand-up guy," D'Aguanno said.

George Anastasia's e-mail address is ganastasia@phillynews.com.

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