Self-styled mob ‘CFO’ Staino pleads guilty

Posted: April 19, 2013

Anthony "Ant" Staino, who once called himself "the CFO" of the Philadelphia mob during a conversation taped by the FBI, pleaded guilty Thursday to racketeering conspiracy and illegal gambling.

His plea followed an hour-long hearing before U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno that seemed poised to collapse. Staino, 55, came to court without a plea agreement, and his lawyer and a prosecutor differed over which crimes he was admitting.

"The government thinks he's pleading guilty to everything; you seem to think he's pleading guilty to nothing," Robreno told defense lawyer Gregory Pagano.

The lawyer had disputed Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Labor's assertion that Staino's plea to racketeering conspiracy covered a list of mob-related activity, including witness intimidation and violence - offenses that could mean a longer prison term.

"My client never employed any physical violence through anything he did," Pagano insisted.

The two sides ultimately agreed that their differences are issues to be argued and resolved at sentencing, which the judge scheduled for July 17.

Staino, a Camden native who lived in Swedesboro, said little during the proceeding except to politely answer the judge with one-word replies, the most critical of which was "guilty."

He is among eight defendants who have been convicted or pleaded guilty since prosecutors unveiled a sweeping case against the local mob leadership two years ago.

During a three-month trial that ended in February, jurors heard tapes of 2004 conversations between Staino and an undercover FBI agent in which Staino compared the local mob leadership to a "board of directors" and called himself the CFO, the man who helped organize and track its money.

The jury had convicted him of two loan-sharking counts but acquitted him on 24 other counts and deadlocked on other charges, including racketeering conspiracy. His plea included that, and admitting that he helped run JMA, a shell company that controlled illegal video poker machines at area bars and other sites.

Jurors also deadlocked on the racketeering conspiracy counts against two codefendants, reputed mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and his nephew, reputed captain George "Georgie" Borgesi. Both await a retrial in October.

One defendant, Joseph "Scoops" Licata, was acquitted entirely.

Three others - reputed underboss Joseph "Mousie" Massimino, solder Damion Canalichio, and associate Gary Battaglini - were convicted. Robreno is scheduled to sentence them on May 21.


Contact John P. Martin at 215-925-2649, jmartin@phillynews.com, or @JPMartinInky on Twitter.

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