"They targeted solid waste a long, long time ago as a lucrative moneymaker for them," said Lee Seglem, assistant director of the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation, whose December report, "Industrious Subversion," detailed La Cosa Nostra's influence in the trash-hauling industry.
"They can use the proceeds they get from that to bankroll other criminal activities, or to launder money, or put people on the payroll who aren't working," Seglem said.
Like "Uncle Joe," who the feds say was in the waste-management business about as much as Tony Soprano was.
Already jailed on racketeering charges, Ligambi, 72, was hit with federal theft charges Thursday in connection with the alleged no-show job that New Jersey authorities say paid him $1,000 a week between 2003 and 2009.
Prosecutors say the Teamsters Health and Welfare Fund of Philadelphia and Vicinity, which administered the health-care plan at Top Job, paid $224,424 to cover medical and dental benefits for Ligambi and his family.
"It's easy money," Seglem said.
But the alleged scam, combined with the prior charges, could end up keeping Ligambi behind bars for the rest of his life - like previous mob bosses John Stanfa and Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo, who are both expected to die as federal inmates.
One count of racketeering conspiracy, for instance, carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
On Thursday, reputed mobsters Joseph "Scoops" Licata and Louis "Big Lou" Fazzini, were arrested near Newark, N.J., and added to the sweeping racketeering indictment that now includes 14 defendants. Licata, 70, is the caporegime of the Philadelphia mob's North Jersey faction and supervised Fazzini, 45, in the operation of an illegal sports-gambling business, according to the indictment.
The feds will likely lean on Fazzini and Licata for information to strengthen their case against Ligambi, George Borgesi and other high-ranking Philly mobsters on charges that include loan-sharking, gambling and extortion.
Louis "Bent Finger Lou" Monacello, who allegedly ran Borgesi's gambling and loan-sharking operation in Delaware County, has already flipped and agreed to testify for the government.
The trial is scheduled to begin in September.
Contact William Bender at 215-854-5255 or email@example.com, or follow on Twitter @wbender99.