Mob underboss seeks sentence reduction Joseph Massimino, who ran a gambling operation in South Jersey and Pa., has served half of a 10-year term.

Posted: June 23, 2009

Jailed mob underboss Joseph "Mousie" Massimino, who has completed half of a 10-year New Jersey state prison sentence for racketeering, wants to go home.

Denied parole in February, and told he would have to spend at least 14 more months in jail, the 59-year-old South Philadelphia mob leader now hopes the judge in his case will reduce his sentence to time served and place him on probation.

That's the thrust of a motion for sentence reconsideration filed by Massimino's lawyer, Jeffrey C. Zucker. He and state prosecutors are scheduled to appear before Judge William J. Cook on Friday in Camden County Superior Court to argue the issue.

In effect, Zucker is asking Cook to overrule a state parole board decision that would keep Massimino in jail until at least April.

In the motion, filed on May 19, Zucker contended that under the terms of Massimino's plea agreement, the state agreed to join in his motion for release. Zucker petitioned the court to "change the custodial status of the defendant to one of probation and implement the intent" of that agreement.

Officials with the New Jersey Attorney General's Office have not responded to a request for comment. Other law-enforcement sources said there was a question over whether the state's agreement to join in the motion for sentence reconsideration meant that the Attorney General's Office would not oppose the request for immediate release.

Massimino was sent to state prison in June 2004 after pleading guilty to a racketeering charge built around a gambling and loan-sharking case. At his sentencing hearing, a state prosecutor described him as "a career criminal."

"That's all he does," the prosecutor said. "That's all he knows."

In imposing the 10-year prison term, Cook said Massimino's "way of life is committing crime."

Law-enforcement sources say little has changed. They describe Massimino as a close associate of reputed mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and say he has maintained his ties to the crime family while serving at Northern State Prison in Newark.

Massimino and Ligambi remain targets of a federal racketeering investigation that stretches back to 1999 and includes three unsolved gangland murders.

The 2004 case against Massimino was based on an investigation by New Jersey state police. Authorities alleged that Massimino headed a mob-linked sports-betting ring that generated about $30 million a year in South Philadelphia and South Jersey.

Pointing to a 35-year criminal career that included convictions for offenses ranging from drug dealing and assault to gambling and receiving stolen property, prosecutors asked for and received the maximum sentence in the case.

In his motion, filed last month, Zucker cited a stipulation in Massimino's plea agreement that permitted him to ask for a reconsideration of that sentence if Massimino had not been paroled after five years.

In denying his request for release earlier this year, a state parole board cited Massimino's "extensive" criminal record and failure to abide by past parole restrictions.

"The panel has determined there is a reasonable expectation that you will violate conditions of parole if released," according to a copy of the parole board decision.

The board also ruled that Massimino would not be eligible for parole consideration again for 14 months.

Contact staff writer George Anastasia at 856-779-3846 or ganastasia@phillynews.com.

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