Openings today in Ligambi mob trial

Posted: October 19, 2012

The lawyer for reputed mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi ripped into the federal racketeering case against his client and six co-defendants this morning, calling it a case built on half truths and fabrications from cooperating witnesses looking to get out from under their own criminal problems,

"We're not guilty, we're victims," Edwin Jacobs Jr. told a federal court jury in an opening statement at the start of a federal racketeering trial that is expected to last eight to 12 weeks.

Jacobs said there was little of substance to support the allegations of a racketeering conspiracy and argued that "the real charges in this case would never make a single episode of The Sopranos."

Ligambi, 73, is he lead defendant in the case. Authorities allege he headed a criminal organization that engaged in illegal gambling, loansharking and extortion duirng a 12-year period that began in 1999.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Labor, in comments that opened the trial, told the jury that Ligambi and his co-defendants "exploited" the Philadelphia mob's reputation for violence "to make money" and "to intimidate" victims into paying mob shakedowns and tribute payments.

Joseph Santaguida, the attorney for reputed mob underboss Joseph "Mousie" Massimino, picked up on the same theme introduced by Jacobs, telling the jury that the prosecution had overstated its evidence and would not be able to prove the racketeering charge.

Santaguida said Massimino, 62, had no criminal involvement in any of the charges which he said amounted to nothig more than a "glorified gambling case."

Opening statements from other defense attorneys were expected to take up the rest of Thursday's court session. The first witness in the trial is scheduled to be called when the trial continues Friday.

The other five defendants are Joseph "Scoops" Licata, 71, Anthony Staino, 54, George Borgesi, 49, and Damion Canalichio, 42, and mob associate Gary Battaglini, 51.


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

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